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Alumni Leadership Committee

The mission of the Goodwin College Alumni Leadership Committee is to create a lifelong bond between Goodwin College and its alumni by engaging a diverse group of graduates through programs and services that address their needs and keep them connected. The Alumni Leadership Committee supports the mission and values of Goodwin College and promotes the role of alumni in strengthening and sustaining the life of the College.

Meet the Committee

Merilee DeJohn ‘07, Early Childhood Education


Merilee DeJohn received an associate’s degree in early childhood education from Goodwin College in 2007, a bachelor’s degree and teaching certification in early childhood education from the University of Hartford in 2010 and a master’s degree in special education from Saint Joseph’s University in 2014. She currently teaches second grade at Highcrest School in Wethersfield, CT where she also serves on the Safe School Climate Committee.

Since graduating from Goodwin College, DeJohn has remained connected to the College by serving as a member of the Board of Trustees, the Student Affairs subcommittee and the Chair of the Alumni Leadership Committee. She regularly supports and attends Goodwin College activities and programs, some of which have included observing capstone project presentations and student and alumni networking events.

As a non-traditional learner, DeJohn encourages students of all ages to further their education and says that Goodwin College gave her the foundation and structure to build her future and will always have her support.

DeJohn resides in Rocky Hill with her daughter Hope and husband Gene, who serves on the Goodwin College Golf Committee. Her family also includes a son, Benjamin, his wife, Lindsey and grandson, Colby.

Rachel Webb ‘12, Nursing

Vice Chair

Rachel Webb holds an associate’s degree in health science and an associate’s degree in nursing from Goodwin College. She secured a nursing job shortly after graduating in 2012.

As both a student and graduate, Webb has been very active on the Goodwin College campus, tutoring students in math and science and serving as a student ambassador, representative and speaker.

She became involved with the Alumni Leadership Committee after graduating with her first degree in 2010 and has volunteered at numerous College events such as the Half Moon community tours and Class Night for future graduates. She attends many Goodwin College events and shares her excitement for alumni engagement by encouraging others to become more involved with the College.

In 2012, Webb was presented with the Inspirational Alumni Award for overcoming many hardships and still succeeding in graduating with two degrees in spite of it all.

During her spare time, Webb enjoys cooking and taking care of her home and eight children.

Tiffany Chisholm ‘11, Child Study


Tiffany Chisholm obtained both her associate’s degree in early childhood education and bachelor’s degree in child study from Goodwin College and received a master’s degree in management and organizational leadership from Albertus Magnus. She has spent a number of years proudly serving the Bristol community through her work with the city’s at-risk children and youth at the Boys & Girls Club as the Youth Development Professional and Educational Consultant and now, as the Director of Education and Technology.

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in 2011, Chisholm started her own business named Clover Educational Consulting, LLC, a company that provides quality educational consulting and services for children and young adults. She is extremely passionate about education and providing a positive path for children that need it the most through mentoring, tutoring and family support.

Chisholm continues to remain active with Goodwin College by serving as a member of the Early Childhood Education Advisory Board and as the secretary for Alumni Leadership Committee. She has dedicated much of her time to volunteering at alumni events, and received the College’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2012 for her outstanding career achievements.

Chisholm loves spending time with her husband, Andy and children, Donovan, Destiny and Avielle, and also enjoys college sports, cooking and the cultural arts.

Paula Abreu, ’12, Child Study

A native of the Dominican Republic, Paula Abreu immigrated to the United States in 1997. She obtained an associate’s degree from Capital Community College in early childhood education and a bachelor’s degree in child study from Goodwin College.

In addition to her volunteer work with the Alumni Leadership Committee, Abreu is incredibly involved with the Boy and Girl Scouts of America. She is also a member of the Goodwin College Early Childhood Education Club.

Abreu has an innate passion for helping others and currently works as a pre-school teacher at the Connecticut Renewal Team in Hartford, CT. In her free time, Abreu loves watching cartoons with her children.

Cherna Baten, ’14, Organizational Studies

Cherna Baten is a true servant leader. For over 17 years, she has been a volunteer for World-Wide Lighthouse Missions, a humanitarian organization that provides aid to those in need locally and abroad, and helps support local food pantries such as MACC Community Food Pantry in Manchester, CT, the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross. Baten’s volunteer efforts don’t stop there. She has also volunteered and assisted in fundraising efforts for Junior Achievement, United Way, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Autism Speaks, March of Dines and now, the Goodwin College Alumni Leadership Committee.

Baten began attending Goodwin College through a partnership with her employer of over 10 years, Northeast Utilities. There, Baten currently manages the Emergency Dispatch Center for the Natural Gas division – Yankee Gas. In that role, she oversees personnel to ensure safe and efficient responses to gas emergencies.

She received an associate’s degree in business administration in 2011 and a bachelor’s degree in organizational studies with a minor in business administration in 2014, both from Goodwin College.

Baten resides in Manchester with her husband and three children. She loves to sing and is currently an assistant choir leader at her church. She also finds joy in traveling and has not only traveled within the United States but internationally to Italy, France, England, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica as well.

Odalisca Bautista, ’12, Child Study

Odalisca Bautista received an associate’s degree in early childhood education from Capital Community College in 2008. After graduating from CCC, Bautista decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree. She looked into many colleges and finally decided to enroll at Goodwin College. Bautista graduated from Goodwin College with a bachelor’s degree in child study in 2012.

She is employed at the Goodwin College Early Childhood Magnet School as an instructor in a pre-school classroom. She is very passionate about seeing children develop and reach milestones.

Bautista remains a part of the Goodwin College community as a member of the Alumni Leadership Committee and Early Childhood Education Club.

Dena Booker, ’13, Child Study

Prior to graduating in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in child study from Goodwin College, Dena Booker obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Central Connecticut State University.

Booker’s passion is working with young children and their families. After the launch of Goodwin College’s Early Childhood Magnet School in August 2013, Dena became employed there as the Family and Community Engagement Coordinator. She has worked in early childhood education for over 10 years in various positions that include assistant teacher, head teacher and literacy mentor.

Booker has been a strong advocate for alumni relations at Goodwin College since her start as a member of the Alumni Leadership Committee. In addition to being active on the Alumni Leadership Committee, Booker remains connected to Goodwin by serving as a member of the Early Childhood Education Club and the Goodwin College Early Childhood Advisory Board.

An avid football fan, Booker also enjoys spending time with her friends and family.

Cassandra Decoteau, ’13, Child Study

Cassandra Decoteau came to Goodwin College after a good friend of hers raved about the school, its professors and the Early Childhood Education program. She received her bachelor’s degree in child study from Goodwin College in 2013 and prior to that, an associate’s degree in early childhood education from Manchester Community College.

While Decoteau pursued her degree at Goodwin College, she taught pre-school at a private center for over 10 years. After graduating, she became employed at Goodwin College’s Early Childhood Magnet School as an instructor in a pre-kindergarten classroom. She is now the Studio Coordinator at the Early Childhood Magnet School and works closely with the children, families, teachers and staff to ensure a smooth transition from the daytime classroom to the afternoon studio program.

Decoteau has a passion for staying involved at Goodwin College. She joined the Alumni Leadership Committee in 2013 and was instrumental in assisting in the startup of a student and alumni discount program.

Exploring new and exciting adventures in the Hartford area and spending time with her family and friends, especially her nephew Charlie are some more of her life passions.

Lee Housley, ’13, Business Administration

Lee Housley graduated from Goodwin College in 2013 with an associate’s degree in business administration. Since graduating, Housley has been working for the Corporate Transportation Department at Northeast Utilities as an Associate Transportation Analyst.

Because Housley has demonstrated a passion for leadership, she was invited to join the Foundation Board of Directors as well as the Goodwin College Women’s Committee in 2014. She has been a valued member of the Alumni Leadership Committee since 2013 and continually suggests ways to bring alumni relations to the forefront at Goodwin College.

Housley resides in Berlin with her partner Alan and enjoys traveling, shopping and hiking with her Bernese Mountain Dog.