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Trustees & Advisors

Our Trustees

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JOINED 2020 - Tanya is an educator, writer and facilitator. As a teacher, Tanya earned National Board Certification and was recognized by 826 Valencia for her outstanding instruction. Currently, Tanya uses experiential learning, coaching and inquiry to support and inspire teachers, parents and leaders to examine their work through the lenses of structural inequities, intersectionality, and lived experience. At Hunter College, Tanya studies how people develop the will, capacity, skill and emotional intelligence to enact anti-racist practices. She writes for a range of audiences about ways that privilege shapes our inner and outer landscapes. An alumna of Wesleyan University and Teach for America, Tanya spent two decades in California before returning home to New York, where she lives in Brooklyn with her partner and daughter, a thriving BKI student.

Tanya Friedman

Board Chair

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FOUNDING TRUSTEE - Jevon is an independent filmmaker, born and raised in New York City. As a producer, director and editor, he works predominantly in non-fiction television, producing content for major networks and news outlets including NBC, Discovery, PBS and CNN. He also produces promotional and educational material for leading nonprofits in NYC, including National Resources Defense Council and Studio in a School. Jevon earned a BA in Comparative Literature from Brown University. He now lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two sons (BKI Classes of 2031 and 2034).

Jevon Roush

Vice Chair

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JOINED 2020 - Denise is an Educational Consultant with SOLVED Consulting, where she works with literacy teachers to improve the academic achievement of their students.  Denise has 25 years of experience as a classroom teacher and coach.  She is driven by her belief that all students can learn, want to succeed and deserve teachers who can support them to excel.  She believes it is the job of educators to tap into each student’s interests, strengths, personality and cultural identities to ensure their success.  Denise is a proud parent of a Brooklyn Independent student and a graduate of Hampton University with a B.S. in Accounting and earned her teaching credential at San Francisco State University.

Denise Savoy


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Lifan Shen


FOUNDING TRUSTEE - Lifan is a wealth management advisor at Merrill Lynch where he advises high-net-worth families, businesses, and non-profit institutions. Prior to Merrill, he was at Goldman, Sachs & Co. where he managed the personal investments for the firm’s most senior partners. Immigrating to the US and arriving in New York City at the age of one, Lifan passionately supports educational programs for low-income immigrants. He is a Pipeline Member at charity:water and also supports the Chinese-American Planning Council where he was previously a volunteer teaching English and workforce development courses to recent immigrants. Lifan earned an AB In Economics at Dartmouth College and an MBA in Finance and Accounting at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

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Suginia Jones


JOIN 2022 - Mrs. Jones is a certified school psychologist who has worked for the Department of Education in New York City for more than 15 years. She currently serves as an elementary school psychologist for two Brooklyn schools in the Park Slope and Kensington areas. Mrs. Jones is the case manager for over 500 children who are mandated to receive special education services as outlined in Individualized Educational Programs (IEP) and serves as the District Representative for subcommittee meetings. Throughout her career, Mrs. Jones used every opportunity to learn more about children and participated in a fellowship program where she studied patterns of child resiliency at Notre Dame University’s Clinical Child Laboratory. Outside of the school building, Mrs. Jones has developed one-to-one relationships as a mentor and is a member of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) organization. Mrs. Jones is married for 22 years and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their three children, one of whom is currently a BKI student.

Nicholas Merchant-Bleiberg


JOINED 2023 - Nicholas was born and raised in New York City, and grew up surrounded by books and art, and people with diverse careers and passions. He attended both public and private schools in Manhattan and the Bronx, and learned the value of integrated curriculum and experiential learning in his k-12 years. Nicholas is a graduate of Oberlin College, where he received a B.A. in English and Black Studies; he is a graduate of Bank Street College of Education, where he first received an M.A. in Early Childhood / Special Education (2002) and later received an M.S.Ed. in Leadership for Educational Change (2008). Since 2013 Nicholas has been the principal of Voyages Preparatory High School, a public transfer high school in Queens, which serves young people ages 16-21. Since becoming a teacher he has taught, coached and supervised in different settings, from private to charter to parochial, and at all classroom levels from pre-K through high school. Today, he loves the opportunity to learn and work with the young adults of Voyages. Nicholas loves to read, paint, play soccer, be outside, and generally be wherever his family and friends are. He has a small weakness for video games. Nicholas lives in Brooklyn with his wife, daughter, son, dog and tortoise.

Nikki Calliste

JOINED 2023 - Nikki (she/her) is a sustainable systems development consultant where she works with nonprofits and small businesses. In her former life, she was a dedicated educator with over 25 years of experience, having served in many roles, including Teacher, Dean of Students, and Assistant Principal, and Central Administrator. She believes deeply in fostering the abilities of young people and the importance of supporting both students and adults in educational communities. Nikki holds a Bachelor's Degree from SUNY College at Buffalo and a Master's Degree from NYU where she was a Levin Fellow and received her certification as a School Administrator from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. She currently resides in Brooklyn and is a proud BKI parent.


Roodia Joseph

JOINED 2023 - Dr. Roodia Joseph is a dedicated and visionary leader who has made a significant impact on the Crown Heights community. She currently serves as the senior director over Case Management, Transitional Care, and Social work department at interfaith medical Center. Dr. Joseph's illustrious career is rooted in her passion for promoting equitable access to quality healthcare for all, advocating tirelessly for those whose voices have often gone unheard. As an inspiring leader, Dr. Roodia Joseph continues to be a driving force in the pursuit of a healthier, more inclusive future for the community she serves on the school board. She is a proud BKI Founding Parent.


Chloe Taylor

JOINED 2023 - Chloe Taylor is an author and entrepreneur based in Brooklyn, New York. She is the founder of Chloe Taylor Technology, a STEM education consulting company that partners with schools looking to incorporate meaningful technology education for young learners. Chloe is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social and Cultural History, and an additional certification from the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC). She later earned her Master's Degree in Education, with a focus on Curriculum and Instruction, from Fordham University. As an entrepreneur, she has collaborated with brands including HP, BrainPOP, and Sphero Robotics to promote the importance of STEM education for youth, and to bring awareness to gender discrimination in the tech industry. In 2020, Chloe published her first book, “The Big Book of Invisible Technology”, a hands-on guide for children that introduces coding, robotics, AI, and 3D printing, among many other topics. She has been a facilitator of the Girls Who Code program for six years and is a passionate advocate for gender and racial equity in the technology industry.


Michael Han


JOINED 2023 - Mike Han is a Strategy Director at Accenture Song, the world's largest tech-powered creative group, where he is acts as the client relationship lead for large technology client. Mike graduated from NYU with a Bachelors in Metropolitan Studies. While in school, Mike was a four-year volunteer with the Henry Street Settlement, supporting a variety of afterschool tutoring programs in the Lower East Side. It was here he developed an interest and passion in education equity and service. Most recently, he was a 2018 Council of Urban Professionals fellow, and has served on their alumni board for 4 years, as well as a board advisor to Trove Tourism consulting. He recently fulfilled a dorky childhood dream of being a college professor as he started as an adjunct professor of marketing at CUNY Baruch. Outside of work, He’s also a big fan of yoga, Orange Theory, really trash horror movies, daydreaming about getting a dog (but never pulling the trigger) and keeping pace with the cultural zeitgeist (via Tiktok, exclusively). A native new yorker, Mike grew up on Long Island and now resides in Manhattan with his menagerie of houseplants.

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Lindsay Wilkinson


JOINED 2023 - Lindsay is the Director of Individual Giving at The Studio Museum in Harlem where she solicits gifts from major donors and creates unique events and travel experiences for museum patrons. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for 10 years, formerly holding positions with the Central Park Conservancy and Figure Skating in Harlem. Prior to her career in nonprofit, she worked in the fashion industry, working on backstage production, public relations and events for some of the leading fashion brands in the world. She also had the honor of working on President Barak Obama’s second inauguration as a parade team lead. Lindsay in a native New Yorker and holds a BA in Studio Art from Spelman College, in Atlanta and currently resides in New Jersey.

Samra Haider


JOINED 2023 - Samra Haider has spent over 15 years working to build and scale programming and pathways out of poverty for individuals who face systemic barriers to meaningful employment. Currently, she is President of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a national organization focused on enabling economic and social mobility for individuals who have been impacted by the criminal legal system. At CEO Samra oversees all aspects of its program, innovation, policy, and strategy functions, including expansion into new markets. Prior to CEO, Samra worked for Next Street Financial, REDF, Oliver Wyman and JPMorgan Chase. Samra holds an MBA from the Wharton School, an MS from the London School of Economics, and a BA from Columbia University. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, 3 kids, and cat.

Yasmine Anthony


JOINED 2023 - Yasmine Anthony, Saint Lucian, now resident in New York; known to one and all as Yazz. Ms. Anthony’s distinguishing features include: her exemplary parenting of her son Zac in what she calls’ difficult times’ and her dedicated contribution, in her role as vice-chairperson of Saint Lucia House Foundation in Brooklyn, New York. Prior to her migration to the United States, Yasmine served Saint Lucia for 35 years in a variety of capacities-academic, administrative, extra-curricular and community outreach. Her first substantive post was teacher in English Language and Literature at the Clendon Mason Secondary School-for 12 years. She presided over student life and developed social and extra-curricular activities to cater to the diverse needs and interests of her students. She made the move to the Customs and Excise Department of the Ministry of Finance where she contributed in a more direct way to national development. She can see limitless opportunities ahead during her tenure on the board!

Our Advisors

Cecilia Clarke
Former President & CEO, Brooklyn Community Foundation 

Vinny Dotoli
Founder & Head of School, Harlem Academy


Richard Eaddy
Senior Managing Director,
Savills Studley


Michael Patrick
President, ISCA
Founder, LREI Alumni Association

Phil Kassen
Director, Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School

Hali Lee
Founder, Radiant Strategies; Co-Founder Donors of Color Network; Founder, Asian Women Giving Circle

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Carol Sedwick
Daytime Emmy Award winning Associate Director, Former Board Trustee at Studio School 

Hannah Solomon
Senior Fellow for Content Development, Teach Like a Champion 

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