Meet the Staff

Jeremy Race, Chief Operating Officer

Jeremy Race President & CEO

70 Farmington Avenue
Hartford CT 06105
Tel 860-525-4510
Fax 860-525-4403

Start Date: September 2002

Experience before JA: Graduate School

Education: B.A. in History, Fairfield University; M.S. in Elementary Education, Central Connecticut State University

What I like most about JA: The mission is powerful. What could be better than helping young people dream big about their futures and teaching them the strategies to achieve those dreams.

What I like most about my job: The majority of my time is spent strengthening existing relationships with JA supporters, establishing new partnerships, developing new programs, and working strategically to grow JA’s base of support. Knowing that all of these endeavors will allow our organization to serve more young people and create even more intensive JA experiences year after year is both satisfying and inspiring.

Favorite story about a JA student: Each year, I have the pleasure of working closely with several JA students in preparation for their speaking roles at JA’s annual Partners in Achievement breakfasts in Hartford and New Haven. At last year’s event, I was so proud to watch Josslyn, a student from New Britain who at one point was on track to not graduate from high school, stand up in front of 400 guests and state that thanks to JA, “I will graduate high school. I will attend college.  I will be successful.” It was a moving moment I will never forget.


Jeremy is a board member for the Connecticut Jump$tart Coalition and serves as the Career Development Chair for Fairfield University’s Hartford alumni chapter.

Elaine Dwyer, Chief Administrative Officer

Elaine Dwyer Chief Administrative Officer

70 Farmington Avenue
Hartford CT 06105
Tel 860-525-4510 ext. 222
Fax 860-525-4403

Start Date: September 1980

Experience before JA: Flow Equipment Supply Corporation, Inside Sales

What I like most about JA: JA has continued to evolve and stay relevant by expanding its programs and reaching students earlier in their lives. I’m impressed that so many volunteers find participating in our programs and touching the lives of children so important and personally satisfying.

What I like most about my job: I’ve had opportunities to grow with the organization and work and learn from some very talented people.

Favorite story about a JA student: My grandson had JA in the Enfield School system for three consecutive years. He and his friends looked forward to his JA volunteer coming to his school every year and would talk about the concepts he learned.

Sumayya Ayoub Education Manager

70 Farmington Avenue
Hartford CT 06105
Tel 860-525-4510 ext. 231
Fax 860-525-4403

Start Date: November 2012

Experience before JA: Before working for JA, I ran a large after school program through the YWCA of the Hartford Region. I also developed school age curriculum for the YWCA based on their mission of focusing on issues of racial justice.               

Education: B.A in Cultural Anthropology, Minor in Education, Concordia University, Canada.

What I like most about JA: I like that JA programs are structured in a way where students are learning about real life concepts, i.e. paying taxes, putting together a budget, managing a checking account,  through interactive and fun activities. JA exposes students to vital concepts they need to understand to become successful adults.

What I like most about my job: I like that the volunteers I work with range anywhere from CEO’s to college students to retirees. I believe this shows that there is a collective interest in the empowerment of children through the mission of JA. I also love watching the students and the volunteers having a great time in the classroom!           

Favorite story about a JA student: I was observing a 2nd grade class where the volunteer was teaching the students about voting. When the class was done voting and the volunteer was handing out the ‘I Voted’ stickers to each student, an enthusiastic boy told the volunteer that the act of voting made him feel important and that his choice made his community a better place.

Mario Chiappetti Director of Education

70 Farmington Avenue
Hartford CT 06105
Tel 860-525-4510
Fax 860-525-4403

Start Date: October, 2016

Experience before JA: Prior to joining JA, I had spent my entire professional career in the property/casualty insurance industry where I had a number of senior management roles,  both here in the United States and in Europe. Some of the roles included being the Chief Marketing Officer of a few of these companies where I was responsible for sales and marketing working closely with our producer partners and clients as well as our different business platforms. I also was responsible for our distribution strategies with our partners with the goal of enhancing our existing relationships as well as developing new relationships.

Education: Williams College, B.A., Williamstown, MA

What I like most about JA: I believe in the mission of JA – inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in today’s complicated world. I especially like that that preparation begins in Kindergarten and can run through 12th grade involving so many different schools as well as so many different volunteers: corporate partners, PTOs, college students and individuals – a genuine community effort.

What I like most about my job: I enjoy the variety of all the different roles: the teaching and interactions with the students, the relationship building with our schools and volunteers, the strategic component relating to our expansion strategy and, most important, working closely with my team of highly motivated Education Managers.

Favorite story about a JA student: I do not have one story about a JA student but I can tell you that I have very much enjoyed being in the classrooms and teaching these young students and seeing how much they enjoy the time with us – makes me feel as if we are making a difference in some small way. There is nothing better than getting hugs and high 5’s from them as we finish the day and say our good-byes!

Any Boards/Community services you serve on

I presently am the Chair of the Stewardship Committee at First Church of Christ, Simsbury and serve on other sub-committees of the church.

Shayla Cook Education Assistant

70 Farmington Avenue
Hartford CT 06105
Tel 860-525-4510 ext. 221
Fax 860-525-4403

Start Date: February 2016

Experience before JA: Connecticut Bar Association

Education: Associates Degree in Entrepreneurship, Capital Community College

What I like most about JA: What I like most about Junior Achievement is the amazing opportunities that this company offers children of all ages.

What I like most about my job: What I like most about working at Junior Achievement is the positive energy of all the staff members. Everyone has such a kind heart and match that with the wonderful work that we are doing for the kids. How could I not enjoy my job?

Jessica Correia Senior Special Events Manager

70 Farmington Avenue
Hartford, CT 06105
860-525-4510 ex. 228

Start Date: June 13, 2016

Experience before JA:  I come to JA with 13 years of catering, sales and event planning experience in hotels, private venues and catering companies.  I have focused much of my work in Downtown Hartford as I am passionate about seeing the city revitalized.  I currently serve as a Daisy Troop leader for Girl Scouts of CT and the President of the Home & School Association at my daughters school.

Education:  Bachelors of Science in Retail Marketing and Management, Johnson & Wales University, Providence RI
Associates Degree in Fashion Merchandising, Johnson & Wales University, Providence RI

What I like most about JA:  I have found JA to be the perfect blend of my passions – empowering children and creating extraordinary events.  Looking back on my past I have often wished that I had been introduced to the lessons and opportunities provided by JA during my school years.  I began teaching financial literacy skills to my daughter at an early age and I am very excited to bring JA into her classroom!  As a part of JA, I am helping to give children the tools they need to create successful futures for themselves.

What I like most about my job:  There are so many parts to this answer so I will list my top three; 1: The people I work with!  They are amazing individuals and so dedicated to making a difference in the lives of Connecticut children. 2: I am honored to be able to plan and execute events that play a large part in funding the work we do. 3: I am thrilled to have the opportunity to volunteer in the classroom and experience firsthand what our program team does on a daily basis.

Favorite story about a JA student:  A former JA student who has gone on to become a successful business man, husband and father wrote a speech which I think describes the essence of JA perfectly. He said “Junior Achievement gave me the key to the world I knew nothing about.  Through lectures and class activities, I began to see that I could define success.  Because Junior Achievement nurtured me in the business world and improved my awareness and knowledge, they are also a definition of success because they left me better than how they found me.”

Nicole Diorio Senior Specialty & Digital Education Manager

70 Farmington Avenue
Hartford CT 06105
Tel 860-525-4510 ext. 229
Fax 860-525-4403

Start Date: September 2011

Experience before JA: Sales, Footprints

Education: B.A. in Liberal Arts, Southern Connecticut State University

What I like most about JA: The sole purpose is to empower young people to succeed.

What I like most about my job: I enjoy having the opportunity to work and give back to our surrounding communities, including the one I grew up in. I also know that the work I do makes a positive influence in children’s lives.

Favorite story about a JA student: I recently taught a 5th grades class. Several of the students were in a 4th grade class I taught the year before. The students not only remembered me, they remembered the lessons I taught them. Every single student in the class has received JA since they were in kindergarten. They expressed that this was their favorite day of the school year.

Lakeisha Houston, District Manager

Lakeisha Houston Education Manager

70 Farmington Avenue
Hartford CT 06105
Tel 860-525-4510 ext. 226
Fax 860-525-4403

Start Date: August 2012

Experience before JA: Employed with Capital Workforce Partners working in the Communications Department. Worked for the Blue Hills Civic Association for seven years under the Summer Youth Employment Program and the College Internship Initiative Program.

Education: B.A. in Communications with a Concentration in Media and Journalism, University of Hartford

What I like most about JA: What I like most about JA is the mission and the dedicated staff.

What I like most about my Job: That my job consists of teaching students how to prepare for the workforce and how to be economically savvy.

Favorite Story about a JA Student: Every JA program is a rewarding experience, but I have to say that my favorite story thus far is a story about a young man born and raised in Hartford. He was not sure of his opportunities or what he could accomplish due to the fact that he was surrounded by poverty and the color of his skin. He attributes his participation in the Junior Achievement program for helping him become the successful businessman that he is today.

Lakeisha is a board member of the Blue Hills Civic Association and participant and graduate of Leadership Greater Hartford Quest class of 2016.

Josh Kelly, District Manager

Josh Kelly Education Manager

70 Farmington Avenue
Hartford CT 06105
Tel 860-525-4510 ext. 232
Fax 860-525-4403

Start Date: August 2014

Experience: Educator & Internship Coordinator, Solar Youth; Moderator at Elections for the Town of Cromwell; Taught English/Language Arts at East Hartford Middle School & East Hartford High School; Paraprofessional, Lawrence School; Group Leader & Tutor, After School Academy, West Middle School

Education: Certified Secondary English Teacher in Connecticut, M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction (Secondary English) at UConn; BA in English at UConn

What I Like Most About JA: The opportunity for youth to learn important life skills that aren’t a traditional part of school curriculum!

What I Like Most About My Job: Being able to continue to work closely with school systems, spending time in schools and classrooms over the course of the school year!

Jacqueline Lombardi Education Manager

Jacqueline Lombardi
Education Manager
70 Farmington Avenue
Hartford, CT 06105
860 525 4510 ex. 233

Start Date: March 2016

Experience Before JA:  Before JA, I was a student at the University of Connecticut.  I worked as an undergrad at UConn University Events and Conference Services as an Event Planning Assistant.  In addition, I served on the UConn student-run programming board, the Student Union Board of Governors, holding positions on the board for three years planning and executing events for the student body.  During this time I also held various internships concentrating in Event Planning and Marketing.

Education:  B.S. in Business with a concentration in Marketing and a Professional Sales Certificate from the University of Connecticut

What I like most about JA:  I love the mission – empowering young people to own their economic success.  It is so valuable to invest time in our future leaders and help steer them on a path to success.  I love that JA teaches skills students might not readily have access to through hands on, engaging activities that get them up out of their seats and interacting with one another.  JA makes learning fun!

What I like most about my job:  First and foremost, I am extremely lucky to work with such wonderful colleagues; it is hard to believe it is my job! Every day I come in to work and feel inspired to do more.  I feel like I am a part of something bigger than myself and that I am making a difference.  I love seeing the smiles on student’s faces and seeing that light bulb go off when the information clicks.  It is so special!

Favorite story about a JA student:  Every time I am in a school, I leave with a new “favorite” story – there are too many to count!  One that comes to mind immediately was during my first week with Junior Achievement when I taught my first class.  As I was being escorted down the hall by my new kindergarten friends, we passed a group of 3rd graders talking excitedly, one boy said “JA Day? Awesome! This is my favorite day!” they then continued to talk about what they did last year and how much fun it was.  It was the first time that I really saw the impact of JA.  These students look forward to Junior Achievement each year and the information really sticks!  I went into the classroom inspired and ready to leave a mark on each and every kindergartner as the volunteer who had taught that 3rd grader had so clearly done!

Michelle Nahas Education Manager

70 Farmington Avenue
Hartford CT 06105
Tel 860-525-4510 ext. 243
Fax 860-525-4403

Start date: August 2014

Experience before JA: Before working for JA, I was in graduate school at UConn. During my Master’s program, I completed internships in a variety of school districts, including public, magnet and therapeutic settings. Prior to starting my Masters, I worked for COMPASS Youth Collaborative, Inc. in Hartford.

Education: B.S. in Psychology from the University of Central Florida; Masters in Social Work from the University of Connecticut

What I like most about JA: Coming from a background in social work, it’s great to see how dynamic JA’s programs are. They aim to not only empower our youth through financial literacy, but also help them to foster and develop skills that they may not be getting elsewhere.  The lessons the students learn through JA are essential for their growth and success as contributing members of society and it’s incredible to be able to be part of that.

What I like most about my job: This role allows me to maintain and establish connections within the community to assist our youth on their paths towards success.  I look forward to seeing all of my hard work pay off on the faces of both the youth and volunteers during the sessions.

Michelle serves on the Tunxis Business Administration Program Advisory Committee, Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters Gala Committee and Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters BIG Ignite Committee.

Teena Parameswaran Marketing & Events Manager

70 Farmington Avenue
Hartford CT 06105
Tel 860-525-4510 ext. 227

Start Date: September 2015

Experience Before JA: Worked as an assistant event coordinator

Education: B.A. in Communication with concentration in Public Relations/Promos, and minor in Marketing, Central Connecticut State University

What I like most about JA: Working with such kindhearted and generous people, to empower and educate students about financial literacy, entrepreneurship and workforce readiness through hands-on programs from such a young age, which I believe is so important because it may be things they don’t learn in their everyday classes.

What I like most about my job: I love being a part of an organization that thrives to inspire and empower students, shows them that they can be successful, and makes a strong impact in the world.

Maggie Shapiro Development Associate

70 Farmington Avenue
Hartford CT 06105
Tel 860-525-4510 ex 221

Start Date: August 2012

Experience before JA: Legal Assistant, Academic Tutor

Education: B.A. in American Studies and English, Wesleyan University

What I like most about JA: The people. JA has a hardworking team of individuals who care about each other and are truly dedicated to the mission of teaching financial literacy and workforce readiness to CT’s youth.

What I like most about my job:  Knowing that my successes in the office help bring the JA programs into more classrooms and communities.

Favorite story about a JA student: One 4th grade student was struggling with the concept of risks and rewards. I saw a light bulb go off in her head, and she eagerly blurted out, “Oh, it’s like deciding to ride a roller coaster. The reward is you might have a lot of fun. The risk is you might get sick.

Amanda Teti, Development Manager

Amanda Teti Grants Coordinator

70 Farmington Avenue
Hartford CT 06105
Tel 860-525-4510
Fax 860-525-4403

Start Date: October 2013

Experience before JA: Development Director at ABRI/Homes for the Brave in Bridgeport

Education: B.A. in English and Art History, Fairfield University, Connecticut.

What I like most about JA: My favorite thing about working at JA is that every day, I collaborate with an amazing group of passionate people, and together, we strive to prepare students for their futures by connecting their education with real world experiences and skills.

What I like most about my job: I love being able to translate the incredible work of our staff and volunteers into sentences and paragraphs and whole grants with the hope of increasing support and excitement about our programs in communities throughout Connecticut.

Favorite story about a JA student: I was teaching a first grade class about needs vs. wants. I held up a picture of a toy building block and asked the class if it was a need or want. One young man raised his hand and said it was a need. When I asked him to explain why he thought that, he said “I need my Legos so I can build things instead of wasting my life away playing video games.” It wasn’t the answer I was looking for, but I was impressed how he had reasoned it out, especially at 6 years old.

Sarah Thrall, Specialty Program Manager

Sarah Thrall Senior Volunteer Engagement Manager

70 Farmington Avenue
Hartford CT 06105
Tel 860-525-4510 ext. 244
Fax 860-525-4403

Start Date: August 2015

Experience before JA: Before JA, I was home raising my children and spent a great deal of time volunteering for several Greater Hartford nonprofits as well as in my children’s schools through PTO. I served as president of the Junior League of Hartford from 2012-2013 and have also served on the Boards of the Farmington Valley YMCA, Granby Elementary PTO, Valley Pre-School, and the Granby Education Foundation.

Education: Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME

What I like most about JA: Before I was an employee at JA, I was a volunteer. I volunteered for the pilot program of JA Career Connections for Young Women, which was created in partnership with the Junior League of Hartford. I loved how relevant and applicable the curriculum was and how the girls responded positively to the soft skills and interview tips we provided to them. In fact, I loved it so much that I applied for a job at JA! And when it came time for my interview, I pulled out those tip sheets I had used during my volunteer experience!

What I like most about my job: I love that JA combines my love of volunteer engagement, working with schools, and business and community outreach. Watching the volunteer truly connect with the students and become inspired by the next generation is incredibly fulfilling and motivating.

Favorite story about a JA student: My favorite story is actually about JA volunteers, though I do have some great memories of students. The first JA event I helped coordinate was a one-day program volunteers were doing in honor of 9/11 at a High School in Hartford. Just by chance, one of the groups was entirely young men, both the students and the volunteers. At one point, I looked over and everyone at the table was standing up as the volunteers instructed the young men on the proper way to tie a necktie. Teaching those students the importance of first impressions when going for a job interview and connecting so directly with them was truly remarkable and the sign of a strong volunteer-student connection. That’s why our volunteers are our “Special Sauce” at JA!