Alison Lake, Executive Director, Westchester Children’s Association
Allison became Westchester Children’s Association (WCA) Executive Director in July 2018. She joined WCA in 1998 as the Program Coordinator for the Children’s Health Initiative. In 2008, she was promoted to Deputy Director, responsible for WCA’s programmatic initiatives, leading WCA’s advocacy partnerships and community mobilization efforts.
Allison received her BA from Amherst College and an MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business.
She brings over 25 years of experience in non-profit and community work both in the US and West Africa, as a Peace Corps Volunteer. After working in banking for three years, she returned to her passion of community development. She has held management positions at the National Civic League and Associated Black Charities. Ms. Lake has worked in youth development with the City Volunteer Corps program in New York City and the YWCA of White Plains & Central Westchester.
Allison is a homegrown Westchesterite, lives in Greenburgh with her husband and has two young adult children.
LaMont Badru, Executive Director, Community Governance & Development Council (CGDC)
LaMont is a professional community organizer, community economic development strategist, and a lifelong South Yonkers resident.
In 2006, LaMont launched a youth program out of the recreation room of his building - teaching history and community responsibility to high-risk youth from his neighborhood. As a student at Lehman College, Lamont was the founder and president of the Black Student Union and a Student Senator.
He led the initiative to create Lehman’s new minor in Urban Community Development - the first student-initiated academic program at Lehman college in over 30 years. The minor was designed to give students, regardless of their major, the tools necessary to use their career skills towards the development of their neighborhoods.
Lamont went on to become an organizer for Picture The Homeless (a housing policy organization in the Bronx) before deciding to dedicate his energy and passion for community development to his native community, South Yonkers.
Lutonya Russell Humes, Executive Director, The Boys and Girls Club of New Rochelle
Lutonya Russell Humes began her career at the Children's Village, a residential treatment facility for adolescent boys in Westchester County. She spent the next ten years working in the foster care systems of New York City and Bexar County, Texas. Hoping to impact families and children before they entered the system, she began her community-based work with the Westchester Community Opportunity Program (WestCOP) at the Ossining Community Action Program overseeing a nationally recognized pregnancy prevention program. While at WestCOP, Ms. Russell Humes was recruited to serve on the Westchester County Youth Bureau’s Advancing Youth Development (AYD) Training Team, where she has provided professional development to hundreds of youth development professionals across Westchester County. In her most recent position, Ms. Russell Humes served as Managing Director of Education and College Access at Phipps Neighborhoods, where she was responsible for youth development and education programs in the South Bronx.
Ms. Russell Humes has successfully managed programs throughout Westchester County from Peekskill to Yonkers, including the largest 21st Century Community Learning Center in the County at the White Plains Youth Bureau. She is most proud of providing quality programs that allow young people and their families to access services that might not otherwise be available to them. “All children need to know that their community sees greatness in them. The Boys and Girls Club organization has personified that spirit,” stated Ms. Russell Humes. “The Boys and Girls Club of New Rochelle has been a pillar of the community providing young people with a safe, nurturing space that encourages greatness. I am excited about continuing that legacy and deepening that work.”
Ms.Russell Humes received her undergraduate degree in sociology from Mississippi Valley State University, and holds a Masters of Public Administration from Pace University. She is currently an adjunct professor at Mercy College.
Myra Hidalgo Salazar, Program Officer, North Star Fund
Originally from Naranjo, Alajuela, Costa Rica, Mayra came to the United States when she was six months old. Her journey through high school and college as an undocumented immigrant laid the groundwork for her commitment to social justice. In 2010, at age 17, she served as a project manager for the Trail of Dreams, a walk for immigrant justice from Miami to the nation’s capital. She coordinated actions and arranged legal representation for four demonstrators walking through the southeastern United States.
A former board member and community organizer for the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Mayra led efforts on the We Are Florida! and ¡No Somos Rubios! campaigns and traveled to Alabama to organize against anti-immigrant legislation. Most recently, Mayra served as the executive director of the Hudson Valley Community Coalition, a grassroots group organizing for immigrant rights. She currently serves as the board president for United We Dream Action.
Nada Khader, Executive Director, WESPAC Foundation
Nada has served as the Executive Director of WESPAC Foundation since May 2001. WESPAC was recently recognized by the City of White Plains as a leading force in Westchester County for peace and justice work for over four decades.
Nada has been a student of Prout, the Progressive Utilization Theory for almost thirty years. Prout is a vision of a just and peaceful world with an economy that works for all people and is based on local self-reliance, cooperation, guaranteeing all people the minimum necessities of life and ending poverty.
Roger Drew, Research & Policy Adviser, American Indian Law Alliance
Roger Drew is committed to actively working for social and economic justice and supporting equality for all people. He has worked for years with human rights organizations and movements.
He is currently the Research & Policy Adviser for the American Indian Law Alliance and sits on the Board of Directors of the WESPAC Foundation, a 40+ year-old social justice organization in Westchester County, NY.
Among his awards and recognitions, he is a past recipient of WESPAC’s annual Peace & Justice Award for his commitment to supporting youth activism. He holds a graduate certificate in Non-Profit Leadership and a liberal arts degree focused on social justice and gender studies.
Zoila Morell, Associate Professor in Early Childhood and Childhood Education at Lehman College
Dr. Zoila Morell’s research and scholarship examines bilingual education, bilingualism, early childhood education, and conditions impacting educational achievement for Latinx children. She serves on the New York State Education Department Committee for ELLs and DLLs in Pre-Kindergarten where she developed a protocol for the identification of language learners at the Pre-K level. She is currently a member of the Early Childhood Blue Ribbon Committee for the New York State Education Department.
Dr. Morell obtained a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Urban Education from the City University of New York, Graduate Center, her dissertation studied the effects of bilingual instruction on the emergent literacy skills of Spanish-speaking preschool children. Her study was awarded second place nationally in the “Outstanding Dissertation” competition of the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE). Her recent publications include articles and book chapters on bilingual early childhood education, school readiness, diversity in schools, achievement for Latino children, and social inclusion in suburban communities. In 2015, Dr. Morell was one of ten educators nationwide selected by Big Picture Learning for the Deeper Learning Equity Fellowship; her work in the fellowship focused on bilingual learners in Pre-Kindergarten.
Prior to entering higher education, Dr. Morell worked in the public schools for over 15 years. For seven of those years she was a School Principal where she administered several programs serving over 1,000 children under the age of six. While in the public schools, she co-founded Proyecto ALCANCE, an association of Spanish-speaking parents, whose aim is to grow and support the participation of Latino parents in school activities and in school governance. In January of 2010, Dr. Morell received the “Pathways to Leadership” award from the New York State Council of School Superintendents in recognition of her leadership in education. In 2000, Dr. Morell contributed to a proposal and program design for a family literacy program entitled “First Steps/Primeros Pasos.” Within a short time, the program consistently served hundreds of families with children from birth to age four. Privately funded, the program remains in existence after more than a decade. Dr. Morell has over nearly 30 years of experience working with children and families. Prior to entering the public schools, she served in an administrative capacity at several children’s programs including a private Day Care and a Head Start Child Development Center.
Jackie Mann, President, Elias Foundation
Following a career as a Clinical Social Worker/ Psychoanalyst and Professor of Clinical Practice for SW students, Jackie Mann founded the Elias Foundation.
Beyond her involvement in Elias, Jackie is a member of the Steering Committee of the Youth Justice Funding Collaborative – a unique partnership between philanthropists and activists that supports efforts to eliminate abuses in the juvenile/criminal justice system. Organized by alumni of The Philanthropy Workshop and Next Generation Leadership of the Rockefeller Foundation, YJFC has granted over $3M to community-led advocacy organizations in New Orleans that are in the vanguard of change for vulnerable youth and Formerly Incarcerated Persons. Jackie is also on the board of directors of JustLeadershipUSA, an organization that is dedicated to cutting the US correctional population in half by 2030. JLUSA empowers people most affected by incarceration to drive policy reform.
For the past few years, Jackie has participated in a mentorship program developed and sustained by Hour Children, an organization that helps incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children to successfully rejoin their communities, reunify with their families, and build healthy, independent and secure lives. Through her connection with HC, this Fall Jackie will co-lead a Group Therapy program for women at the Rose M. Singer Center at Rikers.