In carrying out the work of its mission, HEAF draws on a breadth of experience and dedication to the core values that inform its unique approach to academic enrichment, youth development, and career preparation. HEAF’s staff is comprised of diverse individuals working diligently and collaboratively to carry out its mission of empowering underserved students through a comprehensive array of educational programming and learning opportunities.
President & CEO
Ms. Rathblott has been a leader in the nonprofit sector for nearly 20 years, 15 of which she spent at Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City where she played a central role in its expansion. There she held a series of progressively responsible positions, ultimately serving as associate executive director where she managed a $10 million annual budget and oversaw six major agency departments and corresponding board committees ranging from finance to public relations /marketing to operations. Ms. Rathblott holds a B.A. from Goucher College and an MSW from Boston University. She was the youngest alum awarded the Goucher College Excellence & Leadership in Public Service in 2005. Ms. Rathblott joined HEAF in January 2013.
Director of Finance and Administration
Deirdre Bennett comes to HEAF with several years of nonprofit experience. Before coming to HEAF as Director of Finance and Administration she worked at several non profits offering healthcare and educational services. Ms Bennett brings an expertise in all aspects of not for profit accounting. She has a lifelong dedication for helping others and feels working with non profits allows her to fuel this passion. Ms. Bennett is a CPA and earned her BBA at Baruch College.
Chief of Programs
Mr. Butler is a proud native of San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. From his involvement with the Omega Boys Club, Omar embraced the motto “The more you know, the more you owe.”, and learned the value in giving back. As a first-generation college student himself, Omar sees the importance of college-access work and how transformative it can be for students, their families and even entire communities. Omar has worked for several successful youth development organizations in the Bay area including Youth Alive!, Omega Boys Club and the Bayview Hunters Point Foundation. Prior to joining HEAF, Omar was founding Site Director of College Track San Francisco. Under this leadership, College Track San Francisco achieved the highest retention, college admission and graduation rates in their network. Omar has his B.A. in Black Studies from Long Beach State University.
Associate Director of Institutional Relations
Malin Bergman brings over ten years of experience as a grant writer and copywriter. Prior to joining HEAF, she served as a grant writer at ACE Programs for the Homeless, where she directed and managed all grant-seeking and copywriting processes, and secured grants from such funders as Bloomberg, Robin Hood, and the Weinberg Foundation. Before joining ACE, she worked at Union Settlement Association as the principal grant writer for the agency’s Youth Services division, which provides 2,000 low-income minority youth each year with college prep and after-school services. Malin holds a Ph.D. in Economics and a B.Sc. in Economics and English from the Stockholm School of Economics. During her time in academia, she spent one year at MIT as a visiting Ph.D. student, and two years at Columbia University as a post-doctoral fellow.
Associate Director of College Quest
Sully Diaz is a native New Yorker and graduate of Middlebury College. She has dedicated her career to education serving youth and young adults within non-profit organizations. Prior to HEAF, Sully was the Director of Educational Support at The Learning Disabilities Assoc. of NYC where she developed and managed academic enhancement programs for high school and college students with diverse learning styles, and language barriers. HEAF was initially introduced to Sully in 2013 when she facilitated a Study Skills and Learning Style senior seminar workshop. Shortly after, during the fall of 2013, she volunteered as a mentor for two HEAF seniors, and earlier this year was hired part-time to lead the College Quest Senior Seminar. Her experience and passion in non-profit organizations and youth development programs has led her to now guide HEAF high school students to success as the Associate Director of College Quest.
As a Brooklyn native, Michael Ferron is well versed in the needs of the community and HEAF. Michael knows and understands the benefits of emotional intelligence and solution focused youth development. Michael graduated from Daemen College with a BA in Social Work. Over the last 2 years, he has worked with several youth organizations that focus on providing youth development resources to students from underserved backgrounds in the State of New York. In these settings he has worked on crisis intervention with families, youth development, college readiness and access. Michael brings experience from organizations such as Department of Social Services, Child Protective Services of Erie County, New York City Department of Education and College Summit Inc.
Associate Director, Youth Development
Ginger brings to HEAF over 13 years of experience in leadership, innovative programming and counseling with youth in the Greater New York area. Her supervision of Graduate social work interns has been with New York University, Columbia University and Hunter College. Additionally, Ginger has several years of experience in both non-profit and private practice providing individual, family and group therapy. She received both her BSW and MSW from Adelphi University and earned her LMSW from the New York State Department of Education and SIFI from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College.
Manager of Volunteer Initiatives
A New Jersey Native who was raised in Trenton, New Jersey, and currently lives in Jersey City, NJ. April has always had a deep passion for her community. Her parents instilled the importance of giving back at a very young age and it has had a great impact on her career path as an adult. April comes to HEAF with several years of nonprofit experience in the areas of fundraising/special events and meaningful volunteer engagement. She has extensive experience working with Junior Boards and planning high-end events. April earned a degree in Communications from Lincoln University.
Finance Associate & Administration Manager
Shatia Mckinnon is a New York Native who has resided in four out of five boroughs of New York City, and currently lives in the Bronx. Shatia has always had a passion for helping people. She started her career at John Jay College of Criminal Justice majoring in Legal Studies, but later found interest in Finance and Human Resources. Shatia earned her degree in Criminal Justice, and is still pursuing her education in Legal Studies while at the same time looking to become a certified Human Resource Manager.
Associate Director, High Expectations
Mariela graduated from Swarthmore College with a BA in Educational Psychology and earned a M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. While at Boston College, Mariela was a Donovan Scholar with a primary focus on urban teaching. Since then, she has dedicated her career to addressing educational access problems in urban communities. In her previous role, she oversaw student progress and achievement in partnership with parents, tutors, and classroom teachers to meet students’ educational and behavioral needs as they prepared for high school and, eventually, college.
Manager, Admissions & Community Outreach
Nkese Rankine has a B.A. in Political Science and Women and Gender Studies from Bates College. Over the last 3 years, she has worked with several youth organizations that focus on providing educational resources to students from underserved backgrounds in the larger New York City area. In these settings she has worked on multimedia communications, web-based development, volunteer engagement, developing external partnerships, and video and print marketing. Currently, she is pursuing a Masters Degree in Sociology of Education with a concentration in Educations Policy at Teacher’s College Columbia University.
Executive Assistant to the President and CEO
A graduate of Hunter College, Danielle Savary joins HEAF as Executive Assistant to the President with 10 years administrative experience working with not-for-profit organizations. Prior to joining HEAF Danielle worked for other organizations such as the Russell Sage Foundation; The After-School Corporation a collaborative organization that funds, monitors and supports after-school programs in public schools and Palladia, Inc., an organization that assists New Yorkers struggling with homelessness, HIV/Aids, poverty, domestic violence and the justice system. Along with her experience, Danielle brings to HEAF a passion for youth and a commitment to HEAF’s mission and visions of expansion.
Victoria True received her BA from the University of Delaware in Criminal Justice and Sociology and a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University. Throughout her life Victoria has been very active and committed to working with youth and bettering their future success. She has worked as a counselor at a full-time alcohol and drug treatment center for teenage girls, as a High School social worker in Brooklyn, and as a Program Coordinator for the nonprofit Groove With Me in East Harlem. She strongly believes in the importance of a holistic approach and using innovative and unique approaches to working with youth at HEAF.
A graduate of Princeton University, Ben Wainwright has a B.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with minors in Global Health and Health Policy and Gender and Sexuality Studies. Prior to joining HEAF, he worked in development and policy research for public health issues like HIV/AIDS, relationship violence, and childhood obesity. Ben has been passionate about promoting academic success since high school, when he first volunteered to tutor at the middle school he had attended; he continued to tutor through college, and he still works with middle and high schoolers on math and standardized test prep.
Jessica is a graduate of St. John’s University with a BS in Public Relations. Prior to joining HEAF, she most recently worked as the Communications Coordinator at the National Guard Youth Foundation where she utilized her communications skills to assist the Foundation in fulfilling its goal to change the trajectory of high school dropouts. She has also worked with Fingerprint Communications and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service. She enjoys blogging, and is a columnist for Ms. Career Girl, a blog aimed at helping young professionals navigate their career and life. Her professional memberships include the Public Relations Society of America and the National Association of Black Journalists.