Meet the
National Team

Meet the
National staff

LifeSmarts is run by the National Consumers League to create empowered, informed young people.


Lisa Hertzberg

Program Director

Lisa has been with LifeSmarts for 26 years — first as a State Coordinator, and for the past 20 years as the national Program Director. She loves hearing stories from coaches and students about what LifeSmarts has meant to them! Strategy, fundraising, partnerships, and developing educational materials and competitions are some of Lisa’s favorite parts of the job. And she is gratified to know that the program has reached more than 1 million students in its 27 years!


Cheryl Varnadoe

National Outreach Coordinator

Cheryl joined LifeSmarts in 2018 as the LifeSmarts Program Outreach Coordinator and telecommutes from Georgia. Before joining the National Consumers League, Cheryl worked for Georgia 4-H for 34 years as an Extension Agent and Georgia 4-H Specialist and served as the Georgia State LifeSmarts Coordinator. Her favorite part of LifeSmarts is seeing competitors grow in their knowledge of the essential life skills that are embedded in the program while they learn teamwork, decision making and leadership.


Elena Robertson

Development Manager

Elena joined the National Consumers League in April 2020 as the Development Manager focused on the LifeSmarts Program. She works alongside the Director for Development and the LifeSmarts Team to provide fundraising support. Elena has been working in non-profit administration for five years, previously lending her fundraising talents to the Shakespeare Theatre Company, National Public Radio, and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.


Ryan Barhoush

Program Associate

Ryan joined the National Consumers League in January 2022 as a Program Associate supporting both the LifeSmarts Program and NCL’s Food Safety & Nutrition public policy area. Prior to joining NCL, Ryan interned at Gulf International Forum as a research analyst studying OPEC. Besides being a consumer advocate, Ryan is passionate about foreign policy, corruption and transparency issues, and anti-trust monopolies in the marketplace. Ryan received his BA in Political Science from the University of Central Florida.

Meet the State

NCL and LifeSmarts are fortunate to partner with amazing State Coordinators who are the face of the program at the state and local level. Visit the Coordinator page for more information on how to become a LifeSmarts State Coordinator.


Karen Ellington


Karen Ellington is the Assistant Principal at San Luis High School in California. Karen became involved in LifeSmarts as a coach for teams from her high school and took teams to the LifeSmarts National Competition for several years. As a coach, she has seen how LifeSmarts can directly impact students’ lives. They learn so much more in LifeSmarts that can immediately translate into their world than they do in any academic class. The best part about LifeSmarts for Karen is always the in-person competitions and the interactions between the students. Even though they are in a competition, they are making friends and supporting one another.


Jordan Sveen


Jordan Sveen is a FCCLA State Adviser and an Assistant Family and Consumer Science Program Director in the state of Colorado. Jordan’s state office provides the curriculum and program support for Career and Technical Education and encourages their programs to participate in LifeSmarts. Her favorite part of LifeSmarts is providing opportunities that validate the importance of FCS curriculum and and fun activity.


George Horn


George Horn is a retired teacher and LifeSmarts coach who now serves as the volunteer LifeSmarts State Coordinator in the state of Delaware.


Christopher Green


Christopher Green is the Public Relations Manager and Outreach Coordinator for the Division of Consumer Services at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The Division of Consumer Services is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints and a consumer resource for protection, information, and education. As a consumer education program, LifeSmarts ties right in with the department’s philosophy that an educated consumer is a safer consumer. Christopher looks forward to promoting LifeSmarts in Florida and to making a positive difference in the education of Florida’s young consumers.


Brittani Lee


Brittani Lee is a County Extension Coordinator with the University of Georgia Extension/Georgia 4-H, and began serving as a Coordinator in 2018. Lee was a LifeSmarts coach and has served as a member of the Georgia State LifeSmarts committee since 2013. Georgia 4-H offers the LifeSmarts program because it embodies the Georgia 4-H mission of assisting youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills, and forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive and contributing members of society. Her favorite part of LifeSmarts is watching youth develop into knowledgeable young adults and gain confidence through their participation in the program.


Theresa A. Kong-Kee, Gloryana R. Akapo and Ryan Ucol


Theresa Kong Kee is an investor Education Specialist with the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Office of the Securities Commissioner. She became the co-coordinator in 2013 and started co-running the program with Gloryana Akapo in 2018. Theresa believes LifeSmarts offers a unique opportunity for students to learn about real consumer and financial topics that will help them now, and in their future. The content, friendships and overall experience can be life-changing for many students! Her favorite part of LifeSmarts at the state level, is seeing the excitement of the students as they give it their all to win and represent Hawaii at the national competition. At the national level, she enjoys seeing the Hawaii team participate and embrace the total experience that NCL provides through the competition and supporting events. After 5 years, she can truly say that the LifeSmarts Program is more than a competition, it’s an excellent opportunity for students to grow and better themselves both academically and personally.


Dr. Chuck Stamper


Chuck Samper is an Extension Special Projects Coordinator, Kentucky 4-H Youth Development, he has been a LifeSmarts State Coordinator for 3 years. 4-H is a youth organization committed to building outstanding leaders with marketable skills to succeed in today’s global society.    4-H empowers youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults. The four H’s represent the idea of Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.  These are the values members work on through fun and engaging programs. 4- H supports LifeSmarts because it believes in providing positive development experiences that all youth to experience belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. 4-H Youth Development is part of Kentucky Cooperative Extension.  Extension’s mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of Kentucky citizens through non-formal education for the entire family.  Extension agents and volunteers take the results of university research and explain it in such a way that different age groups can learn and apply the information to their own lives. Chuck’s favorite part of LifeSmarts is the State Event. 4-H hopes to increase participation in the Kentucky program this year.


Charlene Nichols


The Kansas Council for Economic Education is a longtime
supporter of the LifeSmarts Program. The Council believes that LifeSmarts topics are the things most adults wished they would have learned in school but did not. LifeSmarts’ competitive format is a great way of encouraging many students to work just a little bit harder than they might have while rewarding them for their hard work. The Council loves hearing from previous LifeSmarts students how much they appreciate all the knowledge gained from LifeSmarts. That makes all the work worthwhile! The knowledge gained in LifeSmarts is information every student will see as valuable to their future, regardless of their career choice.


Amanda Larkins


Amanda Larkins is the Outreach Manager at the Office of the Attorney General Jeff Landry of Louisiana. The Louisiana Department of Justice has supported LifeSmarts since 2013, and I have been coordinating the program for the past four years. Attorney General Jeff Landry strongly encourages Louisiana high school students to participate in the LifeSmarts program to strengthen their consumer knowledge and build solid skills for the future. Amanda’s favorite part about LifeSmarts is watching the students engage, learn, and compete.


Alva Amaker


Alva is President/CEO of A&A Athletic Consulting. LLC in the state of Maryland. Professionally Alva’s experience has afforded her 26 years in management and program development. She has served 25+ years in the health industry as a health educator, emergency medical technician, and community health consultant providing emergency response training, community education on chronic diseases, and direct service provider in adolescent drug treatment and case management. Alva also served 20+ years in the sports industry as a coach, an official, event staff, and 15 years in athletic administration. Alva supports LifeSmarts because it creates the ability for students to apply learning to life and feel that it is critical to building self-sufficient young adults. Life Smart provides the connection to situational life skills. Her favorite part of LifeSmarts is the daily quizzes.


Mary Hillmann


The South Central Service Cooperative serves as the Minnesota State LifeSmarts Coordinator. The organization is represented by Mary Hillmann, the Academic Program Administrator at South Central Service Cooperative, who has been the MN state coordinator since 2015. LifeSmarts fits well within the Cooperative’s programming of student events and activities. Mary’s favorite things about LifeSmarts are its’ helpful curriculum for educators and the face-to-face state competition, which she believes is great fun. SCSC works hard to have more participation in the LifeSmarts program and believes the practical, yet fun format is great for all students across the state of Minnesota.


Linda Cumpton


Linda grew up on a farm in Missouri with her identical twin and brother. Linda is former Family and Consumer Science teacher. Little did she know she would find the FACS classroom was her calling, and that life had been teaching her exactly what was needed to provide students with the tools they need for life. Linda is a former LifeSmarts Coach of the Year who was able to teach students practical life skills and take them on adventures of a life time through LifeSmarts, attending National Competitions five years in a row. Linda has been lucky enough to find a career that includes her hobbies of cooking, sewing, and being a mom. She lives each day by her most repeated motto, happiness is a choice.


Chesley Greene


Chelsey Green is the Human Sciences and Education Career Field Specialist and Nebraska FCCLA State Adviser at the Nebraska Department of Education. Nebraska FCCLA is excited to support LifeSmarts as a way for members and students to apply the knowledge they are learning in Career and Technical Education classes and be recognized their achievements. The educational materials that are available to teachers through LifeSmarts are also great benefits to working with the organization. The opportunity for LifeSmarts to be seamlessly integrated into various CTE classrooms is an exciting opportunity for educators across Nebraska. Chelsey looks forward to seeing their students find success through this program. Chesley is also excited to see students put their knowledge to the test and gain recognition for their efforts.


Cathy Allen


Cathy Allen serves as Associate Extension Specialist with Oklahoma State University, where she is responsible for coordinating 4-H curriculum and Healthy Living programming. Cathy is excited to be coordinating LifeSmarts and introducing the program to Oklahoma youth Oklahoma 4-H is excited to be a part of LifeSmarts because they feel it aligns perfectly with the 4-H mission of developing skills for life.


Donnajean C. Szukalski and Sarah A. Charles


Kim Edmunds


Kimberly Edmonds is a Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent with Virginia Cooperative Extension in Henrico County. She co-coordinates the program with Cherry Hedges and began serving in 2012. Kim considers LifeSmarts a natural fit for the Extension because it supports the Extension’s role of providing information, education, and tools that all citizens can use every day to improve their lives in a fun way. The Virginia Credit Union support the Virginia LifeSmarts Program. Kim’s favorite part of LifeSmarts is meeting the teams during the state competition.


Sonya Haught

West Virginia

Sonya Haught is a Technology Integration Specialist at Ritchie County Schools and also a FBLA Advisory. She supports LifeSmarts because it is a program that teachers students about the basics of being an adult and making good financial and personal decisions. Sonya says her favorite part of LifeSmarts is going to Nationals and meeting students from all around the country.


Kay Johnson


Sonya Haught is a Technology Integration Specialist at Ritchie County Schools and also a FBLA Advisory. She supports LifeSmarts because it is a program that teachers students about the basics of being an adult and making good financial and personal decisions. Sonya says her favorite part of LifeSmarts is going to Nationals and meeting students from all around the country.


Tammie McCarthy


Tammy McCarthy is a Retired Educator and a Wisconsin State LifeSmarts Coordinator assisted by Kay Johnson who is also a Wisconsin LifeSmarts Coordinator. Tammy supports LifeSmarts because she believes that the information learned and the skills gained will help all participants be better consumers wherever their path takes them. Her favorite part of LifeSmarts is the face-to face competitions.

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