Robert “Harry” Harrison, Jr., Executive Director
Harry is a well-respected, dynamic leader who possesses a wealth of experience in the corporate, educational and nonprofit sectors. His commitment to community service and implementing the pursuit of positive change led him to a career in philanthropy.
Harry refined his leadership skills and management experience at Levi Strauss & Company, where he enjoyed a career in a progression of management roles with increased responsibility, that spanned more than twenty years. In 2002, Harry was the Regional Director (East Coast) of Sales and Marketing for all brands and consumer segments, accountable for all P&L responsibilities for a $125M business.
Harry’s initial orientation in philanthropy began with the Trey Whitfield School (TWS) in Brooklyn, NY. During his 10 years as Director of Development, Harry and the senior leadership at TWS, together envisioned, created and implemented a $6M Capital Fund campaign which would contribute to Trey Whitfield School being recognized as a beacon of hope in NYC inner city education.
After TWC, he went on to serve as the Executive Director for the YMA (Fashion Scholarship Fund), a national non-profit association made up of influential members of the fashion community. The organization is dedicated to promoting education of the fashion arts and business by facilitating internships, mentorships, career programs and scholarship grants to talented students. During his time there he led the growth of member schools from 9 schools (2005), awarding 19 scholarships, to 46 schools and disbursement of 125 scholarships (2013.)
Harry’s passion for community service is expressed through his involvement as a Volunteer with Compass Family Services and SPUR, both in San Francisco. He is also a member of both the National Arts Club and Gramercy Park Building Association in NYC.
Margaret “Peggy” Bachecki, Board Chair
“Helpers has been a part of the community for over 60 years. Certainly, challenges surfaced, but the mission has always been to help those with developmental disabilities.”
Peggy discovered Helpers in 1966. She became Helper’s first part-time and then a full-time employee in the office and then went on to supervise the activity program until 1973, when she left her paid position. She stayed connected as a volunteer. The Board of Directors invited her to join in 1995. She was instrumental in the operation of Helpers’ three group homes, the launch of the activity program, and the opening of Helpers Bazaar at Ghirardelli Square and the closing of the group homes in 2003.
The mission then became the granting of funds to other agencies who work and care for those with developmental disabilities. The intent of the Board remained reopening the group homes. That goal became a reality through a partnership with the Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center.
Peggy embraced the plan to create a job training and employment site at the Helpers Store, for those with developmental disabilities, in partnership with the Pomeroy Center and the ARC of San Francisco. She acknowledges that while Helpers has been a part of the community for over 50 years, the organization has been challenged in many ways over this time period, but the mission as has always been to help those with developmental disabilities. Peggy retired after 36 years as an office manager for Uccelli & Associates Court Reporting.
Stanley Wong, Board Treasurer
“I’ve stayed on the board because we put our focus on improving the lives of our residents. They come first. Our foundation is also supporting programs to assist people with developmental disabilities throughout the Bay Area.”
Stanley first encountered Helpers in 2000, in his role as a Senior Project Manager for Plant Construction Company, when he relocated Helpers Bazaar from one location to another in Ghirardelli Square. Helpers introduced Stanley to the challenges faced by individuals with developmental disabilities. His architectural expertise came in handy through volunteer projects he performed for Helpers over the years. Eventually, he was invited to become a board member and accepted immediately. As a board member, Stanley continues to contribute his construction and architectural skills to the on-going maintenance, rehabilitation and renovation of the group homes.
Melissa Trujillo, Board Secretary
“Being a Helpers board member during a time of transition and growth is a blessing in my life. Reopening the homes for residents has been a goal for Helpers since they closed in 2002. Seeing those dreams come to fruition is inspiring.”
Melissa joined the Helpers Board in January 2017. Prior to that she served as a volunteer for eight years, at Helpers Bazaar. Her dedication to Helpers deepened her understanding and furthered her own work with people with developmental disabilities. Melissa is a program manager at the Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center where she’s worked for over 10 years. Melissa understands first-hand the struggles people with developmental disabilities face to have safe and welcoming housing in the Bay Area.
Cati Gallardo, Brand Marketing, Social Media and PR
“Helpers grants have enabled other organizations to improve their day programs, while others updated facilities. Our partnership with Pomery Recreation & Rehabilitation Center clinched our ability to re-open a beautiful home for individuals with developmental disabilities, so they can live and thrive in San Francisco. The need for this kind of housing in San Francisco is so great, we aim to create more residential opportunities. I’m excited to see what we’ll do next.”
Cati joined the board of Helpers in the fall of 2016. Being able to serve her community by helping others has always been an important part of her life. Cati and her family left San Francisco and headed for the Northern California redwoods in 2017. However, her work with Helpers continues, as there is still so much work to be done to support individuals with developmental disabilities in the Bay Area and beyond. In addition to her work with Helpers, Cati is the Chair of the Communications Working Group for Equity Arcata and is a board member of the newly formed Bureau of Fantastical Spectacles, which raises funds for CASA of Humboldt each year by producing family-friendly community events, including the Arcata Fairy Festival. When Cati is not volunteering, she enjoys spending time with her family and works as the Communications Specialist for the City of Arcata.