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

Katie Hallisey : College Access Program Manager - New London

Katie Hallisey

College Access Program Manager - New London

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 Manager

Graciela Guzman

Success Program Manager

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 joined Higher Edge to empower students to learn and embrace their academic, professional, and personal growth journeys.

Jason Pellum : College Access Program Manager - Willimantic

Jason Pellum

College Access Program Manager - Willimantic

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

  • Kristi Kelly (President) – Suisman Shapiro Attorneys at Law
  • Adam Sprecace (Treasurer/Secretary) – Electric Boat
  • Sara J. Baker Bailey – Southern Connecticut State University
  • John Bairos – Edward Jones Investments
  • Keith Turner – Homestead Funding Corporation
  • Tashawn Ward – Chelsea Groton Bank

We are incredibly saddened by the violence and senseless racism that has affected black communities for generations. Higher Edge’s mission is aimed at leveling the playing field, of supporting young people in our community who are our country’s future. We believe that Black History should be a requirement – not elective – in every school across the country. And that the time to enact policies to end systemic racism and racial inequalities is now.

We commit to working with community partners to advance racial equity in public education; to listening; to educating; to being anti-racist, and to taking action to do the hard work necessary for lasting, meaningful change.

Higher Edge
Board of Directors and Team