Vyonni de Mel directs the program. Ms. de Mel is from Sri Lanka and has extensive experience in children’s education and program management both in the United States and internationally. She holds a General Certificate of Education from Princess of Wales College, Colombo, Sri Lanka, and an M.A. degree in Children’s Ministries from Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Bilingual in English and Sinhalese, Ms. de Mel brings to her work an acute appreciation of the challenges newcomers face, as well as the strengths that a diverse American society can offer. Ms. de Mel assisted as a consultant in setting up “Graceworks,” an afterschool program in Medford. She was also the recipient of the City of Cambridge’s “Peace and Justice Award” in 2000, and presented on “Welcoming Children to Empty Church Halls: Developing Multi-Cultural After School Programs” at the 2001 Ed-Fest at Episcopal Divinity School.
Lead teacher Katrina Vilensky was born in Russia and moved to the U.S. when she was in high school. She graduated from UMass—Boston with a degree in psychology and spent three years working at CCRC, a referral center for parents seeking child care and afterschool programming, before coming to Afterworks.
Assistant teacher Robert Wharton attended Afterworks as a child, volunteered as a teen, and now returns as a staff member. Robert has a background in culinary arts.
Rakaya El-Kasaby previously volunteered for Afterworks, and began working for the program as a bookkeeper in 2014. She has experience working in the non-profit sector, and is currently pursuing a degree in political theory and non-profit management at UMass Amherst.
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All staff members receive ongoing training in early childhood education through the 21st Century Community Learning Center Partnership. This is an Agenda for Children program offered through the City of Cambridge. Its goals include improving communication between schools and afterschool programs, and professional development in math, science, and literacy.
Staff members are always available to discuss parental concerns about children’s social and academic progress, and to help serve as a liaison between school and home.
Our current Advisory Board includes:
- Rev. Dr. Christian Brocato became Rector of St. Peter’s in September, 2011. Prior to this position, he served as Priest-in-Charge at All Saints Episcopal Church in Stoneham, MA, while also serving as an Associate Priest at Parish of the Epiphany, Winchester, MA, and Dean of Academic Affairs at New England College of Business and Finance.
- Wendy Johnston, Vestry Representative, is a St. Peter’s parishioner.
- Vyonni de Mel is Afterworks’ Director, a member of St. Peter’s Church, and former head of St. Peter’s church school.
- Pat Drake is the Treasurer for both Afterworks and St. Peter’s. She is a parishioner at St. Peter’s, and teaches ESOL for the City of Cambridge at the Community Learning Center. Pat’s children were among the first Afterworks students during its first two years of operation.
- Sophea Diaz is the mother of two active participants in the program and acts as the current Parent Representative.
- Sallie Craig Huber is a parishioner of St. Peter’s and has supported Afterworks since it opened. Now retired from a career in global public health, she volunteers one day each week at Afterworks in addition to serving as chair of its Advisory Committee.
- Arlyne Jackson is a member of St. Peter’s Church and head of the Pardee Management Library in the School of Management at Boston University.
- Nina Nolan, Parent Representative, is the mother of three Afterworks students. She has a degree in Environmental Science and works full-time as an educator at the Museum of Science.
- Elisa Pepe is a former Afterworks parent and Afterworks treasurer. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Skidmore College and a master’s degree from the Catholic University of Louvain. She is a program administrator at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, MA.
- Hedwig Pocius is one of the original members of the Afterworks Advisory Board. She is a volunteer and member of St. Peter’s Church.
In June, 2012, we lost Julia (Judy) Bibbins, member and former Senior Warden of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, and chair of the Afterworks Advisory Board. Judy was a long-time supporter of Afterworks, an advocate for children and the arts, and a gracious, loving presence in our lives. We will miss her.