Our Staff


Robert Blakey

Chief Financial Officer and Interim Chief Executive Officer 

Rob came to CAHS in 2013 and became the Chief Financial Officer in 2015.  As the CFO, he has responsibility for upholding strong financial management and accountability, while providing timely, accurate, and reliable financial information and enhancing internal control.  Rob also oversees our fiscal sponsorships and human resources.  Prior to joining CAHS, he worked in the accounting department of the Friendship Service Center of New Britain and has experience with accounting for small businesses.  Rob earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of Connecticut in 2006, as well as a Master of Arts in Economics from American University in 2007.  In 2018, he completed a Master of Science in Accounting from the University of Connecticut. 

Sheryl Horowitz

Chief Research and Evaluation Officer

Sheryl came to CAHS in 2010 with the goal of implementing Results Based Accountability evaluation within the family of programs administered and operated by CAHS. Sheryl has a background in anthropology and has worked in community-based organizations and non-profits doing research and evaluation on programs to improve the health and quality of life of low income and marginalized populations. Most recently, Sheryl worked with the Institute for Medical Quality in California to assess an educational mandate to train physicians to communicate effectively with patients from diverse backgrounds. Sheryl received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and completed post-doctoral work at UC Berkeley in Demography and at Stanford University in Population Ecology.

Elizabeth Fraser

Policy Director

Elizabeth W. Fraser is a Policy Director at Connecticut Association for Human Services. Elizabeth works with a wide variety of social service agencies, task forces and legislative officials to advocate for legislative change, sources of funding and the building of self-sustaining and accountable social development programs. Elizabeth has been in this role for 3 years. Prior to CAHS, Elizabeth was the Director of the Middletown Even Start Program. Prior to Middletown Even Start, Elizabeth has spent 25 years in both the public and private sector in the field of Early Childhood. Elizabeth holds a Master’s in Education Degree from Cambridge College in Cambridge, Massachusetts and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education and Human Growth and Development from Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts.  She serves on the Connecticut Two Generation Interagency Council, both the Early Childhood Alliance Steering Committee and Advocacy Committee and the Connecticut Parent Power Steering Committee.

Gloria Caesar


Program Director

Gloria has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree from Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT. Gloria has 20-plus years’ experience in the corporate world in database marketing. Prior to coming to CAHS, Gloria had five years of experience working with non-profit organizations, including LifeBridge in Bridgeport. In this role, Gloria organized and delivered curriculum(s) and facilitated workshops on skills development. These workshops focused on “at risk youth”, the TANF population, and organizations seeking to advance their employees through specialized training. Gloria also served as LifeBridge’s VITA site coordinator, including its asset-building efforts with clients. Gloria looks forward to working with CAHS’s current and future partners to “engage, equip and empower all families in Connecticut to build a secure future”.


Denise Smith

Connecticut Adult & Youth Money School Program Manager

Denise Smith is a Program Manager and Financial Coach who came to CAHS because of her passion for empowering individuals and families through education and CAHS’ focus on the  “Family Economic Success” (FES)  model.  Denise has over 20 years as a trainer/facilitator and community advocate in the areas of financial services, health equity, family economic success, and education through a holistic approach to improving lives.  She has developed and facilitated an array of financial capability workshops statewide. She previously served as the coordinator of the CT Money School and has also worked in collaboration with the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, Department of Social Services, CT Works, CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Bridges Out of Property and many other statewide agencies and organizations.   Denise previously worked as a licensed Financial Representative for Prudential and ING, with a focus on retirement planning, and still holds multiple insurance licenses.  She is a certified trainer through  AHIMA.   She has served as a Money Coach and workshop facilitator at the “YWCA Money Conference for Women”.

Kayla Goldfarb

Policy Analyst

Kayla Goldfarb, Policy Analyst, was drawn to CAHS' unique role as both data-driven advocate for systemic reforms and as a source of evidence-based programs. She is particularly interested in exploring the ways in which data analysis, along with targeted framing, can support effective policy communications and advocacy. She received a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Global Studies with a concentration in human rights and justice in Latin America from the University of Minnesota and completed a Master's in Public Policy degree in 2018 at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Prior to joining CAHS, she served as the Communication Director for Minnesota State Representative Erin Maye Quade's successful 2016 campaign, and as Campaign Manager for her 2018 bid. 

Barbara Steadman

Volunteer Services Coordinator

Barbara has been with CAHS since January, 2014.  She brings with her over 20 years experience from Cigma Corporation where she worked coordinating volunteer programs, including tutoring programs for elementary school children, walkathons for the March of Dimes and Juvenile Diabetes, and the United Way’s Day of Caring.  Currently she coordinates workshops for the Connecticut Money School, a program of CAHS.  She is responsible for recruiting and training volunteers from all areas of the state in facilitating financial education workshops for low to moderate income people, as well as working with local agencies, libraries, and community centers interested in scheduling workshops.  In addition to her role at CAHS, Barbara is a professional photographer who runs a small business with her husband in Plainville, CT.  She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism (Advertising/Public Relations) from the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

L. Vanessa Gruden


Vanessa joined CAHS in August 2016. She began her career in the corporate world but for the past 25 years has worked with nonprofits. Her experience as a bookkeeper and office administrator spans organizations such as the Connecticut Housing Coalition, the Hartford Food System, Connecticut Nonprofits, and the Northeast Citizen Action Resource Center. Vanessa is also executive director of her own small non-profit animal shelter and was a featured writer for Fancy Publications for over 15 years. Vanessa holds a certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Trinity Center for Neighborhoods.

Jonathan Colon

Financial Coaching Program Associate

Jonathan Colón is a recent Public Allies AmeriCorps graduate and has been hired as a part-time Program Associate for the Financial Coaching Program at CAHS. He has a passion for economic justice and civic engagement. He brings 5 years of political campaign experience both volunteering and as a campaign manager for State Representative Kelly Luxenberg for her successful bids in 2014 and 2016. While he was attending Manchester Community College where he received his Associates Degree in General Studies he had the privilege to be elected Student Government Association President. He has held internships at Senator Murphy’s Office, Governor Malloy’s Office and State Representative Schofield’s Office. As of now he is on the path to completing his Bachelors Degree in Political Science at Central Connecticut State University. He enjoys reading, yoga and being outside with his family.


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