Leadership Team



Susan Keays Headshot

Susan Keays

Chief Executive Officer

Susan assumed the role of CEO in October 2021 after serving as Chief Operating Officer. Susan joined the organization in 2016. She has 20 years of experience working with youth in residential, inpatient, outpatient, emergency rooms, and homes. Her strengths include program implementation and expansion, clinical assessment, strategic thinking, developing partnerships, grant-writing, and fiscal management.  Susan received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Latin American Studies from Boston College. She later returned to her alma mater to earn her Master of Social Work degree.

Susan’s expertise is in child and adolescent mental health, having trained at Children’s Hospital. She is passionate about permanency initiatives and trauma informed behavioral interventions. She held important child program management positions at South Shore Mental Health (now Aspire), Riverside Community Care, Tenet Healthcare, and Jewish Family & Children’s Service. She has also been on the faculty at Boston College School of Social Work where she taught a graduate level course “Clinical Practice with Children and Families” and has trained many interns from various graduate schools of social work.

Susan’s passion for Italian Home is only matched by her love of family, friends, ice cream, binge-worthy shows, and “glamping”. She can often be found around town cheering on her two daughters at swim, soccer, and dance.

Samantha Martinez Headshot

Samantha Martinez

Associate Vice President of Milieu Programs

Samantha Martinez is a Licensed Applied Behavior Analyst and has been at Italian Home for Children since 2017.  She has her bachelor’s in science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and her master’s in education, with concentrations in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis from Arcadia University.  Before assuming her current role, Samantha also held roles as Clinician Consultant and Associate Vice President of Community Based Programs at IHC.  She has over 20 years of experience working with children, families, and individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. 

Samantha is dedicated to the mission of Italian Home for Children and works hard to ensure all children served in the milieu programs receives what they need to succeed. 

Samantha is passionate about trauma informed care and applied behavior analysis and the importance of milieu programs operating under these principles.  She has worked with colleagues to create the Trauma Informed Behavior Based Interventions (TIBBI) framework and is working to bring that framework to programs of IHC.  TIBBI works to combine principles of trauma informed care and applied behavior analysis in a way that is easily understood by children and caregivers. 

Outside of work, Samantha loves spending time with her family, cricutting, cooking, being outside, and exploring new areas.  Her husband and two boys bring her the most joy, and she can be found spending almost every minute with them outside of IHC.  

Yota Gikas- Picture for IHC Website

Yota Gikas

Associate Vice President of Community Based Programs

Dr. Gikas is the Associate Vice President of Community Based Programs, overseeing the outpatient and community based services within the agency. She has over 20 years of clinical experience working with children, adults, and families in a variety of mental health settings. Dr. Gikas has worked for the Italian Home for Children for over a decade in a variety of managerial and clinical roles. Previously, Dr. Gikas was the Clinic Director of the outpatient program at Italian Home, Brighton Allston Mental Health Association, which included the school based outreach therapy partnerships with Boston Public Schools. Dr. Gikas holds a BA degree in Psychology from Northeastern University, MA degrees in Mental Health Counseling and Psychology from Boston College and Suffolk University respectively, as well a Ph.D degree in Clinical Psychology, with a Specialty in Children and Families from Suffolk University.  

Dr. Gikas’ areas of interest include: leadership and program development, clinical supervision, client advocacy, complex trauma and attachment, Dialectical and Cognitive Behavioral Therapies, and adolescent and young adult mental health.

Dr. Gikas is proud to be a 2nd generation Greek-American, and is fluent in Greek. She is also an Adjunct Professor at her alma mater, Boston College, where she teaches at the Lynch Graduate School of Education in the Mental Health Counseling Program. In her spare time Dr. Gikas is an avid reader, and enjoys cooking and traveling.  

Dave M.

David Mazza

Vice President of Performance Improvement

David Mazza is the Vice President of Performance Improvement. David has been with Italian Home since 2003, and spent over 16 years working in the Residential program.  Starting as a Residential Counselor, he later held numerous direct care supervisory positions before becoming the Director of Residential Operations in 2015.  During his time with the Residential program, David helped to implement impactful programming, fostered relationships with the Departments of Children and Families and Early Education and Care, helped the program achieve CARF accreditation and was recognized by his peers with an Outstanding Service Award.  In his current position, David oversees and supports Italian Home’s licensing and accreditation, quality improvement and risk management activities.  He is passionate about the work and mission of Italian Home and is dedicated to assuring all programs provide high quality services. David is also a certified trainer in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention.

David is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross where he majored in Psychology.  An avid Boston sports fan, outside of work David enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends.


Katherine Hala

Vice President of Strategy and Business Development

Katherine Hala joined Italian Home in 2021 and is the Vice President of Strategy and Business Development.  She uses processes of innovation, collaboration,  and analysis to support IHC’s mission and strategic growth.    

Katherine brings 15 years of professional experience to this role.  She taught English in elementary schools in France, managed a nonprofit arts organization in Boston, and oversaw curriculum and compliance for an international education company.  Most recently, she worked for Wheelock College, engaging with undergraduate students as a Resident Director and then progressing from Assistant Director to Director of Academic Support Programs.  Katherine has also worked in the community to volunteer for youth in foster care, chair a DEI committee, and hold a representative position for the Special Education Parent Advisory Council in her public school district. 

Katherine also brings a love for learning to her work and holds degrees from Boston University and Babson College.  Her desire to learn more about the success of mission-driven organizations led Katherine to focus on impact and social innovation in her MBA program at Babson.  While there, she served on several consulting teams, including a public-private partnership that practiced human-centered design thinking.  Katherine appreciates the opportunity to apply this lens to her work at Italian Home as she seeks to identify needs, operationalize plans, measure impact, and build community.