Valerie Vasquez-Alexander is the Office Manager. Valerie oversees LMWE office and support services (she is our go-to person). In addition, Valerie has also co-taught sessions for our on-campus classes and our projects.
Amy Brodigan has worked at UMass Amherst since 2002 as a teacher and in the last few years, as the assistant director of The Partnership for Worker Education. She has 25 years of experience in the classroom, including teaching middle school, high school, community college, and adult learners. She has a B.A. from Amherst College and a M.A. from the University of Chicago.
Jacob Carter is the project director for Building Bridges, a UMass Public Art and Engagement Initiative that draws on the power of solidarity and creative expression to bring people together and create a bridge across difference. He also provides leadership on The Partnership for Worker Education career ladder programing at the Physical Plant. Prior to his work at The Partnership for Worker Education, Jacob has over 15 years of working with various educational nonprofits in Central America and the U.S. including locally as a board member for the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center in Holyoke, MA. Jacob is completing a doctoral program at the Center for International Education with a focus on international nongovernmental organizations working in the education sector in Guatemala. Outside of work, he enjoys playing the guitar, being outdoors and spending time with his family.
Joseph Connolly co-founded the program in 1987 and has served as its director since that time. He has a doctorate in worker education and comparative teaching methods, a Masters in labor studies, and a Masters in educational counseling. He has a strong interest in participatory teaching, and issues of voice, visibility, and social justice. He also worked for AFSCME 1776 from 1981 until retiring in 2016.
Francis Fortino is IT instructional coordinator, webmaster and volunteer coordinator for The Partnership for Worker Education, where he has taught for the past 20 years. Fran is currently teaching a number of The Partnership for Worker Education computer courses including: Intro to Computers, UMass Cloud Computing, MS Office 365, EXCEL (beginner and Intermediate), and other selected apps classes. Before joining The Partnership for Worker Education, Fran used his foreign language skills as the assistant director of the Translation Center at UMass, which he helped found. He earned a M.A.T. from UMass Amherst and has taught high school, college, and continuing education classes.
Leslie Fraser is Coordinator of Communications and Campus Career Initiatives for The Partnership for Worker Education. She teaches writing, communications, leadership, workplace wellness, and career growth classes, offers career and education advising to UMass staff members in the AFSCME, USA/MTA, and PSU labor unions, and coordinates publicity for The Partnership for Worker Education programs. Leslie also teaches job skills, communications, leadership, and teamwork classes for Community Works. She worked as a writer, editor, nonprofit manager, and educator for more than 20 years before joining The Partnership for Worker Education in 1997. Her undergraduate degree is in women’s studies and human services education, and her graduate studies and degrees included labor education, counseling, and chaplaincy.
Melissa Kane is an avid lover of travel and communicating with people from around the world. Melissa thrives in bringing people of various cultures together to learn and share their commonalities and individuality. After years of running a manufacturing business while also teaching group and individual fitness classes on the side, she finally completed the SIT Graduate Institute Intensive TESOL Certification program. Now Melissa is realizing her dream as she teaches workplace English in the classroom and tutors students from various countries on an individual basis. With years of studying French language, music, and culture, she lived in Paris for a semester abroad, and now travels regularly to Senegal, West Africa, to be with her family and friends and to study African dance and the native Wolof language. She discovers through her experiences that the beauty of our human connection is deeply rooted in the power of communication.
Michele Kenney is a project director, has a BFA from SUNY Purchase, and a M.Ed. in Secondary Special Education, from Westfield State University, with teaching certifications in 5-12 Special Needs, Art, and Mathematics, specializing in remediation and teaching of students with language based learning disabilities. Michele first began as a teacher for SHAEC in 2010, teaching GED classes and sustainability classes. In February of 2019 Michele became the project director, expanding the focus of the program to include classes to support small business owners and economic development. In addition to her 20 years of teaching experience, Ms. Kenney is the owner of a small business: Functional Art Thermal Insulated Window Treatments.
Sonia Lindop is a doctoral candidate (Ph.D.) at the Center for International Education at the University of Massachusetts. She received a Bachelors degree in Social Communications at the University of Lima, Peru, and a Master in Social Anthropology from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies in Social Anthropology in Mexico. Her research interest focuses on cultural and qualitative analysis in the field of adult education. Recently she directed SIT’s Indigenous Peoples and Globalization Program in Peru.
Heather Morgan is a computer teacher and technology manager, holds a BA in Business and Equine Facilitated Therapy from UMass, an AS from Holyoke Community College in Business Administration, and a diploma from the Computer Processing Institute in East Hartford, Ct.
Heather has been teaching computer classes for the Southern Hilltowns Adult Education Center (SHAEC) for the past six years. She has taught in the towns of Russell, Huntington, Chester, Chesterfield, and Middlefield. Her classes range from Etsy and eBay to Microsoft Office and Google Chrome. Besides teaching for SHAEC, Heather owns her own business, Seriously Vintage, and keeps active in the Hilltown communities.
Jeff Napolitano is the director of Community Works, a pre-apprenticeship program that recruits, trains, and helps place residents of the Greater Springfield area into the construction/transportation industry and building trades. Jeff has been a member of the Hampden County Central Labor Council, the UAW, UNITE HERE, and has long organized for worker rights. He is a graduate of UMass Amherst and studied at the UMass Labor Center. In his spare time, he conducts nonviolent direct action trainings for activists and helps run the Resistance Center for Peace and Justice.