Our Team

ROBERT M. GRILLO

  • Position: Interim Executive Director and Co-Vice Chair, Board of Directors
  • Education: Bachelor of Science – Business & Marketing College of Business (CBA) St. John’s University; JP Morgan Capital Markets, MBS Training Program
  • Credentials/Experience:10 yrs Trustee of BHGH of NY
    • Current Co-Vice Chair BHGH of NY
    • Recently Retired – Financial Professional – Bank of America Merrill Lynch
    • Head of FICC Electronic Sales
    • Global Head of Rates Sales
  • What brought you to BHGH of NY and what do you have to offer to the Organization?  I was introduced to the organization by a co-worker, Patrick Haskell.  Patrick is now Chair of the Board. I went to dinners at Chelsea Piers early on– and eventually joined the board in 2007-2008 time frame.  I’ve been blessed to have known, and worked with so many caring, supportive, passionate Trustee’s, especially John Halleron, Bob Mancini, John Mara & the entire Mara Family whom have been so supportive of BHGH NY since the very beginning in 1979.
  • Family or Cultural Background: My Mom & Dad are both 1st generation American’s, and 1st generation College Graduates. Mom’s family comes from Ireland and Germany, my Father’s from Southern Italy. I was born in Queens, NY and very early in my life moved to the Nassau side of the border, where my wife is from as well.
  • Describe yourself in three words: Intense, Respectful, Passionate
  • Fun Fact About Yourself: Played NCAA Div I Lacrosse in College.
Robert M. Grillo

Interim Executive Director

MIKE McMANUS

  • Position: Chief Operating Officer
  • Education: Education: B.S. Marketing - Manhattan College
  • Credentials/Experience: I spent thirty years working in the financial industry dealing in government securities including Treasury Bonds, Mortgage-backed securities, and Municiple Bonds. I retired two years ago and began working for Pets of Patriots, a non-profit that partnered with veteran groups and animal shelters putting at-risk animals together with veterans in need of companionship.
  • What brought you to BHGHNY and what do you have to offer to the Organization? I was introduced to BHGH twenty years ago by a friend. I attended many Vision of Hope dinners and participated in several of their golf outings. I am overwhelmed by the success of the program, and I hope that my passion for youth development and my belief in the value of education can help a great program acheive even greater results. The idea of helping young, talented students, being held back by circumstances beyond their control, to achieve their full potential, is a mission I'd be proud to contribute to.
  • Family or Cultural Background: All four of my grandparents were born in Ireland. I was born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island.
  • Describe yourself in three words: Honest, Loyal, Magnanimous
  • Fun Fact About Yourself: In college, my friends and I built a raft and sailed it down the Hudson River.
Mike McManus

Chief Operating Officer

DANIELLE McCARTHY

  • Position: Business and Human Resources Manager
  • Education: B.A. Women's Studies, Stony Brook University.
  • Credentials/Experience: As an adolescent in New York City, I needed more positive influences in my life. I began my journey in the non-profit realm during high school as a youth staff member of the Urban Dove Inc; a program dedicated to enriching the lives of at-risk youth through sports-based recreational activities while simultaneously teaching the critical life skills necessary to be successful. This program was extremely significant to my development, confidence, drive and participation in the community. It served as a catalyst for my professional life in service. Continuing on a mission to create positive change, I began work at a Cristo Rey Network school and am thrilled to be on board at Boy’s Hope Girl’s Hope of New York.
  • What brought you to BHGHNY and what do you have to offer to the Organization? I am interested in supporting programs that cultivate our youth, support inner-city education, encourage continuing education and empower our underserved communities. All of these things parallel the core values of Boys Hope Girls Hope and I'm hopeful and confident in that synergy translating to success.
  • Family or Cultural Background: Irish & Puerto Rican
  • Describe yourself in three words: Committed, Quirky, Honest
  • Fun Fact About Yourself: I like to go to the beach and I like to read; but not at the same time.
Danielle McCarthy

Business & Human Resources Manager

CHELSEA PITTMAN

  • Position: Development Manager
  • Education: B.A. English Literature, Minor Psychology, College of William and Mary
  • Credentials/Experience: Upon graduating in 2014, I spent a year teaching English as a second language to incoming freshmen and first year college students at the University of Malaysia Perlis in Perlis, Malaysia. When I returned stateside, I began working in Development under the Director of Development at Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and then as Fundraising Manager at Historic Jamestowne with Preservation Virginia.
  • What brought you to BHGHNY and what do you have to offer to the Organization? While I was in the process of moving to New York, I wanted to continue working for non-profits and BHGHNY stood out to me as an organization where I could use my resources and skills to help grow a place that is doing so much for its community by inspiring and empowering students to reach their full potential, and also providing them with the resources and support to do so. I believe I offer a passion and dedication to making sure we exceed the goals we set and the compassion to want to help both my coworkers and our scholars in any way I can.
  • Family or Cultural Background: African-American. I was born and raised in Hampton, Virginia
  • Describe yourself in three words: Ambitious, Empathetic, Creative
  • Fun Fact About Yourself: I solo-traveled through Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia when I lived in Malaysia.
Chelsea Pittman

Development Manager

LIZA ALVAREZ

  • Position: Director of Admissions
  • Education:
  • Credentials/Experience:
  • What brought you to BHGH of NY and what do you have to offer to the Organization?
  • Family or Cultural Background:
  • Describe yourself in three words: Compassionate, Determined, Humble
  • Fun Fact About Yourself:
Liza Alvarez

Director of Admissions

NAOMI COHEN-THOMPSON

  • Position: Director of Wellness and Therapeutic Services
  • Education: Undergraduate MFA degree, Massachusetts College of Art and Design; Graduate Degree in Art Therapy, School of Visual Arts, NY
  • Credentials/Experience: I have worked as an art therapist and clinical supervisor for almost ten years in Brooklyn, NY. My work has been focused mainly on adolescents and their families.
  • What brought you to BHGHNY and what do you have to offer to the Organization? This is my second stint as the Therapist for BHGHNY! I feel I can offer the necessary support, empathy and a venue for self-expression to all scholars so that their educational and residential experience is as holistic as possible. The Art Therapy program aims to offer a space for creative expression, necessary interpersonal skills, group cohesion and a deeper connection with one's self identity.
  • Family or Cultural Background: I am a third generation, East Coast-raised Jew with roots in Eastern Europe on both sides of my family
  • Describe yourself in three words: Committed, Open, Creative
  • Fun Fact About Yourself: I love to cook and bake!
Naomi Cohen-Thompson

Director of Wellness and Therapeutic Services

SELINA DIAZ

  • Position: Director of College Guidance and Alumni Support
  • Education: A.S. in Liberal Arts & Sciences - Dutchess Community College; B.S.in Sociology -The College at Old Westbury; M.S. in Education, School Counseling -The College of Saint Rose.
  • Credentials/Experience: I am a first-generation college student and understand the importance of college and college access. I went to the State University of New York at Old Westbury and received a Bachelor's degree in Sociology. Directly after, I started graduate school at The College of Saint Rose and began full time as a Youth Health Educator. In 2014, I earned my Master's in Education with a concentration in School Counseling. In addition, my love for urban youth development is ultimately what brought me back to NYC. Prior to BHGH, I worked with at-risk youth at a transfer high school. I provided individual counseling and facilitated group seminars around college access, career exploration, and educational success for all students enrolled in their after-school program.
  • What brought you to BHGHNY and what do you have to offer to the Organization? I have an unwavering passion to empower youth through education and was eager to work more closely with a high achieving, motivated population.
  • Family or Cultural Background: I am originally from the Bronx, but was raised in Poughkeepsie, NY. My family is Puerto Rican and Cuban and we have a lot of pride in our Hispanic culture.
  • Describe yourself in three words: Proactive, Personable, Energetic
  • Fun Fact About Yourself: I slept in a tent in the Sahara Desert for a week
Selina Diaz

Director of College Guidance and Alumni Support

LYNNETTE LOPEZ

  • Position: Dean of McAuley Hall
  • Education: Bachelor of Arts degree, History UCLA
  • Credentials/Experience: I worked as a classroom teacher for over 30 years. In my years in urban education, I opened a world of possibilities to each of my students. The mission was to teach my students to dig and excavate truth and discover new ways of thinking and analyzing. In my teaching career, I taught high school in California, Georgia, and New Jersey. I taught English, Spanish, History, Geography; I developed classroom courses and have written curriculum. I served on Discipline Boards and Advisory Boards; I also served as Chair for English, History, and Spanish Departments in various schools. I have had full charge responsibility for planning service learning opportunities abroad. Foreign Language students traveled to Nice, Spain, Costa Rica, Paris, Quebec, Ecuador, and many other countries.  My experience in education has been fantastic! Those years were awesome!
  • What brought you to BHGH of NY and what do you have to offer to the organization? I transitioned from classroom teaching, but wanted to remain in education and work with young people within our urban community - Friends and I were talking and Boys Hope Girls Hope came up in conversation. When I read BHGH’s mission and saw how it aligned to my personal mission, I applied.... I know that I can offer the same world of possibilities to my McAuley scholars as I did my classroom students. The only difference is that there are no Lesson Plans. I challenge these young ladies to become strong, thoughtful global citizens that are unafraid to take intellectual risks and discover new ways of thinking. My new “classroom” will encompass all the necessary treasures to ensure each scholar receives the outpouring of support, patience, love, and understanding I have to give. 
  • Family or Cultural Background: I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California! My family is from the south, Mid-west, and west coast!
  • Fun Fact About Yourself: I studied piano at USC and am a classically trained pianist! Another “wow” fact, my grandfather lived to be 104 years old!
Lynnette Lopez

Dean of McAuley Hall

MARTIN TORRES

  • Position: Dean of LaSalle Hall
  • Education: B.A. Psychology at St. Joseph's College in Brooklyn
  • What brought you to BHGHNY and what do you have to offer to the Organization? My favorite part of this job is seeing young people succeed. The intrinsic reward I get from assisting youth is the reason I want a career in this field. I remember how confusing and frustrating that time in my life was, and how it lead me to some maladaptive choices. I hope that I can help them make better decisions for their own overall wellness. I hope that I can be the role model that I needed when I was a teenager.
  • Family or Cultural Background: Both sides of my family came from Puerto Rico.
  • Describe yourself in three words: Empathetic, Patient, Affable
  • Fun Fact About Yourself: If I could take a dream trip anywhere in the world, I would go to Hawaii, or to Spain, or to Puerto Rico to visit my family!
Martin Torres

Dean of LaSalle Hall

JULIE VAZQUEZ

  • Position: Director of Academic Success
  • Education: Pennsylvania State University, B.S.- Communication Sciences & Disorder; Stony Brook University, M.A.- Higher Education Administration
  • Credentials/Experience: My commitment to serving New York City youth began at a young age. From internships to part-time jobs, my passion has always been educating and mentoring young scholars. After graduating from Penn State University in 2015, I was fortunate enough to have found a one of a kind organization Boys Hope Girls Hope of NY. Here I served as a Residential Counselor from 2015-2017. After two years of service to BHGH of NY, I went on to finish pursuing my masters in Higher Education Administration at Stony Brook University. During this time I also worked at Long Island University- Post as a Residence Director and an Academic Adviser. In this role I ensured the safety and well being of our freshmen residence communities while also supporting the academic success of a caseload of 75 students.
  • What brought you to BHGH of NY and what do you have to offer to the Organization? As a previous employee of BHGH of NY all I can say is, there is no place like home. Returning to the organization I hope to continue supporting the success of our amazing scholars through their high school years and beyond. My goal is to not only take on the role of Director of Academic Success, but to furthermore become an extended family member to each and every one of the families we serve.
  • Family or Cultural Background: I was born and raised in Queens, New York and my family is from Puerto Rico. I am a very proud Nuyorican!
  • Describe yourself in three words: Compassionate, Enthusiastic, Determined
  • Fun Fact About Yourself: My favorite hobby is salsa dancing with my father!
Julie Vazquez

Director of Academic Success

DEVINE PEARSON

  • Position: LaSalle Hall Senior Residential Counselor
  • Education: A.S. Business Administration, B.B.A. Business Management, Minor: Marketing, SUNY Canton
  • Credentials/Experience:
    • Conducted community outreach for five years while I was in college
    • Worked with my fellow peers and fraternity brothers on dance routines
    • Heavily invested in Student Life and event programming
    • Experience with training, assisting, and engaging students
    • Guiding and mentoring students to take responsibility and to be a better version of themselves
    • Servant leader who looks to the well-being of serving others to make sure the community that I’m in has the best outcome
  • What brought you to BHGH of NY and what do you have to offer to the Organization?The former Dean of McAuley Hall told me about this organization and said that it was definitely an opportunity I should go for. Along with her words of encouragement and reading the description of the position I saw a great opportunity to be apart of something greater, which was molding the young minds of another generation. I remember being a teenager; it was a confusing and difficult time and I hope to be that confidant for the scholars. I have my dedication and empathy to offer to the organization.
  • Family or Cultural Background:Half African-American, and half Puerto Rican; born and raised in Queens.
  • Describe yourself in three words:Determined, Devoted, Creative
  • Fun Fact About Yourself: I am a brother of Gamma Sigma Zeta Fraternity Inc. and I love stepping and strolling.
Devine Pearson

LaSalle Hall Senior Residential Counselor

DANIELLA PORTILLO

  • Position: McAuley Hall Senior Residential Counselor
  • Education: B.A. Psychology, Minor: Spanish and Entrepreneurship, Louisiana Tech University
  • Credentials/Experience: I've worked at BHGH New Orleans in the residential home. I've also been a Junior Counselor, Director, and Researcher at my church's summer camp. Lastly, while in college I was Vice President of my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
  • What brought you to BHGHNY and what do you have to offer to the Organization? The passion the adminstration of BHGHNY had in finding fellows that would best fit the organization attracted me. Also, giving back to BHGH was a part of my wanting to work in one of the affiliates across the country.  I'm most excited to have a shared experience with the scholars, to be able to see both sides of a situation, and to help empathize with the scholars but make decisions as a fellow.
  • Family or Cultural Background: Hispanic/Latino. My mom is from Guatemala and my dad is from El Salvador. My hometown is New Orleans, LA.
  • What are you most excited about bringing to the organization? I am very excited to bring a strong support system in the form of myself to this organization--one that is always reliable and inpiring to my coworkers and students.
  • Fun Fact About Yourself: I have a rare deficiancy called Factor Deficiancy that only one in five million people have.
Daniella Portillo

McAuley Hall Senior Residential Counselor

BRYCE VEIRA

  • Position: LaSalle Hall Senior Residential Counselor
  • Education: B.A. Forensic Psychology and Writing, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • Credentials/Experience: In college I was a peer mentor with the CUNY Black Male Initiative Organization. From January to August I worked with the Dream/Harlem RBI organization as a learning coach for second, third, and fourth graders.
  • What brought you to BHGHNY and what do you have to offer to the Organization? A former Fellow told me about this organization and since then I knew this would be an amazing opportunity to continue the mentoring work I loved so much in college.
  • Family or Cultural Background: Half Trinidadian, half Aruban. My father was born in Trinidad and moved to Brooklyn when he was three years old. My mother was born in New York, but her mother is from Aruba. My hometown is Brooklyn, NY.
  • What are you most excited about bringing to the organization? I am very excited to bring a strong support system in the form of myself to this organization--one that is always reliable and inpiring to my coworkers and students.
  • Fun Fact About Yourself: I love music and dancing, and I have a few skills in DJ'ing.
Bryce Veira

LaSalle Hall Senior Residential Counselor

SHAYAN KASSIM

  • Position: LaSalle Hall Residential Fellow
  • Education: B.S. Psychology, University of Alabama
  • Credentials/Experience: 
    • Mental health professional at a school for youth with behavioral challenges.
    • Participated on the national and local project team for nonprofit camps including Camp Mosaic and College Expedition USA.
    • Youth Development Professional at the Boys and Girls Club of America
  • What brought you to BHGHNY and what do you have to offer to the Organization? First and foremost, the opportunity to be embedded in youths lives and work on youth development daily is exciting as well as being able to live in New York City. BHGHNY offers me the chance to work on professional development and to learn more about myself. I bring empathy, compassion, energy, and innovation to the table.
  • Family or Cultural Background: Pakistani descent
  • Describe yourself in three words: Empathetic, Energetic, Athletic
  • Fun Fact About Yourself: My name means "prince" in Persian.
Shayan Kassim

LaSalle Hall Residential Fellow

BIANCA SANDIFER

  • Position: McAuley Hall Residential Fellow
  • Education: Associate of Arts, Music Education; B.A. Music Performance, Martin Methodist College; TESOL Certified
  • Credentials/Experience:
    • Caregiver for differently-abled and disabled persons as well as persons with special needs.
    • Child camp counselor and teacher since I was 15 years old.
    • Worked with children and teens in music performance and dance fine arts camps
    • Spanish/English Kindergarten Substitute and Teaching Aide
    • Residential Assistant during college
    • I have conducted church and community outreach for 20 years
  • What brought you to BHGHNY and what do you have to offer to the Organization? I came to BHGHNY by chance. I was in search of a job opportunity to serve as a live-in mentor who helps with the everyday needs of young people or children. When I saw the Residential Fellow program and read about it, I was touched by the great lengths that this organization commits to changing the lives of youth in need. I have my positivity, patience, limitless encouragement, and listening skills to offer.
  • Family or Cultural Background: African American, European American from England, and Native American. My great grandmother was left behind on the Trail of Tears in Alabama and married my great grandfather who was a former slave in Alabama.
  • Describe yourself in three words: Joyful, Caring, Responsible
  • Fun Fact About Yourself: I can sing whistle notes.
Bianca Sandifer

McAuley Hall Residential Fellow

JAVONTE VADEN

  • Position: McAuley Hall Residential Fellow
  • Education: B.A. Sociology; Minor: History-Xavier University of Louisiana
  • Credentials/Experience: 
    • Peer Educator at Teen Outreach Program (nonprofit)
    • Administrative Assistant in Xula's Education and Counseling Department.
  • What brought you to BHGHNY and what do you have to offer to the Organization? I was attracted to BHGHNY because this organization serves a community that reflects who I am and once was. It is also an organization that I wish I could have been a part of as a high school student. I will offer genuine care and support for the young adults within this program.
  • Family or Cultural Background: African American
  • Describe yourself in three words: Supportive, Creative, Honest
  • Fun Fact About Yourself: I love to travel and experience new things.
Javonte Vaden

McAuley Hall Residential Fellow

William McMillin

  • Position: Art Therapy Intern
  • Education: BFA, Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2004); MPS (expected 2019), Art Therapy, School of Visual Arts NYC
  • Credentials/Relevant Experience: I have experience with counseling across the mental health spectrum.  People often think that mental health means there’s “something wrong with you.”  But that isn’t true.  Mental health and physical health are important parts of living a joyful, fulfilling life!
  • What brought you to BHGH of NY? I came to BHGH as an intern last year with an interest in adolescent development.  I have strong feelings about the values our society imparts to young people, and a love of teaching and connection.  I loved this welcoming community so much I came back for another year!
  • Family or Cultural Background: I was born in Washington D.C. but mostly grew up in Omaha, Nebraska.  My parents were life-long activists, beginning in the civil-rights era.  Our family valued education highly and encouraged me to make learning part of my life always.
  • Describe yourself in three words: Curious, funny, some people say I’m an “old soul”
  • Fun Fact About Yourself:  I love a bargain.  I recently bought a hand-held mixer made in Switzerland at a stoop sale for $10.  It changed my life!  I think one of the best summer deals is to take the 58th Street ferry in Sunset Park to Far Rock for $2.75.  It’s 45 minutes of sights, motion, surf and relaxation – and then you’re at the beach!
William McMillin

Art Therapy Intern

STEPHAN PEMBERTON

  • Position: Program Intern
  • Education: Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School/BHGHNY Alumnus (Class of 2015); CUNY The City College of New York (Class of 2019)
  • Intended Major: Computer Engineering
  • What would you like to do after college? After college I am want to volunteer with a charity organization overseas or be a part of anything else that would let me travel. After that, I would like to go to graduate school..
  • Describe your experiences while at BHGHNY and what the organization means to you: BHGHNY was a wonderful experience for me. I think I am a more open minded person for going through the bhgh program and residential experience. BHGH pushes students beyond their limits academically and helps us develop ourselves as individuals. The best part of interning at BHGHNY is conversing with the current students and sharing my experience from when I was in their shoes.
  • Family or Cultural Background: My family is from the Caribbean. My mother is from Jamaica and my father is from St. Kitts and Nevis.
  • Fun Fact About Yourself: I watched all 9 seasons of “how I met your mother”; I m a fan of all 6 Star Wars Movies; I know how to play the guitar.
Stephan Pemberton

Program Intern

ADRIAN SMITH

  • Position: Art Therapy Intern
  • Education: School of Visual Arts
  • Credentials/Relevant Experience: Before starting at BHGH I interned at the Hebrew Home working with older adults. Being at BHGH is my first experience working with adolescents.
  • What brought you to BHGH of NY and what do you have to offer to the Organization? A challenge. My experience, creativity, sunny outlook on life and genuine interest in learning about the scholars.
  • Family or Cultural Background: Born and raised in Detroit, Mi with family from Georgia.
  • Fun Fact About Yourself: I wanted to be a professional downhill mountain bike rider as a teen.
Adrian Smith

Art Therapy Intern

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