Getting students to and through college.

About Us


Our Mission

To empower limited income, first generation students to enter, succeed in and graduate from college

Meet The Team

Meet The Team

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.

Kayla Williams : College Access Program Manager

Kayla Williams

College Access Program Manager

Kayla was born and raised in New London, CT. She graduated from New London High School in 2012 and most recently received her Bachelor's in Psychology from Rhode Island College . Her interest in psychology, working with others, and being a first generation college graduate herself has inspired her to work with Higher Edge. She is looking to be a helpful resource to empower and guide students who have had a similar journey to herself.

In her spare time Kayla enjoys going for walks with her rescue hound dog Sky, reading, and playing video games.

Katie Hallisey : Executive Director

Katie Hallisey

Executive Director

Katie has volunteered with Higher Edge since its founding and joined the staff in 2017, most recently as the College Access Program Manager in New London. She brings 20 years of education/guidance experience to the position. She credits her own college journey to a former colleague at New London High School who urged her to return to school after seeing the impact she was making in the classroom as a paraprofessional within a special education program. Katie is excited to serve as the next Executive Director - to expand the community reach; to broaden the impact and build upon the foundation. But mostly, she is excited to share the students' stories and accomplishments because she believes they are at the forefront of Higher Edge's success.

Katie lives in New London with her husband and three children.

Board of Directors

Board of Directors

  • Sara J. Baker Bailey (Secretary) – Southern Connecticut State University
  • Devon Butler (Vice President) – Arvinas Biopharmaceuticals
  • Shineika Fareus – A Better Way Foundation
  • Chap Hanley (President) – Retired, Atlantic Broadband
  • Sam Nassetta – Suisman & Shapiro Attorneys at Law
  • Erica Rodriguez – Law Office of Erica Rodriguez
  • Tori Thomas (Treasurer) – Chelsea Groton Bank
  • Keith Turner – Homestead Funding Corporation