KHAIR Graduates its Spring 2018 Class!

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On Saturday, May 19, excitement and celebration filled the room as six participants between the ages of 12 and 18 completed our Spring KHAIR Program, marking a huge step forward on each of their individual journeys to success and self-growth.

The program lasted six weeks, and consisted of multiple workshops, which were held on a college campus thanks to our partnership with Southern CT State Univ. Dept. of Public Health. These workshops helped train the participants’ crucial life skills in the areas of financial literacy, dress for success, nutrition, self-awareness, social etiquette, and team building. Thanks also go to the Gap clothing store in Hamden for hosting our Dress for Success day.

At graduation, students presented their team building projects in groups of two where they came up with an idea of a business and discussed how it would be built, who it would serve, as well as the problem it would solve.  Students then presented short and powerful talks that answered the question, “If you could share a message with your generation, what would it be?”  There were more than 40 supporters in attendance made up of facilitators, parents, and friends, who were gathered to celebrate the great accomplishments of the graduates and watch their unique presentations.


The topics chosen for their speeches, consisted of the importance of respect, the effect of judgement, limiting phone usage to better increase social skills, and giving all of yourself to find yourself.

The students presented with poise and creativity. Sierra Wilson used acting during parts of her speech, while other students had extremely insightful and thought-provoking statements in their speeches. During her speech on judgment, Yanalex Thompson stated, “As we focus on judging others, we are really limiting ourselves.”



Volunteers Aaron Aikins, Tony Nelson, and Cheryl A. Palmer gave motivational words about believing in yourself, choosing your relationship circles wisely, and self-development. Aaron Aikins encouraged the students to reflect back on the event as, “an accomplishment that will act as a stepping stone of opportunity for what’s next.” This encouraged the students to reflect on their KHAIR experience and understand the knowledge they received is indispensable and will act as a building block towards their future success.



Marian Evans, MD, MPH (Vice Chair of CHNCT Foundation Board) and Patti Scussel (Executive Director) presented the students with their certificates.


Dr. Evans saluted all of the parents and clinicians for assisting the participants on this journey and spoke of how one of the key pillars of the KHAIR program is its community. Each participant is given the opportunity to walk through the program with accountability and encouragement from our partners, staff, and volunteers.

In the closing moments of the ceremony, Keshia Tigner, KHAIR Program Manager, spoke about how proud she was of the perseverance of the students and what an honor it was to make a positive impact on their bright futures. She honed in on the importance of the KHAIR motto and had each participant quote it. She emphasized that each one of them was unique and they have the ability to change the world with those unique qualities. She then concluded, “Never settle for being similar. Be bold to stand out.”


KHAIR (pronounced “care”) serves at-risk youths by offering on-on-one mentoring relationships, including a wide range of workshops made to teach essential life skills and help boost self-confidence. This program not only helps the young people achieve new levels of personal development, but it provides the ability to create long and lasting relationships with their class members, as well as significant adult role models who are successful and portray healthy qualities and  great ways to connect with others.


Congratulations to all of the KHAIR Graduates! We wish you the best with your future endeavors!

For more information visit us at: or call us at 203.949.4023



Cooking Matters Summer Session!

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This past May and June, Cooking Matters CT hosted a Cooking Matters for Adults six-week informational and hands-on cooking class sponsored by Trinity Health – St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut. The class would meet once a week and the instructor Kellie Gilbert would have a long table set up in front of the room with a plethora of food, drinks, and ingredients for the class to learn about and use for a highly active and hands on-cooking session that would take place after the lecture part of the class. During week five our current communications intern Denzel Robinson observed and interviewed some class members.

That day the class made Hearty Egg Burritos. (If you’re interested in finding out about more Cooking Matters recipes, click here:


When asked about the class environment, all interviewees stated it was very comfortable, while one individual, Denise Denton went as far as to say, “It’s like a family.” The Cooking Matters class also received a 10 out of 10 rating from all members who were interviewed.


One participant noted, “I got way more than what I expected from the class and I’m reading labels a lot now, which has helped me understand what foods are healthy and which food aren’t.”

Another class member Karlene stated, “I learned a lot about making different types of food and using what you have at home to make a meal.”

Another class member Gonzalo mentioned, “I’ve learned more than I thought I would and I found that she [Kellie] knows what she’s talking about.”

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All in all, the class has been described by members as a comfortable and an accepting place where individuals with all different levels of cooking knowledge can come together to understand more about food preparation, practical nutrition, food budgeting, and shopping techniques–and have an enjoyable experience while learning it.


If you would like to volunteer, donate, or host a Cooking Matters class visit

KHAIR Alumni Session


We gathered with five of our KHAIR alumni in November!

They mentioned they remember some of the interview tips such as giving a firm handshake, doing research about the company before meeting, and presenting with a smile.

We look forward to having our alumni speak to our spring 2018 class that began March 10th. We hope to have these students engaged as positive role models and mentors to our current group of teens.

For more info, visit



Changes to CHNCT Foundation,Inc. Board of Directors


The Community Health Network of Connecticut Foundation, Inc. announces the following changes to membership on its Board of Directors: the election of new board members Ronald Coursey; Ronald Rozett; and Amanda Skinner; and the resignation of Marta Elisa Moret, MPH.

Mr. Coursey is currently Executive Director of Sales of the New England Region for Quest Diagnostics. Prior to joining Quest in 2010, Mr. Coursey had spent 14 years in various sales and sales operations roles for Merck & Company, Inc., primarily focused on commercial activities in the Northeast. He earned his BA in Business Administration from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Upon graduation, Mr. Coursey served as a commissioned officer in the United States Army.

Dr. Rozett had served as Medical Director in the Physician Assistant Program at Quinnipiac University prior to his retirement. Previous positions included: administrative consultant at Masonicare; director of the Masters of Health Administration program and Executive in Residence, Health Administration at Quinnipiac University’s School of Business; and, previously, positions with Medspan, Gaylord Hospital, Community Health Care Plan, Yale University School of Medicine, the Department of Health and Hospitals in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has also participated in clinical teaching of medical students, interns and residents at Yale University, and as a Lecturer at Harvard University. He has received numerous awards for his service in the field of medicine. Dr. Rozett received his BA from New York University, MD from Harvard Medical School, and his MPH in Health Services Administration from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Ms. Amanda Skinner is President and Chief Executive Officer for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. Prior to joining Planned Parenthood, Ms. Skinner was Vice President and General Manager of Managed Value and Risk Analytics for Optum/UnitedHealth Group; and spent six years at Yale New Haven Health, where she led population health and value-based care  efforts. She has also served as a management consultant in the healthcare sector with The Chartis Group, and as Director of Midwifery Services she launched and led full-scope midwifery care services in Waterbury, CT. Ms. Skinner received her BA in Philosophy from Rice University, her MSN in Nurse-Midwifery from Yale University School of Nursing, and her MBA from the Yale University School of Management.

Please join us in welcoming Mr. Coursey, Dr. Rozett, and Ms. Skinner to our CHNCT Foundation family!

Our thanks go out to Marta Elisa Moret, MPH for her years of service to the CHNCT Foundation,Inc. board. Ms. Moret joined our board in 2015 and had been an instrumental member of our Development Committee. In addition to her assistance with writing grants, Ms. Moret also prepared a white paper on the KHAIR program and assisted with implementation and evaluation of our data. Ms. Moret will continue to be a committed volunteer to the organization.

Please join us in thanking Ms. Moret for her service on our Board of Directors.

Cooking Matters is a Prescription for Healthy Eating




This past May our partners at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Curtis D. Robinson Center for Health Equity hosted a 2-hour Cooking Matters outreach with internal and external staff members. While Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Curtis D. Robinson Center for Health Equity has hosted numerous Cooking Matters for Adults classes, the goal of this outreach was to present an abbreviated Cooking Matters class to the staff to demonstrate the benefits of the program and the impact of Cooking Matters in the community they serve.

Our very own Cooking Matters veteran Class Manager Kellie Gilbert was the facilitator of this class. We talked to the group about the “MyPlate” strategy of healthy eating, which focuses on variety, amount and nutrition, as well as explained the importance of adding color and nutrients to the plate with various fruits and vegetables. We also conducted the blubber burger activity that showed the attendees the amount of fat in our everyday fast foods by placing the equivalent fat content of lard on a hamburger bun. The participants were very enlightened by this visual and expressed their concerns about what they currently eat and how they would like to change it.

The recipe for the day was Turkey Tacos with shredded zucchini, Northwest Apple Salad and Yogurt Parfaits with fruit. The staff worked together in small teams to cut, chop and cook each item and prepared a delicious meal for everyone to enjoy! It was interesting to note that many participants had never tried adding Zucchini in their tacos ever before. This was a great learning experience for many of them of what vegetables can complement their favorite dishes.

Thank you to the team at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Curtis D. Robinson Center for Health Equity for their continued partnership, to help signify the importance of Cooking Matters in our communities.

KHAIR Spring Update



This was KHAIR’s second season having workshops on a local university campus. Program Manager Elvin Melendez says: “by having the workshops on a college campus, teenagers will be exposed to the possibilities of furthering their educational goals.”

Fifteen teenagers graduated from the KHAIR Classic program on Saturday, May 20 at the NHFPL(Courtland Wilson Branch) located on Washington Avenue. Eighty-Five family members and friends gathered to celebrate their children as they completed a 12-week program that focused on life-skills and self-esteem. Our keynote speaker was Dr. Marian Evans, Assistant Professor at Southern CT State Univ. Dept. of Public Health and Vice Chair of the CHNCT Foundation’s Board of Directors.





Seven Teenagers graduated from the KHAIR Wilbur Cross High School Enhancing Me Program. These students participated in several life skills workshops such as Team Building, Dress for Success and Social Etiquette, that will prepare them for high school.





The 4th Annual Walk4KHAIR is set to begin on June 19 and ends on August 7. This 50-day virtual walk will allow participants to login via Crowdrise, then record their steps from their fitness tracking device as they imagine themselves walking through the streets of 10 breathtaking countries in Europe.   Let your imagination take you through Europe as you start walking in Spain and end in Italy.  Your donation will help the KHAIR program continue working with teenagers who are at-risk. Visit for more information.



Preparations are taking place for the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the KHAIR Program. We will be inviting former graduates, workshop facilitators, clinicians, hairstylists and barbers, and program officials to take part in the momentous celebration. Details to follow!