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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.