Our enthusiastic and award-winning staff goes above and beyond to provide high-quality programs to participants and their families. Many staff members are former volunteers or members of the community that Horton’s Kids serves.
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Brenda Chamberlain, Executive Director
Brenda K. Chamberlain is the Executive Director of Horton’s Kids, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit that provides wrap-around services to children living in Washington DC’s Anacostia neighborhood.
Under Brenda’s leadership as the Executive Director, Horton’s Kids has received numerous accolades, including the 2011 Washington Post Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management and the 2009 Technology Innovation Award from Accenture and NPower. Horton’s Kids has launched a number of new initiatives with Brenda at the helm, including opening a Community Resource Center in the children’s neighborhood, and forging strategic partnerships with several complementary organizations.
Brenda joined Horton’s Kids as a volunteer in 2003, tutoring middle school students at the Anacostia Public Library. In 2004 she was hired as the growing organization’s first-ever Director of Volunteers. After creating one of the largest volunteer groups in the city, Brenda became known as one of Washington, DC’s experts in recruiting, training, and managing volunteers. In 2008, she was promoted to the position of Operations Director to strengthen the organization’s infrastructure, and manage the myriad of logistics for a multi-site, volunteer-staffed tutoring program. Brenda was hired as the Executive Director of Horton’s Kids in 2009 after an extensive, national executive search and a resounding unanimous vote by the organization’s Board of Directors.
Brenda grew up in southern Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University and is a regular participant in DC’s abundant continuing education courses. She is frequently called upon to consult for fellow-nonprofits and to speak on topics such as nonprofit management and issues affecting inner-city youth. She currently serves on the Board of Visitors for the Fund for American Studies: Institute on Philanthropy and Volunteer Service, and on the Literacy Advisory Board for the Junior League of Washington. Earlier in her career, she worked on aging-in-place issues and designed buildings to better accommodate elderly and people with disabilities. She enjoys gardening, painting, and traveling with her husband.
Dave Bisson, Operations Director
Dave joined Horton’s Kids as Operations Director in July 2012 after earning an MBA from the Yale School of Management. He is excited to begin working on a variety of projects to ensure that all Horton’s Kids programs and systems are working together effectively.
Dave grew up in Western Massachusetts and received a BA in Economics from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst before serving as an Americorps VISTA volunteer in Northampton, MA. Dave’s work experiences include facilitating strategic planning for an early-childhood development initiative, managing community outreach efforts for a pediatric dental provider, teaching middle and high school math at a charter school, and interning at a seed-stage social venture capital fund. He also serves on the board of a nonprofit organization working to create community wealth through organized purchasing and targeted investing.
Dave recently moved to Baltimore, where he lives with his fiancé. He loves exploring in the outdoors, hearing live music, playing the drumset, and spending time with his family.
Julie Lonardo, Community Empowerment Director
Julie began volunteering at Horton’s Kids in 2000, before the organization had a staff, and rose through the ranks to become the Volunteer Coordinator. She joined the staff full time in 2002 and spent six years as Program Director. In this position, she oversaw tutoring and field trips, coordinated volunteer activities, managed databases, and arranged health services for the children.
In 2008, Julie briefly “retired” to become a full-time mom but quickly realized that there was more she could do for Horton’s Kids’ families. In 2010, she returned to work part time as a Program Specialist. She currently focuses on empowering parents and strengthening community involvement. In 2010, she was in charge of opening Horton’s Kids’ Community Resource Center in the children’s neighborhood.
Julie grew up in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and graduated from Susquehanna University with a degree in sociology.
Lisa Peri, Development Director
Lisa received her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from University of Pennsylvania. She previously worked in the profit and non-profit sectors with more than 15 years in development. As the Development Director, Lisa is working to rapidly expand the diversity in funding for Horton’s Kids.
Lisa is married to her husband, Jeff, and is mother to their two girls, Kayla and Lulu. When she is not editing grants, throwing parties, or writing thank you notes to donors, you can probably find her at Girl Scouts or a soccer game!
Jina Simmons, Program Director
Jina first worked for Horton’s Kids in 2007 and 2008 in development and older youth programs. After living in New York for a few years while her husband completed his residency, Jina moved back to the DC area and learned of Horton’s Kids’ need for a program director. She was thrilled to rejoin the Horton’s Kids family in September 2012.
Jina earned a bachelor’s degree from Meredith College and an MFA from Pine Manor College. She has worked in several youth development roles over the years as a teacher, an after-school program facilitator, and a program director. These experiences and the insight she gained while working for Horton’s Kids serve her well as she oversees the tutoring, older youth, and educational advocacy programs.
Jina lives in Maryland with her husband and daughter. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, traveling, and exploring DC with her family.
Katie Firestone, AmeriCorps VISTA: Enrichment Coordinator
Katie joined Horton’s Kids as an intern in the fall, working in development and programs. She was very excited when an AmeriCorps opportunity opened up. Katie previously worked at a tutoring program during college in Baltimore and is happy to continue working in education.
Katie grew up in New York City. She graduated from Johns Hopkins in 2011 with a BA in International Studies and Africana Studies. She is loving living in DC.
Mitzy Franklin, Program Assistant
Mitzy’s four children have participated in Horton’s Kids, and she is an aunt to many of the children in the neighborhood. Mitzy’s fun-loving yet stern personality has made her a popular staff member among the older youth. When Mitzy is not chatting with the children, you can find her reading one of her favorite books.
Kristin Frontiera, Development Associate
Kristin joined Horton’s Kids in July 2012 as the Development Associate. She helps fundraise for all the great programs, and also gets to spend time with the children during tutoring and summer camp.
Kristin grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and graduated from the George Washington University in DC. Previous to joining the Horton’s Kids team, she was a Peace Corps volunteer in southwestern China. She loves bicycling and reading on her front stoop.
Kavya George, Operations Coordinator
Kavya has been with Horton’s Kids since fall 2010 and as the Operations Coordinator, she handles much of the organization’s “business side,” including hiring and helping with financials and program logistics.
Kavya grew up in Pennsylvania and received her B.A. in Psychology from Goucher College. After traveling the world for a few years, she came to DC in 2010 and is still learning the city. In her free time and sometimes at work, she enjoys singing, dancing, entertaining people, and being cool.
LaToya Hackett, Program Assistant
LaToya lives in Wellington Park and has a fifth-grade son and two nieces in the Horton’s Kids program. She is a very devoted mother to her son. Her calm and patient personality helps her work with the children in our middle school room at tutoring. After programs, she always makes sure that the youngest children walk home safely.
Rahaman Kilpatrick, Youth Development Manager
Rahaman “Kil” Kilpatrick joined the Horton’s Kids staff in August 2012 and oversees the older youth program. Rahaman is originally from Philadelphia, PA and earned his B.A. at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland in telecommunications. Rahaman has worked with youth in Southeast Washington, DC for more than 10 years and brings what he’s learned to Horton’s Kids’ programs. Rahaman lives in Waldorf, Maryland with his wife, Tanya, and daughter, Naomi. When he’s not working with youth, Rahaman is a music producer, relationship coach, and a writer.
Mike Langen, Volunteer Coordinator
Mike joined Horton’s Kids in February, 2012. He is very excited to work with the organization’s great staff, volunteers, children, and families. As the volunteer coordinator, Mike supports volunteers in their dedicated involvement with tutoring and Invest in Kids programs.
Mike grew up in Rochester, New York and studied English and philosophy at the State University of New York at Geneseo. He then earned his master’s degree in inclusive childhood education from the University of Rochester. Before joining Horton’s Kids, Mike served with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), which included traveling through the Midwest to complete a variety of community service projects.
Outside of work, Mike enjoys playing banjo and harmonica, playing ultimate frisbee, and exploring the city.
Jenny Schrum, AmeriCorps VISTA: Nutrition and Health Services Associate
Jenny works with the children and their families through nutritional advocacy and manages the Horton’s Kids garden, food bank and market, and healthy cooking classes at the Community Resource Center.
Jenny grew up in New Brunswick, NJ and graduated from Rutgers University, where she studied Community Nutrition and Professional Youth Development. Her previous community experience includes NJ SNAP-Ed, The American Red Cross, and Nutritional Sciences Preschool. She loves to have fun and going out to explore the city!
Frances Thunder, Education Manager
As the Education Manager, Frances is thrilled to invest more time and energy in the children’s well-being, and continue her support of the tutors! In this position, she manages all one-on-one tutoring programs, maintains the children’s individual learning plans, and tracks their academic progress at tutoring as well as school. Most importantly, she is responsible for keeping the children engaged and having fun learning!
Originally joining the Horton’s Kids team as Volunteer Coordinator in Fall 2009, Frances has recruited, trained, and screened more than 400 new volunteers and helped increase full-time tutor retention by 15%. In Fall 2011, she implemented Invest in Kids Projects to promote volunteer opportunities during Horton’s Kids’ many wrap-around services.
Frances graduated in 2009 from the University of Notre Dame with a B.A. in Liberal Studies.
Sveta Wilkson, Development & Communications Manager
Sveta helps fundraise for Horton’s Kids’ amazing programs. She also loves reading books to children at tutoring whenever she gets a chance.
Sveta grew up in Houston, TX and graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. On the weekends, she likes playing soccer, going on bicycle rides with her husband, and spending time with her housemates.
Donna Green, Education and Tutoring Program Assistant
Donna “Ms. Dede” Green works as the Education and Tutoring Program Assistant at Horton’s Kids. Ms. Dede has four children, who are currently in the tutoring programs, and was a natural choice to join our team of Program Assistants in 2010. For years, she has supervised a neighborhood dance group, made up of 15-20 middle school girls, running practices in her living room and coordinating their performances at Horton’s Kids’ holiday parties. Everyone in the neighborhood knows and loves Ms. Dede – she is a mother and friend to many.
Tisa Burke, Program Assistant
Tisa Burke has been a Program Assistant since 2008 and is now part of the Education and Tutoring team. Tisa first became involved with Horton’s Kids as the parent of a participant – a son who used to claim Newt Gingrich as his tutor! She has been a longtime supporter of Horton’s Kids and now has three grandchildren who attend the tutoring programs. Tisa brings her grandmotherly kindness and wisdom to each program and plays a big role as a room leader at Rayburn tutoring.
Mark Young, Community Empowerment Vista
Mark joined Horton’s Kids in January 2013 as an AmeriCorps VISTA and works with neighborhood residents at our Community Resource Center. During his VISTA year, Mark tracks community needs, cultivates partnerships with like-minded organizations, and provides parents and other adults with resources and support to find employment.
Mark grew up in Olney, Maryland and graduated from Elon University in North Carolina with a B.A. in Political Science. Before joining the Horton’s Kids team, he was a paralegal for an international law firm and worked in Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. In his free time, he loves mountain biking, indoor rock climbing, and ballroom dancing.