Who We Are

LightHouse Holyoke is led by a highly qualified group of advisors, directors, and core staff.

Core Staff

In addition to our Core Staff, LightHouse is joined by a team of adjunct faculty, workstudy college students, interns, and volunteers. At any given time our full staff numbers 20-25 people, an approximately 3:1 student to staff ratio.

Catherine Gobron

Catherine is Co-Founder and Executive Director of LightHouse. She co-founded LightHouse with Josiah S. Litant and they led the organization together for three years. In 2018 Josiah relocated and Catherine stepped up to the role of Executive Director.

Before LightHouse she spent 12 years at North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens as Program Director. Her vision, leadership, and drive were essential ingredients in North Star’s growth. Catherine was a founding board member for Liberated Learners, the umbrella program connecting centers using the North Star model.

Catherine holds two bachelors degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Masters in Education, Creative Arts in Learning, from Lesley University. She also holds a Montessori Certification from New England Montessori Teacher Education Center.

You can contact Catherine directly at [email protected]

Epi Arias

Program Director. Epi Arias is Program Director and teacher at LightHouse. He received his BA for Creative Writing at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst (BDIC) and is currently working on his capstone towards an MA with the American Public University System.

An author, consultant, educator, and independent researcher, Epi has worked as program coordinator in a number of fields and disciplines over the last 15 years. He strongly believes that a conscientious, personalized education is key in helping students find their own paths and hopes that his experience and expertise will continue to facilitate that belief.

You can contact Epi directly at [email protected]

Luz Baez

Business Manager. Luz is the first face you’ll see when you enter LightHouse. She manages all of the administrative and financial pieces of our program and also welcomes all guests to our space. Luz joined our team two years ago as a part time administrator, and has now become an key asset to the organization. She has worked diligently to gain a vast range of skills in accounting and data management, which she balances expertly between various admin tasks and sincere care for our students and families.

Luz grew up in and around Holyoke area and is delighted to be working in support of area youth.

You can contact Luz directly at [email protected]

Rafael Fields

Core Staff. Raffi began at LightHouse in the fall of 2018. He came straight from working as a legal advocate in a legal aid office in Eastern Massachusetts. Before that, he worked as a core staff member at North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens, where he taught classes and provided individual instruction in a variety of subjects, including small engine repair, guitar building, architectural modeling, blog writing, history and political economy.

In addition to the two jobs mentioned above, Raffi has worked as a carpenter, timber framer, guitar builder, tool salesman, cafeteria worker, theater tech, set builder, and “falafelier” on a food truck. He hopes to bring to the LightHouse community some of the skills, knowledge, and experience that he has gained in these jobs (and other endeavors), and his passion and curiosity for projects big and small.
You can contact Raffi directly at [email protected]

Ashley Goodfellow Sulock

Core Staff. Ashley became a Core Staff member at LightHouse in the fall of 2018. Ashley graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a B.A. in Legal Studies and B.A. in Psychology; along with minors in Italian Studies and Sociology. She is also a licensed social justice mediator in the state of Massachusetts.

She began at LightHouse working two days a week as a work-study student from UMass. She helped tutor students, assist them in their independent studies, and aid in the facilitation of Fridays. The following year, Ashley came back to LightHouse three days a week as a teacher. She has taught classes such as, Criminology, Constitutional Law, Social Psychology, and others.

Ashley is a very passionate individual. She cares deeply for the students as LightHouse, the environment, social justice issues, the law, the education system, and she also enjoys a good board game. Above all, she is very thankful to be a continuing part of the LightHouse community. 

 You can contact Ashley directly at [email protected]

Carlos Peña

Core Staff. Carlos is a founding staff member and a key contributor to the success of the program. Carlos has a degree from UMass Amherst, and is an artist, screenprinter, and poet. He lives in Holyoke and is very involved in the community.

You can contact Carlos directly at [email protected]

LightHouse Board of Directors

Kelly Albrecht

LightHouse Board of Directors.  Entrepreneur, Project Manager, Developer, Systems Administrator. Kelly Albrecht is an expert Linux Server Admin, having been responsible for several servers where over 100 sites and services are run and maintained.

As a Web Developer and Project Manager, Kelly has implemented web-based IT solutions for over 10 years and has extensive experience in all aspects of website design and development.

As an Entrepreneur, Kelly Albrecht has founded several businesses including the left-click IT strategy and consulting firms as well as the Last Call Media web development agency.
He is a regular presenter at Drupal Meetups, Camps and Conferences and stays involved in his local IT industry as the Executive Director of NERDs.

Kelly graduated Summa Cum Laude with departmental honors in Philosophy from the University of Massachusetts.

Dan Bouquillon

Lighthouse Board of Directors. Dan has worked in the valley as an IT professional for the past 7 years at Paragus and Callaway. He is currently the IT Manager at CAIA Association in Amherst and lives in Holyoke. 

Jacqui DeFelice

Vice Chair. Lighthouse Board of Directors.  

Jacqui joined the board of LightHouse in the summer of 2017. She brings twenty plus years of experience working in the Not for Profit sector focused mainly in education, but also in healthcare, leadership and contemplative science. Jacqui has worked with regional, national and international start-ups as well as established organizations committed to promoting human flourishing. She has expertise in identifying, designing and implementing programs to embrace growth opportunities while qualifying funding sources and building relationships for long-term programmatic sustainability.

Currently, Jacqui is the Director of International Development at Smith College, where she is responsible for engaging non US constituents to cultivate and grow philanthropic giving and other forms of support.

Prior to Smith College, Jacqui was with the Mind & Life Institute as Director of Advancement and Global Relations. Mind and Life fosters interdisciplinary dialogue between Western science, philosophy, humanities, and contemplative traditions, supporting the integration of first-person inquiry through meditation and other contemplative practices into traditional scientific methodology. Founded by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1987.

Jacqui is Scottish by birth, but for the last 25 years she has lived in Holyoke, MA with her husband Scott and her 2 sons and her niece and nephew. Jacqui is delighted to be on the Board of LightHouse, to be of service however she can to help LightHouse respond to the educational needs of the area’s youth.

Jacqui holds a Masters in International Business from Strathclyde University and a Bachelors degree from Caledonian University, both in Glasgow, Scotland. Jacqui is a dedicated cyclist, and can be found most weekends on the bike trails around western Massachusetts.

Laurie Herrick

Chair, LightHouse Board of Directors.  Laurie is the founder and President of RAINMAKER Consulting, a Holyoke based company which specializes in fundraising and organizational development for nonprofit organizations and foundations. The objectives of Lighthouse are very consistent with her commitment to the personal transformation that comes with learning.

She is a veteran fundraiser and organizational development consultant. In this role she has provided fundraising training for boards and development professionals, coaching on capital campaigns and planned giving programs, executive coaching and strategic planning. Laurie has been responsible for raising tens of millions of dollars for nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S.

Laurie was the founder and President of Coast to Coast Distributors, a multimillion-dollar wholesale distribution company. Her involvement in the not-for-profit world was initially focused on activism dedicated to ending the root causes of hunger and poverty.

Laurie has her B.S. from Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY. She was trained by Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, Al Gore in influencing policy on climate change and Muhammad Yunus in replicating the Grameen Bank microlending model. She established Syracuse, New York’s first microlending program.

In her spare time Laurie likes to blow glass, run and hike wherever she goes, and spend time with her family.

Intiya Isaza-Figueroa

Treasurer, LightHouse Board of Directors. Intiya is a Senior Project Manager for Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corp., a Boston-based non-profit affordable housing developer. On the job, she aspires to improve not only the real estate stock in the community, but the lives of residents. She focuses her volunteer time on education and the urban environment, having previously served on the Holyoke Historic Commission and Planning Board. She is an active alumna and Alumni Interviewer for Harvard College Admissions and Telluride Association. She grew up in a family committed to social work and activism in W Mass.

Intiya holds a BA from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts where she completed self-directed, inter-disciplinary “special concentration” in Urban Studies. During her time as a student she was committed to educational issues – working as a Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Officer and as a term-time tutor and summer camp teacher for ESL and immigrant students in Boston’s most economically-challenged neighborhoods. Intiya is a proud Latina and is bilingual. She is also a studio artist who exhibits and does commissioned work.

Josiah S. Litant

LightHouse Co-Founder. Josiah co-founded LightHouse with Catherine Gobron and co-directed the organization for the first three years, building it from an idea to a thriving, stable reality. Josiah has now relocated with his family away from Western Mass, but remains deeply connected to LightHouse as a consultant, advisor, and member of the Finance Committee.

Josiah has been in the field of education for almost twenty years, as a teacher, mentor, and administrator at all age levels. Prior to co-founding LightHouse Holyoke, Josiah spent a decade working with college-age students at Hampshire College, where he was the Senior Associate Dean of Students until 2014. He has a particular passion for progressive education, with a focus on issues of student identity, inclusion, and advocacy.

Josiah has previously served on the boards of Hampshire College and North Star, the program on which the LightHouse model is based. Additionally, Josiah has proudly consulted as a facilitator with the National Conference for Community and Justice of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts.

Josiah has Master of Arts degree in educational administration from Goddard College, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in education from Hampshire College.

You can contact Josiah directly at [email protected]

Insiyah Mohammad Bergeron

LightHouse Board of Directors.

Insiyah serves as the Holyoke Innovation District Manager and Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Fellow through MassDevelopment. In these capacities, Insiyah designs and implements economic development projects that support equity and vibrancy in downtown Holyoke. Her work requires daily collaboration with residents, business leaders, community organizations, and state and local government agencies. Most notably, Insiyah has been spearheading a new hydroponic food production and workforce training program in downtown Holyoke with investment from multiple public and private entities. Prior to joining MassDevelopment, Insiyah worked on juvenile justice reform with the Vera Institute of Justice in New York City. At Vera, Insiyah partnered with government agencies to develop strategies to reduce the number of young people entering the criminal justice system, and improve confinement conditions in youth prisons across the country. Insiyah holds a BA from Bennington College, and a Masters in City Planning from MIT. ‘Off the clock’, Insiyah enjoys dancing, doodling, blogging for MIT’s Community Innovators Lab, and serving on the board of CISA, a nonprofit that supports local food production and procurement in and around the Pioneer Valley.

Kim Saal

LightHouse Board of DirectorsKim was most recently Chief Clinical and Strategy Office for Cooley Dickinson Health Care and President/CEO of the Cooley Dickinson Medical Group. Kim has served as Chief Medical Officer for CareGroup, an integrated delivery system where he utilized quality and information management tools to promote clinical integration and improve quality of care and was the founding President and Chairman of the Board of the Provider Service Network, an organization that contracted on behalf of 2,800 physicians and seven hospitals and was dedicated to improving the quality and value of health care for over 400,000 managed care enrollees.

Prior to moving to the Pioneer Valley, Kim lived in Cambridge, MA for thirty years where he was Chief of the Division of Cardiology, President of the Medical Staff and a board member at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Kim was in Hampshire College’s first class and presently serves as vice-chair of the Board of Trustees.  He has served on numerous boards in health care, community service organizations, higher education and an automobile museum.

Thomas Sandler

LightHouse Board of DirectorsThomas joined the board of LightHouse in 2018.  He is passionate about supporting nonprofit organizations whose missions support the improvement of local communities, learning, and the arts.  Thomas brings 10 plus years of experience in management and technology consulting where he has helped clients solve complex problems and effect meaningful organizational change and growth.

Thomas is a Consulting Manager at Symbio, a technology and R&D company headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area.  He began his career in New York City and has since worked primarily with clients in the Financial Services industry including Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, and State Street.  Thomas has been recognized for his leadership in collaboration and organizational improvement, having been awarded the Overall Leadership Award for Collaboration / Mentoring in 2012 by Freeborders, and as four time recipient of the Voya IT Spot-On award.

Thomas is a graduate of Bucknell University, where he received a BA in computer science. He lives with his wife in Hadley, Massachusetts.

Aaron Vega

LightHouse Board of Directors. Aaron was elected to his fourth term as State Representative for the 5th Hampden district which is made up of the entire city of Holyoke in November of 2018. Over the past 10 years Aaron has been involved in a number of local non-profit boards, volunteer projects and is committed to the city and people of Holyoke.

Aaron was born in South Holyoke, attended Morgan Elementary School and eventually followed his parents’ footsteps by attending Holyoke Community College. He graduated from Keene State College with a dual bachelor degree in film and psychology. Aaron soon became a film editor, working on projects for Ken Burns, PBS, TLC and HBO.

During his time in office, from being elected in 2010 as an At Large Holyoke City Councilor to his time as State Rep, Aaron has continued his focus on providing great constituent services, education policy and economic development.

Separate of his public life Aaron is also a yoga instructor who co-owns VegaYoga with his wife Debra. Together with their son Odin they live in Holyoke and are excited about all the positive things happening in their city. As a proud parent of daughters in their mid 20’s and a young son Aaron knows how important education and opportunity is for all students and is excited to serve on the LightHouse board.

Iohann Rashi Vega

LightHouse Board of Directors. Iohann was born and raised in Mexico City, started music training at the age of six, and has a background on journalism and media. He moved to Puerto Rico, where he worked for 12 years in different roles as producer, on-air host, news anchor, promotion coordinator, and music program coordinator, at the University of Puerto Rico’s Public Radio Station, WRTU. For the last four years Iohann was the Media Literacy Coordinator at the Gándara Youth Development Center, in Holyoke, MA, where he worked with youth, creating media content with social justice, and self-advocacy focus. Also, he is the producer of Radioplasma, a local podcast that is a workshop for the youth and community to share stories and discussion of topics of relevance and interest, not always covered by mainstream media. This spring of 2019, Iohann took the position of Director of Media Engagement with Holyoke Media, the local public access channel for the City of Holyoke, where the goal is to create engaging content, teach youth and community how to do so, and develop partnerships around the creation of media content to build a dialogue that contributes to the local media environment.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same
thinking we used when we created them.”

-Albert Einstein