Meet Our Team

Tova Hairston, Executive Director
tova.hairston@boomerangyouth.org

A little about me: I joined Boomerang in March 2021.  I was most recently Executive Director of the Coastal Women’s Shelter in New Bern, NC where I managed five agency and service locations, led a staff and volunteer team of more than 75 people, and designed and implemented trauma-informed program strategies for survivors of violence.  Prior to that, I was a Program Coordinator for a Duke University program in eastern NC focused on addressing adolescent health disparities and a Program Director at a 21st Century Community Learning Center.  My career has prepared me to lead Boomerang in its current form and to grow the organization to better reach and serve young people in Orange County who may be in the process of disconnecting from school and community.  I hope to lead Boomerang to continue to serve young people who will most benefit from the connections, services and mentorship our organization provides.

Safiyyah Elahi, Program Manager
safiyyah.elahi@boomerangyouth.org

A little about me: I joined Boomerang in August 2021. Previously, I worked in education, supporting elementary-high school students with social emotional learning, as well as tutoring and providing college and career support (high school). Also, I worked in healthcare supporting elderly, as well as teens with developmental disorders .  I earned my Bachelors of Science in Public Health from University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, CT.  In May 2021, I obtained my Masters of Art in Gender and Cultural Studies from Simmons University in Boston, Massachusetts. My favorite part about Boomerang is watching students grow within and obtain their goals. You can ask me about cooking or travelling!

Tawanda Torres, Field Supervisor
tawanda.torres@boomerangyouth.org

A little about me:  She is the new Field Supervisor at Boomerang Youth Inc., she is a Graduate of Salisbury University in Maryland with both a Masters and Bachelor’s degree in social work. She is also a licensed master’s social worker in MD (LMSW) and is pending a LCSW-A in NC. She is a recent transplant to NC, and lived in western MD for the past 15 years after moving there from her native home of Queens NY.  Her previous roles included, case management in social work with the state of MD, Adult and children psychiatric therapy in mental health and federal housing funding for homeless prevention. She is an active member of NASW and is a certified financial social worker.

Katie Zinke, Student and Operations Coordinator

Katie.zinke@boomerangyouth.org

A little about me: Originally from Carlisle, Massachusetts, I came down to North Carolina to attend Elon University. I graduated from Elon with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences and a minor in Poverty & Social Justice studies. During my time at Elon I completed undergraduate research, was involved in multiple service learning cohorts, and worked for Elon Academy, Elon’s non-profit college access and success program. I also started an after school horseback riding program for youth in Burlington which gave students the opportunity to travel to a local barn once a week and work hands-on with the horses there. I strongly believe that the skills that are built through handling horses translate over into many aspects of life and give youth a newfound sense of confidence and responsibility. My passion for mentoring students, both inside the classroom and out, shines through as I work to empower youth to see their strengths and the possibilities ahead of them. Boomerang’s mission to find and develop the strengths of each student that walks through the door perfectly aligns with what I believe is so important when working with young people! I am thrilled to be a part of an organization that understands the value of positive role models in the lives of students, something that can often be overlooked. I am where I am today because of my mentors, and I find so much joy in being a mentor for others. I love to talk about horseback riding, my horse April, college prep and my recent trip to New Zealand!

Nora Dicker, Student Coordinator
nora.dicker@boomerangyouth.org
A little about me: Nora went to Chapel Hill-Carrboro City schools until highschool graduation, and went to Indiana University to get her undergrad in Social Work. Since graduation, in 2019, she has worked with The Compass Center, as a Childcare Specialist, and Hotline Advocate, and at Straight Talk Support Group, a transitional house for men who have been released from prison. She is currently attending NCCU, and will have her Masters in Social Work in May 2023. Nora had friends who went through Boomerang’s STRIVE Program in high school, giving her a personal connection to the organization. She is very excited to be part of the team as a Student Coordinator.

Kesler “Kes” Sarmiento Fitzgerald
kesler.sarmiento.fitzgerald@boomerangyouth.org

A little about me: Kesler first volunteered with Boomerang in 2017 when she moved to Chapel Hill from Brooklyn, NY. During her near decade in Brooklyn, she pursued a successful career in branding and design for collaborative marketing firms and various clothing and fragrance companies. During this time, she also worked with community outreach programs like Harold Hunter Foundation and The LES Girls Club to bring creative arts opportunities and mentorship to adolescents in LES Manhattan and her own neighborhood, Bed Stuy. It was through this work that she decided she wanted to professionally pursue her passion for championing and working with youth. Upon moving to North Carolina, Kesler went back to school and completed her Bachelors of Science in Psychology (with a focus on adolescence) at NCCU. Kesler is thrilled to return to Boomerang as a Student Coordinator and apply her unique background to best serve and empower the youth of Orange County. When she is not at Boomerang, you can find Kesler cooking traditional Colombian food, traveling, or enjoying outdoor adventures with her family.

Meet Our Interns

Carter Smith
carter.smith@boomerangyouth.org
Pronouns: She/her/hers
School/Program: UNC MSW
Favorite Part About Boomerang: Getting to learn more about each student’s unique passions, interests, and personalities during my time working with them.
Fun Fact: I have lived in Chapel Hill my whole life and went through the CHCCS school system.
Something You like to do in free time: Watching UNC basketball, reading, baking, and running.

Matt Trower
matt.trower@boomerangyouth.org
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs
School/Program: UNC School of Social Work
Favorite Part of Boomerang: Watching students learn to identify their strengths!
Fun Fact: I have two wimpy pitbulls named Evan and Marty.
Something I Like to Do in my Free Time: Going to the climbing gym and cooking

Carrington Jones
carrington.jones@boomerangyouth.org
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
School/Program: North Carolina Central University School of Social Work
Favorite Part of Boomerang: Team building with the staff.
Fun Fact: I have never broken a bone
Something I Like to Do in my Free Time: I like to go fishing.