Bonnie Wattles, Executive Director
With over 20 years of business and nonprofit leadership experience, Bonnie is bringing HFC into the next phase of growth to become a leading voice in brain health awareness and care for families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.
Bonnie has extensive experience building organizations from the ground up, including chairing successful multi-million dollar capital campaigns, designing and managing strategic planning projects, and growing board leadership. Most recently, Bonnie was Executive Director of the award-winning contemporary art space, Franklin Street Works, located in Stamford, CT. Bonnie has served in key leadership roles on several boards 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 spending time with her family and walking her English Bulldog, Wilma. Bonnie’s work to help families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease is in memory of 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, Alex 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 HFC 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, enjoying her husband’s music, or being walked by the family’s two pups, Rocky and Ellie.
RJ Mercede, Director of Development
RJ Mercede is the Director of Development with HFC. For more than 10 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 building the capacity of Fairfield County, CT nonprofits, supporting 400+ organizations annually with their various programming and fundraising needs.
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 is also a proud, three-time AmeriCorps Alum.
He can regularly be found supporting his favorite hometown businesses and nonprofits in Stamford, CT, where he lives with his wife and son. He loves concerts, documentaries, and a good Buzzfeed list. He does this work in memory of Irene, Ceci, and Charm, and the millions of lives impacted by Alzheimer’s.
JoJo Drake, Communications & Program Manager
An ambitious and creative communicator, JoJo harnesses the power of strategic digital-communications, marketing, and storytelling to elevate brand equity, expand reach, drive fundraising dollars, and maximize impact for HFC.
JoJo has worked for a variety of nonprofits, including The National 4-H Council, The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Eastern N.C., and the Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation. Most recently she was the Communications Manager for Bee Downtown, a startup rebuilding healthy honey bee populations in urban areas, where she worked closely with the company’s Forbes 30-Under-30 female-founder and grew the company’s digital presence across platforms. JoJo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she studied Political Science, minored in English Literature and received a Public Relations minor from the School of Media and Journalism.
Alzheimer’s is a cause her family has championed for generations. Her grandpa was a pioneer of geriatric medicine and played a key role in bringing the first Alzheimer’s special care unit to his home state of Nebraska. JoJo is thrilled to be advancing HFC’s mission and proud to be carrying on her grandfather’s legacy through her work. If there is anything you should remember about this North Carolina Tar Heel turned “Manhattanite,” it is that she has a knack for storytelling, a weakness for boiled peanuts, and visceral confidence in the saying “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”