Lena Taylor, President
Lena Taylor is a resident of Newark. She holds an MBA from Farleigh Dickinson University, and currently presides as the Chair of the Fundraising Committee for the New Jersey Chapter of the National Black MBA Association. Lena has served as the Executive Assistant to Mayor Cory Booker, and currently works as a Project Director for the Newark Parking Authority. In this capacity, Lena develops and implements strategic plans for the Newark Parking Authority.
Lissa Jean Ferrell, Esq., Vice President
Lissa Jean Ferrell, Esq. is a Financial Consultant with the New York Metro Branch of AXA Advisors, LLC. Prior to joining AXA, Lissa was the Legal Compliance and Anti-Money Laundering Officer for American Express. Lissa is a graduate of the New York University School of Law, and is a member of the Bar of the States of New York and New Jersey. She also holds the Series, 7 and 66 registrations with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and Life, Accident & Health, and Variable Annuities licenses with the States of New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Michigan and Virginia. A strong advocate of community service, Lissa serves on the Advisory Board of the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey and the Board of Directors for the Garden State Bar Association.
Deborah Bartley-Carter, Recording Secretary
Deborah Bartley-Carter has a broad range of experiences in K- post graduate public, and priviate schools. Deborah has served as the K-12 District Supervisor for Language Arts for the West Orange Public Schools, and has also served as the Regional Instructional Supervisor for Language Arts in New York City. Deborah holds a Bachelor's Degree in Literature and Rhetoric from State University of New York, Binghamton and a Master’s Degree in Education from Columbia University,Teachers College.
Abena Douglas, Corresponding Secretary
Abena Douglas is the Assistant Director of the Upward Bound Program at Seton Hall University. As the Assistant Director, Abena is keenly aware of the college readiness and admissions process. Her ability to liaise between parents, students, and staff in this process make her an indispensable asset to the efficient and continuous functioning of a college preparatory program. Abena stays abreast of scholarship opportunities, as well as other suitable programs across the country that may assist in students’ academic and social maturity. In this sense, she is a multi-role facilitator of education and holistic student development.
Jeremey Benekin, Treasurer/Ex-Officio
Jeremey Benekin holds a B.S. in Finance from NJCU, and currently works as the Legal Process Coordinator for E-Trade Financial. In this capacity, Jeremey produces and manages legal and financial documents involving E-Trade Financial, and other public and private entities. He also facilitates the division of marital assets, and serves as the Custodian of Records for the company. Aside from his professional endeavors, Jeremey seeks to give back to his community by contributing his personal time to community service at the Jersey City Public Library, where he is a mentor and tutor.
Gwendolyn Franklin is a committed community liaison and advocate. Gwen served as the Director of Development and Communications for Advocates for Diversity in Our Schools. She also worked as the Sponsorship Coordinator for the Oskar Schindler Performing Arts Center, where she cultivated over $135,000 in revenue and donations. She has experience working on founding boards of non-profit organizations, and was a founding board member of the Valley Community Watch in West Orange and the West Orange African Heritage Organization. Gwendolyn holds a certification in Business Applications and Accounting from Rutgers University.
Nena Hamm has been an educator within the city of Newark for 39 years. She served on the Board of Trustees for the East Orange Community Charter School, and currently serves as a Trustee for the YWCA of Essex and West Hudson Counties. Nena is also an active and perennial participant within the Abbott Leadership Institute, and has an enormous wealth of knowledge and experience of what is necessary to implement and maintain an effective educational program. She constantly gives of herself through volunteer work within the city of Newark and is reflective of the social engagement initiative of The Paulo Freir Charter School.