Board of Directors & Affiliations
Biographies of Officers and Staff
Catherine Coggeshall – Executive Director
A native of Richmond, VA, Catherine Coggeshall spent the last eight years in the Midwest (specifically, Illinois and Indiana). She attended Saint Mary’s College for her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and Special Education and taught special education in Chicago for two years. She returned to Saint Mary’s College to receive her Master of Autism Studies and then attended the University of Notre Dame to receive her Master of Nonprofit Administration.
Joanne Ruffa – Middle School Advocate
Joanne grew up in Petersburg, Virginia, and after high school, attended Madison College ( now JMU), then Virginia Commonwealth University for a graduate degree in counselor education. She worked for 30 years in Essex County as an elementary teacher, then a Visiting teacher (school social worker), a middle school counselor, and a high school tennis coach. Joanne retired from public education and began working with Jacob’s Ladder. She has been with the program for 15 years, first as the counselor-in-residence and serving since 2013 as Summer Program Director.
When not working with JL, Joanne enjoys travel, gardening, most water sports, and the thrill of seeing Climbers grow and develop into kind, successful adults.
Cathy Gregory – High School Advocate
Cathy grew up in Richmond, Virginia, leaving the city to attend the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, where she graduated with a degree in Elementary Education. While teaching in Chesterfield, she earned an M.Ed. at Virginia Commonwealth University in Special Education. Cathy worked in education at various roles and levels, ranging from pre-K to college, for a span of 45 years. She became an administrator in 2000, serving as an Assistant Director of Special Education in Hanover County and Director of Special Education in Caroline County. After retiring from public education, Cathy worked at Collegiate School as the Director of Student Services for the Lower School. Currently, Cathy is retired but works part-time as an administrative assistant for the Virginia Senate when the General Assembly is in session.
In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, especially her grandchildren, traveling, sailing, listening to music, and appreciating art.
Activities Director/RA Director
Janet Kirby – Office Manager
Janet has been with Jacob’s Ladder since 1999. Twenty years later, she continued to work part-time for the organization four days weekly. Among her many duties, she serves as assistant to the Executive Director as well as assistant secretary to the Board of Directors. Sending correspondence to patron donors, staff, Climbers, Climbers’ families, gifted teachers, prospective Climbers, and their families, and maintaining the Climber information database are just some of the things that Janet does every day.
Watching the program grow and personally experiencing Climber enrichment has also enriched her life.
Jacob’s Ladder is fresh breath to my soul, and I am blessed to be a part of it.— Janet Kirby
Sophie Scott – Development
Sophie hails from the Northern Neck of Virginia and has recently returned to the area after spending four years in Charlottesville. Her introduction to Jacob’s Ladder occurred while attending Chesapeake Academy alongside Climbers. During her high school years at Christchurch School, she served as the school’s historical archivist. This role provided her with the opportunity to witness Jacob’s Ladder’s summer camp in action and sparked her passion for development work. Sophie went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in art history at the University of Virginia, where she was part of a small creative writing program called the Area Program in Literary Prose. In addition to writing, Sophie enjoys oil painting and spending time with her friends and family
Madge Vosteen – Grant Writer and Development
Madge has a long association with Jacob’s Ladder. From the beginning of the program in 1991, she has taught swimming to Climbers, helped run activities at the Summer Enrichment Program, as well as the Spring Retreat, and has served as a volunteer for Golf Classics and Winter programs. Since 2010, she has been both writing and administering the grants program for Jacob’s Ladder – a job that includes both the writing of grants as well as submitting grant reports and corresponding with the grant organizations. Madge works for the Chamber of Commerce in Highland County, VA.
Paul Vosteen – Media and Marketing
Paul started working with Jacob’s Ladder in the early 1990s. Initially serving as a volunteer at fundraising events, he also started documenting the program through photo and video work. He maintains the Jacob’s Ladder website and provides media support for the events and activities of the program. He has a degree in Graphic Design from the Atlanta College of Art, has served on media teams both overseas and in the US, and is the Web and Graphic Designer for Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia.
W. Aubrey Hall – Founder and Executive Director Emeritus
Aubrey graduated from the University of Richmond with a BA degree in Education and began his career as a music coordinator and athletic coach in the Culpeper School system, later working as the biology teacher and Athletic Director at Christchurch School in Christchurch, VA. After leaving Christchurch, he worked for seven years with Delmarva Properties as the Director of Marketing and Sales. In the late 1980s, Aubrey went on a summer mission trip to the Eastern Shore. It was there – working with the children of migrant farm workers – that he recognized that bright, at-risk students were often overlooked by traditional gifted programs. In 1991, he started Jacob’s Ladder to provide gifted, at-risk students the opportunity to reach their full potential and provide these students the support they would need year-round to excel.