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 2:1 student to staff ratio.

Catherine Gobron

Catherine is Co-Director and Co-Founder of LightHouse. 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 transformation from a small local nonprofit to an international movement. Catherine serves on the Board of Directors for Liberated Learners, the umbrella program connecting all the 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.

Catherine is a leader in the international movement in self-directed learning, and also an expert in working with diverse teens. She is one of the chief drivers in bringing personalized learning to Holyoke because she knows first hand that this approach improves student’s lives, which then ripples out into families and into the community. She feels a deep responsibility to create educational options for teens.

You can contact Catherine directly at catherine@lighthouseholyoke.org

Josiah S. Litant

Josiah is Co-Director and Co-Founder of LightHouse. He 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. He and his family live in Amherst, Massachusetts.

You can contact Josiah directly at josiah@lighthouseholyoke.org

Luz Baez

Core Staff. Luz is the LightHouse Office Manager and the first face you’ll see when you enter LightHouse. She supports the administrative pieces of our program and also welcomes all guests to our space. Prior to joining our team, Luz worked at Square One in Springfield, MA where she was the Healthy Families Administrative Assistant. Prior to that, she has serve in other administrative support roles throughout Western MA, including in education, health, human service, and business organizations. Luz grew up in the Holyoke area and is delighted to be working in support of area youth.

Alonzo Mark

Core Staff.  Alonzo Mark is a Teacher/ Advisor who works with teens to inspire them to gain higher education through S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) covert learning.

Alonzo has worked with Black Arts Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District. He is also an awarded Audio Engineer and Music Producer. Alonzo holds a degree in Graphic Design from  the Art Institute of Hollywood California.


Carlos Peña

Core Staff. Carlos is a founding staff member and a key contributor to 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.

LightHouse Board of Directors

Kelly Albrecht

Treasurer, 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

Secretary, Lighthouse Board of Directors. Dan is an alum of North Star: Self Directed Learning for Teens and a Holyoke native. Dan thrived in the personalized education model and started attending classes at HCC at the age of 15 while also working and traveling. He graduated from HCC at 18 years old with an Associates of Liberal Arts and transferred to Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina. After graduating college Dan came home to work at the Center for EcoTechnology and the MassSave program in Western Massachusetts. After several years at Paragus Strategic IT in Hadley, Dan is currently working for Callaway Golf Ball Operations Inc. in Chicopee. He 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.

Most recently Jacqui has been working 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, now grown. 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.

Kency Gilet

Lighthouse Board of Directors.  Kency Gilet joined the LightHouse board in 2017. He received both his Bachelors degree in Psychology and Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling at Pace University, where he now teaches undergraduate psychology courses.

Kency moved to Massachusetts in 2013 to begin his work as a psychotherapist in downtown Springfield serving primarily underserved populations. He now works as an enhanced mental health clinician at RiverValley Counseling Center in Holyoke where he serves the Peck Middle school community to shape school culture, crisis management, and implementing restorative justice practices. He started his coaching and mentoring practice in 2013, called First Chance Life Coaching, to help teens and young adults transition into successful, independent living.
Kency remains active locally in his home city of Springfield as the PTO president of Pottenger Elementary School where two of his three children attend and is running for Springfield Ward 2 City Council (2017).

Laurie Herrick

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

LightHouse Board of Directors. Intiya is a Development Project Manager for Home City Housing, a Springfield-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. She is an Alumni Interviewer for Harvard College Admissions and an active alumna of Telluride Association Summer Program. She was appointed to the Holyoke Planning Board in early 2016. She grew up in a family committed to social work and activism in W Mass and is thrilled to be back in the area.

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.

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.

Santina Sciaba-Douglas

LightHouse Board of DirectorsSantina Sciaba-Douglas, a native-Spanish speaker, graduated from Western New England University, School of Law, and soon after she was a law clerk to the justices of the Massachusetts Superior Court.  She is also a certified social justice mediator. As a mental-health attorney, Santina has represented individuals with mental-health impairments in civil commitment hearings, guardianship proceedings and also as a court-appointed Guardian ad Litem. She has been an attorney for the Center for Public representation for the past 15 years. Santina currently provides representation to special-education students to ensure that their Individualized Education Plans accurately reflect their needs and provide the services to which they are entitled. She also represents special-education students in disciplinary hearings and appeals. Since 2003, Santina has, and continues, to represent western Massachusetts residents appealing denials of Social Security Disability benefits.

Santina has worked and volunteered as a Spanish teacher, translator and interpreter. She is a proud mother of two daughters who have taught her that motherhood is one of the most challenging but also one of the most rewarding experiences in life. Santina and her husband live in Shelburne, MA.

Diana Sutton-Fernández

Chair, LightHouse Board of Directors.  Diana personally recognizes the importance of creating opportunities and access for our underrepresented and underserved communities. She is committed to bridging the educational gap and encourages learners to pursue their passionate spirit.

She has been part of the Hampshire College community since 1999 where she currently serves as the Chief Diversity Officer for the College – a role that has the broad mandate for leading and advocating for developing partnerships across the divisions to promote diversity as central to the mission of the College.

Previous roles Sutton-Fernández has held at the College include Interim Dean of Students and Chief of Staff– roles where she has served as a member of the senior leadership team and worked with colleagues to facilitate integration of their efforts across different areas of operation. Prior to moving to the Pioneer Valley, she worked for a not-for-profit historic preservation agency in Ithaca, NY where she managed all facets of the office and supported the organizational and leadership team.

Sutton-Fernández holds an M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix and a B.A. in History from Ithaca College. She has served on the board of the Care Center in Holyoke and the Latino Scholarship Association. She currently serves on the board of the United Way of Hampshire County and is a member of the Leadership Institute for Political and Public and Impact.

She and her family live in Holyoke.

Aaron Vega

LightHouse Board of Directors. In November of 2016 Aaron Vega was elected to his third term as State representative for the 5th Hampden district which is made up of the entire city of Holyoke. In April of 2017 Aaron and his wife Debra celebrated the nine year anniversary of their Yoga studio and then transformed the business model into a Mobile Yoga Studio.

For the past 10 years Aaron has been involved in a number of 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 such at 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.

Aaron has served on the boards of the Holyoke Health Center, and the Morgan School turnaround team, the Homework House and the Connections Afterschool Program. He is also a member of the Holyoke Taxpayers Association, Friends of the Council on Aging, Friends of the Holyoke Public Library and was a Rotary Club member for 3 years.

In 2010 he was named one of the “40 under 40” by Business West magazine, a recognition given out to young civic and business leaders in the Pioneer Valley.

As a proud parent of daughters in the early 20’s and a young son I know how important education and opportunity is for all students and I am excited to serve on the LightHouse board.

Advisory Board

We are fortunate to have an array of talented and knowledgeable advisors guiding us along the way. Our Advisory Group, which is still growing, consists of mentors who have offered to provide us with ongoing feedback on all aspects of LightHouse.

Theodore Agranat, serial entrepreneur

Delcie Bean, CEO, Paragus Strategic IT, and founder of Tech Foundry

Joseph Berger, Associate Dean, School of Education, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Kip Foley, President, Cover Technologies

Jim Fitzgerald, President & CMO Wheelhouse Strategy, Inc

Andrea Kandel, Executive Director, National Conference for Community and Justice

Farid Khelfaoui, Executive Director, SPARK

Gus Lyn-Piluso, Professor of Education, Goddard College and Seneca College

Conor White-Sullivan, Entrepreneur

Lauren Wolk, Feldenkreis Institute, NYC

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

-Albert Einstein