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Our Team

Alison Berkley

Executive Director/Co-Founder

Alison is an educator, entrepreneur and autism expert with over 19 years of experience in the field of special education. 

Molly Sebastian

Executive Director/Co-Founder

Molly’s vision of a reimagined future for the autism community materialized when her daughter Ava was eight. Molly realized that despite Ava’s task-oriented work ethic, her lack of spoken language would likely be an obstacle to future employment. To support Ava’s skill development, Molly created a micro enterprise, “Ava K’s Super Smart Strawberry and Chocolate Jam.” Ava learned to cut and prepare the berries and sell the jam at street fairs. Seeing Ava’s progress, Molly recognized that this model could support a broader community and the idea of product-based vocational training was born. Leveraging her 20-year television development and production executive career, Molly brought her idea to life with Invictus Bakery. 

Lisa Marie Kain

Director of Finance

Lisa is an autistic person, mother of disabled children, advocate, and a current Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities trainee at the UC Davis MIND Institute. Lisa holds a Florida CPA license and an Illinois CPA certificate. She earned her Master of Accounting Degree from Florida Atlantic University and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Her professional experience includes working with non-profit organizations, privately held companies, and publicly traded multinationals.

Dana Greenberg

Parent and Community Liaison

Dana is a mother of teen twins, one with ASD.  She wants to use her knowledge to guide other parents through the process of applying for services to benefit their child.

Amanda Huang

Director of Strategic Development

Amanda is a former Vice President at Morgan Stanley and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the pastry arts program at the International Culinary Center.  She left the world of finance after 11 years to pursue her passions for baking and social impact.  She enjoys being able to combine her skills to both support Invictus’ growth and teach classes and work with the amazing bakers.  She is the lead instructor for Coffeeshop Classics and is a certified food handler with the NYC DOH and Servsafe Manager.

Brigitte Goodman

P/T Program Director

Brigitte is a licensed Occupational Therapist with over 13 years of experience. She most recently was OT Department Chair at Cooke School and Institute where she helped develop their Adaptive Skills program. Brigitte has a Masters of Science in OT from Columbia University, and is a member of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). She has a passion for both working with individuals with disabilities and for being in the kitchen, and is thrilled to join Invictus and use her experience while combining the two.

Robert Epner

Manager of Development & Partnerships

Bob is an entrepreneur having founded both a B2B tech firm with a focus on nonprofits and New York City’s only special needs ice hockey team now in its 10th season.  The hockey team came about due to Bob’s son David who has autism.  David learned to be a good skater at an early age and Bob created the hockey team to be an outlet for David and others to enjoy a full sports team experience. Earlier in his career, Bob was Regional General Manager & COO for ING Group in Asia and held various senior management positions at ING and MetLife.  He holds an MBA in Finance from NYU and a BS in Economics from Wharton.  Bob is also an avid tennis player, photographer, and poet who loves spending time with his wife and son exploring and power walking across NYC.

Samantha Sambile

Financial Coordinator

Samantha is a passionate advocate for social equity and community development with a diverse background in fashion design, marketing, and social media management. Prior to her current role as Financial Coordinator here at Invictus, Samantha was the Operations Manager as well as the Cottage Food Expert where she developed a home baking business curriculum tailored to New York State regulations. Previously, Samantha served as a Program Manager for a nonprofit, offering educational support to low-income youths through entrepreneurial education and financial literacy programs. Outside of work, she runs her own home bakery in Los Angeles, specializing in vegan baked goods, and offers professional organizing services. As an artist, Samantha channels her creativity through various mediums, reflecting her passion for both art and community support.

Kirby Laguerre

Administrative Manager

Kirby is a proud Brooklyn native and alumna of Vanderbilt University, where she earned her degree in Child Development and Medicine, Health, & Society. Currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Clinical Child Psychology at West Virginia University, Kirby has found profound joy in connecting with and understanding individuals who identify as neurodivergent. Her commitment to service is deeply ingrained, with a history of contributing her organizational, writing, and research skills to various non-profit organizations. Beyond her academic and professional pursuits, Kirby is an avid reader and passionate traveler, constantly exploring new horizons. She also has a major sweet tooth which fits perfectly here at Invictus!

Lead Instructors

Irene Dambriunas

Irene, our Head Pastry Chef, has worked as a baker, pastry chef, cake decorator, line cook and prep cook in restaurants, bakeries, community kitchens and coffee shops both in Montreal and across New York City for the past ten years. Irene has published recipes and articles in various food publications including Eater, VegNews, Edible Queens, and Kitchen Table Magazine. She is also a recipe developer, having created original recipes for cakes, cookies, brownies and more to be baked and sold by our talented team of bakers. Irene runs the Saturday Cake School class where bakers learn the ins and outs of mixing and baking cakes and mastering the fine art of cake decorating. Irene is a certified food handler by the New York State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 

Miriam Garron

Miriam managed Food Network Kitchen for 20 years through profound changes in the culinary and media worlds. She led culinary teams on Bobby’s BBQ Addiction and Brunch at Bobby’s, appeared on 9 seasons of ThrowDown! with Bobby Flay, and wrote for FN.Com. In 2014 she launched Food Network’s first sustainability initiatives and worked with its facilities team to implement a 0-Waste program. Miriam is a certified TRUE 0-Waste Advisor and serves on the board of People in Need, a not-for-profit serving Kensington, Brooklyn. She is thrilled that her culinary path led to the bakers and staff at Invictus.

Heather Escareno

Heather is a pastry chef with over 10 years experience in the pastry arts.  She has graduated from a French pastry school whose courses are taught in Le Courdon Bleu. Having learned high levels of culinary, bread and pastry instruction, she applied her knowledge and experience in French fine-dining establishments and French bakeries.  With a collection of mastered techniques in viennoiseries, wedding cakes, French pastries and desserts of all kinds, she is excited to run the Monday Baking Fundamentals Class.  She is inspired and feels a close connection for Invictus’ cause because her brother is also on the autism spectrum. Heather is a certified food handler by New York’s State of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Ella Thurber

Ella is an Instructor for our Saturdays classes. She loves working at the bakery as an instructor and looks forward to it each week! She has over 10+ years of experience working with autistic individuals and in special education. Outside the bakery, she loves any type of craft and chilling with her cat. She is excited for her and the bakery’s future! 

Guillermo Pena

Guillermo is an Instructor for our Saturdays classes.  He is currently an Assistant Teacher at Cooke Transitions. He is passionate about Star Wars and dogs, and loves learning new things. 

Dara Tesser

Dara is a chef, educator, recipe developer and culinary consultant in New York City.  After graduating with a business degree from The George Washington University she found that her calling was in the kitchen.  Her culinary career started 20 years ago at Gramercy Tavern.  Since then she has worked in some of New York’s most well known restaurants, consulted in major restaurant openings and educated elementary school students in the art of cooking.

Thanks to a generous donation from Microsoft, our workspace is outfitted with the latest technology. Our touch screen enabled laptops allow Bakers of all profiles to follow our process and create our high-quality goods. Microsoft Technology is the bridge that allows us to enable productivity in our overlooked and untapped workforce.