Author Archives: Shepherds

director announcement

Dear Shepherds Friends:

Here we are in the heart and the heat of the summer… with not much else certain other than the sun will come up tomorrow and it will probably be warm if it’s not raining.

But here’s what we can tell you:

  • We had an excellent response to our call for mentors and funding for the incoming Shepherds Class of 2024. We are bringing on a total 14 new students in the fall, 10 at Kolbe Cathedral High School and four at Notre Dame West Haven. This will increase Shepherds total population by four students to 65 students for academic year 2020-21.
  • Each of these students and their families were selected on the basis of financial need, academic potential, and most importantly, their demonstrated desire and commitment to be successful. We look forward to them joining the Shepherds family in a few weeks.
  • Most gratifying has been the many inquiries we had from prospective mentors and financial sponsors to make this large new Class possible. The willingness to make a four year commitment to change a young person’s life that has been most inspiring to us. One of the many emails from a prospective mentor captured the thought this way:

“.…Education is the ultimate “equalizer”.  We as a society must ensure that all people have access to quality education and can participate fully in our society.  Recent events have shown that we as a country are still far from where we need to be.  I am moved  to help by potentially becoming a Shepherd and sponsor and would like to learn more about your program.”

 He’s signed up! 

  • Thanks to the generosity of respondents to the spring appeal, the financial commitments made by a great number of our new mentors, and a substantial donation from one very generous family, we were put over the top for our Shepherds Class of 2024 goal of $60,000.


What do we see for the last half of the summer?

  • We await information from our partner schools on the details of their re-opening plans.
  • Kolbe Cathedral Shepherds Class of 2024 Cougar Camp is planned for August 17 -21.
  • Most importantly, our students still need the attention of their mentors this summer. Letting them know you’re thinking of them will be a great boost to their morale.

You can also help us expand our network of friends by sharing one of our Facebook posts with your Facebook friends, sharing a Shepherds LinkedIn posting with your connections, or by forwarding this e-newsletter to friends, colleagues, and relatives. Let’s give more people the opportunity to change a life!

Best wishes for a continued safe, healthy and hopefully enjoyable summer.

Dan McAuliffe
Executive Director
(203) 367-4273

giving back

This is NDWH ’11 Mike DeChello’s second time as a mentor. “A few years ago, my father’s friend, Mark Milano, reached out to me and told me about Shepherds and that mentors were needed,” said Mike.

That conversation with his father’s friend was an ah-ha moment for Mike, “After college, I realized that there was still an opportunity to help the community I love – Notre Dame.”

Jalanni was the first student he mentored. An outstanding Notre Dame basketball player, he attends Canisius College and plays on their basketball team. “I remain in touch with Jalanni. He is a good kid and really took advantage of the opportunities he was given.”

Now Mike mentors Alan L. (ND ’22). “I’m a strong advocate for his success. I’m encouraging him to pursue club activities and improve his grades while at ND. Alan is a great soccer player and I enjoy watching him play. We really also enjoy just hanging out.”

When Mike was told he was one of the youngest mentors Shepherds has had at Notre Dame, he was surprised. “Being a Shepherds mentor to an ND student is an enjoyable experience. It is the natural extension of what I learned at ND and a great way to make a direct impact on fellow ND brother.”

Executive Director of Shepherds, Dan McAuliffe agrees, “We need more men like Mike to mentor our Shepherds’ students at Notre Dame. We need five  mentors and sponsors for incoming Notre Dame freshmen that are a part of the Shepherds program.”

If you’re unable to participate as a mentor this year, the need is equally great financially to support the Shepherds program. To find out more about the role of mentoring a Shepherds student or how to support the program financially, email, or call Dan McAuliffe at 203-367-4273 or click the link below to find out more.

Join Mike DeChello in helping achieve Shepherds’ mission of Changing Lives…One Student at a Time., Notre Dame West Haven.

Ways You Can Help Shepherds Students

Shepherds class of 2020

At this time of year, Shepherds would be usually be gathering together to celebrate our seniors’ accomplishments and high school graduations. With the health crisis, we are unable to host in-person celebrations. However, that does not diminish our pride in our graduates.

Our students’ hard work and determination, coupled with support from their family, Shepherds mentor and Shepherds program, have led to this moment in time where we now commemorate their achievements.

Congratulations to the Class of 2020! Go forth and do great things!

Shepherds Mentors Logo

June 2020

Dear Shepherds Community, 

We hope that this finds you safe and healthy in these unsettled times.  

As we face the devastation wrought on our country and our world by the  Covid-19 crisis, we also acknowledge, as we always have, that there exists  in this country great social and economic inequality. We understand and  wish to extend our thoughts of support to all members of our extended  Shepherds community who are both suffering from and troubled by these  ongoing circumstances.  

Shepherds’ mission remains the same today as it was 20 years ago. We  continue to close the opportunity gap for young people in our inner cities  by providing this under-served community with access to quality high  school education, life skills training, college prep workshops and activities,  and adult mentoring that helps to guide them during their most formative  teenage years. Shepherds promotes educational and life opportunities for  our Shepherds students by investing in and extending their human  potential.  

We are justly proud of our Shepherds alumni who do their part to make  the world a better place in every way, including by reinvesting in their  communities and by giving their time and energy back to Shepherds. 

Shepherds continues unwaveringly in its mission of Changing Lives…One  Student at a Time.  

We thank you and welcome your continued support of Shepherds in our  important and critical endeavor.  


Timothy Stuart, Chair 

Barnet Phillips, IV, Vice Chair and Co-Founder 

on behalf of The Shepherds Board of Directors 

As we look back to Fall and all that has changed since then, Shepherds is still steadfastly planning for the future. The need for the support Shepherds provides socio-economically and academically challenged high school students has not diminished during this health crisis. In fact, it has highlighted the need even more.

See how you can help change the life of a high school student.


Mentor a student

It has been six years since Mark Healey and Celia Pinzi became mentors to NDWH ’18 student Reuben Clark. Shepherds spoke to Mark and Reuben recently to ask about how being in the Shepherds’ program impacted them.

It has been an absolute joy to watch Reuben change from a shy young freshman, to the accomplished college student, college football player and entrepreneur he is today,” stated Mark. “I got a lot more out of being Reuben’s mentor than I realized. Reuben and I still talk and get together. Recently, I reached out to him during the protests about social, racial and economic inequalities. I wanted him to know that Celia and I support him.

Reuben attends Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is currently taking three summer classes and has started up one e-commerce business selling jewelry, created a business that repairs cell phone screens and is in the process of rebranding a clothing line he created. “Mr. Mark really helped me with time management and taught me how to network,” claimed Reuben. “They are like family to me. I love them to death.”

When asked what they would tell a person who is considering becoming a mentor, both had similar answers. “If you want to help shape the life of a young man, become a pillar of support and create genuine change in his life, become a Shepherds mentor to a NDWH student,” said Reuben. Mark agreed, “It is so satisfying that I played a part in Reuben’s growth. It is amazing that a couple hours a month can have such an enormous impact on a young person.”

Shepherds needs five mentors for the upcoming freshman NDWH class. Join our team of caring mentors to make a positive impact on a Notre Dame man this Fall. To find out more, contact Dan McAuliffe at 203-367-4273 or


For over 20 years, generous donors have provided the ability for under-served but motivated young men and women like Reuben to be part of the Shepherds program.

This year, your participation in making that possible is more critical than ever.

Shepherds has a goal of bringing on 12 new students into our program this fall. To achieve this, we need to raise $60,000 by June 30th. Generous support from donors has brought us to $44,000 so far. With only a handful of days to go before our fiscal year ends, we are still $16,000 short of our goal.

You’ve probably thought “How can I make a difference in these highly unusual times in which we find ourselves?” Shepherds provides that opportunity.

Please consider making a generous donation today via PayPal or by mailing a check to Shepherds, P.O. Box 1756, Darien CT 06820.

Thank you for supporting more students like Reuben. Be part of the solution and help Change Lives.
Dan McAuliffe
Executive Director
Changing Lives…One Student at a Time.

mentoring tradition

Gina Garzon graduated from Trinity Catholic and the Shepherds program in 2005. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Economics and MBA with a focus in Finance at University of Connecticut. She is first-generation college graduate and now is a a Vice President at TD Bank in NYC where she manages a portfolio of approximately $500MM in commercial real estate of various asset classes.

Gina began her banking career as a teller at local bank in New Canaan. “My mentor Kathy Pasternack helped me get my first banking job,” Gina claimed. “She is an amazing person, mentor, and friend. She has impacted my life and inspired me to do the same for others. My parents were incredibly supportive, but Kathy provided guidance and assistance they were unable to provide due to language and other resource issues”

Gina’s impressive resume doesn’t stop with her education and career. She has given back to her community. She has served on the board of Cardinal Sheehan Center and on the board of Prospanica, an organization which assists Hispanic students earn MBAs. Currently, she is mentoring a student through Big Brothers, Big Sisters in New York City. “Being a big sister to my little has been very gratifying. I am so happy to be giving back to others like Kathy helped me.”

Kathy Pasternack made a big impact on Gina’s life. You can make that same impact on another young person by becoming a mentor to a freshman this fall. Contact Dan McAuliffe at 203-367-4273 to find out more about Shepherds and our impact on academically and economically-challenged students.

Fred, mentor

Fred McMullen enjoyed the four years he mentored Alejandro, “The most gratifying part of my Shepherds experience was seeing the pride and confidence my student had when he started his college experience. We stay in touch and it has also been great to see him adapt to and thrive in a completely different environment. This gives me a lot of confidence that he is going to go on and make a difference wherever he charts his course.”

Shepherds students high school graduation rate for the last twenty years is 95%+, compared to their inner-city peers’ rate of 55-65%. Last year, 100% of our students went on to institutions of higher learning.

Fred found it rewarding to help impact a student’s life. You can experience that too! Shepherds is recruiting mentors for freshman beginning this fall. To find out more, go to You can also contact Executive Director Dan McAuliffe at 203-367-4273 or


Jonathan is the embodiment of the Shepherds’ belief that education is the gift that keeps on giving – long after they graduate our program. He is a 2005 alumnus of Notre Dame West Haven High School and the Shepherds program. He has also given back to our program by becoming a mentor himself.

Jonathan continues to mentor in Charlotte, NC where he now lives via National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). NABA’s motto is ‘Lift as We Climb.’ “Being mentored opened up opportunities I did not know about or our family didn’t have the means to provide. I am continuing that tradition by mentoring young black accounting students,” claimed Jonathan.

Mentoring changes lives. You can too! Become a Shepherds mentor for a student in the freshman class beginning this fall. Contact Dan McAuliffe at or call 203-367-4273.