Jeff Lafata-Hernandez, Founder & Executive Director
Jeff founded Empowering People for Inclusive Communities (EPIC) in March of 2011, to address the growing need for transition aged youth with disabilities to develop their leadership skills, and to become more active in their communities.
With a lifelong passion for social justice and community service, Jeff began his career in the fall of 1999 as a member of the City Year Boston corps. Through his work at the Nathan Hale Elementary School in Roxbury, MA, Jeff first worked with youth with learning disabilities in a 3rd-5th grade special education classroom.
Since that time, Jeff has devoted his career to working within the Disability Community in varied settings: classrooms, community organizations, residential programs and vocational environments. His work includes time at Perkins School for the Blind, North Suffolk Mental Health Association, Partners for Youth with Disabilities, and countless hours of volunteer service at numerous organizations.
Jeff’s favorite quote: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” - Martin Luther King Jr
Krystal Linn, Worcester Youth Programs Specialist
Krystal hails from Southbridge, and has spent the last 15 years working in Human Services. They have worked for several different organizations including Head Start, Worcester Public Schools, and the Seven Hills Foundation. Krystal has experience developing inclusive social programs for people with ID, Autism Spectrum disorders, and Brain Injury.
Krystal graduated from BayPath University with a degree in Psychology and additional certifications in Visual Thinking Strategies. They also serve as a member of the National Speaker’s Bureau for Planned Parenthood, sharing their personal stories and speaking both within Massachusetts and nationally on healthcare issues.
Krystal is the wearer of many hats. Along with their work for EPIC, they are mother to seven children: a mixture of biological, step, and foster children. They are also a tireless advocate for disability inclusivity, LGBTQ rights, and healthcare accessibility, having experience lobbying on both the state and national level. They also sit on the board of their local food share as a volunteer and fundraising committee member.
Krystal's favorite quote: “I like to think of ideas as potential energy. They're really wonderful, but nothing will happen until we risk putting them into action.” - Mae Jemison
Ethan Linsky, EPIC Assistant Director
Ethan became involved with EPIC in 2017 as the Boston Youth Programs Specialist. Before working at EPIC, Ethan had a long history of learning through community service, team sports, and Education. He was an AmeriCorps Member of City Year Boston for two years, working in Boston Public Schools and mentoring students in and out of the classroom. Ethan has also been a coach for wheelchair basketball, a youth Improv Comedy teacher, and volunteered his time to both local and international organizations to support and build safe and inclusive communities for all.
Ethan left his formal position at EPIC in 2020 to return to school and receive a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in education. After working with elementary school students as a classroom teacher, he is excited to take the new skills and knowledge he has collected and rejoin the EPIC team as the Assistant Director.
Ethan's favorite quote: "You are the sum total of everything you've ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot - it's all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive." -Maya Angelou
Dorothy Whitfield, Boston Youth Programs Specialist
Dorothy is from Houston, Texas, and relocated to Boston merely a month before Hurricane Harvey. With her versatile personality, she successfully involved herself in an administrative career: acting as an office manager and as admin support for several companies. Dorothy developed a passion for social work after being inspired by Michelle Obama’s book, “The Becoming.” She joined the EPIC team in 2020 as an AmeriCorps VISTA. After her AmeriCorps year at EPIC, Dorothy decided to come on board to continue supporting EPIC youth as the Boston Youth Programs Specialist.
Dorothy's favorite quote: "You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it's important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages," - Michelle Obama
EPIC Advisory Board
Delia O'Connor, Board Chair
Lauren Piscopo, Board Co-Chair
Michael Baker, Becker College
Michelle Benjamin, Open Sky Community Service
Ashley Boyd Fermin, Department of Developmental Services (DDS)
Robert Bureau, Resiliency Solutions
Melanie Figueiredo, URL Media
Rachel Kang, Microsoft
Edward Sandford, Vericel Corporation
Meredith Tranquin, Minds Matter
Martine Vanpee, Retired
Meredith Wright, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC)