Getting students to and through college.

About Us


Our Mission

Higher Edge guides low-income and first-generation students through enrollment, retention, and graduation from college by providing the support and resources needed for success.

Meet The Team

Meet The Team

Mauro Diaz-Hernandez : Success Program Manager

Mauro Diaz-Hernandez

Success Program Manager

Originally from Dallas, TX, Mauro worked his way to the New London area after attending Amherst College and working for Williams College. He joined the Higher Edge team because he knows firsthand the positive impacts that a college education has on first generation students and underserved communities.

Katie Hallisey : College Access Program Manager

Katie Hallisey

College Access Program Manager

Katie has worked with New London youth since 2001. She was the College and Career Counselor at New London HS and then worked closely with homeless youth at The Covenant Shelter, helping them get to and stay in college. She's been an active volunteer with Higher Edge since its inception and has fond memories of helping recruit the 2nd year cohort. Katie is proud of the relationships she builds with students and believes her honesty (and at times silly personality) is key to her students’ success. She lives in New London with her husband and 3 children.

Graciela Guzman : Success Program Advisor

Graciela Guzman

Success Program Advisor

Graciela has been a New London resident since her youth. After graduating from New London High School, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Connecticut. Her experiences as an undergraduate sparked initial interest in higher education. After working at a dual enrollment high school as an administrative assistant she decided to solidify that interest and obtain a Masters degree in Counselor Education with a specialization in Student Development in Higher Education. She is excited to bring her experiences and passion for education to Higher Edge and empower students to learn and embrace their academic, professional, and personal growth journey.

Jason Pellum : College Access Program Advisor

Jason Pellum

College Access Program Advisor

Raised in New London since age 8, Jason graduated from New London High School/Science and Technology Magnet High School in 2012, and the University of Connecticut in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Economics. During his sophomore, junior, and senior college years, he was a Walk-On Basketball Player and helped the Huskies win both a Men’s and Women’s National Championship. Jason became interested in education after spending 2 ½ years as a professional recruiter. He joined Higher Edge to inspire first-generation and underrepresented students to seek a higher education and plans to obtain a Masters degree in Counselor Education.

Theresa Armendarez : Executive Director

Theresa Armendarez

Executive Director

Originally from Arizona, Theresa earned a B.A. in Communication from Arizona State University, a J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of the Law and, a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. Her legal and nonprofit careers reflect a long-standing dedication to social justice, community development, and supporting the education and success of students. As it did for her - she believes that higher education can broaden a person’s world view and the possibilities for leading an impactful life.

Board of Directors

Board of Directors

  • Gladys Rivera-Griffin (President) – New London Public Schools (Retired)
  • Adam Sprecace (Secretary) – Electric Boat
  • Susan Jones (Treasurer) – Hoyt, Filippetti, Malaghan, LLC
  • Ruud Salym Erie – Evariant, Inc.
  • Jonathan Heller – U.S. Coast Guard Academy Institute for Leadership
  • Kristi Kelly – Susiman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law
  • Rosie Hernandez – Windham Public Schools
  • Bob Statchen – Western New England University of Law
  • John McKnight – Connecticut College
  • Charles P. Hanley – Atlantic Broadband
  • Keith Turner – Homestead Funding Corporation

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