Our

board of directors

shanequa Levinis a motivational speaker and an uplifting social entrepreneur who has earned 6 awards for her work. She is the former director of Every Child Matters in NY, an advocacy and electoral engagement organization for kids. While being a wife and mother of two on Long Island, and having volunteered her time for organizations like Girl Scouts where she was a troop leader for 6 years; the Huntington Station Enrichment Center where she was a board member; the Mothers’ Center where she was a facilitator; The State of Black Long Island through the Urban League of Long Island; Mocha Moms Inc. where she was a chapter founder, president, regional director and now the Parent Nation Coordinator; and newly a Community Advisor for Hofstra University’s Healthcare Entrepreneurship Community Challenge. She has also been an instrumental with advocacy for policy changes to: Early Care and Learning, Raise The Age, Paid Family Leave Insurance and more. These policies gave: more access to affordable and quality child care; sixteen and seventeen-year old’s the right to be tried and housed with youth instead of adults in the criminal justice system; and moms, dads, military, adoptive parents, and caretakers the right to have their job secured while taking care of a loved one.

After surviving childhood poverty, dealing with drug addicted parents, and family members engaged in the criminal justice system, she gives her all to campaigns that focus on marginalized community members. She has works alongside prominent politicians, organizers, and individuals impelling change.  After working for over a decade in the non-profit sector to be an advocate for mothers and children, Shanequa noticed the lack of diversity in non-profit social movements. She felt these movements themselves were segregated; everyone working to do good with people from their own culture only. In an attempt to build cultural bridges, educate people on issues that affect them, celebrate diversity, unite women, and create unified advocacy opportunities, she founded the Women’s Diversity Network aka WDN. WDN has become a social movement organization practicing transformative justice processes based on group leadership where marginalized lives are centered. The mission of the WDN is to connect and mobilize women of different backgrounds to create positive change through collective work and a unified sisterhood.

Communing with state law makers and community leaders Shanequa has advocated for Raise the Wage and Bail Reform. Participating in speaking circuits discussing and advocating for legislative change that protect safety net programs which give every child the opportunity to thrive; she also lobbied in Albany and Washington, DC with many community-based groups.

In order to help others, break negative generational cycles, she has written a book called Poverty’s Phoenix which sheds light onto the child’s perspective of growing up in poverty. Shanequa believes that it is important to step up and advocate for those that need one's strength and voice. She has spoken at various events across the country, facilitated countless workshops on advocacy and voter engagement in early learning centers, community groups, training programs, and colleges, and met with community members one-on-one to provide them with guidance during their journey to become lifelong advocates. Shanequa has founded other groups like the Long Island chapter of Mocha Moms, Long Island Black Alliance, and Black Parents of Long Island; she also creates events that bring together hundreds of diverse people to educate and engage with candidates running for office, and to combat bias and racism.

Shanequa attended Lincoln & Hofstra universities in pursuit of a bachelors degree.  She has certificates from: Adelphi University, for Organizational and Community Leadership; Social Movement Technologies for Digital Organizing; University of Connecticut, for Workplace Empowerment Leadership & Skills; Rockwood Institute, for The Art of Leadership; and the National Association of Mothers’ Centers, for Group Facilitation.

Her renewed purpose is uniting people through the celebration of cultures, adding diverse voices to advocacy campaigns, and officiating weddings as an ordained minister.

Erika Deansis a Licensed Social Worker, obtaining her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Molloy College and MSW from Fordham University with a concentration on Children and their families. Erika has a strong commitment in servicing the needs of disadvantaged youth and their families. Her professional expertise includes networking, collaboration, written and oral communication, engaging diverse populations, policy, juvenile justice reform and facilitation, while displaying immense strength in staff support, management, organizational skills, coordinating and cultural diversity. Her experience began working in disenfranchised neighborhoods coordinating the Street Outreach Project, where she assisted adolescents who ran-a-way and/or were homeless; reaching out to them on the streets, in schools and at the local correctional facility. Following that, she began working as a Substance Abuse Therapist providing treatment to adolescents and adults who were also diagnosed with mental health disorders. She has also worked part-time in a local alternative high school providing individual and group counseling.

Currently, Erika works for Nassau County Government under the direction of the Probation Department as the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative Coordinator (JDAI). Erika works diligently on a macro level advancing Juvenile Justice Reform on a national, state and local level utilizing the research methodology to evaluate policies and inform direct practice. She assesses the efficacy of existing policies, programs and practices, identifying gaps to decrease disproportionate minority contact; oversees and assist in creating alternatives to detention to lessen the need for incarceration in Nassau County’s Juvenile Justice System. Erika facilitates the JDAI Collaborative and co-chairs many of the JDAI subcommittees. She also researches how to decrease Racial and Ethnic Disparities, oversees the efficacy for the Conditions of Confinement in the Juvenile Detention Center, and provides stakeholders with evidence-based alternatives to detention while utilizing data to drive change within the County. Erika continues to enhance her career with professional development trainings such as Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform Crossover Youth Practice Model facilitator training and the Racial and Ethnic Disparities Certificate Program, becoming a fellow of the University; Moral  Recognition Facilitator Therapy (MRT), an Evidence Based Programming (EBP) provided by Correctional Counseling; Unraveling Racism provided by Erase Racism and EBP Thinking for a Change (T4C) provided by the US Department of Corrections, just to name a few.  For the past four years, Erika has supervised social work undergraduate and graduate students in the field while they complete their recommended hours for graduation. She has taken a keen interest in mentoring up and coming students in the field so much that she pursued another avenue recently, becoming an adjunct professor at Nassau Community College teaching Intro to Social Work in the Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work Department.

In Erika’s professional and personal life she is also involved in several projects which included the Village of Hempstead Mayors Anti-violence Taskforce, current member of Hands Across Hempstead Collaborative hosted by Hempstead High School, Village of Hempstead Community Land Trust Board Member; The NYS Partnership for Youth Justice, Community Coalition against Youth and Gang Violence, Nassau County Police Department District 2 Commissioner’s Community Council Member; Community Leader, former Board Member and Planning Committee for 3’s for Kay Foundation, Nassau/Suffolk Association for Black Social Workers (NABSW), the Urban League of LI, State of Black Long Island Equity Council (SOBLI) and the Village of Hempstead Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPIRI) Justice Planning Committee, which led to the opportunity of becoming a community liaison at the Community Empowerment. Erika is currently earning her doctorate degree in Interdisciplinary Educational Studies from LIU.

Farrah mozawallahas a proven track record of dedication to creating a more inclusive Nassau County. She is the Executive Director of The Office of Asian American Affairs of Nassau County, the first Muslim to be appointed as a department head in Nassau County. This department elevates the social, political, and economic issues of the Asian community by strengthening how government addresses those concerns. She spearheads community building through the various cultural events she organizes for the county such as: Ramadan Iftar, Independence Day Celebrations, Diwali, and Lunar New Year. She organizes forums and MWBE events to help build bridges between government and residents. She is also a member of the County Executive’s Task Force on Domestic Violence and on the County’s Census Count Committee.

 

Prior to this, she was a teacher at Lynbrook High School and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Hofstra University with a Bachelor of Science and a master’s degree in Education. In addition to her accomplishments as a teacher and government liaison, she is committed to serving the community. She was instrumental in Eid being recognized as a school holiday in Valley Stream. Farrah is a member of Salam Sholom and a school board member for Hamza Academy, a private school located in Valley Stream. Her most important accomplishment is that she is a proud mother of 6 children.

irma solisis the Suffolk Chapter Director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, where she organizes legal, educational, and community outreach in Suffolk County on issues ranging from police accountability to education reform. Solis has more than 15 years of experience leading campaigns to address issues affecting communities in upstate New York, Brooklyn and Long Island. These include racially targeted housing code enforcement activities in the Town of Brookhaven, wage theft by unscrupulous employers, violations of the Fair Housing Act, day laborers right to seek work in public spaces, Latino students’ right to public education and discriminatory practices by the Suffolk County police.

Solis has worked for New York State Attorney General’s Consumer Frauds Bureau, Central American Legal Assistance, Workplace Project and Long Island Housing Services. She has consulted for Latino Justice and other social justice organizations as community organizer and trainer with a focus on social and racial justice, leadership and organizational development. Solis received her law degree from University at Buffalo School of Law and her BA from Binghamton University.

Serena liguori serves as executive director of New Hour for Women and Children—Long Island, a

nonprofit dedicated to supporting women and children impacted by incarceration. New Hour provides direct-service programming in the Suffolk County jails and reentry support to women across the state returning to Long Island.

Prior to leading New Hour, she was the executive director of Herstory Writers Workshop, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing marginalized voices into the public arena. Serena served as associate director of policy at the Correctional Association of New York’s Women in Prison Project, where she spearheaded legislative initiatives and policy advocacy addressing prison reform. She was the key organizer of a successful effort to create the Adoption and Safe Families Act Expanded Discretion Law, which works to secure parental rights for incarcerated parents as well as the Anti-Shackling Law, which prohibits the shackling of incarcerated mothers during labor. Serena is a survivor of isolated confinement, received her associate’s degree in the College Bound Program at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility and her bachelor’s degree from Adelphi University. Serena co-chairs the United Nations Association of the USA National Council. She enjoys preparing her family’s favorite traditional Puerto Rican meals for her husband Greg and her seven-year-old son James.

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© 2019 by WDN Resource Center aka Women's Diversity Network

Phone: 516-847-4411