Maryann Hedaa, Founder and Director of Strategy and Board Development
Maryann Hedaa is the Founder of The Hunts Point Alliance for Children and currently serves as the Director of Strategy and Board Development. Maryann has played an active role in transforming the Hunts Point community for over 15 years.
In 2004 Maryann founded the St. Ignatius School for Girls, which in 2005 she integrated with the boys school, and was named Principal. Before embarking on her impactful work in Hunts Point, Maryann was a leader in both the academic and business arenas. Her area of expertise is leadership development, with a focus on how to sustain high levels of commitment and motivation in challenging and changing work environments.
Prior to St. Ignatius, Maryann was Sr. Director at Hildebrandt International where she was head of the Leadership and Strategy Practice Group. While there she consulted with several major professional services companies from investment banks to law firms and consulting firms including Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Skadden Arps, Paul Weiss, Brown Brothers Harriman, Cleary Gottlieb, and Thompson Information Publishing Group.
From 1985-1997 Maryann was an instrumental teacher, leader and external business consultant at Columbia Business School, where she was the Assistant Dean of Education and Director of the Institute for Non Profit Management. In addition to teaching and leading the Institute, she taught in both the MBA and Executive MBA programs. While at Columbia, Maryann was a Partner and Head of the Leadership Development & Performance Practice at the Impact Planning Group, a consulting firm made up of CBS professors. In this role she created several executive leadership programs for high potential executives in financial and professional service firms.
In 1979, Maryann founded URBAN ADVENTURES, an adapted college-prep Outward Bound Program for inner city at-risk youth. She was the Executive Director of the program for six years, and during that time she developed the Project Discovery Program at South Bronx High School. This youth leadership program currently exists in several New York City High Schools. At the time, Maryann was known as the “Outward Bound Nun,” as she the first Roman Catholic nun to attend OB programs. Also in 1979, she served as the Environmental Education Coordinator for the Bronx Frontier Development Corporation.
Maryann earned a BA in History and English Literature from St. John’s University, an MA and MS from St. Mary’s College in Ethics and Psychology, an MS from Columbia Business School and an STL in Social Ethics from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology.
She currently is a member of the Board of Directors for both the Shakespeare Society and Brilla College Prep Academy, a new charter school located in the Mott-Haven section of the Bronx. She formerly served on the Board of Directors of the Children’s Law Center and The Nantucket Aids Network.
Krystal Reyes, Executive Director
As Executive Director of the Hunts Point Alliance for Children, Krystal Reyes is in charge of managing fundraising, convening Alliance members, overseeing programs and evaluation, and the supervision and coaching of program staff. In addition, she partners with HPAC’s Chief Operating Officer in monitoring relevant policy issues, developing a technical assistance network, crafting policy positions, creating public/private partnerships with potential funders, and increasing parent engagement.
Before joining HPAC’s leadership team Krystal served for four and a half years as Senior Advisor for Children and Family Services in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. In that role, she was responsible for leading various interagency task forces to improve policies and practices in New York City’s health and human service agencies and focused on improving early childhood opportunities, supports for families, and developing community partnerships. A few of her many accomplishments include increasing the capacity of public hospital emergency departments to identify and report child abuse and neglect, advancing initiatives to decrease teen pregnancy, helping implement the Mayor’s Young Men’s Initiative, and expanding and strengthening coordination and communication among City agencies serving children ages 0 to 8.
Before serving under Mayor Michael Bloomberg Krystal was an outreach coordinator and policy analyst at the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families (CHCF) where she helped create a coalition of educators and advocates to address issues related to early childhood education and care for Latino and immigrant children. At CHCF, Krystal developed partnerships with organizations across New York City to inform parents about early childhood resources, and instituted agency tracking of outreach efforts to evaluate effectiveness.
Krystal was a Public Policy Fellow at the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans in Washington, D.C. where she developed the first ever culturally appropriate, bilingual kindergarten through college education toolkit for Latino families. In this role Krystal also conducted research in coordination with the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Education on Hispanic family involvement in education.
Krystal earned an M.P.A., specializing in Public Non-profit Management and Policy Analysis, from New York University, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She earned a B.A., cum laude, in Political Science and Spanish Literature from New York University.
Krystal was born and raised in Moline, IL. Her parents, both immigrants from Mexico instilled in her a hard work ethic and the belief in the value of education. As a high school student Krystal participated in Upward Bound, a federal TRIO program for first generation college-bound low-income students. She credits that program and the supportive staff with giving her the head start she needed to apply, enroll and succeed in higher education.
In her free time: Krystal enjoys listening to Bob Dylan, creating crafts, and reading nonfiction.
What drew her to HPAC, what keeps her invested: Krystal sees the work HPAC does as a microcosm of what needs to happen citywide and nation-wide: communities collectively investing in children’s education. She is inspired by the commitment of HPAC staff to one specific community, and the culture of high expectations for children and families. Krystal was excited by the opportunity to be part of an organization with a mission she believes in: that all children have the ability to achieve.
Tom Huser – Chief Operating Officer
As Chief Operating Office of the Hunts Point Alliance for Children, Tom’s primary role is managing the operational side of HPAC’s business, including budget development and management, human resources, operations and facilities and technology. He also serves as the HPAC liaison with the NYC Department of Education, and works on expanding HPAC’s community engagement, and developing the process for increasing the organization’s capacity. Tom brings the breadth of financial management expertise necessary to successfully seek and administer public funds. In addition, he partners with HPAC’s Executive Director in monitoring relevant policy issues, developing a technical assistance network, crafting policy positions, creating Public/Private Partnerships with potential funders, and increasing parent engagement.
For over six years Tom held Directorship roles at the New York City Department of Education, where his management positions included Director of Policy and Communications in the Office of English Language Learners, Director of Strategic Communications in the Division of Teaching and Learning, and Education Councils Director in the Office of Parent Engagement. Among his many responsibilities he revamped training programs and served as the DOE liaison for over 34 district and citywide education councils, the primary vehicles for parent and community participation in the New York City public school system. He also developed, produced and distributed over 1.5M copies of the “Great Expectations” learning guides for parents of children in grades K-8 in over nine languages.
Before joining the DOE Tom was a Policy Analyst at InsideSchools, a project of The New School Center for New York City Affairs that provides an online platform for the NYC education community—parents, teachers and students alike—to access information and communicate about New York City public schools. In this role, Tom visited and profiled over 70 schools, which provided him an invaluable education about the public education system.
Tom has extensive legal and business experience managing an international family office of portfolio investments in the US and in Romania while he served as Managing Director of Sierra Quadrant Investments Limited. At Sierra Quadrant Tom’s primary responsibilities include budgetary, strategic planning, personnel and management functions. During his tenure the portfolio more than doubled in value despite a challenging legal, economic and political environment.
For over ten years Tom conducted legal work in the corporate arena serving as senior legal advisor, general counsel, broker and chief negotiator for transactions ranging from corporate mergers, acquisitions and restructurings to managing loans among banks, shareholders and insurance companies.
Tom received an M.S. from Columbia University Graduate School of Business, a J.D. from New York University School of Law, and a B.A. in Political Science (cum laude) from the University of Dayton. He was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio where he first became involved in political activism while working on a campaign to lower the voting age in Ohio.
In his free time: Tom is a voracious reader and loves taking advantage of New York City’s diverse performing arts scene including opera, live music, dance, and the visual arts. Most recently he has become interested in Latin American art. Tom also loves to travel and tries to get out of New York as much as possible. His most recent favorite trips were climbing Machu Picchu in Peru, and going on safari in Tanzania.
What drew him to HPAC, what keeps him invested: Tom firmly believes that education is the best tool for young people to have success in life–including those living in the lowest income neighborhoods. Tom has known Maryann for years and was inspired by HPAC’s integral involvement in helping families in such a high-need community overcome the plethora of barriers to obtaining a good education. He is attracted to the ground-level nature of the work, the close ties to the community and families and the visible results HPAC sees from its efforts. He looks forward to being part of the HPAC team, and engaging the various parties and Alliance members in implementing the organization’s new strategic plan.
Griselle Baret, Director of Education Programs
Griselle Baret is co-founder of the Hunts Point Alliance for Children who worked with Maryann Hedaa to bring the vision of schools and community-based organizations working together a reality.
In her current role as Director of Educational Programs, Griselle’s responsibilities include completing assessment evaluations of all HPAC programming, Alliance member engagement, and HPAC’s influence within the community as it expands and strives to fulfill its promises of delivering educational opportunities.
In 2007, Griselle partnered with Maryann Hedaa, to launch the Shakespeare Program, produced the inaugural 1st back to school Fair, and ran monthly meetings with soon-to-be Alliance members including local schools, the POINT CDC, and Rocking the Boat. In this program management and administratativ role Griselle’s responsibilities included writing grants for fundraising, recruiting students and parents, and developing the curriculum for the new Shakespeare Program, among others. Griselle has helped HPAC receive funding grants from organizations including the Charles Hayden Foundation, Altman, Simon, Patrina, and Simon Bolivar, among others.
Previously, Griselle was an Americorps volunteer working as the Community Resource Coordinator and Assistant Director of Summer Programming for the St. Ignatius School. In that role her responsibilities included conducting research for potential donations, maintaining contacts throughout the Hunts Point community and beyond, and assisting the school’s Graduate Support Program in sourcing scholarship funding.
Griselle has worked with youth programs since 2003 when she served a Youth Advisor for the Sacred Heart Youth Group, a safe haven for girls (ages 13-18) of the Sacred Heart Parish in the Highbridge section of the Bronx .
Griselle received a Master’s in Educational Leadership and a B.A. from New York University, to which she received a scholarship through the Hire Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). She grew up in the Highbridge section of the Bronx, attending the Mother Cabrini High School in Washington Heights.
She has submitted academic papers for 2013 publication and has co-authored presentations with HPAC’s Fordham University Graduate School of Education partners concerning HPAC’s work with the Career and Education Mentoring Program (CEMP). She presented her research at the American Psychological Association Conferences in Orlando, FL (2012) and San Diego, CA (2010). In March 2010 she also sat on a panel at NYU that discussed collaborations between community-based organizations and schools.
In her free time: As a dedicated Yankees fan she spends time reading articles about the team. She loves to watch movies, read Young Adult novels, and is a Harry Potter aficionado.
What drew her to HPAC, what keeps her invested: She remains invested in the organization’s mission because of Hunts Point’s vibrant children & family participants. Even though she did not grow up in the Hunts Point neighborhood, Griselle feels that she can relate to many of the kids’ daily struggles including “fears of not amounting to much because of where they are growing up, the hopelessness of poverty, or an inability to play outside.” Through her work with HPAC, Griselle has learned how invested she is in education, as she considers it the most important factor in achievement. As someone who loves school, Griselle is aware that she serves as an example for her students, and wants the Hunts Point kids to share her passion so they can live up their full potential and realize opportunities that are available.
Contact: (HPAC Ext.): x103 | (e-mail): firstname.lastname@example.org
“All that is good and accomplished in the world takes work…”
- Don L. Lee, Institute of Positive Education, June 17, 1973
Jessica Trujillo, Team Leader, Early Childhood Programming
Jessica is the Early Childhood Education Team leader, from which she manages the community outreach, team training, administrative duties and activity research for HPAC’s Play to Learn program, and leads HPAC’s Homework Help program for over 20 kindergarten and first graders at P.S. 48. Jessica also heads Community Café, a partnership program with Project Launch that holds meetings to introduce and engage Hunts Point community members with community representatives to address concerns related to issues including education, safety and cleanliness. In the Summer of 2012 Jessica was Head Teacher for HPAC’s inaugural Summer Smarts kindergarten preparatory program, a four-week intensive that was immensely successful: 89% of students improved their academic testing scores, which measured their reading, writing and social-emotional development.
For two years before joining HPAC full-time,, Jessica was an Americorps Member and Volunteer Coordinator for Jumpstart’s programming in low-income Bronx neighborhoods, including a year at HPAC’s Children’s Community Classroom. As the leader of “Go Books!,” Jumpstart’s partnership program with Children’s Aid Society, Jessica’s responsibilities included lesson planning, guiding small literacy groups, and assessing goals for individual students ages 4-6.
Jessica grew up in the Soundview section of the Bronx, graduating from Lehman High School with a volleyball scholarship to the Borough of Manhattan Community College, where she studied Liberal Arts. Jessica developed an interest in education policy while serving as a parent volunteer on the Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) at the South Bronx Classical Charter School. She also attended Parent Academy meetings and workshops led by psychology and education industry experts in which they discussed their expectations for the school and best practices for supporting their children’s education From her experience at SBCCS Jessica realized her passion for not only education policy and political operations, but also working directly work with children.
After 9/11, Jessica transferred to Bronx Community College where she majored in Mathematics and earned an A.A. S. degree in Education. She concurrently worked as an Entitlement Representative at Thomson Reuters. Jessica graduated as a certified New York State Early Childhood teacher from Lehman College, CUNY in January 2013 with a B.A. in Sociology, and a minor in Early Childhood Education.
In her free time: Jessica enjoys listening to music of all genres and going to the bookstore, especially with her two sons. She also loves physical activity when time permits, particularly swimming and volleyball.
What drew her to HPAC, what keeps her invested: As a native Hunts Point resident Jessica was initially drawn to HPAC because of its mission, strong community involvement and the opportunity to help further the various student curriculums. She stays invested because of the relationships she has built with families. She has seen families who, because of their established trust and confidence in HPAC staff, continue to increase their involvement with HPAC and express a desire to continue through the “pipeline” of HPAC’s programming.
Contact: (HPAC ext.): x106 | (e-mail): Trujillo@hpac10474.org
Rumona Thadani, LMSW & Family Project Director
As Director of HPAC’s Family Project, Rumona is in charge of the provision of social services to HPAC families, as well as program development, outreach, and management of the Family Project team. The mission of the Family Project is to help families living in Hunts Point establish and/or maintain household stability for the purpose of providing a nurturing and supportive environment that promotes the educational progress of children. Upon taking the reigns as Director, Rumona has been establishing the family project as a well-defined, well-structured part of HPAC that provides social service assistance which includes counseling, case-management, advocacy, and necessary referrals to families who are facing issues ranging from mental health and educational problems to family discord and threats of eviction. In addition to ensuring that on-going social service support is available to these families, Rumona is also developing a formalized structure for referrals into the program and an extensive network of social service providers.
Prior to joining HPAC, Rumona spent several months in Bangalore, India as a social work consultancy volunteer and contributed to various projects benefiting street and orphaned children. Her responsibilities included developing fundraising projects, organizing educational and health programs, and conducting meetings on new program development.
Before that, for over five years, Rumona was a social work supervisor at the Legal Aid Society in New York City where her responsibilities spanned management, direct service, and program development. In this role, she launched, structured, and implemented the social work model for the Housing Help Program (HHP), an innovative interdisciplinary legal and social service program that prevents the eviction of low-income families while also helping them develop long-term stability. At the HHP, she provided counseling and advocacy to clients, managed an expansion project to additional boroughs, developed an outreach initiative to create a network of social service resources, and led internal trainings and presentations for funders and partner agencies.
At Spence-Chapin, while working as a social worker in international and domestic adoption, Rumona created the organization’s first program to facilitate adoptions of children from India. Rumona’s work also included providing individual, group, and family counseling, evaluating the eligibility of adoptive parents, producing home study reports, leading public informational sessions on domestic and international adoption, and processing legal and immigration adoption documentation.
Rumona’s initial interest in child welfare stems from her childhood when her parents took her to visit India and she first observed such extreme financial disparity amongst the people and specifically, the children. Subsequently, as an undergraduate, she spent a semester abroad in India where she produced an independent research project and interned with various NGO’s dedicated to bettering the lives of street and orphaned children. During that time, Rumona worked with street children whom she helped teach about art, photography, and basic math skills, which included managing the finances they earned from odd jobs. From that experience, she learned the positive impact that social services, community support, nurturing, education, and practical skill learning can have on children’s self esteem, as well as on their physical, financial, and emotional well-being.
Rumona has also previously worked for organizations including the Associated Press, Whitney Museum, United Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF), Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, Victim Services (Safe Horizons), the DA’s office in Yonkers, NY, and Oppenheimer & Co., Inc.
Rumona was born in Toronto, Canada where she lived until the age of eight when she and her family moved to Pleasantville, New York. There, she began volunteering at the Westchester Medical Center Hospital and won her first humanitarian award. She later earned her MSW with a concentration in Social Work Administration from Columbia University, and a B.A. in Philosophy with a concentration in Ethics and Public Policy from Clark University.
LICENSES AND CERTIFICATIONS
- Certification, Seminar in Field Instruction (SIFI), Columbia University, New York, NY
- License, Master of Social Work, The University of the State of New York Education Department
- Certification, Digital Video Production, New York University, New York, NY
- Certification, Paralegal (ABA Approved), Mercy College, White Plains, NY
In her free time: Rumona does video production work ranging from creating family montages to full-length featured documentaries. One of her goals is to complete a documentary about the public welfare system. She also loves cooking, live music, and spending time with friends & family.
What drew her to HPAC, what keeps her invested: Rumona joined HPAC because of the opportunity to work with children & poverty, two causes closest to her heart. She is invested in HPAC and its mission from her years of working in the Bronx; she is happy to serve this community and feels there is a great need for the services HPAC provides.
Contact: (HPAC Ext.): 108; Thadani@hpac10474.org
Anya Perret, Early Childhood Teacher (Teach for America) Children’s Community Classroom (CCC), 875 Irvine Street
Anya Perret joined HPAC in September 2012 as an Early Childhood Teacher through Teach for America.
Anya’s responsibilities include leading HPAC’s Homework Help program at the Children’s Community Classroom for students from the Hunts Point charter schools, recruiting and hosting Jumpstart participants, promoting and working Play to Learn, conducting outreach to early childhood parents and community partners, and facilitating a parent committee for the Community Cafes program, which focuses on how community members can take immediate action to address their concerns.
After completing her bachelor’s degree, Anya deferred her acceptance to Teach for America in order to work as a medical foster care caseworker at the Children’s Aid Society. In this role she gained a greater understanding of the daily struggle families face in the foster care system, an internal view of the complex and rewarding job of a caseworker, and also exposure to how grant support is managed in practice.
Throughout college Anya was involved in youth education and direct social services both academically and through extracurricular activities, most actively with America Reads, the Social Justice Alliance, the International Rescue Committee, and DREAM, a mentoring & community organizing program for youth from a local Hanover, NH affordable housing community. While in college she also conducted research for a Government Professor on public policy issues including welfare, public housing projects and other issues affecting local teens.
Since high school Anya has enjoyed working with children. As a seventeen-year-old lead teacher at her local preschool in Washington state, she formed a foundation for her interest in child development. At that time she also developed an interest in public service work while on a local Youth Board of a nonprofit foundation that gave grants to at-risk youth. In this role she solicited grant applications and decided the allocation of those grants. Anya became engaged with the Hispanic community while in high school as well when she participated in Amigos de las Americas, a yearlong service exchange program with rural South American families.
Anya graduated from Dartmouth University in 2011 with a B.A. in History and Government, and minors in Psychological and Brain Sciences. She grew up on Vashon Island in Washington, where she received a full scholarship to attend Annie Wright Boarding School in Tacoma, WA.
In her free time: Anya enjoys reading about issues related to education and social justice, volunteering and staying current on local issues. She also enjoys cooking, baking, running, hiking, biking and rock climbing in addition to taking advantage of the theater in NYC.
What drew her to HPAC, what keeps her invested: While Anya was sad to leave CAS, she was excited by the multi-dimensional aspect of working with children and different organizations that support them spanning nonprofits, social services, the healthcare system, education system. Anya was also attracted to the fact that the Alliance harnessed so many organizations focused on one community. She stays invested because “the kids are great,” and she loves the opportunity to see their long-term development. She is excited to approach the challenge of expanding HPAC’s early childhood programs and figuring out ways to best serve families in Hunts Point.
Contact: (HPAC Ext.): x107 | (e-mail): email@example.com
Devin Norik, Performing Arts Director and Head Teaching Artist – Shakespeare Program and Storefront Ensemble
As the Performing Arts Director at the Hunts Point Alliance for Children, Devin teaches students writing, comprehension, acting and performance skills.through the Shakespeare Ensemble (4th-6th grade), SongCorp (4th grade) and Storefront Ensemble (7th-8th grade).
In the three years Devin has been with HPAC he has helped to double the number of student participants in the Storefront Ensemble from twelve to twenty-four, and triple the Shakespeare Ensemble from twenty to sixty students. Performances he has produced with HPAC students have included William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and A Midsummer’s Night Dream.
As co-creator of the Storefront Ensemble, Devin sits at the helm of the program both instructing the students twice a week and directing and producing the final performances that he helps assemble from their narrative written work throughout the school year. Devin has developed the Storefront ensemble curriculum with the goal of continuing the 7th and 8th graders’ Language Arts development through writing personal narratives and performances. In 2012 HPAC’s Storefront Ensemble became a formalized ELA program designed to meet statewide core standards, and Devin manages the program and its assessment.
Devin works both on screen and on stage as a working actor in New York City. Most recently he was seen on MTV’s I Just Want My Pants Back and as as Harold Saxton in the Classic Stage Co.’s 2011 Unnatural Acts, for which his performance earned the Rosemarie Tichler Award.
Devin was previously the head Theater Supervisor at Bank Street Summer Camp, in which numerous Hunts Point students participated. In this role he oversaw the management and growth of three programs: Shakespeare, Musical Theater and Bank Street on Broadway.
Devin received a full Merit Scholarship to pursue his Masters in Fine Arts at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, where he also earned a BFA. He grew up in Rochester, NY where he attended Brighton High School.
In his free time: Devin is an avid movie and theater goer, enjoys local restaurants, cooking and actively auditions and works as an actor.
What drew him to HPAC, what keeps him invested: Devin was attracted to HPAC because he had already developed strong relationships with the students at Bank Street, was inspired by the work HPAC was doing, and excited by the opportunity to lead his own program and develop his own curriculum. Devin remains invested in HPAC because of the kids, and because “life in Hunts Point is never boring.” He thinks Hunts Point adds as much to his own life as he gives back, that he learns just as much from his students as they do from him and most importantly is grateful that he gets to experience the world through their eyes.
Victoria Cohen, Research Analyst and Community Organizer
As Research Analyst and Community Organizer, Victoria Cohen is the eyes, ears and voice of the Hunts Point Alliance for Children in the local community.
In September 2012 Vicki spearheaded HPAC’s annual Back to School Fair by partnering with all Hunts Point Alliance Members and the National Center for Green Schools to make the Fair a spotlight site for the New York region’s Green Apple International Day of Service. Vicki utilizes the relationships from her experience as a member of the City Year Corps in Hunts Point with students, organizations and local leaders to expand the Alliance and HPAC’s reach in the 10474 zip code. Her responsibilities include conducting community outreach for programming, supporting HPAC’s grant writing, data gathering and research efforts. Vicki also helped launch HPAC’s Early Childhood Education programming in 2011-2012 for which she recruited family participants, strengthened Alliance member participation, and forged partnerships with external organizations and institutions.
Prior to joining HPAC Vicki was a Teacher in Training Intern at Achievement First in Bushwick, Brooklyn where she led literacy intervention groups for 6th and 7th graders. Before that, Vicki spent six months teaching English language at the Colegio de La Herradura and Liceo Industrial de Guayacan in Coquimbo, Chile with the English Open Doors program, a joint initiative of the United Nations Development Fund and the Chilean Department of Education aimed at bringing better English Language classes to Chilean public schools. She also served as a Corps Member with City Year New York in Hunts Point, where she supported the second grade literacy program at P.S. 48 and afterschool programming at The Point (on Garrison Avenue).
Vicki graduated from Brandeis University with a BA in Psychology and Hispanic Studies, and grew up in Ellenville, a small town in upstate NY.
In her free time: Vicki loves coffee, coffee culture and going to coffee shops, as well as Zumba classes, Just Dance on Wii, and walking around New York City.
What drew her to HPAC, what keeps her invested: As a City Year Corps Member at P.S. 48, Vicki fell in love with the Hunts Point community and subsequently sought a way to return to Hunts Point. She was offered a position she “could not turn down” at HPAC, whose team she had become familiar with while in the Corps. Vicki remains invested because of the kids she has worked with and the energy around the neighborhood. She believes HPAC’s hard work in education reform, social justice and environmental justice will garner increased positive mass attention in the near future.
Dahiana Lessard, Family Project Case Manager & Early Childhood Associate
As Family Project Case Manager, Dahiana develops individualized service plans designed to help Family Project members set and achieve short-term goals and maintain stable home environments. Her responsibilities include connecting families to external counseling, health or legal services, as well as other support services including food pantries, English language educational programs, among others. As Early Childhood Assistant, Dahiana works closely with her team, focusing on the Homework Help at 875 Irvine and Play to Learn programs.
In the summer of 2012 Dahiana was a teaching assistant for HPAC’s inaugural Summer Smarts Program, a kindergarten readiness program. In this role she worked closely with small groups of students, engaged n curriculum focused on writing, foundational math, reading and social skills. She also ran the Community Cookshop, a weekly healthy cooking demonstration for families enabled by the New York City Food Bank.
Previously Dahiana was HPAC’s Bookkeeper and Food Program Coordinator. In this role she partnered with the Family Project and Alliance members to distribute produce and vegetables donated by Heather Mills, and also coordinated the Corbin Hill Road Farm Farmshare, which partnered with HPAC and the community to promote, package and distribute affordable fresh produce throughout Hunts Point.
Following 9/11 Dahiana enlisted in the United States Army, where she was trained as a Human Resources & Administrative Personnel Specialist and deployed to South Korea and Savannah, Georgia.
Dahiana joined HPAC in 2008 as an Administrative Assistant for Educational Programming. At that time she also received vocational training through “Year Up,” a program that placed her temporarily in IT, business and finance roles at organizations including Google, Inc. Dahiana is professionally certified in Information Technology and has worked in an IT capacity at institutions including the Riverdale Country Day School.
Dahiana plans to pursue a Bachelors degree in Human Services at the Metropolitan College of New York, she has completed coursework at Mercy College in the North Bronx and was raised in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx where she attended the John F. Kennedy High School.
In her free time: Dahiana spends quality time with her two daughters, Amelia and Jayden and likes to go to the gym. She also enjoys live theater and concerts when she has the opportunity.
What drew her to HPAC, what keeps her invested: Dahiana was introduced HPAC’S emphasis on care for Hunts Point’s community members and dedication to improving the neighborhood as a whole. Dahiana remains invested in HPAC mission because of the families with whom she works and has become close.
Contact: (HPAC Ext.): x104 | (e-mail): firstname.lastname@example.org
Pety Acebo, Book Keeper & Administrative Assistant
All runs smoothly at the Hunts Point Alliance for Children (HPAC) because of Pety Acebo, who has been Bookkeeper & Administrative Assistant since October 2010.
Prior to HPAC Pety worked as a Crew Leader Assistant at the US Census Bureau, a position that gave her the opportunity to not only learn more about her community, but also be exposed to the plethora of needs that exist in it. Before that, Pety worked in the Accounting Department at Stuyvesant Oil Company for almost five years where she not only improved her accounting knowledge, but also was enabled to pursue a college degree, one of many goals in immigrating to the US.
Pety graduated from Lehman College with a BA in Accounting in May 2009 and grew up in Ecuador.
Since living in New York many of Pety’s hopes and dreams have come true, but she still has numerous goals to accomplish in the future including pursuing a Masters degree in accounting, and ensuring her daughters receive the best education possible in order to lead successful lives.
In her free time: Pety enjoys cooking and spending time with her daughters.
What drew her to HPAC, what keeps her invested: Pety lives in the neighborhood, and is happy to work for an organization such as HPAC that helps children discover their skills and encourages them to learn something new every day.
Contact: (HPAC Ext.): x100 | (e-mail): email@example.com
Mike O’Keefe, Early Childhood Education Assistant, 875 Irvine
Mike O’Keefe joined the Early Childhood Education team as a Early Childhood Education Assistant in September 2012 after having served as a student mentor, HPAC’s Kenyon Writers Program coordinator and managed the Digital Storytelling Project in which he taught Hunts Point 7th and 8th graders how to use video media to detail issues and problems in the neighborhood. He currently supports Homework Help at HPAC’s Children’s Community Classroom.
For two years Mike was HPAC’s Webmaster and Media Coordinator. In this role he was responsible for managing HPAC’s website and social media presence in addition to creating visual media and marketing collateral including program handouts, informational brochures and event posters. He also partnered with local high school students to create The Five Points, a literary magazine dedicated to expressing their views about growing up in Hunts Point.
In college Mike was an active writer for his school newspaper in addition to the Online Editor and Assistant News Editor. As Editor Mike addressed many issues that prepared him for his work at HPAC.
Mike graduated in 2010 from State University of New York at Plattsburgh with a B.A. in Newspaper Journalism and grew up in Warwick, a small farm town in upstate New York.
Patrica Rodas, Early Childhood Education Assistant
Since January 2012 Patricia Rodas has supported the Early Childhood Education programming. As a mother of two, a native Spanish-speaker and member of the Hunts Point community, Patricia facilitates families’ introduction to HPAC, chaperones students and helps foster a safe, warm and familiar environment in which children and caretakers alike can flourish.
Patricia first came to HPAC when her daughter was applying to the Hyde Leadership Charter School through its lottery system and her aunt, who was involved in the Family Project, referred her. In her role as part-time ECE Assistant, Patricia focuses on Play to Learn at “the Boat,” (Karuna Kids Space), Homework Help specifically with students from Hyde Leadership Charter School and P.S. 48, and Summer Smarts.
Previously Patricia spent three years as a direct-care worker and counselor at Lifespire residential facilities for developmentally disabled adults in the East Village and Roosevelt Island. She received training in direct-care human services work from Seedco, which licenced her to administer medication and certified her in CPR and SKIPP. In this role she assisted adults with daily living tasks ranging from running errands, grocery shopping and laundry, and also administered their medication.
Patricia has also worked as a cashier at Duane Reade, as a financial aid worker at La Guardia College, and as a chef at La Cabana Salvadorena, a Spanish restaurant in Morningside.
Patricia received a B.A. in Accounting from Hunter College of New York and an A.F.S. in Accounting from La Guardia Community College. She was born and raised in El Salvador where she studied computer science and engineering at Don Bosco Universidad.
In her free time: Patricia likes to swim, take Zumba classes and read nonfiction books in Spanish and English. She also takes care of her husband and two daughters.
What drew her to HPAC, what keeps her invested: Patricia first became involved with HPAC’s Family Project as a member of the Hunts Point community. After seeing how dedicated the staff was, she appreciated the extent to which HPAC goes above and beyond the scope of their programs in order to support families’ diverse needs whether they are housing, food, job or education-related.
Judithann Thayer, Education Counselor
As Education Transition Counselor at HPAC, Judithann works individually with students and families in the Family Project and youth development programs to support their transitions between elementary, middle, high school and college. Judithann counsels students seeking admissions to private, charter and catholic schools throughout New York City. Aside from counseling families as they navigate these transitions, she also organizes local SAT preparation classes, Regents preparation and and writing skills workshops for HPAC Scholars. Judithann is also responsible for organizing external educational opportunities like the Kenyon Writers Program and helping students identify and and secure summer internships and job opportunities. For Judithann, 2012 was a monumental year as seven students she had worked with continuously since 6th grade graduated and enrolled in colleges across the country.
Before joining HPAC in 2009, Judithann spent seven years at the St. Ignatius School in Hunts Point where she taught and designed the middle school science curriculum, headed Special Programs for academically advanced students, worked in the Graduate Support program, and was the Faculty Mentor. She was a founding member of the St. Ignatius Girls Program. Judithann has taught and developed science curriculums for private and public middle schools in New York City and Philadelphia including the prestigious Allen Stevenson School in Manhattan.
Previously Judithann spent six years in Milan, Italy, where she taught private English classes to young executives at an American bank. She also volunteered with Literacy Volunteers of America and did team building exercises at Columbia Business School’s Executive MBA program. Early in her career Judithann lived in Bahrain where she worked in public relations for clients including Lockhead, BMW, Café Pacific, and various Arab banks.
Judithann graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Education and minor in Natural Sciences, and also did graduate work at Cornell University in their Marine Studies Program.
Judithann currently sits on the Board of Trustees for the School of the Holy Child in Rye, NY. She has previously sat on the Board of Trustees for the Hunts Point Alliance for Children and the Advisory Board of the St. Ignatius School in Hunts Point. Over the years Judithann has been involved with many nonprofit and philanthropic organizations including Literacy Volunteers of America – New York, which focuses on adult literacy, and the New Beginnings program, which works to resettle women suffering from domestic violence.
In her free time: Judithann loves to read, take long walks, hike and exercise vigorously in the outdoors. She also enjoys playing tennis during the summer.
What drew her to HPAC, what keeps her invested: After having worked for a few years with a small Hunts Point community at St. Ignatius School, Judithann was attracted to the prospect of working with more students at HPAC. Judith continues her hard work at HPAC because she inspired by and invested in the success of the children with whom she works. Furthermore, since HPAC continues to expand she knows the programs are effective as she watches each student succeed.
Contact: (HPAC Ext.): x105 | (e-mail): firstname.lastname@example.org