Our Approach

Our Team

Judith Lorimer

Judith Lorimer is the Director of #DegreesNYC, a four-year old citywide collective impact initiative housed at Goddard Riverside Community Center. Co-led by students and a range of cross-sector professionals, #DegreesNYC’s goal is to attain racial and economic equity in educational attainment in NYC. . Previously, Judith directed Goddard Riverside’s Options Center overseeing college access and success services for young people, training for college advisors across the city, and the birth of Options’ policy work. In the past 25 years, she has served as a college access advisor, developed high quality training for college access and success professionals, supported programs to implement a positive youth development framework, and guided program evaluation efforts. Before Goddard Riverside, she held positions at the Youth Development Institute and the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Funds. She holds a BA from the College of William and Mary and a MA in International Affairs from Columbia.

LaKisha N. Williams is the Deputy Director of #DegreesNYC, a citywide collective impact initiative that focuses on postsecondary equity. 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 a Youth Council Co-Chair of #DegreesNYC, a citywide collective Impact initiative that focuses on postsecondary equity. An Afro-Dominican immigrant from the Bronx, she is a passionate youth activist, podcast host and student at CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College where she majors in Political Science. She manages the work of the #DegreesNYC Youth Council, leads its Youth Fellowship and manages a variety of projects including its Student Ready Schools and Campuses work and contributes to #DegreesNYC’s communications and policy agenda. A vital voice for equity and systemic change in the New York City, Darleny has presented with #DegreesNYC at Philanthropy New York, met with local, state and federal elected officials, assisted with Higher Education Forums, represented #DegreesNYC on national platforms and represents #DegreesNYC in coalition work. A whirlwind of passion, commitment and presence, Darleny is proving to be an important player in the struggle for justice in education, antiracist organizing, disability rights and youth leadership.

Carolina Cortes-Rivera is a Youth Council Co-Chair of #DegreesNYC, a citywide collective impact initiative that aims to create systemic change within the NYC K-16 education system. She is a fourth-year student at New York University pursuing an interdisciplinary degree in Social and Cultural Analysis with a concentration in Latinx and Gender and Sexuality studies, a minor in Chemistry, and on the pre-health track. She joined the #DegreesNYC team because she envisions an education system that values students as a whole, not just based on their academic standing, and thus, wants to change the odds rather than push a narrative that tells students to beat the odds. As such, she currently co-leads the #DegreesNYC Youth Council and has played a vital role in developing the policy agenda and advocating for food justice and access to mental health services. 


#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  

Ariela Silver, Psychologist, Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center  

Carolina Cortes-Rivera, Policy Intern and Youth Council Co-Lead, #DegreesNYC, and student at New York University 

Chad Franklin, Director of Options, Goddard Riverside  

Darleny Suriel, Policy Assistant and Youth Council Co-Lead, #DegreesNYC, and student at City College 

Jermain Brown, Outreach Lead, #DegreesNYC Youth Council, and student at John Bowne High School

Kevin Stump, Director of Impact, Evaluation and Thought Leadership, Education Design Lab  

Lan To, Associate Director for Programs in Social Enterprise, Executive Education, Columbia University  

Megan McAllister, Senior Program Officer, The Altman Foundation   

Michael Partis, Director, Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative