Fairfield University Announces Leadership Team for Bellarmine Campus

Fairfield University Announces Leadership Team for Bellarmine Campus

The new team is leading the Fairfield Bellarmine initiative, which will offer a two-year associates degree and prepare students for employment or for transition to a bachelor’s degree program at a four-year institution. 

Media Contact: Susan Cipollaro, scipollaro@fairfield.edu, 203-254-4000 x2726

Fairfield University is pleased to announce the following leadership appointments for Fairfield Bellarmine, a new two-year associate’s degree initiative opening in the Fall of 2023 in Bridgeport, Conn. at the site of the former St. Ambrose Parish on Boston Avenue. Additional appointments will be forthcoming.

Fairfield Bellarmine will be located in the East End of Bridgeport, Conn. on the site of the former St. Ambrose Parish. The program is a part of the University’s partnership with the Diocese of Bridgeport, “Pathways to Higher Learning,” and will serve students in the Bridgeport community to prepare them for transition to a bachelor’s degree program at any four-year institution, or for employment. 

The program will be grounded in the liberal arts and the Jesuit tradition of caring for the whole person. Fairfield Bellarmine will focus on professional preparation and enhanced academic support for talented but traditionally under-represented students, who will benefit from mentoring, including peer tutors. The University’s writing and math center staff will have a presence on the Bellarmine campus, and students will be actively engaged in planning and forming a student government, clubs, athletic activities, and social and faith-related events at the Bellarmine campus. Students will have the opportunity to participate in University clubs, activities and intramural and club sports, as well as have access to facilities on Fairfield’s main campus.

For more information about Fairfield Bellarmine, visit Fairfield.edu/bellarmine.

About the Leadership Team:

Rev. Kevin O'Brien, S.J.

Father O’Brien has taught and served in the administrations of St. Joseph's University, Georgetown University, and Santa Clara University. In these roles, he has been committed to serving the needs of first-generation and undocumented college students. Fr. O’Brien teaches in the area of theology and spirituality and is author of the award-winning book, The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in Daily Life (Loyola Press, 2011). His follow-up book, Seeing with the Heart: A Guide to Navigating Life’s Adventures, will be published in early 2023. He earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Georgetown University, a law degree from the University of Florida, a master’s degree in philosophy from Fordham University, and two advanced theology degrees from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology (now part of Boston College) in Cambridge, Mass.

Nakia Letang

Nakia Letang has served in the field of college admissions for 18 years, Letang has created, facilitated and implemented numerous workshops, programs and dialogues for students, families, colleagues and communities, and has dedicated her career to creating opportunities for access to higher education. She has served on a number of University committees and has been recognized by regional and national organizations for her work in the field. Letang has been featured in the New York Times (July 2015), is the recipient of the William S. Neal Rising Star Award (2010) by the New England Association for College Admission Counseling (NEACAC), the Inclusion Diversity Education Access Leadership (IDEAL) Award (2018), and Fairfield University’s MLK Vision Award (2022). When not representing Fairfield, she works diligently in her church community in Bridgeport, Conn. Her career started as an admission counselor at Post University in Waterbury, Conn., where she earned a BA in business administration in 2004. Letang is fueled most by her faith and family and is a proud wife of ten years and mother of two children.

Pejay Lucky

In his most recent role as Fairfield University’s director of student diversity and multicultural affairs, Lucky was responsible for overseeing and serving as a resource for administrative units, as well as establishing, coordinating, and assessing contributions to institutional inclusive excellence goals. He and his team created new platforms and structures to educate the campus community on diversity, equity, and inclusion through podcasts, virtual civic reflections, and anti-racist social media campaigns, and worked to support recruitment, retention and transition programs for underrepresented students. Lucky has worked to develop strategies for diverse and inclusive co-curricular experiences for all students and developed key living and learning initiative trainings for faculty, staff, and students. He has also served on the CASE management committee, Bias Education and Resource Team, and Men of Color Mentor Committee. Lucky is a Bridgeport native and has spent many years serving the community through mentoring and volunteer work.

Anissa DeMatteo

DeMatteo has more than 25 years of experience in fundraising and non-profit management. She has served in a variety of roles at the United Hospital Fund, a New York City-based health policy think tank and grant-making organization. DeMatteo oversaw special events for Fairfield University’s Advancement division from 1997 to 2002, then returned in 2017 to lead fundraising efforts for the Fairfield Awards Dinner, an annual benefit for the Alumni Multicultural Scholarship Fund.  Raised in Brooklyn, NY, she earned a BA in economics from Fairfield University and an MPA from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service.  DeMatteo currently resides in Ridgefield, Conn., where she is an active community volunteer. 

Wendy Mendes

Mendes is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and recently joined Fairfield in October, 2022. Mendes is a nationally board-certified counselor and has earned a certificate in clinical anxiety treatment. Her approach to counseling is holistic, aligning with the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis—or care for the whole person. Mendes brings over 18 years of experience counseling college students. She created an emergency aid program for students at Norwalk Community College where she chaired the Behavioral Intervention Team and created community partnerships throughout the Norwalk area. Mendes received an AS from Norwalk Community College and her BS and MS from Southern Connecticut State University.

Fairfield University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), and the Bellarmine program is currently under accreditation review by NECHE. NECHE is an institutional accreditor and promotes educational excellence and quality assurance to its member institutions. The Commission is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a reliable authority on the quality of education for the institutions it accredits.

Posted On: October 6, 2022

Volume: 54 Number: 26

Fairfield University is a modern, Jesuit Catholic university rooted in one of the world’s oldest intellectual and spiritual traditions. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students from the U.S. and across the globe are pursuing degrees in the University’s five schools. Fairfield embraces a liberal humanistic approach to education, encouraging critical thinking, cultivating free and open inquiry, and fostering ethical and religious values. The University is located on a stunning 200-acre campus on the scenic Connecticut coast just an hour from New York City.