Meet Carolina Torres, a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Psychology and Spanish. While in college, Carolina volunteered for the Latin Community Center of Pittsburgh and was the Events Coordinator of the University of Pittsburgh’s Spanish Club. Carolina was elected by her peers to be a group leader of PACT- a student-run volunteer group that raised money for cancer research at the Hillman Cancer Center. In this capacity, Carolina was responsible for organizing both large and small fundraising and other events including 5K runs, concerts, food drives at the hospital, and Funday Fridays for patients and their families. Upon graduation, Carolina moved to New York City to launch her career in educational fundraising. She recently finished a Communications Internship at Brooklyn Prospect Schools and is excited to take everything she’s learned and apply it at BUILD NYC! Carolina is a first-generation Chilean American who loves hiking, traveling, and running!
Chymeka Olfonse has dedicated her entire professional career to empowering individuals through education. She currently serves as the Regional Executive Director for BUILD NYC. Prior to BUILD, Chymeka served as the National Executive Director of Minds Matter National Inc., an academic mentoring nonprofit headquartered in New York City. She set the organization’s strategic direction in collaboration with the leadership of 12 chapters. During her tenure, Minds Matter doubled the number of students served and successfully launched four of its 12 chapters. She developed a comprehensive fundraising strategy and formed partnerships to achieve scale and impact to benefit the national network. In addition, Chymeka has worked in programming, development and management capacities at the New York City Department of Education and at The After-School Corporation (TASC). As a Program Manager in the Office of Strategic Partnerships at the New York City Department of Education, she oversaw a number of large efforts to bring private-sector philanthropy into the public schools. Prior to that, Chymeka was Deputy Director for the Mid-Atlantic region of Jumpstart for Young Children
Chymeka is a graduate of Yale University where she earned a dual Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with Economic Policy and African and African-American History. She completed her MPA with a focus in Public and Nonprofit Management at The Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. In the summer of 2012, Chymeka earned a Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management certificate offered through Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program.
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 is excited to be a part of the BUILD NYC team as its Community Engagement Manager. 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.
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.
Miranda has a strong commitment to service and equality, working with youth to help prepare for college and career readiness since high school. Before BUILD, Miranda worked at the Ronald McDonald House of New York City, and was a camp counselor with their summer program for almost a decade. Miranda received her Bachelor’s of Science from the Fashion Institute of Technology, majoring in Advertising and Marketing Communications, minoring in Asian Studies. Miranda is currently pursuing her Master of Science in Urban Policy and Leadership from Hunter College. Outside of work, Miranda enjoys traveling, baking, reading and spending time with her family and friends.
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.
Rose Cherubin joins the Build NYC team with years of experience in higher education admissions at her alma mater, Hobart and William Smith (HWS) Colleges. As former Senior Assistant Director of Admissions, she recruited for all five boroughs of New York City, was the office liaison for the HWS’ Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), assisted in creating and leading office-wide diversity recruitment initiatives, and also participated in final selections for HWS’ POSSE Foundation Los Angeles cohorts.
She is excited to join BUILD NYC and transition into college access and counseling, and empower young people to actualize their maximum potential. Rose is also a budding entrepreneur with a venture in digital storytelling and is a volunteer for local blogging/influencer networks. In her spare time, she enjoys travel, photography, and dance. Rose holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
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