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.
Interim Co-Director of Development and Communications
Jacki Kelly has spent the past 15 years working to ensure that non-profit educational organizations achieve the financial resources and brand recognition to achieve ambitious goals on behalf of students. Most recently, she served as Director of Development at Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN), founder of The Young Women’s Leadership Schools and a co-ed, citywide College Bound Initiative. During her tenure, YWLN doubled its budget and the number of students it serves while strengthening its programs. Prior to that, Jacki led development and communications efforts at READ Alliance, Citizen Schools New Jersey, and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. She holds a BS in Journalism from Northeastern University with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in History and a MA in Inclusive Education from Teachers College Columbia University.
Interim Co-Director of Development and Communications
Debbie is currently working in Harlem for both Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ) and the Harlem Education Activities Fund (HEAF). At UMEZ, she works on communications, advocacy with local elected officials and small events for businesses and organizations that have received loans or grants from UMEZ. At HEAF she is working on institutional and organizational development. Debbie co-founded Dilday Meyer & Associates DMA in 2006. DMA, a women and minority owned firm, served socially responsible causes. She holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Spanish from the University of Arizona. She serves on the boards of College and Community Fellowships (2008 to present), Phys Ed Plus (2010 to present), and on the Women’s City Club Physical Education Task Force (2011 to present) and the Education Policy Committee of the New York Urban League (2013 to present). In Spring 2013, Debbie led the advocacy efforts of the public, progressive, and small Central Park East schools to expand with a combined middle school.
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.
Dr. Tanya Wiggins
Senior Director of High Expectations, Head of Expansion
Dr. Wiggins brings 17 years of experience as an educator to the organization. She has used her knowledge of youth, education and educational technology to provide professional development to teachers with the NYC Department of Education and to support youth via the nonprofit sector. She now serves as the Senior Director of Middle School Programming & Expansion at HEAF. Since joining HEAF in 2007, her accomplishments include the introduction of action research to middle school participants, the development community-building initiatives, and the successful planning and execution of Summer Quest, HEAF’s signature summer enrichment program. Dr. Wiggins received her B.A. from Swarthmore College, a Masters degree in Urban Education from Temple University, and also holds an Ed.D. in Educational and Organizational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.
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.
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.
External Relations Coordinator
As a native of Harlem and HEAF alumna, Kelsie Bonaparte is well acquainted with the benefits of youth development, academic enrichment and cultural exposure beyond her community’s expectations. She joined HEAF in the 7th grade. From her admission to college to a prestigious internship placement and her current role on HEAF’s Alumni Committee and on staff as the External Relations Coordinator, Kelsie personifies how our students are “HEAFers” for life. She studied Mass Communications at Delaware State University where she became the Editor-In-Chief of the University’s newspaper, The Hornet. Kelsie also had several prominent communications related internships, including one at Essence Magazine, which helped her prepare and acquire skills for a career in the field of Mass Communications and Development.
Senior Manager of Development and Communications
An energetic and successful fundraising professional, Cerra comes to HEAF after two years at US Lacrosse where she executed fundraising campaigns for Team USA. Before joining US Lacrosse she served as both Program Director and Fundraiser for fastNYC; A not for profit based in NYC building sports and nutrition programs in at risk public schools. She earned her bachelors of arts at Trinity College in Hartford, CT a city which brought to light for her the enormous discrepancy in education opportunities for children in the United States. She is thrilled to join the team at HEAF and support its mission and expansion.
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.
Program Coordinator of High Expectations
Bridgette Depay, a HEAF alumna, earned her bachelor’s degree in Romance Languages and Literature from Pomona College in Claremont, California. While at Pomona College, Bridgette worked for the Draper Center for Community Partnerships as a Student Coordinator. After graduating, Bridgette moved back to New York City and began working full-time for HEAF as the Program Coordinator for High Expectations. As the Program Coordinator, she enjoys planning events, such as local and out-of-state college tours and the Annual Career Day Conference.
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.
Manager of Onward
As a HEAF alum, Randy knows the benefits Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and Positive Youth Development offers students. Randy joined HEAF in the 9th grade, and while attending HEAF was offered a leadership position as a Youth Development Intern. During Randy’s senior year in high school, he was elected President of his class and was awarded a full-tuition, Posse Foundation scholarship to attend Wheaton College. At Wheaton, Randy served as a Residential Adviser, and was elected the first African-American Vice President of the Student Government Association. Randy continued to stay invested in HEAF and came back to work four consecutive summers in the Summer Quest program. Randy majored in History and Secondary Education and graduated from Wheaton College with a Bachelors of Arts and Teaching License for the state of Massachusetts.
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
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.
Program Coordinator of College Quest
Although a New Yorker at heart, Jadira was born and raised in Western Massachusetts. Jadira graduated from Barnard College of Columbia University with a BA in Sociology and French. During her years in college, Jadira was very active in working with youth. She worked with Jumpstart, an organization dedicated to decreasing the education gap amongst underserved pre-school children. Jadira also volunteered teaching 16-18 year old young men at Riker’s Island, and she created a program to prevent students from dropping out of high school. After graduation, Jadira worked for America Works, a back-to-work vendor, assisting individuals on public assistance to prepare for and obtain employment. However, her passion for working with youth led her to HEAF as the Program Assistant.
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.