POLLYANNA TEAM

Casper Caldarola, Executive Director

Casper Caldarola, President, has been deeply involved in diversity initiatives since 2004. As president of The Dalton School Parents Association, she created a more inclusive community and developed a new budgeting structure making it possible for parents of different socioeconomics to volunteer. In addition, Casper was a trustee at Dalton from 2004-2015 and chaired the Community Life & Diversity committee. During this time, the Dalton Conference model was created, and she has chaired the conference committee since its inaugural conference. She was also a member of the Executive Committee and chaired the Committee on New Trustees.

Casper was until recently the Communications Director at The Allen-Stevenson School. Prior to joining the independent school community, she was in advertising and public relations for many years with Warner Bros., Kenyon & Eckhardt, and the Casper Group. Casper has also served on the Parents-in-Action Board and is currently on the NY Board of Generation Citizen. She created Pollyanna, Inc. in 2015 and is committed to bringing this discussion format to independent and public schools, colleges and corporations. Casper lives in New York and has one son, Zach.

Kathy Chan, New Initiative Developer

Kathy Chan, is the Vice President and New Initiative Developer of Pollyanna where she primarily develops conference programs, their structure and content. She has been involved in diversity initiatives for over twenty years, developing several content-based creative programs dealing with conflict resolution, community engagement and the S.E.E.D. curriculum. Kathy has been a member of the Dalton Conference planning committee since its inception in 2007. Kathy is trained as a computer scientist and has worked for over 25 years as a technologist, first in telecommunications in Brazil, then in the financial industry in New York and London; she now develops websites for a wide range of clients. Kathy holds degrees in Computer Science and Business Studies from Rutgers University and London School of Economics respectively.

Ryan Ewers, New Initiative Developer

Ryan Ewers, M.A is a consultant and strategist whose approach to life and work is greatly influenced by the intersection of history, social science, business and social responsibility. Ryan’s methods explore the balance of commonalities and differences as they occur individually, inter-personally, and culturally. Understanding that the only constant is change, Ryan views himself not as an expert, but as a resource collaborator.

Ryan founded his company Ewers & Mine, Inc. in 2010 and has been working in the organizational change space ever since. He has worked in public, private and academic institutions that continue to provide the drive to partner with clients in the pursuit of sustainable growth and change.

Ryan has also worked as a research and development practitioner where he co-created strength-based assessments and taught their applications. These tools leveraged creative and inclusive problem-solving techniques that helped start conversations along the path to growth.

Ryan received his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University in psychology and history. He went on to receive his Master of Arts in organizational psychology from Iona College. His wife Maggie is a Mental Health Counselor and Doula who serves women and birthing partners throughout NYC and the Hudson Valley region. They enjoy travel, kayaking, time with friends and getting involved in community projects.

Claire Hannan-Radomisli, Project Manager

Claire Hannan-Radomisli became interested in issues of diversity after taking a college course on race. Inspired, she changed her major from Psychology to Cultural Anthropology, allowing her to focus her curriculum on the study of gender, identity, race, religion, sexual orientation from a global perspective. Claire graduated Summa Cum Laude from N.Y.U. with a BS in Cultural Anthropology.

She served as President of the Parents Association at The Dalton School from 2013-2015. During her tenure, Claire promoted community building and inclusion, and supported the many diversity/affinity groups at the school. She was instrumental in establishing the New Parent Welcome Committee, the Gay and Lesbian Parent Group, and the Hispanic/Latino Parent Group. In addition, Claire served as a Trustee and was a member of the following Board committees: Community Life & Diversity and New Trustees. She has volunteered at the Dalton Diversity Conference for many years and attended the Glenn Singleton training, “Beyond Diversity.”

Claire works as an administrator for a Pediatric Orthopedics practice in New York City. She lives with her husband and their three boys.

Ali O'Brien, Project Manager

Ali O’Brien is an educator of students from an array of language and cultural backgrounds based in Burlington, Vermont. She got her start at Vermont Academy as a teacher of English Language Learners where she founded several campus programs to support international students. The International Resource Center and the Global Leadership Summer Symposium both became core programs at VA to support a diverse student body.

Ali encountered Pollyanna and Casper’s vision when she hosted her school’s inaugural Vermont Academy Diversity Conference in April of 2018. Her experience with the program inspired her to become a Project Manager to help bring this conference model to even more school communities.

Ali received her BA in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was part of the 2017 Klingenstein Summer Institute through Teachers College Columbia University. She is working toward her MAT in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at St. Michael’s College. She lives in Burlington with her partner and their Maine Coon cat, Cosmo.

Monique Vogelsang, Curriculum Specialist

Monique Vogelsang, Secretary. After earning her Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Monique Vogelsang began her career in education by joining Teach for America: New York City Corps. During these first years in New York, Monique taught in Harlem public schools, and earned her Master’s Degree in Teaching. She transitioned to a head teaching position at The Dalton School, an independent K-12 institution in NYC, where she continued to educate and inspire students. After a ten-year career in education, Monique launched her own private education business, as she now works with students and consults with families in a personalized one-on-one setting. Having facilitated and presented at diversity conferences and workshops, Monique is a champion of equal rights for children and adults.

Embodying a proclivity for meeting new people and experiencing unfamiliar places, Monique is an enthusiastic traveler, and when she can’t leave NYC, will settle for a thoughtful independent film. She also enjoys watching giraffes walk, having lively conversations, and absorbing as much time in the sun as possible. Currently, Monique is working on her first Young Adult novel. Stay tuned!

BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Rena Andoh

Rena Andoh is a litigation partner with Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP in New York. Her broad practice ranges from complex commercial and trade secret/restrictive covenant enforcement cases to False Claims Act cases to intellectual property cases arising out of government contracts. Rena acts as first chair trial counsel in jury trials and arbitrations, and argues in appellate courts, including the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals and the First Department of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division.

Rena is an active supporter of Sheppard Mullin’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. She serves as vice-chair of the Attorneys of Color Success Initiative Committee (“ACSIC”), convened by the chair of Sheppard Mullin to advance the firm’s practices and programs to recruit, retain and promote attorneys of color and LGBTQ attorneys. She also vice-chairs Sheppard Mullin’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Rena is a 2015 Leadership Counsel for Legal Diversity (“LCLD”) Fellow, and is an active alumni and mentor in the LCLD organization.

Casper Caldarola

Casper Caldarola, President, has been deeply involved in diversity initiatives since 2004. As president of The Dalton School Parents Association, she created a more inclusive community and developed a new budgeting structure making it possible for parents of different socioeconomics to volunteer. In addition, Casper was a trustee at Dalton from 2004-2015 and chaired the Community Life & Diversity committee. During this time, the Dalton Conference model was created, and she has chaired the conference committee since its inaugural conference. She was also a member of the Executive Committee and chaired the Committee on New Trustees.

Casper was until recently the Communications Director at The Allen-Stevenson School. Prior to joining the independent school community, she was in advertising and public relations for many years with Warner Bros., Kenyon & Eckhardt, and the Casper Group. Casper has also served on the Parents-in-Action Board and is currently on the NY Board of Generation Citizen. She created Pollyanna, Inc. in 2015 and is committed to bringing this discussion format to independent and public schools, colleges and corporations. Casper lives in New York and has one son, Zach.

Addeson Lehv - Jr. Trustee

Addeson Lehv began his education at The Allen-Stevenson School. There, he took advantage of everything the school offered. He studied the flute, was in the orchestra and joined the many clubs the school had to offer him. He was an active member of BOCAS (Boys of Color at Allen-Stevenson) and a leading member and ally of the Gay Straight Alliance. He was also a member of the school yearbook and the Digital Fluency “Gang,” which focused designing and implementing a curriculum around digital citizenship and the use of technology. Addeson is now on the Alumni Council and a leader of the BOCAS Alumni Association, City Division.

He is now in high school at The Trinity School (Class of 2021) where he continues to be a diligent student and active volunteer. Addeson is in the Jazz Band, a writer and editor for the Trinity Times, and is an admissions tour guide. He also founded the Geek Squad (a trivia club). His two favorite classes are Ancient Greek and Chemistry.

Addeson has had an internship since last summer at BioBus which is a non-profit that brings science education and inquiry to the masses. He started as a summer intern and it has continued on Saturdays through the school year. He is a neuroscience researcher and helps run the Science Program Open House in conjunction with Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute.

In his downtime, Addeson loves to explore the city and the world.

Ashley Smyth

Ashley has over twenty years of experience in not-for-profit and public sector management. Most recently, she played a leadership role in the creation and launch of FAIR Health, a national not-for-profit organization founded to improve transparency in healthcare cost information. In her eight years at FAIR Health she oversaw strategic planning, internal and external communications, media relations, consumer product development and grants administration.

Ashley has held senior management positions in organizations throughout the healthcare sector including the administrations of New York City Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, the Mount Sinai Medical Center and a private foundation.

Ashley currently serves on the Board of Trustees of The Dalton School, the International Preschools, and Power of Two. She advocates for children in the New York City foster care system through the New York chapter of CASA. She also previously worked as a first grade classroom volunteer in a charter school run by the Harlem Children’s Zone.

Ashley is a graduate of Bowdoin College and holds masters degrees in public health and public administration from Columbia University. She lives with her husband and three sons in New York City.

Marjorie Van Dercook

Marjorie L. Van Dercook was the Executive Director of the School of American Ballet from 2004-2017 where she initiated and implemented the School’s first Diversity Initiative. She served as a member of the board of directors of the New York City Ballet from 1995 through 2003, where she was on the Executive Committee and was co-chair of the Development Committee.

Margie was a co-chair of the Friends of Concerts and Lectures of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 2000-2009 and currently serves on The Fund for the Met. She served as a Trustee of the Trust for Cultural Resources of the City of New York and was a member of the New York Women’s Forum.

She was an associate in the litigation and entertainment departments of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell & Vassallo as well as a law clerk to the Honorable Lawrence W. Pierce of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Margie holds a J.D. degree from Fordham University School of Law, an M.A. in Political Science from Columbia University, and a B.A. from Vassar College. She is married and has three children.

Erica Pettis

Erica Pettis is a fundraising professional based in New York, NY. She began her career working in development offices in schools out of a strong desire to offer increased access to educational opportunities.

Erica is currently a Senior Consultant with Graham-Pelton Consulting, a fundraising and management consulting firm dedicated to elevating philanthropy so that non-profits flourish.

Erica received a BA in history and communication from Hamilton College and lives in NYC with her husband Jerome.

Michele Barakett - 2015-18 Founding Trustee

Michele Smith Barakett is a parent at the Dalton School, where she co-chaired the Community Life & Diversity Committee of the Parents Association. She completed her graduate training in counseling psychology at Columbia Teachers College and Fordham University, where her research focused on cultural psychology and multicultural counseling. Over the past five years, Michele worked as the psychologist at Marymount School of New York, and she coordinated diversity efforts for Marymount’s Lower Middle School. She now works as a psychologist in private practice in New York City. Michele also serves on the Advisory Board of the NYU Child Study Center.

Leah Johnson - 2015-18 Founding Trustee

Leah Johnson is an experienced communications strategist and problem solver who has worked successfully across industries — and on local, national, and global platforms — to influence outcomes and lead change. She has led teams and advised Fortune 250 CEOs, non-profits and high-level political campaigns on how to define and promote brand value while navigating media firestorms and complex, challenging environments. She is viewed as a partner of choice for boards, senior executives and respected leaders seeking to influence stakeholders and build reputation across digital and traditional media platforms. A Brooklyn, New York native, Leah holds a B.A. in Psychology from Harvard College. She serves on the Harvard Schools Committee of New York City, and is the Chair of the Communications, Social Media and Advocacy Committee of the Vestry at Trinity Wall Street. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of Planned Parenthood New York City and serves as a mentor with W.O.M.E.N. in America. Leah recently served on the Board of Trustee’s Executive Committee of The Dalton School, where she led the Board’s Community Life & Diversity Committee. Leah lives in New York City with her husband and their daughter.

ADVISORY BOARD

Marianne Macrae

Marianne Macrae joined Robin Hood in 2003 to oversee and expand Robin Hood’s range of family-oriented programs designed to instill in children and families a lifelong passion for philanthropy.

She developed the innovative Robin Hood Teen Council program, which draws high school students from all over the New York City metropolitan area, to learn about effective poverty-fighting organizations and to discuss relevant and timely topics.

The group meets on a monthly basis throughout the year, and includes trips to Robin Hood grantee organizations and volunteer opportunities, so students can gain first-hand experience with the struggles of the 1.8 million New Yorkers living in poverty.

Another successful component of Robin Hood’s family philanthropy portfolio is Lemonaid. Designed for young children and their families, Lemonaid is deceptively simple: kids set up lemonade stands where they provide refreshing beverages and homemade treats in exchange for donations to Robin Hood. The program’s success was featured on “Good Morning America,” in 2014 and has raised more than $1 million over the past ten years, every penny of which has gone to help New Yorkers in need

Marianne was also instrumental in creating and expanding the Camp Robin Hood and Robin Hood Fellows programs. Since launching ten years ago, more than 400 teens and college-age students have participated in these five-day intensive workshops, which provide hands-on experience and in-depth analysis of poverty’s many root causes and the most effective ways to break the cycle of poverty. In 2014, Marianne helped launch a five-week college internship program at Robin Hood’s offices, so that students interested in potential careers in the non-profit world or who are passionate about philanthropy can gain real-world experience working for New York City’s largest poverty-fighting organization.

Marianne earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Bridgeport. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, Stuart, and their two college-aged children, Kyle and Samantha.

Wes Moore

Wes Moore is the CEO at Robin Hood, a bestselling author and a social entrepreneur. Wes previously served on Robin Hood’s Veterans Advisory Board, which brought together leaders from the military, non-profits and government to connect veterans and their families living in poverty to housing, job training, education, counseling and health services.

Before becoming CEO at Robin Hood, Wes was the founder and CEO at BridgeEdU, an innovative platform addressing the college completion and job placement crisis. BridgeEdU reinvents freshman year through high-touch and high-tech supports for students.

Wes also hosts Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Beyond Belief” and PBS’s “American Graduate Day;” and is the executive producer and host of PBS’s “Coming Back with Wes Moore,” focusing on the reintegration of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Wes and his work have been featured by USA Today, People Magazine, NBC News, NPR, “Meet the Press,” “The Colbert Report,” “The View,” and many others.

Wes’ books, “The Other Wes Moore” and “The Work,” became instant New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers, capturing the nation’s attention on the fine line between success and failure in our communities.

Wes grew up in Baltimore and the Bronx, and despite childhood challenges, graduated Phi Theta Kappa from Valley Forge Military College in 1998 and Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University in 2001. He earned an MLitt in International Relations from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar in 2004. Wes then served as a Captain and paratrooper with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne, including a combat deployment to Afghanistan. He later served as a White House Fellow to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

While at Johns Hopkins, Wes founded STAND!, working with Baltimore youth involved in the criminal justice system. He has served on the boards of Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America and Johns Hopkins University.

Deborah Roberts

Deborah Roberts, an award-winning reporter and media veteran, is a highly respected, versatile journalist with a broad range of experience and expertise. Roberts reports regularly on a myriad of stories for ABC News’ 20/20 and has served as substitute anchor on Good Morning America, World News Weekend and for 20/20. Roberts has also appeared as a co-host on The View.

Roberts’ coverage at 20/20 has consistently produced extraordinary narratives such as an intimate profile of first lady Michelle Obama and an award-winning investigation into abuse within the Amish community. She has reported from Africa on the HIV/AIDS crisis and orphans, historic coverage of the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

She has been awarded multiple Emmy awards for her international and national coverage of world events, including her in-depth reporting on an Ethiopian American woman’s emotional journey back to her African village to discover her long lost mother and inauguration of President Barack Obama. Roberts reports consistently for ABC 20/20, Good Morning America, World News Tonight and Nightline.

She has been with ABC News for 20 years and makes her home in Manhattan with her husband and two children.

Jennifer Vermont-Davis

Jennifer Vermont-Davis is a member of the Science Department and Co-Director of the Community Life + Diversity Committee (CL&D) at the Allen-Stevenson School where she has been on staff as an educator since 2000. In her capacity as CL+D Co-Director, Jennifer works with students and professionals alike and is responsible for Affinity Group leadership and monthly diversity activities focusing on varied equity and justice topics, personal stories and professional preparedness.

In recognition of her numerous contributions, Jennifer was recognized by the Allen-Stevenson School as 2015 Teacher of the Year. She coordinates speaker events and seminars with topic experts, and represents her school at the national level, participating as a thought leader at conferences across the U.S. including The People of Color Conference.

Jennifer is also the Executive Director of the Multi-Ethnic Center, an organization founded by Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, to promote and strengthen youth educational success through mentorship programs. Jennifer is a Senior Advisor to Ambassador Cook’s 2016 Congressional Campaign on diversity issues. The Multi-Ethnic Center works to combat poverty and promote healthy communities through research and by conducting annual job fairs and health fairs.

As a member of the Executive Board of Jack and Jill, Jennifer collaborates with partners to write and develop the annual Jack and Jill Educational Seminar. The Seminars bring together independent school Heads and Admissions Directors with parents of color in an effort to expand access to greater educational resources in underserved communities and diversity in private schools. She continues this work at Riverside Church where she chairs the Annual College Fair, successfully hosting more than 300 youth from the New York City metro area with 35 colleges and universities in attendance.

Barri Waltcher

Barri Waltcher is a New York City-based career advisor who specializes in counseling women in all facets of career development. In addition to her private career counseling work, Barri is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and an adjunct instructor at NYU’s School of Professional Studies, where she leads classes on career development. She also speaks and leads workshops on career topics at other New York City institutions, including the 92nd Street Y and the JCC, and writes about career issues for New York Family Magazine.

Barri has a strong commitment to non-profit leadership. She served on the Board of Trustees of the Dalton School and is Vice-President of her synagogue. She also volunteers at Breakthrough New York, a college access program committed to getting high-potential, low-income students to and through four-year colleges.

Barri holds a law degree from Cornell Law School, a certificate in Career Planning and Development from New York University, and a BA from Tufts University. She lives in Manhattan and has two college-aged children.

Melinda Wolfe

Melinda Wolfe joined GLG in June 2017, becoming the company’s first Chief Human Resources Officer. Over her career, she has served as CHRO and spearheaded talent initiatives with a passionate focus on diversity and inclusion at global companies including Pearson, Bloomberg, American Express and Goldman Sachs. Ms. Wolfe began her career in public finance at Merrill Lynch, where she managed billions of dollars of project finance and public power transactions for public and private sector clients over a 14-year period.

Ms. Wolfe is a board member of Auburn Seminary, the Center for Talent Innovation, Planned Parenthood of New York City and ZanaAfrica. She previously served the NYC Mayor’s Commission on Women and on advisory boards for several academic institutions including the Dalton School, Barnard’s Athena Center, Duke University, Washington University and the School of Public and International Affairs at Columbia, where she also served as an Adjunct Faculty Member. She is a frequent speaker at conferences on a range of subjects including all aspects of talent management and diversity and inclusion, particularly the advancement of women.

Ms. Wolfe earned her undergraduate degree from Washington University and her graduate degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She resides in Manhattan with her husband, Ken Inadomi, and their daughter, Molly.

RECOMMENDED SPEAKERS

Charles Blow, Journalist

Jennifer Bryant, Founder Team Finch

Derrick Gay, Diversity & Inclusion Consultant

Debby Irving, Racial Justice Educator and Writer

Rosetta Lee, Outreach Specialist

Ali Michael, Director of the Race Institute

Wes Moore, Social Entrepreneur

Tricia Rose, Professor of Africana Studies

Glenn Singleton, President PEG

Howard Stevenson, Professor of Africana Studies