Our
Womans Diversity Network Leaders

Ama Yawson

 

WDN Leader

Trainings Team

 

Adesuwa Obasohan

 

WDN Partner-National Committee of Negro Women - Suffolk Section

Justice Chair 

 

Barbara Beatus-Vegh

WDN Org Partner

Youth Justice Team

 

Ama Karikari Yawson, Esq. is the founder of Milestales Publishing and Education Consulting and the author of The Talk: A Black Family’s Conversation about Racism and Police Brutality, Sunne’s Gift, and other best-selling books. 

 

Her unique understanding of social issues, business, and law has enabled her to become a relevant voice on issues as varied as race relations, women's issues, dating, parenting, self-love, hair-bullying, and entrepreneurship. Her articles have been published in MSNBC's The Grio, The Huffington Post, The Atlantic, Madame Noire, and other publications. Ms. Yawson has also appeared on The Today Show, Al Jazeera's The Stream, The Nate Berkus Show, and Fox Business.  Additionally, she is a celebrated radio personality who can be heard on WBAI in New York on 99.5 FM Pacifica Radio as she broadcasts her weekly show, How to Make it in the City.

 

Through her company, Milestales, Ms. Yawson along with her team of thought leaders and artists facilitate life-changing diversity and inclusion training sessions that incorporate legal analysis, storytelling, drama, dance, history, cutting-edge psychological research, mindfulness, and restorative justice circles. The sessions engage participants and organizations and truly propel them toward their goal of fostering a more equitable, cohesive, and productive work environment.  Additionally, these programs may be customized to include diversity issues such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, political affiliation, and ability. 

 

Carole Benjamin

 

WDN Leader

Justice and Events Team

Carole Benjamin-Morgan is a Licensed Social Worker with over 20 years of experience. She currently holds a degree in Public Administration and a master’s in social work. Carole has served on the Suffolk County Advisory Committee for Women’s services. Served on the Board of Directors of the League of Women voters of Smithtown, Assistant Secretary of the Islip Town Black Republican, and the Islip Town NAACP. Carole was also part of the Suffolk County HIV care Network, and the women of AIDS Coalition of Suffolk county. Carole currently ,holds the position of Clinic administrator of Western Suffolk Center, an outpatient clinic of pilgrim psychiatric facility. Carole joined WDN because the work the organization does is much needed in today’s society.

 

Christine Keller

 

WDN Org Partner

Youth Justice Team

 

Dana Garcia

 

WDN Leader

Engagement Team

Dana Garcia is excited to be a WDN member because WDN is fighting for the right things, by building communities while fighting to build change. 

 

Deena Hadhoud

 

WDN Org Partner

Justice Team

 

Dena Spanos

 

WDN Leader

Justice Team

 
 

El Schneider

 

WDN Leader

Engagement Team

 

Eugenia Woods

 

WDN Leader

 

Hughette Clark 

 

WDN Leader 

Co-Chair Health Equity Task Force Advocacy/Action Workgroup  

 

Hughette N. Clarke, represents Sigma Psi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority,  Incorporated. She earned a Doctorate in Educational Administration and is a retired educator after over 30 years of service in elementary and middle school grades. Hughette wants to fight  the good fight to reduce maternal mortality.

Jenna Kern -Rugile 

 

WDN Leader 

 

Jenna Kern-Rugile is a freelance writer, editor and communications specialist who has written and edited stories for a variety of publications, including Scholastic; Family Magazine; Newsday; Working Woman; Working Mother; Fortune Small Business and many others. Her areas of coverage are varied and include parenting; adoption; health and wellness; mental health; social justice; the arts and music; animals; and the environment.

For the past six years, Jenna has also been the Director of Communications at North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, a children's mental health nonprofit on Long Island. She is passionate about the well-being of all of our children, and hopes that we make diversity, equity and inclusion a central part of our educational system.

Jillian Gibson

 

WDN Supporter

Trainings Team

Josephine Hall

 

WDN Supporter

Youth Justice Team 

 

Josephine is a New York State Certified Educator and Co-founder of We Are Just Write. She has worked in public education on Long Island for most of her teaching career. Josephine is also the Co-founder of We Are Just Write. Its mission is to nourish and sustain the advancement of listening, reading, thinking, writing, speaking, and debating skills by offering classes online or in-person. Our classes connect historical context to current events, allowing participants to have a safe space to critically think about their role in our democracy. 

 

Josephine was the Co-Chair of the WDN Youth Council in its early stages. She hopes to continue working with WDN to provide young adults with a safe space for social interaction, self-discovery, and civil discourse about social issues that directly impact their development. It is through this work and teaching, that Josephine understands the asset students are to their own development and our democracy.

Laura Jacobson

 

WDN Leader

Health Equity Task Force, Justice and Engagement Team

 

Laura has a background in business and is currently working in business consulting. On her free  time, she volunteers for Women’s Diversity Network because she is deeply troubled with  maternal mortality numbers in her community on Long Island, NY. She wants to contribute to  WDN efforts to enact a much-needed change. She believes in standing together and working  constructively to make a difference.

Lauren LaMagna

 

WDN Leader for Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic 

Justice Team

Lauren Lamagna loves being apart of WDN because they are able to connect, learn, and grow with and from leaders in their community. 

Leah Richberg

 

WDN Supporter

Justice Team

Leah Richberg is excited to advocate for all women and politics that break-down social determinants of health.

Livia A.Polise​

 

WDN Leader

MelRose Corley​

 

WDN Leader for EOC of Nassau County, Inc.

Justice Team

Nathalie C.Lilavois

 

WDN Leader for Malik Melodies Sisterhood, Inc. 

Youth Justice Team

I have been an educator for  34 years as a teacher, principal, and district administrator and retired this past July. I am the CEO/Founder of Zahara Crown, Inc., an educational consulting company that provides support, curriculum, and guidance  through workshops, presentations, webinars, and mentorship tailored to the client’s needs. My mission is to empower families of color with the educational and financial information, resources, and tools they need to build a strong legacy for their future. In addition to my top job as a mom, I am an author, speaker, wedding officiant, and the curator/executive producer of TEDxDeerPark. I have also served in the US Army Reserve as a Captain. I completed my B.A at Hofstra University, my Master’s degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, and my doctorate from Hofstra University. 

Nicole Hicks

 

WDN Leader

Youth Justice and Engagement Team

I have been an educator for  34 years as a teacher, principal, and district administrator and retired this past July. I am the CEO/Founder of Zahara Crown, Inc., an educational consulting company that provides support, curriculum, and guidance  through workshops, presentations, webinars, and mentorship tailored to the client’s needs. My mission is to empower families of color with the educational and financial information, resources, and tools they need to build a strong legacy for their future. In addition to my top job as a mom, I am an author, speaker, wedding officiant, and the curator/executive producer of TEDxDeerPark. I have also served in the US Army Reserve as a Captain. I completed my B.A at Hofstra University, my Master’s degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, and my doctorate from Hofstra University. 

Nona Fontnel

WDN Leader

Justice Chair and Justice Team

Pia Alexander

 

WDN Leader Co-Chairperson Health Equity Task Force/Research Workgroup

Pia represents WDN as a leadership team member of the NY State Legislature’s Suffolk County Maternal Mortality & Morbidity Task Force. Pia is a NYS Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist at North Brooklyn Marriage & Family Therapy where she sees individuals, couples, and family therapy clients. Pia is also a family-wellness educator and clinical justice advocate whose research in Couple & Family Therapy and training in Medical Family Therapy, focuses on the overall health, reproductive health, and the impact of stress on maternal and infant health among African American women and their families. Pia has presented her research at numerous conferences including Critical Race Studies in Education (CRSEA), the Groves Conference on Marriage and Family, the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) and the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). 

 

Pia is the newest member of Core Faculty at Antioch University – New England in the Couple and Family Therapy Low-Residency Program, where she was previously awarded the President’s Doctoral Fellowship. She has provided volunteer support as a licensed mental health professional for NYS during COVID, and she has facilitated support groups for essential workers as a volunteer for NYS’s pilot Coping Circles program in the Summer of 2020. Pia earned her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Hofstra University with Distinction, where she received the highly competitive MFP Masters Fellowship from American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).

Retha Fernandez

 

WDN Supporter

Retha Fernandez offers personal development through mindfulness and meditation instruction. As a Certified Meditation Instructor, through the Chopra Center for Well-being, she instructs and guides individuals through the process of embracing meditation and mindfulness as a life skill that complements and supports personal and professional development programs. Through her company, Soul of Long Island, LLC, Retha offers instruction in a four-session course, taught in groups or individually, to learn meditation as a stress management and self-empowerment tool. Also available are customized leadership development workshops that offer meditation and mindfulness as a pathway to compassionate leadership. 

 

Retha’s teachers include Deepak Chopra, Roger Gabriel, Vamadeva Shastri (David Frawley) and Yogini Shambhavi. She is trained in Transcendental Meditation, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, and also completed Mindful Schools Educator Essentials training to deliver mindfulness curriculum for children in Kindergarten through 12th Grades. She has delivered programs to local businesses, organizations, and schools, including Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Girl Scouts of America, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, The Knox School, Brentwood High School, Queens Public Library, and Cedar Realty Corp. Retha holds a Bachelor of Science degree, Summa Cum Laude, in Organizational Management from St. Joseph’s College. 

 

Retha Fernandez is the newly appointed Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Suffolk County, a new role created to promote diversity and inclusion in the Suffolk County workforce. She is devoted to her personal practice as she believes meditation and generating feelings of love and compassion for ourselves and others are the way to affect social change. "Live well, be well" is her mantra! Retha resides in Babylon with her husband of 14 years and son, Taylor.

Sarika Kumar

 

WDN Leader

Sol Marie Alfonso-Jones

 

WDN Supporter

Stephanie Freese

 

WDN Supporter

Trainings Team

Stephanie Freese, Ed.D. is a member of the Women’s Diversity Network  Leadership Team, and is representing WDN at Hofstra’s Center for Civic  Engagement.  

Her background is in education, first as a preschool director and religious school  principal, then teaching and facilitating programs for adults. Currently, she is a  Teaching Assistant for Professor Michael D”Innocenzo’s Hofstra class, History and  the News.  

 

She is also a docent at the Nassau County Museum of Art.

Stephanie Henriques

 

WDN Leader for LI Doula Association

Justice Team

Tova Harris

 

WDN Leader

Engagement Chair, Youth Justice and Trainings Team

Tova Harris has a background in Clinical Psychology, Research, and Education. Tova is an advocate for intersectionality when addressing injustice and discrimination on Long Island and works with various nonprofits to attain those goals, together. They joined WDN because of the organization's commitment to empowering powerful and important voices to finally be heard across Long Island. 

They will be pursuing their MSW in Fall 2022.

Vanessa Miller

 

WDN Leader for Malik Melodies Sisterhood, Inc. 

Trainings Team