Our Leadership Team

Nancy Mendez

President and CEO

Nancy Mendez is a dedicated leader in the human services field, supporting community needs, such as poverty, childhood education, and youth development. She became president and CEO of Starting Point, a Northeast Ohio non-profit youth and family services agency, in 2021.

Before leading Starting Pont, Nancy Mendez was the Vice President of Community Investment at the United Way of Greater Cleveland.  Nancy was responsible for developing the department’s approach for the design, development, testing, implementation, and evaluation of community programs, and special projects.  She was also responsible for ensuring an effective allocation process and grants management.  Ms. Mendez also led the 2-1-1 Helplink line that connects individuals in need with services in the community.

Nancy was named Crain’s Business “Woman of Note” and in a 2013 Distinguished Hispanic Ohioan by the Ohio Latino Affairs Commission. 

Dawn Ambrose

Director of Human Resources

With a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and a Master’s in Business Management from Ursuline College, Dawn has accumulated over twenty years of Human Resources experience across the Manufacturing and Non-Profit sectors. She joined Starting Point during the pandemic and has been an integral part of the team since. Outside of work, Dawn plays a role in the leadership team at her parish and actively volunteers with Greater Cleveland Volunteers.

Alexander Leslie

Vice President of Provider Services

Alex supports a dynamic and talented team that serves countless child care centers, family child care homes, and out-of-school time programs as well as trains thousands of professionals a year; all to provide the best possible programming to children throughout our region.

Alex has an MBA from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management, a BA in Religious Studies from The College of William & Mary, in Virginia, and is an active volunteer with Lake Erie Ink (Chair of the Board of Directors), Cleveland Leadership Center (Co-Chair of the Cleveland Bridge Builder’s Scholarship Committee), and Cleveland Heights/University Heights Schools.

Kara Porter

Executive Vice President

Kara leads organization-wide initiatives, oversees the agency’s advancement and community engagement work, and provides project management and strategic counsel to the Chief Executive Officer.

Kara holds a Master of Science in Social Administration from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Baldwin Wallace University. She is a licensed social worker in the State of Ohio and is a member of Cleveland Bridge Builders Class of 2018.

James Starks

Chief Financial Officer

James holds a BS in Accounting from Case Western Reserve University. Beginning his career in accounting, he gained valuable experience collaborating with various Fortune 500 corporations. For more than three decades, his focus has centered on serving the Greater Cleveland area, providing a unique combination of accounting proficiency and computer services to a diverse range of non-profit agencies. James finds value in contributing to the success and sustainability of these crucial organizations within his community.

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Summer Hours: Starting Point offices are Hybrid Monday - Thursday, Fully Remote on Fridays.