For formal key staff bios, click here.

Jennifer Mitchell

Jennifer Mitchell

Executive Director

I have been working in the field of workforce development for over 15 years and I love it!  Before entering the field, I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bluefields, Nicaragua for 2 1/2 years. I have a Masters of Public Administration from Columbia University and a BA in Sociology and Environmental Policy from Binghamton University. I am on the board of the NYCETC and active member of the PTA. I married my high school sweetheart and we have two boys.


Irene Branche

Chief Development and Evaluation Officer

I believe in the power of storytelling, so I love working with graduates to share their stories of personal transformation.  I’ve been working in Development for 8 years and at HOPE since 2011. I have an MPA from Baruch College and a BA in French. I serve on the board of College and Community Fellowship. In the summer, you can catch me walking into the office in my bicycle helmet.


Bridget Carter

Building Inspector NYC °CoolRoofs

I graduated from the green job training in 2011, after a career working with mentally challenged adults. I studied to become a Qualified Mental Health Professional at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. I am really proud of overseeing crews in making New York City more energy efficient. I am also a very proud parent of my daughter, who attends John Jay College of Criminal Justice! 


Matt Caruso

Program Manager Intervine

I've been working with HOPE since January 2016. I graduated from the University at Buffalo with a BA in Urban Planning and currently pursuing my MS from Philadelphia University in Sustainable Design. During my time in Buffalo, I was an Urban Fellow for the Division of Citizen Services at City Hall in downtown Buffalo. During my free time I enjoy watching all different types of sports, especially when the Mets are on!


Danny Castro

Retention Associate

I proudly help create positive changes in the community I was born and raised in by serving as a local outreach partner and program assistant for NYSERDA's Green Jobs / Green New York program. I am a graduate of the SSBx green collar training. When I'm not in the office you can find me expressing myself musically through live performances, or indulging in my love for tranquility and nature by camping and hiking mountains.


Jessica Coyle

Manager of Individual Giving and Special Events  

My favorite part of my job is sharing HOPE’s mission with the community. I have an MS in Social Enterprise Administration from Columbia University and a BA in History from New York University. I’ve lived in Brooklyn for nearly a decade, and I’m passionate about supporting nonprofits in my neighborhood. When I’m not at HOPE or running after my toddler, I enjoy training for half marathons and tackling crossword puzzles.

Reggie Dawsom


Work Readiness Instructor

I am very pleased and proud when a student lands employment. I am a proud graduate of Howard University. I play and teach chess, a wonderful way to impart strategy, problem solving, and creative thinking in adversarial situations. An avid reader, I average two books a month - one fiction and one non-fiction. I am the product of great parents. I continue to learn from them.


Kelly Dougherty

Chief Program Officer

For me, working is synonymous with serving my community. I joined HOPE in 2017 after a decade as a public servant. I love that the HOPE team and our programs support New Yorkers in advancing along a career pathway while also contributing to the environmental health and sustainability of our city. I hold a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Studies from Northwestern University. Outside the office, I enjoy running, public radio, horror films, and modern art. 


Ariel Dreyfus

Development Associate 

After many years spent teaching in preschool school classrooms, I am excited to transition into a role where I get to teach people about the fantastic work that HOPE does! I have a M.S. in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Sustainability from Evergreen State College. Outside of work, I like to spend my time communing with nature and swinging from a trapeze!



Work Readiness Instructor

I am a compassionate person by nature, so it is only fitting that I would be drawn to the field of Human Services.  I possess a degree from The Metropolitan College of New York in Human Services and over a decade of experience in the field. I am honored to be a part of the HOPE team. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling to sunny locales with my wife for kayaking and zip lining, reading Sci-Fi and praying for a New York Knicks Championship!


Rose Fathers

Employment Specialist 

I have been a volunteer with New York City community organizations and nonprofits for the last 5 years - and I am thrilled that with HOPE I have been given the opportunity to transition my career into the nonprofit sector. Prior to HOPE I was a placement coordinator with a corporate employment firm and I have a background in business operations (many moons ago I ran a music venue). In my free time I run all over Fort Greene, support my soccer team (from where I am from in England), try to see as many music shows as possible and continuously make home improvements. Everyday I am moved by the passion of HOPE staff, our students and grads. I love the work that we do! 

David Flemming

David Flemming

Technology Instructor

During a 30 year career in music, I performed and produced albums, singles and television and radio broadcast commercials. I have been HOPE’s Technology Instructor since 2011, providing the technical skills necessary for finding work, applying for work, and for the modern workplace. I have always been an athlete, with a particular focus in my “older years” on the all-consuming game of golf on public courses throughout the region.

Elyssa Gersen-Thurman

Elyssa Gersen-Thurman

Director of Work Readiness and Work Wellness Services

I’ve been working in the field of counseling and vocational rehabilitation since 1991. I am a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and Licensed Mental Health Counselor. I love my job at HOPE, especially teaching Work Wellness to our students. I also enjoy spending time with my husband and our son, seeing films, studying French, and traveling. 


Manuel Gonzalez

Finance Associate

As a New York City native and a product of Mexican immigrant parents, I am grateful to be pursuing a career in Finance that is driven by social justice and community betterment. I have a passion for process and solutions driven work, and a keen interest in ethics and honesty in finance and accounting. I am analytical and meticulous, and am excited to bring these skills to the non profit sector. I graduated from Pace University with a degree in Finance in 2016, and have practiced TaeKwonDo for 15 years.


Sandra Grayman

Administrative Assistant and Recruitment Specialist

I am a HOPE graduate. I am a lifelong New Yorker and have spent many years raising my three children in the Bronx. I’m really proud to be part of an organization that promotes the preservation of the Bronx and New York City.  I have learned a lot about the importance in going green (cleaning products, composting and recycling) for sustainability. Singing is one of my greatest passions.

Shaniqua Greene

Shaniqua Greene

Administrative Coordinator 

I’m a HOPE graduate and I’ve been employed at HOPE since 2008. What I like most about my job is being the first point of contact with applicants because I get to tell them how great HOPE is and how it would benefit them. I love home improvement shows and would love to be an interior designer someday.

Candacy Jefrey

tzlil hertzberg

Recruitment and Intake Coordinator

I started out my time with HOPE as an intern! HOPE's dynamic and supportive atmosphere was addicting and I continued to a full time position with HOPE right after my internship. I love playing a part in students' and alumni's career and advancement journeys. I have a BS in Applied Psychology from New York University and a MS-Ed in Mental Health Counseling from Hunter College. My favorite things to do are listening to podcasts, exploring NYC restaurants, traveling and playing with my son.


robin E. jenkins

Chief Financial and Operating Officer

As a child one of my favorite activities was doing puzzles - I believe this is why I have a passion for critical thinking skills within finance and operations. I hold a dual MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management and University of Pittsburgh, an MA in Irish Studies from The Catholic University of America and a BA in Anthropology from Smith College. I love to travel, especially off season and have found myself joyfully navigating rainy season in Senegal and ice skating on canals in Holland. 

Felicia Jones

Felicia Jones

Work Readiness Instructor

My mom always knew I’d be a teacher someday. My first teaching job was with out of school youth between the ages of 16 and 22. I have a Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. My favorite things to do are listen to music, dance and try new food dishes.

Sheryl Jones


Senior Employment Specialist

I'm a HOPE graduate and I’ve worked at HOPE since 2002. I’m proud to be a mom and a caregiver. I love giving back, particularly watching clients step out with pride and a smile. I have always enjoyed watching my children learn from my grandmother, their great grandmother who lived to be 103 years old. I love cooking with my children.

Brandon Martin

DEEPTHI Katragadda

Salesforce System Administrator

I was born in a small rural village and grew up seeing my family educating people. Since completing my Master of Technology and starting my career as an IT engineer, I have been searching for a challenging role utilizing my technical skills for a meaningful purpose. Finally, I joined HOPE.  I am extremely happy to use my programming and CRM skills to reduce poverty.



Michele Knox

Michele Knox

Director of Employment and Graduate Services

My passion is helping HOPE trainees achieve their goals, and I love watching them celebrate their successes! I have an MBA  in Industrial & Organizational Psychology and a Bachelors of Business Administration,
both from Baruch College. I am a former competitive natural bodybuilder, but today my hobby is theater, working as an actor and stage manager whenever I can!

Kate Belzberg Klein


Employment Specialist 

My first exposure to the field of workforce development was in a volunteer capacity. I was hooked. I have a JD and MBA from the University of Toronto and a BA in Industrial Relations from McGill University. I am an avid baker and find particular joy in baking (and eating) cookies with my kids.


pamela LeO

Government Grants Administrator

I am thrilled to be a member of the HOPE finance department and help advance our unique and exciting mission. I am passionate about using my creativity to organize and manage our government grant processes that support many important projects here at HOPE. I hold a BS in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University. Outside of work I enjoy reading, whether it be in the park on a warm day or curled up on a couch when the weather turns chilly.

Revina Moore

Work Readiness Instructor

I am passionate about sustainability and social justice. I love that these values are core to the work we do at HOPE! I graduated from SSBx green collar training in 2016 and joined the staff shortly thereafter. My education includes coursework in Environmental Anthropology at Cornell University. On weekends I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen, helping friends and family with home improvements, or curled up with a good sci-fi book and a mug of tea.

Louis headshot round.jpg

luis rodriguez

Employment Specialist

I have been a life coach, meditator and theatre artist for over 10 years. I have a Master’s Degree in Social Science and a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Development and Theatre, both from Binghamton University. I believe that life is a stage and we are simply actors, and my passion is to support others on this stage of life to live, laugh and love the process of reaching their goals.

Alex Schneider

Program Manager NYC °CoolRoofs

I first began working with community organizations and nonprofits as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine. I joined HOPE in 2015, and love that my work has a positive impact on people, communities, and the environment. I earned a BA from the University of Toronto, and an MS in Nonprofit Management from The New School. I love being outdoors, and spend as much time as possible traveling, hiking, playing ultimate, and rock climbing.

Toby Sheppard Bloch

Chief Venture Officer

I have been taking things apart to see how they work for as long as I can remember. Repairing machines from farm machinery to electronics holds almost endless interest for me. Before joining HOPE /SSBx, I owned and operated a successful general contracting company in NYC. I have a B.A. in History from Reed College, and I am an accredited Green Roof Professional.


Mark Sohan

Program Assistant NYC °CoolRoofs

I started HOPE as a Civic Corps volunteer in 2016. From planting trees to coating rooftops white, encouraging a greener future is a must! Outside of the office, I scour New York with my girlfriend trying different foods. Advancement in technology allows me to discover cultural flavors outside my comfort zone


Anderson Taveras

Facilities and Kitchen Coordinator

I am a HOPE graduate! I love helping people, making them smile, and paying it forward.  I am working toward my Associates Degree in HVAC and want to continue on to learn Engineering. I recently realized I have a knack for public speaking, and I was given the opportunity to speak at an event attended by the Attorney General of the United States!


Rachel Taylor

Retention Associate

I started at HOPE in 2016 as graduate Mental Health Counseling intern! I have always wanted to be in a profession were I can make a positive impact on peoples' lives. I have a B.S. in Public Health from SUNY Old Westbury. I also possess a M.S. in Mental Health Counseling from Long Island University Brooklyn. I love that my education allows me to get the best of both worlds helping people with their physical and mental health. I am thrilled to be part of an amazing staff where everyone strives to improve the lives of so many people though job readiness training. I also  enjoy traveling and spending time with my family.



Mindfulness Educator

I've been working as a Wellness Coach, Therapist, and Educator since 2006 and integrate mindfulness into each of these different roles. I love helping people learn mindfulness tools, to see challenges as opportunities, and to find a place of peace and "okayness" amidst the inevitable stresses of life. I am currently writing and illustrating a children's book about mindfulness just for fun!


Sonya White

Sonya White

Advancement Manager

My favorite insect is the butterfly, because it represents transformation and reminds me of the transformation possible in the lives of the grads I serve at HOPE.  I am a magna cum laude graduate of New York University  and I am an occasional blogger on Huffington Post. Although I neither bike nor swim, I love Aqua-spinning, aka biking in the water.


ABOUT             NEWS & EVENTS            TAKE ACTION            DONATE