Staff

Meet Our Staff

NICOLE LYNN LEWIS
Founder & Chief Executive Officer

In 2003, Nicole graduated from the College of William & Mary as a teen mother who had overcome homelessness and a drug-infested environment to achieve the impossible.  After several years in the workforce honing her skills in communications and nonprofit management and learning about the needs of teen parents across the country, Nicole founded Generation Hope in Washington, D.C. in 2010.  Named a CNN Hero in 2014, Nicole has used her skills in social entrepreneurship to launch an organization that is making a real difference.  Read more of Nicole's story here.

Why I chose this quote:

"I love this quote because it reminds you that no matter who you are or what you've been through, you are the master of your destiny.  Fight for your dreams."

@NICOLELYNNLEWIS


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CAROLINE GRISWOLD SHORT
Director of Programming

As a graduate of Duke University, Caroline recognizes the incredible opportunities that she has had access to thanks to a great education. After pursuing her passion for the arts with a career in professional ballet and musical theatre, Caroline came across Generation Hope while recovering from an injury and realized she had found her life's true calling in working with Generation Hope's amazing Scholars. She feels incredibly grateful to play a part in our Scholars’ lives and is completely passionate about helping teen parents become college graduates and create better lives for themselves and their children. When she's not working with Scholars, planning events, or playing with our Scholars' little ones, Caroline loves to travel, read, and exercise. She is active in the D.C. dance and theatre community and regularly performs around the region. Caroline lives in Takoma Park with her husband, new baby, and their dog! 

Why I chose this quote: 

"This quote is a great reminder that often, the bravest things we do aren't the things we do with huge fanfare. Often, the most courageous and meaningful things we do are the little things -- being kind to one another and ourselves, speaking out on someone's behalf, showing up for someone when the 'going gets tough.'  This quote inspires me!"

 


 
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ERICKA BEST
Director of Operations

A Trinity (Washington) University graduate and former teen mom, Ericka has always had a passion for helping others. Having first-hand knowledge of the struggles of and stigmatization surrounding teen parents, she is passionate about helping others along their journey. Joining Generation Hope allows her to fulfill her passion for philanthropy. Ericka is a thrill seeker who enjoys traveling, music, reading, and volunteering. Ericka lives in Maryland with her family. 

Why I chose this quote:

"I've learned that education is much more than going to school or earning a degree. Education has given me the power to rewrite my story. It has opened my eyes to new possibilities and opportunities. Education has the power to change lives."

 

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O’MALLEY BENTSON

Operations & Development Associate/Assistant to the CEO

As a recent college graduate from UNC Chapel Hill, O'Malley believes in the power of education and is excited to support an organization that champions education.  She spent a summer at UNC working new student and family orientations to the university and saw how impactful it is to join in others’ stories in particular as they set out to achieve a college degree.  O'Malley got her degree in political science and global studies which exposed her to a lot of systemic issues and gave her a passion for social justice. She is excited to bring all of this together to support the Scholars and the work of Generation Hope! In her free time, you can find O'Malley on a run, exploring DC, or cheering on the Tar Heels!

Why I chose this quote:

“I believe it's equally important to dream and act in an area in which you are passionate in order to yield the most impact. I also love this quote because it can apply to something of any scale, a small project or a vision to change the world.”


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COURTNEY WEBER
College Completion Manager

As a scholarship recipient at the University of Michigan, Courtney personally understands how financial support and mentorship in college can help our Scholars discover new passions and professional dreams. After pursuing degrees in Anthropology and Spanish, Courtney spent a year of service as a Jesuit Volunteer at the East Bay Community Law Center, where she worked directly with low-income clients in need of legal support. She has since worked as an advocate for anti-poverty initiatives related to agriculture policy and as a global studies teacher in Madrid, Spain with the Fulbright Program. Courtney feels incredibly grateful to have found a home at Generation Hope, where she is inspired daily by the dedication, sacrifice, and resilience of our Scholars. When Courtney's not meeting with our Scholars, she can usually be found out on a run or fiddling around in orchestra rehearsal. 

Why I chose this quote:

"Maya Angelou's quote reminds me that each of us has a deeply-rooted inner light that we must recognize, nurture, and empower. Letting this light unapologetically shine is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and others!"

 


 
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NAYA PATTERSON
Family Program Coordinator

As a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship at Saint Augustine's University (Raleigh, NC) and the daughter of a teen mother, Naya understands the importance of financial support for Scholars and most importantly the endless opportunities afforded to one after earning their college degree. Naya's parents raised her in a household that prioritized education and valued family. After earning a B.S. in Criminal Justice, Naya pursued a Master of Public Policy degree with a specialization in Education Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park. Naya's passion for equity in education and the well-being of children and families make her excited and grateful to support our Scholars who continue to leave her in awe by their perseverance, ambition, and sacrifice. When not working with Scholars, Naya loves to travel, try new foods, customize accessories with embroidery, and other fun DIY projects!

Why I chose this quote:

 "I chose this quote because it reminds us that the possibilities are endless, that we have the power to navigate our own destiny and impact the world, only if we let go of fearing what that looks like. Using your light from within, you can do more than you have imagined!"

 

 

Sophie Nathanson

SOPHIE NATHANSON
Family Program Coordinator

As a graduate of the College of Wooster, Sophie understands the opportunities education provides. After completing her undergraduate research project with the mentorship of her professor, Sophie experienced the impact a mentor can have on a students’ personal and academic life. Sophie spent a year severing as an AmeriCorps volunteer at New Legacy Charter School, a high school for pregnant and parenting students, in Denver, Colorado. There, she was able to develop her passion of supporting young parents as they earn their education. Sophie is excited to continue working with young parents at Generation Hope and striving for equity in education. When not supporting scholars, you can find Sophie cooking, traveling, or catching up on the latest Netflix show.

Why I chose this quote:

“I love this quote because it is a reminds us that education is the foundation for the a better tomorrow. Building a foundation is not always easy, but the stronger it is the more opportunities it can support. It is important to believe in the foundation you are building and go after your dreams while doing so!”

Photos donated by:  Erika Layne Photography

 

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MICHELLE AVELINO
Volunteer and Outreach Associate

As a San Francisco State University graduate and a daughter of a teen mom, Michelle understands the significance of a college degree for teen parents and their children. After graduating with degrees in Political Science and History, she worked in the legal field for a few years in program management. During that time, she particularly enjoyed working with law school students, focusing on mentorship and connecting immigrant and first-generation law students with resources to support them through law school. From a young age, she developed a passion for being a voice for the voiceless, and a heart for helping underserved communities like the one in which she grew up in San Francisco. Michelle is grateful to be working at Generation Hope with amazing colleagues who share the same passion for helping teen parents attain college degrees to create a better life for themselves and their children. Michelle loves to travel, read, try various types of food, serve at church, and spend time with family and friends. 

Why I chose this quote:

“I love this quote because not only am I a big fan of C.S. Lewis but it is a good reminder that despite setbacks and challenges, anyone can choose to set a new goal or to dream a new dream. I believe that all things work together for our good and that even difficulties in life can shape us to be better people.  We just have to choose to persevere and keep going!”  





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ASIA VIANNA LEAK
Mental Health Coordinator

Asia graduated from high school set for a career path in Education Administration, yet after her first semester at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she realized that psychology was her calling. It was here that her passion for mental health was sparked. Asia has always had a passion for working with children and adolescents as well as dance and yoga. She carried these passions with her into graduate school, where she studied Clinical Mental Health Counseling at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Asia is a Nationally Certified Counselor, a Registered Yoga Teacher, and a Dance/Movement Therapist Intern. It is her drive to empower families that originally drew her to Generation Hope. She is eager to introduce all of the growth and positive change that can come through therapeutic work. Asia understands the stigma and fear that can surround mental health and aims to demystify this beneficial service for Generation Hope Scholars and Scholar Families.

Why I chose this quote:

“This quote is a reminder to me that it is often the things that hurt or the times when we are in pain when we find the strength to discover the magic that is within all of us. Asia firmly believes that there is a light within all of us that was meant to shine brilliantly.”


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KATHERINE EKLUND
Director of Development

Katherine is grateful for the opportunity to work with Generation Hope’s incredible partners and build the community of support for our scholars and their families. Having been raised by a single mom most of her life, she believes in the beauty of families of all kinds and the transformational impact that a broader community can have on parents and their children. Prior to Generation Hope, Katherine worked at the Aspen Institute and DC Central Kitchen, and served on the Board of Break Away. She graduated from The College of William and Mary with a B.A. in Public Policy. Katherine is a proud DC resident and enjoys going to concerts, spending as much time as possible outdoors, and traveling to new places near and far.

Why I chose this quote:

“In the big picture, it can feel discouraging to think about all the issues facing our world. But if we zoom in, we see incredible examples of kindness, generosity, and innovation that are literally making this world a better place. This quote makes me grateful for those who do their “little bit” and inspires me to do mine.”


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TANAZIA MATTHEWS
Scholar Program Coordinator

Tanazia graduated from Trinity Washington University with a BA in Human Relations in May 2018. As a former teen parent and a Generation Hope alumna, she knows and understands that support is needed for teen parents and their families. She has been working with teen parents since she started college and joining the Generation Hope family allows her to continue that work and fulfill her dream of becoming a social worker for teen parents. Helping a young parent navigate through some of life’s obstacles brings her joy because she has navigated through some of those same obstacles, and in the end, she knows each teen parent will come out on top. When she is not working, she loves to read, travel and be a football mom. She is a D.C. native and enjoys the sights of her city.

Why I chose this quote:

Fearing failure is something we all struggle with. However, failure is a learning opportunity for us to become our best self. As we grow and understand ourselves, we realize that even when the stakes are high and striking out isn’t an option, we can’t let fear of failure stop us from playing the game.


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CHASE MCCAIN
Scholar Program Coordinator

Growing up in a small Maine town, then living in cities like Los Angeles, Jacksonville, and Washington, D.C., has helped Chase realize that “community” takes many shapes. At its core, however, it is about providing security and support, and Chase is excited to be a part of the thriving community that Generation Hope is building. With a background in reproductive health, Chase has seen how access to information and education can change the course of one’s life. She is looking forward to supporting Generation Hope’s incredible Scholars as they change their own. When not working with Scholars, Chase can be found doing yoga, making soup, or watching too many cute animal videos on YouTube.

Why I chose this quote:

I love the Beatles—they remind me of my parents! I love the idea that, wherever we may find ourselves, we are capable of using that experience to grow and change. There is no “wrong place,” as each experience and place that we find ourselves in can help us create who we are and who we want to be.


DEVON HAYNES
Communications Manager

Devon is thrilled to be joining the Generation Hope team to help tell the stories of our tenacious Scholars, and amplify our two-generation approach to supporting teen parents in college as they work toward a bright future for themselves and their family. With a background in strategic communications and media relations, Devon is eager to use her skills to help more Scholars and supporters learn about Generation Hope’s programs and mission. As a Washington, DC native, she is passionate about making life better for DC area families, and outside of work hours you can find her advocating on issues of maternal health and early childhood education. Otherwise, you may see her running around the city with the District Running Collective, or checking out the vibrant DC food scene. Devon graduated from Pitzer College in Claremont, CA with a B.A. in Political Studies and Environmental Studies.

Why I chose this quote:

I chose this quote because it speaks to the transformational change that Generation Hope is helping to nurture in our Scholar families, and for student parents as a population all across the country. Student parents are building an incredible future for themselves and their kiddos, and hopefully with the work of Generation Hope we can shift the perception of young student parents so that they will not only be more visible and appreciated on their campuses and in their communities, but also supported in reaching their potential.