THE CONNECT TEAM
THE NEIGHBORHOOD DEVELOPERS
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Stefanie has over ten years of experience in program design, program implementation, policy analysis, research, and advocacy for public and nonprofit organizations, primarily in the areas of housing, transportation, sustainable economic development, and disaster recovery. She worked for a DC-area consulting firm for close to eight years before joining a Chicago think tank in 2010. Prior to assuming leadership of the CONNECT Program in Summer 2015, Stefanie served as its Program Evaluation Manager. She holds a Masters Degree in Public Affairs and Urban and Regional Planning from the Woodrow Wilson School and a B.S. in Economics., and recently became the mother of twin boys.
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Chelsea has been my hometown since I arrived from Honduras in 1979. My passion for community involvement and civic participation began in 1988, when I helped form Centro Latino for the Hispanic community here in Chelsea, and where I served as a Board member for three years. I was also an active volunteer at The Chelsea Collaborative for three years, before being hired there as a Community Organizer. Simultaneously, I helped create ROCA’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program for at-risk adolescents. My 25 years of work experience have been focused primarily on community organizing efforts and civic community engagement. I was a Program Manager at HarborCOV Emergency Shelter for almost 10 years. In 2005, I was elected to the Chelsea School Committee and am leaving this year after my 10-year tenure. I joined TND/CONNECT in December 2014 after completing the six-month Leadership Fellows program with TND’s Community Engagement Team. One recent personal success this past June was my graduating from Cambridge College with a Bachelor’s in Human Services. I am very proud of my many accomplishments and contributions to my community and hometown, Chelsea, which in turn have helped me grow both personally and professionally.
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Originally from the Azores, I came to Boston to study Computer Science and earned a Masters degree in Computer Science from Boston University and Bachelor’s from Northeastern University. After working as a Systems Analyst and Programmer at MIT, I transitioned to the Learning and Performance field. I worked at the YWCA Malden to develop the financial empowerment initiative and provide micro enterprise technical support, and joined CONNECT as a Financial Coach in 2012. I’m passionate about interdisciplinary work to prevent homelessness and advance the economic capacity of immigrant families who are caught in difficult economic conditions. I’m a strong believer in the power of emerging technologies and social innovation to produce solutions to systemic economic problems.
Lead Financial Coach
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I consider myself a “citizen of the world” having lived in France, Germany, London, Kenya and the US, so I immediately felt at home working at CONNECT where there are so many staff and clients from different cultures and nationalities. I strive to live by my missionary grandparents’ motto: “to make a positive difference in the world and have fun doing it”. My formal education includes a B.A. from Barnard College (majoring in Education and German) as well as an M.S. in School Psychology from City College Graduate School of Education, and finally a Psy.D. (Doctorate in Psychology) from Rutgers University. I am passionate about social and political justice, working in whatever way I can to level the playing field for all, particularly those who face barriers due to lack of money or education, language barriers or immigration status. I believe that we are all travelers on life’s journey, and are called to help each other along the way. I am thrilled to be part of an organization that is doing all it can to bring economic stability to all who come through its doors.
Madeligne Tena joined the TND/CONNECT team in November 2017. She was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to the United States at the age of five and attended Boston public schools. In her early twenties she quickly realized she had a passion for empowering people and pursued a bachelors in Human Services from Northeastern University. She went on to serve low income families in a number of different capacities; from direct service work, affordable housing advocacy, and resident engagement. In 2016 she she was elected by Boston City Council to serve on the city's Community Preservation Committee to represent nearly every neighborhood and the diversity of Boston. Madeligne is also a board member of a nonprofit organization called "PullingEight", which aims to assist Section 8 recipients and low- and moderate- income households with full real estate counseling and resources to achieve home ownership. Madeligne brings unrivaled passion to work every day, noting the deeply rewarding nature of helping people gain the knowledge and services they need. She is excited to continue the work of economic mobility here in Chelsea and hopes to influence government policies someday.
Dennis Pellegrino is the Veterans Employment Representative who works out of two locations for Department of MassHire, Metro North Region for MassHire in Cambridge and Chelsea as a CONNECT Partner. Pellegrino who has been providing services to Veterans for over eight years is a Navy Veteran himself and spent the majority of his time in a Recruiter and Zone Supervisor role. He comes from a Human Resources background where he functioned as Training Officer and HR Manager with a manufacturing company and with one of the big box stores where he managed all aspects of the HR Department including recruitment, performance management and talent acquisition. Pellegrino and MassHire have been recognized as recipients of the MA DCS Jobs for Veterans State Grant Incentive Award for services to Veterans, each year for the past four years.
Metro Housing Boston
After earning her GED at the age of 39 ("an amazing feeling!"), Blanca started working at Union Capital Boston. While working full time, she chipped away at an Associates Degree from Bunker Hill Community College, joyously graduating in 2017. She has long been involved in community service in her neighborhood, doing community outreach, providing care, support and counseling to families and individuals, and arranging community gatherings. She has worked for or volunteered with many organizations in Boston, including Project Hope, Homes for Families, Cradles to Crayons, and Community Servings. Her work is often difficult, she acknowledges, "but it is satisfying just to see families connected with their community. I enjoy that there is a mutually beneficial relationship between the families I serve and myself." Blanca is the proud mother of two and grandmother of one.
Elsa Villanueva is a mother of three wonderful children. Born in Mexico City, she came to the US in 1984, where she started learning English as her second language. She would go on to receivea certificate at Wentworth Technological Institute in Computer Technology, and later a degree in Public Relations at Suffolk University. She worked as an advocate for the Latino community in Massachusetts ata non-profit Latino political organization doing outreach for political candidates. Now, at Metro Housing Boston, she works with theHealth Starts at Home Programservingfamilies with children under 11 who are patients at Mass General Hospitalandare facing a housing crisis. Her passion is to help the community find stability and move past any housing or family crisis that they may be facing.
METRO CREDIT UNION
NOEMI MIRANDA ORTIZ
Born in Puerto Rico, My parents moved the family to Chelsea, Massachusetts when I was 2 years old. Chelsea has been my home from childhood to most of my adult life. I was a teen mom and faced many challenges but with support and dedication, I was able to overcome becoming another statistic. Upon graduating from Chelsea High School, I was given an opportunity to work for a financial institution as a part time teller. What was supposed to be a temporary job has now been my career for the last 14 years. I have spent the last 5 years working for Metro Credit Union where I am a Branch Manager at the Chelsea Broadway Location as well as a small branch for students and staff inside the Chelsea High School. I have gained a vast of knowledge working in the financial institution industry but working with Metro Credit Union has been by far my most beneficial experience. Metro Credit Union has given me the chance to work with and help people within the community that I still consider my home. The goal is to help people with their financial needs and helping them understand the benefits of being a member at our credit union. It is my pleasure to represent Metro Credit Union as one of the Connect partners and will continue to use the skills and knowledge I have gained to help the community.