Meet Our Board
Doug founded the River Ellis Foundation with his wife, Rachel, in 2018. Along with the Foundation, Doug is involved in a range of different community organizations. He is Past President/Current Board Member of the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum, Member of Towne Leadership Alliance, and serves as Senior Vice President of Acquisitions at Suburban Capital, a hospitality company headquartered in Virginia Beach. Doug has been an avid waterman and surfer all his life, and enjoys living close to the ocean in the North End of Virginia Beach with his family. Doug takes great pride in the fact that, through The River Ellis Foundation, his daughter’s legacy will be one of hope, community, and sunrises.
John is a Managing Director at Envest Capital Partners, a private equity firm headquartered in Virginia Beach. John previously worked as a corporate and securities lawyer, specializing in structured finance, mergers and acquisitions, and private equity. John earned his law degree from William & Mary and his BA from Washington and Lee. John is active in the community, having served on a number of boards including the Old Dominion University Educational Foundation, where he is a member of the University Endowment’s Investment Committee, as well as the 757 Angels Group and the Norfolk Academy Alumni Association. John enjoys surfing, boating and spending time on the beach with his wife and three young children.
Phil is a Virginia Beach native first meeting the Ellis family at Norfolk Academy. He enjoyed another four years with Doug at William & Mary before attending UVa for law school. After a short stint in California Phil returned to his Virginia roots and is now an Associate General Counsel at Sentara Health. Phil is married to his best friend, Katie, and has two beautiful daughters, Liara and Zoe.
Laurie Dipace Reed grew up in Montauk, New York and attended Old Dominion University. She majored in elementary education and was a 4th grade teacher with the Virginia Beach City Public Schools for 13 years. In 2000 she and her husband Rick opened iNLeT Fitness in Virginia Beach. Laurie is a fitness instructor and is the Group Fitness Coordinator. She enjoys anything fitness related, the beach and spending time with family. Her greatest accomplishments are her beloved 3 children Jett, Summer and Jacq. She is proud to be a board member with the River Ellis Foundation providing a sunrise for those faced with unexpected hardships.
Marketing, Donor Engagement
Rachel has a deeply personal connection to the Foundation as she and her husband, Doug, started REF when their daughter, River, died in 2018. Rachel’s previous nonprofit work and experience as a mental health counselor exposed her to the significant needs within the Hampton Roads area, and she feels honored to be able to make a difference in the community in River’s name. A native midwesterner, Rachel moved to Virginia Beach in 2013 and loves living near the beach. In her spare time, you can find Rachel somewhere outdoors with Doug and their two children Henry and June.
Laura Blyler Scanland is a nonprofit professional with 15 years of experience in fundraising and program delivery. She is currently a Manager of Fundraising and Partnerships at Global Impact, a nonprofit organization delivering advisory and business services to corporate and nonprofit clients. She draws on her expertise in strategic planning, grant writing, donor stewardship, and project management to help clients meet their goals and achieve outcomes to better serve their constituents. Laura previously worked at the Elizabeth Dole Foundation as Development Manager where she expanded the organization’s individual donor base and diversified streams of revenue to support military and veteran caregivers and their families. Prior to pivoting her career to fundraising, Laura worked at the Social Science Research Council and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) overseeing academic fellowship and grant programs. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from American University. As an Air Force spouse, Laura is an active member of the Hampton Roads community, serving as the scholarships chair of the Langley Spouses Club and a member of the Junior League of Hampton Roads. She made her television debut in 2023 as a contestant on Jeopardy!
Merrick is a Commercial Banker with TowneBank in Virginia Beach. She has worked with many local community organizations and currently serves on the Children’s Health Foundation Board for CHKD, the Board for the Virginia Arts Festival and the Norfolk Academy Alumni Board. She and her husband Michael have three daughters who enjoy playing sports and being active.
Brian is a Senior Project Manager with Clancy and Theys, a southeast privately owned, family-run commercial construction company with VA division covering the Hampton Roads and Richmond markets. Brian is a Hampton Roads native that grew up around the construction industry and has worked with Clancy and Theys since attending ODU and studying Civil Engineering. Brian is active in the community and industry organizations. Brian was honored and quick to jump at the opportunity when asked to join REF board. Brian and his wife, Stephanie, enjoy being oceanfront residents and spending as much of their free time boating or beaching it with their two daughters, Adeline and Madison.
Jade is a Tax Senior Manager in BDO’s Norfolk Core Tax Practice. As a member of the National Real Estate Industry Team, he has extensive experience providing tax planning and consulting services for real estate businesses as well as for businesses in the hospitality, manufacturing, and construction industries. As a trusted business advisor, Jade supports his clients with choice of entity considerations as well as provides guidance throughout the business life cycle including formation, acquisition, disposition, and liquidation of business entities. He has significant experience in providing advice and direction in structuring complex partnership transactions. Additionally, Jade serves his community as a member of the Finance Committee for the Board of Directors of the Elizabeth River Trail Foundation where he utilizes his financial skillset to guide the organization in fulfilling its mission.
Board of Directors
A message from the board of directors:
Welcome to the River Ellis Foundation. We sincerely appreciate your interest in our mission of providing assistance those in our community who have experienced unexpected hardship. Our Foundation strives to give a sunrise to our neighbors who have found themselves in the middle of something they couldn’t have prepared for, who don’t quite fit into a box but need some support to get through the adversity they’re facing. We’re passionate about this mission because we all know someone who could have used a helping hand through a rough patch, and we bet you do too. We’re homegrown and our focus is here, on our neighbors and friends in Hampton Roads. We invite you to join us as we try to spread a bit more kindness throughout our community.
We truly appreciate your support.
– The River Ellis Foundation