In 2016, Gian-Carl Casa became the first President and CEO of the The Alliance. Before that, he served for five and a half years as Undersecretary for Legislative Affairs at the state Office of Policy and Management. At OPM, he was responsible for budget-related and other legislation, managed requests for state bond funding and was in charge of communications for the agency, working closely with the Governor’s office in all areas. Before joining the administration he worked for over two decades at the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, most recently as Directory of Public Policy and Advocacy, where he worked on many association-related activities. He has a BA and MA in Political Science from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. He lives in New Haven.
Brunilda Ferraj, MSW
Brunilda received a Master of Social Work degree with a concentration in Policy Practice from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Rhode Island. Prior to joining The Alliance, Brunilda worked as a researcher at the University of Connecticut conducting program evaluations.
Alison Newman Fisher
Prior to joining the Alliance, Alison spent 9 years at the state Office of Policy and Management, where she served most recently as Program Director of LeanCT, Connecticut’s effort to promote a culture of continuous improvement across Executive Branch agencies.
She is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt and holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master’s in Public Administration, both from the University at Albany in New York. Alison lives in Cheshire with her husband and two daughters.
Ashley is an avid lover and promoter of education, calling education her “chocolate.” Every position she’s held, has been about informing folks, facilitating conversations and providing access to resources that make the aforementioned possible.
Prior to her role at the Alliance, Ashley was a Program Manager for the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. She set out to build cohesiveness and unity in communities in a way that enveloped inclusivity and diversity, providing a platform to engage those who are frequently absent into the decision-making processes. Ashley’s work ensured the funds invested, totaling 100K, were granted to organizations in communities seeking to meet needs in ways that were both meaningful and impactful.
As a Programs Manager with the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), she led anti-bias trainings and facilitated conversations around identity exploration and acceptance across CT and MA. In recent years, she has supported first-generation students in navigating secondary education processes as well as exploration of workforce trends. Ashley and her family (fiance, Joseph and sons Jayce (3) and Aiden (2) reside in Windsor. Outside of professional and academics, Ashley is an avid collector of elephants, enjoys writing and performing poetry, binge watching Golden Girls, and re-purposing furniture (HGTV is a fave!) Ashley earned a BA in Sociology and English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, an MS in Adult Education and English from North Carolina A&T State University and is ABD in her Ed.D in Educational Leadership and Management from Drexel University.
Ben joined The Alliance in 2015. He is a veteran of politics and the nonprofit sector. He specializes in legislative and federal policy and advocacy, adult behavioral health and intellectual/developmental disabilities. Before The Alliance, Ben worked for the Connecticut House Democratic Caucus, Congressman Joe Courtney’s re-election campaign, the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut and the Partnership for Strong Communities.
Ben is also the Deputy Mayor of Mansfield, CT, where he has served as an elected official since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Connecticut.
Dana Mingolello comes to the ConnectiCorps program following a long tenure with the Connecticut Open, a women’s-only professional tennis tournament held annually in New Haven the week before the US Open. She’s served as Tournament Manager of the international event, and simultaneously, acted as Deputy Director for the Tennis Foundation of CT.
Dana brings a strategic, yet “hands on” perspective to ConnectiCorps with large-scale event background and oversight for: operations and logistics, budgets, community outreach, marketing, sponsorship, tickets, volunteers, television production, and player services.
In addition to her work at the tournament, she also was the Marketing Director for Market New Haven, the marketing arm for the City of New Haven. Market New Haven annually promotes dining, shopping and cultural attractions as well as stages New Haven Restaurant Week and the Concerts on the Green.
Deb joined The Alliance in 2016 as a member of the accounting team. Prior to joining The Alliance, Deb worked for Cigna, Aetna, and ConnectiCare with over 30 years of experience in various roles in the insurance industry- Supervisor- Call Center, Business Inquiry Team Member, Client Account Represented, and Senior Strategic Proposal Writer.
Deb is Accounts Receivable collection specialist along and performs tasks relating to accounts receivable for Preferred Purchasing Program, Membership, and the Nonprofit Center.
Dorena Wasik joined The Alliance in 2011 with its predecessor CCPA as the Finance Director for the organization, as well as overseeing the accounting functions for the Preferred Purchasing area. She has established policy and procedures for both areas, including a scanning policy which improved the record keeping and eliminated file cabinets and storage boxes.
Dorena graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and French Studies. She completed her MBA at the University of New Haven in West Haven, Connecticut. Before coming to The Alliance, she worked in both external and internal audit as well as general accounting in both the manufacturing and trucking industries. She has extensive experience is setting up accounting policy and procedures.
Outside of the office, Dorena, a second generation American, is well known in the New Britain, Connecticut Polish community. She is involved with several Polish-American organizations, including volunteer director for the Polish American Foundation’s Polish Language School for Adults. She also contributes articles about local Polish American events and Polish genealogy to the New Britain Herald, Polish American Journal and Pathways and Passages. She recently completed her first book, “From Chudek to America,” a bilingual study of the villagers of Chudek who immigrated to the United States in the early 1900’s.
Jeff Shaw, MA, MPH
Jeff has over seventeen years of experience in government relations and public policy development, providing expertise on the state budget, bonding, nonprofit trends, economic impact, public health and federal legislation.
Since 2015, Jeff serves on the Public Policy Committee of the National Council of Nonprofits, working with leaders across the country and allies in Washington DC, on federal issues impacting nonprofits back in the states. Jeff speaks regularly at Board of Directors meetings, conferences and workshops.
Jeff is an active member of the Greater Hartford community, having coached football at Bulkeley High School, served as an advisor to the YMCA Youth & Government Program, and serving on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Outdoor Recreation Alliance. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and two master’s degrees.
Julia’s areas of focus include intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD), community justice, arts & culture, and I/DD fiscal management. Julia serves as an appointed representative of The Alliance on the Governor’s Committee for Employment of Persons with Disabilities (GCEPD), the Prison and Jail Overcrowding Committee of the Criminal Justice Policy Advisory Commission (CJPAC) and the Government Relations Committee of the American Network of Community Options & Resources (ANCOR). Prior to joining The Alliance team, Julia’s experience included many years in the fields of disabilities, nonprofit development and the arts. She served as Executive Director of VSA CT (formerly Very Special Arts Connecticut). Julia attended Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, with a Fine Arts double major.
Lisa supports the Preferred Purchasing Program. She started with The Alliance in 2020 as a Contracting Specialist. Prior to joining The Alliance, Lisa was a reporter for The Daily Sun in Florida. Working towards her Bachelor’s degree in business management at Walden University, Lisa hopes to bring her love of people and positive vibe to all those she comes in contact with.
Liz Lowe is the business development manager at The Alliance for community nonprofits, where her focus will be coordinating and develop our affiliate program Alliance Allies. The Alliances Allies program is designed to help connect our local and national business partners with Connecticut nonprofits members with exclusive opportunities to help with reach their goals. With over 15 years in both public and private sectors in Connecticut, Liz has experience in management, team building, professional development, strategic implementation, and company collaboration.
Mick has been with the Alliance for 13 years, starting in customer service for the Preferred Purchasing Program. She now works as an Accounts Payable Specialist for the PPP and is the accounting liaison for the dry cleaning portion of the PPP contract.
Robin has enjoyed a diverse career in supporting nonprofits’ information technology needs. He provides technical support and technology training for Alliance Staff, Nonprofit Center Tenants and Alliance Members in the optimized use of the Alliance’s Nonprofit Center multimedia meeting and conference facilities.
Robin is responsible for growing and maintaining the Alliance’s membership database, supporting the Alliance’s information systems, and troubleshooting and resolving problems with the Alliance’s internet and phone infrastructure.
As a person with a visual impairment, Robin has a particular interest and expertise in adaptive/accommodative technologies that enable persons with disabilities to surmount barriers to information access and fully leverage the power of technology to pursue successful careers and endeavors.
Robin is an amateur musician in several instruments, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy bicycling enthusiast, GIA Accredited Jewelry Professional, soundscape designer, accomplished voice-writer and voice-over talent.
Sherri joined The Alliance in 1986. She has extensive knowledge of overall organization and assists & coordinates all membership needs. Maintains our database Constant Contact for the Association. Sherri enjoys working at our seminars and conferences, as well as assisting at the Capitol. She also manages the Nonprofit Center and interacts with tenants and visitors to meet their needs. Sherri has an Associate’s Degree in Science from Middlesex Community College and just enjoys making everyone smile and feel welcome. She lives in Newington.
Zoe started with The Alliance in 2019 as the Manager of Membership Services. Prior to joining The Alliance, Zoe worked for Community Renewal Team, Inc. (CRT) advocating for CRT programs and clients. Also serving as the liaison between the Greater Hartford Continuum of Care and the Connecticut Balance of State, Zoe ran the 2019 Hartford and Greater Hartford Point-in-Time Count, the annual count of all sheltered and unsheltered homeless people. Zoe graduated from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts with degrees in Political Science and Public Policy and is currently working on her MPA from the University of Connecticut.