Staff

HPAC’s impact is made possible by the caring and accomplished individuals who work there.  Read more about their diverse experiences and expertise below.


JILL ROCHEJill Roche
Executive Director

Jill began her work in Hunts Point in 2008 as an Education Advocate, after completing a NYS Fellowship in the Bronx Family Court focusing on education outcomes for court-involved youth. For two years, she worked closely Manida Street tenants to organize a Tenants’ Association and demand safe and healthy living conditions. Their work culminated in the tenants’ securing new ownership of the four Hunts Point buildings committed to affordable housing, increased security, and an $11 million renovation.

In 2013, Jill left HPAC to serve as an Education Pioneer Fellow in Bridgeport, CT. She worked subsequently as a communications and policy consultant in the public education sector, including facilitation of a state-wide multi-sector education communication collaboration. Jill returned to HPAC in late 2014 because she missed the students and the community. As Executive Director, Jill is working to deepen the Alliance’s collaborative work to raise education outcomes for all neighborhood children. She is passionate about exposing students to all the opportunities of New York City and helping scholars find the unique thing in this world sparks their curiosity and inspires optimism.

Jill holds a B.A. from New York University and received her J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and an Ll.M (Masters of Law) in International Law and Human Rights from the University of Maastrict in the Netherlands. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Shakespeare Society and La Peninsula Head Start in the South Bronx.


Griselle BaretGRISELLE BARET
Deputy Director

Griselle Baret is co-founder, with Maryann Hedaa, of the Hunts Point Alliance for Children.  Griselle supervises HPAC’s programming staff and is responsible for the successful execution of HPAC’s programming.

Griselle has worked with youth programs since 2003 when she served a Youth Advisor for the Sacred Heart Youth Group, a safe haven for teens of the Sacred Heart Parish in the Highbridge section of the Bronx.

She received a Master’s in Educational Leadership and a B.A. from New York University.  She received a scholarship through the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) for her B.A. She 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.


Brenda GoffBRENDA
Youth Development Program Manager

Brenda coordinates HPAC’s afterschool youth development program and ensures that the programs run successfully.

Brenda has extensive experience working with youth. She was a mentor for afterschool programs such as Alianza Dominicana, the Big Brother Big Sister club, and through her work as a family therapist at New York Foundling in the MST-CAN (Multi-Systemic Therapy for Children of Abuse and Neglect) program.

Brenda is a Dell Scholar and received a HEOP scholarship to attend Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. At Skidmore College, she earned an Advanced Standing Bachelors Degree in Social Work and went on to attend Hunter College, Silberman School of Social Work for her Masters in Clinical Social Work. Brenda is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and works with HPAC students to maintain their paths towards success.


REINAGARCIAReina Garcia
Early Childhood Lead Teacher & Outreach Specialist

Reina is a seasoned Early Childhood Education professional with over 12 years of experience in the field. She graduated from Lehman College with a B.A. in Psychology and minor in Early Childhood Education, and a M.S.Ed. in Bilingual Early Childhood Education.

Before joining the HPAC team, she was employed by Saint Dominic’s Home TORCH (To Reach Children) Therapeutic Preschool, as a special education early childhood lead teacher for ten years.   She is passionate about working with HPAC ‘s youngest children and families, and committed to shrinking the educational achievement gap in low-income communities.


Hidaliz Angulo RamosHIDALIZ ANGULO
Teacher Associate, Early Childhood Program

Hidaliz’ responsibilities include lesson planning, conducting assessments, and establishing individualized student goals.

Before joining HPAC, Hidaliz worked for Bilingual SEIT where she supported students with special needs, such as autism and Asperger’s syndrome, speech impairments, and ADD/ADHD.

Hidaliz was a student teacher at La Esperanza in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a school for students with emotional behavior disorders, learning disabilities, mental retardation, Down’s syndrome, and physical challenges.


Patricia RodasPATRICIA RODAS
Teacher Associate, Early Childhood Program

Patricia supports Play to Learn, Homework Help 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 licensed her to administer medication and certified her in CPR and SKIPP.

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.


ALLISON BARLOWAllison Barlow
Family Project Director

As Hunts Point Alliance for Children’s Family Project Director, Allison leads a dedicated team of two case managers and a social worker in the provision of an array of social services and counseling to families with children engaged in HPAC programming.

Allison has previously worked with a variety of populations including HIV/AIDS-affected individuals living in supportive housing as well as survivors of sex trafficking. Allison has also engaged in extensive organizing work in the areas of racial and economic justice and has taught English to children in Arequipa, Peru.
Allison received her Bachelor’s degree from Vassar College and her Master’s of Social Work degree from the Silberman School of Social work at Hunter College.

Elizabeth Del ToroELIZABETH DELTORO
Educational Counselor

Elizabeth is one of the HPAC Educational Counselors. Her work focuses primarily on students who are transitioning to middle school and high school. She also works with 9th and 10th graders, preparing them on their way to college, providing access to after-school and summer opportunities, and ensuring that each scholar is doing well in school.
Elizabeth manages HPAC’s Community Service Team, through which high school students offer support and time in order to provide for their communities.
Elizabeth first arrived to New York as a Jesuit Volunteer. She served as a Community Liason at a nonprofit located in Washington Heights for a year. Before that, Elizabeth worked at a summer camp with Nativity Jesuit Middle School as a science teacher, where she realized her passion for connecting low income families to educational opportunities.
Elizabeth received her Bachelors in Psychology at ITESO Jesuit University of Guadalajara in her native country, Mexico.

DAHIANA LESSARD copyDahiana Lessard
Family Project Case Manager

Dahiana connects families to a variety of social services, including external counseling, health or legal services, food pantries, job centers, youth programs and public assistance.

At HPAC, Dahiana has worked as Bookkeeper, Administrative Assistant, Food Coordinator, and Early Childhood Assistant. As Early Childhood Assistant, she helped run programs for children such as Play to Learn and Homework Help.

In 2008, Dahiana received vocational training through Year Up, focusing on Information Technology. She earned an internship at Google, and obtained her CompTIA A+ certification. Prior to that, Dahiana served in the U.S. Army as a Human Resources/Administrative Personnel Specialist.

Dahiana is attending Bronx Community College pursuing a degree in Human Services.


Pety AceboPETYHEADSHOT3
Bookkeeper and Administrative Assistant

All runs smoothly at HPAC because of Pety Acebo, who has worked at HPAC since 2010.

Previously, Pety worked as a Crew Leader Assistant at the U.S. Census Bureau. She also worked in the Accounting Department at Stuyvesant Oil Company for almost five years, where she pursued a college degree after immigrating to the U.S. from Ecuador.

Pety graduated from Lehman College with a B.A. in Accounting in May 2009.  Pety also is an individual taxpayer preparer and Notary Public, licensed in August, 2013.


LATOYA.2Latoya Williams
Development Associate

Latoya is the Hunts Point Alliance for Children’s first Development Associate. In this new role, Latoya focuses on expanding HPAC’s fundraising goals, by identifying innovative foundation partners and increasing donor relations as HPAC continues to expand and grow.

Before joining the HPAC team, Latoya worked for over 10 years in the Development and Communications department at Win, Inc. At Win, she managed donor relations, oversaw mailing campaigns, and processed all monetary contributions.

Latoya received an A.S. from the Borough of Manhattan Community College. When she is not at HPAC she is spending quality time with her son and daughter.


 

JUDITHANN THAYERJudithann Thayer
Education Counselor

Judithann works with students and families in HPAC’s Scholar Program to support their transitions between elementary, middle, high school and college. In addition, she organizes external opportunities such as Educational Summer Internships and learning experiences, as well as after-school programming.

Before joining HPAC, Judithann spent seven years at the St. Ignatius School in Hunts Point, where she was a founding member of the St. Ignatius Girls Program.

Judithann graduated from The University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Education and a minor in Natural Science. Judithann currently sits on the Board of Trustees for the School of the Holy Child and is head of that board’s Academic Committee. She has previously sat on the Board of Trustees for HPAC and served on the Advisory Board at St. Ignatius School.

 


 Ashley Garcia                   Family Project Case Manager

Ashley works with families to provide referrals to community resources such as counseling, health and legal services, work centers, public assistance, and youth programs.

Prior to joining the HPAC team, Ashley worked as a staff associate within the administrative and clerical field. Previously, Ashley worked for a surgeon as an Administrative Assistant.

Ashley received a Bachelor of Science in Health and Psychology from Mercy College.


Sammy Marrero         Communication Associate

Sammy Marrero, a Hunts Point native, is responsible for coordinating HPAC’s communication efforts. He curates content for HPAC’s website, manages all social media channels, and delivers HPAC’s internal newsletters.

Before joining HPAC, Sammy was a Communications Intern at the United States Department for Agriculture (USDA) in Washington D.C. At the USDA, he assisted with writing and delivering weekly agency wide newsletters and supported the development and implementation of internal communications strategies.

Sammy graduated with a B.A. in Corporate Communications from CUNY- Baruch College and is now pursuing his M.A. in Urban Studies at CUNY- School of Professional Studies. Sammy also spends time teaching and tutoring Math at Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), an educational non-profit organization he attended as a high school scholar and graduated from in 2011.     


Steven Deonarain              Operations Associate

Steven deals with all the operations and logistics at HPAC to ensure it runs as efficiently as possible. He develops and maintains various processes, policies, and projects along with coordinating repairs, upgrades and other services as needed.

Prior to joining HPAC, Steven has worked in retail operations and customer service.

Steven received a A.S. from Nassau Community College. He plans to pursue a degree in Business Management.