STAFF AND LEADERSHIP
Sam has a Ph.D. from Stanford University. He became a professor of Education and Child Study at Smith in 1999 after more than a decade of teaching and administrative service in public schools in New York, Vermont, and California. Over the years he has coached high school and youth sports. He founded the Smith College Urban Education Initiative—an educational outreach program that engages students in intensive service-learning experience by placing them in urban school settings during their winter term. The author of four books, including Tuned in and Fired, which was a finalist for the Grawemeyer Award in Education, Intrator has been awarded a Kellogg National Leadership Fellowship and an Ella Baker Fellowship.
Leadership & Staff
"Be the Change You Want to See."
Jo's educational and vocational background is in journalism and communications and she's worked in those fields as well as sports administration and extracurricular program development for 25 years. She majored in English at Colgate University and received her MS from Columbia University. Jo was Project Coach's sports director before becoming director. She has worked as a consultant for Harlem RBI in New York City where she helped to develop an innovative, games-based curriculum for baseball and softball. Jo played catcher and first base for Colgate University back in the day. She still loves coaching and writing about best practices in youth sports and also finds great joy in playing and competing -- and the occasional victory.
Assistant Program Director
Yesenia Valentin started out as a youth coach in Project Coach. After her high school graduation, Yesenia joined the PC staff team. Currently our Assistant Program Director, Yesenia prepares weekly activities for the team and leads coach training sessions. Even more valuable to our program is her additional work as a leader and mentor for younger coaches in our program.
Director, Urban Education Initiative
Vanessa joined the Urban Education Initiative team in January 2020 after serving as the Chief Operating Officer for Partners for Community, the largest regional Latino non-profit organization in New England. Vanessa graduated from Holyoke High School and then from Smith College as an Ada Comstock Scholar. She has a Master’s in Public Policy Administration from the University of Massachusetts and served as an Urban Studies and Planning Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Saturday Program Community Coordinator
Joe Wray also started out as a youth coach in our program. As a finance student at Holyoke Community College, he has worked on gathering and analyzing impact data on our elementary school players and high school coaches. He also coordinates our Saturday basketball league for children in the North End. In Fall 2019 he plans to tranfser to UMASS Amherst.
Don Siegel, Co-founder, Faculty Co-Director, has an Ed.D. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He was a professor of Exercise and Sport Studies (ESS) for 39 years and is now entering his second year as professor emeritus. Don helped develop and also served as the director of Smith College’s ESS graduate program that specializes in training college coaches. It is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education at Level V; the highest level awarded. He has also been an urban youth sports program consultant for the Boston based Barr Foundation and was instrumental in developing several youth sports initiatives in Boston and Northampton. He has published widely in the areas of youth sports, sport psychology, motor learning, exercise physiology, sport sociology, computing, and professional aspects of sport and physical education.
Urban Education Initiative Coordinator
Photo Credit Lora Rheeling
Erin joined the Project Coach and Urban Ed Initiative team in Fall 2016 after moving to the region from Philadelphia. Erin's background is in nonprofit management and youth development. Most recently she served as Executive Director of Neighborhood Bike Works, a sports-based youth development organization located in West Philly. Erin majored in Anthropology at Skidmore College, and received her MPA from Rutgers University.
Sports Site Director
Dennis is currently teaching at Homer Street Elementary School in Springfield, MA as the Physical Education/ Health Teacher. In 2005, he received his bachelors degree in Physical Education from Springfield College and is currently working towards his masters in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER) at Emporia State University. During his first year teaching he created a "play for the grade" basketball and dance program that provided an incentive for students to excel and try their best in the classroom. Students in this program got a firsthand look at what being a student-athlete is all about. Coaching is a passion of his and he is very excited to work with Project Coach because he believes it is a positive and fulfilling experience for the young players, the adolescent coaching staff, and the adults overseeing the program.
Head Dance Coach
Jazmin Santiago is another one of our staff who began as a Project Coach youth coach. A stand out coach in our dance program as a high school student, since her graduation she has continued to work as the head dance coach, managing that program as well as supervising four younger coaches.
Alison Berman, MSW, is a clinical social worker who has worked for many years with children and families in multiple settings, including facilitating groups for children and adolescents. She is an adjunct professor at Smith College School for Social Work and Executive Director of Girls on the Run of Western Massachusetts