Board of Directors

Serene Longsworth, Board Chairwoman

Svelte Medical Systems

Serene Longsworth is the STRIVE board chairwoman. Serene has volunteered for STRIVE as a board member and fundraising chair since 2012. She is very passionate about facilitating college and career goals of the youth. She works as an operations engineering program manager at Svelte Medical Systems, and has worked in the orthopedic and cardiovascular medical device industries for over 14 years. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering from Syracuse University and a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University. She is certified as a project management professional

(PMP) and a Six Sigma Green Belt. During her leisure time she enjoys long-distance running, especially half-marathons.

Rashmi Shah, LexisNexis Risk Solutions

Rashmi Shah is Marketing Manager, Home Insurance Solutions, at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Rashmi manages all aspects of marketing, client acquisition, branding and profitable growth strategy development for the home insurance segment.  She is responsible for a number of industry leading data solutions, including LexisNexis Territory Index and LexisNexis Home Inspection Index.  Rashmi has been with LexisNexis for over 12 years working in a variety of marketing leadership roles in both the Legal & Professional and Risk Solutions divisions. She currently serves as a board member for STRIVE.   Rashmi holds a B.A. in Journalism and Communications from Rutgers University and an M.B.A. from Pace University, Lubin School of Business, specializing in Marketing and International Business.

Lynette Sheard

New Jersey’s Career Connection Employment Resource Institute

Lynette is currently a trainer for the Mental Health Association in New Jersey’s Career Connection Employment Resource Institute. She is a uniquely qualified professional with an outstanding reputation of success in multiple industry settings. Her diverse employment background includes success in: corporate sales, higher education, non-profit, social service and the performing arts. In all of these settings she has excelled in creating innovative programs and achieved measurable outcomes which contributed to the overall success of the organization.  She has worked successfully as a corporate sales account executive with Fortune 100 companies. As a Director of Student Activities at a private Liberal Arts college where she provided leadership and staff development in the implementation of policies and procedures, developed student empowerment programs as well as designed and promoted a year- long multi-cultural co-curricular calendar of events. As a non-profit director she developed enrichment programs and has written sustainable grants. As a Marketing Director for a community theater she increased revenue and exposure by developing collaborative advertising partnerships within the community. Lynette currently serves as a board member for STRIVE.  She is also a vocal recording artist, actor, motivational speaker and vocal coach that performs regularly throughout the tri-state area. Lynette holds a Bachelor’s degree from Hampton University and over 1000 hours of certification trainings. She is also a certified Mental Health First Aid Adult and Youth Trainer.

Vardine Kéda Siméus

Capella University

Vardine Kéda Siméus serves as Adjunct Faculty for Capella University. She is also a clinical research consultant who conducts seminars using skills in System Thinking to coach frontline providers on how to engage patients with life-threatening illness and their families in their treatment plan to properly address issues such as cancer screening, hospitalization, psychotherapy, and hospice care for Haitian clients. Furthermore, Vardine mentors doctorate level students with editing, formatting, and applying the appropriate research methodology to their dissertation projects.

Vardine’s 16 years of employment experiences has been centered around working with children and families; women dealing with pre/ postpartum depression; patients dealing with grief, life-threatening illnesses, and trauma; as well as court ordered patients who are referred for domestic violence, BIP (Batter Intervention Program), anger management, parenting classes, sex offenders, as well as families involved with DCF and Child Welfare. For DCF clients, she facilitates parenting psychoeducational classes, individual and family therapeutic sessions helping families get reunified with their children who have been removed from their home as these parents developed insight about child abuse and neglect to adapt and to better understand the family system of the United States. Vardine has held positions including program manager, supervisor, and clinical director for diverse non-profit agencies in the Palm Beach, FL area. She has worked as a case manager assisting mental health patients dealing with dual diagnosis to maintain stability with their behaviors, mental health state, addictions (i.e., alcohol, eating disorder, sexual disorder), and their personal challenges. Vardine has also held the position of a Child Interventionist supporting children living with autism as well as children dealing with developmental issues. As a therapist, she provides individual, family, and marital counseling to couples facing divorce, marital discontentment, and family issues. Vardine currently serves as a board member for STRIVE.  Vardine holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Florida Atlantic University, Master’s in Arts in Marriage and Family and a Ph.D. in Family Therapy from Nova Southeastern University.


Ajilon Professional Staffing

Talehia Traverso is a Staffing Manager for Ajilon Professional Staffing. In this position, she is responsible for sourcing, interviewing and qualifying candidates to be placed in temporary, temp-to-perm and direct hire positions. She both sources candidates and proactively markets their background to match specialist roles in local areas. Her specialties include Executive Administration, Human Resources, Marketing, Supply Chain and Logistics.

Talehia has been with Ajilon for just over 3 years. Prior to this role, she has worked in Early Childhood Developments Centers. Talehia currently serves as a board member for STRIVE.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Western New England College.

Sally Ahmed

Sally Ahmed has over ten years of combined experience in business operations and human resources in non-profit organizations. She holds a B.A. degree from Rutgers University, as well as an MBA, degree with a concentration in Human Resource Management, from Saint Peter’s College.

Amy Pozmantier Eberly

People’s Prep

Amy Pozmantier Eberly is a Community Programs Manager at People’s Prep.  In this position, Amy has placed over 150 students in internships across the city of Newark.  Prior to this position she was a sixth grade reading teacher at Grover Cleveland Mastery Charter School in Philadelphia, PA.  She continues to build lasting relationships with organizations and companies, with the goal of placing more students in internships and community service work.  Amy holds a B.A. degree in Individualized Study from New York University and a M.S. degree in Elementary Education from the University of Pennsylvania.

Monica Lallo

Rowan College

Monica Lallo is an educator, team strategist and advocate for improving government and nonprofit services to underserved youth and families.  She is currently a Senior Adjunct Professor at Rowan College at Burlington County, where she teaches courses in the Human Services Program. Throughout her professional career, Monica has been committed to bridging the socioeconomic divide that exists in disadvantaged communities.  She has been actively involved in government-funded youth improvement initiatives and her work has heightened capacity building efforts for nonprofit organizations, both domestically and internationally.

Monica holds a  B.A. degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice from Rutgers University, M.A. in Public Administration from New York University and a Doctoral Degree in Education from Immaculata University

 Jahleel Drewery

Foresters Financial

Jahleel Drewery is currently a Securities Service Representative for Foresters Financial. He is licensed to accept unsolicited stock and securities trade orders from clients for execution and provide quotations for current securities. Jahleel has interned in the office of the City Administrator in Plainfield, New Jersey. During his time in Plainfield, he served on the City Development Block Grant Committee and Abandoned Property Committee. With a passion for youth development, Jahleel aims to make a positive impact in the lives of the inner-city youth. He holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in Public Administration from Kean University.

Dawan Alford

Dawan Alford is a lifelong New Jersey resident who offers a special blend of local knowledge and global research experience that equips him with a unique understanding of diverse urban landscapes. A preeminent cross sector collaborator, Dawan travels extensively pulling in best practices and cultural understandings from across the globe. Dawan designs engagement strategies that connect anchor institutions to grassroots initiatives by keeping a clear focus on deliverables and communicating common narratives through an authentic lens. He is a social justice advocate and cares a lot about urban mental health, the arts and civic engagement while championing a spirit of collectivism that empowers residents to see value in their communities. Alford graduated with a B.A. in Public Administration from Rutgers University Newark and is studying to receive his Masters with a focus on leadership and diversity. Dawan is a Leadership Newark fellow, CLIME fellow, International Leadership Exchange alum, RWJ Culture of Health coalition member and works diligently to advance the greater Newark community.

Anissa​ ​Talley

Anissa​ ​Talley has been​ ​working​ ​continually​ ​as​ ​a​ ​student,​ ​wife,​ ​mother, entrepreneur,​ ​paralegal​ ​and​ ​administrative​ ​assistant from 2005-2013.​ ​​ ​Although,​ ​Anissa​ ​has​ ​gained​ ​valuable experiences​ ​throughout​ ​the​ ​times​ ​she​ ​worked​ ​as​ ​a​ ​paralegal​ ​and​ ​administrative​ ​assistant, she still​ ​felt​ ​the​ ​need​ ​to​ ​venture​ ​into​ ​different​ ​territories.​ ​​ ​In​ ​October 2016​ ​Anissa​ ​had​ ​the​ ​pleasure of​ ​working​ ​with​ ​the​ ​Kalalloo​ ​multimedia​ ​Network,​ ​in​ ​St.​ ​Croix,​ ​US​ ​Virgin​ ​Islands,​ ​as​ ​a​ ​Journalist. Anissa​ ​researched,​ ​wrote​ ​and​ ​produced​ ​stories​ ​broadcasted​ ​from​ ​the Eastern​ ​Hemisphere​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Western​ ​Hemisphere.​ ​​ ​As​ ​of​ ​January​ ​2016,​ ​Anissa​ ​has been​ ​strategically​ ​working​ ​on​ ​obtaining​ ​a​ ​Master’s​ ​in​ ​Management​ ​Information​ ​Systems. Anissa’s​ ​present​ ​working​ ​experiences​ ​has​ ​been​ ​troubleshooting,​ ​installing​ ​and​ ​updating​ ​IOS and​ ​Android​ ​device​ ​software​ ​and​ ​she​ ​has​ ​experience​ ​in troubleshooting,​ ​installing​ ​and​ ​operating CRM​ ​software.​ ​​ ​Anissa​ ​is​ ​growing​ ​more​ ​and​ ​more​ ​knowledgeable​ ​and​ ​she​ ​plans​ ​to​ ​teach college​ ​courses​ ​for​ ​technological​ ​institutions​ ​or​ ​manage​ ​a​ ​software​ ​company,​ ​in​ ​the​ ​near​ ​future. Anissa holds​ ​an​ ​Associate​ ​of​ ​Arts in​ ​Paralegal​ ​Studies,​ ​from​ ​Prism​ ​Career Institute,​ ​in​ ​Upper​ ​Darby​ ​Pennsylvania​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​​a B.A.​ ​from​ ​Centenary​ ​College​ ​in​ ​Parsippany,​ ​New​ ​Jersey.​ ​​