Chris Alesi – College Assist Coordinator
Chris plays a key role in managing the College Assist program. His primary role is to provide guidance and support to our 9-12th grade student-athletes and their families as they navigate the college process to ensure each student-athlete graduates high school and finds the best individual fit for college. He is also involved in many facets of the organization, including program administration, outreach and coaching. Born and raised in NYC, Chris was a former student-athlete himself, playing for his legendary father Coach Jack Alesi at Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Chris is a graduate of CUNY-Bernard Baruch (’05) and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. He is also an Assistant Varsity Basketball Coach at his alma mater Xaverian.
Rahme Anderson – Program Coordinator
Rahme brings a wealth of youth development and coaching experience to New Heights. At New Heights, he plays multiple roles, including support for student-athletes and families, program outreach, and basketball program and coaching support. He also plays a key role in Summer Academy and the Saturday Skills program. Rahme has been involved with New Heights for over four years. Prior to joining New Heights, Rahme coached at Bishop Loughlin High School, his alma mater, for four years and served as the Head Coach of the freshman team.
Adam Berkowitz – Associate Executive Director
Adam oversees and manages the College Bound program. He has been involved with New Heights since its inception and is involved in many facets of the organization, including coaching, program administration, development, events and public relations. He is an expert on college eligibility and NCAA Clearinghouse requirements and regularly lectures young athletes and coaches on the subject. Adam is a graduate of Dartmouth College (`93) and holds a Master’s Degree in Communications from Fordham University. He is also a Senior News Editor at the New York Daily News and has coached youth and high school basketball for the past 18 years.
Ashley Faison – Director of Development
Ashley is responsible for the development and growth of New Heights. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and fundraising professional for over 10 years, she holds a varied background of marketing, fundraising and therapeutic work with multiple social populations. She is an award-winning non-profit film producer and photographer, children’s book author, and remains captivated by the development of innovative community programs and cultivating non-profit funding streams. Former posts include: Director of Development, Change for Kids (CFK) – launching the School Change Team Model; Senior Individual Giving Officer at Theatre Communications Group (TCG) – founding the Society for the American Theatre; Director of Development, Hospice and Community Care – leading a $10M Capital Campaign; and Social Marketing/Youth Services Director for Youthnet, a start-up federally funding “System of Care” community. Ashley holds a Bachelors and Masters in Social Work from Florida State University.
Li’Esha Garcia – Finance and Operations Manager
Li’Esha is a New Heights alum (Class of ‘05) who as the Finance & Operations Associate oversees the organization’s finances and daily office operations. Li’Esha graduated from Long Island University with a B.S. and an M.A. (’10) in Accounting. While at Long Island, Li’Esha played on Women’s Basketball team (05-09). Li’Esha also serves as a board member for Sports Challenge Leadership Academy, a non-profit summer sports and leadership program. She also currently coaches middle school girls at New Heights.
Sekou Hamer – Academic Coordinator
Sekou Hamer brings a wealth of education and youth work experience to New Heights. He is responsible for managing all academic support services and overseeing the High School Assist component of the program, primarily for our 7th and 8th grade student-athletes. Before joining New Heights, Sekou worked for the Board of Education, Boys and Girls Harbor and most recently at The Oliver Scholars Program as a Scholar Coordinator. Sekou has enjoyed a successful career counseling and motivating young people within the inner-city public, parochial and independent school settings and looks to continue this work with the student athletes at New Heights. Sekou is a graduate of the Dalton School in NYC and a two time basketball All-Patriot League student-athlete at Bucknell University, where he graduated with a BA in Psychology (’96). Sekou lives in the Bronx with his wife and three children.
Maurice Hicks – Athletic Director
Maurice (Moe) Hicks, a legendary high school and grassroots basketball coach in New York City, is returning to his Harlem roots and will be joining New Heights Youth, Inc. as its new Athletic Director. Hicks spent the past three years on Steve Lavin’s staff at St. John’s as Director of Basketball Operations.
“I had a wonderful three years at St. John’s, but my passion is coaching and I am extremely excited to be returning to work with student-athletes in New York City,” says Hicks. “New Heights is a great organization and I think it is a perfect match for me.”
Prior to joining Lavin’s staff, Hicks had a hugely successful run as the head coach at Rice High School, winning five New York State Federation championships and coaching future professionals such as Kemba Walker, Kenny Satterfield, Andre Barrett and Keydren Clark. In his 16 years at the helm, Hicks compiled a record of 352-86, including six City Championships. He also won a City Championship at Louis Brandeis High School, and is one of only two coaches to win both a PSAL and CHSAA championship.
Hicks also ran the New York Gauchos AAU program in its heyday, winning numerous regional and national tournaments along the way.
Shahna-Lee James – Communications Associate
Shahna-Lee is New Heights alum (Class of ’06) who has rejoined the New Heights team as the Communications Associate. She supports a range of projects throughout the organization, including marketing, development and alumni relations. Shahna-Lee first joined the New Heights program in 2002. Graduating from Berkeley Carroll in 2005 and with the help of the New Heights’ High School Assist Program she then went on to complete a Post Graduate year at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH (’06). Shahna-Lee graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2010 and 2012 with a B.S. and an M.P.H. respectively.
Jasmine Jeffers – Grantwriting Associate
Jasmine comes to New Heights through the Princeton AlumniCorps fellowship program, which fosters an interest in civil engagement among recent college graduates. At New Heights, Jasmine supports many of the organization’s communication and outreach efforts, including grant writing, marketing and social media management. Before joining the New Heights team, Jasmine worked as a Policy Associate with the Poverty and Race Research Action Council in Washington, DC. Jasmine graduated from Princeton University in 2011 with an A.B. in English.
Jack Pacelle – Program and Evaluation Associate
Jack is responsible for providing support in a variety of areas, including program evaluation, development, database management, attendance management and social-media outreach. He joins the team through AmeriCorps VISTA, a national service program. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Jack is passionate about youth development and athletics in New York City. He received his B.A. in psychology from Wesleyan University (’13), where he was a D3 All-New England track athlete.
Robyn Pretlow – Summer Academy Director
Robyn is an experienced and enthusiastic educational leader who returned to New Heights in 2013 to serve as our Summer Academy. Prior to serving at New Heights as our Director of Academic Programs for over two years, Robyn was a co-founder and school administrator of Capital City PCS Upper School in Washington, D.C., member of the Coalition for Essential Schools Small Schools Project. Robyn began her career in education as a DC Teaching Fellow. Robyn received a Masters Degree in Education from George Washington University, a Law Degree from Georgetown University Law Center and a degree in Comparative Area Studies from Duke University.
Rocky Rosa – Program Coordinator
Rock coordinates all of New Heights programs, paying special attention to family relationships and sports-education integration. Prior to joining New Heights, he spent eight years as a Program Coordinator in the Children’s Aid Society’s Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program. Born and raised in New York City, Rock has more than 15 years of coaching and youth development experience.
Ted Smith – Executive Director
Ted is responsible for leading and managing the organization and overseeing all programs, finance, development, partnerships and operations. Born and raised in New York City, Ted played professional basketball in England from 2000-05. While in England, he worked as a Project Analyst at ARK (Absolute Returns for Kids), a social investor in charitable children’s projects. He received his Master’s Degree in Evidence-Based Social Work from Oxford University (‘04). Ted also did extensive youth development and coaching work in schools and community programs in the greater London area, and he wrote a weekly basketball and community news column for the BBC website. Ted received his BA in Psychology from Yale University (‘00). As a student-athlete, he was a basketball Academic All-Ivy (‘00) and District 1 Academic All-American.