Nadine heimann, founder

Nadine is an actress, community leader and artist. She found her calling in humanitarian services when she taught theater to developmentally disabled adults at Mi-Star in Los Angeles from 2006-2008. The rewarding connections she made with the staff and students there set her up for a lifetime of community service and outreach.

Nadine served as CEO of HOW (Helping Others Worldwide) 501(C)3 from 2009-2011, creating and executing a Healing Art Programs for orphaned youth in Sierra Leone, Africa. Incorporating art, meditation, mindfulness, trauma awareness, character development and goal setting, the programming was effective, fun and created deep bonds between students and teachers. Of the students they worked with, two went on to win national art competitions, one completed a book, and many showed a decrease in stress symptoms when she returned two years later with a newly enhanced curriculum.

True Connection was founded to expand the Healing Arts Program locally in Los Angeles and Compton in 2012. For the next six years she led volunteers in providing Healing Arts Programming to kids in low-income areas and homeless youth. Since then, Nadine joined the SEL movement in education, viewing it as  a promising route to spreading everything she believes in to kids in schools, homes and communities across the nation. Thus, she collaborated with professionals to create True Connection’s HiEQ Curriculum and now sits on the SEL4CA Alliance Providers Committee. Nadine has a deep-rooted passion for stewarding our youth by educating the whole child.

BRITA RICHARDSON, executive director

Brita is a passionate educator and life coach working with individuals, families, and institutions who are interested in expanding personal awareness, emotional intelligence and overall fulfillment. With her knowledge of mindfulness, along with her corporate and homeschooling background, she is able to increase awareness and understanding within individuals and diverse settings in a way that can be received and embraced. Brita weaves threads of connectedness, respect, curiosity, and openness within her workshops and private sessions.

Brita is a Certified Professional Life Coach (certified through iPEC), Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner (certified through iPEC), Innerlight Method Practitioner, and Educator. Her background includes the UCLA Anderson School of Management, Executive Program; a BS from Cal Poly Pomona; the Riordan Volunteer Leadership Development Program (now called the Riordan Leadership Institute); and 15 years in the corporate arena in the areas of marketing, communications, community outreach, and running the day-to-day operations of a worldwide, corporate foundation. Brita is active in the homeschooling community, and she is working with True Connection to bring emotional intelligence to families. Brita spends her free time with her children, dancing, hiking and following the latest consciousness research.

tenley hardin, curriculum director

A graduate of the University of Michigan (Bachelor of Theatre Arts, 2000), Tenley Hardin began her teaching career in 2000 at the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival as Director of Camps and theatre instructor. In 2005, she attained her Master of Arts in English and Master of Arts in Teaching from Belmont University.

With over 15 professional years in education, Tenley’s greatest passion is to facilitate growth and emotional intelligence amongst her students. She began creating and writing curriculum as a public high school English teacher in 2007, when she spearheaded the Dual Enrollment English (DE) program at Mount Vernon High School in Alexandria, Virginia (Dual Enrollment English is a college-level class for high school seniors who then receive college credit upon completion). In her first year as a 12th grade English teacher, Tenley utilized the four years she had spent teaching college English in Nashville, TN to build the Dual Enrollment curriculum, which has continually been implemented since 2007. During her tenure as a teacher at MVHS, she also designed a social-emotional curriculum, integrating it into her common core lesson plans. She then began working one-on-one with many of her students during lunch and after school to assist them in emotional intelligence, self-awareness, communication, and career readiness. 

As a Certified Professional Life Coach (certified through iPEC), founder of Limitless Heart Life Coaching, LLC (est. 2011) and author of Leap Before You Look; Seven Steps to Discover Who You Are, What You Want, and How to Change the World (2014), Tenley Hardin specializes in life purpose coaching and college counseling. In the past six years, she has worked with clients from all over the country, many of whom have gone on to pursue their dreams at institutions such as Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, Berkeley, UCLA, USC, Tulane, BC, American, Northwestern, Chapman, University of Oregon, UT Austin, Indiana, and many more. Having been a yoga and Pilates instructor for five years in her mid-twenties, she continues to fuse life coaching techniques with mindfulness and meditation, knowing that the way to best optimize an individual’s potential is to foster emotional, physical, and spiritual growth. Tenley continues to expand her knowledge and experience as a graduate student in Pepperdine University’s Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy program.  

After conducting several social-emotional workshops at Simi Valley High School and goal setting seminars amongst parenting groups in Woodland Hills, Tenley sought out resources to further develop SEL curriculum and eventually joined True Connection in 2016 as Curriculum Director. In the last two years, she has collaborated with the TC team to create what she calls, “A game changer in education.”

katie lonigro, program manager

Katie LoNigro is a Colorado native and a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder where she earned her B.S. in Business Administration with an emphasis in Operations and Information Management. Upon graduating, Katie moved to California to work on the Patient Experience & Retention team for HealthCare Partners, a DaVita Medical Group, where she dedicated her time to creating a patient experience-focused culture rooted in empathetic communication and human connection.

 Katie, began volunteering with True Connection in early 2018 by helping to develop and maintain the True Connection database. She is excited to shift her focus to managing program logistics and supporting the growth of this organization full time. She learned the importance of understanding and managing your own emotions early in her life as figure skater where she struggled to cope with the pressures and judgement of such a competitive sport. She is thrilled to work with an organization that promotes the importance of SEL.  

armen ohannessian, senior designer and counsel

Armen helped create and design the HiEQ Teacher Workbooks and Student Journals. He also provides consulting in marketing and advertising. With 20 years’ advertising agency experience, Armen has worked on campaigns in the advertising & marketing field for over 20 years, which includes creating award winning campaigns for brands like Lexus, Disney, ESPN, Sony Pictures and many others. Armen has been running his design and marketing agency since 2004. As owner and creative director, he has skilled designers, web developers, writers and video/photography production team to create and manage all types of brands. Over the years, he’s donated design and marketing services to non-profits like City of Hope, Children’s Hospital and March of Dimes. And in the last couple of years, Armen has shifted his focus to supporting youth education and committed to supporting youth in discovering their inner strength, compassion, and the power of positive thinking. He is dedicated to spreading awareness of the power of SEL through online marketing. He helped design the curriculum books as well as online and offline marketing materials to utilize on social media and live events.

Armen is a passionate filmmaker using his talents to empower youth through story-telling, and hopes to create compelling documentaries to further the SEL movement.

adela VANGELISTI, teacher trainer

The thread that runs through all of Adela Vangelisti’s work is access for all students to high quality, quantity of choices, and equality in education. The emphasis is on identifying and nurturing their creativity, problem solving abilities, and leadership to prepare them for college, career, and life. She holds an M.S. in Creativity and Leadership of Change and is certified in a number of processes including Creative Problem Solving (CPS), Strategic Play with LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY™ Methodology, and Technology of Participation (ToP). Vangelisti’s academic research was featured in Big Questions in Creativity, 2014. Currently she facilitates school districts and community leaders to develop K-12 strategic plans for arts education. Districts served to date: El Monte, East Whittier, Wiseburn, Temple City, Hughes Elizabeth Lakes, and El Rancho.

kelly franks, teacher trainer

As a graduate from both California State University Fullerton (Master of Science, Clinical Exercise Science) and Azusa Pacific University (Bachelor of Arts in Athletic Training), Kelly joins our team with a unique background in sports medicine and athletic training. She has served as both an educator and a clinician at the high school and collegiate levels. Catalyzing change, she has thoroughly enjoyed adding to program development at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and is passionate about educating both youth and adults and guiding them to be the best possible versions of themselves academically, personally, spiritually, and socially. She has seen a need for heightened emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and diversity through her experiences in the classroom and looks forward to implementing the concepts and activities that promote personal and organizational growth and development through the HiEQ curriculum.

angel CANTu, teacher trainer

Angel’s greatest goal is to empower others to realize their own innate capacity to create positive change, to inspire passion and gratitude for life, and to assist students in recognizing their individual and unique potential.

With a Masters Degree in Human Development, Angel worked in the Education field for seven years, including three years at the Washington State University Child and Family Research Unit. During her time at WSU, Angel coordinated a federally funded randomized control trial in partnership with the RAND Corp, Justice Research Institute, and the Complex Trauma Training Network. She co-developed and delivered trauma-informed trainings to teachers district-wide, integrating yoga, meditation, and mindfulness to serve trauma-impacted children and staff.

Angel now shares her education and experience in a strengths based approach through coaching, meditation, yoga, and energy healing techniques to promote physical health and mental clarity.


As a development professional, Edith has more than 18 years of broad fundraising experience in support of civil rights, higher education, and healthcare. She has a proven track record in creating strategic fundraising plans that includes annual, major/planned, and institutional giving. She has extensive experience in identifying and recruiting board members. While keeping in parity an organization’s vision, she tailors comprehensive plans to strengthen donor relations and increase giving. Additionally, she’s partnered closely with volunteers and senior staff to successfully fundraise and produce events. Edith is skilled at managing a portfolio of individuals, corporations, and foundations while employing moves management to secure major and planned gifts.


A graduate of Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Capital Markets Finance, Lulette is often regarded as the organizational ‘glue’ who can tie together insights from strategy, finance, program management, and the business to help leaders crush strategic goals and make a dollar out of fifteen cents.  Most recently, she was at Ticketmaster as Director of Portfolio Management where she helped ensure the company is investing in all the right things and enabling mass innovation so that they can give more fans more unforgettable moments of joy. Prior to Ticketmaster, she spread strategic and financial pixie dust at The Walt Disney Studios.  She helped build a high performing team from scratch whose mission was to ensure returns on movie-making technology investments were optimized. Prior to that, she was a Program Manager at Sony Pictures where she managed financial systems projects and international implementations.  She’s also held traditional strategic and financial planning roles at NBC Universal and Warner Bros, rounding out her tour of the studios.  She is thrilled to put together all the building blocks gathered from 15 years of corporate experience and partner with True Connection.  Together, they are creating a strong foundational structure for the organization and all the youth empowered through HiEQ. She has been working closely with the team to create a strong financial plan to meet the organization’s program goals.

claudia morales, impact strategist

Claudia C. Morales currently manages the day-to-day operations of the Riordan Leadership Institute, in affiliation with the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.  She is directly responsible for creating and executing strategy to effectively deliver the various training components of nonprofit board service.  Within her role at Riordan, Claudia participates as a thought-leader and guest speaker in a number of panel discussions, training on sharing of best practices, and as a member of collaborative efforts to establish partnerships with multiple stakeholders. Outside of her work with Riordan and the LA Area Chamber of Commerce, Claudia is also a founding member of Gentefy Inc., a social enterprise working to leverage real estate development projects through public-private partnerships to enact community and economic development in under-resourced communities.

Claudia has 20+ years of professional experience in the nonprofit sector, working across multiple industries focused on youth and community development.  This includes knowledge and expertise in program design and development, service delivery, professional development, performance measurement & evaluation, and capacity-building through innovation and impact leadership.  Specifically, she has conducted significant work to support "opportunity youth" (i.e. foster, re-entry, high-needs, immigrant, etc.) with the goal to create systems and practices that meet the needs of these populations. A native of Los Angeles, she has worked in various places within the United States and abroad in Mexico.  

Morales earned an undergraduate degree in Social Sciences with an emphasis in Psychology, minor in Spanish and a graduate degree in Social Entrepreneurship, both from the University of Southern California (Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences and Marshall School of Business respectively). Morales also completed training of a certificate program on GRI Sustainability Reporting offered through Deloitte Consulting Firm.

Claudia is committed to enacting systemic change through community-building, is an avid reader, and loves to travel.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
— Nelson Mandela