Our Team

Lily Applebaum is a Creative Family ESOL instructor and is thrilled to work with this vibrant community of parent and child learners as they practice English through art and play. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania in English and Environmental Studies in 2012, and works full time at the Kelly Writers House. When she’s not working, she loves to garden, cook, read, and take long nature walks.

Aidé Cuenca-Narvaez is the Aquinas Center interim director. From Ecuador, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Guayaquil and recently completed a Masters of Science in Leadership from Cabrini University in Radnor, PA. During her free time, she loves to cook, read, travel, and hike. 

Shirley Dessein, MSW is serving as the lead social worker for Aquinas Center while also working full time at Lankenau Hospital. Shirley is a graduate of West Chester University with a Masters in Social Work. She loves working with people and enjoys cooking and dancing. Shirley is from Maplewood, New Jersey now living in Philadelphia.

 Raya Fagg serves as the Beginner instructor for our Adult ESoL classes. Frustrated with rote ESoL teaching, she was inspired to teach useful skills for English learners and joined our team. She works full time during the day in Upper Darby and in her free time she likes to cook and work in her garden.

Chris Geraghty serves as the resident advisor. He provides hospitality in a variety of ways, frequently welcoming visiting groups with a hot cup of coffee and plenty of pens to complete forms. Chris is a graduate of St. Josephs Preparatory High School, John Carroll University, and Cabrini University.

Heather Hillas is the Intermediate teacher for the Adult ESoL program. Some of Heather’s favorite pastimes are walking in the local parks with her dog Rose, listening to British mystery audiobooks, trying out new (simple) recipes and playing board games with friends.

Hannah Marshall is the Afterschool program coordinator and summer camp director. She has a BSW from West Chester University and served at Aquinas Center for her field placement, bringing a valuable social work lens to the center’s program design and development. Her commitment to a holistic approach to inclusive learning spaces can be seen in staff training programs and the integration of mindfulness across curriculum for adults and children. 

Carid Maranan is a program assistant in the afterschool program and with Encounter groups on Saturdays.  He is a member of the Green & Growing Summer Camp team, frequently serving as Gym Coordinator. In 2018, Carid received the Mayor’s Youth Hero Award for his involvement in immigrant rights work and service to his South Philly community.

Guadalupe Mendez is the Intake Coordinator for the Aquinas Center Immigration Legal Services.  She also assists with Encounter groups, bringing her love of culture and beauty to our programs. Guadalupe was raised in South Philly, is a fantastic baker, loves to dance salsa, and currently attends Cabrini University. She aspires to become an immigration attorney.

Dr. Tia N. Pratt serves as the Aquinas Center’s Scholar-in-Residence, providing research and facilitation training for Youth Researchers and Encounter team members engaged in crafting meaningful learning experiences around intersectional justice issues. Pratt is currently writing a book titled:  Black and Catholic, Catholic and Black:  Structure, Racism, and Identity in the African-American Catholic Experience.