PWCC Administration

Lisa Bridge

Executive Director – Lisa began her career in teaching as a member of the first NYC Teaching Fellows Cohort in 2001 and spent the first ten years of her career working with underserved populations as a classroom teacher in Central Harlem and the Lower East Side, later leading an after-school program in Chinatown under a 911 Red Cross Grant. Lisa has spent the past several years opening and overseeing preschools in Manhattan including recently, the first KinderCare in NYC which is the training school and Northeast Flagship for the company’s 1,800 locations. A proud mother of a mobile and spirited toddler, she is very excited to return to her roots in the non-profit sector and serve the families of Port Washington at PWCC! Lisa has her Master in Divinity from Columbia University and her Master in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College. 

Edward O'Connor

Operations and Communications Director – As a resident of the North Shore of Long Island, Eddie joins the Port Washington Children’s Center with over 25 years’ experience in the field of Education, both in various Administration roles and in the classroom. Eddie’s diverse experience background also includes Early Childhood Education Programs and working in Youth and Camp Programs. Over the years he has worked with children of all age, and families spanning across a variety of cultures and populations. His goal is to constantly grow and adapt current systems organization throughout our Main Office to fit the needs of PWCC, while never losing sight of what is important. “Maintaining a welcoming, kind school atmosphere for families and staff is of the utmost importance.”

Eddie holds a MS/BS in Elementary Education from Adelphi University with an AA in Early Childhood Education from Nassau Community College.

Omar Irizarry

Port AfterSchool Director – Omar has worked at the Children’s Center since 2010. He has worked with in our Pre-K program, after school programs in KidsPort & Port AfterSchool, along with working every Summer with our KidsPort kids. Omar previously worked as Site Supervisor at Port AfterSchool in Daly, Omar was recently promoted to School Aged Director. Omar’s favorite childhood book is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Omar has a BA in Sports Management from St. John’s University and has his New York State School Age Care (SAC) Credential.

Bernadette Horvath

KidsPort Director – Bernadette has been part of PWCC teaching staff since 2002. As head teacher of the Sea Turtles, she works hard to create an emergent learning environment for her children, hunting for sticks, branches, and leaves to bring nature into her classroom lessons. Bernedette says that the most inspirational part of her job is “the children.” Her favorite children’s book is “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. Bernadette has her BA in Early Childhood Education.

Veronica Casamassima

Operations Coordinator – Veronica joined the PWCC staff in 2011, originally as Office Manager, she manages the Center’s Operations. She coordinates admissions, everyday operations in the center, and outside contracts with Nassau County and New York State. As our Tech Ambassador, Veronica assists staff and teachers with technological questions and program updates. Veronica is fluent in Spanish and her mother tongue is Italian, which allows her to communicate with the diverse families that we serve. Veronica has her MA in Business Administration with concentration in Non-Profit Management.

Alyson Tradelli

School Counselor – Alyson has worked at the center since 2020. She has worked as both a school counselor and lead teacher in city schools. Alyson has years of experience working with diverse communities and underserved families as a school counselor in Queens, NY. Her philosophy is driven towards individualizing student needs to create a positive learning experience for them in the classroom. She looks to ensure all families have the knowledge, resources and tools to help their child succeed inside and outside of school. Alyson obtained her MA for School Counseling.

Matt Holzer

Port Summer Camp Director – Matt has headed Port Day Camp for the Children’s Center since 2012 and has worked at summer camps in Port Washington since the late 1990’s. Along with his role as our Summer Camp Director, Matt has been an 8th grade Social Studies teacher at Weber for the past 18 years. He also coaches middle school football, 8th grade boys basketball, and varsity baseball. In 2019, Matt won the AA2 Coach of the Year when the Vikings varsity baseball team made it to the Nassau County finals. Matt has a Master’s degree in secondary education social studies from Hofstra University.  

PWCC Teaching Staff

The Port Washington Children’s Center is truly fortunate to have a highly professional teaching staff. All staff members participate in ongoing professional development and complete a minimum of thirty hours of in service training every two years. Our staff provides children with a warm, nurturing, safe environment in which they can explore and learn.

Head Teachers for Early Childhood

Joanna Velasquez

Guppies – Joanna started working at PWCC in 2015 as an assistant teacher in the Sea Lions room. She is currently the head teacher of the Guppies, our youngest group in the Early Childhood program. Joanna said that the most inspirational part of her job is “seeing the children come in as babies and then acquire so many skills and language, becoming independent preschoolers.” Her favorite children’s book is “Giraffes Can’t Dance” by Giles Andreae. Joanna has a BA from Villanova university and has her CDA in infant/toddler concentration.

Maria Black

Sea Lions – Maria started working at the Port Washington Children’s Center in October of 1994. She is head teacher of the Sea Lions room. She began her work in Early Childhood education, working with toddlers in the Sea Lions, Dolphins and Guppies room. Maria says that the most inspirational part of her job is “being able to teach and make a difference in the lives of the children, along with the honor to see them years later and the fact that they still remember being here with us is an amazing feeling.” Her favorite children’s book is “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss. Maria has a Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential.

Natalie Buccino

Dolphins – Natalie started with PWCC in August of 2021. Prior to joining PWCC, she worked in early childhood and with school aged children fro the last 20 years. Since joining PWCC, she has worked with the preschoolers in the Dolphins room. Natalie says that the most inspirational part of her job is “seeing the children flourish and grow right before my eyes.” Her favorite book is “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein.

Leah Cary

Dolphins – Leah started working with the PWCC in August of 2021 as part of the Dolphins classroom. Leah says the most inspiring part of her job is “witnessing the growth of the children throughout the year and seeing them retain and apply the information being taught. “The Tiny Seed” by Eric Carle is her favorite children’s book. Leah has a BA in Psychology, French, and Linguistics.

Kaiyan Liang

Sea Horses – UPK – Kaiyan started working at PWCC in September of 2020. She first worked in the Guppies room and is now one of two head teachers in the Sea Horse room. Kaiyan and her co-teachers teach children foreign languages, cultures, and customs including Chinese, Spanish and Italian. Kaiyan said that the most inspiring part of her job is “when the children show interest in learning cultural diversity and when the children enjoy their time at school with their friends.” Her favorite children’s book is the “Curious George” series by Margret and H. A. Rey. Kaiyan has her M.S. in Early Childhood Education from Long Island University.

Michael Russo

Sea Horses – UPK – Mike has been part of PWCC teaching staff for 12 years and has worked in childhood programs since 1998. As head teacher of the Sea Horses, he works with his co-head teacher Kaiyan to create lessons that help their UPK students reach developmental goals. Before becoming part of the UPK Sea Horse team, Mike worked in early childhood with the threes and toddlers at PWCC. Mike is most inspired by “getting to be an important part of a young child’s life and being able to help them grow and socialize at an early age.” His favorite children’s book is “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss. Mike has a Master’s degree in Education from Adelphi University.

Holly Anne Haleiko

Step-Up – Holly Anne joined the Center in August of 2022 as head teacher in the Preschool Step-Up Class. Before joining PWCC, she taught kindergarten through fifth grade in a Baldwin Public School and worked as a teacher for a local private preschool while she completed her BA at Long Island University.  Holly Anne said that the most inspirational part of her job is “watching each of my children learn, grow, and blossom throughout the school year right in front of my eyes!” Holly Anne’s favorite children’s book is “Our Class Is A Family” written by Shannon Olsen. Holly Anne has her BA in Early Childhood Education and her MA from University of Albany in Literacy.

Supervisors for Afterschool Programs

Lori Lauterbach

PAS at Manorhaven – Lori joined our team this December, helping train and prepare for our afterschool expansion. She has worked in child care since 2017. Lori says that the most inspiration part of her job is “when I help a child, who is having trouble acclimating. Perhaps the child doesn’t know anyone, is homesick or has a hard time doing homework. I (or another staff member) work with said child each day… each day making more progress. This is a gradual process. Then it happens!” Her favorite children’s book is “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. Lori has a BA in Business Administration in Marketing.