Board & Staff


Board members Kelly Fujiwara, Mike Smitka 2013 Community Festival

Board members Kelly Fujiwara, Mike Smitka and David Elmes at the 2013 Community Festival

President – John F.X. Murphy
Vice President – Holt Merchant
Secretary – Janet Lemmer
 Treasurer – Joe Skovira


  • Suzanne Gardner
  • Kelly Fujiwara
  • John Hodgman
  • Lynette Johnson
  • Janet Lemmer
  • Holt Merchant
  • Karen Pleva
  • Barbara Rowe
  • Joe Skovira
  • Mike Smitka
  • Margy Werling
  • Patte Wood, Executive Director



Suzanne Gardner: is a graduate of Indiana University and worked for Make-A-Wish Foundation and other non-profits before coming to Lexington as the Assistant Director of Annual Giving at Washington and Lee University.

Kelly Fujiwara: Kelly is a transplant from the west coast after growing up in Minnesota, but she has called Lexington home for the past 26 years. She has been involved in a wide array of community activities, many centered around her children as they were growing up.  At this time, Kelly remains involved in the American Cancer Society as a founding member of the local Relay for Life and is on the Rockbridge County Special Education Council.

John Hodgman: 

Lynette Johnson: 

Janet Lemmer:  Janet and her family first came to Lexington while her husband served on the NROTC staff at VMI. After 3 years, the family moved to 29 Palms, California, but they continued to keep track of Lexington events through friends. When Greg retired from the Marine Corps, they returned to the area. Though considered newcomers to some, they’ve been Rockbridge County residents a total of 26 years. Janet has been involved in nonprofits and school settings for 30 years, either as staff or a volunteer. She looks forward to helping many community organizations in the area as a member of the UWR board.

Holt Merchant: 

Holt has been a member of the Rockbridge area community for some decades. He has retired as a history professor but is otherwise not at all retiring! He is president-elect of the Board, with his 2-year term to begin at the UWR annual meeting in February 2017.

John F. X. Murphy John F. X. Murphy is a transplant from the Philadelphia, PA area. Born and raised in New York City, John went to college at St. Bonaventure University and served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. After discharge he went to work for Scott Paper Co. and then followed a management track of positions within commerce and industry. John and his family lived at various times in the Chicago area, Cedarburg, WI and Newtown, PA. His wife, Susan T. Bushnell, was a college professor for over 35 years, teaching at the community college levels in  remedial studies.  Currently she  manages the early childhood literacy at Rockbridge Regional Library.  John & Susan have 5 children and 10 grandchildren. In 1986 John received an advanced degree in Clinical Psychology and worked at various agencies and also in private practice until retirement in the Rockbridge area. He and Susan love to travel and read and he is a voracious reader. Susan loves to hike and garden.

Karen Pleva:  Karen has lived in Lexington since 1969 when her husband took a teaching job at Washington and Lee University. They both graduated from the University of New Hampshire, she with a Masters degree in Biology and Education (and he with a PhD in Chemistry). She worked in our local schools as a teacher and counselor for many years and is currently a Home Bound instructor. The Merchants have two children and two grandchildren. United Way has been an important activity as they are committed as a family to giving back to the community.

Barbara Rowe In the early 90s, Barbara was Executive Director of our local United Way and has been an active United Way volunteer ever since. Other interests have included equine sports and volunteering at the Virginia Horse Center, and leading guided meditations and teaching contemplative practices for the community. She has worked as a college administrator at Southern Virginia, Hollins and currently W&L (since 2002). She’s raised three lovely daughters (Ruth, Lucy, and Fran) and her husband, Dick, teaches at VMI and is an avid birdwatcher and photographer.

Joe Skovira Joe Skovira, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, has lived in the Rockbridge area for 12 years. After serving in the US Army in France and Germany he became a computer programmer with Army’s Computer Systems Command. That position led to a career in the Information Technology (IT) field where he held positions as systems analyst, project manager, and division vice president. After retiring from the IT business he taught European History for 7 years at West Potomac High School in Fairfax County Virginia. Following his retirement from teaching in 2003 he and his wife Margaret moved to their home in the Brownsburg area of Rockbridge County. While living there he served as President of the Brownsburg Community Association, Secretary of the Brownsburg Ruritan and Chairman of the Rockbridge County Democratic Committee. Joe and Margaret now live in Lexington and their children live in Portland, OR and Seattle, WA. Joe is a graduate of Loyola University Maryland (BS History), the University of Utah (MBA) and George Mason University (MA History). In 2014 he and Margaret moved to Lexington.

Mike Smitka Michael Smitka has been in the community for almost 30 years, and on the Board for 4 years including 2 years as president. In the past he has been active with Scouting and with several local churches; his wife Gloria has been active with healthcare issues. They are both teachers, Mike at Washington and Lee and Gloria at Dabney S Lancaster Community College. In addition, both their children went through Rockbridge County schools so they are deeply involved in education in our community.

Margy Werling and husband Dick moved to Rockbridge County a year ago from Northern Virginia where they lived for nearly 35 years.  For about eight years, Margy volunteered with the Fairfax/Falls Church United Way, serving on both the Community Needs Committee and the Community Services Committee.  Born in Princeton, NJ, she grew up outside Philadelphia when her father joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.  She graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and earned the MBA degree from George Washington University.  For twenty years, Margy was employed by SRI International (formerly Stanford Research Institute) with 12 years in the home office in Menlo Park, CA.   After years in research, she transferred to the Washington office where she became the Manager of Business Development for Social Science Research, marketing to the Federal Government for eight years.  In addition to her volunteer work with the Fairfax/Falls Church United Way, Margy served on the board of ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid) for 12 years and continues to serve on its Advisory Council.  The Werlings have three grown children and eight grandchildren.

Executive Director Patte Wood:  Born in Seattle and raised near San Francisco, she graduated from San Jose State University with a BA in Music and Psychology and a certificate in non-profit administration from UC Berkeley Extension.  She was Founding Administrator of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University and held that position for 15 years. Upon moving to Rockbridge in 1999, she worked for a dozen years as a reporter and photographer for the Rockbridge Weekly, which has given her a broad knowledge of the community. She continues to be active in other organizations in our community, and is a board member of the Rockbridge Historical Society, Hull’s Drive-in, Fine Arts in Rockbridge and the Rockbridge Area Conservation Council.

Want to join the board? Email