Meet Rise Above's Leadership
Co-founder & Executive Director
Co-founder & Board President
Wade has worked in the field of social work for 15 years. His experience ranges from working at the Department of Children and Families, where Wade is currently an adolescent social worker, to promoting and mentoring musicians. Since a teenager in New Jersey, Wade has been drawn to helping people succeed and overcome adversity. Wade's approach to social work is forward-thinking, using music as a conduit for adolescents to experience their emotions and express themselves without losing focus on areas of need. Wade has a bachelor's degree in Sociology from the University of Southern Colorado.
Staff: Smiles Coordinator
Julie has extensive experience in the nonprofit world, most recently serving as the Executive Director of Friends of Families in Transition, which provided direct care to families facing crisis and homelessness. Previously, she was the Central Massachusetts coordinator for Birthday Wishes. Julie has been a long-time advocate for children in state care and the source of practical, hands-on support for biological and foster families navigating special education, trauma and healthcare. She and her family have been fostering for more than 6 years, and she also serves on the Framingham DCF Area Board and as a Foster Parent Liaison. Julie and her family live in Northboro and enjoy spending time together playing and watching sports being outdoors.
Staff: Program Manager
Brianna joined Rise Above in July 2021. Most recently she was the Program Director of FOCUS, a program of Friends of Children, which support young adults who have experienced foster care navigate adulthood. Brianna was responsible for youth recruitment, community outreach, program data, events and volunteer training and outreach. Brianna currently serves as the Co-chair of the Amherst, MA Community Safety Working Group. She is a graduate of UMass Amherst and is a foster care alum herself.
Marcela Blue, MSW
Marcela has extensive experience working with children and families. She spent ten years with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, where she worked closely with children in foster care and their foster parents. During that time she also worked as a Child-At-Risk Hotline worker, initiating after-hours emergency responses for children at imminent risk of abuse or neglect. Through social work, Marcela has been able to help strengthen families while offering protective services for children. Marcela earned a Masters in Social Work from Salem State University and her undergraduate degree from the College of the Holy Cross.
Rachel Berry, MSW
Rachel is committed to improving the lives of youth in the child welfare system and has spent her entire career in residential care where she has been the President and Chief Executive Officer at the Brandon Residential Treatment Center since May 2017. Her previous roles include Chief Operations Officer, in which she oversaw program operations of the school and residences, and Case Management Coordinator, in which she worked with youth with problem sexual behaviors in a self-contained program with educational and residential services. Rachel holds a Masters in Social Work from Boston College and a Bachelors in Science in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Rhode Island. She is committed to serving youth in her program who present with emotional and behavioral challenges in their homes, communities and schools. In her free time Rachel enjoys and active lifestyle with her family which includes, country music concerts, hiking, spending time riding quads, skiing or enjoying fun on the lake. Rachel and her family live in Framingham.
Jessica Coolidge, MSW, LCSW
Jessica is a licensed social worker and has worked with at risk children and families in Massachusetts for 19+ years. She is currently a medical social worker with the Health and Medical Services Team at the MA Department of Children and Families. Her current work combines both her healthcare and child welfare background and involves statewide consultation within a multidisciplinary healthcare team, working on interagency public sector projects and healthcare coordination for youth in foster care. Jessica developed a first of its kind, care coordination program within DCF in 2015, which has led to both state and national recognition for its demonstrated success in building relationships with healthcare providers and improving access to healthcare for youth in foster care. Jessica holds a BS from Lesley University, a Master of Social Work from Bridgewater State University, and is currently completing her Master of Public Administration at Suffolk University. She currently resides on the South Shore and in her free time enjoys travel, participating in triathlons, spending time with friends, and relaxing in coffee shops.
Michelle is currently working as a data manager at Sage Therapeutics, a Boston-based pharmaceutical company specializing in central nervous system disorders. Outside of data management, she previously worked as a residential counselor for children diagnosed with Autism or other similar learning and behavioral issues and as a data coordinator for a non-profit working in collaboration with DCF. Michelle is 2007 graduate in psychology from Saint Anselm College. In her spare time she enjoys volunteering at a dog shelter, cooking, and doing yoga.
Leo works for Facebook as the Head of Global Music Partner Operations. Prior to this, he served as Director of Royalties for SoundCloud Ltd and the Vice President of Copyright for Universal Music Group. He has been consulted on royalties and audits for several independent musicians and bands, and was the Director of Licensing and Royalties for Warner Music Group prior to his role at Universal. A California native and a former resident of New York City as well as Berlin, Germany, Leo currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters (and their puppy). Leo is a graduate of California State University, Northridge.
Grant is an Assistant Vice President of Human Resources at TJX. Grant has held various human resource roles within TJX over the past 27 years. Over the last two years Grant along with his wife Julie have been foster parents. Grant is the Treasurer of the Monson Youth Lacrosse Association. Grant earned his Masters in Human Resources from Lesley University and his undergraduate degree from Mount Ida College. In Grant’s free time he enjoys gardening, traveling and spending time with his family.
Michael Hanscom, MSW, LCSW
Mike has been working with children and families in Western Massachusetts for 15 years. He has worked with the Springfield Juvenile Court and The Children’s Study Home, and is currently a social worker with Hopewell (formerly Dare Family Services). Mike earned his undergraduate degree and Master’s in Social Work at Westfield State University. Mike also been a professional disc jockey for 25 years, owning and operating a mobile business as well as doing club and radio DJ work. In his spare time Mike enjoys attending concerts, sporting events and art shows. He also has to make time for his dog Nino, who’s a social media celebrity of sorts. Together they spend time as volunteers for the French Bulldog Rescue Network, and working with local dog rescues and shelters.
Stephen serves as Chief Operating Officer at Reliant Medical Group (RMG), a role he has held for 5 years. He has been with RMG for 21 years, starting out in finance and serving in various capacities both within finance and administration. In this role, Steve is responsible for all clinical operations, facilities & real estate, and information technology. Steve is a graduate of the University of Connecticut with a BS in Health Care Management and an MBA from the University of Hartford. Steve is also a Board member of the Worcester Research Bureau and a participant on the MBA Advisory Committee for Assumption College. He is an Eagle Scout and in his free time, Steve enjoys an active lifestyle (exercise, hiking, kayaking, snorkeling), cooking, traveling, reading, sports, and spending time with his extended family. Stephen lives in Worcester with his wife and stepson, and has two adult children.
Anthony Mansfield, MSW
Anthony "Tony" earned his Masters in Social Work from Boston University School of Social Work in 1993 and his Juris Doctor from CUNY School of Law in 1996. Tony has spent the past 30+ years working with children and families as an in-home therapist, adolescent group leader and attorney. Since graduating from law school, Tony has worked at the Department of Children and Families for over 20 years as a Regional Counsel and has spent the last three as a Deputy Regional Counsel. Prior to that, Tony was a staff attorney with the Children and Family Law Program representing parents and children in Care and Protection matters.
Ashley is a Customer Success Manager for Zebra Technologies. Ashley has experience in project planning, analytics, planning and executing events, budget management and operational excellence. She is a Graduate of Framingham State University, Alumni of the Metrowest Leadership Academy and recipient of the Massachusetts Hospitality Award. In her free time, Ashley enjoys the beach, traveling, live music and spending time with friends and family.
Nick graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2009 and is currently the President and CEO of Pelletier Properties LLC based in Northern Worcester County. In this role Nick manages a portfolio of real estate investments as well as helping clients buy and sell both residential and commercial properties. Nick strives to improve and revitalize the areas and communities in which he invests. In his free time Nick supports and advises a number of youth and educational based organizations. In addition, Nick enjoys the outdoors and spending time on the lake where he lives.