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

Co-Founder and Executive Director of LightHouse. (she/her) Catherine 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. (he/him) 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]

Emmett DuPont

Core Staff. (they/them) Emmett is a lifelong unschooler, and recent Hampshire College alum with a degree in Public Health Education and Communication, and two Five College certificates, one in Sexual and Reproductive Rights, Health & Justice, and the other in Culture, Health & Science. Emmett has spent the last several years providing professional development trainings for hospitals, businesses, and schools on transgender health and well-being.

Emmett started teaching part-time at LightHouse in Fall 2018, as part of their undergraduate degree. They joined the team as a Core Staff member in Fall 2019, and they are thrilled to have the opportunity to continue exploring their commitment to making self driven, lifelong learning accessible.

In their spare time, Emmett is a volunteer for a transgender crisis hotline, and works extensively with queerspawn (youth with LGBTQ+ parents and caregivers). They are passionate about weaving and spinning, and hope to one day own a food truck.

You can contact Emmett directly at [email protected]

Ashley Goodfellow Ratliff

Core Staff. (she/her) 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]

Surya Isaza-Figueroa

Development Associate. (she/her) Surya joined the LightHouse team in early 2020. She manages donor stewardship through individualized communications, newsletters, and events. Surya attended Holyoke Public Schools as a child and earned her Associates Degree at Holyoke Community College. She is excited to be a part of expanding the educational opportunities available in the community through LightHouse. Surya previously worked at a Montessori school in both administrative and classroom roles. She is the proud mother of three boys who have each had unique educational journeys.

Carlos Peña

Director of Entrepreneurship and Design. (he/him) 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]

Rene Weiss-Cruz

Core Staff. (they/them) Rene was raised in New York City and came to Massachusetts to go to Hampshire College. They graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Ethnomusicology and a Five College Certificate in Ethnomusicology. Their undergraduate studies focused on exploring and embracing their Afro-Dominican roots through music. This past spring they completed a Masters in Education at UMass Amherst with a focus on diversity and inclusion in higher ed. Their thesis aimed to find ways to assist students in transitioning to college.

Rene is a self-described nerd, particularly passionate about promoting social justice.

You can contact Rene directly at [email protected]

LightHouse Board of Directors

Kelly Albrecht

LightHouse Board of Directors. (he/him) 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.

Intiya Ambrogi-Isaza

LightHouse Board of Directors. (she/her) Intiya is a Senior Development Manager for Opportunity Communities, 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.

Adam Baker

Treasurer, Lighthouse Board of Directors. (he/him) Adam is Vice President of Commercial Lending at Greenfield Northampton Cooperative Bank. He has over 13 years of experience in the banking industry assisting small business owners and non-profit organizations achieve their dreams to start or grow their organizations as well as help investment real estate owners grow their real estate portfolios.

Adam holds a Bachelors Degree from University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Masters Degree in Finance from Southern New Hampshire University.

Adam dedicates his time helping youth including his volunteer work with the non-profit organization Horizons for Homeless Children in Holyoke, where he has served as a Playspace Activity Leader since 2016.

Adam also serves on the Board of Directors of Empty Arms Bereavement Support which is a non-profit organization in Northampton.

Adam lives with his wife in South Hadley.  His interests include traveling, real estate investing, spending time with his friends and family, reading, and sports!

Tiffani Curtis

Lighthouse Board of Directors. (she/her) Tiffani Curtis serves as Chief of Schools and lead the Office of School Improvement and Leadership for Holyoke Public Schools. Prior to joining HPS, Tiffani served as a turnaround principal of a charter elementary school in Albany, New York, and the founding principal of a charter elementary school in Las Vegas, Nevada. In both roles, Tiffani was charged with creating sustainable school systems that supported teacher retention, practitioner development, school-based leadership, special populations and ultimately increased student achievement. As a founding principal at Imagine School at Mountain View in Las Vegas, NV, Tiffani led the school in earning the district’s distinction of “high performing.” Earlier, Tiffani assisted in writing the Master Plan for Universal Preschool for the County of Los Angeles.

Tiffani holds a B.S. in Business from the University of Southern California. She continued at USC to earn a MAT and Ed.D. from the Rossier School of Education where she studied K-12 educational leadership with a focus on urban school settings.

Jacqui DeFelice

Lighthouse Board of Directors. (she/her) 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

LightHouse Board of Directors. (she/her) 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.

Josiah S. Litant

LightHouse Co-Founder. (he/him) Josiah co-founded LightHouse with Catherine Gobron and co-directed the organization for the first three years, building it from an idea into a thriving reality. Josiah and his family relocated to Minnesota in 2018, where he currently serves as Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Minnesota State College Southeast, a technical and community college. Josiah remains deeply connected to LightHouse as a consultant, senior advisor, and enthusiastic supporter.

Josiah has been in the field of education for 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 and he currently serves as chair of the board of Engage Winona, a community change-making nonprofit organization in southeast Minnesota.

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

Secretary, LightHouse Board of Directors. (she/her) Insiyah Mohammad Bergeron has been working in sustainable economic development in Massachusetts for several years. She is a Cooperative Developer at the ICA Group, where she helps businesses explore and execute transitions to employee ownership. She is also the Coordinator of the Massachusetts Center for Employee Ownership that provides free succession planning support to businesses. Before ICA, Insiyah served as the Holyoke Innovation District Manager and Transformative Development Initiative Fellow through MassDevelopment. In these capacities, Insiyah collaborated with Holyoke residents, businesses, community organizations, and government agencies to develop projects that support equity and vibrancy, such as a new hydroponic farm and workforce training program in the heart of downtown. Insiyah has also worked on criminal justice reform nationally. Insiyah holds a BA from Bennington College, and a Masters in City Planning from MIT.

Kim Saal

Chair, LightHouse Board of Directors. (he/him) Kim 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.

Anthony Scibelli

LightHouse Board of Directors. (he/him) Anthony Scibelli is the Vice President, Operations and Chief Administrative Officer for Cooley Dickinson Health Care (a subsidiary of Massachusetts General Hospital) in Northampton, Massachusetts.  Anthony is responsible for all aspects of the support services operations departments (nutrition, housekeeping, facilities, safety/security) as well as human resources, performance improvement, volunteer services, medical imaging, rehab services, lab, oncology services, pharmacy, urgent care, and home care & hospice.

Anthony has been with Cooley Dickinson since December 2014 and is a native of Springfield MA.  Prior to joining Cooley Dickinson, Anthony lived in Upstate NY and held the position of Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Support Services and Post Acute with the Mohawk Valley Health System in Utica, New York. Prior to his healthcare career, Anthony worked in various human resources roles in the supermarket industry (Big Y, ShopRite and The Penn Traffic Company).

Anthony earned a bachelors degree in education from Worcester State College, Worcester MA and is a graduate of Lesley University in Cambridge MA with a Masters Degree in Training & Development.  In 2012, he obtained a MBA from the University At Albany in Albany NY.

Anthony lives in South Hadley, and serves on the board at the Northampton Survival Center, as well as the Franklin/Hampshire County Regional Employment Board.

Mike Stone

LightHouse Board of Directors. (he/him) Mike Stone is a partner at Cofab Design, a product design and manufacturing consultancy. He is a mechanical engineer and designer with a penchant for multidisciplinary projects, products, prototypes, and hands-on hammer swinging. He is a co-founder of Brick Coworkshop, a community-oriented collaborative industrial work space, and a member of the leadership team at AF, a national traveling pop-up marketplace. He sits on the Springfield Advisory Board for FORGE and has a secret history as a musician.

Aaron Vega

Vice-Chair, LightHouse Board of Directors. (he/him) 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. (he/him) 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.

Iohann is also 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