Staff Bios 

 

Gary Peters - President of the Board of Directors 

After a 40 year career on Wall Street, Gary retired as Executive Vice President of LaSalle Bank, where he had founded the Broker-Dealer Services Division (BDSD), a national wholesale distributor of fixed-income securities and equity-linked investments.

Pushed by Hurricane Wilma in 2005 to consider hunger and poverty issues in our area, Gary Peters became a member of the Board of Directors of Boca Helping Hands, and then President of the Board shortly thereafter.  Under his guidance and oversight, Boca Helping Hands has expanded its programs, and in 2010, moved into a brand new, 15,000 square foot facility.  The Remillard Family Resource Center, home to Boca Helping Hands has truly become the crown jewel in the social service network in South Palm Beach County.                                           

Gary is married to Cecilia Peters and is the proud father of five children, five grandchildren. 

 

Greg Hazle - Interim Executive Director

Greg grew up in his native Jamaica and migrated with his family to Florida in 1985. He received his undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of the West Indies and an MBA in Finance from the University of Miami. He has had an extensive corporate career in the public utility, independent energy, mining and construction materials industries. He has served as a senior executive in various functions at NextEra (parent of FPL) as well as in a number of other fortune 500 companies, including multinationals Alcan Aluminum and Cemex. His corporate roles have included process engineering, corporate finance, strategic planning and project development. Greg is married, and he and his wife, Tina, have two daughters, Ebonie and Tara. The family has lived in Boca Raton since 1993 and he has been a member of the Board of Directors of Boca Helping Hands since 2014.  In his spare time Greg enjoys golf, soccer and music.

 

 

Kelly Altus - Receptionist

Kelly moved to Florida from Rhode Island in 1991 to continue her career with American Airlines.  Her 10 year customer service training and later, administrative experience as a certified legal assistant was a perfect fit for BHH's front desk. Prior to becoming our "Director of First Impressions" she volunteered at the front desk for 2 years.

Her desire to serve others in her community made the transition from stay-at-home mom to fulltime working mom an easy one to make.

Kelly is married with has two children.

 

 

 

 

Alma Blair - Receptionist

Alma grew up in Boca Raton and attended Pope John Paul II high school. After attending Furman University and University of South Carolina for her Master’s degree, she taught in South and North Carolina and New Jersey.   After 28 years teaching elementary school, middle school, and most recently, high school French, she moved back to Boca Raton in the summer of 2016, and soon began volunteering at BHH. Alma really enjoys being able to use her language skill to help people. She was thrilled to transition from volunteer to employee.

Alma is happy to be back in her home town with her husband, Tom, her son, Anthony, and Evie the Cock-a-Poo, while her daughter, Patricia, is taking her bite out of the Big Apple.  When she’s not working, she is working hard to improve her golf game.

 

 

 

Trina Chin Cheong - Program Director

Trina came to the United States in 2010 after 15 years of experience in the banking industry in her native Trinidad and the United Kingdom. Upon moving to Florida, Trina became involved in the nonprofit world, bringing corporate expertise to the work of the heart.

Moved by the mission of Boca Helping Hands, Trina works to bolster the efforts of the Resource Center, Job Mentor Program, Job Training Programs and outreach in West Boca. She also has developed new initiatives at BHH for both Health & Wellness and Professional Development offering new transformational opportunities to the community in Boca Raton and surrounding areas.

My goal is to make a difference in someone’s life every day by being the change I wish to see in the world.

 

 

Kelly Coulson - Social Media & Marketing Associate

A rare and true Floridian, Kelly currently resides a stone’s throw away from Boca Helping Hands. After graduating from the University of South Florida with a BFA in photography she returned to South Florida to pursue a career in Marketing and Advertising. It’s with her fine arts background that Kelly approaches social media and marketing with a creative viewpoint – both in significant content and visually grabbing imagery. Her hope is that each post, flyer and update educates the BHH online community on how #BHHhelps South Palm Beach County and encourages them to be a part of building the bridge to self-sufficiency for our clients.

Kelly enjoys exploring South Florida’s culinary scene, being in nature and traveling with her 4-legged copilot Oliver.

 

 

 

Bill Harper - Director of Food and Warehouse Operations
After 24 years in the business world Bill sought a more meaningful experience working in the non-profit community. His passion was in mentoring young men and women, equipping them with the necessary tools to succeed in life. Following his passion, in 2006 he became Athletic Director, middle school P.E. teacher and varsity baseball coach at Boca Raton Christian School. Bill helped build an athletic program that would bring over twenty championships to the school over the next five years. He was also a successful baseball coach winning over 90 games in his seven seasons of coaching, winning three district championships along with one district runner-up finish.

Having started at Boca Helping Hands as a volunteer in September, 2011, Bill came on board in November, 2011 in a newly created position to oversee all aspects of food recovery and distribution. Bill’s passion now is two-fold; helping our volunteers have a meaningful experience in serving others and helping our clients with the basic necessity of food. His desire to serve others has grown stronger as he has served at Boca Helping Hands.
Originally from Linthicum, MD, Bill moved with his family to Boca Raton in 1990. He is married to Suzanne Harper and the proud father of three grown children, Andrew, Nicholas and Lauren. Bill enjoys playing the guitar, writing music, reading a good novel, and cheering on the World Champion Baltimore Ravens. Bill holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science from FAU, graduating magna cum laude.
 

Jose Irizarry - Job Training Program Coordinator

Jose began his public service career while a foster youth in NYC. With almost two decades of public service experience, and two master degrees, Jose is nearing the end of his doctoral studies at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Jose is an experienced nonprofit professional having held leadership positions in various organizations and associations. Additionally, for nearly 10 years he has instructed at four universities, most recently at FAU, teaching courses in criminal justice, public administration, leadership and communications.

Jose joins Boca Helping Hands as the Job Training Program Coordinator with a mission to make the world a better place, especially for those less fortunate. By providing a voice for those that are unable to advocate for themselves, he hopes to help build up the next generation through advocacy, activism, and education. In service to others and helping those served become more independent, he developed skills in bringing together diverse resources, enhancing learning and facilitating services and events that help fulfil unmet needs.

Jose is a lifelong learner that especially enjoys history and traditions. He loves cooking and sharing good times with others. You will rarely ever find him without a cup of coffee! 


Anne Jaakkola - Controller

Anne was born and raised in Finland. She moved to USA as a young adult.

She has been married to Henry for over 30 years, has two daughters, two grandsons and a grandaughter.  She enjoys traveling, cooking and watching ice hockey. Anne is a proud puppy mommy to 5.5lb Yorkshire Terrier, Jere and 4.5 lb Maltese, Bentley.

She works for the Gary Peters Family Foundation.  In 2009 Anne started volunteering at BHH as a Bookkepper and was recently hired as a Controller. 

  

  

 
 
 
Suzan Javizian - Operations Manager 
Born in Cairo, Egypt of Armenian descent, Suzan and her family came to the United States in 1965 and settled in Detroit, Michigan.   In 1983 she moved to south Florida and worked for JM Family Enterprises for over 25 years.

In April of 2009, Suzan volunteered in the newly formed Job Mentoring Program and in August of 2009 was offered and accepted a part-time administrative position for the Job Mentoring Program.  Shortly thereafter, when BHH was ready to move into their new building, Suzan was then approached to take on a full time position as Office/Facilities Manager. 

Suzan is married to Semon Javizian since 1984 and they have one son, Alex, who is 2015 graduate from FAU with a degree in Music Education.  Trixie, her Yorkie-Poo, is a delight to her family.  Suzan enjoys traveling, spending time with her family and friends, and cooking Armenian and Middle Eastern dishes, especially for all the holidays!

 

 

Melissa Keklik - Volunteer Program Manager

Melissa hails from Huntington, Connecticut. Melissa moved to South Florida in 2009 to attend Florida Atlantic University.  Melissa graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and Management. Growing up in a tight knit family who came to the U.S. from Turkey, they instilled in her that living a healthy lifestyle is the key to living a happy and balanced life. She prides herself on taking care of her body and mind which gives her the strength to condition herself through her love of fitness and taking care of others.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greg Peters - Development Officer

Greg has been living in South Florida since 1983 and in Boca Raton since 1992. He retired from the Financial Services industry in 2008; shortly thereafter he became actively involved with BHH’s Development Office. He focuses on grant opportunities with foundations and corporations while maintaining existing relationships and fostering new partnerships. Greg serves on the boards of Genesis Community Health; The Gary Peters Family Foundation and The Boca Helping Hands Endowment Fund.

Greg and his wife Debbie, enjoy traveling, live music events, dining, golf and tennis. Their daughter, Hayley graduated from Pope John Paul II High School and is continuing her education at Florida Atlantic University as a Marketing Major.

 

 

Karen Swedenborg - Development Manager

Born in Ashtabula, Ohio, Karen has been a transplant Florida Native since 1968 when her parents moved to Florida with Karen and her four siblings.  She graduated from Palm Beach State College with an AA Degree and received a BA Degree from Florida Atlantic University, Go OWLES!  Having worked in Development, Special Events and Coordinating Volunteers, Karen came to Boca Helping Hands (BHH) in 2010 as the Development Manager. 

Karen has participated in two of Boca Helping Hands strategic plans, 2011 and 2016, a road map for this organization.  She is thrilled to see the results of the new Job Training programs helping so many people obtain employment and giving them hope for a future of self-sufficiency. Karen is thrilled to be a part of a team and an organization that shows dignity and compassion to those people in need.      

Karen enjoys theatre and music.  She is an active member in her church choir, and is an avid movie buff, especially the movie classics from the '30's and '40's. 


Bozena Szalobryt - Director of Food Center

Born and raised in Warsaw, Poland, Bozena graduated from the Warsaw University with Master’s Degree in English Literature and Master’s Degree in Travel and Tourism. In 28 years of her professional life, she devoted majority of her career to conducting her own businesses in Europe and USA.  She is focused on customer service, honesty and integrity, staying 100% committed to her job.

Bozena has been with Boca Helping Hands since August 2006 as the Director of Food Center.  She oversees its operations, making sure people are provided with their basic need, which is food. Her colleagues describe her as an energetic multi-tasker, action and goal oriented, creative but also very compassionate with great communication skills.

In her spare time Bozena enjoys volunteering for Junior League of Boca Raton where she has held the position of the  Acquisitions Treasurer for the last there years. She loves to read and listen to classical music.

Bozena is married to John and has two daughters Caroline and Margaret.

Her Motto in Life is: Making a Difference in People’s Lives.