Get to Know
Our Faculty

Our Faculty

  • Daonese Johnson-Colón
    Organizational Culture

    Daonese Johnson-Colón is an innovative leader with 12 years of experience in nonprofit administration and workforce management. She has dedicated her career to building spaces that promote leadership, inclusivity, and equity to foster personal and professional development in education and criminal justice reform. Currently, Daonese serves as the Vice President of Operations/COO for JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA). Prior to joining JLUSA, Daonese served as Chief of Staff at the John Jay College Institute for Justice and Opportunity. Daonese is an adjunct lecturer for John Jay College’s Accelerate Complete Engage (ACE) program and faculty mentor for the New York Giants Touchdown Fellowship and Justice Capital Initiative Fellowship. She is also a trained conflict resolution mediator. A recipient of the NAACP Minority Achievement Recognition Award, Daonese graduated Summa cum Laude with a Master’s in Legal Studies from Kaplan University.

  • Darwin Davis
    Cross-Sector Alliances, Navigating Organizational Change

    Darwin Davis has taught as an Adjunct Professor at The New School University, Bernard Baruch’s Executive Management and National Urban Fellows Programs, Columbia University’s Institute for Nonprofit Management and The City University of New York’s inaugural Certificate Program in Non Profit Management. Mr. Davis has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 37 years; and has served as the CEO of The Black Agency Executives, The Human Services Council of New York City, The New York Urban League and Black Equity Alliance.

    Mr. Davis is the principal of bas Enterprises, which coaches executives on leadership and advises nonprofit organizations on strategic planning, board development, values clarification, and diversity. His clients include Harlem Arts Alliance, Touro College of Medicine, The City College of New York, Hunter College, Baruch College (executive programs), Omnicom, and Black Veterans for Social Justice.

    Mr. Davis received a B.S. from New York University an M.A.  in Human Development and Clinical Counseling from the New York Institute of Technology.

  • Diane Johnson
    Fundraising Strategies

    Dr. Diane J. Johnson has almost 30 years experience in the business, public and social sectors in a multitude of roles. They include change management consultant, trainer and executive coach, program director, evaluator and researcher, fundraiser, communications/pr lead, and organizational culture specialist. Extraordinarily skilled, purpose-driven, highly intuitive and analytical, Dr. Johnson, Ph.D. is CEO and Founder of Mmapeu Organizational Consulting. Mmapeu is a South African name that means “woman who carries ideas.” Mmapeu Consulting, a national consulting firm has trained, consulted and worked with more than 11,500 mission-driven individuals, businesses and organizations.

    Clients include not-for-profits; colleges, universities and K-12 educational institutions; local, state, and federal governmental agencies; socially responsible businesses; multinational corporations; community based organizations; philanthropic entities; arts and culture groups; activists; volunteer associations and researchers. Dr. Johnson is the author of several books, including Proud Sisters, The Wit & Wisdom of African- American Women; Mother Love (which collectively have sold more than 170,000 copies), and The Cultural Diversity Fieldbook (with over half a million downloads).

  • Don Waisanen
    Don Waisanen is a Professor in the Baruch College, CUNY Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, where he received the Presidential Awards for Distinguished Teaching and Distinguished Scholarship. He teaches courses and workshops in public communication—including strategic communication, executive communication skills, and seminars on leadership, storytelling, and improvisation. All of Dr. Waisanen’s research projects seek to understand how communication works to promote or hinder the force of citizens’ voices, including the recently published Leadership Standpoints: A Practical Framework for the Next Generation of Nonprofit Leaders (Cambridge University Press), Improv for Democracy: How to Bridge Differences and Develop the Communication and Leadership Skills Our World Needs (State University of New York Press), Real Money, Real Power?: The Challenges with Participatory Budgeting in New York City (Palgrave Macmillan; with Daniel Williams), Immigration and Strategic Public Health Communication: Lessons from the Transnational Seguro Popular Project (Routledge; co-authored with Robert Smith and Guillermo Yrizar Barbosa) and Political Conversion: Personal Transformation as Strategic Public Communication (Rowman & Littlefield). Previously, Dr. Waisanen worked in broadcast journalism, as a speechwriter, and on political campaigns. He is the founder of Communication Upward, an adjunct lecturer at Columbia University and New York University, and received a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School.
  • Edith Asibey
    Social Media Strategies

    Edith Asibey is the Principal of Asibey Consulting, a consulting firm that helps mission-driven organizations take audiences from intention to action. She is an Adjunct Professor of Communications and Marketing at Columbia University. Prior to these roles, Edith led advocacy, partnerships and communication for UNICEF in Brazil, where she launched innovative digital work partnering with Google, Facebook and others. She was also the Chief Communication Officer at The Atlantic Philanthropies, the largest limited-life foundation in the world.

  • Erika Bernabei
    Race Equity

    Erika Bernabei, PhD, Co-Principal at Equity & Results, connects intentions to accountability and impact in service of Black, Indigenous and communities of Color and our collective humanity. Through Equity & Results, Erika leads the strategic design and implementation of whole organization and collaborative work to achieve racially equitable results. Equity & Results uses antiracist principles, developed by the People’s Institute and elders, scholars and organizers throughout time, to transform how systems work and strategically disrupt common practices and replace them with actions that address the root causes of the problem. Erika is an expert in Results Based Accountability (RBA) and has worked with groups nationally and internationally to successfully use this tool. Prior to Equity & Results, Erika served as an Assistant Commissioner in the New York City Department of Homeless Services and nearly a decade at PolicyLink – where she developed and managed a results-driven infrastructure and support system for more than 50 Promise Neighborhood communities to produce holistic and measurable outcomes and advance equity and opportunity. Erika is a member of the Antiracist Ecosystem of practitioners who work together for greater antiracist impact. She holds an MA in Education Policy from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a PhD in Educational Leadership from New York University.

  • Jamie Lonie
    Social Media Strategies

    Jamie Lonie supports the digital communications and marketing needs of Asibey Consulting’s clients. He has several years of experience in traditional and digital nonprofit communications, amplifying social justice causes and movements for equity. After moving from Edinburgh at a young age, Jamie quickly traded his Scottish brogue for a Tennessee drawl. After college, he began his career as a PK-5 science teacher in the Houston Independent School District. As a result of his classroom experience, he has focused his career on digital communications for education nonprofits and other mission-driven organizations – especially those working to support schools, students, and families.

    In this capacity, Jamie has served as a digital media specialist for global organizations like the Education Commission and the Global Business Coalition for Education, managing digital content across these organizations’ websites, blogs, email campaigns, and social media channels. Previously, Jamie helped develop Teach For America’s national social media strategy as Director of Social Media Community and supported local communications for the organization’s Houston region as Director of Communications and Marketing.

    Today, Jamie helps a variety of clients working domestically and internationally assess their current digital presence, understand the broader online conversations around their area of work, and strategize how to best leverage digital tools to better engage supporters online.

    Jamie graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations. He also holds a Master of Education degree from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, which he earned while teaching elementary science.

    Recently, Jamie was named a member of the University of Tennessee’s 2021 Volunteer 40 Under 40 list and was awarded the 2010 Public Relations Alumni of the Year for his service to his alma mater. Jamie is the President of the university’s New York alumni chapter and on the Board of Visitors for the College of Communications & Information. During his tenure, he organized remote nonprofit internships for communications students during the pandemic and helped raise thousands of dollars in scholarships for freshmen.

  • Kary Perez

    Kary Perez is a nonprofit leader with a successful background in audience growth and engagement.

    Her work today is focused on expanding Chalkbeat’s audience in service of the organization’s mission to ensure children across the country get fair access to education. This primarily involves being the go-to person for the toughest, most ambiguous problems in the organization. Her responsibilities include audience growth, research and development of new products, and managing Chalkbeat’s small donor program.

    At DoSomething Strategic, Kary worked with over 20 clients to help them better understand and engage young people (millennials and Gen Z). She led the strategy and execution of social good initiatives for major brands like Google and ESPN, and for large-scale nonprofits like The JED Foundation and Feeding America.

  • Lisette Nieves
    Leadership and Planning

    Lisette Nieves is a Partner at Lingo Ventures, providing consulting services to the nonprofit and public sector on growth, talent recruitment/retention, professional coaching and change management. For the last three years, she has also served as the Commissioner for the White House Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, and currently co-chairs the Subcommittee on Higher Education. Prior to her tenure as Commissioner, Ms. Nieves was a Belle Zeller Distinguished Visiting Professor in Public Policy at the City University of New York at Brooklyn College and a Social Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Blue Ridge Foundation.

    Previously, she served as the founding Executive Director for Year Up NY, a workforce and education program for young adults.  From 2002 to 2004, Ms. Nieves served as Chief of Staff at the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) for the City of New York.  Earlier in her career, she held several positions in the New York City educational sector. Ms. Nieves has been both a Rhodes Scholar and a Truman Scholar. Her awards include the Robin Hood Hero Award (John F. Kennedy Jr. Hero Award) from the Robin Hood Foundation and El Diario’s Mujeres Destacadas Award from La Opinion.

    Ms. Nieves received a B.A. from Brooklyn College and an M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.

  • Marti Fischer

    Marti Fischer is a NYC based consultant and executive coach specializing in strategic positioning, communications and business development for individuals, young companies and nonprofit organizations.

    The first decades of her career were spent as a professional negotiator in the television industry. In 2006 Marti turned her business development, relationship building and negotiating experience to help individuals with career and professional advancement, nonprofits tell their story, raise money and become sustainable and first stage companies articulate their value proposition and strategic point of view.

    In addition to her work with Marti Fischer Group, Marti is a co-author of The Nonprofit Consulting Playbook, adjunct professor at Baruch College, instructor at NYU and frequent trainer for umbrella organizations and foundations in the areas of communication skills, professional development and nonprofit fundraising. Marti serves as a strategic advisor to YASI (Young Advocacy Service Corps) and Necessities INC.  Marti is an active member of Women in Development New York, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, American Marketing Association and The Communication Network.

    Marti received a B.A. in Art History and Economics from Sarah Lawrence College.  She is currently working on a book to help young adults position their skills for meaningful employment.

  • Melissa Shillingford
    Organizational Culture

    Melissa has always been a fierce advocate for justice. Melissa is currently the Senior Director of Programs and Impact for National Urban Fellows, which develops accomplished and courageous professionals of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, particularly people of color and women, to be leaders and change agents in the public and nonprofit sectors, with a strong commitment to social justice and equity. She has previous served as the Director of Leadership Trainings at JustLeadershipUSA, a national organization where she organized leadership development and advocacy trainings across the country for formerly incarcerated leaders. Prior to that, Melissa was the Director of Fellowships at the Institute for Justice & Opportunity at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. There, she was responsible for developing and managing several fellowship programs for students passionate about youth justice, advocacy, and philanthropy. Before John Jay, she served in AmeriCorps at the Center for Civic Engagement at Northwestern University where one of her main projects was to develop and manage music mentorship programs for incarcerated young men at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. Melissa earned a Project Management Certificate from Baruch College, CUNY, a joint Master’s degree in Human and Community Development and Urban Planning with concentrations in Community Studies and Outreach & Community Development for Social Justice from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, earned her B.S from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and also participated in the National Urban Fellows-Executive Leadership and Coaching Program.

  • Michael Seltzer
    Navigating Organizational Change, Resource Mobilization

    Michael Seltzer is a Distinguished Lecturer at the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College. Prior to joining Baruch, Michael Seltzer served as president of Philanthropy New York and as a program officer at the Ford Foundation where he was responsible for its work in strengthening the nonprofit sector and promoting organized philanthropy worldwide. He also founded and led a sustainability in business initiative at The Conference Board.

    Seltzer chaired the master’s degree program in Nonprofit Management at the Milano School of the New School University. At Baruch, Professor Seltzer redesigned the core master’s degree course in fund raising and resource mobilization for nonprofit organizations, and teaches Advanced Public and Nonprofit Management in the Executive MPA program, as well as a variety of different topics in the executive certificate programs. He holds a B.A. from Syracuse University in International Relations and African Studies.

  • Muneer Panjwani

    As the VP of Foundation, Government, and Corporate Partnerships at The Trevor Project, Muneer’s team focuses on building impact centered long-term partnerships with some of the world’s largest companies and Foundations to help end LGBTQ youth suicide. As a senior leader on the development team, Muneer helped to grow Trevor’s annual revenue from under $10M to over $35M in three years, enabling the organization to grow from a staff of 50 to 225+ during that time.

    Muneer secured Trevor’s first seven-figure partnership that launched a new, holistic corporate partnership model for the organization. In 3 years, this model has 6X’d corporate revenue for The Trevor Project and established partnerships with 150+ national and global companies. Notable partnerships include award-winning cause marketing campaigns with Abercrombie & Fitch, Macy’s, and an $8M partnership with PwC Charitable Foundation – the largest in Trevor’s 22-year history. Muneer’s partnerships have won 10 Halo Awards presented by the industry’s premier award for excellence in cause marketing.

    Muneer is an expert in high-growth fundraising, cause marketing, for-profit/not-for-profit partnerships, institutional fundraising, and corporate social responsibility. Muneer is also a trained D&I facilitator having designed and led hundreds of anti-bias and inclusion trainings globally. Prior to The Trevor Project, Muneer led corporate partnerships at a high-growth tech not for profit,, the world’s largest social change organization for young people; and served as a director of youth programs at The National Conference for Community and Justice, one of the oldest anti-racism organizations in the country.

    An avid traveler, Muneer lives in New York City, but is often found planning his next trip abroad to reach his goal of exploring 40 countries by his 40th. Muneer’s pronouns are he/him.

  • Odell Mays
    Budgeting and Finance

    Odell Mays has managed and served on the board of nonprofits for over 27 years, and held the position of Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer. As a consultant, Mr. Mays has provided intensive financial management for several executive directors and CEO’s, including senior level consultations for organizations such as Amnesty International USA, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), The Gay Mens Health Crisis (GMHC), National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) and FilmAid International (an international film agency working with refugee communities in Kenya). He has also served as Treasurer and Chair of the board of Gay Mens Health Crisis in NYC.

    Mr. Mays has a BA in psychology from Stanford University and an MBA in finance and taxation from New York University’s Stern School of Business. He also currently serves as an Adjunct Lecturer at Baruch College (CUNY) in the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs where he teaches a graduate course in finance and budgeting. In addition he teaches in the Masters’ program at New York University’s Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising.

  • Richard Rivera
    Tools In the Midst of Change to Use

    Richard Rivera is President of Renew & Redesign Consulting an organizational consulting firm, specializing in leadership development, strategic planning, and human resource training for nonprofit, government, and healthcare organizations. Mr. Rivera’s expertise includes specialized services around racial equity, leadership development, organizational change, strategic dialogues, executive coaching, strategic planning, team building, and employee engagement.

    Richard has been facilitating participatory strategic dialogues for over 20 years, bringing together unlikely allies to co-create more life affirming stories for their communities and organizations. Richard is a global steward of the Art of Hosting Conversations that Matter and has facilitated these trainings at the NYU Wagner School, Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, the Center for Social Innovation and numerous child welfare and school programs in NYC. Richard currently serves as facilitator/coach on race conversations for the New York Community Trust Leadership Fellows Program at the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs. Rich also teaches “Participatory Practices and Race Conversations” at the co-lab, NYU Wagner School of Public Service. Rich currently serves as lead facilitator/coach for the College of Staten Island, Equity and Belonging Conversation for Change Project. Rich has led organization race equity conversations with larger organizations such as Good Shepherd Services and Phipps Neighborhood and with smaller nonprofits such as the Women Against Abuse, and CORA in Philadelphia. At the Adelphi University School of Social Work, Mr. Rivera served as an organizational change strategic plan consultant and executive coach for affiliated nonprofits. He also served as coach/facilitator for Columbia University’s Management Development Program. Richard has provided organizational change services to larger organizations, including Montefiore and Bellevue Hospitals, Verizon, Big Brothers and Big Sisters National and the Hispanic Federation.

    Mr. Rivera received his M.S.W. degree from Columbia University, School of Social Work. Mr. Rivera’s professional background includes ten years of service at NYC Health and Hospital Corporation as assistant HR Director, Special Assistant to the Executive Director, and Senior Manager of Organizational Development services and three years as a Senior Planner for the Office of the Mayor, City of New York and as Associate Director of the East NY Tap Center. Richard also served as National Corporate Management Trainer, for Nationwide Savings and Loan Bank in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. This varied experience has served as his foundation for his consulting work with complex organizations.

  • Sevonna Brown
    Sankofa Self-Care

    Sevonna Brown is the Co-Executive Director at Black Women’s Blueprint.  She leads the Safer Childbirth cities initiative in Brooklyn through Merck for Mother’s. She dedicates her work to maternal health around the globe and strategies for women’s health in Ghana and the U.S. she is also the founder of Sanctuary for Integrative Medicine. She is also recognized as a Ms. Foundation Public Voices Fellow for her writing  through the Op/Ed Project. Her work has been published in Ebony, TIME Magazine, ForHarriet, and Rewire News. She serves on the board of Children of Combahee, which mobilizes against child abuse in Black churches using womanist pastoral and theological methods. She is a reproductive health advocate and doula. Her organizational affiliations include Spirit of a Woman Leadership Development Institute and Standing in Our Power: A Women of Color Transformative Leadership Institute. She has been featured in the documentary “The Business of Birth Control” directed by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein.

    Sevonna received the ELLA Fellowship through the Sadie Nash Leadership Program where she brings reproductive justice to young women of color through grassroots organizing. Through Sadie Nash Leadership Project, Sevonna has engaged in youth advocacy and young women’s organizing.

    Sevonna Brown has lived in NYC and worked in New York City alongside human rights agencies, non-profit organizations, the New York City Council, the New York City Commission on Human Rights, and many other agencies. Her work has intersected with many local businesses and agencies that offer reproductive and holistic health.

  • Toby Thompkins

    Toby is a Founding CEO of SAFIOO Inc. and a Trusted Advisor to CEOs and senior non-profit, government, and philanthropic leaders and donors. Toby advises, speaks, vlogs and writes on social impact on the Blockchain, leadership, sustainability and DEI. SAFIOO Inc. is the socially conscious home for the Blockchain ecosystem. It provides data intelligence, leadership development, recruitment, personal and professional development for the growing community of talented professionals that are building their careers in Blockchain based organizations. Earlier in his career, Toby held Chief Diversity roles at Baxter Healthcare, and Amoco Oil. He has held senior roles in international development, multi-national corporations and global non-profit organizations including USAID, Accenture, Kraft General Foods and Tides Foundation. In 2016, he was selected as a Bellagio Fellow by The Rockefeller Foundation. Toby splits his time between Lisbon, Portugal, Miami, Florida, and New York City.

    You can reach him directly at:
    [email protected]