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.

Executive Staff

Ruth Rathblott

Ruth Rathblott

President & CEO

Pronouns: She Series
[email protected]

Ruth Rathblott has been a leader in the nonprofit sector for over 25 years, 15 of which she spent at Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City where she played a central role in its expansion.  Ruth holds a BA from Goucher College and an MSW from Boston University. She was the youngest alum awarded the Goucher College Excellence in Public Service in 2005 and was profiled in the NY Times’ Corner Office in 2014. Ms. Rathblott joined HEAF in January 2013.

Jacqueline Adorno

Jacqueline Adorno

Chief Human Resources Officer

Pronouns: She Series
[email protected]

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.

Deirdre Bennett

Deirdre Bennett

Chief Finance & Administrative Officer

Pronouns: She Series
[email protected]

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.

Lauren Girshon

Lauren Girshon

Chief Development & External Relations Officer

Pronouns: She Series
[email protected]

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.
Sean Harrell

Sean Harrell

Chief Programs Officer

Pronouns: He Series
[email protected]

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. 

Staff

Alina Augustin

Alina Augustin

Youth Development Facilitator

Pronouns: She Series
[email protected]

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.
Ayo Adedapo

Ayo Adedapo

Director, Youth Development

Pronouns: She Series
[email protected]

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. 

Natalie Baez

Natalie Baez

Director, Onward (College)

Pronouns: She Series
[email protected]

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.
Staymon Braithwaite

Staymon Braithwaite

Brooklyn Program Manager, High Expectations

Pronouns: He Series
[email protected]

Staymon grew up in Brooklyn, NY, was born in Guyana located in South America. His West Indian background stems from Guyana and the Bahamas. He graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in Professional Studies and Human Services from Metropolitan College of New York and earned his Masters Degree in Psychology from Long Island University. He has successfully worked in the field of Youth Development, Advocacy, Counseling, and Program Management for over eight years. He’s passionate about working with youth and family populations using education to effectively bring positive results.

Kelli Goodman

Kelli Goodman

Director of Career Connections

Pronouns: She Series
[email protected]

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.
Yamilet Guzman

Yamilet Guzman

Manager of Admissions and Community Outreach

Pronouns: They Series
[email protected]

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 her 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 enjoys reading, traveling, and eating good food.
Nick Heim

Nick Heim

Finance and Administration Assistant

Pronouns: He Series
[email protected]

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.
Paige Heimark

Paige Heimark

Executive Assistant

Pronouns: She Series
[email protected]

Paige is originally from Philadelphia and has lived in New York for the past 6 years. She received her BA in History and BFA in Sculpture from Pennsylvania State University. Paige is a visual artist and podcast host with a passion for music. She has worked with kids as a camp counselor, nanny, and eventually as the Communications Associate for a New York City-based children’s literacy non-profit. Paige loves to read and her favorite children’s book is “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.” She is passionate about HEAF’s mission, and believes community-driven change and social-emotional learning are the keys to achieving educational equity.
Natasha Isokangas

Natasha Isokangas

Brooklyn/Onward Manager

Pronouns: She Series
[email protected]

Natasha grew up in the Yorkville neighborhood of Manhattan. She graduated from Clark University with a B.A. in Communication and Culture as well as Studio Art. She has over six years of experience working directly with youth as a mentor, tutor, and facilitator. In her role at HEAF, she strives to empower young minds with access to the opportunities and skills they need in order to achieve their own success. Natasha is passionate about education, social equity, climate change, and art. In her spare time, she enjoys scary movies, board/card games, traveling, and quality time with friends.
Tyran Jackson

Tyran Jackson

Youth Development Facilitator

Pronouns: He Series
[email protected]

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.
L’Toya Jones

L’Toya Jones

Director, High Expectations (Middle School)

Pronouns: She Series
[email protected]

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.
Vicky Liburd

Vicky Liburd

Manager, High Expectations: Manhattan

Pronouns: She Series
[email protected]

Coming Soon

Sasha Linney

Sasha Linney

Youth Development Manager

Pronouns: She Series
[email protected]

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

Calvin Luo

Calvin Luo

Senior Manager of Finance & Administration

Pronouns: He Series
[email protected]

Calvin Luo is a New York State Registered CPA. He has an 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 his focus 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.
Emani Palma

Emani Palma

Queens Program Manager, High Expectations

Pronouns: She Series
[email protected]

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. 

Michelle Parague

Michelle Parague

College Quest Manager

Pronouns: She Series
[email protected]

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.”

Joshua Perdomo

Joshua Perdomo

Receptionist/Office Assistant

Pronouns: He Series
[email protected]

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.

 

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.
Verna Wade

Verna Wade

Director, College Quest (High School)

Pronouns: She Series
[email protected]

Stefin Woolever

Stefin Woolever

Data and Development Manager

Pronouns: He Series
[email protected]

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!