Staff

  • Khary Lazarre-White

    Executive Director & Co-Founder

    Khary Lazarre-White

    Executive Director & Co-Founder

    Born and raised in New York City, Khary is a social entrepreneur, writer, educator, activist and attorney.

    In 1995, at the age of 21, Khary co-founded The Brotherhood/Sister Sol (Bro/Sis), a now nationally renowned, Harlem based, comprehensive youth development and educational organization that provides rites of passage programming, arts and enrichment based after school care, counseling, summer camps, job training, college preparation and scholarship, employment opportunities, community organizing training, legal representation, and month long international study programs to Africa and Latin America. The organization provides direct service, trains educators across the nation on its model and organizes to advance policy and social change.

    Over the last 21 years Khary has been recognized for his leadership in providing some of the most innovative and highly successful practices in the nation. His awards include the Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network Use Your Life Award, as well as from institutions that include Ford Foundation, Black Girls Rock, Andrew Goodman Foundation, Union Square Awards, Brown University, National Recreation Foundation’s Robert W. Crawford Achievement Prize, National Guild for Community Arts Education, and the national NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund/Shearman & Sterling Law Scholarship Award that supported his legal studies.

    Khary has extensive experience as a speaker across the country and has widely on national media sites as well, including as a regular guest contributor on MSNBC, on CNN and many other media sites. Khary has edited several publications of Bro/Sis and contributed assorted curriculum workshops and pedagogical writings to these collections. He writes regular opinion pieces for the Huffington Post, and has had essays published by Nation Books, Essence Magazine, AfterSchool Matters, Vineyard Gazette, MSNBC’s thegrio.com and New York University Press. In 2017 New York University Press will publish one of his essays in the forthcoming collection, A Crisis of Connection; and Seven Stories Press will publish his first novel, Passage.

    Khary serves on the Board of Advisors for New York City’s Young Men’s Initiative and for the Dean’s Advisory Council for the CUNY School for Public Health. He is one of the Commissioners of Human Rights for the City of New York, and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Ethical Culture Fieldston School and the Community Service Society. Khary is a member of the Bar in the States of New Jersey and New York.

    Khary received his Bachelors in Arts in Africana Studies, with honors, from Brown University, and his Juris Doctorate from the Yale Law School where his focus was international human rights law and constitutional law.

  • Jason Warwin

    Associate Executive Director & Co-Founder

    Jason Warwin

    Associate Executive Director & Co-Founder

    Jason Warwin is the Co-Founder of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol. He is an expert in the field of youth development, and a specialist in the design of transformative programs and experiences. His focus during the past two decades has been creating programs that directly support the development of Black and Latino youth in the Americas.

    The organizations and programs he has co-created, including The Brotherhood-Sister Sol, the Community Service and Development Program, International Study Program, The Liberation Program, Diáspora Solidária and Irmãos Unidos have long records of success and have received widespread acclaim in the United States and internationally. Jason has traveled extensively in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean for personal study and as an educational guide. For 7 years, from 2006 to 2013 Jason lived in Bahia, Brazil.

    There he explored Afro-Brazilian culture, learned and implemented permaculture techniques, and was involved in community organizing and youth development efforts. Over the years Jason has received numerous awards including an Echoing Green Fellowship, the Community Works’ Long Walk to Freedom Award for a New Generation of Civil Rights Activists, the Fund for the City of New York’s Union Square Award for Grassroots Organizing, the Brown University Alumni Association’s inaugural John Hope Young Alumni Public Service Award, the Abyssinian Development Corporation’s Harlem Renaissance Award, the Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network Use Your Life Award and the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World award.

    Jason has served on the Board of Directors of The New York Foundation, The Fund for Social Change and of Educators for Social Responsibility.

  • Cidra M. Sebastien

    Associate Executive Director

    Cidra M. Sebastien

    Associate Executive Director

    Cidra M. Sebastien was born in Puerto Rico to a social worker and musician educator. She developed her community organizing and leadership skills from the love and encouragement of her family, travel experiences and academic studies. She is a graduate of Hampton University (BA, English Arts) and NYU’s Gallatin School (MA). Her Masters thesis focuses on the connections between education, social justice and the arts.

    As the Associate Executive Director of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, she is committed to nurturing young people to become critical thinkers and social change agents. A staff member since 2001, she manages the Rites of Passage program for young women and the Liberation Program for youth activists, and has co-facilitated International Study Programs in Ghana, South Africa, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

    In 2005, Cidra was a co-awardee of the Ford Foundation Leadership for a Changing World Award. She then participated in an eighteen-month cooperative inquiry documented in a report she co-authored called, “Taking Back the Work: A Cooperative Inquiry into the Work of Leaders of Color in Movement-Building Organizations”. This resulted in her participation in the Centre for Action Research in Professional Practice/CARPP conference in Stroud, UK and the World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil as a presenter discussing the report and issues of leadership and race in the US.

    She is a 2015 Ford Public Voices Fellow of The OpEd Project, publishing articles about her work with youth at Bro/Sis and the impact of immigration policies on youth. Cidra was appointed to the New York City Council’s Young Women’s Initiative as Co-Chair of the Education Committee and Steering Committee member. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the New York Road Runners, and is an avid runner.

  • Wendy M. DeJesus

    Associate Director for Programming

    Wendy M. DeJesus

    Associate Director for Programming

    Wendy has been a staff member at BHSS since 2001. Wendy is the supervisor of all After School programming, our Summer Day Camps, and the Mentoring program. A Sister Sol Chapter Leader, Wendy co-led the International Study Programs to South Africa and to Brazil. Wendy majored in Physical Education Teaching at Hunter College where she began her undergraduate studies.

    While at Hunter, Wendy was a member of the Women’s Basketball and Softball athletic teams. Wendy earned a Bachelors of Science in Organizational Management from Nyack College. Wendy has earned a certificate from Columbia Business School’s Institute for Not-for-Profit Middle Management and Fordham University’s Executive Education Program for Non-Profit Management. Wendy joined the Director’s Circle as Associate Director in the fall of 2008.

  • Erin A. Baskin

    Coordinator of Grants & Institutional Giving

    Erin A. Baskin

    Coordinator of Grants & Institutional Giving

    Erin Baskin has eight years of experience in grant-writing, event planning and public and community relations. She served as the Resource Development Manager at The CityKids Foundation where she managed all fundraising efforts, institutional development and marketing and external communications. While at CityKids she did extensive prospect research, grant-writing, donor management and income tracking. She also served as the grants manager at the Partnership for Children where she was responsible for all fundraising through grant writing and proposal development for a 7 million dollar organization. At PWC she secured multi-year grants from Robin Hood, Clark Foundation and JP Morgan Chase, among others. Erin has also served as the Development Coordinator at Highbridge Voices and at Greenwich House. Erin holds a BA from the University of Houston.

  • Lorisse Bentiné

    Chapter Leader/Environmental Facilitator

    Lorisse Bentiné

    Chapter Leader/Environmental Facilitator

    Lorisse has worked in youth development and the arts. She holds a BA in Drama Studies from SUNY Purchase, where she also minored in Spanish. She is fully bilingual in Spanish and English and spent two semesters abroad during college in Spain and also worked in London, England where she held an internship in graphic design.

    Lorisse has worked as the Chief Creative Officer at PulseArt NYC where she planned events, curated exhibits and managed artists. She was the Lead Associate for visitor services at El Museo del Barrio where she coordinated educational tours and public programs. Lorisse also served as the director of the Children’s Theater at the Culturate Dominicana Center of the Arts and as the Art Director for the Celba Arts Collective.

    She has over ten years of experience working with children and youth via the arts, theater, in environmental spaces and via community activism.

  • Shawn Bolden

    Chapter Leader/Teen Facilitator

    Shawn Bolden

    Chapter Leader/Teen Facilitator

    Shawn Bolden was born and raised in Harlem, NYC. While growing up it was always Shawn’s dream to work with the organization that he feels helped raised him, The Brotherhood/Sister Sol. During The winter of 2000, Shawn was introduced to The Brotherhood/Sister Sol by his cousin who was an active member. Shawn attended various workshops and by 2001 he became a member of the organization’s Rites of Passage chapter Akoma. Here he learned the importance of working as a cohesive unit along with academic and community responsibility. Shawn attended Thurgood Marshall Academy: School for Learning and Social Change from 2001-2005. During his experience there, he became certified in conflict resolution, involved with student government, managed school athletic teams, along with other responsibilities and roles. As a member of BHSS, Shawn was a leading member for the organization’s youth council, served as the youth member of the Board of Directors, and was a recipient of the Catalog for Giving Urban Hero Award (2004). Upon graduating from high school, Shawn attended Monroe College (New Rochelle, NY) where he received his B.S in Criminal Justice. After receiving his degree he started gearing his focus mainly on youth development and education. After realizing his calling for education Shawn was selected as one of ten national Heinz Endowment Fellows as a part of the foundation’s African American Male Initiative, and where he worked for two years in the Pittsburgh public school system. The fellowship also provided a a full scholarship to Duquesne University where received his M.S in Education. Prior to working with The Brotherhood/Sister Sol and his fellowship with the Heinz Endowments, Shawn worked with Abyssinian Development Cooperation (New York, NY), New York City Department of Education (Brooklyn, NY), and Freedom Academic Movement (Brooklyn NY). His work background consist of youth development and pedagogy, performing arts, community organizing, workshop development, sports and recreation, mentoring, and activism. Along with Shawn’s background in youth development, he conducted Youth Participatory Action Research, coordinated international projects and performances in the Bahamas and France, and other various projects dealing with education and creative arts. Shawn’s love for this work speaks for itself as he continues to grow within the field of education and youth development. He’s always looking ways to assist youth as he was once considered to be “at-risk” himself.

  • Silvia Canales

    College & Workforce Coordinator

    Silvia Canales

    College & Workforce Coordinator

    Silvia Canales is an Afro-Latina of Dominican and Puerto Rican heritage. Passionate about addressing issues of sexism, misogyny, race and education; she works towards the empowerment of youth by designing and facilitating educational/artistic workshops. Silvia holds the position of College and Workforce Coordinator at The Brotherhood/Sister Sol.

    She has also been a Sister Sol Chapter Leader, as well as the facilitator of the award-winning poetry and spoken word collective, Lyrical Circle, since its inception in 2001. Silvia co-facilitated International Study Programs to Brazil in both 2006 and 2012. As a committed cultural/youth worker to her community, Silvia has created various programs helping Manhattan Valley and Harlem youth challenge and address issues regarding race, culture and sexism through performance art. Silvia is responsible for the implementation of the first teen component at the Manhattan Valley Development Corporation to serve youth in academics, social enrichment and community involvement.

    Silvia has received certification from Goddard Riverside’s Options Center for Educational and Career Choice in College Access Counseling, from the PASE and Baruch College Emerging Leaders Program and was accepted to The United Way Senior Fellows Program. She is an AmeriCorps National Service Alumnus, and graduated Cum Laude from Hunter College of the City University of New York with a B.A in Sociology and Africana/Latino studies.

    Silvia received her Masters in Education with a focus on Bilingual School-Counseling and Guidance from New York University, Steinhardt School of Education, Culture & Human Development.

  • Marsha Jean Charles

    Organizer/Liberation Program Co-Facilitator

    Marsha Jean Charles

    Organizer/Liberation Program Co-Facilitator

    Marsha Jean-Charles is an alumnus of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol. Marsha earned her BA in African American Studies from Wesleyan University, her MA in African American Studies from Columbia University and is pursuing a Ph.D in Africana Studies from Cornell University. While pursuing her Ph. D., Marsha taught Introduction to Africana Studies at SUNY Binghamton. Marsha spent a semester in Brazil, during her undergraduate studies. Marsha has worked at The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, on a part time basis, in several capacities. Marsha has worked as an educator in the Liberation Program; done curriculum research and data entry; and served as a staff person on two of the organization’s International Study Programs – to Haiti in 2013 and to Cuba in 2016. In this role she facilitated lesson plans, supported with logistics, and served as a translator in Haiti. Marsha is fluent in Haitian Kreyol, and has intermediate language skills in French and Portuguese.

  • James Dixon

    Expanded Success Initiative Youth Development Staff

    James Dixon

    Expanded Success Initiative Youth Development Staff

    James Dixon is an alumnus of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol (BHSS). He was a member for 6 years and he completed BHSS’ Brotherhood Rites of Passage Program and attended two of BHSS’ International Study Programs – one to Ghana and one to Brazil. James graduated from Thurgood Marshal Academy in 2008 and earned his BS in Sociology from the State University of New York, Institute of Technology in 2012. James has worked as a middle school youth counselor, basketball coach and as a math tutor. He also obtained a junior business analyst position at Citigroup that supported his college studies. While at SUNY IT James Received the C.W. Mills Award for Imagination Academic Award in Sociology; served on the Student Association from 2010-2012 in the position of Senior Senator; served on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee; and was a member of the university’s inter-collegiate swimming team.

  • Simone Gamble

    Chapter Leader/Liberation Program Organizer

    Simone Gamble

    Chapter Leader/Liberation Program Organizer

    Simone Gamble earned her Bachelor of Arts in Adolescence Social Studies Education and History from Hunter College and also her Masters in Social Work from Hunter College. Simone has worked at Make the Road New York where she supervised the creation of social action projects for sophomore students in a high school and collaborated with Dignity in Schools to implement Restorative Justice practices in schools; at Fort Greene SNAP, where she engaged in extensive outreach for community organizing efforts and co-facilitated community forums and agency meetings; and at Wadleigh High School, where she created and implemented lesson plans for Advanced Placement United States History and Regents Global Studies classes and collaborated with teachers to develop the overall classroom management and structure, including grading, behavior management, parent contact and follow-up, and parent-teacher conferences. Simone has also worked for many years at the Fiver Children’s Foundation in several roles – as an Assistant Camp Director, as a Program Counselor where her responsibilities included managing a caseload of 30 participants in grades 6-8 during the summer-camp program and year-round and developing interpersonal and academic goal-setting with participants and families, and also helped participants prepare for the middle school and high school application processes.

  • Veronica Hinds

    Coordinator of Special Events & Communication

    Veronica Hinds

    Coordinator of Special Events & Communication

    Veronica is a native New Yorker and has a background in fundraising and journalism. Veronica has done individual giving, donor relations, managed direct mail campaigns and event planning at social services organizations.

    As a freelance journalist, Veronica has written features, lifestyle, public affairs and human-interest pieces. Veronica holds a Masters of Science in Journalism from Iona College and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from SUNY Buffalo. She is also a member of Women in Development and New York Women in Communications. Veronica now assists the Development Department in all aspects of fundraising.

  • Jorge Laboy

    Expanded Success Initiative Youth Development Staff

    Jorge Laboy

    Expanded Success Initiative Youth Development Staff

    Jorge Laboy is an alumnus of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol’s (BHSS) Rites of Passage Program and BHSS’ International Study Program to Brazil. Jorge graduated from Bethany College in West Virginia with a BA in Communications. While at Bethany he was four-year varsity football player where he was nominated Pre-Season All American. During his collegiate years Jorge served as a sports reporter for the Bethany College television station and received a Sports Illustrated internship. Jorge has worked as site director for the Police Athletic League where he supervised a staff of 5 and coordinated activities for up to 75 youth, and as fellow for the New York City Department of Education.

  • Joshua Leach

    Development Associate

    Joshua Leach

    Development Associate

    Joshua earned his BA in English and Africana Studies from Hobart and William Smith Colleges where he received the Charles H. Prize Award from the English Department for his achievement in creative writing. He remains strongly involved in Alumni/ae relations through the National Regional Network as the tri-state area Regional Programming Coordinator.

    He has worked in various capacities as a development professional since 2006. His first nonprofit experience was as Legal Assistant for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and later as the Office Manager/Executive Assistant for The Twenty First Century Foundation where he worked with Bro/Sis Board member Reverend John Vaughn.

    Joshua held the title of Development Associate for five years while he worked for PNP Staffing Group at such organizations as the Asia Society, Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, and the Borough of Manhattan Community College. While at these organizations his work focused primarily on database management, donor cultivation and stewardship, and the production of revenue and expense reports.

    For nearly two years at The Alliance for Downtown New York he worked as Database Manager where he oversaw the general database needs of the staff, performed a special tax assessment which funded the organization, and worked closely with consultants and vendors to enhance overall database performance. While there he also had the pleasure of managing and mentoring several high school interns brought to the team through Futures and Options Internship Program.

    His appreciation for the arts and cultural activities brought him to PrintbyPrint Group, a start-up arts, media and technology platform, in the former position of Senior Advisor. Joshua is a long time Harlem resident and lives in Central Harlem with his spouse.

  • Frank Antonio López

    Filmmaker

    Frank Antonio López

    Filmmaker

    Frank Antonio López (Frankie 4) is a performing artist, educator and filmmaker. He has blessed stages all over NYC and has traveled the world, from Cuba to Singapore, from Colombia to Brasil, following his passion for storytelling and its ability to educate, connect and heal. His heart lies in the healing arts and properties of music, magic and mischief. Frank is also a graduate of New York University, with a M.F.A. in Film & Television.

  • José Lora

    Chapter Leader/Policy Associate

    José Lora

    Chapter Leader/Policy Associate

    José was born in Washington Heights and raised in Harlem, NYC. His parents migrated from the Dominican Republic in the 1970s. José has two older brothers, 3 nephews, 1 niece and 1 step-niece. José is a founding member and alum of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, from the Invincible & Untouchable Chapter. Through his involvement with Bro/Sis, his passion for social justice and community activism was sparked, and his involvement with these causes grew throughout middle school, high school and college. In 2001, José entered Brown University’s freshman class, however took a year off and served as one City Year New York’s Founding Corp Members in 2003. He later graduated from Brown in 2007 with a degree in Africana Studies. Upon graduation, he began what would have been his second year with City Year, but instead was offered an opportunity to help launch a youth organization modeled after The Brotherhood/Sister Sol in the island of Bermuda. From 2008 to 2014, José served as a Chapter Leader for The Brotherhood/Sisterhood of Bermuda, working closely with the Program Director to run the organization. During his time with BHSH Bermuda, he helped form two Brotherhood Chapters, United Bravery and Seize Our Future.

  • Jacques Louis

    ESI Partnership Director

    Jacques Louis

    ESI Partnership Director

    During his seven years at The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, Jacques has served as a Chapter Leader, Associate Director, and Curriculum Facilitator. He has been involved in youth development for over seventeen years in various capacities. He brings experience in grant management, program compliance, curriculum development, and program implementation. Jacques holds a B.A. with a concentration in Afro-American Studies from Brown University and an M.S. in Education with a dual specialization in Urban Education and in Educational Leadership for Independent Schools from Johns Hopkins University. Presently, Jacques is pursuing a doctorate in education at Columbia University (Teacher’s College) in the Math, Science & Technology department where he focuses in four areas: educational entrepreneurship, instructional technology, parent involvement, and student achievement.

  • Meischan Parrilla

    Operations/Computer Technician

    Meischan Parrilla

    Operations/Computer Technician

    Meischan, born in Panama, now resides in Spanish Harlem. He completed coursework at Central Park East Secondary School and earned his high school diploma from West Side High School in 2001. Meischan is a founding member of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, joining the Invincible & Untouchable Chapter in 1995.

    He was our first member to become a full-time staff member, maintaining the facilities and materials for the organization as our Office Manager since 2001, and more recently serving as our computer technician and website manager.

    Meischan is now responsible for our website management, all internal IT needs, operations for the building, and assorted technology support. He has certificates of completion from Brainbench on Macintosh 0S X 10.7/OS X 10.8 for Desktop Administration and Networking as well as in Computer Technical Support for both Windows XP/7 and Macintosh Operating Systems.

  • Nicholas Peart

    Elementary After School Program Facilitator

    Nicholas Peart

    Elementary After School Program Facilitator

    Nicholas joined The Brotherhood/Sister Sol (Bro/Sis) in 2004 as a member of Bro/Sis’ Intrinsic Kings Chapter of The Brotherhood. In addition, he was a member of the organization’s Youth Employment Opportunities Program where he worked as landscaper and also a member of Bro/Sis’ After School Program.

    Nicholas was the focus of a Bro/Sis five-minute documentary, “The Closest Thing to Magic”, which focused on his inspirations for success. He has represented Bro/Sis at an array of convenings on the state of Black men and boys and has assisted with many of our Liberating Voices/Liberating Minds trainings as a youth facilitator. Upon high school graduation Nicholas entered BMCC, where he earned his Associates Degree, and during his matriculation received a Reginald F. Lewis Scholarship from Bro/Sis. His next goal is to complete his Bachelors Degree.

    Nicholas has worked for the last three years as the Assistant Facilitator in Bro/Sis’ elementary aged After School Program and Summer Day Camp, serving as a direct youth worker and mentor to the organization’s 8-12 year old population. Nicholas is also the chief caretaker for his three younger siblings and their lead parental figure. Nicholas has been deeply involved as an organizer and advocate seeking an end to the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) “Stop and Frisk” policy.

    Nicholas was a named witness in the Center for Constitutional Right’s lawsuit against the NYPD on this issue – Floyd v. the City of New York, which is presently moving through the court system. He also published the Op-Ed article “Why is the NYPD After Me” in the New York Times on December 17, 2011. It has received wide acclaim and led toward interviews on CNN, WBAI, MSNBC’s The Melissa Harris-Perry Show, Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now, CBS News, Grio.com, NPR, WPIX Channel 11, Urban Justice Center, and for film projects at Yale Law School and New York University.

  • Antonia Perez

    Environmental Facilitator

    Antonia Perez

    Environmental Facilitator

    Antonia Estela Pérez was born and raised in New York City where her curiosity to understand her landscape and heritage was ever present. As first generation born from exiled Chilean parents, social Justice has always been present in her life. Antonia went to Bard College where she majored in Environmental and Urban Studies with a concentration in anthropology, dance and studio arts. While at Bard she ran the community garden, helped start the Bard Farm and spent several summers working at different farms in the Hudson Valley. Antonia has served as a nature connection instructor for three years, leading children, ages 7-16, in nature awareness games, survival skills and rites of passage. Antonia has also worked at the USDAN Summer Camp for the Arts where she designed and taught curriculum to over 40 youth.She is also a certified permaculturist and permaculture teacher. She is currently enrolled at the Arborvitae School of Traditional medicine where she is furthering her knowledge of herbalism. Her vision is to bring this information back into her communities and revitalize the ancestral healing knowledge that we hold. Antonia is part of Brujas the NYC based youth organization and is also the co-founder of Nuestra Cultura a platform to bring together and celebrate latinx artists. She is also the co-founder of Herban Cura an organization that bridges nature into urban spaces to create opportunities for healing through workshops, events, and one-on-one services.

  • Brittany Reyes

    Chapter Leader/After School Program Facilitator

    Brittany Reyes

    Chapter Leader/After School Program Facilitator

    Brittany Reyes has been invested in youth development and women’s empowerment work for much of her life. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh and her Masters in Social Work from Columbia University with a speciality track in Social Enterprise Administration. She has worked on the leadership team at the YM & YWHA in Washington Heights and Inwood at Camp Yomawha where she supervised the second to third grade campers and delved into behavior management, family engagement, and programming implementation. The bulk of her experiences with youth have been in the Pittsburgh area. She worked at the Hazelwood YMCA where she did research regarding resource awareness and served as lead counselor in the afterschool program. She served as the Chapter Director of Strong Women, Strong Girls which is a non-profit focused on the development of third to fifth graders in the Pittsburgh community through cycles of mutual empowerment, mentorship, engagement in women’s history. Brittany was introduced to Bro/Sis through her graduate studies where she had the incredible opportunity to intern with the organization while working with the development team and Rites ofPassage Program.

  • Nando Rodriguez

    Chapter Leader/Environmental Program Coordinator

    Nando Rodriguez

    Chapter Leader/Environmental Program Coordinator

    Nando was born and raised in New York City’s Lower East Side, but also lived for several years in the Dominican Republic. Early in high school, Nando struggled with his academics and a lack of self-confidence, but in 1995 he joined The Brotherhood’s Knowledge of Self Chapter, becoming a founding youth member of the organization, and also participated with a group called Open Road of New York, an environmental program that engages youth in garden and park design projects in economically disadvantaged communities.

    Nando graduated from East Side Community High School with many awards and honors, crediting his academic and personal success to the skills and self-confidence he gained through his involvement in BHSS and Open Road. Nando earned a B.A. in Liberal Studies with a minor in Environmental Science from the State University of New York at Purchase College while maintaining his involvement with community work, participating in student organizations and often taking leadership roles.

    Upon graduating, he received from the college the Highest Community Service Award. In the fall of 2007 Nando was presented with the Urban Star Award by the Catalog for Giving at their annual Gala, only the second recognition given by the Catalog to a previous recipient of their Urban Hero Award.

    Nando continued working with Open Road and BHSS, while also assisting the establishment of a music entertainment department from ASG Inc.. He was the Director of Open Road Park from 2003 to 2008, located in downtown Manhattan and is an award winning community gardener and developer. Having joined our staff in 2005, at Bro/Sis he coordinates our environmental programming, is a Brotherhood Chapter Leader and has co-facilitated our International Study Programs to Ghana (2007) and the Dominican Republic/Puerto Rico (2008).

    Nando is also certified in Green Living Technology (GLT), Participatory Design (PD) and Edible Wall & Green Roof designs.

  • Ingrid Romero

    Chapter Leader/Teen Facilitator

    Ingrid Romero

    Chapter Leader/Teen Facilitator

    Ingrid Romero is an educator, media-maker, and organizer, excited to join the Bro/Sis community as a Sister Sol Chapter Leader. She grew up in New York City, with deep roots in the Andes of Colombia, and has been active in grassroots organizing, movement building and youth-led social change since she was 14 years old. She rose as a feminist youth worker at Sadie Nash Leadership Project, a young woman’s leadership organization based in NYC and Newark, NJ. Aside from youth development, her work spans from food and labor justice organizing, museum education, and community-public art initiatives.

    Ingrid is a proud alum of City-As School, and has been actively working towards a bachelor’s degree at CUNY. Aside from formal education, Ingrid has completed trainings from the School of Unity & Liberation (SOUL), the Highlander Center and Theatre of the Oppressed NYC. She was also a board member of the former ROC-NY (Restaurant Opportunities Center of NY). Ingrid is inspired to continue the legacy of fierce and intentional youth work because of the local youth programs she grew up in that nurtured her leadership.

  • Ralphie Santiago

    After School Program Assistant Coordinator

    Ralphie Santiago

    After School Program Assistant Coordinator

    Ralphie was a founding youth member of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol. He joined the Knowledge of Self Chapter in 1995 when BHSS began its work on the Lower East Side. He graduated from our Rites of Passage Program and earned a full scholarship to Wesleyan University where he earned a B.A. in American Studies with a minor in English.

    While at Wesleyan Ralphie focused much of his extracurricular activities on the performing and visual arts and was an original cast member of the musical In The Heights, which later moved to Broadway and won 4 Tony Awards. Upon graduation Ralphie returned to BHSS and became a Chapter Leader and Arts Instructor. He also co-led our International Study Program (Dominican Republic/Puerto Rico 2003).

    After two years, Ralphie left BHSS to pursue personal interest, but returned in 2006 to serve as the Arts Coordinator for our Elementary After School Program. Ralphie has also worked as a community gardener and program director for Open Road of New York and for the Trust for Public Land, and as a museum educator for the Children’s Museum of Art.

    Ralphie is the Assistant Coordinator for all programming for BHSS elementary aged population – both our five day a week after school programming and our 6 week summer day camp.

  • Juan Tavarez

    Chapter Leader/Teen Facilitator

    Juan Tavarez

    Chapter Leader/Teen Facilitator

    As one of the first youth members of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, a founding member of the Knowledge of Self Chapter since 1995, Juan embraced the organization’s philosophy from its inception. He traveled with BHSS to South Africa in 1997 on our ISP.

    Juan Graduated from East Side High School and completed two years of college at the Eugene Lang College, The New School and in 2003 earned his certification as an Assistant Engineer from the Institute of Audio Research. He previously worked as a group leader for the Educational Alliance.

    Born and raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Juan resides in Washington Heights with his wife Judith, son Donovan and daughter Selaire. He joined our staff in 2004 and now works in our Teen After School Program; and co-facilitates four Brotherhood chapters, providing comprehensive support services to over 60 young men. In addition, he coordinates assorted summer activities including having co-facilitated our International Study Program to Ghana. His relationship with current members, especially the teens, demonstrates his ability to relate to and lead them in a positive direction.

  • Bradley Valentin

    Chapter Leader/Teen Program Facilitator

    Bradley Valentin

    Chapter Leader/Teen Program Facilitator

    Bradley Valentin is an educator, artist and musician. He worked for 8 years with the Urban Arts Partnership as a Professional Development Coordinator and Lead Teaching Artist. While at Urban Arts he created, organized and facilitated workshops for parents, schools, students and community arts organizations and created curriculum on areas of social justice, music, culture, art and history for youth from 5th – 12th grade. In addition, he recruited and trained artistic staff, ensured Urban Arts curriculum was in adherence with Common Core, and served as a youth counselor. Bradley also worked for Oasis in Brooklyn for over 5 years as a Division Manager where he organized and coordinated community summer programs, managed several summer camp sites, recruited and trained staff and administered surveys in compliance with Federal, State and private requirements. A professional musician, he attended New York University and is currently completing his degree at The New School. In addition to English, Bradley speaks Haitian Creole.

  • Rahwa Yebio

    Chapter Leader/Youth Facilitator

    Rahwa Yebio

    Chapter Leader/Youth Facilitator

    Rahwa Yebio has been working in the field of education and youth development since 2007. Previously she was a Youth Development Specialist at the East Harlem Tutorial Program. Rahwa later worked in Brooklyn as a lead counselor for Children of Promise NYC, a special needs organization that serves children with incarcerated parents. More recently, Rahwa was a Site Director for the Harlem YMCA where she oversaw twelve program staff and roughly 100 youth in an after school program in East Harlem. She was responsible for ensuring her program ran in compliance with the Department of Health, hired and interviewed staff and implemented STEM and arts based curriculum. While at Kids Creative in the Bronx, Rahwa headed a team of teaching artists in music, dance, theatre and set design. Rahwa was in charge of coordinating theatre productions that were led and created by youth. In addition she helped guide her teaching artists develop a curriculum that aligned with New York State “Standards of Learning,” along with creating lesson plan and long term goal resources. Rahwa earned her BA, in Sociology, from Wesleyan University and is pursuing her MA in Educational Theatre from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.