Meet the Team

Lisa Vasiloff
Executive Director & CO-Founder
866.388.9474 Ext. 1

After growing up and attending college in the Midwest, Lisa moved to the Boston area in 1985. Lisa holds a Master’s degree in Asian Studies from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor’s Degree in History from University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. After arriving in Boston, she planned to pursue a career in the field of Japanese studies, which she did from 1985 until 2005. For 13 years, Lisa co-managed a Japanese bookstore in Cambridge, MA, where she met her Birthday Wishes co-founder, Karen Yahara. Prior to opening the bookstore, Lisa spent four years at the Japan Society of Boston, first as Program Director, and later as Director of Development. In November, 2002, Lisa co-founded Birthday Wishes and has been running the organization, first in a volunteer capacity, and since March 2007 as Executive Director.

Lisa guided the growth of Birthday Wishes from a family volunteer project serving one shelter to a multi-state, high impact organization reaching more than 34,000 homeless children annually. She was honored by the Boston Celtics Hero’s Among Us program and has appeared on local and national television for her work with Birthday Wishes, including the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and ABC News with Diane Sawyer.

In addition to her work at Birthday Wishes, Lisa serves on the Board of Overseers at Lasell College in Newton. She resides in Newton with her husband Karl. They have two sons, Max and Paul.


Denell Nuese
Senior Director of Operations & Programs
866.388.9474 Ext. 3

As the Senior Director of Operations & Programs, Denell is responsible for the development and implementation of the organizational strategy around programming as well as the operations of the organization. Prior to joining Birthday Wishes, she was Director of Marketing & Advertising for iParty, a party supply retailer and received the Chairman’s Award. Over the years, she has had the opportunity to work on some very interesting projects including the national launch of a new credit card, coast-to-coast grand openings of a retail store chain and consulting for an Internet start-up company. Denell is a graduate of University of New Hampshire and holds a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing & Advertising from Emerson College.


Kasey Fitzgerald
Communications & Database Manager
866.388.9474 Ext. 4

Kasey joined Birthday Wishes in 2014 as the resident database and communications wiz. Much to her parent’s surprise she puts both her Graphic Design Bachelor’s degree and Nonprofit Management Master’s to work on a daily basis. In her free time, she enjoys kayaking, traveling and reading. Her favorite birthday cake is chocolate with vanilla frosting and her favorite toy growing up was her bunny blanket aptly named, “bunny”.


Sarah Hennessy
Birthday-in-a-Box Program Coordinator
866.388.9474 Ext. 8

After a semester long internship in 2015 with Birthday Wishes, Sarah was thrilled to be hired by a nonprofit organization right out of college. Managing the day-to-day details of the Birthday-in-a-Box Program keeps her busy, yet time is spared to play with the kids at parties! As a recent grad, she is living with her twin sister in a small, city apartment – an experience said to be a type of initiation to becoming a true Bostonian. Exploring new restaurants, events, and various modes of public transportation takes up most of her free time. Sarah’s favorite way to celebrate her birthday is sharing in a food-filled day of new memories with the people closest to her.


Sarah Dingee
On-Site Program Coordinator
866.388.9474 Ext. 5

After finishing her year of AmeriCorps service, Sarah joined the Birthday Wishes team in 2016! She received her undergrad degree in Public Health at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. In her free time, Sarah enjoys camping, cooking, and crafting. Her favorite birthday memory dates back to 1998 when her parents surprised her with backyard pony rides for all of her friends!


Dede Veyera
Intake & Inventory Coordinator
866.388.9474 Ext. 12

Dede joined Birthday Wishes as a volunteer in the R.I. office early in 2015. She is learning Birthday Wishes from the ground up and has now become the newest member on staff at our Newton Office as our Intake and Inventory Coordinator, which she feels is a match made in heaven because of her love of all things organized. In her spare time she likes to keep busy and loves, loves spending time with her family. What is her favorite kind of Birthday cake? Yellow cake with Chocolate frosting, but all birthday cakes are delicious.


Courtney Vernadakis
Birthday-in-a-Box Fulfillment Coordinator
866.388.9474 Ext. 11

Courtney started volunteering for Birthday Wishes in 2009 as a Party Coordinator in East Boston. She then joined the Birthday Wishes team as a part time employee in 2010 and eventually opened the Northern MA Regional Office in 2011. She holds a degree in Graphic Design from UMass Dartmouth. Courtney loves to be in the kitchen cooking for her husband Adam and daughter Ava. She loves playing tennis, going out to dinner, and has an obsession with shopping at Homegoods. Having a July birthday, Courtney’s favorite cake has always been a carvel ice cream cake.


Jodi Ross
Western MA & Special Projects Coordinator
866.388.9474 Ext. 7

Jodi joined Birthday Wishes in 2013 as a volunteer, baking cakes/cupcakes for the birthday parties. In 2015, Jodi started her new role as Western MA Regional Coordinator. She studied Sign Language at Mott Community College in Flint, MI. She also has a Certificate in Computer Networking Technology. In her free time she enjoys biking, hiking, traveling, reading and crocheting. Her favorite birthday cake is chocolate with chocolate ganache frosting.


Cindy Mullen
Party Activity & Community Engagement Coordinator
866.388.9474 Ext. 9

Birthday Wishes won Cindy’s heart soon after she started as a volunteer in 2014. Shortly thereafter she joined the team as Regional Coordinator for all of Rhode Island and it’s nearby Massachusetts communities. Cindy’s professional background as an educator as well as her personal desire to serve at-risk children created a match made in heaven. Cindy holds a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and has completed additional graduate work in the field of education. In her free time, Cindy enjoys cooking for and spending time with her big family. She also enjoys reading, walking/hiking, meditating and pursuing her creative endeavor du jour.


Jamie Rapfogel
Long Island Director

Jamie joined Birthday Wishes in 2010 volunteering as the Director of BW Long Island. She has a Masters in Social work and has a side job counseling people struggling with eating disorders. Jamie and her husband are getting used to an “empty nest” as all her three children are in college. Consequently, she is learning how to fill her free time with activities like reading, hiking, boating and playing outside with her newest child, Puppy Wilson.


Susan Gold
Long Island Coordinator

Susan Gold joined our Long Island program in 2011. She holds a degree in finance from the University of Florida and has held marketing positions with major cosmetics companies, as well as with Godiva Chocolatier in NYC. After putting her career on hold while her twins were young, she was happy to get back in the game in such a meaningful way. Susan and her husband are adjusting to their empty nest now that their daughters have started college! She enjoys cooking, traveling and the beach.


Maureen Mantesta
Long Island Intake Coordinator

Maureen joined Birthday Wishes in 2013 after a career in sales. She has always wanted to make a difference, and Birthday Wishes grants her that opportunity. She is married to Frank and they have two sons, Joseph and Robert. In her free time, Maureen enjoys crafting and finding antiques at flea markets. A fun fact about her is that she participated in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a clown for five years.