Creating self-actualized agents of change
The Dorson Model
At Dorson Community Foundation, we support highly-motivated high school students who have great potential, but experience unequal access to opportunities due to systemic barriers and socioeconomic inequities. We work to identify and develop these young people into happy and healthy humans with maximized postsecondary and career opportunities.
Our cohort-based, four-year Dorson Scholars Program is anchored in our Dorson Scholars Curriculum, a holistic model comprised of three core pillars: Self-Confidence, Meaningful Connections, and Community Engagement. At the apex of these pillars stand our Dorson Scholars -- self-actualized individuals empowered by strong networks, social capital, and the sense of civic engagement necessary to become agents of change in their communities.
The most important relationship in your life is the relationship you have with yourself. - Diane Von Furstenberg
The culture of our Dorson Scholars Program is grounded in self-exploration with a special emphasis on two core elements: self-reflection and mindfulness.
Through a robust set of activities and experiential workshops woven throughout our College Readiness curriculum and one-on-one advising program, our Scholars learn to form healthy habits and routines, build trust within themselves, and develop the confidence needed to make informed choices about their postsecondary futures with intention. Scholars are also exposed to mindfulness practices like gratitude journaling and positive reframing, in order to develop empowering coping mechanisms to life’s challenges.
To reach new heights, surround yourself with positive and diverse influences. - Yu Siong Ho
When students complete the Dorson Scholars Program, they graduate with a professional network and team of supporters, as well as the self-advocacy skills and social capital needed to support them in achieving their postsecondary and career goals.
In our Career Development Course, Scholars build social capital and subsequently gain valuable knowledge about the array of educational and career possibilities through professional panels, networking events, and special guest speakers. Scholars are also granted access to our proprietary DorsonCONNECT, an online platform connecting Scholars with professionals and Dorson alums for career exploration, informational interviews, and mentorship.
The seed you plant today becomes shade for someone in the future. - Anonymous
At Dorson, we instill within our Scholars the notion that postsecondary and overall career success doesn’t mean escaping from their inner-city communities, but rather equipping themselves to become the leaders who bring about positive changes in their communities.
A core component of the Dorson Scholars Program is our seasonal immersive community service projects that are deeply rooted in our Scholars' own hometowns and designed to inspire civic responsibility and strengthen personal investment in their local communities. Annual community service events, such as our Feed the Homeless Initiative and Toys for Tots Drive, are completely student-run and promote leadership development and the importance of giving back.
See how this model is applied to our Dorson Scholars Program:
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 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 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.
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 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 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 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.
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."