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Our Approach

Our Team

LaKisha N. Williams is the Director of #DegreesNYC, a data-informed collective impact movement co-lead by young people to achieve education equity in New York City. As such, she represents #DegreesNYC and Goddard Riverside on many groups, including the Government Relations and Human Relations Committees of the New York State Association for College Admission Counseling, the National College Access Network Policy Council, and the CUNY Rising Alliance. She serves on the Steering Committee of the New York State Poor People’s Campaign, as well as on its Coordinating and Faith Committees, where she organizes moral fusion direct action against systemic racism, poverty, militarism & ecological devastation. Recently, she was honored with the United Neighborhood Houses Award for Achievement in Civic Advocacy in recognition of her social justice work.  Williams holds a BA from William Smith College and a Masters of Divinity from the Union Theological Seminary of New York.  

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 Darleny Suriel is the Deputy Director of #DegreesNYC. She is an Afro-Dominican immigrant from the Bronx. Darleny's professional background has centered around youth development, education advocacy, and community organizing. Darleny has experience mentoring youth groups, leading voter registration drives, working in philanthropy, as well as co-creating and mobilizing a student-centered policy agenda. Through her work at #DegreesNYC and the Carnegie Corporation, Darleny has had the opportunity to work closely with stakeholders on education reform on a city, state, and federal level. Darleny has testified to the New York State Legislature and the U.S. Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment. Darleny has also worked closely with federal policy members on immigration, education, foreign affairs, and community development as a CHCI Congressional Intern. Darleny is a proud member of the CUNY community: she attended the Borough of Manhattan Community College and the City College of New York, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Latin American Studies. Darleny is ecstatic to be rejoining the #DegreesNYC team as the Deputy Director and looks forward to continuing her work as an advocate for universal education equity.

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 Imani Brown is the Communications Coordinator of #DegreesNYC. She is a Fall ‘21 graduate from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she obtained her Bachelors of the Science in Criminal Justice and a certificate in Dispute Resolution. She began attending law school in Fall 2022, where she aspires to become a juvenile justice attorney. She started at #DegreesNYC in April 2022 with a desire to be involved in working towards accessible and equitable education, in addition to emphasizing youth advocacy and leadership. Imani has always had a passion for helping others, especially young people, which is reflected by current and past internship and fellowship experiences. Imani’s experience working with youth populations at #DegreesNYC, Kings County District Attorney Office’s School Advocacy Bureau, and other nonprofits geared toward youth justice provide her with firsthand knowledge to thrive in her future career aspirations.

Victoria Lu is the Youth Council Co-Coordinator of #DegreesNYC. She is a first year student at Macaulay Honors at City College. At #DegreesNYC, Victoria has focused on course access and mental health for NYC students, writing letters advocating for change, and spearheading a Call to Action. Lu is also involved in environmental justice, specifically pertaining to mobilizing the youth in Queens. In the future, Victoria aspires to become a public interest attorney.

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Dale Mcenany is the Youth Council Co-Coordinator of #DegreesNYC. They are a junior at Columbia University are majoring in Sociology and Educational Studies. They are originally from Mesa, Arizona, then moved to San Diego, California, and are now in New York City! At #DegreesNYC have background in youth advocacy, community organizing, and civic engagement.

Rachel Bork is the Data and Research Coordinator at #DegreesNYC. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Reed College with a degree in Sociology, with a focus on race, racism, and institutional barriers to inclusion. She has held both community-outreach and research positions. Most relevantly, she conducted research on socioeconomic and racial inequalities in K-12 and college access programs for the Office of Graduate and Special Programs at Reed College. She has also worked with various grassroots nonprofits before joining the #DegreesNYC team, working in the classroom, crafting curriculum, developing research projects, and writing reports. 


Yadry Monsanto is the Communications Intern at #DegreesNYC. She is a dedicated advocate committed to helping and empowering others. With a passion for making a positive impact, Yadry has worked tirelessly to provide essential school materials to underprivileged children. Alongside her altruistic endeavors, she finds solace in reading, expressing herself through poetry, and embracing the joy of singing and dancing. A graduate of Hunter College with a major in Political Science, Yadry aspires to foster unity among people and serve as a voice for the marginalized. Her unwavering dedication to helping others and providing motivational support exemplifies her pursuit of a more inclusive and successful world. 

#DegreesNYC Steering Committee


Gregg Betheil, President, PENCIL   

Marcia Cantarella, Advisor to CUNY Black Male Initiative, educator, author, activist  


Alison Overseth, Chief Executive Officer, Partnership for Afterschool Education  

Allison Palmer, Associate Executive Director, New Settlement Apartments  

Victoria Lu, Youth Council Co-Coordinator, #DegreesNYC 

Dale Mcenany, Youth Council Co-Coordinator, #DegreesNYC

Chad Franklin, Director of The Options Center, Goddard Riverside 

Kevin Stump, VP of Economic Mobility and Workforce Innovation, SUNY Rockland  

Lan To, Senior Consultant, Community Resource Exchange

Megan McAllister, Senior Program Officer, The Altman Foundation   

Michael Partis, Director, Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative

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