Alia is a strategy and operations executive with extensive global digital transformation experience supporting Fortune 500 companies, across various sectors and geographies helping organizations overcome and embrace disruption. Her expertise in strategic planning, operational excellence, and digital transformation, coupled with her strong-cross-functional background, informs the way she advises leaders and organizations on how to best adjust to business change, thus ensuring they are well prepared to effectively compete in an ever-shifting world. Alia is a graduate of Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management and holds a Masters in Information Systems from Stevens Institute of Technology and a Bachelors in Computer Science from Drexel University.
Hugh Babowal began serving as Trail Blazer’s Co-Chairman of our Board of Trustees in January 2015 and has been a Trail Blazers Trustee since August 2011. Mr. Babowal heads Wells Fargo Securities’ Healthcare M&A practice and serves on Wells Fargo Securities’ Investment Banking Opinion Committee. He received an MBA from the Western Business School at the University of Western Ontario and a BA in Economics from the University of Alberta.
Shay is an innovative marketer at leading beverage company Anheuser-Busch. Throughout her time at Anheuser-Busch, Shay has gained experience in sales, trade marketing, product innovation and now currently leads communications for Stella Artois. In this role, she develops 360 degree marketing campaigns and recently completed a Super Bowl ad. Her journey at AB started after graduating from Indiana University with a marketing and sales degree from the Kelley School of Business. In her free time, Shay loves to be outside running, backpacking, skiing, and camping.
Brandon has more than 12 years of experience providing assurance and technical accounting services to a broad range of public and private clients in the financial services sector. Prior to joining Mazars in August 2021, Brandon was a Director in PwC’s Asset and Wealth Management practice, serving public and private companies. Brandon received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Accounting degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and currently lives in Mineola, New York with his wife Maral.
Marc Hyman has been a member of the Trail Blazers Board of Trustees since 2001, serving as Co-Chair from 2006 until 2020. He learned of Trail Blazers while participating in the New York City Junior League’s Not-For-Profit Board Governance training program. Having been a camper himself, the unique benefits of Trail Blazers’ mission of guiding youth development through experiential outdoor education and adventure resonated with him immediately. His Board service to Trail Blazers has continued ever since. Mr. Hyman is an attorney in the defense litigation firm of Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach LLP in New York. He joined the firm in 1989 and became a Partner in 1996. He is a graduate of the Boston University School of Law and Tufts University.
Helen is Principal at Bago Consulting, a Customer Service consulting firm located in New York and specializing in customer service program diagnostics, training and communications. Prior to founding Bago, she spent 16 years in the hospitality industry with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Her career spans several industries including Consumer Packaged Good, Direct Sales, and Publishing. Throughout her career, she has focused on understanding the customer, delivering exceptional service through fully empowered employees, and optimizing customer feedback to drive continuous improvement and process change. She has served as a Director and Chair of SOCAP, a dynamic and collaborative community of Customer Care professionals. Her desire to make a difference in the lives of young people led her to Trail Blazers, where she hopes to leverage her background and passion to understand the needs of clients and support the goals of the organization.
Eamonn is a digital transformation and IT strategy leader. His areas of focus are digital strategy delivery and customer experience excellence, organizational transformation and optimization, and program and portfolio management. Eamonn lives in New York City with his wife, Alyson, daughter, Hannah, and Simon the Cockapoo. In his spare time Eamonn enjoys running and cycling and anything that involves adventures outdoors
COMMITTEE Governance (Chair), Executive.
Grace Kurdian began serving as a Trail Blazers Trustee in May of 2013 and has served as Secretary of the Board since 2017. Grace is the Deputy General Counsel of Kindle Energy LLC, a portfolio company of Blackstone, Inc. Grace was drawn to Trail Blazers while living in the city. She was particularly drawn to Trail Blazers’ mission of introducing urban children and youth to the outdoors to learn in and from nature as a welcome respite from city life. One of Grace’s favorite quotes underscores that Trail Blazers’ mission and work is just as critical today as it was in 1887: “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
Erez has spent over a decade working in the online advertising industry in various sales & business development positions. In his current role at Google, he is focused on the advertising technology space and helping Fortune 500 advertisers & national web/TV publishers leverage data, technology, and partnerships to grow their businesses. He holds a B.S. in Marketing from Rutgers University and currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Arielle. In his free time, Erez loves to travel to far-flung parts of the world (backpacker-style), listen to audiobooks while running (two birds, one stone!), and play tennis (preferably alongside and not against his wife).
Chris is a member of Houlihan Lokey’s Financial Sponsors Group. He is responsible for managing relationships with private equity firms ranging in fund size from $200 million to more than $15 billion. Specific areas of focus include sellside advisory, debt, and equity capital markets across a variety of sectors. Before joining Houlihan Lokey, Mr. Macios worked for eight years at Wells Fargo Securities in its Financial Sponsors Group, where he executed numerous transactions across leveraged finance, equity capital markets, and advisory. He began his career at NewStar Financial as an Associate. Chris holds a B.A. in Economics from Boston College.
Before joining Houlihan Lokey, Mr. Macios worked for eight years at Wells Fargo Securities in its Financial Sponsors Group, where he executed numerous transactions across leveraged finance, equity capital markets, and advisory.
He began his career at NewStar Financial as an Associate
Mr. Macios holds a B.A. in Economics from Boston College.
Governance, Alumni Engagement Committee
Louis is a CPA who also holds the AICPA’s Certified Information Technology Professional credential (CITP). Since 1994, as president of DeGraw Tompkins Solutions and informed by his background in public accounting and private industry, Louis has been advising clients and helping to implement custom ERP solutions.
A life long Trailblazer, Louis was a camper at for three years and an active alumnus since. He joined the Board in 1998, has served on various committees and is currently Treasurer.
A Brooklyn native, Louis has lived in Bergen County New Jersey since 1984.
Frank is an attorney in the New York City office of Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP, where he is a member of the firm’s global litigation group. Frank defends class action lawsuits and complex business litigation matters in federal and state courts throughout the country and advises financial services and insurance clients on issues affecting their core business practices. Frank also serves on the Board of the non-profit organization City Cottage, which facilitates educational programs between high school students in the United States and Malawi. In his free time, Frank enjoys outdoor activities, especially fishing and hunting. He lives in New York City with his wife, Lizzie, and their dog, Marbles.
Colleen is a Partner at Ernst and Young LLP (EY). She focuses on Tax Technology and Transformation, leveraging her cross-industry experience to identify and implement operational process improvements, data analytics, visualization, and automation. She specializes in automating State income tax reporting processes and is passionate about saving people time so they can focus their energy on value-driving functions and personal priorities. Colleen graduated from the University of Georgia with a Masters in Accountancy and from the University of South Carolina Honors College with a double degree in International Business and Accounting. Colleen lives in Chatham, New Jersey with her husband, Mike, their two children, and dog, Bailey.
Lucia has over a decade of experience in corporate finance, transaction execution and strategic communication. She currently heads up Investor Relations for Sunlight Financial, the premier residential solar finance company, where she manages investor communication and relationships. Prior to that, Lucia spent five years in M&A and advisory investment banking, working with the Natural Resources team at Barclays and the Global Power & Utilities team at Goldman Sachs. She began her career at Portland General Electric in Oregon. Lucia holds an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and a BBA from the University of Portland. Currently living in Queens, Lucia loves to be outdoors, whether picnicking, hiking, kayaking, camping, or just walking her irish doodle Apollo
Jacob Klein is a Private Equity Associate in Impact Investing at Apollo Global Management, where he focuses on investing in businesses that drive positive social or environmental change. Before joining Apollo, Jacob was a Private Equity Associate at Clayton Dubilier & Rice and an Analyst in the Natural Resources Group at Morgan Stanley. Jacob received a Bachelor of Science in Economics in Finance from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Outside of work, he enjoys writing, skiing, and rooting for the New York Giants and Milwaukee Bucks. Having enjoyed ten summers as a camper and counselor at an overnight camp, he is a strong believer in Trail Blazers’ mission of ensuring that the same opportunity is available for everyone.
Operations executive and attorney with over 20 years of expertise leading and implementing finance, sales, call center, manufacturing, and personnel strategies to strengthen profitability, productivity, and growth. Brings significant corporate and legal experience gained through partnerships with multinational manufacturing, electronics, software, food service, and e-commerce organizations.
Proven success building and leading multi-disciplinary teams to lower customer acquisition costs, increase long-term value, strengthen revenue flow, and maximize customer retention rates. Develops financial planning and analysis tools with emphasis on maintaining lean and efficient operations. Utilizes a data-driven approach to formulate actionable insights for optimizing team and company-wide performance.
Chris is a Partner in the New York City office of Reed Smith LLP, an international law firm with offices around the world. Chris is a member of the firm’s Global Corporate Group concentrating his practice on mergers and acquisitions, private equity transactions, securities law compliance, corporate governance issues, and general corporate law. Chris was named a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers Magazine from 2013-2017 and is an active member of the Association for Corporate Growth where he serves on the membership committee. Chris is engaged in numerous charitable endeavors and, in addition to his work with Trail Blazers, serves on the Legal Committee of Global Potential, a New York based non-profit focused on empowering youth through international travel and social awareness. In his free time, Chris enjoys traveling as much as possible, running, and other outdoor activities.
Eric J. Smith is Managing Director and Deputy General Counsel of PineBridge Investments. Prior to joining the PineBridge, Mr. Smith served as General Counsel to IREO Management, an India-focused real estate private equity fund manager. Between graduation from university and beginning law school, Mr. Smith spent two years teaching English at the junior high level in Ichikawa, Japan as a member of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. Mr. Smith received a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School.
Janell Wise is an assistant general counsel for ViacomCBS Inc., where she focuses on contracts and rights and pre-publication and pre-broadcast clearance for the CBS Television Network, including CBS News and CBS Sports, and CBS owned and operated television stations in the Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver Detroit, Minneapolis markets. Before joining CBS, she worked was an associate in the Technology and Intellectual Transactions practice at Weil, Gotshal and Manges LLP, an international law firm. She holds a B.A. and J.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Janell lives in Brooklyn, NY. In her free time, she loves to travel the world, surf and sail.
Board Patrons support the organization at a higher level. for more information, please contact Executive Director riel Peerbooms at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nihad brings nearly two decades of finance and banking experience from General Electric and JP Morgan Chase and currently is the CFO for ezCater. Prior to ezCater, Nihad covered emerging and established technology companies at JP Morgan’s Commercial Bank. He also led finance teams across the controllership, treasury, audit and FP&A disciplines in a series of expanding roles at General Electric. Nihad has a BS in Chemistry and Economics from Haverford College and an MBA from Columbia Business School.
Ryan Goodman is the CEO of Scale Microgrid Solutions, a new microgrid and distributed energy company that is revolutionizing the energy infrastructure in the US. Ryan has over a decade of experience in the energy industry, with prior stints at GE Energy, the Boston Consulting Group, and ENER-G Rudox, a company he helped grow and sell in 2016. Today, Ryan lives in northern NJ with his wife, Anne, and three daughters. Ryan earned his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Bucknell University and received his MBA from Harvard Business School. Outside of work, Ryan enjoys spending time with his family and friends, travel, NY Giants football, and any activities that gets him outside. He has always valued outdoor education, dating back to his days in the Boy Scouts, and is a true supporter of Trail Blazer’s mission and vision.
Jon is a Financial Advisor with Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management. He has 22 years of Capital Markets and Wealth Management Experience. Jon graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics. Today, he lives in Mountainside, New Jersey with his wife, Sari, their three children and a new pup. Jon has proudly served for years as a mentor and on the Board of Trail Blazers.He is also on the board of the Animal Cancer Foundation. An advocate of protecting people’s health and wealth, Jon encourages people to leave time for personal fitness and fulfillment. Away from work, Jon enjoys spending time with family and friends, fitness, music, travel, getting outside in nature, and the personal rewards of supporting various philanthropies.
Lee Simonson is the President of Simonson Associates, an advisory firm in New York that assists media companies and their executives in strategic planning. Lee spent 30 years of his career in the radio broadcasting industry culminating in positions as Vice President and General Manager of KISS-FM and WOR-AM in New York City and ownership of over 50-plus radio stations across the U.S. Lee earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park. He is a Certified Business Mentor for SCORE, a non-profit partner of the SBA, a Walking Guide in Central Park for the Central Park Conservancy, and a volunteer for Big Apple Greeters. He has been married to Nancy for 44 years with 2 adult children, Michael and Laura, and a grandson, Jonah.
Dr. Sandra Soto is a presenter, facilitator and education consultant. She is an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College and a member of the New York Academy of Public Educators. Her work is guided by the belief that the educator’s role is to support the learner in the discovery and mastery of their gifts and talents.
Dr. Soto recently retired from the NYC Dept.of Education after 27 years of service. She held a number of roles before becoming the founding Principal of PS 705 – Brooklyn Arts & Science Elementary School in 2012.
Dr. Soto earned a B.A. from Boston College and her M.B.A. from George Washington University. After a career in retail, working for the GAP and Macy’s, she transitioned to the field she had always been passionate about, education. While teaching, she earned an M.S. in bilingual education from Long Island University and holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the Sage Colleges. Her area of expertise is school integration, particularly supporting students of color in multi-racial spaces.
Dr. Soto is a mother of three and a grandmother. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband of 30 years.
Retired. Anna’s involvement with Trail Blazers spans six decades, starting with her time as a camper. Wanting to give other children the same opportunities she had as a camper, she became an active alumna, working as a Group Leader and then serving as a Board Member as well as volunteering in the office