About Us
kids
STAFF
Leah1
Founder and Executive Director
Leah Okimoto started Aaron’s Presents in January 2014 as a way to honor the memory of her son by creating a unique opportunity for other children to start thinking of themselves as community members with unique qualities to be developed and put to good purpose. At other phases of her life, she has composed music for musical theatre, run a legal recruiting firm, tutored and mentored kids, and volunteered at homeless shelters, hospitals, schools and meal kitchens. She currently lives on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters.
Lawrence/Lowell Mentor
Bio coming soon!
Lawrence/Lowell Mentor
My name is Rumbi (Room-bee). I was born in Zimbabwe and immigrated to the United States over 10 years ago with my family. I am currently a student at Bridgewater State University where I am majoring in Early Childhood Education & Geography and pursuing a minor in Childhood Studies. I enjoy outdoor activities and creative pursuits. I play guitar, ukulele, and sing as a hobby as well.

My formal career in education began my senior year of high school as a peer mentor and tutor for an afterschool program for children aged 6 to 12 years old that were from low-income households. My time there was filled with so much meaning and purpose that when I started community college, I decided that I wanted to major in Elementary Education. While there, I worked with Jumpstart and was also a part-time preschool and float teacher. I enjoy the work that I do with young children because it challenges me to grow and continue to push against the limits that I may have set for myself. We begin life completely dependent on others. It is nice to show our appreciation by paying it forward and helping others grow.

I work with Aaron’s Presents because I believe that a life well lived is a life of service. We are where we are in life because of the people who decided to pour into us and some people will get to where they need to in life because we poured into them.
Lawrence/Haverhill Mentor
Bio coming soon!
Lawrence/Lowell Mentor
One thing I’m very passionate about is youth development and empowerment. It’s important to me that all kids, but especially urban kids of color, have access to the support they need to develop into successful adults. I joined Aaron’s Presents in 2021 because it has been a goal of mine to give back to my community in a way that would create long lasting change and I knew the organization would allow me to be part of something bigger than myself. I’m a recent college graduate and my goals for the near future are to be admitted to law school where I can further develop my interests and understanding of Youth Justice as it relates to my background and the experiences I have had. I hope to make a positive impact on the kids I’m working with and hope to make a difference in my community in the future.
Lawrence Mentor
Bio coming soon!
Lowell Mentor
Two things that Tim is super-duper passionate about: teaching dance choreography and working with young people. He has been involved in community work for over 7 years and has taught hip-hop dance since the age of 14. Tim recently joined the AP family in 2020 and continues to fall in love with the organization because of what they stand for. Tim believes that our youth are the backbones to this nation, that they are capable of creating positive changes in society when empowered, and given the opportunity.
Lowell Mentor
Monica Veth is a passionate Youth Worker from Lowell, MA, who has been involved in her community over the past ten years. She became a Mentor at Aaron’s Presents in the summer of 2018 after gravitating toward the organization’s mission and the opportunity it gives to kids who want to share their gifts by helping others through community service projects. Monica also currently works full-time at Lowell Community Health Center Teen BLOCK, engaging teens in positive youth development activities such as violence prevention, teen pregnancy prevention, and health & wellness. Aside from working with young people, her other passion is performing arts. Dancing with the Angkor Dance Troupe has been a way of keeping her Cambodian culture alive. She is one of Flying Orb Productions co-founders, a performing arts group showcasing Southeast Asian experiences through experimental film, dance, and theater. Monica believes that art can be a powerful tool for communication and healing. She loves the way Aaron’s Presents create space for kids to utilize the power within themselves to make a positive impact in the lives of others – what a beautiful way to validate their sense of purpose in this world!
Lynn Mentor
My name is Ebony White and I am Lynn native who is all about my community and also a mother of two wonderful kids named Jason and Jordin. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and am pursuing a Masters at Suffolk University. I have been employed at a great organization called Centerboard for the last 12 years where I am the Residential Director of Youth Services. I work endless hours and dedicate my heart and soul to all the at-risk youth who are victims to their own trauma that has impacted how they move through the world. No matter what I have accomplished thus far, I never forget where I came from and what I have had to do to get where I am today. Providing free programs for youth and families to be successful was always a goal and now being apart of Aaron’s presents as a Project Mentor, I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity for Lynn Community. Being able to give back to the city of Lynn is rewarding and I wish there were programs like Aaron’s Presents when I was growing up.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Anny Mercedes Vargas
Board Chair
Anny Mercedes Vargas received her B.A. in Political Science and Spanish Language from Emmanuel College. While in college, she helped numerous individuals and enhanced their studies. She primarily focused on Spanish and tutoring those who needed to strengthen their language abilities. Her position as an Academic Peer Tutor allowed her to give back to her college’s community and strengthen ties with professors. She also expanded her role by accepting a position as an Enrichment Tutor at the Edward F. Parthum School in Lawrence, MA. There, she fostered strong relationships with children from K-4th and worked alongside a group of professionals. At the Parthum school, her work consisted of developing multiple projects in relation to different fields of study in education. These projects strengthened each child’s learning style and challenged them as well. Anny strives to be strategic as she guided both IEP and ESL students to be feel confident in their ability to learn. Lastly, she had the opportunity to intern at the Law Office of Gomez and Palumbo LLC., which inspired her to pursue a career in legal practice. This law office became the cornerstone for her interest in Immigration Law. At this law office, Anny learned the rewarding feeling of making a difference in someone’s life and understood how to deepen confidence in the community, and be an advocate that exhibits leadership and transparency in their work. Anny is currently a Food Outreach Associate at the Greater Boston Food Bank.
Aldonsa Pereyra
Board Vice Chair
Bio coming soon!
Samantha Meserve
Board Clerk
Samantha Meserve is a Renewable Thermal Program Coordinator for the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. She first began her career at the Department administering the Solar Carve-Out II portion of the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard before transitioning to working on the regulatory proceeding and implementation of including renewable thermal technologies in the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard. She was hired at the Department after graduating with her Bachelors of Science in Environmental Resources Engineering from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry and is currently in school to receive her Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts at Boston. She came to Aaron’s Presents as a NetImpact Board Fellow in 2018-19.
Teg Rood
CFO and Treasurer
Before coming to Aaron’s Presents, Teg served in senior management positions over a 30-year career with several electronics manufacturers and was Principal of Rood Consulting. He has also done many pro bono projects with Community Action Partners and Entrepreneurship for All. Teg came to Aaron’s Presents while volunteering with EforAll Lowell’s Business Accelerator program as Leah’s mentor. After the accelerator he continued to volunteer at Aaron’s Presents, bringing his years of operations and accounting experience to solve back office challenges. He joined the Board of Directors in 2016 and became Treasurer and CFO in 2017. In his words: “I believe children have an enormous amount to learn to thrive in today’s world – and they learn best by doing. That’s where Aaron’s Presents stands out in two ways–
1) Children learn that they already have the power to bring change – just as they are – and Aaron’s Presents gives them opportunities to do it.
2) Through doing their projects, children learn that community, cooperation and teamwork can make a lot more difference than going it alone – that “We” is a lot more powerful than “I”.
I’m certain that Aaron’s Presents kids will change the world for the better. Knowing I play a role in making that happen is enormously satisfying.”
TJ Keough
Director
Timothy Keough is an attorney with White and Williams LLP. He splits his time between the firm’s Boston and Providence offices. Tim’s practice focuses on complex civil litigation where he represents product manufacturers, distributors, retailers, banks, construction companies, premises owners, and insurers of all sizes in the defense of lawsuits brought in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In addition to serving on the Board for Aaron’s Presents, Tim also represents individuals seeking asylum in the United States. In his spare time, he is an avid disc golfer.

Dinesh Makhija
Director
Dinesh is Software Development Manager at Amazon-Lab126 in Cambridge. Prior to joining Amazon, he held various leadership roles with Coero, Alcatel, Lucent, Motorola developing products in security, networking and mobile technologies. Dinesh’s passion for volunteer grassroots work stems from his student days in India while working with national organizations on social causes with villages. He believes that kindness needs to be passed forward and it starts with kids and young adults as they begin to explore higher causes and develop a sense of compassion in community.  He has a keen interest in bringing research/technology to help the causes.
Chelsey Ntoro
Board Fellow
My name is Chelsey Ntoro, and I am a second-year health science major at Northeastern University. I chose this major because it deals with issues in health administration, community-based health promotion, and public health. These topics are important because they allow me to be in close proximity to the socioeconomic disparities that are currently plaguing our society. Aaron’s Presents was my introduction to community service as a 6th grader at the Lowell Community Charter Public School. This organization helped me begin to understand a world that existed beyond myself, and urged me to think critically about how I would contribute to it. I chose to be on the board because I want to help children see the value in themselves and their gifts and because I truly believe in the amazing work that Aaron’s Presents does.

Jessica Reed-O’Neil and Zachary O’Neil
Directors
Zach O’Neil and Jessica Reed-O’Neil became involved with Aaron’s Presents after taking some AP youth on a school clothes shopping trip. They were drawn to Leah’s spirit and Aaron’s Presents mission and joined the board as a result. Zach and Jessica have a deep calling to philanthropic endeavors. Whether that be sponsoring a Water Well project in an isolated village in Malawi, volunteering in Haiti, or supporting local families in the surrounding areas. Zach works as a Healthcare IT consultant while Jessica coaches high school cheerleading.
Randi Sterrn
Director
Randi is a retired actuary who spent over 35 years in the insurance industry. Randi spent the majority of her career at John Hancock/Manulife and Sun Life where she played many roles for these companies. She actively built new products and businesses as well as led financial reporting, risk and audit departments. In addition to serving on the Board of Aaron’s Presents, Randi volunteers her time as a tax counselor for AARP, an event planner for the Youth Advocacy Foundation, a mentor for other women, and a member of the Audit Committee for her town. As Randi’s goal for retirement is to give back to the community, and Aaron’s Presents is teaching kids how to give back to the community, Randi sees this as the perfect collaboration.
Len Williamson
Director
Len Williamson is the Dean of Students at Pingree School in South Hamilton. He is passionate about enhancing opportunities for young people to learn about themselves, about the world around them, and about ways they can be impactful citizens in their communities. Len played professional basketball overseas and was a youth basketball coach and trainer before working at Pingree. He brings experience as a teacher and a coach to the Aaron’s Presents team, excited about the growth and skill development opportunities that the AP programs offer for local youth.

BOARD OF ADVISORS

Katelyn Adams
Carlene Alpert
Marianne Cashman (Founding Board member)
Dr. Connie Chung (Founding Board member)
Sheila Corbitt
Sara Eaton Gaunt (Former Board member)
Rosemary Infante Costello (Former Board member)
Elizabeth Dill
Jooé Kim (Founding Board Member)
Fabio Malagisi
Lorie Mendoza
Dr. Paul Nguyen (Founding Board Member)
Natalie Nicholson
Barb Petricone
Victor Sheen (Founding Board Member)
Marjory Sherman-Bindman
Rishub Solan (Former Board member)
Dr. Jocelyn Thein
Kirsten Walters (Former NetImpact Board Fellow)