Crowned & Courageous: Women of Color Network 2020

Mentor Bios

The Center for Leadership Development at FPWA launched its 2020 Crowned & Courageous: Women of Color Network cohort where, in addition to full-group sessions, women of color emerged and aspired leaders worked directly with mentors who were both experienced leaders in the field and women of color. Enclosed is a compilation – by no means exhaustive – of the individual expertise, work, and dedication of the mentors who gave their time to develop and cultivate the next wave of women-of-color leadership in the sector.

For more information about the Center for Leadership Development at FPWA, please contact Raysa S. Rodriguez, Chief Program and Policy Officer at

Onleilove Alston
Minister Onleilove (pronounced Onlylove) Chika Alston,M.Div., MSW is a minister, veteran faith rooted organizer and writer. Currently she is the Founder of Her Wisdom Consulting which focuses on diversity, equity and gender justice as well as the Lead Organizer for Urban Youth Alliance-BronxConnect where she is developing a advocacy and organizing department.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Human Development with a minor in African-American studies from Penn State University, she completed a year of service with AmeriCorps Public Allies New York. In 2011, she received her Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work degrees from Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University School of Social Work, respectively. Her writing has been featured in Sojourners magazine, Huff Post Religion, The Black Commentator, and NPR’s On Being blog, as well as in other print and online publications. She has been a featured speaker and workshop facilitator at CCDA, Dartmouth College, Why Christian, Sojourners' Summit, The 2015 African Hebrew Conference in Israel, and The Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference among other conferences, congregations, and organizations. For her writing and activism work, Onleilove has received the Public Allies New York Local Alumni Award, The Lost Angels Society Survivor Award, The Bennett Fellowship for Social Justice from Auburn Seminary, the National Association of Social Workers-NYC Scholarship for Social Justice and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Minority Coalition Young Adult Award. She is one of a few African- Americans that have visited and ministered among Jews in West Africa and her first book on her research into these communities is Prophetic Whirlwind: Uncovering the Black Biblical Destiny. With a deep love for Africa and her diaspora Onleilove serves as the Faith-Based Coordinator for The Global African Business Association. Onleilove lives in Harlem, has five siblings and a large extended family. She worships and serves as a Minister of Evangelism at Beth-El The House of Yahweh where she serves as a Minister of Evangelism.
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Aleciah Anthony
Aleciah Anthony  has been a leader in the nonprofit field for nearly  twenty years,  working  tirelessly  with people  of color  to create solutions and pathways that allow them to transform themselves and the communities in which they live.
Currently, Ms. Anthony is the Director of Programs at FPWA (formerly the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies). Since joining FPWA in 2014, Ms. Anthony has worked to build authentic relationships and deepen member engagement for the purposes of strengthening FPWA’s ability to advocate on behalf of the human services sector. She has been successful in launching the Center for Leadership Development which has focused on capacity building with a social justice lens and trained over 500 nonprofit leaders yearly. Under her leadership, the Center for Leadership Development continues to expand and has developed two new primary areas for FPWA, civic engagement and trauma informed organizational development. Before joining FPWA, Ms. Anthony was the first African American Executive Director of the Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition, where she worked to charter a new progression of leadership and opportunity for women of color in the Bronx, and advanced grassroots campaigns on social and economic justice issues. While at the NWBCCC, Ms. Anthony launched the Community Leadership Academy, led the organization through the transition to an institutional organizing model, and supervised the negotiations of a $1.7 billion Community Benefits Agreement for the Redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory. Ms. Anthony holds a Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership from Fordham University, a bachelor’s degree from NYU in African Studies with a specialization in Urban Studies, and a certification from Lehman College in Family Development. She has served on various nonprofit boards including Mount Hope Housing Company, Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, National People’s Action, and most recently GirlVow, a Bronx organization dedicated to providing mentorship and social services to at-risk and incarcerated girls and young women. Ms. Anthony is a single mom, born and raised in the Bronx, and is passionate about the pursuit of justice for people of color. She is committed to organizing for the long haul and believes wholeheartedly in using organizing as a tool to address the issues that seek to destroy the vibrancy, wholeness and sufficiency of families.
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Sharon Content
Sharon Content is the Founder and President of Children of Promise, NYC a community based organization in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, with a mission to embrace the children of incarcerated parents and empower them to break the cycle of intergenerational involvement in the criminal justice system.
She founded Children of Promise, NYC in 2007 after growing increasingly concerned about the lack of support offered to children who experience parental incarceration. Sharon Content successfully developed a unique and innovative program - the only one of its kind in New York City that now serves 350 children and families per year. The organization’s holistic model co-locates a mental health clinic and an after-school and summer day camp program, seamlessly providing access to evidence-based therapeutic services and the best practices of youth development under one roof. Children of Promise, NYC is proud to report that no young person in the program has been involved with the criminal justice system to-date. Under the entrepreneurial leadership of Sharon Content, Children of Promise, NYC has evolved from a small community-based organization to a growing sustainable non-profit that has served more than 1,000 children and families impacted by incarceration. She and the organization have been publicly recognized and honored for its exemplary work. Content was the recipient of the prestigious Hidden Heroes Award from the Andrew Goodman Foundation, a New York Post Liberty Medal for Leadership, and the Brooklyn Foundation’s Do Gooder Award. Children of Promise, NYC was selected as “Agency of the Year” by the New Jersey Nets and was recently featured in the following press outlets: The New Yorker Presents, Aljazeera America, MSNBC, the New York Daily News, CNN World, ABC’s Secret Millionaire, BBC, and several others. Prior to founding Children of Promise, NYC, Sharon Content enjoyed a thriving career on Wall Street in a major Investment Bank before leaving the private sector to pursue her lifelong passions in youth development. She then worked for more than 12-years within the non-profit sector for various organizations focused on addressing the needs of youth residing in high crime, low-income neighborhoods. Sharon Content is a native New Yorker and respected alumni of Howard University. She brings her compelling vision, uncompromising leadership, and deep commitment to impact the lives of children residing in high needs communities.
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Monica Dennis
Monica Dennis (She, Her, Hers) is the Co-Director of Move to End Violence. Monica is a Black feminist and lifelong advocate for racial and gender justice and equity, with her work across movements spanning three decades.
As a crossmovement capacity builder and strategist, her work focuses on addressing and healing from the cumulative impact of state-sanctioned violence on communities of color. She supports organizations and communities to shift from an individual to a systemic analysis of structural racism and explore racism’s relationship to intersecting oppressions. Monica is passionate about increasing our collective capacity to dismantle white supremacy and patriarchy as a pathway to ending violence. Monica’s approach to organizing and movement building is shaped by the history of her people, those with whom she shares community, and her journey as a survivor. As a seventh-generation descendant of rural Black Southerners and a native of the South Bronx, Monica learned how her communities utilize culture, history, collaboration and innovation to resource themselves despite systemic oppression. Pivotal moments such as the police killing of Eleanor Bumpurs, the false imprisonment of the Central Park Five, the anti-apartheid movement, and the testimony of Anita Hill broadened her understanding of the political contexts and sparked her early activism. Most recently, Monica assisted in organizing the Black Lives Matter Ride to Ferguson in the wake of Mike Brown’s tragic murder and she participated in the development of the Black Lives Matter Network. She supports the Safety Beyond Policing and #SwipeItForward campaigns and the Say Her Name, Every Black Girl and #MeToo movements. She is deeply proud of her contribution as the co-founder of S.O.W. Leadership Development Institute, as well as her work with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, CoreAlign and CoLab.
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Karen Dixon
Karen Dixon is the Executive Director of Harlem Dowling-West Side Center for Children and Family Services. Harlem Dowling-West Side Center for Children and Family Services founded in 1836 as the Colored Orphan’s Asylum, provides Family Preservation, Family Support Services for children with development disabilities, After School programming, and Emergency Food Pantry services.
Karen Dixon holds a Bachelors of Arts from State University of New York at Stony Brook and a Masters of Social Work from Hunter College School of Social Work. Ms. Dixon also completed Columbia Business School Executive Education, Institute for Not-for-Profit Management in 1999. Ms. Dixon is a Licensed Masters of Social Work participating in various advocacy initiatives throughout the City and State. Since her appointment as Executive Director in 2012, Ms. Dixon’s management and leadership has expanded programming and increased networking throughout the Harlem community. Advocating for children and families for adequate child care services, after school programming, and health and mental health services, are among her daily activities. In 2016, Harlem Dowling-West Side Center and The Children’s Village, Inc. completed the Home for Harlem Dowling building project with 60 units of affordable housing including 12 studio units earmarked for children leaving the foster care system. Ms. Dixon co-chairs the NYC Chapter of the Network for Social Work Management, mentors new Executive Directors and Women of Color for FPWA, and serves on the board of several organizations. She works closely with the National Association of Social Workers- NYC Chapter, Columbia University Teachers College, the Human Services Council, the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies, and Black Agency Executives. Ms. Dixon is a member of Manhattan Community Board 10, serving on the Health and Human Services and Parks and Recreation committees. She is also Vice Chair of the Land Use committee and is a member of the NYC Health & Hospital Harlem Hospital Community Advisory Board. Remaining steadfast in her commitment to children, she continues her efforts to ensure that they can be safe in their communities with their families.
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Janelle Farris
Janelle Farris became CEO of Brooklyn Community Services in 2018. Responsible for the growth and stability of this 154 year-old human service agency, Janelle provides vision and guidance for the Board and staff of over 500 employees who serve over 20,000 people each year.
Janelle Farris began working for BCS as the Chief Operating Officer in the fall of 2013. In that position Ms. Farris was responsible for management of BCS programs, human resources and IT. Janelle’s extensive non-profit management experience was gained as Associate Director responsible for Operations at the Pratt Center for Community Development for nine years, and in January 2013, she received a Post Master's Certificate in Organization Development from The New School for Social Engagement. Prior to joining Pratt Center in 2004, Janelle worked for Common Ground, where she was Director of the largest single-occupancy supportive housing facility in the country, The Times Square. She has also worked for The Times Square Business Improvement District and New York City's 1989 Charter Revision Commission. Janelle holds a bachelors degree in psychology from Spelman College and a Masters degree in Public Administration from Harvard University.
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Nichelle Jenkins
NLJ Consulting + Coaching, based in New York City and first established in 2009, offers consulting and coaching services to individuals and values-driven organizations.
Its consultants work in partnership with clients to conduct racial equity and anti-oppressive practices assessments; resolve EEO complaints; facilitate workplace conflict mediation for positive results; provide executive coaching and training; and engage in strategic planning and implementation to leverage diversity, equity and inclusion so as to achieve social impact. The consultants at NLJ Consulting + Coaching understand that valuesdriven organizations are only successful in their mission when they can rely on truly activated staff – those who are motivated, engaged, feel empowered and respected. Such staff will not only deliver but will exceed measurable business goals. Recent select clients of NLJ Consulting + Coaching: The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) (Women’s Leadership Development series trainer and coach-in-residence), Open Buffalo (assessment and strategic visioning), PUSH Buffalo (staff development and Board management) and The National LGBTQ Task Force. Examples: Assisted The National LGBTQ Task Force in a six-month engagement by investigating and unraveling the factors related to racial equity that precipitated the protest and subsequent trauma to its national conference attendees and organizational stakeholders. NLJ Consulting + Coaching offered detailed recommendations and drafted model conference policies related to conference staffing, as well as community norms and guidance around police presence and involvement at future conferences. The Task Force implemented several recommended policies the very next year at the national conference with much success. Trainer and Coach-in-Residence during FPWA’s six-month Women of Color in Leadership training series, including individual coaching for the participants, assisting them in navigating the challenging terrain of values and mission-driven work. Of the participants in the training series, about 90% registered for coaching and testimonials evidenced that the coaching was extremely fruitful.
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Vanessa Leung
Vanessa Leung joined CACF as Co-Executive Director in April 2017. She has served the education community through her career, advocating on behalf of Asian Pacific American students and English Language Learners in New York City public schools.
She was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to the the Panel for Educational Policy and has been Chair of the PEP since January 2014. She currently also sits on the Advisory Panel for the Brooke Astor Fund for New York City Education. Prior to returning to CACF, for three years she was the Director of Member Initiatives at FPWA (formerly, the Federation for Protestant Welfare Agencies), where she was responsible for membership recruitment and engaging 200 community based and faith based member organizations, and worked with a team to provide professional development, grants, and other resources to support and strengthen nonprofits throughout the City .While Deputy Director for CACF, she was responsible for the development of a pan-Asian children’s advocacy agenda to improve policies, funding, and services for the Asian Pacific American community. As Education Policy and Program Coordinator of CACF, she authored Hidden in Plain View, a report detailing Asian and Pacific American students’ needs, and worked alongside other advocates on the creation of Chancellor’s Regulation A-663, mandating comprehensive interpretation and translation services, as well as the Dignity in All Schools Act which reduces bias-based harassment in schools. Vanessa spearheaded a high school youth leadership project, the Asian American Student Advocacy Project (ASAP) that trains a diverse group of high school students to advocate for the needs of Asian Pacific American students. In 2007, she was named a member of the City Council’s Middle School Task Force. She holds a bachelor’s degree from New York University and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Teachers College. She also completed the Middle Management Program of the Institute for Notfor- Profit Management at the Graduate School of Business of Columbia University, the CORO New York Immigrant Civic Leadership Program, the CRE Leadership Caucus, and the 2017 American Express Leadership Academy 2.0 at the Aspen Institute. Vanessa currently lives with her husband and three sons on Staten Island.
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Maria Lizardo
Maria Lizardo, LMSW is the Executive Director at NMIC. Ms. Lizardo joined NMIC as the Director of Social Services in 1998 and was promoted to be the Deputy Director of Client Services in 2004.
Before joining NMIC, Ms. Lizardo worked at PROMESA, Inc., a multi-service agency in the Bronx for eight years, during which time she advanced from being a social worker in the substance abuse program to the Director of Community Development with responsibility for implementation and oversight of numerous tenant, youth, open space, and safety programs. In 2014, Ms. Lizardo served initially as the Interim Executive Director and was then promoted to Executive Director of NMIC. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. She is bilingual in English and Spanish.
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Claudette Macey
Claudette Macey has a track record of over 40 years of impeccable leadership. She is currently the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Fort Greene Council, Inc., one of Brooklyn's nonprofit Black agencies, providing services to over 1500 seniors, children, and families daily.
Born in Guyana, South America, Claudette started teaching as a "Pupil Teacher'' at the tender age of 15. She obtained her teacher's certification from Guyana Teacher's Training College. Since then, her life has been one of service where she has been a strong advocate for the underserved in her community. Claudette not only holds the accolades of being a teacher, but that of a grassroots Social Worker. She is a New York State Certified Social Worker, with both her Bachelor’s and Master's Degrees from Adelphi University in Long Island. She also holds an Associate Degree in Business Management and Sales from New York Technical College in Brooklyn. Ms. Macey, as she is primarily called, is a fair, fierce, feisty, and fearless leader. She is highly respected among the people she has jurisdiction over within Fort Greene Council and Brooklyn communities. Under her leadership at Fort Greene Council, Inc., she has held multiple positions including: Teacher at Young Minds Day Care Center, Program Coordinator for Atlantic Terminal Senior Center, and a Social Worker at Bedford Day Care Center. One of the longest positions held in the agency, which Ms. Macey fondly held from 1993 to 2004 and readied her for her current role, was as Director of Christopher Bienman Senior Center. In 2004, Claudette Macey assumed leadership of Fort Greene Council, Inc., continuing the legacy and mission of the organization’s founder, Dr. Sam Pinn. She now provides oversight and leadership to 13 Senior Centers, 1Day Care Center, 1 After School program and over 150 staff. Claudette has one daughter, the apple of her eye and a source of great pride. In her spare time, Ms. Macey loves to cook and travel, and enjoys event planning and decorating. She is also extremely meticulous in whatever she sets forth to do. Claudette likes to have fun and a good time.
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Benita Miller
Benita Miller is the current Executive Director of Brooklyn Kindergarten Society. Miller recently served as the Executive Director of the NYC Children’s Cabinet in the Office of the Mayor and was also Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Family Permanency Services in the Administration for Children’s Services.
While at the Mayor’s Office, she led the city’s effort to improve services for children and families impacted by incarceration and also launched the Unity Project. She also secured federal funding to improve service delivery to young parents and their children. At ACS, she led initiatives and operations related to ensuring the safety, wellbeing and permanency of all children receiving foster care services as well as caseload reductions and trauma assessment tools in family foster care. Miller developed the Housing Academy Collaborative to better prepare youth transitioning from foster care to supportive housing and NYCHA residences. She also strengthened services being provided to expectant and parenting youth and secured support from the Center for the Study of Social Policy to develop policies and programming for young fathers who are in foster care. She created the Office of Older Youth Services and Residential Care Monitoring and oversaw the third phase of residential care reduction for ACS and also facilitated the co-location of ACS staff at Riker’s Island to ensure that youth who are in foster care were being appropriately served while awaiting the disposition of criminal matters. Miller also developed the Case Monitoring and Compliance Unit to enhance safety and risk assessments of children and youth being reunified with their families. Before joining ACS, Miller served as Director of Scholarships at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where among other responsibilities she implemented programs for undergraduate and law student scholars. Benita is the founder and former executive director of the Brooklyn Young Mother’s Collective and previously represented children and young people in child protective, delinquency, and PINS proceedings in Brooklyn Family Court as a staff lawyer with the Legal Aid Society. Miller earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Print Journalism from Wayne State University where she was a Rosa Parks Scholar at The Detroit News, and a law degree from Syracuse University.
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Danielle Moss
Dr. Danielle R. Moss brings a deep commitment to educational equality and social justice to her role as CEO at The Oliver Scholars after having served a year as Chief of Staff at The New York Civil Liberties where she was recruited to help the organization’s leadership solidify its strategy for managing unprecedented growth and solidify a diversity, equity, and inclusion framework to inform the organization’s work.
Before joining NYCLU, Dr. Moss served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the YWCA of the City of New York for five years, where she leveraged over two decades of experience in education and human services to put the YWCA back at the forefront of the conversation on women and girls in New York City. Under her tenure, the YWCA of the City of New York expanded its program portfolio to include a women’s speaker series for professional women, girls’ leadership programs, STEM education for girls and young women, and increased advocacy for women and girls in New York City. In 2015, these efforts were recognized when the Speaker of New York’s City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, asked her to Co-Chair the NY City Council’s Young Women’s Initiative, a citywide effort to remove the systemic barriers to achievement that dis-proportionally effect girls of color. And, in 2016, Mayor DeBlasio appointed her to the city’s newly established Commission on Gender Equity. She began her career as a teacher in the Bronx and Brooklyn, and has previously served as President and CEO of the Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF), Adjunct Assistant Professor of Urban Youth Policy at CCNY, Director for Community and Parent Partnerships at The After-School Corporation, and Consulting Project Director for The Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth. Given her ongoing commitment to women and girls of color, she launched The Ebony Vanguard in 2017. The EV is an intergenerational organization dedicated to power, progress, and play for women and girls of the African Diaspora. Dr. Moss was co-founder and lead applicant of Sisulu-Walker Children’s Academy – Harlem Charter School (the first authorized charter school in the state of New York), and has previously served on multiple boards. She is currently on the board of The New York Women’s Foundation. She received her B.A. in English Literature and History with a concentration in Black Studies from Swarthmore College, and holds M.A. and Ed.M. degrees from Teachers College Columbia University, where she also completed her Doctorate in Organization and Leadership with a focus on Education Administration. She holds Certificates in Nonprofit Management from the business schools of Columbia, Harvard, and Stanford. Dr. Moss also holds a Certificate in Fundraising Management from Indiana University, The Fundraising School. In 2018, she did her first TED Talk at TEDWomen 2018 in Palm Springs, California.
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Damaris Reyes
Damaris Reyes, Executive Director of Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), is a lifelong resident of the Lower East Side and has been with the organization since 2000. She has been involved in community organizing and housing issues both locally and nationally for over 20 years. She is the chair and co-founder of LES Ready, a disaster and recovery network.
Reyes currently sits on the Southside United HDFC - Los Sures board, and the Center for Community Leadership advisory board. She is also a member of Community Board 3 and sits on the Land Use, Zoning & Housing Committee. A regular public speaker around public housing and resiliency, her work has taken her internationally to learn about flood protection strategies and to share best practices in community engagement, resiliency, and disaster preparedness. She has received numerous honors for her work, including the 2006 New York Women’s Foundation’s Neighborhood Leadership Award and the 2009 Jane Jacobs Medal from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Municipal Arts Society.
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Jennifer Sun
Jennifer Sun is Co-Executive Director of Asian Americans for Equality and has returned after more than a decade in New York City government advancing economic development and large-scale infrastructure projects in Upper Manhattan, the South Bronx and Southwest Brooklyn.
From 2002 to 2004, Jennifer managed the Rebuild Chinatown Initiative at AAFE, organizing local stakeholders to advocate for post-September 11th public investments in Chinatown’s economy and infrastructure, through a community-based planning process. The experience helped launch her career in the public sector, leading planning and economic development initiatives in underserved neighborhoods. From 2004 to 2008, Jennifer served in the Mayor’s Office as policy advisor to former Deputy Mayor of Economic Development Daniel Doctoroff, guiding public investment in affordable housing, commercial development and nonprofit cultural institutions in Upper Manhattan and the South Bronx. From 2008 to 2014, Jennifer served as Senior Vice President at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), spearheading planning and development projects in East Harlem, Northwest Bronx, and the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center.In 2015, Jennifer was appointed Executive Director of Sunset Park at the Economic Development Corporation, overseeing development of 6 million square feet of industrial property along the Brooklyn waterfront, including Brooklyn Army Terminal and Bush Terminal Industrial Park. At the New York City Parks Department, Jennifer led implementation of the city’s Community Parks Initiative, which invested more than $300 million in underserved neighborhoods. Jennifer relocated with her family to Kansas City in 2016, where she founded a consulting practice to assist nonprofit organizations and social enterprises with strategic planning and capacity building.Jennifer holds dual bachelor’s degrees in Economics and East Asian Studies from UCLA and a master’s degree in urban planning from Columbia University. She is excited to be moving back to New York City with her husband and two children.
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