Meet the Boston HERC Team…

Samuel Acevedo
Executive Director

Samuel Acevedo has served as the Executive Director of the Boston Higher Education Resource Center (HERC) since its founding in 1999. Sam is also on staff at the Congregación León de Judá (CLJ) which served as the fiscal conduit for the Boston HERC until 2018. Sam is a founding Co-Chairs of the Boston School Committee’s Opportunity and Achievement Gap Task Force; and recently served on the Superintendent Search Committee which helped select Brenda Casselius. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Stetson University (1985); and a J.D., cum laude, from Boston College Law School (1993). Prior to his current role, Sam served as an Assistant Corporation Counsel litigating juvenile delinquency cases in New York City’s Family Court until joining the staff of Congregación León de Judá in 1999. Sam also serves on the board of the Ten Point Coalition, Boston Trinity Academy, and the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for Urban Ministry and Education (CUME). He and his wife, Marina, were married in July of 2001.

Carolina De Jesus
Passport to College Program Director

Carolina De Jesus has been the Passport to College Program Director since 2012.   She holds a Bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst in Business and Communication and a Master’s in Education from Lesley University.  Carolina also completed a certificate in Leadership & Management in Nonprofits at Boston University.  She has extensive youth education experience, including as a college access coordinator at Middlesex Community College, an after school coordinator at Citizen Schools, and an ESL teacher in South Korea.  As a first-generation college grad herself, Carolina has always been passionate about helping young people discover the greatness that lies within them and helping them to unleash those gifts and talents that will change the world.  In her free time, Carolina is a missionary in Latin America and she loves to read, learn, and eat great food.  If she could choose a place to live in eternally- it would be the beach!

Erin Diaz
Director of Operations

Erin Diaz rejoined the Boston HERC team in 2017 as the Director of Operations. She was also the Adult Education Program Director from 2006 to 2008. In the interim, she was a leader in several non profits including as a Campaign Director at Corporate Accountability and a health organizer at Unite Here Health. She brings over 10 years of experience in non profit management, development, and community organizing to this role. She holds a B.A. in Spanish from Gordon College and an M.A. in International Development and Social Change from Clark University. As a mom to two young kids, she is passionate about making sure all young people have the opportunity to discover their passions and live them out. 

Passport Coaches

Robert Barrett
Senior Passport Coach

Robert Barrett joined the Boston HERC team in 2017 and serves as a Senior Passport Coach directly supporting our Community Based program and data systems. An alum of Boston University, Robert left home in New Jersey to earn his Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education and became the first in his family to complete a college degree. During his time at BU, Robert studied abroad and student taught in London, England, was a student leader for Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship, consumed hundreds of burritos in the Towers dining hall, and won a miraculous floor hockey intramural championship. A strong believer in the power of summer camps and experiential learning, Robert spent 13 summers working at camp, including multiple years as a Camp Director and Out-of School Time Administrator for the Dorchester YMCA. When not at HERC, Robert can be found leading mission teams to Haiti and Puerto Rico, cheering on the BU Terriers hockey team, or enjoying coffee and a good book at the closest Caffe Nero. 

Neisha Gonzalez
Senior Passport Coach

Neisha Gonzalez started working at the Boston HERC right out of college in 2015 because it was such a close match for her goal to make a difference in her community of 1st generation, urban and minority youth. Neisha began as a Passport Coach and is now a Senior Passport Coach who manages a small team of Coaches, and supports the entire team with summer and ongoing training. She also drives much of Boston HERC’s work with Passport Alumni. She is the eldest of four children (and fun fact: Carlos is her younger brother), and the first in her family to graduate college. Her hope is that her life can be a living example to all of our impossible becoming possible! She holds a BA from Gordon College in Christian Ministries and an Med in School Counseling from UMass Boston with a License to practice in MA. In her free time, she enjoys Korean love dramas.

Carlos Gonzalez
Passport Coach

Carlos Gonzalez has been a Passport Coach at Boston HERC since 2017, at both the Margarita Muñiz Academy and English High School. From the first hand experience of “the struggle” in his own life, including being a first-gen college student, he is passionate about connecting with and mentoring high school students.  Carlos brings over 4 years of experience of working with youth to the role, including his role as a hip hop dance instructor for middle schoolers. While he doesn’t always fit in every roller coaster out there, he loves riding them and has introduced some of his students to the joy of riding them.  

Yeojin Kim
Passport Coach

Yeojin Kim is a Passport Coach at Josiah Quiny Upper School and Dearborn STEM Academy with the partnership at Symphony Church, and joined the team in 2017. As a first generation college grad who grew up in five different countries, she developed a heart to work for the welfare of the city by working with youth who are under-resourced. Her prior experience at educational non-profits and public schools in Massachusetts including Oliver Partnership School, American Chinese Christian Educational and Social Services (ACCESS), and the Emmanuel Gospel Center. She graduated from Gordon College with a B.A. in Middle School Education with a concentration in ESL and Chinese Language and Culture. While not at HERC, Yeojin serves at the Congregation Lion of Judah Street Ministry and loves to play soccer and bike around the city.

Nigesca Maxime
Passport Coach

Nigesca Maxime joined the Boston HERC team the summer of 2019, and is currently serving as a Passport Coach at Brighton High School and Boston Community Leadership Academy. Nigesca is passionate about youth development and mental health.   She has been a core staff leader for Gordon College’s orientation team as well as a tutor at College Bound in Lynn. As a first generation college grad, she remembers the challenges of the college process and works to pay it forward. In her free time she enjoys binge watching shows and movies on Netflix. She holds a BA in Psychology from Gordon College. 

Leena Neal
Passport Coach

Leena Neal joined the Boston HERC team in the summer on 2019 and serves as a Passport Coach at Jeremiah E Burke High School and Charlestown High School. After graduating from Virginia Tech in 2016, she worked as a resident advisor for international students from all over the world, and as discussion and activity leader helping Japanese high school students improve their English skills. Most recently, she taught English abroad in Lebanon. In her free time, she enjoys learning about cultures and languages, traveling, analyzing foreign policy and learning new things. 

Anny Quiñones
Passport Coach

Anny Quiñones has been a Passport Coach at East Boston High School since 2015. She was born in the Dominican Republic and partially raised in Boston, where she attended Madison Park High School. In addition to coaching at Boston HERC, Anny works with judges and lawyers recording appeals processes and owns her own real estate brokerage business. She loves traveling around the world and leading study abroad workshops with Passport students. She holds a dual Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Affairs, and Criminal Justice from Northeastern University.

Melvin Reyes
Passport Coach

Melvin Reyes joined the Boston HERC team the summer of 2019, and is currently serving as a Passport Coach at the English High School and Jeremiah E Burke High School. He brings over 5 years of experience working with youth at summer camps and youth groups. He came to the US at the age of 8 from San Pedro, Honduras. He is proud to be a first generation Latino graduate and a DACA recipient. He holds a BA in Religion from Eastern Nazarene College and is passionate about God and helping people. A favorite snack for him is fries dipped in a chocolate frosty.