In our seventh year in New York, BUILD is serving over 700 students at 7 partner schools in under-resourced communities in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island. This year, we are thrilled to welcome two new school partners: The High School of Art and Design and Hudson High School of Learning Technologies. Last June, our third class of BUILD students graduated from high school. We cannot wait to see what these remarkable young men and women will achieve!
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A graduate of Howard University with a background in Communications. Decota was born and raised in the Bronx by way of Jamaica. Hailing from a single parent home and growing up in one of the most disenfranchised communities in New York City, Decota has experienced the affects of living and surviving in an under served community. Working with students that look like her and live in the same area she grew up in brings joy to Decota’s heart knowing she can share her experience with others. It is for this very reason she BUILDS. Combining nine years of experience in communications in the entertainment, arts, and lifestyle space and five years in community engagement. Decota joined the BUILD NYC team as its Community Engagement Manager, and is now the Director of Strategic Partnerships, NYC . In her spare time she enjoys listening to music, grounding, traveling and experiencing all the world has to offer. She would ultimately like to create safe spaces for students in under-resourced communities to fully exercise their potential and be given the same opportunities as their counterparts.
Residing in Harlem, New York by way of Benin, West Africa. Justin Lokossou has spent the majority of his life in the service to students. As a curriculum designer, educator, academic advisor, and fencing instructor, Justin has worked with students from grades K through 12, and has since focused his passion towards working with high school students. He enjoys long walks on the beach, riding his bicycle, judo, lying about enjoying walks on the beach (he and sand do not get along, the sand knows what it did), and writing amusing biographies about himself. This is amusing bio #8. Justin hopes to bring his love of writing, poetry, fantasy fiction, music and comic culture into designing an engaging curriculum for BUILD that will help students not only see themselves in their lesson, but fulfill and exceed their own expectations of how great they can become.
Kenya is a dynamic community organizer and youth developer committed to the transformation and upliftment of youth, young adults and their families. She currently serves as Program Director with BUILD NYC. Prior to build, Kenya spent over a decade with University Settlement, a nonprofit that provides services throughout University Settlement.
As Community School Director, Kenya led a team of professionals in planning and implementing enrichment programs for youth, young adults and families, building relationships with stakeholders in the community, and raising funding to sustain and propel youth development forward.
Kenya holds a B.A. in psychology from Barnard College, a Masters of Social Work from Hunter College.
Maria Raftelis has more than a decade of fundraising experience in education. Before joining BUILD, Maria served as Associate Director of Foundation Relations at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. In this role, she oversaw fundraising for the Center of Radiological Research (CRR) and worked with medical faculty across the College to raise funds for research. Prior to Columbia University, Maria served as Grant Writer at the City College Fund, the fundraising organization of the City College of New York (CCNY). During my nine year tenure at the City College Fund, Maria expanded the College’s portfolio of institutional donors to double institutional giving.
Maria resides in the Bronx with her husband and son. A graduate of the New York City public school system, Maria believed every student should have access to an excellent education that inspires them to dream and achieve their full potential.
Maria holds a Bachelor’s degree in Individualized Studies from New York University and a Master’s degree in Social Science from the University of Chicago.
Pam has spent the majority of her career in the financial services sector where she worked at a range of boutique and bulge bracket firms including Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Mogavero, Lee. Her diverse experience encompasses investment banking, institutional sales and marketing. She has always been passionate about educational equity and child and family welfare and has served as a mentor and nonprofit board member for over twenty years. In 2017, Pam joined the BUILD NYC team where she is responsible for all fundraising activities. Pam graduated from the University of Virginia with Highest Distinction and received her MBA from Columbia Business School.
Sarah Malonda was born and raised in Queens, New York, and was the daughter of Indonesian immigrants. She graduated from CUNY Hunter College with a degree in Political Science. She’s interested in local politics and community organizing — and has been participating in outreach events like getting people registered to vote, informing folks about upcoming elections, and visiting local businesses to pass out PPE and other resources. She is committed to helping under-resourced communities such as her own and she is a strong advocate of student engagement in school, so she truly believes in the work BUILD NYC is doing.
Timothy Ruffin joins the BUILD NYC team after years of classroom and curriculum writing experience at the high school, college and non-profit levels. As an entrepreneur and educator himself, Timothy believes that success in the 21st century will be achieved by those students who have learned the essential skills to develop their own businesses, while constantly pursuing academic achievement because they will be able to adapt to life’s challenges regardless of any societal issues. As a person who was able to overcome the many pitfalls of growing up in an underserved community, Timothy is committed to ensuring that every BUILD student has the opportunity to grow, prosper and make systemic changes in their communities. Timothy holds a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University in African American history and two master’s degrees, one in the social sciences and the other in education.
Andrea Atwell is the Vice President eCommerce for L’Oreal USA. Prior to this position, she was VP of US Market Supply Chain at L’Oreal’s Luxe Division. Her responsibilities included business, demand and supply planning, and customer care, with the vision of leveraging improved supply chain results to drive strategic relationships with L’Oreal’s US customers. Andrea has helped to lead significant planning process initiatives for L’Oreal which has transformed forecast accuracy, service levels, and inventory results, including managing the supply chain and human transitions of 3 major acquisitions for L’Oreal USA. Andrea’s efforts helped to shape the partnership between the supply chain and brands in L’Oreal, shifting the culture to drive operational awareness, improved results and competitive advantage. Prior to her 10 years at L’Oreal, Andrea has worked in the medical device and food & beverage industries.
Andrea has 15 years of supply chain experience and a true passion for leading and developing teams and recognizing and growing talent. She was recognized as a 2015 Visionary Leader by Consumer Goods Technology for her approach in prioritizing people and leadership to drive supply chain results. Andrea’s leadership has demonstrated that by focusing on people and creating a culture of change leaders, no business challenge is insurmountable. Andrea is also a frequent speaker on supply chain planning and talent development.
Andrea has a BA in Marketing from Michigan State University.
Ben Mangum is a sales and business development professional specializing in software startups. Ben has been a mentor and board member at BUILD since 2017.
Ben is a graduate of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.
Bruce has been an entrepreneur in New York City for more than 30 years. After graduating from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, he was the co-founder and president of Crescent Communications, which he helped grow into the largest privately-owned pay telephone company in New York City. After selling his payphone route, he attended Stanford Law School. During his time there, he assisted Suzanne McKechnie Klahr during BUILD’s formative stages and had the honor of being one of BUILD’s first mentors. Returning to New York after graduation, Bruce founded BAS Communications, through which he built and then sold one of the largest owner operated ATM portfolios in New York City. His most recent venture was as a co-founder and CFO of a litigation finance provider.
Carlton Charles, Vice President, and Treasurer, Hearst, serves as global treasurer, oversees Risk Management and Insurance, leads the company’s Risk Working Group and is on the Board of Advisors of Hearst Labs, Hearst’s platform for nurturing and grooming early-stage, women-led companies. Carlton has demonstrated financial acumen through a 30-year career in treasury and risk management. Carlton was an early architect of the Enterprise Risk Management program for Moody’s Corporation, a SEC regulated company and one of the largest rating agencies in the world. Carlton regularly reported to the Moody’s board on treasury and enterprise risk topics.
Carlton also developed the operational risk management program for Hearst and is chair of the company’s Risk Working Group. Among the focus areas for the group are cybersecurity and data privacy. Carlton has created an annual risk summit which is an annual convening of CFOs and CTOs from across Hearst’s businesses. Prior to Moody’s, Carlton held increasingly responsible positions in treasury and risk management for International Paper, Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Viacom and Philip Morris.
Carlton currently serves on the Board of Advisors of Hearst Lab, has been working with a group of professionals to establish a business accelerator in Upper Manhattan and The Bronx, was recently on the Board of Trustees of St. Thomas Aquinas College and previously served on The Board of the Bronx Preparatory Charter School.
Carlton holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago and a Masters in Public Policy and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from SUNY at Stony Brook.
Courtney is a marketing leader with over 18 years of experience. She’s led accounts at various advertising agencies managing internal and external client marketing needs – from strategy evolution through to creative development and execution across all mediums. Some of her key clients include; Northrop Grumman, Amazon, Walmart, LEGO, ConAgra, Samsung, and NBA. In 2017 Courtney co-founded PAL, a childcare tech platform, which was acquired in 2019. In 2021 she joined the Techstars NY Accelerator as the Marketing Expert in Residence where she advised early-stage startups on branding and marketing. Courtney holds an MBA from Columbia University and a BA from Denison University and is currently at Silicon Valley Bank as the Integrated Marketing Strategy Director for Partnerships.
Courtney has a career that spans contributing as a Marketing Expert in Residency at Techstars, founding a company that was acquired in 2019 and leading digital marketing engagements with clients while working on the agency-side. Courtney graduated from Columbia Business School – attending business school part-time while juggling a full-time job and starting a company. She is currently at Silicon Valley Bank as the Integrated Marketing Strategy Director for Partnerships.
Dan is the CEO of an e-learning startup called Nardagani and is involved in a number of other investment and philanthropic activities.
Prior to that, Dan ran the Americas Debt Capital Markets Group for Santander Investment Securities for 11 years and the Latin America Debt Capital Markets Group, among other businesses, at Merrill Lynch for 13 years. Early in his career, he worked at The World Bank and the Bank of Boston.
Dan received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and his MBA from Insead.
Isai started his career in the print industry going from an estimator to production/ outsourcing manager and later a production artist and Account specialist. After working with the top cosmetics, publishing, and entertainment companies, Isai shifted gears and became a CTE teacher in 2009. He has taught graphic arts, financial management and now entrepreneurship and digital marketing through BUILD. His goal is to impact students and help them achieve the potential they have yet to see in themselves. His claim to fame are his students’ achievements many of which are now leaders in their respective industries. Currently Isai is a certified work-based learning coordinator providing all the students at Ralph McKee High School opportunities to engage in their career interest though field experiences.
Matt brings to BUILD NYC a wealth of experience in entrepreneurship and technology leadership. Matt is the founder of ResoluteAI, a venture-backed SaaS startup building
enterprise search solutions for R&D organizations. Prior to Resolute, Matt founded
ZergNet, an ad-tech startup currently serving over a billion ads daily. Earlier in his career, he
was the VP of Engineering for Fina Technologies, where he built trading systems using
machine learning. He has also lectured at NYU on machine learning and other computer
science topics. Matt is passionate about advocating for children and underserved
communities. He is a former board member of the Child Care Resource Center, a nonprofit
helping families find and afford quality child care. Matt has also often served as a volunteer
tutor for high school and middle school children in New York City through organizations
such as New York Cares. Matt received his S.B. and M.Eng. degrees in computer science
Michael is the Founder and Principal Attorney of Springer Law PLLC, where he represents
entrepreneurs, startups, and creative professionals in a variety of legal areas, including
business law, venture finance, intellectual property, corporate governance, entertainment
law, and commercial litigation. Michael is also an active angel investor in early-stage
companies, focusing on a range of industries, including wearable technologies, software,
fashion, medical devices, and home delivery. Michael holds a J.D., cum laude, from Harvard
Law School and a B.B.A., magna cum laude, from the Mays Business School at Texas A&M
University. He and his wife split their time between New York City and Houston, Texas.
Mike Portegello is an Assurance Partner at Ernst & Young LLP, where he brings more than 30 years of international and domestic experience in public accounting serving publicly traded companies with operations in both the US and abroad. Currently, he serves as the Northeast Region Strategic Growth Markets (SGM) Leader to provide services that help companies navigate the various aspects of a growth-oriented enterprise. SGM is a global network of EY professionals advising the full spectrum of dynamic, fast-moving and groundbreaking companies around the world, including VC-backed/private equity companies and their investors, large private and family enterprises, IPO-bound companies, and public companies in the Russell 3000 and 2000 indexes.
Throughout his career, Mike has worked with clients in New York and California, as well as internationally. He has served US registrants and foreign private issuers on SEC matters including initial public offerings (IPOs), public and private debt offerings, quarterly and annual filings, acquisitions, divestitures, and stock registrations.
Previously, he provided overall management and led high performing teams to deliver audit services to New York State and Connecticut area clients. He continues to work closely with multinational organizations as well as high growth phase companies in the software/technology, media and entertainment, and leasing industries.
Prior to this role, Mike served as Strategic Growth Markets Leader for New York, leading a multidisciplinary team of dedicated professionals in providing perspective to and advising our emerging, IPO-bound, entrepreneurial clients on accelerating their growth. In addition, he has served as a Co-Director of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year New York program.
Mike graduated Suma Cum Laude from St. John’s University and received his MBA from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at NYU.
Natalia is the Founder and CEO of Seen@Work.As Founder and CEO of Seen@Work (seenatwork.com), a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consulting firm, Natalia Eileen leverages the team she manages to support her clients with all their DEI needs. She develops and facilitates workshops, coaches senior leaders, and builds DEI initiatives related to employee resource groups, executive scorecards, inclusion councils, task forces, diversity reporting, metrics planning, and more.
Prior to founding Seen@Work, Natalia worked as a diversity and inclusion strategist and human capital consultant for over seven years through organizations including Deloitte, Facebook, and Teach For America. Natalia graduated from University of Pennsylvania The Wharton School with an MBA in Organizational Effectiveness with an emphasis in Inclusion in the Workplace and from New York University with a BA in History, which included courses in critical race theory and oppressive political structures.
Naveen Shahani is a Principal at Apollo Global Management, where he focuses on the firm’s private equity investments. Prior to Apollo, Naveen worked in the Financial Sponsors Group in the Investment Banking Division of Credit Suisse. He graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Naveen currently serves on the Board of Directors of CEC Entertainment, parent company to Chuck E. Cheese.
NICOLAS LIRETTEVice President, American Express
Nic most recently served as President at American Express, serving as Chief of Staff for the head of the Consumer business. He was responsible for a range of business planning and strategic activities and partners with leaders across the organization, from country managers globally to c-suite partners. Prior to this role, Nic worked in the Merchant business where he played a central role in the launch of EMV chip cards and contactless payments and helped improve customer satisfaction globally. Prior to American Express, Nic worked in investment banking at UBS and investment management at Wellington Management.
Nic holds an MBA degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor’s degree from Tufts University. Originally from Canada, Nic speaks French fluently. Nic lives in New York with his wife, son, and daughter.
Ram Vijayanathan is the Head of Internal Audit at Pinterest, a visual discovery engine with
the mission to bring everyone the inspiration to create a life they love. His responsibilities
include helping the organization manage strategic, operational, and financial risk by
providing oversight to the internal audit team, developing and executing on the annual
audit plan, and supporting the company’s Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance efforts. Ram
and his team evaluate Pinterest’s systems of internal controls and operational efficiency
and effectiveness. Before joining Pinterest, Ram was an Internal Audit Director at Facebook,
Inc., where he was a part of the corporate audit function and led teams that supported the
company’s SOX efforts along with managing an operational audit plan. Prior to Facebook,
Ram held various positions of increasing scope and responsibility in audit for QVC and
American Standard. He has a background in public accounting from Deloitte. Ram has
previously served as the President and a board member of the Philadelphia Institute of
Internal Auditors and graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in
Business Logistics. In his free time, he enjoys watching all Philadelphia sports teams, riding
his Peloton, and traveling.
Renaldo Webb is Founder and Chief Product Officer at PetPlate. Inspired by his dog Winston, Renaldo founded PetPlate after deciding that he did not want to feed his dog anything less than real food. After making hundreds of batches of home-cooked dog food for Winston and his pup pals, Renaldo decided to launch a pet food brand that he could proudly call his own.
Renaldo graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in Physics, and prior to starting PetPlate worked at LCatterton and McKinsey & Company. He launched PetPlate as a nationwide subscription service in early 2017, following an appearance on the hit TV show Shark Tank.
Roger is the founder and Managing Partner of Barton LLP, a law firm of over 30 attorneys practicing across most areas of business law. Roger is widely published and speaks nationally and internationally on law firm innovation, the practice of law as a business, and forming partnering relationships with clients. Barton LLP was recently featured by Law360 in an article entitled Giving Big Law a Run for Its Money as one of “10 boutiques that have established brands on par with the biggest of firms” who are “capable of competing with – and beating – the best big firms at the highest level” and by Acquisition International as among “Ones to Watch: The Best Boutique Law Firms.”
Roger’s practice is mostly high-stakes commercial litigation, but he also enjoys his role as outside General Counsel and adviser to many of the entrepreneurial clients of his firm. He is rated by The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel Magazine and the National Law Journal as one of the Top Commercial Litigators in the United States. He is a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, the invitation-only trial lawyer honorary society limited to less than one-half of one percent of lawyers in America and has been selected as a Super Lawyer in Thompson Reuters’ annual survey of the top 5% of lawyers in the New York Metro Area every year since 2013. He holds an “AV Preeminent” rating, the highest rating in the legal profession for professional excellence and ethical standards, as determined by the peer review of judges and lawyers conducted by Martindale.
Prior to founding Barton LLP, Roger was with Sidley Austin in New York. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan, AB Honors College, and has a JD from Fordham University School of Law.
Scorpio Rogers is an Assistant Dean and Assistant Professor at Mercy College in the School of Business on the Bronx Campus. He is the Director of Entrepreneurship for the School of Business across all campuses where amongst other things he manages the annual Student-Preneur Conference and Business Plan Competition. He is also the Executive Director of the Mercy Business Incubation Center (MIC) tasked with aiding in the growth of start-up and bourgeoning entrepreneurial businesses. Additionally, he is the advisor to the Mercy chapter of CEO, Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a student-run organization that fosters entrepreneurship amongst college students.
Greg Minetti is an Associate on Togetherwork’s Corporate Development team where he works on the Company’s Mergers & Acquisitions strategy. Specifically, Greg is involved with deal sourcing, modeling and financial analysis, market research and deal diligence. Prior to joining Togetherwork, Greg worked in Advertising Sales at AMC Networks. Greg is a graduate of Wake Forest University with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and History. In his spare time, Greg enjoys going to the movies, running, reading and watching sports.
Michael Cianciotta is a Senior Associate at EY where he consults financial institutions on growth, integration, and business planning through mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures. He previously worked as a consultant at Capco focusing on the Capital Markets space. Michael is passionate about entrepreneurship and utilizing his experience to enhance the education of young entrepreneurs.
Michael studied Finance and Economics at the Boston University Questrom School of Business.
Sami Soma is a Partner Lead at Google, working on Advertising and Marketing strategies for large clients within the Consumer Packaged Goods industry. Prior to her role at Google, Sami worked at L’Oreal on digital media efforts across the Luxury product division. She has also held roles in Finance and Marketing across L’Oreal Paris, Active Cosmetics Division and Lancome.
Sami graduated from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business with an emphasis in Finance and Marketing where her passion for supporting under-resourced schools began. Since graduating she has volunteered with various organizations such as The Posse Foundation, The Exodus Foundation and iMentor.
New York, NY 10036
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