JENNIFER STRAUSSER – director of programming and membership
Jen applied for a job at apple seeds because she truly loves every child she meets (and she could walk to work). In fact, she threatens to take a few home with her every day. (Don't worry her background check came back clean.) In the past four years she has gone from creating and launching our extremely popular apple seedlings gentle separation program to overseeing all apple seeds classes, teachers and curriculum. We call Jen the baby whisperer around these parts. Put a child (or parent for that matter) in her arms and watch the tears turn to laughter in 3.2 seconds flat. Jen is mother to Cole, an amazing 14 year old boy who is obsessed with Ultimate Fighting and his mom.
RYAN DEJAK – director of outreach and communications
Ryan was born and raised on Long Island, NY. He is a proud graduate of Stonehill College in North Easton, MA, where he graduated with Bachelor Degrees in both Psychology and Fine Arts. While in college, Ryan strengthened his love of working with children and the performing arts through his involvement in early intervention and child enrichment programs and volunteer opportunities. He was often seen on stage and admits to being the biggest theater geek around. His passion for the stage led him to NYC, where he completed a conservatory program in Musical Theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. He is obsessed with theater, music, and everything Broadway! Ryan joined the apple seeds family in 2012 as the birthday and event manager, later became general manager and is now the director of outreach and communications!
WILL ROSE – general manager (upper west side)
Will started at apple seeds right after arriving in the Big Apple from Madison, Wisconsin – almost 5 years ago. He has truly done every job at apple seeds…he has been a teacher, a playground supervisor, apple seeds’ summer camp coordinator, front desk manager, and now the general manager of our UWS location. Will started working with children in 1999, as a Counselor-In-Training at Camp Shalom in the Dairy State. He graduated with a B.S. in political science from the University of Minnesota, and he recently completed his Master’s in Urban Policy at the New School. He plans to utilize his degree by advocating for the expansion of subsidized child care for low-income residents of New York City. He resides in lovely Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, but you can spot him all over the five boroughs (well, at least three of them) in the city’s finest rap-friendly music venues, roaming the parks with a frisbee, honing his karaoke, trivia, and pool skills, or posted up at various purveyors of tacos, pizza, labneh, curry, pho, arepas, pernil, falafel, and gabagoo. Delicious!
CASSIE ORZANO HAVILAND – birthday manager / executive administrator
Cassie joined the apple seeds’ team in November 2010. She started as marketing coordinator and HR administrator and did everything from coordinating marketing efforts, to creating and hanging the signs that you saw around the space, to assisting at the front desk or in classes. She enjoys working with kids and seeing the smiles on their faces when they come to apple seeds. She also loves when the kids remember her name and say hi to her even when they’ve only seen her in class two or three times! Now the apple seeds' birthday manager, she will be planning your child’s ridiculously fun birthday bash. Cassie received her bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Binghamton University in 2007 and graduated with a master’s degree in Public Relations and Advertising from DePaul University in 2010. She had a great experience living in Chicago for two years, but she now feels at home in the Big Apple. Outside of apple seeds, Cassie enjoys cheering on her favorite sports teams (Go Giants!), cooking and spending time with friends and family. She loves animals and has a mischievous, spoiled cat named Milo.
TOM DELPIZZO – music coordinator
You name it, Tom has done it here at apple seeds. Since apple seeds inaugural year in 2007, Tom could be found in the playground, classes, front desk, and birthdays. He has been an interior painter, an electrician, a voice actor (yes, that’s his voice on the phone system), a web designer, a photographer (yes, these headshots on this page were taken by Tom), a plumber, a dancer and our resident juggler. At one point Tom was the Facilities Manager overseeing: the daily operations of all our Manhattan and satellite locations, day time floor teams, and evening cleaning crews. Now Tom is excited to step into his latest role as Music Manager (oh, he also plays guitar and sings)! Tom received his BA in Acting & Directing from DeSales University near his hometown of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He is the very proud father of his son – who he and his wife Kate welcomed in September 2014 – Benjamin Thomas.
ASHER TOURIEL – accountant
Asher joined the apple seeds team in January 2014 as our accountant. As much as he enjoys his work, he quickly began escaping his Excel spreadsheets to make funny faces and noises at kids around him. He has been seen (if he doesn't have a pencil behind his ear) carrying a child on his back and trying to make him laugh. Asher is the father of two adorable kids, Maayan and Liam, who really enjoy visiting their father’s workplace. Asher received his bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Ramat Gan College (Israel) and another bachelor’s degree in Law from Ono Academic Center College (also in Israel). He is experienced at integrating technology with operations processes to ensure we're running a cost-effective business. Outside of apple seeds, Asher enjoys traveling, especially to New England, and reading books.
DARIUS MARTIN – facilities coordinator
Darius was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. After leaving the city for college, he returned to complete a degree in Theatre at Brooklyn College. In the spring of 2012, while still at Brooklyn College, Darius found his way to apple seeds...and he's been here ever since. Darius has always enjoyed working with children and has found it very easy to relate to them (mostly because he is just a big kid himself). It became apparent that apple seeds would be a good fit for Darius and he has held a number of different jobs here: playground attendant, teacher, and evening crew member, just to name a few. Darius is now the Facilities Coordinator and oversees both our daytime floor team as well as our evening cleaning staff.