Joel Arce

Joel Arce has dedicated a great portion of his academic studies and professional work to youth education and development. Currently, he is a trainer for the Posse Foundation at the New York City site. There, he provides support to Posse scholars who are transitioning into college as well as scholars who are currently on college campuses. In this role, Joel serves as a facilitator, counselor, academic advisor, interviewer, and liaison.

Joel received a Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College with a concentration in political science. As an undergraduate, he gained experience in the non-profit world as a teacher for Breakthrough New York and a community service assistant for the Protect the Dream Youth Program in Poughkeepsie, New York. After playing a significant role in the daily operations of the Protect the Dream Youth Program, Joel became a board member for the small, start-up non-profit organization. Following his undergraduate career, Joel taught middle school social studies in the Bronx as a Teach for America corps member. During his time with the New York City Department of Education, Joel not only taught in the classroom, but also took on leadership positions within the school. He was a member of the Core Data Inquiry Team as well as the team leader for the Social Studies Department. Joel also has a Master of Arts from Lehman College (City University of New York) with a concentration in social studies education.

Thenera Bailey

Thenera Bailey is the President/CEO of the SISGI Group. In this capacity she serves as the Interim Director of the SISGI Beyond Good Ideas Foundation, the organization’s nonprofit charitable division that serves as the backbone to the Alliance for Positive Youth Devevlopment, and as the Editor of the social research blog, Thenera has an accomplished career as a consultant, trainer and technical assistance provider to programs, organizations, government agencies, nonprofits, corporations, schools and school districts. She has extensive experience in social entrepreneurship and started a nonprofit organization immediately upon completion of her undergraduate degree. Over the last decade, she has continued to assist other individuals and organizations in developing their nonprofit organization, grant writing, fundraising, strategic planning, financial management and general start-up and expansion assistance.

She has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Maryland with a concentration in Management and Community Organizing and a specialization in Social Action and Community Development. She also has a Master of Arts with a concentration in globalization, sustainable development and tourism from New York University, where she was a Gallatin Koppenaal Scholar. She is currently completing a Doctorate in Business Administration in Strategy and Innovation.

As the CEO of the SISGI Group, Bailey has developed key programs and organization initiatives for the organization’s nonprofit division, with the assistance of the board of directors, key partners and volunteers. Since 2011, she has served as the director of the organization’s cutting edge virtual internship program, overseen the increase in free trainings offered by the organization and established the organization’s strategies around collective impact and collaboration in youth development.

She has served with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) Office of Leadership Development and Training as a member of their Training and Technical Assistance Workgroup and as a consultant assisting large multi-state grantees and applicants. Thenera is a Certified Grants Manager and has received certification in crisis intervention for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. She also has received training in federal grants management and monitoring. She has worked as a community organizer in Baltimore, MD, as a social worker in public schools and served on the board and advisory groups for a variety of charitable organizations.

Maureen Eccleston

As the Director of Volunteer Maryland, Maureen takes a lead role in staff supervision, fund raising and financial management, evaluation, and training. Maureen’s history with national and community service began as a member of AmeriCorps*National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) in 1999. Since then, she served as an AmeriCorps*VISTA member, a Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator with the Florida Alliance for Student Service, a Service-Learning Coordinator with NCCC, and a Program Manager for the national office of Experience Corps. Maureen holds a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management and a Bachelor of Arts in English.

Maureen enjoys a diverse training background and has been certified in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, Volunteer Mentor Supervision, and Low Ropes Facilitation. Maureen has facilitated workshops in volunteer management, service-learning, youth leadership, and conflict management at national and local conferences and numerous nonprofit organizations.

Amy Pomeranz Essley

Amy Pomeranz Essley is currently the Director of Quality Assurance with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana (BBBSCI) after serving as their Director of Site-based Programs. She joined the organization in August 2002 after moving back to her home city of Indianapolis.

Before joining BBBSCI, Amy was employed at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Department of Disability and Human Development as a Program Coordinator managing a federal grant project. Her professional experiences also include work with the Manager’s Office in Wake County, NC, the Office of Educational Development in the School of Medicine at The University of North Carolina, and as a Social Worker for a private agency providing residential and vocational services to adults with developmental disabilities in Charlotte, NC.

Amy earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Health in 1994 from Indiana University and a Master of Social Work and Master of Public Administration from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2000.

Amy and her husband Eric, an Attorney with Hatchett & Hauck, LLP, have two sons, Maxwell (7) and Phineas (5). They were matched as a Big Couple to a Little Brother with BBBSCI from January 2003 until they graduated from the program in May 2009. Amy was also a Big Sister for two years to a Little Sister at one of the agency’s school sites. Amy, Eric and their two children and members of Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation (IHC) where she serves on the Youth Committee. Additionally, she serves on the fundraising committee for her children’s Parent Teacher Organization at their school.

Amy is a member of the Board of Directors for the JCC since June 2010, which includes committee work with the Marketing and Membership and Development committees. She is a graduate of the Executive Woman in Leadership Program through the United Way’s Leadership United. Additionally, she participates on the Prevention Advisory Council (PAC) for the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault (INCASA). She has co-authored and edited several national publications pertaining to family support services and financial expenditures to people with developmental disabilities. She has also served as a consultant to The University of Colorado’s, Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities

Cornelius Jones Jr.

Cornelius Jones Jr. is the author of Shadows & Lights, a poetic memoir.  An actor, writer, theater/performance artist, educator, and recent Certified Yoga Teacher, Cornelius is living LIFE out loud and turning pain into art. Born in Richmond, VA, he considers himself a pure-bred east coast baby; having lived in cities such as Washington, DC, Syracuse, NY, Philadelphia, PA, and New York City.

He holds an M.A. from NYU (Dramatic Writing, Educational Theater, and Performance) and a B.F.A in Theater Arts from The University of The Arts.  He is a 2010 Lorraine Hansberry – Nia Award Recipient, and a Leo Bronstein Homage Award recipient and the creator of the performance piece HomoAffection and FlagBoy, an autobiographical one-man show. FlagBoy earned him a 2008 Midtown International Theater Festival Nomination for Outstanding Performance in a Solo-Show, a Capital Fringe Festival 2009 “Best of Fest” award and has been featured on NPR. He has also appeared in television and the Broadway stage in shows such as “Law&Order: SVU” and The Lion King. His poems “Momma Said…(A Hard Life),” “Chicken N Shrimp Gumbo,” and “Still Swimming (I remember)” appears in the 2008, 2009, 2011 Writers Place Poetry Review, “Momma Said…(A Hard Life),” also appears in the 2011 Off The Rocks, Volume 15 anthology of GLBT writing, and his essay “pianissimo: Memoir of a Black Gay childhood” appears in the 2010 MIGHTY REAL: Anthology of African-American Same Gender Loving Writing. Embracing all of who he is, Cornelius is featured in the Logo and Gilead sponsored PSA: “I AM LIVING MY TRUTH”, which aired on MTV’s Logo Network.

With acting, writing, storytelling, movement, and vocal visceral support as his wings Cornelius’s uses these elements in the performance space and on the page as a vessel for positive social change. Additionally he is actively involved with various non-profit organizations and mobilization efforts that use the arts to allow and engender change around local and global, community and youth-based issues.

“ART heals, Yoga HEALS…just breathe” Namaste.

Sandra McMillan, Ph.D.

Sandra McMillan has worked with Girls Incorporated for the past 28 years. Previously, she was the Executive Director with Girls Incorporated of Central Alabama in Birmingham, Alabama for 13 and one half years. Currently, she serves as a Regional Director with the national organization providing assistance and support to Girls Incorporated organizations throughout the Southeast.

A teacher at heart, Dr. McMillan is based in Atlanta and serves a seven-state area. She provides consultation to the Executive Leadership and Trustees in the local Girls Inc. organizations regarding the management and governance issues they face. She finds the intrinsic rewards from helping the local organization build its capacity to effectively impact the lives of girls very significant.

A graduate of the University of Montevallo, the University of Maine and The Ohio State University, Dr. McMillan has completed numerous management training programs including those offered by Girls Incorporated.

Wanda Minor, Ph.D.

Dr. Wanda Madison Minor is principal of Madison Minor Group, LLC located in Oakhurst, New Jersey and adjunct professor in the Department of Philosophy, Religion, and Interdisciplinary Studies at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. In May 2011, she joined the National Issues Forums Institute (Dayton, OH) Board of Directors for a three-year term. She also serves on the Advisory Council of Monmouth University’s Center for Human and Community Wellness. Minor received a Ph.D. in Communication and Information Sciences with a concentration in Communication and Culture, an Educational Specialist and Master degrees in Counseling, and a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Afro-American Studies from The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Minor has more than 20+ years working in both public education (K-12) and higher education. She has also been a director of program operations for a local affiliate of Girls Incorporated where she also served as a regional trainer for Girls Incorporated and was a certified trainer in afterschool programming by the Center for Early Adolescents Planning Program. She has extensive experience in program development and implementation, serving 10 years as coordinator of adult education program and serving four years in the professional development department, three of which she coordinated the school district’s National Board for Professional Teaching Standards mentoring and professional development certification program.

Minor continues her 28-year affiliation with the Kettering Foundation of Dayton, Ohio, studying democracy through public deliberation and civic engagement and leading community and public issue forums. She is currently working on understanding how Non-College-Bound Youth acquire civic, political and life skills. She is a two-time recipient of the Outstanding Young Woman in America award, a finalist for the Public Administrator of the Year by the Alabama Association of Public Administrators, one of 12 recipients of the National Issues Forums’ 25-Year honoree, a recipient of the NAACP’s Outstanding African American in Birmingham, AL, and a graduate of the Southern Region Educational Board’s Doctoral Scholars Program.

Nina Montgomery

Nina Montgomery is currently a sophomore at Dartmouth College studying Classics and Government. She has been a TeenAngel, a teen internet expert of WiredSafety, since 7th grade. Through middle school and high school, she gave presentations to students at various elementary and middle schools in the tristate area on cyberbullying awareness and prevention. She also spoken annually at summits hosted by WiredSafety at the United States Senate.

When her high school classmate took his own life after being harassed online, Nina created “Don’t Stand By, Stand Up”, a national anti-bullying and cyberbullying campaign. She launched the campaign on the Dr. Phil Show in October of 2010, and since then “Don’t Stand By, Stand Up” has garnered the support of Facebook, MTV and Seventeen Magazine among others.

Shayla Price

Shayla R. Price is an attorney and a governor-appointed commissioner for Volunteer Louisiana. She is responsible for the allocation of over $5.3 million in the AmeriCorps budget. She also heads, as chairwoman, the Commission’s marketing and public relations committee. As a member of the Commission, she leads the development of the strategic marketing plan to promote an ethic of service.

Prior to government service, Price worked as a marketing director for, a social welfare organization that seeks to give high school and college students a voice. She led the design and implementation of an improved blog management system for 50,000 student bloggers and recruited, trained, and supervised a project management team that coordinated initiatives designed to improve customer satisfaction and increased site traffic from 100,000 to over 2 million unique visitors.

While in high school, she earned more than $100,000 in college scholarships. Price is a scholarship expert and the author of The Scholarship Search: A Guide to Winning Free Money for College and More. To help students achieve scholarship success, she has helped more than 5,000 students at workshops across the country, including at the National Service-Learning Conference, Bennett College for Women, and the Tavis Smiley Leadership Institute.

She has been featured in several publications, including Better Homes & Gardens, Seventeen, and Black Enterprise. Price also was named one of EBONY magazine’s 2009 Young Leaders and received the first-ever Emerging Greatness Award from the National Black Women’s Town Hall, Incorporated.

Price earned her law degree from Southern University Law Center; she is a member of the Missouri bar. Shayla graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Southern University and A&M College. Price also received a Certificate in Non-Profit Administration from Louisiana State University in Shreveport.

Chera Reid, Ph.D.

Chera Reid is Associate Director of Program Development at MDRC, and education and social policy research organization dedicated to learning what works to improve programs and policies that affect the poor. Reid previously was the first Vice President of Programs at New York Needs You, a nonprofit organization that enables first-generation college students to realize their college and career ambitions. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, Reid was a faculty member at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA, where she directed the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers (IRT), an initiative that recruits to graduate study and teaching careers outstanding students of color and other scholars who are committed to educational opportunity. There, she advised 500+ students through the graduate school application process and advocated for their funding in elite graduate programs. She has presented extensively to students and faculty on the graduate school planning and application process, and she has taught in a number of educational settings, most recently in the City University of New York (CUNY) community college system and at New York University. As a member of the CUNY New Community College planning team, she addressed simultaneously issues of learning, degree attainment, and career planning. In her scholarship, she has addressed topics such as philanthropy at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, success in graduate programs, access for undocumented students, and the needs of adult undergraduate students.

Chera earned a Ph.D in Higher and Postsecondary Education at New York University, a B.A. at the University of Virginia, and an M.A. at the University of Michigan. She is recipient of the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award, given by the Association of American Colleges and Universities to recognize graduate students who show exemplary promise as future leaders of higher education.

Javier Sanchez

Javier A. Sanchez is an internationally recognized specialist in effective youth communication. He has spoken to and worked with thousands of teens and adults across the U.S. and abroad, including Italy, Germany, Japan, Canada, and throughout the Caribbean.

Javier is a Certified Prevention Specialist and a graduate of Capital University (Columbus, OH) and Senator Ray Miller’s Institute for Leadership and Change. Mr. Sanchez was also one of forty selectees nationwide to be part of a fellowship with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Developing Leadership in Reducing Substance Abuse Program (DLRSA). DLRSA is a national program designed to encourage and support emerging leaders in the field of substance abuse prevention and treatment.

As a professional speaker / trainer, Javier incorporates his expertise in the area of effective youth empowerment with his love for comedy, spoken word poetry, and storytelling. He has also the author of the children’s book for Fathers and Daughters entitled, Look in My Mirror.

After 15 years of working in the Substance Abuse Prevention field, Javier founded R.E.A.C.H. Communications Inc. Their mission is to use the arts and education to challenge and equip both youth and adults to experience life to the fullest by Reaching Excellence in Attitude, Character, and Health.

Annie Wood

Annie Wood is a freshman undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and plans to double major in Political Science and Global Studies. On campus, Annie is a part of the Global Studies Student Association, and the campus’s chapter of Students Today Leaders Forever.

As a youth, Annie participated in programs fostering youth leadership and service-learning which led to enriching experiences and discovering a passion and appreciation for the power of youth work. At the age of thirteen, Annie began working with the Twin Cities-based social justice nonprofit TVbyGirls, which empowers girls to engage in issues in their communities and tell authentic stories through film. As a high school student, Annie served as a Youth Editorial Board member the Minneapolis Public Schools’ district-wide service-learning newspaper, Shine On!, which emphasizes and showcases youth voice from throughout the city. Annie has served on youth boards and councils locally and nationally.

Currently, Annie works as an America Reads tutor for elementary school students in St. Paul, and serves as a Minnesota History Day mentor to middle school students in Minneapolis through the University of Minnesota and Minnesota Historical Society. She also serves as a mentor for the National Youth Leadership Council’s nation-wide Youth Advisory Council, and has experience in facilitating various workshops and webinars with the National Youth Leadership Council on topics such as service-learning, youth voice and the achievement gap. Annie hopes to keep serving the community she grew up in, with a focus on education and youth leadership, and be a lifelong advocate for youth work and social change.


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