Boston Leadership Directory

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Ann Atienza

Post-Secondary Program Coordinator

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers Ann is passionate about coaching students and providing...

 

Ann Atienza

Position: Post-Secondary Program Coordinator
Email: aatienza@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Ann is passionate about coaching students and providing them with alternative pathways to success. Using her certification in CliftonStrengths, she believes in focusing on each individual student’s skills. This influences her mentoring style as she assists students to gain self-efficacy, equipping students with tools to better articulate their knowledge and skills onto paper.

Previous to Summer Search she worked in higher education as a Career Coach at Cal State Fullerton, Azusa Pacific University, Concordia University, and Brandman University. At Cornell University, she worked to create programming to suitably meet developmental and intellectual needs of students. Ann also has experience in teaching college students in computer science and career readiness. Additionally, she taught Career Readiness at a women’s correctional facility to assist inmates as they prepared to transition back into society.

Ann is originally from Torrance, CA and earned her B.A. in Political Science from Cal State University Long Beach. She is a proud first generation college student and served as a peer mentor for other first generation college students during her undergraduate studies. After spending a few years in the business sector, she returned to school to earn her M.S. in College Counseling and Student Development from Azusa Pacific University as well as a certification in Business Law from Harbor Community College.

Outside of Summer Search, you may have trouble tracking Ann down as she loves to travel (collecting Starbucks mugs from all her destinations as well). If you can find her, it will most likely be in California, where most of her friends and family reside. Trying to get her Yelp Elite status back after a brief hiatus, she’s quite the foodie and is always excited to try new restaurants.

Ashely Gordon

Ashley Gordon

Operations Manager

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers Ashley has a passion for learning, empowering teens,...

 
Ashely Gordon

Ashley Gordon

Position: Operations Manager
Email: agordon@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Ashley has a passion for learning, empowering teens, and exploring how culture and society shapes our everyday experiences.

Before joining Summer Search, Ashley completed two years of AmeriCorps service with the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship in Boston, MA. While in AmeriCorps, she coordinated programs for teens focused on mentoring, college and career readiness, and leadership.

Ashley attended Salem State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Travel and Tourism Geography with minors in Educational Studies and Social Work. After graduating from Salem State University, she went directly to graduate school at Northeastern University where she earned a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management.

When not working, Ashley enjoys cooking, traveling, and taking naps.

Babatunde Alford

Program Associate

Pronouns: He/Him/His Babatunde is a firm believer in Education as...

 

Babatunde Alford

Position: Program Associate
Email: balford@summersearch.org

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Babatunde is a firm believer in Education as an essential pillar to the success of our society and the equity and equality of our citizens. He hopes to have Summer Search be part of a long-term career to fortify our educational infrastructure and dedicate more resources to our educators and their respective institutions.

After leaving the private sector to pursue opportunities more aligned with his values, Babatunde Alford came to Summer Search to continue his work supporting young Boston scholars through 1:1 and group mentorship to foster academic and personal growth. With previous experience as an instructor and teaching assistant with The Calculus Project and Leadership Academy, serving Boston communities of color, Babatunde is excited to have the chance to create more opportunities for underrepresented students through education.

Babatunde earned his BA in Physics/Astronomy and a MS in Management Studies at Boston University. When he is not engaging with students, Babatunde enjoys riding his bike, sleeping in and singing in a Boston-based symphonic choir.

Cydni Burton

Post-Secondary Program Coordinator

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers Cydni embodies the phrase “I am because we...

 

Cydni Burton

Position: Post-Secondary Program Coordinator
Email: cburton@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Cydni embodies the phrase “I am because we are.” Growing up in Roxbury, she experienced first hand how relational bonds shape our personhood. As an adult, she is dedicated to serving today’s youth and empowering them to lead and grow in community with each other.

Before joining Summer Search, Cydni served as a virtual college adviser through the College Advising Corps. In this role, she supported high achieving first-generation students through the college application process. It was through this experience that she gained a passion for post-secondary access and is excited to help all students on their journey to success no matter what path they take.

Cydni graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Education Studies from Spelman College. In her free time, Cydni enjoys listening to podcasts by Malcolm Gladwell, jogging, and completing puzzles.

Darryl Soto

School and Community Engagement Manager

Pronouns: He/Him/His Darryl believes in spreading love and understanding to...

 

Darryl Soto

Position: School and Community Engagement Manager
Email: dsoto@summersearch.org

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Darryl believes in spreading love and understanding to each other and our surroundings.

Darryl came to Summer Search with a background in youth development, providing students with opportunities that will help them be successful in their future. At Squashbusters in Lawrence, MA, Darryl was the head squash coach and led the high school portion of the Lawrence program.

Darryl graduated from the Summer Search program in 2010 before heading to Colby College, where he created his own major within the American Studies and Photography departments. Darryl played on the Colby men’s varsity squash team and held leadership positions for several clubs on campus, such as the Men of Color Alliance, Colby’s Gentlemen of Quality, and Students Organized for Black and Hispanic Unity. He graduated from Colby in 2014 and began working in youth development.

In his spare time, Darryl enjoys spending time at the gym, traveling, cooking, being with family and friends, but ultimately being on his couch watching comedy sitcoms or action tv series.

Devin Hill

Program Associate

Pronouns: He/Him/His Devin has a passion for working with young...

 

Devin Hill

Position: Program Associate
Email: dhill@summersearch.org

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Devin has a passion for working with young adults and helping them to discover their passions and reach their potential. At Summer Search he works as a program associate and enjoys the opportunity to help guide young students through their High School years.

Prior to Summer Search he worked as the guidance counselor for DME Sports Academy, a prep school in Daytona Beach, FL. He competed for the Men’s basketball team at DePaul University in Chicago, IL from 2008 – 2011.

He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from Arizona State University and a Master of Arts degree in Coaching and Athletic Administration from Concordia University Irvine. He now lives in Jamaica Plain, MA.

When not at Summer Search he coaches the Women’s Basketball team at Roxbury Community College and coaches AAU basketball with the New York Gauchos.

Ethan George

Director of Program Operations

Pronouns: He/Him/His Ethan believes that confidence building through adventure and...

 

Ethan George

Position: Director of Program Operations
Email: egeorge@summersearch.org

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Ethan believes that confidence building through adventure and mentorship is key to supporting teen development. Ethan also understands the need for deeper equity in Boston, a city with a widening opportunity gap. Before arriving at Summer Search, Ethan worked at Youth Enrichment Services managing adventure programs and volunteers. His work experience also includes student instruction at Thompson Island Outward Bound, case management at Action for Boston Community Development, and coaching at Boston College High School.

Ethan holds a BA in Political Science from the University of New Hampshire and a Core Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice.

Outside of his work, Ethan enjoys rock climbing, snowboarding, gardening, and playing speed chess.

Ezeanne Fonge

Program Associate

Pronouns:He/Him/His Shawn believes in the power of young people and...

 

Ezeanne Fonge

Position: Program Associate
Email: efonge@summersearch.org

Pronouns:He/Him/His

Shawn believes in the power of young people and uplifting the voices of marginalized students.

Before joining Summer Search, he spent the last two years in Philadelphia. After completing a year of service with City Year, he attended the University of Pennsylvania where he earned a Master’s degree in Higher Education. It was during this time, Shawn realized the need to be in a space that would foster an environment that sees benefits in creating mentorship-based relationships with students. While attending Wheaton College (MA), he spent most of his time working around issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity.

When he is not actively engaged in discussions around issues that affect marginalized communities, Shawn likes to dance, cook, play sports, and performing spoken word poetry. Shawn is the youngest of three and believes there can be no success without any foundational support.

Hermese Velasquez

Boston Executive Director

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers A native of Belize, Central America and a...

 

Hermese Velasquez

Position: Boston Executive Director
Email: HVelasquez@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

A native of Belize, Central America and a first-generation college graduate, Hermese has firsthand experience with the game changing power of education. Hermese’s long-standing commitment to Summer Search spans multiple roles, including participant during her high school years, Alumni Board Chair, and member of the Summer Search Boston Board of Directors. It is Hermese’s delight and Summer Search’s great fortune to have her add staff member to that list, stepping into the role of Boston Executive Director in December 2016.

Before joining the Summer Search staff, Hermese was a results-oriented Project Manager in the travel industry. She has provided project management over several top priority initiatives and enterprise wide implementations, cultivating her skills in data analysis, risk assessment, communication, relationship building, and change management, vital talents for a non-profit leader. While her professional experience is heavy in the project management capacity, her volunteer experience has been dominated by Summer Search! Though Hermese’s after work haven is now her full-time gig, she continues to volunteer as a coach for adults reentering college.

During the warmer months, Hermese enjoys daily 5Ks while listening to Beyoncé and Whitney Houston’s Greatest Hits! She also loves to travel and has visited at least 1 new country a year for the past 5 years; with 5 continents, down and 2 more to go! Hermese and her family live in Boston.

Jennifer Ortega

Post-Secondary Program Coordinator

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers Jennifer believes that youth should be equitably supported...

 

Jennifer Ortega

Position: Post-Secondary Program Coordinator
Email: jortega@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Jennifer believes that youth should be equitably supported as they work to discover who they are, who they want to be, and what they want to do. The power to adequately foster this development creates powerful communities and leaders of a more inclusive future.

Before joining Summer Search, Jennifer worked at Earthwatch Institute where she led youth in exploring their curiosity for the outdoors and the environmental sciences. Her previous work in the environmental justice and education fields showed her the importance of community agency, listening, and assisting as a means for communities of color to heal. It was a combination of this work and her personal experiences that helped Jennifer realize her passion for helping youth develop their agency and leadership.

Jennifer received her B.A. in Environmental Chemistry from Middlebury College. When she is not working, Jennifer can be found reading an Octavia Butler book or listening to music.

Kat Buckingham

Senior Development Associate

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers Kat believes that everyone has the right to forge their...

 

Kat Buckingham

Position: Senior Development Associate
Email: kbuckingham@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Kat believes that everyone has the right to forge their own path in life. She sees the power in telling the story of self and seeks to provide youth a chance to explore and unpack their stories in safe spaces, with mentors who believe in and support them.

Prior to joining Summer Search, Kat worked for the Boston-based NGO South Africa Partners as a program assistant, and with the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM). She graduated from UMass Amherst with a BA in Social Thought and Political Economy.

Outside of the office, Kat can be found running, biking, singing, and eating entirely too much Thai food.

Kristie Loftus

Director of Development

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers Kristie believes passionately in providing equal access to...

 

Kristie Loftus

Position: Director of Development
Email: kloftus@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Kristie believes passionately in providing equal access to educational opportunities.

Prior to joining Summer Search, Kristie led development efforts for Breakthrough Greater Boston, an educational non-profit providing out-of-school time programming, and City on a Hill Charter Public Schools, a charter school network in Boston and New Bedford. It was through City on a Hill students who were involved with Summer Search that she first began her admiration for the organization ten years before joining the team.

Kristie holds a B.A. in Sociology from Villanova University. Outside of the office, she can be found running, snowboarding, and having a blast with her husband and two boys. She and her family live in Milton.

Lauren Dybel

Program Associate

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers Lauren believes youth are our greatest leaders in...

 

Lauren Dybel

Position: Program Associate
Email: ldybel@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Lauren believes youth are our greatest leaders in creating a more equitable world. She has a passion for engaging young people in transforming our local and global communities, beginning with developing an understanding of self and society. As a Program Associate at Summer Search, Lauren works with teens to navigate self-discovery and develop their passions.

Prior to joining Summer Search, Lauren completed a year of service with AmeriCorps and mobilized youth to lead change in their communities by coordinating service-learning efforts for students in Newton and Dorchester. While studying Neuroscience and Public Health at the College of William & Mary, Lauren worked alongside her peers to develop and implement wellness initiatives for her campus and local communities.

Lauren now lives in Dorchester and spends her time trying new restaurants and activities with her roommates, traveling to visit her friends and family, picking up a book from her long list of suggested reads, rooting for the Chicago Cubs, and dreaming of warmer weather.

Martina Durant

Director of Outreach and High School Programs

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers Martina comes to Summer Search with the mantra...

 

Martina Durant

Position: Director of Outreach and High School Programs
Email: mdurant@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Martina comes to Summer Search with the mantra of “each one, teach one” guiding her.  As an alumna of the Steppingstone Scholars Program, she seeks to give back to the youth development community that profoundly impacted her life.  She is driven by a responsibility to connect youth with access to opportunities that encourage self-awareness, empowerment, leadership, and diversity.

Before joining the Summer Search team as a Program Associate, she worked at Community Academy supporting students’ re-entry into the classroom and community from the Department of Youth Services.

Martina holds a BA in Political Science from Hampton University and Master of Public Administration from The Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

Outside of Summer Search, you can find Martina entranced in a book, traveling and binge watching movies and documentaries on Netflix.

Pedro Suncar

Program Manager

Pronouns: He/Him/His Pedro comes to Summer Search with a commitment...

 

Pedro Suncar

Position: Program Manager
Email: psuncar@summersearch.org

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Pedro comes to Summer Search with a commitment to helping students succeed, while providing them with tools to use as they navigate their high school careers, and progress into their collegiate careers.

After working in student affairs for several years, Pedro felt a need to help high school students succeed in their high school careers, while also aiding in their goals for higher education selection and retention.

Pedro worked in Providence, as a 1st grade Instructor, providing lessons for learning and enrichment in the Providence school system and surrounding community. Pedro holds a B.A. in Psychology focusing in adolescent development and mental health.

Sam Larkan

Donor Relations Manager

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers Sam believes strongly that every individual deserves access...

 

Sam Larkan

Position: Donor Relations Manager
Email: slarkan@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Sam believes strongly that every individual deserves access to opportunity and the support system to help them reach their potential.

Before joining the Summer Search team, Sam worked in development and communications for a variety of non profits, primarily focused on education and women and youth empowerment. Her most recent role was at a local charter public school and she looks forward to continuing to work to support the students of Boston. Her passion lies in working for organizations that are creating positive change in their communities.

Sam holds a Bachelors degree in Media, Culture and Communications from New York University. Outside of work she enjoys reading, yoga and travelling to see as much of the world as she can.

Veronica Hernandez

Program Manager

Pronouns:She/Her/Hers As a first generation, low income student and alum,...

 

Veronica Hernandez

Position: Program Manager
Email: vhernandez@summersearch.org

Pronouns:She/Her/Hers

As a first generation, low income student and alum, Veronica has experienced first-hand the impact of having mentors in her life. This guidance has inspired her work with youth and continues her passion for access to higher education.
Veronica is committed to being the caring, responsible, and encouraging adult that her students need. She brings authenticity and honesty in her approach to connect with students. Believing in students until they believe in themselves is her motto. Following her passion, she has always worked for educational nonprofits and run afterschool programs in Boston and California. She has facilitated socio-emotional young women’s groups, served with AmeriCorps National, and focused on college readiness workshops before returning to Summer Search.
Veronica holds a BA in Psychology and Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In her spare time she enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking or at the beach, learning Portuguese, painting, and learning about spirituality and femininity.

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