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

Jan Abernathy

Pollyanna Partner

Jan Abernathy is Chief Communications Officer for The Browning School (NY) a K-12 all-boys school with 400 students. She is also the president of New York City Independent School Communications Professionals (NYCISCP), co-founder of Black Advancement Networking Group (BANG) and principal of a consulting firm, Jan Abernathy Strategic Communications. 

Jan is a trustee of the Grace Church School (NY) and is chair of the CASE-NAIS 2022 conference, as well as co-chair the NYSAIS Advancement Committee. She has written for Independent Schools magazine on crisis communications and how schools responded to the “Black at” movement and has been featured in the recent CASE Currents article “What is Equity?” Jan has presented and facilitated at many conferences including NAISAC, the NAIS’ New Heads Institute, CASE-NAIS, the NYSAIS Advancement Conference and the NJAIS Diversity Conference. Her two children graduated from the Dalton School (NY) in 2016 and 2020.

Casper Caldarola

Pollyanna Founder

Casper Caldarola founded the New York based, non-profit, Pollyanna in 2015. Casper has worn many hats in independent schools: alum, parent, administrator, and trustee, and saw different levels of commitment to DEI work. She felt and still feels the most important aspect of this work is to keep the academic, social, and emotional needs of the student at the center. Casper founded Pollyanna to support the schools that have made a commitment to building a more inclusive school community through multi-constituent conference models, workshops, community  assessments and racial literacy curriculum.

Casper’s experience includes serving as president of the Dalton School Parents Association. During her tenure, she created a more inclusive community, developed a new budgeting structure making it possible for parents of different socioeconomics to volunteer, hosted more events at school to take the pressure off of in-home hosting, and introduced monthly topic-driven parent discussions to find additional ways to bring the community together. In addition, Casper was the Communications Director at the Allen-Stevenson School and was tasked with helping to develop and implement equity initiatives, such as, developing a more inclusive hiring process and creating Parent Chats with topics that focused on DEI. 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 was on the strategic plan steering committee, and has also served on the boards of Parents-in-Action and Generation Citizen.

Jay Golon

Pollyanna Program Designer & Facilitator

Jay Golon is an educator with 20 years of experience as a teacher and administrator in independent schools. He currently works with Pollyanna’s clients to design and facilitate workshops that advance the work of equity and justice. 

Jay believes that all students flourish in just, equitable, and identity-safe learning environments. Ensuring that every child and family can be the fullest, most authentic version of themselves in all of their communities is at the heart of his work as an educator.

He spent the first part of his career in the classroom 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. 

Jay earned a B.A. from Wesleyan University in American Studies and Theater and a Masters in School Leadership from Harvard University. 

Brandon Guidry

Pollyanna Partner

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Brandon is a proud graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, holding a dual bachelor’s degree in Political Science and African Diaspora Studies. He has held many hats in the field of education, beginning his experience as a research analyst during his graduate studies at Stanford University and Teachers College, Columbia University, and formally at an education research hub out of New York University before moving into the classroom full-time. He has taught multiple grade levels in New York City independent schools across the Lower and Middle school divisions and found his calling in middle school. 

Brandon is energized by collaborative environments and has discovered a true passion for middle grades education. He is determined to aid in the necessary conversation about the need to dismantle the stereotypes around the experiences of students during middle school. This time period is the most pivotal in individual development and he is a firm believer that children at this age are much more capable than we adults allow. 

Claire Hannan-Radomisli

Pollyanna Director of Operations

Claire Hannan-Radomisli joined Pollyanna in 2018 as a Project Manager and eventually took on the role of Director of Operations. Much of her work involves partnering with schools to plan and develop Pollyanna conferences for their communities.

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 graduated Summa Cum Laude from N.Y.U. with a BS in Cultural Anthropology. Much of her coursework focused on the study of gender, identity, race, religion, sexual orientation from a global perspective.

Claire lives in New York with her husband and their three boys.

Jason Craige Harris

Pollyanna Consultant

Jason Craige Harris is a leading voice for organizational healing and societal transformation. He is an equity and belonging strategist, conflict mediator, and restorative justice practitioner. Jason is also a longtime social justice educator, group facilitator, leadership coach, and spiritual guide. He consults in a variety of contexts, with constituents of every age and role, across sectors. Jason is a Consultant at Pollyanna, a national organization working to promote racial literacy and cultural competency, as well as a Partner and Senior Advisor at Perception Institute & Strategies, an international consulting firm and research consortium that promotes empirically grounded solutions to gaps in dignity, equity, and belonging in workplaces and their work.

Jason also sits on the boards of Inwood Academy, Seeds of Peace, Hidden Water, and Getting to We.

Josie Hoeber

Teen Pollyanna Intern

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

Teen Pollyanna Intern

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!

Julia Kingsdale

Project Manager for Pollyanna’s High School Racial Literacy

Julia Kingsdale is an educator and diversity trainer with more than a decade of experience teaching and developing curriculum for students in grades K-16. She has worked in both the public and independent school settings in the U.S. as well as Israel, Palestine, and the Republic of Georgia. Julia recently completed her Master’s Degree in critical race education studies at the University of Utah, where her research focused on identifying and counteracting settler colonial ideologies in K-12 curricula. She has also conducted original research on the use of antiracist curricula in predominantly white classrooms (book chapter forthcoming), the transracial adoption of Black and African American children by white parents, and local narratives of gentrification in Brooklyn. Julia holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Harvard University, where she studied History of Science and Health Policy.

Jacqueline Nelson

Pollyanna Partner

A progressive educator and equity practitioner, Jacqueline Nelson has taught in and worked with K-12, co-ed, and single-gender independent schools for over a decade. As an early childhood educator, with a master’s in General and Special Early Childhood Education from Bank Street School of Education, a DEIJ practitioner, and consultant, Jacqueline leverages her experience in the classroom and as a member of senior leadership to design and facilitate a number of diversity initiatives and equity programs including student and adult race-based affinity groups, K-12 anti-bias curriculum design, professional development centered around culturally responsive teaching, and DEI parent engagement.

With a resolute commitment to inclusive excellence and educational equity, in addition to her role as the director of equity and inclusion at an independent school in Connecticut, Jacqueline serves as Vice-Chair of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) Commission on Diversity at Independent Schools (CODIS); is a former member of the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) Diversity Committee; is a trained SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) leader.

Sofia Ortiz

Pollyanna Marketing Intern

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.

Chelsea Schuster

Pollyanna Marketing Partner

Chelsea Schuster is the founder of Audacious Impact, a cause-marketing consulting firm helping nonprofits expand their reach and drive meaningful engagement with stakeholders and investors.

Prior to consulting, Chelsea spent nearly a decade managing communications, stakeholder engagement, and fundraising initiatives at leading civic organizations and startups including Generation Citizen, Citizens Union, Common Cause New York, and Nextdoor.

She received an M.S. in Nonprofit Management from The New School for Public Engagement and a B.A. in Political Science and English from the University of North Florida. Chelsea currently resides in South Florida with her husband, daughter, and cat Moia. 

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

Pollyanna Founder

Casper Caldarola founded the New York based, non-profit, Pollyanna in 2015. Casper has worn many hats in independent schools: alum, parent, administrator, and trustee, and saw different levels of commitment to DEI work. She felt and still feels the most important aspect of this work is to keep the academic, social, and emotional needs of the student at the center. Casper founded Pollyanna to support the schools that have made a commitment to building a more inclusive school community through multi-constituent conference models, workshops, community  assessments and racial literacy curriculum.

Casper’s experience includes serving as president of the Dalton School Parents Association. During her tenure, she created a more inclusive community, developed a new budgeting structure making it possible for parents of different socioeconomics to volunteer, hosted more events at school to take the pressure off of in-home hosting, and introduced monthly topic-driven parent discussions to find additional ways to bring the community together. In addition, Casper was the Communications Director at the Allen-Stevenson School and was tasked with helping to develop and implement equity initiatives, such as, developing a more inclusive hiring process and creating Parent Chats with topics that focused on DEI. 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 was on the strategic plan steering 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.

Rebecca Gamzon

Rebecca Danziger Gamzon is an experienced educator who has worked and volunteered in public, private and charter schools. She recently served on the Board of Trustees at her alma mater, the Spence School, where she helped lead the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee and served as Vice President of its Parents’ Association. Rebecca was a founding member of the Framers Board of Civics Unplugged, a national leadership and civic engagement program for high school students. She earned her Master of Science in Early Adolescence from Bank Street College of Education and a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University in American Studies.

Destynée Johnson - Jr. Trustee

Currently, a junior at Packer Collegiate School, and a Pollyanna intern leading Teen Pollyanna interns this summer and also manages our database.

Addeson Lehv

Addeson Lehv was our inaugural Jr. Trustee while he was a junior and senior at Trinity School. He will attend Columbia University beginning in the fall 2021.

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.

Leah Johnson - 2015-18 Founding Trustee

Advisory Board

Josh Bachrach
Josh Bachrach is in his 18th year as an English teacher and House Advisor at the Dalton School. In his time at the school, he has served as English Department Chair, Grade Level Coordinator for 6th and 8th grades, Environmental Club sponsor, and a coach of various sports teams. He has worked with the student contingent at Dalton’s Diversity/Community conference since its inception over a decade ago. He is the proud parent of a 2nd grader and a 4th grader.
Deirdre Davis
A seasoned Intellectual Property lawyer, Deirdre Davis is currently Trademark Counsel with the General Counsel Office’s (GCO) Intellectual Property Law and Strategy team at American Express. She handles all aspects of trademark-related and content-related copyright matters and legal strategy on an enterprise-wide, global basis. Deirdre is also a member of the GCO Diversity Council and a 2015 Leadership Council for Legal Diversity (“LCLD”) Fellow.
Amalia Delicari
Amalia Delicari is a Principal Gifts Officer at Weill Cornell Medicine where she leads the fundraising effort for the Departments of Medicine, ENT and Ophthalmology. Prior to that she led the fundraising effort for the Division of Rheumatology at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). Previously, Amalia was Program and Public Affairs Officer at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), where she developed collaborations with diverse international stakeholders including grantees, other foundations and government officials, and was responsible for all communication matters in the U.S.
Lois Durant
Lois Durant is the Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Talent Management Strategy at Sheppard Mullin where she leads the firm’s internal and external D&I efforts as well as the development, implementation and supervision of talent management initiatives for its lawyers. Lois has worked across all functional areas of talent management and was recognized in 2020 by Crain’s New York Business for her accomplishments, mentorship skills and community involvement within the talent management and D&I fields in the publication’s “Notable Women in Talent Resources” list.
Courtney Greenbaum
Courtney Greenbaum is a Senior Associate at MediaLink, a management consulting firm that provides strategic advisory services to companies in the media, marketing, entertainment and technology industries. The majority of her career has been in the music/entertainment industry specializing in traditional and nontraditional endorsement deals for entities across companies such as Scooter Braun Projects, Nylon Media, United Entertainment Group and William Morris Endeavor.
Lisa Johnson
Lisa Johnson is the Founder and Executive Director of Private School Village (PSV), a parent-led nonprofit that builds community for Black families in private schools. She is also a graduate of a K-12 independent school in Atlanta, Ga, and a Trustee at the one her children currently attend in Los Angeles, CA.
Odell Lambroza
Odell Lambroza has been in the financial services business for over 25 years, managing groups at some of the major global investment banks from Merrill Lynch to Societe Generale. He currently serves a principal and portfolio manager at Advent Capital Management LLC, a global investment management firm.
Marianne Macrae
Marianne Macrae is Managing Director of Family Philanthropy at Robin Hood. She joined Robin Hood in 2003 and oversees a range of family-oriented programs designed to instill in children, teens and young adults a lifelong passion for philanthropy.
Nishant Mehta

After seven impactful years as head of The Children’s School in midtown Atlanta, Nishant founded Mehta Cognition, LLC in spring 2020 as a management consultancy to better serve our educational and non-profit leaders and boards on their journey of innovation, inclusion, and transformation. In addition, Nishant currently serves as the Managing Director and Independent Schools Practice Leader for Storbeck Search, a member of the Diversified Search Group.

Eri Noguchi
Eri Noguchi serves as the Associate Executive Director of Association to Benefit Children, and also teaches part-time at Columbia University School of Social Work and Roosevelt House at Hunter College. She serves on the board of directors of US Basic Income Guarantee, Inc. and the Human Services Consortium of East Harlem. She has also served as a parent volunteer for Pollyanna DEI Conferences since 2011.
Jennifer Vermont-Davis
Jennifer Vermont-Davis is an educator, visionary leader, facilitator, but most importantly she is a champion of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. She is a change shaper who works to disrupt and reduce racism in our schools and our society. As the Chair of Community Life + Diversity at The Allen-Stevenson school, Jennifer is called to make sure we have a racially just and equitable world for all students. She does this by confronting systemic racism, challenging privilege, and engaging others in relationship building, to overcome the legacy of racial hierarchy and social inequity.
Barri Waltcher
Barri Waltcher is a New York City-based career advisor who specializes in advancing women’s careers and supporting professionals in the non-profit sector. Barri also has a strong personal commitment to non-profit leadership. She served on the Board of Trustees of the Dalton School and President of Temple Shaaray Tefila.
Scott Warren
Scott Warren is the founder and former CEO of Generation Citizen, a national civics education organization. He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins, where he is implementing and researching a number of initiatives related to promoting democratic engagement and participation, and a Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, focused on an initiative on fortifying democracy in American and European cities.

Recommended Speakers

Charles Blow, Journalist

Jennifer Bryant, Founder Team Finch

Derrick Gay, Diversity & Inclusion Consultant

Rodney Glasgow Director National Diversity Practitioners Institute

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