Getting students to and through college.

About Us

Mission

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

Gilbert Bonafé Jr. : Director of Programs

Gilbert Bonafé Jr.

Director of Programs

Before joining Higher Edge, Gilbert was part of a team making an app to assist community college students. Realizing his passion for Higher Education, Gilbert received his Master's from Harvard in the subject. He believes that education is the only way for students to break the cycle of poverty, a belief that he himself is living proof of.

Luisanna Cabrera : Success Program Director

Luisanna Cabrera

Success Program Director

Luisanna joined Higher Edge after recently graduating from the University of Connecticut where she earned a bachelor's degree in Business Management. For four years she worked in Corporate Banking but realized her growing interest for higher education. Luisanna moved to New London over 10 years ago and is passionate about making change in her community. She strongly believes that higher education provides the skills that will help students both professionally and personally.

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 Advisor

Katie Hallisey

College Access Program Advisor

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.

Jennifer Portella : College Access Program Advisor

Jennifer Portella

College Access Program Advisor

Jennifer is a recent graduate from Eastern Connecticut State University and earned her bachelor's degree in Sociology with a minor in Criminology. Jennifer worked as a Program Assistant at New London Youth Affairs for many years and enjoyed everything about it. Her passion is to guide and assist youth in our community and see them reach their fullest potential. Jennifer lives to witness youth succeed because they are "our future". She strongly believes that college serves as a gateway to opportunities.

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
  • Pam Days-Luketich – Liberty Bank
  • 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