Ayele Shakur brings almost three decades of experience as an innovator in urban education. Prior to coming to BUILD, she served as the President and CEO of the Boston Learning Center for 15 years. Under her leadership, the Center expanded from serving 100 students annually in Boston to 700 students across the state. Ayele joined BUILD in 2011 as Boston’s Founding Regional Executive Director.
A veteran classroom teacher, Ayele taught for eleven years in the Los Angeles area and in the Boston Public Schools, and co-authored the book Boost School Performance – A Parent’s Guide to Better Grades Fast. Ayele is the recipient of the 2012 Boston Celtics Heroes Among Us Award, and the 2007 Nan Bennett Kay Great Friend to Kids Award presented by the Boston Children’s Museum. In 2014, she was appointed as Chair of the Education Committee for the Boston NAACP, and held this post for three years. In 2015, she was appointed by the Boston School Committee to co-chair the Opportunity and Achievement Gaps Task Force for the Boston Public Schools. She was honored with the 2017 Barr Fellowship, which recognizes outstanding nonprofit leaders in Boston, and in 2018 became part of the GK100 Most Influential Black Bostonians. She is a motivational speaker and a blogger for the Huffington Post.
A native of Boston, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Boston University and a Master’s degree from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
Betsy Neptune comes to BUILD with over 15 years of experience in community economic development in Latin America and the U.S. She is passionate about creating a world in which everyone can have a job that they love and one through which they can grow and develop in order to have a positive impact. In her most recent role as the Chief of Economic Development for the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, she led economic recovery and resilience efforts for 101 cities and towns in Greater Boston. During her tenure, she expanded the work of the team beyond traditional economic development efforts, to include workforce development, digital access, and other strategies to advance wealth creation with a focus on reducing the racial wealth gap. Over the past year, her team played a key role in COVID response and recovery efforts throughout the Greater Boston region.
Prior to that role, she led the Small Business Technical Assistance program for the City of Boston, after serving as the Executive Director of Egleston Square Main Street, an organization in Jamaica Plain/Roxbury whose mission is to support small businesses. This work was shaped by her experiences working in community economic development for several years in Ecuador, Peru, and Chile.
Betsy has a heart for teaching, coaching, and entrepreneurship, so BUILD is a perfect fit. She has taught high school and graduate-level classes and also coaches existing and emerging entrepreneurs through her coaching business. She is a graduate of Trinity College with a degree in Anthropology and has certificates in Nonprofit Management and Corporate Social Responsibility. She received her MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and lives in Boston.
Brian Costanzo was most recently President and CEO of SOCAP International. He entered the association profession in 2005, joining the executive staff of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). He served first as EO’s Senior Vice President, Global Membership and later became the group’s Senior Vice President, Business Development in 2014. Brian’s previous 20 years were spent providing unparalleled client service in a variety of roles—as restaurant manager, sales manager, customer service manager and director of operations—for high-end properties, including Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Signature Hospitality Group. He is a member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and became a Certified Association Executive (CAE) in January 2011. As a former entrepreneur himself, Brian founded his own company, Vision Hospitality, in 2004. Brian says, “Entrepreneurship has been a significant part of my life for many years and I can think of no better mission than to deliver a program to our youth that builds self confidence and self-esteem.”
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.
Dale Lemke has been Chief Financial and Operational Officer of BUILD since August of 2018. Prior to joining BUILD, Dale was Chief Financial Officer of Schools for Children, a non-profit corporation operating multiple independent schools in the greater Boston area. Before transitioning to the non-profit sector, Dale served in various finance and strategic planning roles for nearly 25 years in the for profit sector at firms including W. R. Grace, Marshalls and Ernst & Young. Dale received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and his MBA in Finance and International Business from Columbia University in New York City.
Dale lives in Winchester Massachusetts with his wife Jennifer, daughter Emily and dog Ella. In his free time, Dale enjoys golf, cooking and spending time on the Downeast Maine coast.
Ed Wilson has over a decade of experience in fundraising and development. Prior to leading BUILD’s National Development efforts, Ed served as the Development Director for BUILD Boston. Ed earned his MBA, with a concentration in Leadership & Organizational Change, from Northeastern University, and his BA in Economics and Management from Albion College, Michigan. Ed resides in Dedham, MA with his wife Jennie and his two daughters Adeline and Violet.
Karleton Thomas is a social entrepreneur and workforce development practitioner who has spent much of his career developing opportunities for marginalized communities. After nearly a decade of engaging vulnerable populations and witnessing the myriad of barriers to effective programming, Karleton is poised to deliver on the “dream” and provide sustainable solutions to the students, residents, and parents of our communities.
Lydia Phillips serves as the Director of Impact and Organizational Learning at BUILD where she oversees the strategy and implementation for growth of BUILD’s entrepreneurship to youth nationwide. Additionally, she guides internal learning with a focus on creating a collaborative and inclusive environment. With over 10 years experience in education, both abroad and stateside, Lydia has a passion for ensuring students are receiving high-quality experiences in education and focuses on experiential learning. She has her Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of San Diego and has served as an educator with a focus on ELA and Special Education.
“I believe youth are brilliant, creative, and hilarious. It is a joy to help them unpack their strengths, their voice and help guide them towards a future of their choice. Entrepreneurship is a unique avenue for self-expression, collaboration, and innovation. It allows us to work with schools and community partners in a way that uplifts all involved. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?” – Lydia Phillips
Ryan Oliver serves as Regional Executive Director for BUILD Bay Area and Los Angeles, holding primary responsibility for leading growth initiatives and directing strategy. Ryan brings twenty years of experience as an innovative educator, leader, and program designer in urban schools, from Boston and Pittsburgh to Los Angeles and East Oakland. Previously, Ryan served as Founding Program Director for BUILD Boston. A Bay Area native, Ryan has lived, learned, and worked on both coasts. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Harvard University, a Master of Arts in Education from California State University Monterey Bay, and Principal Certification from University of Pittsburgh.
Sue has over 25 years’ experience as a regional and national nonprofit executive, successfully building and leading cross-functional, inclusive, high performing teams. Sue began her career with audience development work for Shear Madness/Cranberry Productions, one of the nation’s longest-running theatrical productions. She moved into the nonprofit sector with her role as the Director of Registration and Student Services at the Boston Center for Adult Education and eventually as its first Director of Development. She then became Director of Posse Boston at The Posse Foundation, an acclaimed national college access and diversity program. After transforming the Boston site to a revenue self-sustaining and programmatically successful one, Sue rose to Regional Vice President, implementing the strategic plan and ensuring overall health of the organization while overseeing numerous chapters. During her subsequent tenure as a member of the executive team at Health Leads, a social enterprise, she led in several areas including national program and revenue and helped to position the organization to capitalize on market changes through greatly increased programmatic efficiency and productivity. Later, at Peace First, Sue served as a Senior Advisor to the executive team in a variety of functional and strategic areas, and, more recently, as Chief Operating Officer for Big Sister Association of Greater Boston. Sue also served as Chair of the board of directors for Y2Y Network, an innovative, student-run, overnight shelter which provides a safe and affirming environment for young adults experiencing homelessness.
Thais comes to us from BizWorld, having formerly spent the last eight years as BizWorld’s CEO, where she grew the organization to become the largest teacher-led entrepreneurship education non-profit in the world, serving over 850,000 students worldwide. She launched BizWorld’s innovative YES! Program to support young entrepreneurs to gain access to tools, mentorship, and capital needed to make their entrepreneurial dreams a reality.
Thais holds an unwavering commitment to making economic opportunities and entrepreneurship education accessible to all students, particularly those from traditionally underserved and underrepresented backgrounds. She started her career in the non-profit world, focusing on micro-enterprise development. For eight years, she led the growth of innovative programming and the organizational expansion at Women’s Initiative for Self Employment. As the lead developer of the successful business propulsion program “SuccessLink,” she set a new national standard for entrepreneurship support services that became a national model. Thais worked for the Mexican Consulate as part of The Mexican Communities Abroad Team, where she helped implement and develop health, education, and business trade programs. Her background also includes journalism work in both TV and print, covering the tech industry. She resides with her husband and three daughters in Seattle.
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