Leadership Team

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.

Marilyn Harrison, Retail Marketing Director

“Featuring, curating and building awareness of the creative endeavors of talented artists and Individuals with Developmental Disabilities is an inspiration and a joy!”

Marilyn became a volunteer with Helpers Community Inc’s Helpers Artisan Boutique in 2019. In September of 2020 she was hired by the Helper’s Board of Directors as an employee of Helpers Community to buy, merchandise, provide retail marketing expertise and training for client program participants for the Helpers Artisan Boutique and the marketing for Helpers Community Inc.

Her prior experience includes wholesale, retail, marketing, and education: Retail Buyer Macys West, SF, CA; Sr Product Manager Levi Strauss & Co (LS & Co), SF, CA; Sr Retail Marketing Manager LS & Co, NY, NY; Retail Marketing Director Cole Haan, NY, NY; Retail Sales Consultant ABC Carpet and Home, NY, NY; Adjunct Professor – Parsons School of Design and Fashion Institute of Technology, NY, NY; Territory Team Leader and National Recruiter, MCG, NY, NY and SF, LA, CA, WA, AZ, ID. Currently a member of the National Arts Club, NY, NY.

Growing up in Honolulu, Hawaii, diversity was always a part of Marilyn’s life. Her desire to work with philanthropy began with her tenure at LS & Co, an organization which believes in “inclusiveness, diversity, giving back, supporting vulnerable communities, employee volunteerism, sustainability, and belief in the values of empathy, originality, integrity, courage.” While she worked at LS & Co Marilyn became involved with nonprofit work bringing together Chinese American and African American students through programs such as developing a pen pal program with The Transfiguration School in Chinatown NY, and an inner-city African American school in Brooklyn, the Trey Whitfield School, setting up opportunities for shared experiences between the two schools and support from LS & Co’s Foundation to gain assistance for the programs. While in NY she also served on the Board of Directors for Mercado Global, a 15-year-old Brooklyn based nonprofit and accessory brand, which empowers rural Guatemalan women to become entrepreneurs. These indigenous women through monetary support, wellness, health education, entrepreneurial and financial skills training, were provided with access to the global market and improved life for their families and communities, through Mercado Global’s partnership and development. Again, LS & Co provided support for the programs and the womens’ livelihood was further positively impacted by integration of handwoven fabric to Levi’s designs which LS & Co sells at retail. In addition, while at MCG/Randa Apparel & Accessories (RAA) Marilyn introduced RAA to Mercado Global. One of RAA’s suppliers has had lasting impact on training for the women with sewing machines traditionally only used by men at a local factory and that resource providing storage of the leather used in making handbags, favorably impacting efficiencies and empowerment, breaking the cycle of poverty.

Being at Helpers Community provides the opportunity to work with individuals with developmental disabilities giving them a voice and building awareness of their talent through showcasing their art and products.

Board of Directors

 

Helper’s is actively recruiting new board members. We’d love to talk with you, if you are interested in exploring the opportunities. Please contact harry@helpers.org.

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.