LEAD Leadership & Mentoring Program

Lead Female Initiative for Leadership & Education

LEAD is designed to provide female students with the opportunity to take an active role in their leadership development and educational journey. LEAD provides community and civic engagement opportunities to assist students in developing a strong professional network. Along with promoting self-awareness, self-love, and confidence, students will connect with professionals who will serve as mentors throughout their participation in LEAD. The mentoring component includes one-to-one and group mentoring sessions.

LEAD Goals

  • To increase retention of underrepresented female students.
  • To increase self-esteem, build character, and promote positive habits.
  • To help build strong personal and professional networks.
  • To engage students in educational, cultural, and civic engagement opportunities.

Meetings and Workshops

Attorney Colon with LEAD participants

  • LEAD will host regularly scheduled virtual meetings. In addition, students will meet virtually with mentors four times throughout the academic year. Additional meetings may be scheduled based on the needs of students and the goals of the program.
  • Students will participate in monthly workshops focused on topics such as leadership, self-care, professional culture, financial management, goal setting, and civic engagement.
  • If you are interested in participating in the LEAD Empowerment Program, please feel free to complete the STCC LEAD Participant Form.

STCC LEAD Participant Form

Mentor Bios

Nicole JacksonSuccess Coach/Retention Specialist

Nicole works In STCC’s Student Success Center as the Success Coach/Retention Specialist. In her role, she advises students on how to utilize best practices and best strategies in obtaining academic achievement and success. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and a Master’s of Science in Counselor Education with a specialization in Student Development in Higher Ed. Her professional experiences include working as a Secondary-Education Business Instructor, a Student Services Coordinator, an Academic Counselor, and a Student Advisor for TRIO. As a first-generation college graduate, Nicole understands that navigating policies, campus life, and curriculum can be challenging for students and so, she’s committed to being a resource for students who need extra support and guidance.

Vonetta LightfootMulticultural Affairs Operations Manager

I have a deep connection and love for STCC. I grew up on the campus of STCC. My mother was VP of HR and of Student & Multicultural Affairs and my father was Assistant Coach for men’s basketball and Gym Manager and they both worked at the college for over 20+ years. While I didn’t attend STCC as a full –time student, I worked in the bookstore, financial aid, public relations as well as the summer camp and the paint crew. In 2005, after graduating from Hampton University with B.A. in Mass Media Arts-Print Journalism, I started at the college full-time as a staff assistant and liaison for international students; and for the College Now dual enrollment program. I worked in Admissions for 10 years before pursuing a more creative and dynamic career within student affairs. I am now the Multicultural Affairs Operations Manager and I am responsible for creating and developing diversity, equity and inclusion programming at STCC. I am also the founder and chair of the Black Professionals Group which was created in 2012 as a means to advocate and support Black faculty and staff at the college.

Yezenia LopezAcademic Advisor and Adjunct professor

Currently an Academic Advisor and Adjunct professor. I teach PSY-101 & FYE-101. I have a bachelor's degree in Psychology & Spanish and a masters in Educational Psychology; School counseling. I am a first generation college student and I was the first in my family to get a master’s degree.


Jenary MercedAdmissions Community Outreach Counselor

My passion for learning and serving my community is the result of my shared values with STCC for the past 11 years. I started my academic and professional journey with this institution in 2004 as a single teen mother.  As I increased my family by two, like many adult learners, I attempted college a few times before learning became my passion. In 2010 I became a work-study, which is when the mission of supporting students and transforming lives started to change my life. I knew then that I wanted to help students fulfill their true potential as they learn to master this journey. Now I am honored and privileged to say, I am STCC, and I am here to serve you all to reach your goals and break barriers.

Lidya Rivera-EarlyDirector of Community Engagement

I am a seasoned Program and Project Management professional. I hold a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Springfield College. Giving back, empowering others and building relationships are very significant to me and I blend this all together in my current role as the Director of Community Engagement at Springfield Technical Community College. The foundation to my life is family ~ my husband, one son and two daughters.  I love to serve and help others improve their lives. I am passionate about helping improving the offerings at STCC and making more educational and training options available to all in my community. I am also an Entrepreneur and business owner of Lids_Live_Well Nutrition & Fitness Club. I love to explore new places, play volleyball and my personal motto is “Love Speaks Louder than Words”.


If you are interested in learning more about the LEAD Program, please Lidya Rivera-Early

Director of Community Engagement



Strong women LEAD!