MEET THE TEAM
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.
Director, Youth Development &
Ayomide Adedapo is a Licensed Social Worker born and raised in Staten Island, NY. She has spent most of her professional career working with Youth in educational and SEL settings. Ayomide is passionate about helping students find their passion and purpose. She believes that Youth development, at its core, is providing Youth with resources so they have access to better opportunities. Ayomide received her undergraduate degree in social work from Suny Plattsburgh, where she also played collegiate basketball. She received her Master’s of social work from Adelphi University. Ayomide is enthusiastic about creating environments in which Youth feel safe, comfortable, and empowered. She firmly believes that once given the chance & resources, you can accomplish anything.
Chief Human Resources Officer
Jacqueline Adorno brings to Harlem Educational Activities Fund, Inc. (HEAF) a record of 30+ years of Human Resources experience in organizations across business sectors. Ms. Adorno has extensive experience in various functional areas of Human Resources, including but not limited to recruitment, talent management, union and non-union employee relations, compensation, benefits, employee development, training, and workers’ compensation. She is a prominent pioneer in engaging in proactive outreach and engagement to mitigate the escalation of employee relations and employee engagement matters as well as meticulous in safeguarding compliance with company policies and procedures. Prior to joining us at HEAF, Jacquie was the Director of Human Resources at Savvy Intrapreneur. A strategic and prominent visionary with a proven track record in developing positive business relationship outcomes with employees and key stakeholders. Jacqueline’s hallmark is ensuring employee issues are addressed in a comprehensive and collaborative manner. Ms. Adorno earned her bachelor’s degree from DeVry University and her master’s degree in Human Resources Management from Keller Graduate School of Management.
Youth Development Facilitator
Alina Augustin is originally from the Hudson Valley and moved to New York City after graduating from Bard College, to get her Master’s at Silberman School of Social Work. She has experience coaching youth soccer, facilitating parenting classes, and conducting research. In her spare time, she loves learning about genderless fashion, playing pick-up soccer, and doing creative DIY projects.
Director, Onward (College)
Natalie was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and emigrated to the United States at the age of eleven where she resided in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York. While in high school, Natalie became an activist for college access and community development by creating opportunities for upward mobility through college access. Natalie has since guided over 4,000 students from low-income communities through the college application process. She is passionate about giving back to her community and helping to foster positive mentorship for disadvantaged youth. She holds a BA in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic and is currently working on her Masters in School Counseling from Alfred University.
Chief Finance & Administrative Officer
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 nonprofits offering healthcare and educational services. Ms. Bennett brings expertise in all aspects of not for profit accounting. She has a lifelong dedication for helping others and feels working with nonprofits allows her to fuel this passion. Ms. Bennett earned her BBA at Baruch College.
Chief Development & External Relations Officer
Lauren Girshon is a strategic thinker with diverse experience who fuses creativity with strong business acumen to achieve results. She was born in the Bronx, raised in the suburbs of New York City and currently lives with her family in Manhattan. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.A. in Art History. She started her career after graduation at Goldman Sachs in London and has subsequently worked in various industries, including non-profit. Raising her children in the NYC public educational system, she understands the challenges involved in navigating the system and how daunting it can be without the proper resources. She loves being part of an organization that believes in the potential of every child and which aims to provide equal educational and college access.
Director of Career Connections
Kelli is a Philadelphia native and has been in New York for just over two years. She has a BA in Media Studies from The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, DC, and a Master of Education in Higher Education and Student Affairs from University of South Carolina. Kelli first became passionate about working to provide greater access to higher education while serving as a member of Jesuit Volunteer Corps, where she worked with the Corporate Work Study Program at Verbum Dei High School, part of the Cristo Rey Network of schools, in Los Angeles, CA. Kelli has spent her career building volunteer and student programs with Fordham University, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, and LaSalle University. She brings to HEAF a passion for relationship building and connecting community and corporate partners to the HEAF students and programs in order to raise awareness and deepen our impact.
Manager of Admissions & Community Outreach
Pronouns: They Series
Yamilet grew up in the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights. They graduated from SUNY Purchase with a B.A in Sociology and a minor in History. They have nearly five years of experience working with students as an academic tutor and facilitator. As a HEAF alumnus, they hope to give back to the agency that has been essential to their own growth and successes. They hope to make connections that will encourage student growth and ability to achieve their greatest potential. They have a passion for music, education, connecting with people, and poetry. In their spare time they enjoy reading, traveling, and eating good food.
Chief Programs Officer
Sean Harrell believes firmly in inspiring every scholar to dream bigger, work harder, and care more. With over a decade of experience as a school-based and district leader, Harrell has honed his nurturing approach in providing educators with the operational, curriculum, and youth development supports needed to maximize the organization’s mission and vision. While serving in his various roles, Harrell founded and serves as executive director of the Progressive Educators Group, which is a consortium of educators charged with rethinking education and developing culturally relevant curricula and school processes to drive student achievement. Through Progressive Educators Group, Harrell has served as a thought-partner to over two dozen charter schools and youth development based non-profits. Harrell is trained in the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Program, Reggio Emilia, Wilson Reading, and Children’s Defense Fund’s Restorative Practices.
Finance & Administration Assistant
Nick was born in England and moved to the US when he was very young. He grew up in a small town in Connecticut not far from New York City. Nick earned his degree at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, graduating with a BS in Finance. Nick has previously worked in a variety of different roles including Finance, Retail, Customer Service and Landscaping. Outside of work he enjoys skiing, soccer, cooking, and travel. Nick has a passion for work that brings meaningful change to people and always tries to contribute as much as he can.
Director, High Expectations
Born and raised in St. Kitts and Nevis, Vicky considers herself to be a true Caribbean girl. Her love for traveling, learning about cultures, and helping others propelled her towards obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Human Geography and a Master’s of Education in School Counseling. Since migrating to the U.S a decade ago, Vicky planted her feet in education and is a fierce advocate for education equity and college and career access for students in the NYC area. She firmly believes that all students have the potential to create, define and achieve success when equipped with the resources they need to succeed. She brings with her an extensive background in college and career access and is ready to serve the HEAF community. Vicky is passionate about being part of an organization that focuses on every student’s academic, socioemotional, college, and career success.
Youth Development Manager
Sasha is a southern belle in the concrete jungle! Originally from Houston, Texas, Sasha moved to New York to attend college. Sasha received her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Relations. Sasha has a true zeal for youth as she is an only child and regards the youth she serves as the little brothers and sisters she wished she had. Sasha has been working within the nonprofit sector for the past 6 years in Youth Development. Working at Mary J Blige Center for Women and Children and Goddard Riverside as an Outreach Coordinator. Sasha is passionate about Heaf’s mission to provide equity and looks forward to continuing her journey servicing the youth of New York City.
Senior Manager of Finance & Administration
Calvin Luo is a New York State Registered CPA. He has an M.B.A. in accounting from SUNY New Paltz in upstate New York. Prior to joining HEAF, he worked at PwC, a big-4 public accounting firm, where his focus was for-profit taxes and accounting. Subsequently he worked at Lighthouse Partners, a private hedge fund with $8 billion in assets under management. He worked at Citco Financial Services as a supervisor. He started out at HEAF in the Finance department as a volunteer. His goal is to use his talents and skills to help underserved youth and communities.
Queens Program Manager, High Expectations
Emani is a Bronx native and has resided there her whole life. She recently graduated with a MA in Youth Studies from the CUNY School of Professional Studies. Prior to that, she received her BA in Forensic Psychology from CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Her passion for youth development is evident in the diverse roles she has experienced over the years. Those roles include middle-school girls basketball, volleyball, and softball coach, youth advocate, professional mentor, group leader, teacher’s assistant, and elective teacher. She is very diligent about putting young people first and enjoys supporting their growth and development.
College Quest Manager
Michelle Parague has 26 years of experience in the education sector including at the City College of New York and a role as an Instructor and Academic Coordinator at the Upward Bound Program. Michelle has worked with hundreds of underserved students to develop a growth mindset, build their academic skills, prepare for the SATs, and plan for college. She believes in the transformative power of education and is passionate about equity and educational access. Michelle holds a B.A. in Journalism and an M.A. in Language and Literacy. She starts each day with her favorite mantra – “Do something today that your future self will thank you for.”
Youth Development Facilitator
Data & Development Manager
Stefin Woolever is a native Coloradan and a graduate of the University of Denver with a B.A. in Theatre. Stefin has pursued a career in acting, in Denver and now here in NYC, while accidentally stumbling into the world of Educational Nonprofits and development work. Prior to HEAF, Stefin was the Executive Assistant and Development and Communications Coordinator at Family Star Montessori in Denver, CO. Stefin brings with him a passion for education and for elevating students to be better and strive for more. Stefin loves to learn and brings with him a passion for HEAF, charisma and theatricality, and a daily smile!