Karen Wendeln

Retiring Executive Director

Karen began her career with The Foundation on January 1, 2001 as the first employee and executive director of the young Foundation and served as its only employee for over seventeen years. Karen graduated from Fort Loramie High School, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education at Miami University, and holds an M.Ed. degree from the University of Dayton. Karen taught learning disabled students in Shelby County and developmental students at Edison Community College, and later served as executive director of Meals on Wheels of Piqua prior to coming to The Foundation.

Karen and her husband, Tony, have three grown children (Michael, David and Kelly) and six grandchildren. Karen is an active community volunteer, having received the Salvation Army “Others” award in 1997, the Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce’s Order of George Award in 2003, and was named to the Buckeye Trail Girls Scouts Hall of Fame in 2007. Karen serves currently in leadership roles with Piqua/Covington Girl Scouts, Meals on Wheels of Piqua, St. Mary/St. Boniface Welcome retreats, Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley and the Library’s Assistance and Development Fund.

Michelle Perry

Incoming Executive Director

Michelle joined The Foundation in March 2020 as its new executive director. A graduate of Sidney High School who spent most of her childhood living in Piqua, she holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a certificate in journalism from Indiana University. She began her career at a daily newspaper in Colorado as a photographer and features writer, and later served as the editor. She transitioned into marketing, public relations and nonprofit management roles in the health care, early childhood development and economic development fields. After many years in Colorado and a stint at a statewide University of Kentucky-affiliated nonprofit, Michelle is excited to be back at home near family.
Michelle enjoys photography, gardening and writing. She looks forward to becoming a hobby farmer and becoming involved in local organizations with missions close to her heart.
Erica Ernst

Erica Ernst Claypool

Administrator of Grants and Scholarships

Erica began her career with The Foundation in April 2018, when she became the assistant to the executive director. Erica has recently assumed the role of Administrator of Grants and Scholarships. She will be the main contact for scholarship applicants and those seeking grants in the Spring and Fall grant cycles from The Foundation’s unrestricted funds.

Erica is originally from Houston, Ohio, but has spent most of her adult life as a Piqua resident. She graduated from Edison State Community College with an Associate’s in accounting and received her BA from the University of Cincinnati as a communication major. In addition, Erica completed a Masters degree in Biblical Studies at Charis Bible College and is a licensed minister.  She and her husband Michael are the proud parents of five children and three grandchildren, while also actively leading mission work here and abroad.