Mission

Pollyanna advances systemic change by developing stronger communities.

Strategy

Pollyanna works with academic and other institutions to achieve their diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Through its unique conference models, discussion platforms, and racial literacy curricula, Pollyanna increases cultural competence.

Team

Casper Caldarola

Casper Caldarola founded the New York based, non-profit, Pollyanna in 2015. Pollyanna is committed to advancing systemic change by developing stronger communities. Casper has been deeply involved in diversity initiatives for many years. As president of the Dalton School Parents Association in the early 2000s, 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 the Communications Director at the Allen-Stevenson School and was one of four people tasked with developing and implementing equity initiatives. Before joining the independent school world, she was a marketing and advertising executive.

Casper now serves on the Board of Seeds of Peace. She was a trustee at the Dalton School for 10 years and served as a member of the Executive Committee, chaired the Committee on New Trustees and Community Life & Diversity Committee, and has also served on the boards of Parents-in-Action and Generation Citizen.

Jay Golon

Jay Golon works on a variety of special projects for Pollyanna. He is an educator with almost 20 years of independent school experience. He spent 10 years as a Middle School Social Studies teacher at the Trevor Day School in New York City, the Epiphany School in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and The Dalton School in New York City. He also served as Dalton’s Middle School Assistant Director for Curriculum and Dean of Students for five years followed by three years as Middle School Principal at the Friends School of Baltimore. A committed learner and educator, Jay became particularly interested in furthering the work of racial justice and equity during his time partnering with students, teachers, and families as a school administrator. He believes that creating more just and equitable learning environments have the power to transform individuals, schools, and society. Jay earned a B.A. from Wesleyan University in American Studies and Theater and a Masters in School Leadership from Harvard University. Jay lives in Baltimore with his wife and two young children.

Claire Hannan-Radomisli

Claire Hannan-Radomisli is the Operations Manager at Pollyanna and also works with schools on conferences as the Project Manager. She became interested in 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 lives in New York with her husband and their three boys.

Josie Hoeber

Josie Hoeber is a sophomore at Windward School in Los Angeles, CA. She helped to establish and facilitate the West Coast Teen Pollyanna cohort, with the help of fellow East Coast interns. She is committed to learning about and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within her community through Pollyanna. She loves the arts, music, and spending time with her family!

Destynee Johnson

Destynee Johnson is a junior who attends the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, NY. She helps facilitate Teen Pollyanna (along with co-leader Addeson), and assists with managing Pollyanna’s database. Destynee loves animals, and one of her favorite pastimes is walking her dog!

Sofia Ortiz

Sofia Ortiz is a junior drama major at Fiorello Laguardia High School in New York City. She is half Greek and half Puerto Rican. Sofia is a marketing intern at Pollyanna. She loves to write in her spare time, and hopes her words and art will help inspire others.

Monique Vogelsang

Born in California, to a large, multiracial family, Monique Vogelsang developed a love for teaching and storytelling at a young age. Upon graduating from University of California, Santa Barbara, with a Bachelor’s degree in Black Studies, Monique joined Teach for America and moved to New York City. During these first years in New York, Monique taught in Harlem public schools, and earned her Master’s Degree in Teaching. She transitioned to The Dalton School, an independent K-12 institution in NYC, where she served as a head teacher and worked on the annual Diversity Conference. Currently, Monique is a consultant and curriculum specialist, working with Pollyanna Inc. In this role, she spearheaded Pollyanna’s Racial Literacy Curriculum for Grades K-8 and the Parent/Guardian Companion Guide, which shares strategies to engage children in conversations about race, racial identity, and systemic racism. Monique leads professional development workshops and consultations for administrators, educators, and students interested in expanding their racial literacy. With personal and professional experience with racially, socioeconomically, and culturally diverse populations, Monique is a proud champion of multiracial, multicultural, and LGBTQ+ communities and voices.

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 founded the New York based, non-profit, Pollyanna in 2015. Pollyanna is committed to advancing systemic change by developing stronger communities. Casper has been deeply involved in diversity initiatives for many years. As president of the Dalton School Parents Association in the early 2000s, 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 the Communications Director at the Allen-Stevenson School and was one of four people tasked with developing and implementing equity initiatives. Before joining the independent school world, she was a marketing and advertising executive.

Casper now serves on the Board of Seeds of Peace. She was a trustee at the Dalton School for 10 years and served as a member of the Executive Committee, chaired the Committee on New Trustees and Community Life & Diversity Committee, and has also served on the boards of Parents-in-Action and Generation Citizen.

Paquita Davis-Friday

Paquita Y. Davis-Friday is the Senior Associate Dean in the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College and a professor in the Stan Ross Department of Accountancy. She earned her Ph.D. and Master in accounting, M.A. in Applied Economics and B.B.A from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Addeson Lehv - Jr. Trustee

Addeson Lehv is a high-school senior at the Trinity School in New York City. There he is a peer leader and a member of the public service team. Outside of school, he is a support scientist at BioBus where he teaches, develops curriculum, and conducts research. He will be attending Columbia University in the fall.

Deepti Mittal

Deepti Mittal brings substantial interest, commitment and experience with non-profit organizations. She has worked in the areas of gender justice, education and the environment. Deepti is the founder of The Mittal Talwar Team at Douglas Elliman. She is also a partner of a consulting firm, Teamqore, which helps clients optimize their core management areas to make their vision a reality.

Erica Pettis

Erica Pettis is a fundraising professional based in New York, NY. With over a decade in the industry, she now works as a consultant helping non-profits reach their fundraising goals and deliver on their mission.

Tal Recanati

Tal Recanati is an entrepreneur and non-profit advocate who has spent the past 15 years championing causes that promote dialogue, cultivate leaders and provide grass-roots solutions to societal issues. 

Marjorie Van Dercook

Marjorie L. Van Dercook was the Executive Director of the School of American Ballet from 2004-2017 where she implemented the School’s first Diversity initiative. She served on the Board of New York City Ballet from 1995-2003 and is currently on the Boards of Second Stage Theater and the School of American Ballet where she sits on their Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committees.

Jim Wilson

Jim Wilson has spent 20+ years in executive management with a track record of success in building talented teams and launching, scaling and transforming businesses. His experience includes entertainment and education software, video, music and advertising. He also has extensive not for profit and other board experience.

Alexis Wright

Alexis Wright has been in independent school education for 25 years. He is currently the Head of School at New City School in St. Louis, MO. Alexis earned his MA in Marine Affairs and Policy from the University of Miami and earned a BS in Human Ecology from Rutgers University.

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

Rodney Glasgow Director National Diversity Practitioners Institute

Duchess Harrris, Professor of American Studies

Jason Craige Harris, Educator, Mediator, & Strategist

Debby Irving, Racial Justice Educator and Writer

Anthony Abraham Jack, Professor & Author

Jerry Kang, Law Professor

Rosetta Lee, Outreach Specialist

Philip McAdoo, LGBTQ Advocate & Diversity Consultant

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

Liza Talusan, Strategic Partner & Facilitator

Contact Us: info@pollyannainc.org