Catherine Lepone, Executive Director
Catherine has been working in the nonprofit sector for more than 25 years in a number of leadership capacities. She comes to us directly from Making Headway Foundation, in Chappaqua, NY where she served as their Executive Director. With a BS in Business Administration from the University at Albany, she brings a strong business background to her work in philanthropy.
“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each. .” — Plato
Vanessa Santiago, Director of Programs
Vanessa Santiago holds a BA from Brooklyn College, CUNY and received her Master’s in Nonprofit Management from The Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy, a graduate school of The New School University. With almost 2 decades of youth leadership and program development experience, Vanessa manages all facets of our programs from school based programming to county wide programs and loves to see all programs in action.
“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” — Sheryl Sandberg
Heather Apollonio, Development Coordinator
Heather is a development professional and project manager with over fifteen years international and domestic experience in the not-for-profit and private sectors. She has an B.A. (Anthropology) from Syracuse University, and an M.A. (Archaeology) from the University of Cape Town. She started her career as an archaeologist, working in Louisiana, the Caribbean, and South Africa. In 2005, she completed the Association of Development Officer’s Certificate in Fundraising & Board Development, and has worked in a variety of development roles including institutional and annual giving, event planning, and database management.
“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… And, the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
Lexy Nistico, High School Site Director
Lexy has dedicated several years to providing opportunities for young women to work towards gender equity. She is excited to continue her work at Girls Inc. Westchester by strengthening afterschool programming, and empowering girls to explore their passions, build on skill sets and explore their potential to be amazing, powerful, influential women in their community and beyond.
“In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction.” — Audre Lorde
Lucy Vitale, STEM Facilitator
Lucy graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing this past May. She is passionate about women’s issues and has interned with Eileen Fisher Institute and Unicef. She has also been an After School Teacher’s Assistant at the Carver Center in Port Chester where she helped children with science projects, computers and technology activities.
Leiat Klarfeld – Life Skills Instructor
Leiat is an experienced school counselor with expertise in providing social, academic, college and career support to students K-12. Able to establish rapport with students and families from culturally diverse backgrounds. Builds relationships of trust with students, parents and school faculty. Certified mediator and DASA trainer with a strong background in conflict resolution. Bilingual in English and Hebrew and proficient in Naviance and Infinite Campus.