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 in Public Service in 2005. Ms. Rathblott joined HEAF in January 2013.
Director of Programs
As Director of Programs, Sarah oversees all program initiatives, curriculum development, program evaluation, and student engagement across HEAF’s three sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Sarah has been a progressive educational leader in the nonprofit sector and NYC public education system for over 20 years. She started her career as an elementary and middle school teacher in Washington Heights where she developed a deep understanding of the impact of SEL (Social Emotional Learning) on student achievement and behaviors. Consequently, SEL is integrated into all programming Sarah designs. Prior to joining HEAF, Sarah spent 14 years at Chess in the Schools as Vice President of Programs. During her tenure, she established a rigorous college bound program and teacher training institute. Sarah has a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College Columbia University.
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 earned her BBA at Baruch College.
Director of Development
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.
Associate Director, College Quest
Claribel is from the Bronx, NY and comes from a Dominican family. She graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Sociology from Union College and a Masters Degree in Higher Education Administration from Florida International University. Her career has revolved working in Student Affairs through different universities in New York City and working abroad through the Semester at Sea and N.U.in programs. Now, she’s looking to assist high school students in having the support and resources that she didn’t have growing up. In her spare time, she likes to go to brunch, travel, and listening and dancing to bachata!
Associate Director, Youth Development
Krystal was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. and is the youngest of five boys and the only girl. She is a first-generation college student with a BS in Criminal Justice and a Masters in Social Work and attended both an HBCU ( Lincoln University) and an Ivy League ( Columbia University). Her passion has always been to work with youth and increase youth voice in their communities. In her free time, she enjoys going to brunch, traveling, Netflix and sleeping.
Program Coodinator, High Expectations
Jessica Dagg is originally from the Boston area and moved to New York after graduating from Bard College, where she studied Literature. She has experience working with young people in both academic and peer support roles and is passionate about empowering students with the tools and confidence to be successful wherever they go. In her spare time, she enjoys running, going to museums and trying new restaurants.
Associate Director of Corporate and Community Engagement
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.
Coordinator of Admissions and Community Outreach
Yamilet grew up in the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights. She graduated from SUNY Purchase with a B.A in Sociology and a minor in History. She has nearly five years of experience working with students as an academic tutor and facilitator. As a HEAF alumnus she hopes to give back to the agency that has been essential to her own growth and successes. She hopes to make connections that will encourage student growth and ability to achieve their greatest potential. She has a passion for music, education, connecting with people and poetry. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling and eating good food.
Youth Development Facilitator
Tyran Jackson is a Harlem native and is currently attending College of Staten Island (CSI) for Sports Medicine. My hobby and passion is fitness. I enjoy reading comics, watching anime, and doing puzzles.
Finance and Administration Assistant
Manager, High Expectations
L’Toya hails from upstate New York. Her desire is to help students discover their full potential and empower them to be influencers in their local and global communities. L’Toya is a graduate of New York University and has a diverse background, working in museum education, charter school education and various after-school programs.
Eleanor was born in Guatemala and raised in New Jersey, where she graduated from Montclair State University with a B.S. in Nutrition and Food Science. With a background in food studies, her experiences range from farm worker rights’ advocacy to nutrition education and community gardening initiatives throughout New York and New Jersey. She is passionate about empowering youth and working to create a more equitable education system. Outside of work, Eleanor enjoys developing her own recipes, reading memoirs and trying to learn new languages.
Senior Manager of Finance & Administration
Calvin Luo is a New York State Registered CPA. He has a M.BA. in accounting from SUNY New Paltz from upstate New York. Prior to
joining HEAF, He worked at PwC, a big-4 public accounting firm, where he focused was for-profit taxes and accounting. Subsequently he worked at Lighthouse Partners, a private hedge fund with $8 billion asset under management. He worked at Citco Financial Services as supervisor. He started out at HEAF in the Finance department as a volunteer. His goal is to use his talents and skills to help the underserved youth and communities.
Social Work Intern
Avery was born in Manhattan but lived in New Jersey and Massachusetts before returning to the city. She currently resides in Brooklyn. She was a camp counselor in high school and once in college, worked as a Peer Advocate for younger students. Her Bachelor’s degree is in Dance and a self-designed concentration combining psychology, anthropology, and philosophy. After receiving her B.A., Avery worked at a yoga studio for a year and a half before moving back to New York. She is currently a first year student at Columbia School of Social Work and is looking forward to this new chapter of her life.
Joshua was born in the Bronx and grew up in Washington Heights the youngest of 3 boys. He graduated with a B.S. in Human Biology with a minor in theatre. He brings prior experience working at the non-profit organization Center for Family Life as part of their administrative team. As a product of a Harlem-based after school program he is happy to give back to the community that helped him as a youth.
Brooklyn Program Coodinator
Ravi Rampatsingh was born and raised in the Bronx and is a recent graduate of Hunter College. Ravi is a former employee of the American Museum of Natural History, where he worked for 5 years with programs such as the Saltz Internship Program and the Museum Education Employment Program, teaching student interns about various facets of STEM as well as public speaking and communication out in the halls of the Museum. He brings his zeal for youth empowerment, love of science, and critical thinking to HEAF. As a former student of High Schools and Middle Schools in Harlem, he hopes to make a change at HEAF by way of excellent programming and event provision to students and their families. In his spare time, he enjoys running, coffee, and visiting old-bookstores for buried literary treasure.
Brooklyn Site Manager
Happi Rasheed is a native of Sacramento, CA who first attended Howard University to pursue a major in psychology with a minor in education. She transferred to Maharishi University of Management where she received her BA in an individualized study that focused on creativity and social entrepreneurship. She has a passion for youth advocacy and empowerment that began when she was in high school. Happi has been involved with youth centered organizations in various capacities since 2009 and believes in a world where youth from all walks of life are given the opportunity to explore career paths they feel completely aligned with, both traditional and non-traditional, and be of service in way that is unique to them.
Youth Development Coordinator
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Kayla graduated from UCLA with a Bachelors in Psychology before heading to Manhattan. Kayla has a breadth of experience working with children and young adults, ranging from her supervisory role at a sleep-away camp to her work at a charter school for juvenile justice-involved youth. Kayla is passionate about making education equitable and accessible and is thrilled to translate her enthusiasm, tenacity, and creativity into impactful Youth Development programming at HEAF. In her spare time, Kayla enjoys cheering for the Mets, listening to a good true-crime podcast, traveling and spoken word.
Associate Director, College Quest
Verna Wade is a Chicago native who’s lived in New York for the Past 6 years. She received her Bachelors of Science in Psychology from College of Staten Island and a Masters of Urban Studies from Queens College. Verna always wanted to work in youth advocacy and youth development, but it was not until her move to New York that she began to pursue he career in this field. Her experiences range from youth development programming in New York’s juvenile detention facilities to college access counseling in high schools. She brings to HEAF a passion for youth development and youth empowerment.
Data and 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!