Our team of staff and volunteers impact the lives of youth and teens in Hartford. We are dedicated to providing a positive environment and a pathway to opportunities and life-changing programs.
Samuel S. Gray, Jr.
President & CEO
Samuel S. Gray, Jr. is the President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford and has been with the Club for more than three decades. He is responsible for managing the strategic planning and operation of the club, collaborating with the Board of Trustees in setting goals, attaining and allocating resources, and establishing policies and staff direction to achieve BGCH’s mission. Sam has been associated with the Boys & Girls Clubs movement since he was eight-years-old and believes that his journey from being a club member to youth development ambassador is a gift.
A graduate of Albertus Magnus College with a B.S. in Business Management and M.S. in Management and Organizational Leadership, Sam also earned Executive Leadership Certificates from Clemson University, Harvard University, and the University of Georgia’s Sherpa Executive Coaching Certificate Program. In 2023 Sam was honored with the Masters & Mentors recognition at the BGCA National Conference. This is the highest honor bestowed upon a Boys & Girls Club professional by BGCA peers and the selection was based on the following criteria: Contribution to the Movement over a sustained period; successful mentoring of others; and demonstrated excellence in the Boys & Girls Club profession.
Executive Assistant to the President & CEO
Lisa Pierce is the Executive Assistant to the President and CEO. She joined BGCH in 2020 and loves to be a part of something bigger than herself and enjoys learning more and more about the Boys & Girls Clubs every day. Lisa has 27 years of banking experience having worked for Fleet Financial and Bank of America where she was promoted three times in seven years. Following her banking career Lisa was the Executive Office Manager with My Sisters’ Place and Development Director Assistant at Holy Apostles College & Seminary. Outside of work, Lisa enjoys cooking and volunteering feeding the homeless.
Vice President for Human Resources
Veronica Collins-Lucas spent more than a decade with BlumShapiro serving as their Organizational Development Manager, Human Resources Specialist, Supervisor, and Administrator before finally becoming the Human Resources Manager. Her time in these positions allowed her to accumulate a vast amount of knowledge and skills that she brings to BGCH as the VP for Human Resources.
Veronica is responsible for helping with leadership of the club, strategic planning, talent and resource management, partnership development, marketing and public relations, and much more. She looks to keep a healthy and happy work environment by establishing and implementing policies and procedures for effective management of BGCH while complying with federal, state, and local regulations. Veronica is certified as an SPHR as well as a SHRM-SCP and obtained her B.S. in Business Administration from Albertus Magnus College.
Susan Y. Colby
Vice President for Finance
As a member of the senior leadership team, Susan is a strategic leader, partner, and advisor with the ability to instill trust and build strong relationships. She and the Finance staff rely on team-driven problem solving to deliver insight and solutions to ever-changing organizational needs.
She is a Certified Public Accountant and started her career with Ernst & Young specializing in the healthcare and nonprofit industries. Prior to coming to BGCH, Susan was the Director of Finance at the United Way of Connecticut with $38 million in federal, state, and other grants.
Susan earned an MBA from Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, and a BBA in Accounting from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. She is originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, and lived in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Portland, Oregon, before moving to Connecticut.
Susan appreciates the technical and creative learning opportunities working with the talented, inclusive, and supportive staff at BGCH.
Dean Morneau has been BGCH’s Senior Accountant since 2022. Prior to joining the Club, Dean served as the Financial Grant Coordinator and a Senior Staff Accountant for Springfield Technical Community College in Massachusetts. There, he was responsible for approving all grant expense requisitions, performing monthly bank reconciliations, and much more. He obtained his B.S. in Business Administration from Central Connecticut State University, and his M.S. in Business Administration from American International College.
Kristi White, CPA
Kristi has more than 10 years of nonprofit accounting experience, most recently as Controller for the University of California, Davis Foundation where she was responsible for financial statement preparation and oversaw all accounting functions which included a $650 million endowment and approximately $60 million in annual gift revenue. Kristi also has 5 years of public accounting experience as an Auditor where she specialized in the nonprofit and governmental industries.
Kristi is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and earned a B. A. in Business at Eastern Connecticut State University.
Club Operations and Programming
Vice President for Operations
With years of experience as Director of Development at both Boys & Girls Club of Springfield and Holyoke, Conor Bevan has gained a clear understanding of how the Clubs operate. He was also the Special Assistant to the President and CEO at Berkshire Health Systems. As Vice President for Operations, Conor oversees our program development, ensuring that there is a variety of programs, services, and activities to reach youth development outcomes. Conor manages all program sites, works towards developing community partnerships with various organizations, members, parents, families, and funders, and presides over staff management. He is committed to his job and ensures that our youth are meaningfully impacted and are given the opportunities to reach their full potential. He earned a B.S. in Accounting from Skidmore College, and his M.P.A. from New York University. Conor is also a recipient of Business West’s 40 Under Forty award, as well as being a part of the BGCA’s CEO Emerging Leaders Program.
Joseph Bumpers III
Director of Specialized Initiatives & Partnerships
Joseph W. Bumpers III is the Director of Specialized Initiatives & Partnerships for Traditional Club Sites at Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford. Joe was a Club kid at Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford and in his current role focuses on strategic planning and goal setting while directing BGC Hartford operations including Program Development, Staff Management, Facilities Management, Budget, Capacity Building, Community Collaborations and assisting the COO with Training/Professional Development. Prior to joining Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford in 2005, Joe was Program Coordinator for Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration’s Education Center. He oversaw all program operations which consisted of staff management, facility maintenance, marketing, and taught educational classes, and maintained exhibits. Joe is a former member of the Greater Hartford YMCA Board of Directors and in 2008, became an ordained Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ at True Love Holiness Church of Jesus Christ, and teaches Bible & Sunday school. He studied at Central Connecticut State University and his participated in extensive trainings through Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Director of Program Services
Chantel has been involved with several Boys & Girls Clubs since 2003 and has more than 20 years of experience as a youth development practitioner. Her extensive time with the program and wide variety of experience allow her to excel in her position as Director of Program services where she is responsible for collaborating with development to secure grant and corporate partnerships, as well as supporting and establishing new initiatives. She has recently identified opportunities and created significant partnerships that align with the organization’s vision, resulting in funding worth $20,000 for the RKIDZ Parent Group. Chantel is very passionate about her job, grateful that she can witness BGCH’s mission in action every day and is committed to serving our youth and their families. She earned her B.S. in Social Work from Western Connecticut State University and was also awarded Connecticut’s Association Professional of the Year in 2012. Outside of work, Chantel enjoys writing and participating in charity events for her church.
Brenda A. Marsian, CFRE
Vice President for Development & Communications
Brenda is an accomplished front-line fundraiser and campaign manager who has directed multimillion dollar comprehensive campaigns for Springfield College, Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA, and Wakeman Boys & Girls Club by closing six and seven-figure gifts, partnering with key stakeholders, and leading effective development staff teams ranging in size from three to ten. As Vice President for Development & Communications for the founding Boys & Girls Club in the country — Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford — Brenda, and her six-person team are working to grow fundraising revenue from $5 Million to $7 Million.
Brenda is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and was a consultant with Ketchum and lead major gift efforts at Western New England University, the University of Connecticut, and Northfield Mount Hermon School. Brenda earned an M. A. in Communications from the University of Hartford and a B. A. in English from Western New England University.
Director of Corporate Engagement
Jessica is a well-established fundraiser and event coordinator who has found great success over the course of her career. In her previous role as the Alumni Relations Manager at Mountainside Treatment Center she coordinated and executed more than 125 events with an average satisfaction rating of 4.8/5.
As Director of Corporate Engagement for Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford, Jessica looks to develop and maintain the profiles for both past and current donors, as well as research, identify and develop new strategies for engaging possible new corporate partners. Jessica also oversees the coordination and execution of events at our Clubs here in Hartford, while working with our staff to develop calendars for both volunteer, and employee engagement opportunities and activities.
Jessica earned her B.A. in Psychology from Bay Path University.
Mary Beth Kiernan-Gonzalez
Director of Grants and Continuous Improvement
Mary Beth has been a part of Boys & Girls Club of Hartford for more than two decades. A Hartford native, Mary Beth started as a Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford volunteer and has served in a multitude of roles including Unit Director and Grants Manager. She is currently Director for Grants and Continuous Improvement, responsible for writing proposals and submitting timely and accurate reports for all grant funded projects, as well as researching foundations and corporations to evaluate prospects for both public and private grants. She has recently been charged with overseeing data tracking to show BGCH’s impact on Hartford youth. Mary Beth’s commitment to BGCH along with her skills and experience allow her to excel in her position.
Director of Donor Impact
Graham Kobs joined Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford in September of 2023. Before coming here, he served as Senior Development Manager for The Connecticut Chapter of The Alzheimer’s Association and The American Cancer Society. Graham looks to develop long term relationships built on a firm understanding of donors’ interests, passions, and values, as well as contribute to overall goals and strategies for the development department from an individual donor and major gifts perspective. With more than 20 years of experience in both non-profit and corporate environments, we are confident that Graham will be able to go above and beyond in his role as our Director of Donor Impact.
Donor Database Administrator
Crys joined BGCH in June 2022 as the Office of Development’s Donor Database Administrator. Before BGCH, Crys was Account Manager for Loud Rumor, where she managed 31 accounts, totaling more than $1 million in revenue, by identifying sales opportunities for upselling and cross-selling clients. She was also a branding specialist for Cigna HealthCare where she managed all operations of Cigna Sales Summits for 15 local markets across the U.S. and oversaw opportunity and investment evaluations to identify the best possible sponsorships. During her time at Cigna, she was a 2016 and 2017 CEO Champions Award Recipient for her Preventative Health Campaign and has been recognized for her ability to manage multiple priorities in a fast-paced environment.
Crys earned her B.S. in Psychology and Human Services from the University of Connecticut, her M.S. of Communications and Information Management from Bay Path College and was also a recipient of the 100 Women of Color Award in 2018.
Marketing & Communications Specialist
Amanda joined BGCH in October 2023 as the Marketing & Communications Specialist. She is responsible for sharing the impact of Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford through multimedia storytelling – including writing Be Greater: The News Magazine of BGCH, producing video content, designing graphic and print material, and managing BGCH’s social media channels.
A Michigan native, Amanda earned her B.A. in Journalism and Telecommunications from Ball State University. She was a local news producer for nearly 10 years in both Indianapolis and Connecticut, earning four regional Emmy nominations. Amanda also spent a year as Communications Officer for a nonprofit research center affiliated with Yale School of Medicine. She is thrilled to be at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford and looks forward to continuing to show people why BGCH is a community gem.
Asylum Hill Boys & Girls Club Director
Julie has been involved with the Boys & Girls Club professionally for more than 16 years. She began her career in 2006 as a part-time staff member at BGC of Chicopee and BGC of Greater Holyoke. She then filled various full-time leadership roles at her home Club at BGC of Greater Nashua, including Director of Teen Education, Clubhouse Director and Director of Teen Services.
Julie joined Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford in 2016 as the Director of Program Services, advanced to the Trinity College Clubhouse Director and is now the Asylum Hill Boys & Girls Club Director.
In addition to her role at BGCH, she is a Boys & Girls Club of America Tier 2 trainer and Weikart Youth Methods Trainer, allowing her to implement and facilitate a wide array of training to staff within the organization. She earned her B.A. in Legal Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, as well as her M.B.A. with a concentration in Project Management from the University of Phoenix.
Joseph D. Lapenta Northwest Boys & Girls Club Director
Prior to joining Boys & Girls Club of Hartford in 2017, Dawne Gittens served as an Academic Assistant and acting athletic director at Jumoke Academy. Her experience supporting youth allows her to ensure that they are supported and able to grow. While at BGCH, Dawne has been the Sports Fitness and Recreation Director and Program Director where she was responsible for assisting in the planning, development, and implementation of overall programs, services, and activities to ensure that they meet member’s needs and interests. She now serves as the Club Director at our JDL Northwest Boys & Girls Club.
South End Boys & Girls Club Director
For 13 years Anthony Garcia was a Unit Director and STEM Director for Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford before transitioning to the corporate world as a Mortgage Loan Officer in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Florida. We welcomed Anthony’s return in 2022 as our South End Boys & Girls Club Director. A former club member himself, and the youngest of five, Anthony is grateful that BGCH has given him the opportunity to be a big brother and mentor within the community, and help our youth reach their full potential. His extensive time with the club proves his commitment to helping both our youth and our community, and we are grateful to have him as a part of our team.
Anthony earned his B.S. in Communications from the University of Hartford.
Southwest Boys & Girls Club Director
Lourdes Carrasco joined Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford as a School Director in 2018, eventually advancing to Southwest Boys & Girls Club Director as well as the DCF Case Manager.
Prior to joining BGCH, Lourdes was a Family Peer Support Specialist at the Community Health Center of Middletown where she provided support for all young adult and families to become independent. She also worked as a residential counselor for Vinfen Inc., where she provided consumers a daily life structure to practice becoming independent as well as providing a safe environment for staff and clients residing in the home. She was able to take all the skills and knowledge from her previous roles to BGCH to help our youth prosper.
Lourdes graduated from Springfield College.
Trinity College Boys & Girls Club Director
Anthony Daddona is our Club Director at Trinity College Boys & Girls Club and is very excited for the opportunity to work with the youth and help the community. He has been working with youth for more than 6 years and has had great success connecting with them. Prior to Boys & Girls Club of Hartford, Anthony had multiple nonprofit roles such as Compass Youth Collaborative, where he served as the Community School Director and Program Coordinator. He was also with the YMCA of Greater Springfield, as the District Director of After School Programs, Teen Tripper Director, and more. His experience around youth makes him someone we can count on to ensure our club members are given all the tools they need to grow and prosper here.
Anthony earned both his B.S. in Business Administration and M.B.A from American International College.
Director of Early Learning Center
Candy Sanders was recruited by CEO Sam Gray in 2014 to institute the Early Learning Center at the Asylum Hill Boys & Girls Club. She originally started with an empty room and only three kids, but now is at full capacity and oversees 40 young club members. Under her leadership, the Early Learning Center has maintained a five-star rating from the State of Connecticut and the National Association for Education of Young Children.
Recently, Candy was selected to be honored at the 8th Annual 100 Women of Color Gala and Awards. Candy earned her BS in Early Childhood Education and Administration from Charter Oak College and holds two ADs from Indiana State University and Bay Path University.
Board of Officers
Executive Chair, An-Ping Hsieh
Vice Chairman, Anne Hildreth
Executive Treasurer, Lori Budnick
Executive Secretary, Joel Freedman
Board of Trustees
Francis Archambault – Professor Emeritus
Dr. Karlos Boghosian, D.C – So Vita Chiropractic Center
Kathleen M. Bromage – Governance Committee Chair
Lori Budnick, CPA – CliftonLarsonAllen
Matthew Carbray – Ridgeline Financial Partners, LLC
Mellaney Castro – State of Connecticut
Sonserae Cicero – S.H.E.B.A. Consulting, LLC
Daniel K. Clark – Clark Agency, LLC
Mary Coursey – Coursey & Company, Inc.
Michael Crompton – Cigna
Patrick Curry – The LEGO Group
Gregory C. Davis – Ct. State Supreme Court Judge
Andrew A. DePeau – Robinson & Cole LLP
Scott Esposito – Ernst & Young, LLP
Grace Figueredo – Human Resources Committee Chair
Joel Freedman- Executive Secretary
Amy Gallent – Community Partner
Willis H. Gee, Jr. – Community Partner
Jonathan Gengras* – Gengras Motor Cars, Inc.
Kevin T. Henry, Esq. – PKV, LLC
Ray Hernandez – OTIS
Anne Hildreth – Bank of America
Timothy A. Holt – Community Partner
An-Ping Hsieh -Visiting Professor from Practice, UConn School of Law
Marja M. Hurley, M.D. – UCONN Health
Tauheedah Jackson- The EdRedesign Lab
Jacqueline P. John, M.S. – UnitedHealthcare
Alan J. Kreczko* – Building Committee Chair
Shannon Lapierre – Community Partner
Dayna Latino – UnitedHealthcare
Janet M. Link – Stanley Black & Decker
Duncan R. MacKay/NUS – Eversource Energy
Bruce Mandell – Data-Mail
Donny Marshall – College Basketball Analyst
Chris McDavid – Raytheon Intelligence & Space
Cherita I. McIntye, PhD – ESPN
Eboni S. Nelson – University of Connecticut School of Law
Eric Nordquist – Travelers
Bimal Patel- Hartford HealthCare
Pat Phalon – Creative Director/Consultant
Brian Runkle – Webster Bank
Shara Slattery – PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP.
Jay Sloves – Elkinson + Sloves, Inc.
Joseph B. Smith, CPCU, ARM – Smith Brothers Insurance & Financial, LLC
Nicole C. Starks – Voya Financial
Michael Tedone, CPA/PFS – Connecticut Wealth Management, LLC
Richard P. Brainerd*
William J. Cochran*
Alex W. Creedon, Jr.*
John A. Donaghue
Winthrop P. Eldredge*
Jay G. Fromer*
Robert B. Goode, Jr.*
Eugene T. Green*
Jan-Gee W. McCollam*
I. Bradley Hoffman*
G. Robert O’Brien*
Oliver L. Patrell*
John P. Preysner, Jr., Esq.*
John Rafferty, Sr.*
John H. Riege, Esq
John S. Stout