Leadership & Staff


Rita Lara, Ed.M. / Executive Director

Rita has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management and fundraising working locally and globally. She has partnered with social change fundraiser Kathy LeMay, Author of the Generosity Plan and CEO of Raising Change and with Corporate Accountability International, an advocacy organization that safeguards human rights. Her local work includes leading a field-based evaluation of services at a HOPE VI housing development with researchers at the Boston University School of Social Work and working with a number of Latino community-based organizations in Boston including La Alianza Hispana where she wrote and won a 2.5M grant from the Office of Adolescent Health and Sociedad Latina, where she netted the organization’s first Robert Wood Johnson grant. She hails from Lawrence, MA and is a fully bilingual native Spanish speaker. Rita has an Ed.M. in Human Development & Psychology from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and a B.A. from Tufts University.

Rita at  mavericklanding.org


Jessica Vazquez / Family Services Director

Jessica joined MLCS in 2007 as its first Resident Services Coordinator. She brings a rich history of nonprofit sector experience, having worked at HarborCOV with women impacted by domestic violence as well having held positions in youth development and early childcare. She is a fully bilingual native Spanish speaker and case manages, coordinates and collaborates with partners to provide child care assistance, food stamp application assistance, and help accessing health insurance and other supportive services. Jessica has been with MLCS for 10 years. In that time she has developed strong relationships in the community and is respected, sought, and regarded by families residing in Maverick Landing.

Jessica at  mavericklanding.org


Gaby Calderon / YEP Coordinator

Gaby joined MLCS to start up our summer makers program where she worked closely with teen counselors to engage kids ages 7 to 12 in robotics. She is now supporting MLCS teen programs where she coaches teens on life, career, and tech skills. Gaby previously worked at the Lydia Fiol and Agapito Lopez Flores elementary schools in Puerto Rico running robotics programs for low-income 3rd-6th graders. She is working on her BA at the University of Massachusetts at Boston where she is a psychology major.

Gaby at  mavericklanding.org



Gene Babon, B.S. / Tech Lab Instructor

Gene is our Computer Lab Instructor assigned to develop and deliver technology training opportunities and job search services to the underserved community of East Boston.  In addition, Gene also leads two not-for-profit projects: a 3,700 member Meetup group called Boston PHP and CDIA Alumni, a 400 member Web design alumni association. Gene holds a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics from Penn State University.

Gene at  mavericklanding.org





Juan David Lozano, Ed.M. / Young Men's Mentor

Juan David Lozano was born in Colombia and raised in Dorchester. Juan David is a first generation graduate of UMass Dartmouth along with being a graduate of Boston College Lynch School of Higher Education with a concentration in Student Affairs for student access. Juan David hopes to continue to show reciprocity in his community in Boston, while staying in touch with his roots in Colombia as the Founding Director of Los Restauradores. Juan David is currently employed full-time at Excel Academy as an Associate-Director of Post-Secondary Support where he assist high school graduates reach their top potential in a career or in a college institution
Juan David at  mavericklanding.org


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Sam Albertson, Ed.M. / Development & Communications Consultant

Sam Albertson has lived in East Boston for nine years. While in Eastie, he has attended Harvard Graduate School of Education, served at the Umana school as Site Director with Tenacity, and risen into leadership roles at Tenacity then Playworks New England, a non-profit that provides safe and healthy play to elementary schools. He is excited to serve locally again at MLCS. He loves East Boston alongside his wife, newborn son, and older som who attends a nearby BPS elementary school.

Sam at  mavericklanding.org


Ellen DiBenedetto, CPA / Controller

 Ellen joined Maverick Landing Community Services in December, 2014.  She has numerous years of experience in accounting, finance, and consulting.   She has been responsible for the financial operation of companies, including financial analysis, reporting, general accounting, budgeting, and forecasting.  Ellen has worked as a consultant/auditor for several non-profit entities.  She worked at Employment Resources Inc., as a Controller, RSM McGladery, Inc.,   as a Senior System Consultant, where she was the interim CFO/Controller for companies and installed accounting software systems. Before RSM McGladery, Ellen spent over seven years in public/private companies, mainly Trend Lines, Inc. and Mac Gray Corporation. Ellen also spent over five years in public accounting with BDO Seidman. Ellen earned her BS in Business Administration – Accounting concentration from Suffolk University.

Ellen at  mavericklanding.org

Advisory Board

MLCS is currently working on growing its advisory board! Advisory members greatly contribute their talents to MLCS by offering their advice, knowledge, and support for our work.


For more than 25 years Aixa Beauchamp has worked in the field of philanthropy in the United States, Europe, and Latin America, helping institutions to strengthen their programs and broaden their impact. She began her career in the philanthropic sector as a program officer at the NY Community Trust. As a consultant for the Association of Community Trusts in London, she facilitated dialogue to advance funder relations in diverse communities. Past projects have included working with the Rockefeller Foundation and Hispanics in Philanthropy to promote philanthropy in Latino In 2016, Aixa was appointed by Governor Baker to sit on the Massachusetts State Workforce Board. She is also co-founder of the Latino Legacy Fund. She holds Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government.


Betty Francisco is a passionate health and wellness professional and the Founder of FitNation Ventures, a boutique consulting practice specializing in youth fitness and lifestyle programs. As its first venture, FitNation launched Reimagine Play, a Boston-based fitness start-up for school-age children and teens. Betty serves on the Board of Directors of YMCA of Greater Boston, and the Board of Corporators of Eastern Bank. Betty holds a BA in History from Bard College and a joint JD/MBA from Northeastern University. She is fluent in Spanish and resides in Boston with her husband and two daughters.

Board of Directors


Deirdre Wyman / Chair of the Board

Director of Public Housing and Compliance Support, Trinity Management

After 30 years in property management, Ms. Wyman has developed proficiency in Public Housing developments. She expertly prepares and presents Admissions and Continuing Operating Plans (“ACOP”), Management Plans, Affirmative Fair Marketing Plans, and other governing policies or documents. Deirdre also ensures that all policies and procedures of the Public Housing Authorities are communicated and followed at the site level. Her additional responsibilities include achieving occupancy goals while maintaining compliance with all federal, state and local laws and regulations. She is the chairman/president of the Maverick Landing Community Services Board, and a member of the Board of the New England Affordable Housing Management Association, serving on its Charity Committee.

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Rachel Goodman  / Vice Chair

Director of Community Support Services, Boston Housing Authority

Rachel Goodman is Director of the Boston Housing Authority’s Community Services Department in its Center for Community Engagement & Civil Rights.  She directs workforce development initiatives at BHA, as well as a broad range of education, health and wellness, and support services for public housing residents.  Her master’s degree is in linguistics with a concentration in teaching English as a second language, and she taught for 10 years at Boston University’s Center for English Language and Orientation Programs.  Ms. Goodman represented the BHA as a member of the Boston Workforce Investment Board from 2002-2015; and now represents the BHA on the Youth Council. She has worked in job placement and training programs in the Boston area since 1990. She is Vice Chair of the Maverick Landing Community Services (MLCS) Board, having worked on a number of the BHA’s HOPE VI Projects focusing on the Community & Supportive Services Programs including the redevelopment of Maverick Gardens.  Ms. Goodman is also on the Board of Directors of Steps to Success Inc. in Brookline, Massachusetts.

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Geoffrey Lee / Treasurer

Asset Manager, Trinity Financial, Inc.

Geoffrey Lee joined Trinity Financial, Inc. in 2010 and has been responsible for the Asset Management oversight for a portfolio of Trinity owned developments, including Maverick Gardens.  Prior to joining Trinity, Mr. Lee was a Senior Associate with Boston Financial Investment Management (formerly MMA Financial) where he asset managed a portfolio of multi-family tax credit apartment complexes. Additionally, he analyzed property financial performance, modeled workout scenarios for underperforming properties, and calculated portfolio statistics for the Western Region of the United States. Prior to this position, Mr. Lee was an Analyst in MMA Financial’s Development Risk Management Unit, where he quantified the investor risk associated with the construction and leasing of developing tax credit projects. Mr. Lee holds Bachelor degrees in Finance and Marketing from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College.

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Robert Schmidt / Clerk

Resident, Maverick Landing Community

Robert Schmidt is a long-time East Boston resident whose actively involved on a number of board and community groups.  In addition to serving on the board of MLCS, Robert is also a member of the board of trusteees of NOAH.


Andrew Speen  / Trustee

Andrew Speen, member of MLCS’ Program and Evaluation Board Sub-Committee since January 2017.

Andrew is a Research Associate on Harvard Business School’s U.S. Competitiveness Project, led by Professors Michael E. Porter and Jan W. Rivkin. Previously, Andrew was an AmeriCorps VISTA marketing and development specialist at X-Cel Education, a Boston-based education nonprofit that works with low-income Greater Boston residents on high school equivalency and college transition preparation. Andrew started his career as an analyst at Bella Research Group, a boutique advisory firm focused on the private capital industry—venture capital and private equity funds and policymakers in this arena. At Bella, he co-authored reports on topics related to private equity, venture capital and intellectual property, which have been published by Harvard Business School Working Knowledge, NASA, the Small Business Administration, and The Journal of Private Equity.

Andrew graduated summa cum laude from Villanova University’s Villanova School of Business with a B.B.A. in economics. Outside of work, he is a sitcom enthusiast, avid runner, and podcast listener.

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John Shoenberger  / Trustee

John Shoenberger , volunteer with MLCS Makerspace since October 2017

John Shoenberger is an avid traveler and a tinkerer. He has visited 20+ countries if you count layovers, his favorite being a recent narrow boating trip to the UK. Originally he grew up in southern California, and moved to the Boston region 10 years ago. Presently, John lives in East Boston with his girlfriend, Matti, and cat Berkeley. He has been working with Linux since Slackware 9, somehow he persisted through that horrific experience and finds it quite enjoyable these days.

John has worked for Google, Fidelity Investments, and more recently SilverRail Technologies Inc.

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Tommy Welch  / Trustee

Instructional Superintendent / Office of the Superintendent | Boston Public Schools

Tommy Welch is the Instructional Superintendent for Boston Public Schools, serving schools in East Boston, Charlestown, the North End and Chinatown.  His network of 16 schools includes nearly 8000 students, and all grade levels (pre-school through 12th grade). He transitioned to Boston Public Schools in 2015 after 16 years with the Los Angeles Unified School District.  During his time in Los Angeles he taught and served as a school site leader at all levels, including elementary through adult school  During his final years in Los Angeles, he worked within the pilot school network as the founding principal of a middle school from 2011-14, and later opening a high school in 2014.  Mr. Welch has dedicated his career in public education, and by remaining student-focused he strives to continue to provide excellent service for the students and parents of traditionally underserved communities. Mr. Welch is a graduate of Occidental College (BA) and UCLA (MA), and recently began a doctorate program at Boston College.  He lives in East Boston with his wife and two young children.

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Mary Elizabeth Collins  / Trustee

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Boston University School of Social Work

Mary Elizabeth Collins, A.M., Ph.D. is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Professor and Department Chair of Social Welfare Policy, at Boston University School of Social Work.  She received her A.M. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration.  Dr. Collins joined the faculty of Boston University in 1997.  Her research areas include: child welfare, adolescent-focused policy and programs, youth transition from foster care, and community-based interventions for vulnerable youth.  Dr. Collins has been the Principal Investigator on studies funded by federal agencies (e.g., the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Children’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development); state agencies (e.g., Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance), private foundations (e.g., Spencer Foundation), and other entities (e.g., Massachusetts Youth Transition Task Force, National Resource Center on Youth Development).  She is the author of the book Macro Perspectives on Youth Aging Out of Foster Care and has over sixty published articles and book chapters.

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Al Caldarelli  / Trustee

Executive Director, East Boston Community Development Corporation Inc. (EBCDC)

Mr. Caldarelli has been the President/Executive Director of the East Boston Community Development Corporation (EBCDC, Inc.) since 1976. He is an attorney who is familiar with all aspects of low income housing and business development. He is the owner and General Partner in development of HUD insured, Section 8 Housing in Connecticut. He has supervised the development and/or management of each of the low income developments of EBCDC, Inc. In addition, Mr. Caldarelli has experience in organizational development primarily responsible for the direction and financial health of EBCDC, Inc.