COSEBOC Administrative and Programming Staff

Administrative Staff

Ron Walker
Executive Director

Ron Walker, Executive Director, COSEBOC

Ron Walker has over 45 years of experience serving as a teacher, principal, staff developer, and consultant in various educational communities.  Currently, Ron serves as the Executive Director and is a founding member of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color. The mission of COSEBOC, founded in 2007, is to connect, inspire, support and strengthen school leaders dedicated to the social, emotional and academic development of boys and young men of color. Under his leadership COSEBOC is impacting over 600 schools across the nation with a combined student population of over 300,000. COSEBOC has been recognized for its work on changing the negative narrative often perpetuated by the media and others to a positive counter narrative that lifts up the gifts, talents and promise possessed by boys and young men of color.

COSEBOC is recognized as a critical organization in the efforts to eliminate the academic achievement gap. In this regard recognition has come from many organizations such, the Council of Great City Schools, Education Trust, Cities United, The Center for Law and Social Policy, The Panasonic Foundation, The Kirwin Institute, Harvard University and the American Public Health Association just to name a few. COSEBOC has been awarded major national grants by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Open Society Foundation. 

Ron has also grown the visibility of COSEBOC and has made many presentations on the national and state level. He has presented to the U.S. Department of Education, College Board, California Association of African American Administrators and Superintendents, The American Public Health Association, The Council of Urban Boards of Education as well being interviewed by Soledad O’Brien on the topic of Educating Black Males. 

He was also invited to attend President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Forum held at the White House.  Ron has been recognized for his service in education by the Boston Public Schools, Boston College School of Education, Temple University -School of Education, The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. and many community groups. He was nominated for Ebony’s Magazine Manifest Award for individuals making substantial contributions in the field of education. Ron has authored two publications on leadership and is featured in numerous education articles. He remains steadfastly committed to high quality education for children and particularly boys and young men of color and other underserved populations.

Ron attributes any success that he has gained to his unrelenting belief in God, the lessons taught by his parents Solomon and Delores Walker and the faith that his wife Toni, children and grandchildren place in him.

Terri Brown
Finance Director

Terri Brown, COSEBOC Business Manager

Terri is an experienced non-profit finance and operation professional. She is an advocate for change in under served communities and has committed her career to working for organizations with that shared vision. She's held senior positions in finance, operations and programming at the United Way of Massachusetts & Virginia Beach, Boston Center for the Arts, Madison Park Development Corporation and YouthBuild USA.  Terri is also an active community organizer, and serves on the executive committees of a many Boston non-profits.

Mitzi Dorbu
Membership Outreach Coordinator

Mitzi Dorbu, Membership Outreach Coordinator

Mitzi has 10+ years of experience in public relations, most working for Berklee College of Music’s media relations team, stateside and abroad. She has also worked on community programs in Mexico and created/coordinated a visitation collaboration between several Detroit Public Schools and the University of Michigan for the largest national Dr. Martin L. King Jr. birthday celebration. She draws on those experiences, her resulting understanding of education, community empowerment, and the arts as well as the knowledge gained at the University of Florida’s Master’s Communication curriculum in her consulting to non-profit organizations.  Recent clients also include the Roxbury International Film Festival and Shiloh Restored which helps combat female infanticide in India. 

Nikki Haug
Marketing & Development Associate

Nikki is a young PR/Marketing professional with a passion for nonprofits. She has held positions as a Marketing/PR Intern at the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities (MAC) and Primary Care Progress (PCP). Nikki also served as an Events Intern at the Boston Athenaeum. She also has experience working with youth, having served as an Assistant Instructor for Marlboro College’s summer programs. Nikki has an interest in working to help disadvantaged youth, including girls, LGBTQIA adolescents, and young people of color. She joined COSEBOC to focus social media efforts, research potential funding sources, and learn more about the nonprofit world. 

Andrea Hurley
Web Designer and Webmaster

Andrea Hurley, COSEBOC Web DesignerAndrea brings 14 years of web design and development experience to COSEBOC. She is founder and creative director of Elytra Design, a web firm based out of Boston and the Berkshires, focusing largely on non-profit organizations. Andrea is responsible for keeping COSEBOC on the edge of web strategy, social networking and digital technology. She has many years of web experience working with major educational organizations including Tufts, Harvard and MIT and the Boston Public Library, and with smaller community-based organizations such as Mapping Thoreau Country and Teacher Bound, the Upward Bound Program at Wheelock College.  She joined COSEBOC in 2007 to design the first website, and has continued to be part of the team, advancing the website and related digital functions. Andrea has a deep passion for equality, and believes in COSEBOC's long-term aim - that by working together to create the right conditions, our youth can realize their educational and creative potential. Andrea has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from U.Mass Boston, and a Master of Science in Entomology from U.Mass Amherst.

Margaret F. Jones
Administrative Assistant

Prior to joining COSEBOC in 2013, Margaret was the Office Manager of Communities In Schools (CIS) in Charlotte, North Carolina for over 25 years. During her time there she provided administrative support for the Finance manager, HR Director, school site staff, and the central office.   She also staffed Board meetings, handled facilities management and risk management including insurance coverage.  She was CIS’ IT liaison for a consortium of 10 non-profits.  Highly dedicated to her work, Margaret received a diploma in Office Systems Technology from York Technical College and is a member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP).  Margaret also has volunteered for such diverse organizations as the Lupus Foundation of the Piedmont and Guardian Ad Litem (an organization supporting children’s rights in court). 

Esther Kaplan
Senior Director of Institutional Advancement 

Esther Kaplan, Director of Institutional Advancement

Esther brings 30+ years in non-profit management to her role as Director of Institutional Advancement.  She founded and led Arts in Progress, Inc., developing dozens of program models using students' cultural traditions to develop academic, social and emotional competencies.  She also led the advocacy consortium of all cultural organizations working with the Boston Public Schools, and served as Director of the Boston Office of Cultural Affairs.  In the past eight years she has consulted to over 25 non-profit organizations on strategic planning, organizational development, program development and fundraising.  Esther joined COSEBOC in 2008 and is pleased to focus her strategic thinking, organizational skills, dedication and persistence on the critical issues that have always been at the heart of her work  - ensuring that ALL students have a schooling experience that embraces and supports them to learn and develop into healthy, productive adults.

MARC Global Communications
Brand Development and Communications Consultants 

Jeanine Reed
Graphic Designer

Jeanine brings 20 years of graphic design experience to COSEBOC. She is the founder of JReed Design in Belmont, MA and has worked as a freelance graphic designer for the past 12 years. Among her clients are several educational organizations including Harvard, Education Development Center, and TERC. Prior to freelancing, Jeanine worked on the design staff at Education Development Center where she created logos, brochures, annual reports, posters, and illustrations for the many departments within the organization. There, she worked with Ron Walker on ATLAS projects and in 2007 joined COSEBOC to help create their print identity - designing their logo, brochures, and conference pieces. Jeanine enjoys working with educational non-profits and is inspired by their dedication to the academic development of our youth.

Programming Staff

Brenda Artwell
Sankofa Passages Program Director

Brenda Artwell, COSEBOC Director of Professional Development

Brenda has, for over thirty- plus years, been engaged in and passionate about public education. Following successful tenures as teacher, curriculum and instruction administrator and principal, she partnered with schools across the country as a site developer, regional and program director for ATLAS Learning Communities and at the University of Connecticut, working as a site facilitator in the New Haven Public Schools for the university’s Institute for Urban School Improvement. She has been a presenter and facilitator at numerous conferences and a collaborator for leadership conferences and principal institutes across the country.

Her association with the COSEBOC has grown as the organization has flourished and expanded.  She is especially passionate about her work as Program Director for the Sankofa Passages Program which serves young men of color in the development of their social, emotional and cultural well-being.

Rhonda Tsoi-A-Fatt Bryant
Research Director

Rhonda Bryant, COSEBOC Policy and Advocacy Coordinator

Rhonda is a national expert on education and youth development. Her work has an emphasis on children and youth of color, particularly those living in distressed communities.  Her particular expertise is policy development and reform. Her work experience includes national policy advocacy, federal and state government, as well as local nonprofit work with children and their families. She managed the implementation of the Delaware Department of Education’s strategic agenda for early care and education, and expanded access to high quality early childhood programs in one of the state’s high-minority communities. She has also worked at the Office of Head Start in the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Most recently, she has focused on high school dropout prevention and recovery. Rhonda joined COSEBOC in 2011 as a part-time consultant to help bring attention and action to policy changes to ensure all students receive a quality education that leads to productive adulthood.

Dr. Deidre R. Farmbry
Professional Learning Facilitator

Dr. Deidre R. FarmbryDeidre is a career educator previously with the School District of Philadelphia.  Over twenty-eight years she was interim superintendent, chief academic officer, regional superintendent, high school principal, English department head, and English teacher.  Deidre is currently an independent consultant specializing in social and emotional learning, leadership coaching, team development, classroom practice, and school improvement via structured inquiry and collaboration. Her passion for and commitment to African-American male success led to her hosting four forums in Philadelphia on African-American male achievement with follow-up Saturday sessions addressing the education of African-American males in various contexts including prisons, public schools, private schools, and universities.  A native Philadelphian, Deidre received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Temple University and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.  Although her favorite type of personal expression is poetry, Deidre is the author of several published speeches and essays on educational topics.

Eric Marshall
Vanguard eNewsletter Editor

Eric is a freelance writer and editor who has worked on The Vanguard newsletter since 2009. A graduate of Brown University, Marshall has spent the past decade working in a communications capacity at a variety of nonprofit organizations. The majority of Marshall’s career has been spent at the international, nonprofit organization Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC). For EDC, he has written content for the organizational website, created internal and external e-newsletters, edited print and Web content, and maintained the organization’s social media presences on Facebook and YouTube. Marshall believes in using the power of communications—both in terms of telling compelling stories and writing in a clear, accessible manner— to engage audiences in important issues, such as those facing young men of color. 

Shawn Savage
Member Network Coordinator

After receiving a B.A. in English and a post-graduate Diploma in Education (DipEd.) from the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, Shawn worked as a teacher in various educational institutions in Jamaica, including two single-gender high schools and an adult learning institution.  He relocated to Boston to attend the Lynch School of Education at Boston College and has completed a Principal Internship at Boston Community Leadership and Boston Arts Academies, and received his M.Ed. in Educational Leadership.  He is currently a PhD student in Curriculum & Instruction with a focus on Leadership, Policy and Educational Change at Boston College. 

Shawn is serving as Residential Coordinator for Boston College's Options Through Education (OTE) summer program, helping students entering Boston College who are first generation college students and students from differently resourced school systems who have done well, overcome great challenges, and are exceptional leaders. He also serves as an Examiner for the Caribbean Examination Council's (CXC) Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE). 

Marvin Shapiro
Member Network Coordinator

Murph retired after 33 years as a middle school principal in Edgartown, Lincoln, Belmont and Newton Massachusetts. He also served as Executive Director of The CityWide Educational Coalition (CWEC) in Boston.  Murph has been a friend and colleague of Ron Walker’s for almost 50 years and for all that time they have shared a determination to make schools better for all kids.  After retirement Murph explored the new social media as a means of improving schools. He now joins COSEBOC to put this new found interest into creating an online network of leaders of schools focused on improving the education of young men of color.

Gene Thompson-Grove
Professional Learning Facilitator 

COSEBOC Staff - Jene Thompson-GroveGene brings 30 years of experience working with numerous reform organizations, schools and school districts, leading seminars on becoming culturally competent, examining student work collaboratively, coaching for equity, engaging in collaborative inquiry, understanding school culture, developing facilitative leadership, creating professional learning communities, and designing and facilitating adult learning experiences. Gene is one of the original developers of Critical Friends Groups (CFGs), and is a founding Board member of the School Reform Initiative (SRI) and Educators for Social Responsibility (ESR).  She has been a CFG coach since 1995, and is a National Facilitator for SRI and All Kinds of Minds (AKOM).  She has authored several of the protocols used nationally for engaging in collaborative examination of practice.

Most recently, Gene was Co-Director of Clinical Teacher Education for the Boston Teacher Residency Program. For six years prior, she was the Director of Professional Development and Special Initiatives for the Public Schools of Brookline, where she was responsible for the district’s Equity Project, as well as for several system-wide adult learning initiatives. Gene was a Clinical Professor of Education, a Professional Development Associate for the Coalition of Essential Schools, and a Senior Associate at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform - all at Brown University.  She began her career as a high school and middle school English teacher in Watertown MA. Gene has a B. A. in English and Secondary Education from Boston College and received her M.Ed from Harvard's Graduate School of Education.

Sarah Hay
COSEBOC School Awards Coordinator

Sarah's has worked in the field of education – both domestically and internationally -- at leading organizations including the Education Development Center, Outward Bound, Cambridge Public Schools, National Outdoor Leadership School, Project Adventure and Harvard University. She currently works as an independent research and evaluation consultant for a number of education projects and also leads international study tours in the Middle East and Asia. Sarah believes that we best support creativity and innovation when we choose to focus on energizing positive developments in education as opposed to criticizing a broken system. It's this belief that motivates her to work on behalf of COSEBOC's School Awards Program. Ms. Hay holds a Masters in Education from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. 

Noe J. Medina
Evaluator

Noe  has worked in the field of education program development and evaluation for almost 30 years. Working primarily as an independent consultant, he has been involved with projects addressing a wide range of educational issues, mostly focused on the needs of at-risk and underserved students and students of color. In addition to his consulting work, Medina served as Director of Field Services for the Education Alliance at Brown University, Director of Program Development and Assessment for the Cambridge Public Schools, Director of the Education Division for the Children’s Defense Fund, and Legislative Aide to Senator Edward Kennedy. Medina’s work with COSEBOC reflects a career-long commitment to promoting high-quality educational services for all students, particularly those who have been traditionally underserved by the public schools.

Kamau Ptah, Sba
Sankofa Passages Program

Kamau Ptah, Sankofa Passages Program Director

Sba (pronounced Say-ba) is an ancient Kemetic (Egyptian) term that describes one who is devoted to studying, teaching and embodying the wisdom, teachings and virtues of his culture.  Educational leader, teacher, traveler, historian, drummer, writer and student of indigenous wisdom teachings are all terms that characterize Kamau Ptah.

For over 20 years Kamau has been a custodian and practitioner of the rite of passage system of transformative teaching and learning since earning his BA from Hampton University in History/Social Science and Education and his Master’s Degree in School Administration from Cambridge College.  Kamau is the co-founder and currently serves as Program Director of the Urban Assembly Academy of History and Citizenship for Young Men (one of the first all boy public high schools in New York City since the 1960s).  He is a Rite of Passage consultant for the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, Man Up Global, Nassau Community College GEAR UP, Excel High School Rite of Passage and Salaam’s Art and Inspiration program. 

For COSEBOC, Kamau has envisioned and helped launch the Sankofa Passages Program, a school based rite of passage that provides the optimal conditions for the healthy education, socialization and identity development of boys of color.  He also leads youth participation in our annual Gathering of Leaders.  Through the study and facilitation of Rite of Passage experiences, Kamau has established a creative style of educational leadership that stimulates the holistic development of educators and youngsters, hence awakening the sensibilities and intelligences to address the current challenges in educating our future. 

Mellie Torres, Ph.D.
Research Associate

Mellie Torres, COSEBOC Research Associate

Mellie is an experienced educational researcher, program evaluator, and educator. Previously as a Research Investigator at New York University’s Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, she was involved in myriad research, evaluation, and advocacy projects focused on educational equity, access, and opportunity and disenfranchised males. She also served on a national, longitudinal intervention study of single-sex schools for Black and Latino boys. Mellie’s research explores the relationship between the multiple and intersecting social identities of race, ethnicity and gender of Latino male students and their academic identities. She received a doctorate in Education from the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University.  Mellie holds masters degrees from the University of Michigan in Public Policy, and Montclair State University in Education.  She received her bachelor’s in mathematics from Seton Hall University.

Kimberly Zouzoua
Managing Director of Professional Services

Kimberly SouzouaKimberly brings many years of non-profit and corporate sector management experience to her work with COSEBOC.  Throughout her career she has been recognized for her ability to launch innovative programs that have helped organizations construct and implement strategic plans, expand their reach, achieve financial stability, and create a strong and sustainable company culture. 

Kimberly’s commitment to supporting urban youth to reach their true potential is evident in her positions as Executive Director, Northern Region for Educational Pioneers and Director of Apprenticeships for Year-UP, Inc.  She has also served as a visiting Scholar and Principal Investigator at UMASS Boston, and as a consultant to the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts and to International Youth Partnerships. She has earned a Master of Business Administration from Northeastern University and a Bachelor of Science in Management from Johnson and Wales University.   Kimberly has enjoyed traveling across the world to places such as South Africa, Central America, China, Thailand, Cambodia and Europe.