Bonnie Wattles, Executive Director
Bonnie P. Wattles is the Executive Director of Hilarity for Charity. With over 20 years of business and non-profit leadership experience, Bonnie is helping the organization build on its initial success and move into the next phase of growth to accelerate programs that will support families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease, educate the younger generation of caregivers, and broaden awareness about prevention and brain health.
Most recently, Bonnie was Executive Director of the award-winning contemporary art space, Franklin Street Works, located in Stamford, CT. In prior roles as a fundraiser and consultant for charitable organizations, Bonnie chaired multi million dollar capital campaigns, created and executed fundraising events, and led the development of strategic plans. Bonnie has served on several board including The Long Ridge School, Wooster School, and the Arts and Culture Commission of the City of Stamford. Bonnie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Hamilton College and an MBA in Marketing from Columbia Business School.
When Bonnie is not asking her friends to donate money or volunteer for one of her causes, she is taking long hikes with her 2 dogs: Lucy, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, and Wilma, an English Bulldog. Bonnie is passionate about helping families impacted by Alzheimer’s as she was in her early 20’s when she cared for her grandmother, Sadie, who suffered from dementia.
Alexandra Villano, Senior Director of Program Strategy and Development
With more than twenty years of experience in the non-profit sector, she has served in several capacities as a principal contributor to strategic planning, organizational planning, and governing decisions as well as been directly responsible for implementing programmatic change in various roles throughout her career. Alex holds a Master’s from NYU’s Gallatin School where she studied the interdisciplinary design of social service programs.
Alex brings her passion for working collaboratively to build and expand programs and strengthen organizations to Hilarity for Charity and is thrilled to join the team to advance HFC’s mission and honor the memory of her Grandma Sadie and the commitment of her Aunt Tina who lovingly cared for Grandma Sadie and sacrificed a lot to do so.
When not at work, Alex is busy with her family and can be found somewhere at a soccer or baseball field cheering for her middle and high-school kids, attending a Mets game, or being walked by the family’s two pups, Rocky and Ellie.
RJ Mercede, Director of Development
RJ Mercede is the Director of Programming and Development with Hilarity for Charity. For the past 8 years, RJ has been supporting nonprofits big and small.
Most recently, as the Manager of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence at Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, he was responsible for their capacity building work to grantees and other nonprofits, which included running their annual Giving Day campaign for hundreds of local nonprofits. RJ holds a Master’s Degree from Northeastern University, a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Connecticut, and a Bachelor’s Degree from Stonehill College.
He can regularly be found supporting his favorite hometown businesses and nonprofits in Stamford, CT, where he lives with his wife. He loves concerts, documentaries, and a good Buzzfeed list. He does this work in memory of Ceci and Charm, and the millions of lives impacted by Alzheimer’s.
JoJo Drake, Communications & Program Manager
JoJo Drake is the Communications and Program Manager for Hilarity for Charity. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a School of Media and Journalism Public Relations minor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has worked for a variety of nonprofits, including The National 4-H Council and The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Eastern N.C. Most recently, she worked for Bee Downtown, an environmental startup promoting urban rooftop beekeeping to #savethebees.
JoJo is beyond excited to be working for a mission-driven organization whose cause is so near and dear to her heart. Her grandfather worked hard to pioneer the field of geriatrics in his home state of Nebraska and she is excited to be carrying on his legacy in her own unique way. If there is anything you should remember about JoJo, it is that she has a knack for storytelling, a weakness for boiled peanuts, and a visceral confidence in the saying “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”