Team Members

Eugene Adams is the Director of Collaborative Education Programs at Bronx Community College. Mr. Adams specializes in developing and strengthening local and global educational partnerships with schools, community partners, and industry. He considers himself a ‘Possibility Broker’ who brings diverse perspectives, needs, and resources together in the development of sustainable educational partnerships. Prior to getting involved in education Mr. Adams worked as a Manhattan commercial photographer. Mr. Adams’ photographic works have been featured in numerous publications and is part of the permanent collections of The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Gene’s most recent projects includes the BCC Urban Drone Pilot Academy, The Code Makers youth computer coding program, and the acclaimed Kid’s Comic Con comic book art and literacy initiative. Globally Gene has over 20 years of involvement in operational and leadership development with schools and universities in Senegal, West Africa and South Africa.

Jennifer Alvarez is a New York City public school teacher from the Bronx, NY. She migrated as a child from the Dominican Republic. Additionally, she is a product of the NYCDOE public school system. She graduated from Lehman College with degrees in Economics, 7-12 Social Studies and Educational Leadership. has been a teacher for the New York City Department of Education since 2011. Her “Teaching Philosophy” is deeply rooted in the belief that: “All students can learn”, as long as you empower them with life learning skills and teach them to be self-directed learners. She stands by utilizing a curriculum that promotes equity, incorporates “student voice” and is equipped with opportunities to develop 21st Century skills, and engages students with project-based learning that will allow them to gain relevant experiences and engage with communities.

Ammon Archie is a multidisciplinary visual artist and arts manager. His artworks are created in a variety of artistic mediums and surfaces including drawings and paintings in charcoal, acrylic, house paint, and airbrush on 2D traditional surfaces and on 3D sculptures. His personal conceptual work explores the complex interaction between humanity and society, as well as the individual search for meaning within life’s struggles. Ammon holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Illustration from Montserrat College of Art in MA. He also holds a Master of Professional Studies Degree in Arts and Cultural Management from Pratt in NYC. He has worked with a variety of companies and creative studios throughout New York and New England, and applied his talents in several industry disciplines including, art restoration, product development, and the scenic arts.

Migdalia Carrillo retired as a DOE high school principal in 2012. As a graduate of Fordham University, she has worked as a mentor for aspiring supervisors and teachers at Fordham University. Mrs. Carrillo founded and created a high school in the Bronx for the DOE’s small schools initiative. She currently works as a consultant for educational organizations that provide support to New York City and Yonkers public schools. With a special interest in English Language Learners, Mrs. Carrillo also conducted several workshops on classroom management, transitioning from elementary to middle and middle to high schools for teachers and parents. Mrs. Carrillo personally enjoys helping teachers find creative ways to engage students in the learning process – making learning fun!

Troy Donaldson, was born and raised in the Bronx, and is a high school English teacher for the NYC Department of Education, and currently works at The Bronx High School for Writing and Communication Arts, teaching 10th grade ELA and a Restorative Justice. As the Restorative Justice coordinator for his school, he trains and leads students in community building and conflict resolution through the use of restorative circles. Restorative circles are comprised of two students from each grade level that solve conflicts through healthy dialogue and finds solutions that benefits the school community. As a model teacher on campus, Troy incorporates restorative circles within the classroom and helps to integrate process across content curricula. This process has found success as data has shown that students involved in the circle are less likely to be involved in another incident at the school.

Sandra Johnson Fields began her career as a reading teacher for at-risk middle schoolers in District 13 in Brooklyn. During her 30 years career she has been a classroom Teacher, Literacy Coach, Assistant Principal, Regional Instructional Specialist for Literacy, and a Principal. She has worked in Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, Maryland, and Monticello. In 2004 through the Small Schools Initiative, Sandra co-founded a Bronx middle school established to teach entrepreneurship to middle school students. She is passionate about teaching students literacy and real world skills to compete in today’s society. Sandra has a Bachelor of Arts from Brooklyn College, a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction, a Master of Science in Educational Administration, and a Professional Diploma in Educational Administration each from Pace University. Ms. Johnson Fields states “ My life has been shaped by the Maimonides quote “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Kenyatta Tyehimba Funderburk is the founder and Executive Director of Community Change, Inc.. He developed the CareerVisions, Community Change, Legacy and Peace Models as approaches for career explorations, community organizing, cultural awareness and restorative practices/relationship building, respectively. These models are at the foundation of all of his company’s programs. He has taught these models as courses at Lehman College, and has trained several adjuncts who have also taught separate courses on each model there. He has raised more than $30 million for his programs over the years. In 1999, he achieved his Masters Degree in Human Services at Lincoln University, PA. In 2009, Mr. Funderburk worked with U.S. Department of Education–21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLCs) through Development Without Limits to identify and examine the best practices in high school 21st CCLC programs across the country. Additionally, he has won numerous awards in recognition of his innovative programs for young people, including The After-School Corporation’s (TASC) Promising Practice Award and the Partnership for Afterschool Education’s PASEsetter Award.

Sharon Gilham was engaged as a School Social Worker with the New York City Department of Education for over twenty-five years. As a member of the IEP Team her responsibilities, included interviewing families, consulting with classroom teachers and administrators. Assessing data collected, collaborating with team members, submitting a recommendation to address students behavioral and/or academic difficulty. Pre-K through high school age students in various Bronx neighborhoods were serviced. This clinician facilitated parenting workshops within the school and community setting. Sharon has conducted staff development seminars regarding the “at risk” student in the Ossining and Greenburg school districts. She acts as private educational consultant via her venture, Educated Choices. Sharon’s philanthropic interests were evidenced by fundraising for Train to End Stroke-American Heart Association. Sharon has been recognized by Abbott House as one of it’s outstanding mentors and acted in that capacity from 2003 -2011. Currently, Sharon is a member of the Kairos Outside N.Y.C. (KONYC) prison ministry. Credentials include a Bachelors Degree from George Williams College, a Masters in Social Work from New York University and School Administrator Certificate of Qualification, from the College of New Rochelle.

Greg Gonzalez is the Music Director and drummer for the Tony Award winning Broadway show FELA! and its current touring company FELA! The Concert. His resume includes performance and recording credits with top artists including: Beyonce, Patti LaBelle, Cecil Taylor, Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti, Teddy Geiger, Red Baraat, Falu, Jazz Mandolin Project, Danielia Cotton, Chop and Quench, Antibalas, Don Braden, and many more. Growing up in Venice, CA, Greg attended the UCLA School of Music and had the privilege of studying with drumming legends Freddie Gruber, David Garibaldi, Louis Conte, and Mitchell Peters. More recently Greg has become an educator, teaching and performing for the Mark Morris Dance Center, and Carnegie Hall’s Future Music Project.

Emily Ellen Gulati is a teaching artist with a focus in early childhood music, developing and executing preschool and elementary music programming in public schools. She previously taught private and group classes in piano and voice. Emily graduated from New Jersey City University with a Master of Music in Vocal Performance. She completed her Bachelor of Music at Barry University in Miami, Florida. While in Florida, she sang with the Miami Lyric Opera, Miami Music Festival, Colony Theater, the Band Shell Theater, the Cor Jesu Chapel, and interned with the Miami Jazz Cooperative.

Marlin Jenkins is the founder and CEO of Neture, a broadband delivery platform that connects underserved and overcharged households to the internet. Marlon has been in the Bronx since attending Fordham University in 1992. After college, he began my career in telecommunications, as a leader in sales, operations and management for organizations like Verizon, AT&T and XO Communications. After surviving the World Trade Center tragedy, he moved on to consulting and opened his first business, QuadInfinity, an entertainment company. It was QuadInfinity that first connected me to committing to serving others, through the donation of my space and time to help low-income families cope by enjoying themselves. After QuadInfinity, he joined Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council as Vice President/Special Assistant to the Executive Director, before founding Neture. Marlon also serves on the founding board of Emblaze Academy, a charter middle school in the South Bronx.

Dr. Dawn Johannes, is a life-long learner and educator.  She is a retired New York City Administrator and teacher with more than 20 years experience.  She believes that there is greatness in each child, and that this greatness is stimulated when children are given the opportunity to explore and discover for themselves, engage in critical thinking activities and become appreciative of self-worth.  Ms. Johannes is cofounder of DJDC Productions, LLC, a  small business that offers education, life coaching and media consulting services.

Coralie Joseph, BA, MS.ed, Pd obtained her formal education from Fordham University, with degrees in Business Administration, Counseling Psychology and School Administration. Her mission is to educate, inspire and empower youth to develop a better present and gain confidence in their interpersonal skills. By being intentional, they develop purpose and meaning. This provides immediate impact and investment in their future. Before becoming a mentor with Community Change, Coralie spent twenty eight years as an educator for NYCDOE. She started her education career as a teacher in middle school and after three years became a school counselor, mentor, trainer and facilitator. She was an active member of the Bronx Crisis Intervention school team. During her tenure, She was awarded Outstanding Counselor of the year in 2004 by the Chancellor of NYCDOE; recognized by Educators for Social Responsibility for her work in conflict resolution and peer to peer mediation with students and also cited by the Bronx Chapter of the NAACP. Currently, she is a community facilitator with AVPNY- Alternative to Violence NY and a national trainer for leaders who coordinate retreat weekends for youth and women incarcerated or impacted by incarceration through Kairos Prison Ministry, International; a member of Zonta Westchester, a branch of Zonta International organization fighting for the rights of women and children worldwide. She is also a long standing member of the Mamaroneck United Methodist Church, involved in outreach committee work for foster kids. In 2018, she was awarded Certificates of Merit by the Westchester County Executive and other county officials for her work in the community, and is an inductee in the Westchester Senior Hall of Fame.

Konate Lilas has been teaching in the New York Public School system for almost 20 years. His area of specialty and New York State certification is Social Studies Secondary Education grades 7 – 12. Mr. Lilas is also New York State Certified in both school building level and district level administration. After working extremely hard at Kingsborogh and trying to make up for lost time Konate transferred to Buffalo State College SUNY, where he received a bachelors in Journalism. Shortly after that, he received his Masters in Social Studies Secondary Education from City College CUNY. Once that was completed, he then went on to received an additional masters in Education Administration from Stony Brook University SUNY. In the classroom Konate has almost two decades worth of experience teaching Global Studies, Economics, as well as Black Studies.

Candace Mayer LaRue, M.A. has devoted nearly 40 years to community organizing and youth development. Candace is the founder of Candace LaRue and Associates and was the founding Chair of the Board for the Alternatives to Violence Project, USA. She is currently a member of the Board and Past President of the New York State Network for Youth Success. She has worked at every level in the field of youth development; ranging from direct service as a youth worker to curriculum development as an administrator, and to providing oversight while working in government agencies. Candace has provided professional development and training to tens of thousands of individuals over the course of her career, and in the COVID-19 era she has adapted specialized workshops to address current needs.

Dr. Eva Lopez has successfully created unique youth, community, and professional development programs for colleges, schools and community based organizations in New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico. She currently serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor for CUNY’s School for Professional Studies and John Jay College for Criminal Justice. She has been instrumental at founding and promoting Latina/o theatre practices throughout the United States with theater such as: the Shaman Repertory Theater (NY), Teatro del Pueblo (MN), and Casa Cruz de la Luna (PR). She has been nominated for the PaseSetter Award, an award for providing outstanding service and leadership to New York City’s children. Dr. Lopez holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Syracuse University, a Master of Arts from City College of New York and Doctor of Education in Higher Education from Union Institute & University. Her book entitled, Act4Change: Building Creative Capacity in Communities of Struggle is scheduled for publication in June 2019.

Rhonda Akanke McLean-Nur is a professional actress, teaching artist, storyteller, griot, arts administrator and interfaith minister. She has worked in the youth development and leadership filed for over 30 years and utilizes the arts to address social and academic issues. She holds a BFA in Theatre from Howard University and did her graduate studies at George Washington University and New York University in Drama Therapy. Rhonda served as Director of Cultural Arts Programs for Homeless Children and Families at the Dept. of Cultural Affairs for ten years and has spent the last twenty years providing services for Students in temporary Housing; facilitating workshops for adolescents in Juvenile Detention Centers and Rikers Island and leading professional development trainings for Principals, School Guidance Counselors, teachers and parents in the NYC Department of Education and other public and private entities. She has traveled extensively as a performer and motivational speaker.

Elizabeth M. O’Raffity is a well-rounded, school administrator who has made great strides in educating students, teachers, and parents in diverse communities. Over 31 years with the NYC school system has molded Elizabeth into a leader with the ability to assess needs, develop a plan, and facilitate change both academically and within the culture of an organization. With certification in Physics, Chemistry and Biology and integral knowledge of the creative and performing arts standards, her capacity and skills include professional development, curriculum design, assessment/data analysis linked to learning improvement, budgeting and resource management, STEM and STEAM expertise, and communication media design. Her own recent learning includes digital media at NYC STEM Institute and Intro to Coding at Touro Graduate School. Her future goals include working with community organizations, school districts, and home school parents engaging students in “knowledge fascination” and developing the “skills for success” in 21st century learning.

Jim O’Toole began his 30-year career in education in catholic schools in the Bronx. With a BS in English Literature from Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception and MS in Secondary English Education Jim taught in various public schools throughout the Bronx. After attaining his leadership certification from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Mr. O’Toole worked as an assistant principal on the Theodore Roosevelt Educational Campus and for the past 12 years of his career at IN-Tech Academy in District 10. During his time as an assistant principal, Mr. O’Toole supervised almost all subject areas in the grades 6-12 spectrum.

Kamau Ptah is a nationally renowned educator who specializes in facilitating the healthy transition from childhood to young adulthood. Additional specialty areas include building school culture and community;identity restoration;transformative experiential learning;social and emotional development;and the education and socialization of children of color. Mr. Ptah has been a keeper and a practitioner of the rites of passage system of transformative teaching and learning since 1992.He earned his BA from Hampton University in History/Social Science and Education and his Master’s Degree in School Administration from Cambridge College; Additionally, Mr. Ptah was the co-founder and Program Director of the Urban Assembly Academy of History and Citizenship for Young Men (UAAHC) (one of the first all boy Public High Schools in New York City since the 1960s) and was the brainchild of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color’s Sankofa Passages Program in Philadelphia. Mr. Ptah believes that identity determines activity and that the primary function of education is to lead learners to the threshold of their own minds.

Jannette M. Rodriguez was born in the Dominican Republic. She migrated to New York City when she was 11 years old. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work at Lehman College. She has been working for the New York City Department of Education for the past 23 years as a Bilingual Educational Assistant.

Victor Torres grew up in the New York City foster care system. He entered the gang life at a very young age of 10. Getting arrested every weekend, he changed homes frequently because his foster parents got tired of constantly picking him up from the precinct. He became a full-time gang member to provide for himself after dropping out of junior high school during the 8th grade. At the age 19, he had his first child. This gave him a new sense of responsibility and prompted him to   change his lifestyle. He earned his GED with a high a score, and was accepted into a number of Ivy League schools. Victor declined those opportunities in order to support the immediate needs of his family. He now has a career working full-time to help youth who are in shelters from getting caught up in the streets.

Dr. Carolyn Tyson is prolific and dedicated educator who recently retired as an Assistant Principal from the New York City Department of Education. Her permanent certifications include those in School District Administration and School Administration and Supervision. Dr. Tyson received her Doctorate in Education and Leadership from Saint John Fisher College, Rochester;Master of Science in Education and Administration from Fordham University;Master of Science in Education, Language and Learning from the College of New Rochelle;and a Master of Science from the State of New York. In addition, she is a licensed Chaplin for New York Task Force and recipient of her Bachelor of Science in Speech Pathology from Lehman College. Dr. Tyson’s passion is social justice for incarcerated youth and advocates for services and supports for students with disabilities and English as a New Language.

Electra Weston is from Harlem, NY. She developed her music, theater, and dance training into a vibrant career in Europe, Africa, and the United States. Her diverse resume includes the German and US Tour productions of Disney’s Musical “The Lion King;” and her international award winning feature film,“Maybe Dreams Can Come True;” for which she is the director and producer. Today, as the director of The International Child Program (ICP) Arts nonprofit, Electra Weston utilizes her background to support youth and their communities; demonstrating how the Arts empowers our society, culture, and economy. Electra Weston is the US Department of State and IREX Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange recipient. And a five time Carnegie Hall/NeOn Arts grantee.

Marlene B. Williamson began her career in District 1, as a Bilingual Special Education Assistant Teacher, completing her B.S. through the New York City Department of Education’s Career Ladder Program. Armed and licensed to teach K-12, as a Bilingual (Spanish) Special Educator,she was hired to teach in the nation’s largest GED program as the first Bilingual Resource Room Teacher. Her licenses and experiences have also facilitated working as an Articulation Coordinator for The Citywide Alternative Superintendent’s Office and a Guidance Coordinator at the school level. Marlene was a founding Coordinator for the four borough, multi-site, Eight Plus Program. After receiving two Master’s of Science degrees, one tailored to teaching high school students in correctional facilities, she completed an additional, extremely rewarding, student teaching internship at Riker’s Island. The other Master’s of Science, as a school building leader, allowed for her to be hired as a District Placement Administrator, working with families, many of whom were new to the country, the placement of students released from secure facilities, group homes, students in temporary housing and emancipated minors among other at-risk populations.She has a passion for teaching, connecting with parents to explain the relevance of education for themselves and their children and bringing S.T.E.M. resources to schools serving low income students.