Heather Haywood, M.S. is the founder and Executive Director of Blessings, Inc. Heather has a desire to serve the community. She has served on the board of Hunting Park United whose mission is “to bring all races and creeds of every generation touched by the park together to revitalize the park and the surrounding neighborhood.” Her service with this organization afforded her the opportunity to partner with other community leaders with the goal of collectively empowering, educating, equipping and encouraging the residents of the Hunting Park neighborhood.
Heather is dedicated to serving the youth of Philadelphia. She is passionate about ensuring that the youth know that there are no limits to what they can achieve in life. She wants them to understand that their starting point does not determine where they will end. This is why she is determined that the services of Blessings, Inc. will be available to everyone and therefore are offered at no charge. Heather is a long-time resident of Philadelphia and graduated from Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls located in the Hunting Park section of the city. Additionally, she holds a BA in Organizational Leadership and a MS in Non-Profit Management both from Eastern University located in Wayne, PA. She has one adult daughter, Lynee, who also volunteers with the organization.
Christina N. Pena MBA, the Board Chair, joined the board of Blessings, Inc. in June 2016. Christina is a leader and business professional with expertise in management, training and development, and team building strategy. Christina obtained her Bachelors in Organizational Leadership 2010 and her Masters in Business Administration in 2013 from Eastern University in Radnor, Pennsylvania. She is also currently a doctoral student working toward completing her Ed. D. in Interdisciplinary Leadership. While Christina has worked in leadership and business management for several years, her true passion and motivation is to work with youth and young adults in urban areas, seeking to bring a systemic change to the educational structure and impoverished neighborhoods of the Greater Philadelphia region. Everything that Christina has accomplished thus far, both professionally and educationally, has been for the goal of one day helping others by preparing and inspiring them to fulfill their purpose in life. Personally, Christina has been married for almost 20 years to her husband Tom and together they are raising three wonderful children. As a driven wife, mother, and leader in her respective sphere of influence, Christina’s overall determination to succeed and to motivate others has been a positive addition to the Board of Directors at Blessings, Inc.
Sara Solomon MPH RD, Board Vice-Chair, joined the board of Blessings, Inc. in June 2016. She is the Deputy Director for the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Public Health Initiatives (CPHI). Prior to her role at Penn, she was the Nutrition and Physical Activity Program Manager for the City of Philadelphia's Get Healthy Philly initiative, a comprehensive citywide initiative with 20 interventions around food access and affordability, and opportunities for physical activity. Previous to her work with the city, Ms. Solomon worked at Temple University's Center for Obesity Research and Education on The Healthy Study, a National Diabetes Prevention Program among middle-school aged youth in 42 schools nationwide and 6 in the School District of Philadelphia. Prior to that she was the Director of Research and Development at Nutrisystem, Inc. designing weight loss and weight maintenance national programs tailored to women, men, and people with type 2 diabetes. Ms. Solomon has over ten years of experience managing public health practice and research-based initiatives. She is skilled in program planning, public policy implementation and evaluation with a focus on increasing access to opportunities that make it easier to live healthy lives. She has six semesters experience teaching Master of Public Health students at the University of Pennsylvania in public health practice methods and public health nutrition. Her strengths include cross-sector leadership and management roles in academia, government and industry and takes a collaborative and creative approach to project concepts and management. Ms. Solomon is a Registered Dietitian with experience designing, managing and evaluating food access interventions and diabetes prevention programs. She received her Master of Public Health from the University of Minnesota with a focus on Public Health Nutrition and her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin with a focus on Mass Communication.
Mark Anthony Fraser MA, Board Secretary, joined the board of Blessings Inc. in October 2016. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with graduation honors from Gwynedd-Mercy University. Mark also holds a Master of Arts in Executive Leadership from Liberty University and a Master of Education in Adult and Organizational Development from Temple University. He is a licensed minister at New Bethel Ministries, Inc. where he serves faithfully under the guidance of Pastor Calvin B. Collins. In the gospel ministry, Mark brings over 15 years of experience working directly with urban youth through the delivery of the preached word in addition to mentorship, developing programs, facilitating educational initiatives, and overseeing outreach efforts. Professionally, Mr. Fraser, brings over 10 years of experience in administrative coordination and management, event planning, program design, technology usage and integration, customer service, and networking. Mark also is an entrepreneur having successfully founded EarMark Group Entertainment America and co-founded TouchMark Enterprises, LLC.
Currently Mark also works and serves as the Performance Improvement and Education Coordinator for the Department of Nursing Education and Quality Assurance at Temple University Hospital. He also holds memberships with professional organizations such as the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), American Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP), American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM), and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). Additionally, Mark is a member of Alpha Nu Omega Fraternity, Inc. where in 2007 he served as president of the fraternity’s Eta chapter at the Pennsylvania State University.
Mark is often called upon to consult with or provide services in programming efforts for various organizations. Mark Anthony Fraser lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with his wife and 4 children.
Dashaya L. Kilgore joined the board of Blessings, Inc in July 2016. She started as a volunteer working with the younger children on Saturdays. Additionally, Dashaya is the Program Coordinator for Metamorphosis, the newest program introduced by Blessings, Inc. that serves teens in foster care. The mission of the program is to teach teens the necessary life skills that they will need when the age out of the foster care system at the age of eighteen. Drawing from her personal experience as a child that was raised in the foster care system, Dashaya uses the trials and tribulations she experienced as a foundation for serving the adolescents in Metamorphosis. Her drive to serve the teens and her passion to see them succeed fuels everything she does.
Dashaya works for the Maternity Care Coalition as a Family Advocate. The organization serves pregnant women as well as women with children from infancy to 3 years of age and strives to “improve maternal and child health and well-being through the collaborative efforts of individuals, families, providers, and communities in Southeastern Pennsylvania.” Dashaya’s commitment to serving youth and families coupled with her personal experience has made her a valuable member of the Blessings, Inc. team.
Tynesha G. Cofield M.Ed joined the Blessings, Inc. board in September 2016. She is a Special Instructor contracted by Family Support Services. She has extensive experience in Early Childhood Education and Early Intervention Services. Her recent activities include consulting for childcare centers, community outreach, childcare liaison, and therapeutic support.
In 2008, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Childcare Management. In 2012, she also completed a Master’s in Education degree at Holy Family University. Tynesha continues to seek God’s calling on her life while attending Biblical Theological Seminary. For a number of years, Tynesha was appointed to serve as Assistant Director/Director of School-age for Mount Airy Christian Day School. She has also worked in collaboration with the School District of Philadelphia, and Brightside Academy.
Born and raised in Hunting Park, Tynesha spent time engaged in community activities. Her grandmother, Velvelyn, was a substitute teacher for the Philadelphia school District, and her grandfather, John F. Rembert, was a Science teacher and Postal worker. Tynesha currently resides with her 16 year old daughter in North Philadelphia.
Omoshade Idowu joined the board March 2017. She holds a Bachelor’s in Science from the University of Washington. She possesses over ten years of business experience and is currently working for Genomind Inc. in Business Operations as Client Services Lead. As a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. she has served as chair for a number of committees with this organization. She is active in the Philadelphia community holding various volunteer positions with organizations such as Mainline Health Homecare and Hospice. She was founder and former coordinator of the Women of Virtue program in Seattle, WA through Southside Church of Christ. She is a current member of the Overbrook Park Church of Christ in West Philadelphia.
TaNeka Ray, JD, LLM is the newest member of the team joining in September 2017. TaNeka is an Investment Management Compliance Associate for Cipperman Compliance Services in Wayne, PA. Additionally, she has held positions as a contract paralegal in the Investment Management division of the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission in Washington DC (via Beacon Group LLC) and as a law clerk in the Federal Public Defender for the District of Columbia and the Maryland Office of the Public Defender in Baltimore, Maryland.
TaNeka earned a LL.M. in Advocacy from American University Washington College of Law, J.D. from Arizona Summit Law School, and B.A. in Psychology from California Baptist University. She is a member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Association of Securities Professionals and the National Bar Association Women's Lawyer Division.