Group photo of USDB Foundation board members. Back row from left to right: Carl Empey, Christianne Green, Claudia Anderson, Joel Coleman, Meghan Holbrook, Leslie Castle, Susan Thomas. Front row from left to right: Courtney Johnson, Derek Brown.

The USDB Foundation has established a board of directors, a separate 501(c)3, an Organizational Assessment, a Memorandum of Understanding with USDB, and a Strategic Plan. The goal is to gain support and resources for USDB students and their families. The board implements best practices to ensure the nonprofit entity is set up properly and runs efficiently with transparency. One of the projects includes building an Outdoor Family Learning Center to benefit Utah’s children who are deaf, blind, deaf-blind, hard of hearing or visually impaired. For any additional information or documentation regarding the foundation please contact Amy Zaharis

See our Strategic Plan

View Foundation Bylaws


Foundation Executive Director


Portrait of Amy Zaharis wearing blue shirt, shoulder length blond hair

Amy Zaharis
USDB Education Foundation, Executive Director

Amy has worked in development, event planning, community outreach and public relations for many organizations. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Public Relations. She lives in Draper and has four children.



Meet our Board


Portrait of Claudia Anderson smiling, wearing a gold shirtClaudia Anderson
Board of Directors

Founder and CEO of Audio Enhancement, a woman owned worldwide company providing services and products that make the change needed for education to happen through technology. Inventor and patent holder for the first infrared wireless microphone that allows teachers in all classrooms to use for the best delivery system of information (teachers, video, audio, internet) to the students. Formed a partnership with Panasonic in 2004 bringing the newest and best technology possible to the public classrooms. Currently serving as the mayor of Bluffdale City. She is a single mother of four, two of which are profoundly deaf.

Portrait of Derek Brown smiles wearing a light blue dress shirt with plaid tieDerek Brown
Board of Directors

Derek Brown serves as the Chair of the USDB Education Foundation Board. His experience includes constitutional attorney, member of the Utah House of Representatives, senior legal advisor to three US senators in Washington and Utah, and Vice President of Government Relations for a billion dollar corporation. Derek and his wife have four children. Brown is also the current Chair of the Utah Republican Party and a professional pianist.

 Leslie Castle foundation board member smiles for a photo.Leslie Castle
Board of Directors

Leslie Castle is a career Registered Nurse and has served as a member of the State Board of Regents and an elected member of the Utah State Board of Education. She has also served on the Advisory Council of USDB. Castle serves as the interim Treasurer of the Foundation.

Portrait of Meghan Holbrook with shoulder length silver hair, wearing blackMeghan Holbrook
Board of Directors

Meg Holbrook is the Senior Vice President of Government Relations in the Office of the President at Zions Bank. She is also the President of the IJ and Jeanne Wagner Charitable Foundation. She is married to James Holbrook.

Vice Chair Board of Directors Courtney Johnson, smiling with long straight blond and brown hairCourtney Johnson
Vice Chair
Board of Directors

Courtney Johnson has been the director of advertising at WordPerfect Corporation. Courtney is the mother of five children and is active in community service, including causes dedicated to literacy and refugee support. She has served on the USDB Education Foundation as the Vice Chair of the Foundation. She is married to Jonathan Johnson, the CEO of

Portrait of Christianne Green smiling with long straight gold colored hairChristianne Green
Board of Directors

Christianne Greene is a mother of ten children and lives in Herriman. Three of her children are blind and have participated in the USDB Outreach, Short Term, and Study Abroad programs.

Portrait of Joel Coleman in a white shirt and tie with a sweater over the topJoel Coleman
USDB Superintendent

Joel Coleman is the Superintendent of USDB. He has served as a State School Board member and a West Valley City councilman. He is also a founder of the Monticello Academy and was employed for many years as a seminary instructor for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Joel and his wife Kim Coleman live in West Jordan and have 5 children. Kim serves as a legislator, in the Utah House of Representatives.

Portrait of Susan Thomas smiling, wearing blackSusan Thomas
USDB Staff Support

Susan Thomas has served as the Public Information Officer and Strategic Planner for multiple nonprofit organizations and state government agencies. She is the current Communications and Development Director at USDB and also serves as a volunteer Board Member for the American Red Cross in Utah.

Portrait of Carl Empey wearing blue and white striped button up dress shirtCarl Empey
USDB Staff Support

Carl Empey has a strong background in accounting and Finance. He serves as the Managing Director of Finance for USDB and has filled similar roles in other state and private sector organizations. He received his MBA in Finance from Westminster College.

Al VanLeeuwen 
Board of Directors Treasurer

Al VanLeeuwen has been the CFO and also a Vice President of Operations for several companies and has been part of each management team has helped them grow and increase profitability. 

He also has extensive experience with corporate reorganizations, sales and purchases with both strategic and private equity investors. His experience includes improving the company operations and performance to improve sales and profitability growth together with operational and product