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Our Team

Ginger Smith SOAR Together

Ginger Smith

Founder & Executive Director

With thirty years of experience in the social services, divided equally between program development, fundraising, and direct practice, Ginger Smith has the experience, passion, and drive to launch and scale SOAR Together to become a nonprofit leader and collaborator in the movement to end the epidemic of loneliness.  From her early career as a community organizer and boots-on-the-ground social worker walking journeys with youth and families in St. Louis, Oakland, and Boston to Directing the 9/11 Relief Program for The Children’s Aid Society in NYC, overseeing a team focused on the needs of undocumented workers’ families (window washers, floor cleaners, elevator operators, dishwashers in Window on the World), Ginger has committed her career and life to helping change life outcomes for others. 

 

As a Senior Campaign Manager for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Ginger's Light The Night campaign ranked #1 nationally in year-over-year growth, and as a Fundraising Director for The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, she raised over 7M in major gifts and planned giving in less than two years.  She returned to her direct practice roots during Covid, spending the past three years working with adults with intellectual disabilities as a case manager, online class educator/host, and in-person class coordinator for participants across four locations with classes throughout Fairfield County.  SOAR Together is a natural extension of her career-long work, and a way for Ginger to be a leader in the coordinated efforts to end the epidemic levels of social isolation and loneliness felt by those across the U.S.  Ginger had to forego chaplaincy training in 2023 given SOAR’s daily oversight needs, though was trained as a hospice volunteer through RVNA Health which allows her the opportunity to fill her mission of ministry while leading the launch of SOAR Together.

 

An honors graduate of Dartmouth College and All-American athlete in two sports, Ginger received a Master of Social Work degree from Boston University. Her competitive athletic career led her to Dartmouth’s Athletic Hall of Fame, the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, course-record breaking 50K and 50M trail races across the country, and most recently, a final win at the Lake Placid Marathon in June 2022 five months post breast cancer surgery where she hung up her racing shoes.  Ginger’s resilience and power to overcome are trademarks, and fierce advocacy alongside and on behalf of those facing life challenges comes from an unbridled place of deep faith.

In her words: "Throughout my life I have experienced highs and darkness like so many others, many of whom have become my family over time. I have walked in the shoes of abuse, parental divorce, my father's sudden and early death, and my own cancer journey.  I implicitly know loneliness and social isolation, both individually and at times simultaneously.  What I also know is that to heal a wound of any size we must have the faith and courage to persevere, to keep putting one foot in front of the other even if some days it begins with crawling from one's knees.  We can tackle this epidemic that grips us if we chip away at it one gesture of kindness, one smile, one uplifting comment at a time. Together, we can do this."

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Chris Svendsen

Flower Power Program 

Chris is joining the SOAR Together team in 2024 as the logistical brains and flower preparation brawns behind the Flower Power program given its rapid scaling and his wide and deep acumen of program directing.  Chris has spent his 35-year career with increasing roles at CBS Sports, now a Director whose library of work and accomplishments span from the Olympic Games to The Masters Movie, the NFL to March Madness, U.S. Open Tennis to horse racing.  In his outside work for CBS programming, Chris has interviewed four Presidents, athletes and coaches across the U.S. and beyond, and oversees broadcast crews on a weekly basis to bring those of us watching at home a seamless, live television experience.  Routinely juggling upwards of 50 screens and anywhere from 8-50 cameras, Chris' capacity to orchestrate is beyond compare. 

 

To say Chris has what it takes to help scale SOAR's Flower Power Program to the next level is an understatement, and he does so daily with grace and ease.  His signature is his kind and easy demeanor, approachability, and level-headed approach to any and all issues that make others spin.  The more moving pieces, the more he thrives. 

 

In His Words: "Watching Ginger work around-the-clock taking SOAR from concept to not only reality but a veritable and scalable business in less than 9 months was something I have never witnessed given my career spent in one large media entity.  What I do know, however, is what it takes to execute with 25 proverbial balls in the air given the work I do.  I paused not a moment when she asked me to jump in this year to help work "in" the business so she can work as hard as she needs to "on" the fundraising and partnership/program development necessary for SOAR to keep touching and changing more and more lives each day. I contend with significant bouts of loneliness given my  job takes me away from home far more often than I would like, so this also helps me feel uplifted as I know I am helping others who face similar feelings though perhaps stemming from different sources."

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Rob Webbe

Rob Webbe

Digital Marketing 

Rob juggles his post as the videographer/tech support for Easton's public access programming while also overseeing the digital needs of SOAR Together.  Rob is also a supremely talented floral designer, making some of the best arrangements that go out our door.  Rob's signature is his eye for color and desire to ensure each recipient knows how loved they are when they receive a Flower Power.

 

With a deep passion for learning and combining it with his technology talents, Rob was the Assistant Editor for the film, "Cine Symphony Planet Earth" which explored the origin of the universe and the history of the Earth.  He graduated from Connecticut College with a degree in political science and brings a toolkit of invaluable technological, production, and organizational skills to SOAR making Rob the perfect fit to ensure all digital needs are met and Flower Power logistics run smoothly.  

In his words: "I am thrilled to be part of the SOAR team because my sister has developmental disabilities and needs the kind of supports SOAR is able to provide.  I look forward to connecting her to others in ways she currently is unable to do.  She doesn't always know how loved she is and I have the chance to help change that."

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