Providing the highest quality education and opening all the doors of possibility for every child in our community has been a core value and longstanding priority for me. Hartford Promise offers a transformative opportunity to make the dream of higher education a reality for Hartford students. I’m very excited to begin this work alongside the Hartford Promise Champions and the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education who have made a powerful statement of commitment with their financial and organizational investments in Hartford Promise. I hope many others will join us in making HP a reality and in sustaining Hartford Promise – the Promise that all our children deserve. At Hartford Promise we will be relentless in our effort to reduce or eradicate the significant role that luck plays in the equation of success. Be it the ‘luck’ to have financial resources, ‘luck’ to find the right supports, ‘luck’ to connect with caring adults, ‘luck’ to find supportive peers, ‘luck’ to make the right college decisions, or ‘luck to have a good college transition,’ …we will be working to make sure that every Promise scholar has access to each of these resources. So I am asking you to get on board and be a part of the start – this promise, this responsibility belongs to all of us!
MEET THE TEAM
RICHARD SUGARMAN - PRESIDENT President Richard Sugarman has a varied background including nonprofit leadership, corporate management, investment management, and extensive community engagement work. Richard is the President of Hartford Promise, a new large scale College Scholarship Fund and College Success Program.
Prior to this he has been the Founding President of The Connecticut Forum for 23 years, an award winning non-profit organization that brings nationally renowned panelists to Hartford four times a year to discuss a variety of timely and important topics for audiences of 2800. Richard has served on many Boards including: CT Center for School Change, Conn CAN, The Learning Corridor, Police Athletic League, and Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. He has advised and consulted with many organizations including: Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, Melville Charitable Trust, Annie E. Casey Foundation, CT Mirror, Travelers, The Village for Families and Children, Partnership for Strong Communities, Children’s Trust Fund, CT Fair Housing Center, and Hartford Public Schools. He has received numerous awards including:
Lifetime Achievement Award, Hartford Business Journal
The Tapestry Award, from The Hartford Courant, in recognition for bringing diverse communities together
Community Leader of the Year, from Leadership Greater Hartford
The Renaissance Award for Education, from the Hartford Downtown Council
He and his wife Doris live in West Hartford, CT, have three sons; Skip, Jesse, and Scott…. all Buckeye fans.
SAM LEVINE - DIRECTOR OF SCHOLARSHIPS Sam is an attorney by profession and is singularly committed to our Hartford community, particularly its young people and education. She is a versatile and engaging professional and is as effective with students as she is with executives. Her role at Hartford Promise includes leading college scholarship disbursements, high school outreach, event coordination, communications, promotions, and scholar outreach.
She is married to her husband Eric, a dentist, has 2 grown kids and is the youngest of 6 sisters. Sam is an avid cook and enjoys hiking and adventures. She has a dog named Lola who loves eating socks!
MELISSA PAUL - DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE PARTNERSHIPS + REACHING FORWARD Melissa Paul has always held a passion for education and youth development. She studied Music at UConn and went on to pursue a Masters in School Counseling at CCSU. She has worked in a variety of educational settings including public and private schools, and in the nonprofit sector. Most recently she has been engaged in college guidance and alumni support programs in New York City. Her role at Hartford Promise includes cultivating and managing partner college relationships, scholar communication and outreach, and tracking college success. Melissa also shares a passion for the performing arts as a singer and actress with several performing groups throughout the northeast. She and her husband, Jason, have a toddler whom she loves to bake, dance and sing with as much as possible.
LINDA MERLIN - FUND DEVELOPMENT + GRANT WRITING Linda Merlin is an attorney by profession, and used to practice large commercial litigation in both New York and Connecticut. She has organized local “get out the vote” efforts and championed local education budget issues. Linda is also a graduate of Encore! Hartford’s Non-Profit Leadership Program. She is eager to bring her legal writing skills, grass roots organization experience and commitment to education to Hartford Promise. Her responsibilities at Hartford Promise include grant writing, grant reporting and research, as well as development of new funding opportunities.
She is married to her husband, Larry, and has two grown kids.
JESSE SUGARMAN - DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT + COMMUNICATIONS Jesse Sugarman has had an extensive career in marketing, and business development working on behalf of companies like Allstate, PepsiCo, the state of Texas Commerce Department, and MillerCoors. Throughout his career, Jesse has dedicated himself to advocacy, social justice, and causes that promote equity and opportunity in marginalized communities. As a member of the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood Illinois Action, Jesse led efforts to cultivate a diverse coalition of supporters through high profile events and strategic marketing initiatives. Prior to officially joining the Hartford Promise team he volunteered on the website redesign and social media rebranding efforts. His role at Hartford Promise includes leading development and communications efforts.
Jesse earned a Master of Arts in public policy from the University of Chicago. He recently moved from Chicago to West Hartford with his wife, Samantha and their daughter, Ellery. They are avid golfers, runners, aspiring home chefs and completely addicted to Buckeye football.
NAHKIA HENRY – DIRECTOR OF CAREER DEVELOPMENT With roots in Hartford, Nahkia decided to remain in the area after receiving her BA in Communications from the University of Connecticut. Nahkia has over ten years of experience working in human resources, project management, and operations across several industries, including Investments, Manufacturing, and Insurance. As often as her time permits, Nahkia pursues opportunities that enable her to combine human resources and nonprofit work, two things for which she is most passionate. While always willing to commit her time to serve a variety of causes, Nahkia especially enjoys investing her time to improve the lives of youth in her community. In addition to serving as an avid volunteer for organizations like Hartford Youth Scholars and Career Beginnings Program, Nahkia was also a Senior Manager at INROADS. In her role as Director of Career Services, Nahkia continues to merge her passions assisting Hartford Promise Scholars with career-related consultation. At the same time, she builds relationships with local employers and corporate partners to invigorate their pipeline with more local talent.
Nahkia demonstrates a relentless commitment to nonprofit organizations in her community while also serving as a member of the Human Resources Association of Central Connecticut (HRACC) and Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM). When not working or volunteering, she enjoys travel and is an avid sports fan.
The board of directors serve as advisers and advocates in the development of Hartford Promise with particular focus on engaging the support of the business, philanthropic, and the general community.
CO-CHAIRS Robert E. Patricelli, Former Chairman, President & CEO, Women’s Health USA Walter Harrison, Former President, University of Hartford
BOARD MEMBERS Jeffery A. Flaks, Chief Executive Officer, Hartford HealthCare Erin Haberman, Second Vice President, Travelers Foundation Marlene Ibsen, Chief Executive Officer and President, Travelers Foundation Charlie Klippel, Senior VP and General Counsel, Aetna Laura Marzi, Chief Marketing Officer, The Hartford Thea Montanez, Chief Operating Officer, Mayor Luke Bronin Hugh F. Murray III, Partner, McCarter and English Mark Scheinberg, President, Goodwin College Richard Sugarman, President, Hartford Promise Deidre Tavera, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Development, CPBM Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Superintendent, Hartford Public Schools Denise Zamore, Senior Associate General Counsel, United Healthcare Sarah Lewis,Vice President Health Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, Hartford Healthcare Wizdom Powell, Director, Health Disparities Institute and Associate Professor, UConn Health Sheryl Burke, Senior Vice President Cross-Enterprise Strategic Innovation, Aetna
PROMISE SCHOLAR BOARD MEMBERS Tiana Starks,Hartford Promise Scholar, Trinity College Class of 2021 Aaron Hooker, Hartford Promise Scholar, UConn Class of 2022
Hartford Promise 750 Main Street Hartford, CT 06103