Meet our Staff

Being interviewed at the Ford School Garden for that Highlands History Project.

David Gass


Raised in Lynn, David went to Antioch College in Ohio, participating in the civil rights and anti-war movements. His goal was to be a community organizer. He worked 10 years in machine shops in Cleveland in the labor movement. He graduated with a BA in American history in 1983.

 He returned to the North Shore with his wife and sons to build houses, then worked for community development corporations (cdcs) in Somerville and Boston on affordable housing. He directed LINC, a cdc in Lynn, creating award-winning housing/offices on Union St. He helped found the Highlands Coalition at the Ford School in 2006.
From an immigrant family, he would like new arrivals to share in Lynn’s wealth and power, not in its poverty. Education and good health are pathways out of poverty. Community schools working with neighborhood groups empower residents. As Frederick Douglass, former Lynn resident, taught: It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

Yonerky Santana

Community Organizer

Born in the Dominican Republic and brought to the U.S at the age of nine, Yonerky is a health science major at North Shore Community College. In 2010 she was the lead organizer for the Student Immigrant Movement (SIM), working for equal access to higher education for immigrant and undocumented students. She helped hundreds apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival. She works with nonprofits and churches fighting for human rights, equality and social change. She worked for Fair Shot.


Sandra Lopez

Lead-Paint Outreach Coordinator

In the Dominican Republic, Sandra studied architecture before moving to Lynn. She is raising a son.


Cherish Casey

Community Organizer

A dedicated mother, Cherish graduated from Salem State University’s School of Social Work. Her love for social work sprouted from 12 years as an early childhood teacher, developing a great interest in children’s social and emotional well-being.  She volunteered in 2014 at the Ford School garden, then was hired as an organizer. A youth leader at Zion Baptist Church, she works for Essex County Community Organization. She is a budding activist in our struggles for social change.