Meet our Staff
Henry Fernandez is LEAP’s Executive Director. He co-founded LEAP in 1992 and served as Executive Director from its founding until 1997, returning to the position almost two decades later. Henry grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York, and came to New Haven in 1990 to go to Yale Law School. Aside from his work at LEAP, he owns a firm that completes quantitative and qualitative research on issues including health policy, civil rights, elections, criminal justice, and civic engagement.
Chief of Staff
Raised in New Haven, Yakeita joined LEAP as a Junior Counselor in 2006. She continually took on leadership positions within LEAP, from serving as a Site Coordinator to later managing the Children’s Program. As Chief of Staff, Yakeita liaises directly with the New Haven Board of Education and the Housing Authority to ensure LEAP families and kids are equipped with the resources they need to thrive. She graduated from Albertus Magnus College with a degree in Psychology with a focus on Child Development, and she is a certified medical assistant.
Director of Development and Communications
Rachel Kline Brown earned a B.A. in European History from the University of Pennsylvania and a M.A. from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. She has been an educator for over 25 years, including as an Outward Bound instructor, a Spanish teacher at a New York City public high school, a high school English teacher in Lesotho as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and as a teacher trainer to help students access college. In 2016, Rachel joined the LEAP Development and Communications team, directing and overseeing all aspects of fundraising and communications for LEAP’s $3 million budget.
Director of Training and Curriculum
Summer joined LEAP in June 2021 as the Director of Training and Curriculum. She is originally from Nashua, New Hampshire. Summer has a master's degree in Urban Education Policy from Brown University and a degree in Justice and Peace Studies from Georgetown University. Prior to working at LEAP, Summer was a second grade teacher for four years, which she absolutely loved.
Interim Children's Program Director
Kenneth oversees all operations at our 7 sites spread throughout New Haven, including enrollment, attendance, implementation of created curriculum, and more. He joined LEAP during the Summer of 2019 as a counselor for Hill South's 9-10 Boys and fell in love with the mission. Kenneth grew up in West Haven and has relatives in the Hill. He graduated from the University of New Haven with a BA in Music & Sound Recording, while also acting in several leadership roles throughout his undergraduate career.
Sandy joined LEAP in August 2021 as the Development Assistant. Sandy has a master's degree in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University and a degree in Corporate Communications from Ithaca College. She is also a graduate of Mindful Schools to teach mindfulness K-12. Her hobbies include traveling, gardening, and spending time with her three daughters and dog Newquay. She grew up in Queens, NY, and now calls CT home.
Counselor Development Manager
Frankie oversees hiring, recruiting, and advising our counselor staff. He manages over 120 counselors and tracks their personal and academic progress. Frankie is originally from Hartford. He graduated from the University of New Haven in 2017 with a bachelors in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Investigation Services and a minor in Juvenile Justice. Frankie joined LEAP in June of 2019 as the Site Coordinator for Fair Haven South, then he transitioned into the Counselor Development Department in 2020. He was promoted into his current role in 2021.
Counselor Development Coordinator
Maithé joined LEAP in 2019 as a Senior Counselor. She received her bachelor's degrees in Bilingual Elementary Education and Interdisciplinary Studies. She is currently working on her masters degree in School Counseling at Southern Connecticut State University. Maithé is Ecuadorian and originally from East Hartford, CT, but currently resides in West Haven. I enjoy listening to music, going on walks, and I also love to travel!
Senior Finance Coordinator
Kelly joined LEAP back in the summer of 2016 as a Senior Counselor. He graduated from Central Connecticut State University in 2018 with a major in Accounting. Kelly joined LEAP because he wanted to be a positive role model to kids that grew up in his community. Some of Kelly’s hobbies include writing music, playing video games, working out, trading (stocks), cleaning, and cooking.
Curriculum and Training Coordinator
Zalma is the Curriculum and Training Coordinator at LEAP. She is in charge of creating lessons and activities for our 7-12 year olds and training our counselors on how to facilitate curriculum sessions. Zalma is from New York and recently graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Psychology and joined LEAP in the summer of 2020. While at Yale, she ran an academic mentoring program at Wexler-Grant Community school, volunteered at New Haven Works, and worked in the Education Studies department.
Youth Development Coordinator
Paris joined LEAP in January 2019 and is the Youth Development Coordinator, which means she oversees the Leaders In Training Program, our young teen program, and works with youth ages 13-15. Paris is an alumna from Johnson & Wales University, and she has a B.S. in Counseling Psychology. Some hobbies Paris has are reading, painting, yoga, and of course, shopping.
Deputy Director of Development and Communications
Alison is a proud graduate of the North Carolina and West Virginia public schools. After over 20 years in administration at Yale School of Medicine, Alison joined LEAP in Summer 2022. She loves investing in youth development by fundraising for LEAP programs - the results are tangible! When not working, she enjoys cooking, reading and traveling.
Director of Community Initiatives
Jesse joined LEAP in 2022 as the Director of Community Initiatives, with a background in education, participatory community building, youth leadership, and being outdoors with children and families! Jesse studied English and Photography at Wesleyan University and received a Masters in Natural Resources from Cornell University with a focus on positive youth leadership development and urban environmental education. She is originally from New York but has worked with families and children across New England and the West Coast- including at Common Ground High School and the Peabody Museum!
Quinnipiac Meadows Site Coordinator
Angelina joined LEAP in 2019 as a Senior Counselor at Fair Haven North. In the Summer of 2021, she was promoted to Assistant Site Coordinator. In December of 2021, she became the first Site Coordinator of Quinnipiac Meadows. She is currently seeking her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Sociology from Albertus Magnus College, and plans to graduate in 2023. She is originally from Danbury, but now resides in New Haven.