Community

Conversations

Join us in the discussions that matter most.

Welcome to Our New Virtual Panel Series!

Dorson Community Foundation hosted its first virtual panel discussion in October 2020 to address the educational disparities and challenges affecting Black and Brown youth. Due to its success, we have expanded the discussion into a virtual panel series titled Community Conversations.


Through a four-part series, these important discussions will bring together educators, policy experts, community stakeholders, and local leaders working on the ground to mitigate the opportunity gap affecting underserved youth. We hope these conversations will provide attendees with the knowledge and tools to self-educate, to take action and to support organizations working to overcome the challenges our communities face.


UPCOMING EVENTS

Upcoming Event Details coming this Fall.

To inquire about sponsoring or participating in a Community Conversation, please contact events@dorsoncommunity.org.


PAST EVENTS

A Conversation About Mental Health: The Pandemic's Impact on Students of Color

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021 | 6:00-7:30 PM EST


The virtual panel discussion will focus on the expanding student mental-health crisis and COVID-19’s implications on high school students of color. The conversation will center around the challenges students face, including the stigmas attached to seeking help, necessary improvements needed to service delivery, and the long-term impacts of the pandemic. The panel will include community stakeholders, thought-leaders, and educators working together to make the system of support more equitable and accessible to students in need.


Moderated by Dakota Pawlicki, Director of Talent Hubs with CivicLabs


Panelists Include:

  • Dr. Dionne Bates, Senior Mental Health Advisor, BEAM
  • Natasha Scott, Executive Director, Dorson Community Foundation
  • Dr. James Pedersen, Superintendent, Essex County Schools of Technology
  • Stephanie Johnson, M.A., Executive Director, Lee Thompson Young Foundation

A Conversation About Ensuring the Success of Low-Income Students in Higher Education

February 3rd, 2021 | 6:00-7:30 PM EST


The virtual panel will focus on discussing challenges and best practices for supporting low-income students on their pathway to higher education and highlight the programs, initiatives, responsibilities and interventions necessary to retain and nurture their success. The panel will include community stakeholders and educators on the ground working to mitigate the opportunity gap affecting these youth.


Moderated by Dakota Pawlicki, Director of Talent Hubs with CivicLabs


Panelists Include:

  • Nathalie de Los Angeles Hodge, Deputy Director, Program Strategy & Staff Development, CUNY EDGE
  • David J. Socolow, Executive Director, New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority
  • Damein Phoenix, Assistant Principal, East Orange Campus High School
  • Candice Clawson, Director, Center for Higher Education and Career Support (CHECS), Harlem Children’s Zone

A Conversation About Disparities in Education: Creating Actionable Change

October 14th, 2020 | 6:00-7:30 PM EST


This virtual panel discussion showcased the realities of urban education and the disparities affecting Black and Brown youth, specifically in Essex County, NJ. The panel spotlighted community stakeholders and educators working on the ground to mitigate the opportunity gap.


Moderated by Dakota Pawlicki, Director of Talent Hubs with CivicLabs


Panelists Included:

  • Mohammed Abdelaziz, Director of Athletics, Chatham High School; Former Assistant Principal, Orange High School (2013-2020)
  • Natasha Scott, Executive Director, Dorson Community Foundation
  • Jim Schechter, Director, Cornell University Summer College
  • Rokssana Craig, Talent Acquisition Manager/HR Specialist, Tenna
  • Gladys Adarkwah, Recent Graduate, Georgetown University '20
Dorson Community Foundation

280 South Harrison Street, Suite 300

East Orange, New Jersey 07018


info@dorsoncommunity.org

P (973) 280-9565

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Sonia Scott

Founder

Sonia Y. Scott is a teacher, author and well-known personality in the health and wellness industry. A native of Jamaica, Mrs. Scott is a first-generation college graduate having received her Bachelors from Herbert H. Lehman College.


Mrs. Scott founded Dorson Home Care, Inc., a licensed and accredited home health care agency headquartered in West Orange, NJ. She is also the founder of Dorson Vocational Training Institute.


Mrs. Scott founded Dorson Community Foundation with a mission dedicated to providing inner-city youth in Essex with a meaningful alternative lifestyle to one involving drugs and gangs.


She is a member of several organizations including the Caribbean Medical Mission, the Association for Female Executives, New Jersey Association of Business Owners (NJABO), and the Essex County Coalition for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (ECCPVA). She is also a Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP). Mrs. Scott is a person who pushes boundaries by skillfully weaving her compelling life story into helping others build a life story.

Natasha Scott

Executive Director

Natasha Scott is a 2016 graduate of Teachers College, Columbia University with a Master of Arts degree in Higher and Postsecondary Education. She is a 2011 magna cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. 

Natasha is an alum of Dorson Community Foundation, having participated in several programs as a child and adolescent. Wanting to impart her hands‐on “how‐to‐get‐into‐college” knowledge to others, Natasha has worked for years with Dorson Community Foundation students providing college prep mentorship to students tackling the college admissions process. Natasha's work at Dorson Community Foundation is what influenced her to write and publish The College Admissions Bible in 2013. The guidebook has been purchased by Paterson Public School District, East Orange School District, and Orange High School. Natasha has since built her career in the college access/college success space.

Prior to being named Executive Director, Natasha served as an Assistant Director of Undergraduate Career Development at Columbia University's Center for Career Education.

​Natasha is also a former Program Associate for the Northeast Region of A Better Chance, a national nonprofit organization recruiting and placing high-achieving children of color into independent day and boarding schools around the country.

Leslie Daley

Board Member

Leslie G. Daley, CPA is the founding principal of LESLIE G DALEY, LLC an accounting and tax firm located in Maplewood, New Jersey. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Rutgers University, New Jersey in 1986. He is a licensed Certified Public Accountant and a member of the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants.


He has specialized and extensive knowledge and experience in the areas of accounting and taxation for Individuals, Corporations and Partnerships specifically in the health care and home care industries. Leslie also provides financial planning services for Individuals and accounting and financial services for non-profit organizations.

Kellion Knibb

Secretary

Born and raised in Jamaica to a single mom, Kellion learned the value of education at an early age. Consequently, Kellion used her athletic talents in track and field as a discus thrower to pave the way to higher education.


She moved to the US in 2012 to pursue a college education and an athletic career at the Florida State University. While at FSU, Kellion became one of the best discus throwers in the ACC. She claimed 5 ACC titles, 2 regional titles and became a 3-time all-American. Kellion competed at the 2017 World Championship, the 2016 Olympic Games and the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Kellion has a BA in English and MA in Communication & Digital Media Studies and is now a Marketing professional with experience in content writing, social media, email marketing and website management. She helps small companies build their online and social media presence.​


Kellion hopes to share her experience and expertise in online marketing communications with Dorson Community Foundation as a Board Member for years to come.

Liz Goldberg

Board Member

Liz has had a 20 year career operating her own business as an art consultant working with architects and designers to provide large and small scale and art installations to restaurants, hotels and resorts worldwide.  In 2009, she and her family moved to Melbourne, Australia when her husband went to work for Melbourne based travel company, Lonely Planet.


Consequently, Liz has traveled extensively globally learning about different cultures and viewpoints from around the world.  Today, Liz consults with start ups to help with the business launch.  Liz and her husband Matt are involved with many educational organizations including Cornell University, The University of Melbourne and the Lumina Foundation and are passionate about thinking about how to level the playing field to create opportunities for kids from at-risk populations.​

Liz currently lives in New Jersey with her husband Matt and three kids Aidan, Jesse and Olivia.

Michelle Butler

Board Member

Michelle A. Butler is a Project Manager for one of the top Engineering Consulting firms- Burns & McDonnell. Michelle started her career with the electric utility industry 13 years ago. She has worked with several major electric utilities including Florida Power and Light (“FPL”), Eversource Energy, and most recently Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) in New Jersey.


Michelle was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic and raised in Miami, Florida. She earned a Bachelor of Science (“BS”) degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Florida in 2005 and an MBA from the University of Central Florida in 2011. As a Project Manager with Burns & McDonnell, Michelle has led and/or assisted in managing substation, transmission, or distribution projects.


She brings 13 years of experience managing large scale transmission/distribution projects valued at more than $450 million, maintaining costs within 10 percent of the planned budget. Michelle specializes in system resiliency, conducting financial and resource-based cost-benefit analysis, and leading utility capital projects. She is experienced in working with public agencies and the community to keep projects on track.


Michelle worked at Eversource Energy for three years as the Manager of Connecticut’s System Resiliency group. Within this role, she coordinated Eversource's $300 million, multi-year effort to develop and implement storm resiliency plans to minimize the effects of major storms on the Distribution system, ultimately improving customer reliability.

Laurel Bernstein

Board Member

Laurel Bernstein is the Founder and President of Laurel Bernstein & Associates, a New Jersey based consulting and training firm focused on enhancing the performance and leadership skills for small business owners.

​Laurel has a track record as a highly effective facilitator and trainer, working with business owners to develop key initiatives that leverage talent and help businesses grow.  In this capacity for both retention and attraction strategies, she serves as an executive coach.


Ms. Bernstein advises companies, helping owners evaluate business models, plan vibrant strategic initiatives and design team development.  She has an impressive track record of improving organizational effectiveness and individual achievements. She helps business owners evolve the way they lead to keep up with the needs of the changing environment and economics.


Ms. Bernstein holds a B.A. in Science Education from Montclair State University and a Certificate in Professional Coaching from Baruch CUNY Zicklin Business School iCoach New York.

Contact

info.dcfoundation@gmail.com

Roksanna Craig

Board Member

Iris Wells

Board Member

Iris Wells is an education advocate who holds a B.A. in Psychology with a concentration in Education, and one year of Masters Level in Instructional Design and Technology with a concentration on Training & Performance Improvement.​

Iris Wells brings twenty plus years of educational diversity having worked with preschool through college levels in both the private and public sectors - contributing to traditional and non-traditional environments. Ms. Wells has worked directly with the New York City Board of Education within the Students in Temporary Housing Unit in District Two.

​Iris has been served in other roles such as Director, Counselor, Facilitator, Trainer, Consultant, Advisor and Manager that have led her in the public school system, charter school system, and non-profit agencies, where she worked with general education, first time offenders, high risk and gang-involved youth.​

She is the Author of It Got Me Through – Daily, I Give Thanks! And, encompassing all that she believes and represents, she is the founder of the QnIrie Foundation which brings everything together through philanthropy, events, volunteerism, fundraisers and more.​

Claiming endless possibilities and knowing that through God, All things are possible; Ms. Wells says “there's no telling what's coming next! It's about decreasing me, increasing God and being used to make a difference in the lives of others."