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First Ones Honorees

March 1, 2022
By uAspire

First Ones Honorees

Since 2010, the First Ones have celebrated leaders who are first in their family to graduate college. 

uAspire is enormously grateful to our past honorees for sharing their powerful stories which demonstrate the transformative power of higher education and underscore the need for college to be affordable for all.


2021 - 2022 Honorees

  • M. Lee Pelton, The Boston Foundation
  • Layla Ramirez, Justworks
  • Marc Stad, Dragoneer Investment Group 


2020 - 2021 Honorees

  • Emanuel Cabrera, EY
  • Val DiFebo, Deutsch NY
  • Betty Francisco, Boston Impact Initiative
  • Bob Gianninno, United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley
  • Simone Okafor, Melanated Futures Group
  • Cynthia Rivera Weissblum, Edwin Gould Foundation
  • Gabe Santos, Homestead Capital
  • Greg Shell, Bain Capital
  • Marvin Valdez, American Express

2019 Honorees

  • Chris Barr, Takeda
  • Laura Cordero, WSP USA
  • Jennifer Gamez, Columbia University Hospital
  • Quincy Miller, Eastern Bank
  • Julissa Reynoso, U.S. Ambassador to Spain
  • James Valentini, Columbia University


2018 Honorees

  • Sheryl Davis, San Francisco Human Rights Commission
  • Gib Lopez, PayJoy
  • Dr. Bert Lubin , Former CEO, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital
  • Jay Paez, Net Lease Capital Advisors
  • Jody Rose, New England Venture Capital Association
  • Corey Thomas, Rapid7

2017 Honorees

  • Mohamad Ali, IDG, Inc.
  • May Bumar, Liberty Mutual Investments
  • Marty Meehan, University of Massachusetts

2016 Honorees

  • Pamela Eddinger, Bunker Hill Community College
  • Stanislas Phanord, U.S. Department of State
  • Michael Scannell, Clergy Trust
  • Richard Carranza, IXL Learning
  • Lenny Mendonca, McKinsey & Company
  • Hector Preciado, LAWCLERK, Crave It, Human Capital Strategies


2015 Honorees

  • Carol Fulp, Fulp Diversity, LLC
  • Rich Holbrook, Eastern Bank
  • Jose Hernandez, Pt Strategies, LLC
  • Tierra Luna, Engineering, LLC
  • Nancy Lue, Valhalla Foundation
  • Lisa Villarreal, Safe & Sound, Partnership for Children and Youth, National Equity Project

2014 Honorees

  • Jack Connors, Stripe
  • Nick Fyntrilakis, Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents
  • Dr. Paula Johnson, Intercultural Development Research Association
  • Waleska Lugo-DeJesus, Inclusive Strategies, LLC
  • Former Mayor Thomas Menino, Boston, Massachusetts

2013 Honorees

  • Erica Brown, Massachusetts Charter Public School Association
  • Wayne Budd, Goodwin Procter, LLC
  • Magnolia Contreras, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Bob Karam, Karam Financial Group
  • Victor Lee, Advantage Unified Commerce
  • Governor Deval Patrick, Harvard Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership, Bain Capital


2012 Honorees

  • Steven Bradley, The Bradley Group
  • Senator Gale Candaras, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Heriberto Flores, New England Farmworkers Council
  • Kathy LeMay, Raising Change
  • Christy Torres, MCR Property Management
  • Luis Yepez, Mainstream Global, Inc.


2011 Honorees

  • Susanne Cameron, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • William "Mo" Cowan, Devoted Health
  • Neal Finnegan, Clover Capital and Consulting
  • Tiffany Cooper Gueye, Blue Meridian Partners, Inc, Center for Effective Philanthropy
  • Dr. Alan Ingram, National Council for Community and Education Partnerships
  • Dr. Carol Leary, Bay Path University
  • Rev. Dr. Michael Paul Melendez, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, Salem State University School of Social Work, Simmons College School of Social Work
  • James Morton, YMCA of Greater Boston
  • Carmen Ortiz, Anderson & Kreiger
  • Mayor Domenic Sarno, City of Springfield
  • Leonard Schlesinger, Harvard Business School


2010 Honorees

  • Isabel Garcia El Estudio, Rebecca Haag Island Grown Initiative
  • Representative Kevin Honan, Commonwealth of Massachusetts 
  • Alicia Mooltrey, Charlestown High School, Jeremiah E Burke High School, Radical Joy Inc.
  • Dolores Ortiz, Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • Regina Pisa, Goodwin Procter LLP