Heather Debreu, Community Organizer
Heather has been a member of the Close to Home network since 2007. She began working as a dedicated volunteer and then became fulltime staff in 2011. Heather is a local resident of Fields Corner in Dorchester MA and works with other local community leaders and stakeholders to improve the quality of life and create social change within the community. She also works with and supports empowerment of other local residents to strengthen the community and engage the community in having conversations, raising awareness, building skills and knowledge, and taking action to prevent and respond to domestic and sexual violence as well as other forms of violence and oppressions in the lives of the community. Heather is passionate about her work and envisions a more beloved community.
Prior to Close to Home, Heather worked fulltime as a Preschool Teacher Assistant at a local ABCD Head Start program while attending part time Early Childhood Education classes at Urban College of Boston. Heather worked with children ranging from ages 2.9 to 5 years old of diverse ethnical backgrounds. She valued the personal enrichment acquired through her work and was impassioned about contributing to enhance the lives of the children.
Heather is a single mother of three teens and enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She also explores a variety of creative activities in her free time.
Betsy Rueda Gyn, Operations Manager
Aimee M. Thompson Arevalo, Founder and Executive Director
Aimee is the founder and executive director of Close to Home. Aimee brings a passion for grassroots organizing, community building, organizational and program development, training, participatory research, and collaborative learning to her leadership role. Aimee serves on the Massachusetts Governor’s Council to Address Sexual and Domestic Violence, the Massachusetts State Prevention Team, and co-chairs the Council’s Promising Practices Working Group. Aimee has been recognized by Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, the Social Innovation Forum, and Facing History and Ourselves. She has provided trainings and workshops on Close to Home’s approach throughout the US, as well as in Germany, the Caucasus, Cyprus, Uganda and South Africa.
Prior to Close to Home, Aimee was the co-director of Project Harmony’s Domestic Violence Community Partnership where she managed the development of coordinated community responses to domestic violence in seven cities in Russia, Ukraine, and the Republic of Georgia. Earlier in her career, she worked for the Child Witness to Violence Project at Boston Medical Center where she developed a group therapy program for children and women and led a seminar for Boston Police officers on how to work with children affected by trauma. Aimee’s commitment to community-driven approaches began when she was a community health worker at the Codman Square Health Center where she worked to improve community members’ access to health care, prevent youth violence, and increase the neighborhood’s civic participation through grassroots organizing. She also has a deep belief in the power of storytelling to create social change.
Ellie Sonis, Landmark Residential
Aimee Thompson Arevalo, Close to Home
Kathryn Tebbe, PwC
We would also like to acknowledge former staff team members that made important contributions to our process:
Van Lan Truong