Meet Our Staff
  Administration
  1. Athena Gould Executive Director agould@blueridgebigs.org
    Athena has over 15 years of experience in the youth development field, working with nonprofit organizations in both New York and Nevada. Former agencies include the Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Nevada and Suffolk Network on Adolescent Pregnancy. She has undergraduate degrees in Computer Information Science and English Language Studies and a masters in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy. Athena is honored to join the dedicated team of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge. As the Executive Director, she is committed to partnering with the communities of Charlottesville and Albemarle County to do what we do best - give kids access to great mentors and positive experiences. Athena and her husband Dwayne have four girls, Kalila, Lena, Sarah and Mia.
Philanthropy
  1. Gerry Hartigan Director of Philanthropy ghartigan@blueridgebigs.org
    Gerry was born and raised in Ireland but has lived in five countries and has traveled to over seventy-five. He is glad to be working and living in Charlottesville with such a great team for such a wonderful organization. Gerry holds a Master's Degree in Management and has worked in the non-profit world for over twenty-five years. He is the proud father of three grown sons and he has two adorable grandchildren with another one on the way. In his spare time he loves the beach, auctions, flea markets, great restaurants and a good movie.
  Programs
  1. Lisa Powell Remote Match Support Specialist lpowell@blueridgebigs.org
    Lisa has been working for Big Brothers Big Sister of Kentuckiana since April 2000. She currently serves as the Match Support Manager. Before joining the BBBS family, she supervised foster homes and worked in an emergency shelter for abused children. It is her passion to help strengthen the lives of all children. Having the opportunity to work part time remotely for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge allows her to further the outreach to children and families in the fabulous state of Virginia. Lisa has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Kentucky. She enjoys spending time with her kids, reading, writing and spending time outdoors.
  2. Maria Puente-Duany Bilingual Match Support Specialist mpuente-duany@blueridgebigs.org
    Maria has over ten years of experience in the non-profit field, mostly in philanthropy, with agencies including St. Mark’s Episcopal School and Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and The Caridad Center in Boynton Beach, Florida. She has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Education, and a master’s degree in Communications, both from Auburn University. She also has a Master of Divinity from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Originally from Cuba, Maria has lived in six different states and has been in Virginia for five years. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, yoga, reading, and spending time with her Maltese, Fifi.
  3. Steve Decker Program Specialist, AmeriCorps VISTA sdecker@blueridgebigs.org
    Steve joined the BBBS team as a Program Specialist through AmeriCorps VISTA and Virginia Mentor Partnership. After graduating with a B.A. in International Studies from Dickinson College, and later an M.A. in Humanitarian Response and Human Rights from Penn State’s School of International Affairs, Steve spent two years working with refugee youth and families in Chicago and Nashville. He then completed a temporary contract with Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region serving the Greater Philadelphia area (where he is originally from) before relocating to Charlottesville in order to work on BBBS programs for adjudicated youth and resettled refugee youth. When he is not at work, you can find him roaming the outdoors, watching American football (E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles!!) or spending time with family and friends. 
  4. Molly Jackson Program Specialist and Trainer mjackson@blueridgebigs.org
    Molly is an Albemarle County native with seven years of non-profit experience. She graduated with a degree in Public Policy and Administration from James Madison University in 2011. Molly served as a Match Support Specialist for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County for seven years before joining our team as a Program Specialist. She has been matched with a Little Brother in BBBSHR’s Community Based Program since 2012 and has enjoyed watching him grow up and become an outstanding young man! In her free time, Molly enjoys reading, live music, challenging herself outdoors and spending time with her dog, Henry.
  5. Jennifer Andersen Program Operations Manager jandersen@blueridgebigs.org
    Jennifer has over 20 years of experience working with youth and families. Her nonprofit work has included organizations in Wisconsin, Arizona, Oregon and now Virginia. She has a bachelor's degree in Broadfield Social Studies – Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. Jennifer is excited to join the team of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge. Jennifer is the mom of a teenager and a national park junky. She enjoys exploring places near and far.
  6. Claudette Grant Community Outreach Manager cgrant@blueridgebigs.org
    Claudette is originally from Hartford, Connecticut. She completed her undergraduate work in Urban Studies from the University of Connecticut and has a master’s degree from the University of Virginia in Urban and Environmental Planning. Claudette has worked as a planner for the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County and also has several years of experience working in the housing field. In her work as a community organizer, Claudette organized a youth leadership team, and has enjoyed seeing the impact working and mentoring youth can have on a community. Her home is full with a high school student, Gabby, her mother, Ruby and husband, Juandiego. She enjoys spending time with them. She also enjoys being involved in the community through her work at church, spending time gardening, cooking, and reading.