Introducing New HOBY Staff!


HOBY International has quite a few new faces. Learn about what they bring to the organization and what they are most looking forward to!



Heleen Bennett is a Program Associate at the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership International office in Westlake Village, CA. She works mainly in customer service, collaborating with school staff members and providing information for prospective students. Heleen’s favorite thing about working for HOBY is having the opportunity to foster youth leadership and inspire young adults to live ethically and give back compassionately.

Originally, Heleen was born and raised in Thousand Oaks, CA. She then went on to attend the University of San Diego. There, she got her BA in Environmental Studies with an Education minor and graduated with honors. She was blessed with the chance to study and do research abroad four times, including trips to Italy, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda. Immediately after her graduation, Heleen worked as a Gardening Instructor at San Diego Cooperative Charter School – Mountain View Campus in San Diego, CA.

Most recently, she served as an Agriculture Extension Specialist with Peace Corps Ethiopia for two and a half years. There, she lived with her host family in a small town called Mere Meity, located just southeast of the regional capital of Tigray. She led trainings focused on home-gardening, nutrition, gender equality, female empowerment, computer literacy, and English Language Learning. During her time with HOBY, Heleen is most excited about pursuing programming and research that genuinely foster inclusivity for students of differing backgrounds. Heleen loves to travel, sing, spend time with her loved ones, and dance. She hopes to continue to inspire and be inspired by the young people she works with at HOBY.

Robert Carpenter is the Director of National Programs for Region B. Finding his passion for promoting leadership in youth while teaching high school math and coaching track, Robert has spent over ten years in nonprofit management for youth services organizations. He is extremely passionate about partnering with communities to enable the full potential of young leaders through setting goals, pursuing education, teamwork and giving back through service. He holds master’s degrees in Organizational Leadership and Education and is proud of the award-winning collaborative youth service and youth leadership initiatives he has developed and facilitated in three states. He also has managed annual community service days involving one to four hundred people at a time completing projects that invest sustainably into local regions. Robert believes strongly in the value of partnerships; that all people regardless of background or age have the opportunity to contribute towards communities in powerful ways. Therefore, he most enjoys working alongside HOBY team members – especially volunteers. His favorite part of any day or week is collaborating directly with teams to overcome challenges, celebrate achievements and bring global communities together through effective and strategic partnerships.
Robert, his wife, and their active, tree-climbing toddler live in northern Vermont. When he isn’t climbing trees, rocks, or other objects to retrieve his son, Robert enjoys outdoor sports, running, and living out his last name through carpentry projects.

Joel Hayes is a program associate at Hugh O’ Brian Youth Leadership and works with our volunteers and staff providing administrative support in areas of registration and customer service. He was born in Hawaii and has lived in Southern California for over 20 years. Joel is a graduate from California Lutheran University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and is continuing his education finishing his master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration. Prior to working at HOBY, Joel has experience working in legal consulting and at the Office of U.S. Congresswoman Julia Brownley. Joel has attended the

National League of Cities conference and networked with city council members, mayors, and managers across the United States. He is proud to have written a paper on Economic Sustainability and Tourism for Croatia that will be published and presented at the International Conference of Business, Economics, and Information in Singapore. In his free time, he loves watching English premier league soccer, playing basketball and any new shows on Netflix or HBO. Joel is passionate about promoting inclusivity, sustainability, and development in communities to improve the quality of life for people around the world.

Hello! My name is Cristina McQuillen, I am excited to be working at HOBY. I started as an intern here last fall and was recently hired part-time. I am originally from San Diego but am currently in Thousand Oaks going to school at California Lutheran University. There, I am a global studies major with honors and religion minor.

Now, a little bit about me. In my free time, when I am not working or studying, I love to travel and explore new places. I have always been fascinated with the world around me, which is why I became a global studies major. So far, Cuba has been my favorite place to explore. Two summers ago, I lived there with a host family and got immersed in the Cuban culture. I recently got back from living in Spain, where I was able to travel to a lot of different areas in Europe and Morocco. This summer I will be spending a few weeks doing research in Japan.

When I am not exploring the world, you can find me outdoors, spending time with family and friends, or working out. I enjoy running, hiking, going to Zumba classes, and doing Krav Maga.

I am excited to continue learning and growing along with HOBY. I enjoy working with alumni and hearing all their outstanding stories. HOBY has inspired some amazing alumni to do incredible things.

Priya Mohan began her professional career as a Development Officer at UCLA and has worked in various roles that have given her a diverse skill set and opportunity to engage with students, donors, alumni, nonprofits, schools, and corporations.

As a former Undergraduate Admissions Officer, she has recruited students from the U.S. and abroad, created community outreach programs, and trained alumni volunteers. Since 2008, she has been an Associate Director, focusing on recruiting companies, building strategic partnerships, community engagement, and individual philanthropy.

Outside of her work at the university, Priya is an Admissions Consultant and a freelance writer for Time Inc, the publisher of over 100 magazines, such as People, InStyle, and Fortune. She is also passionate about improving educational outcomes in students and volunteers with the Step Up Women’s Network and The Fulfillment Fund.

She is a graduate of UCLA and has a BS in Psychology and a M.Ed.

What she is most looking forward to:

Seeing young adults and alumni using the leadership skills they gained from attending our programs and hearing about how they have made an impact in their local communities.

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