OUR TEAM

Choose a Category below to see team members across all locations

Hermese Velasquez

Hermese Velasquez

Executive Director, Boston

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

 
Hermese Velasquez

Hermese Velasquez

Position: Executive Director, Boston
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.

Kat Buckingham

Foundations Relations Manager

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

 

Kat Buckingham

Position: Foundations Relations Manager
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.

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.

Ezeanne Fonge

Senior Program Associate

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

 

Ezeanne Fonge

Position: Senior 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mekedelawite Atakilti

Post-Secondary Program Coordinator

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers Maya is passionate about youth development through creating...

 

Mekedelawite Atakilti

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

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Maya is passionate about youth development through creating community and one on one mentorship. As an alum of Summer Search and a previous high school mentor, she has both experienced and seen the direct benefits of this program. Maya believes youth inherently have everything they need to succeed and only need adults to support them in achieving their dreams and aspirations.

Maya received her B.A. in Education and Sociology from Colgate University. After spending two years at City Year, an AmeriCorps program, she transitioned back to Summer Search as a mentor. She has since completed her received her master’s in Social Work. Her education fuels her work to be able to create equitable spaces for students to thrive. In her free time, she enjoys watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, and being a new plant mom.

Stephanie Tafur

Director of Post-Secondary Program and Alumni Relations

Stephanie’s passion for social change manifests in the way she...

 

Stephanie Tafur

Position: Director of Post-Secondary Program and Alumni Relations
Email: stafur@summersearch.org

Stephanie’s passion for social change manifests in the way she mentors students and staff to believe in their own potential. She imagines a world that when we come together as a community, anything is possible. As a Posse Alumna, Stephanie understands the importance of support that is necessary to be successful in higher education and how it relates to college access. Throughout her time at Hamilton College, Stephanie truly unearthed her passion in social justice and diversity and equity work. She culminated her time at Hamilton with a BA in Africana Studies and continued her education at New York University pursuing her MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Combining her studies along with her passion for serving her community, Stephanie decided to work for the Posse Foundation. Working at Posse was a way for her to give back to an organization and community that has impacted her life. After graduate school, she served as a Program Coordinator at Posse Boston and learned about Summer Search through alumni and staff. Excited about Summer Search’s one-on-one mentorship and belief in student’s infinite potential, Stephanie served as a Program Associate and Mentor in the Boston office.

She returns to Summer Search Boston as the Director of Post-Secondary and Alumni Relations after working as Posse Boston’s Program Director for almost six years. Throughout her career with nonprofit education organizations, Stephanie has worked with diverse cadres of students. She has formed and maintained partnerships with schools and community organizations, and she has organized and overseen internal program development.

On her time off, Stephanie enjoys spending time with her partner, family, and friends and playing with her four godsons. Stephanie enjoys taking walks to relax, exploring new places, and focusing on her spiritual growth.

Bernadette Peeples

Senior Program Director

Pronouns she/her/hers Bernadette (Bernie) believes that great youth work is...

 

Bernadette Peeples

Position: Senior Program Director
Email: bpeeples@summersearch.org

Pronouns she/her/hers

Bernadette (Bernie) believes that great youth work is part science and part art form-and that all youth should have equal opportunities in pursing educational access across the board.  Before Bernie started with Summer Search, she was involved with a number of nonprofits as a Senior Manager, namely Youth Enrichment Services where she was able to help deepen the impact of young people while they explored they great outdoors and learned valuable skills around leadership development.  Bernie also worked as a consultant for Cambridge Public Schools where she was able to develop curriculum around Social Emotional Learning (SEL) education and how to support young people in/outside of their school environment.

Bernie holds a B. A. in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University and a M.S. in Criminology/Criminal Justice from Loyola University.  When not at the office, Bernie can be found outdoors with her two kids, husband and dog Chewbacca enjoying the sunshine.

Maria Farias

Program Operations Coordinator

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers Maria is passionate about helping individuals access opportunities...

 

Maria Farias

Position: Program Operations Coordinator
Email: mfarias@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Maria is passionate about helping individuals access opportunities and supports to help them realize their potential, reach their goals, and be successful in the future, however that looks to them.

Before joining Summer Search, Maria has followed her passion of guiding young people by teaching Spanish in the Boston Public Schools, working at various summer camps, managing out-of-school time programs, and most recently coordinating outreach and programming at a non-profit that focuses on outdoor experiences and leadership opportunities for Boston youth.

Maria holds a Bachelor of Arts in French and Spanish with a Secondary Education Concentration from Assumption University (formerly Assumption College).

In her spare time, Maria enjoys traveling and exploring new places, and partaking in all things outdoors- especially snowboarding, skiing, and lounging on the beach.

Libby Magalhaes

Program Operations Coordinator

Libby believes that creating community and providing personal growth opportunities...

 

Libby Magalhaes

Position: Program Operations Coordinator
Email: emagalhaes@summersearch.org

Libby believes that creating community and providing personal growth opportunities for students is a significant piece of the puzzle in removing barriers to their overall success.

Prior to working at Summer Search, Libby worked at Catie’s Closet, a Massachusetts based non profit providing free clothing and toiletries to students in Boston Public Schools. Her experience at Catie’s Closet ignited her passion for supporting local Boston students through meaningful engagement. She also has experience in the field of educational travel with a focus on student travel groups.

Libby has a B.A in Sociology from Emmanuel College in Boston. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with loved ones, practicing yoga, reading, taking care of her plants, and exploring the city.

Trixie Cortes

Program Associate

Pronouns: She/her/hers  Trixie has a passion for helping to improve...

 

Trixie Cortes

Position: Program Associate
Email: tcortes@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/her/hers 

Trixie has a passion for helping to improve the lives of others, especially those of young people through education and mentorship. Growing up in the Philippines, then moving to Chicago and attending public schools there, she found her way through a strong support network of teachers and administrators that became her close mentors. Trixie attended Denison University in Granville, OH and earned her BA in Anthropology/Sociology in 2018. She then became a tutor and mentor with City Year in Columbus, OH and Chicago, IL working closely with her 8th graders. She also provides direct care to a small group of homeless individuals in the greater Boston area through another non-profit organization. Outside of work, you can find her in the kitchen cooking tried and true dishes, or on a yoga mat trying to find inner peace. 

Hannah Elbaum

Post-Secondary Program Coordinator

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers Hannah is deeply committed to educational equity and...

 

Hannah Elbaum

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

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Hannah is deeply committed to educational equity and supporting students on their journeys of personal growth. She strives to ensure that all students have the tools and strategies they need to achieve their goals.

Prior to Summer Search, Hannah was a key player in developing the College Access and Success programs at SquashDrive in Oakland, CA. She led these programs from 2019-2021 and is excited to continue advancing post-secondary access and success at Summer Search. Hannah taught at international schools in Mexico and Guatemala after graduating from Vanderbilt University in 2015 with a B.A. in Latin American Studies and Medicine, Health, and Society.

Originally from Connecticut, Hannah is thrilled to be returning to the East Coast after many years away. In her spare time, Hannah enjoys exploring the outdoors through skiing, hiking, and other activities. She values spending quality time with family and friends and loves a competitive board game.