KEVIN THOMSEN, Founder & President; member Board of Directors,
JILL VEXLER,Cultural Anthropologist & Curator,
Above all, Dr. Vexler’s priority was transforming her rich fieldwork experiences into hands-on “anthropology for children” exhibitions about world cultures for children’s museums throughout the United States. Beginning in 1979 with the 7,000 sq. ft. MEXICO! exhibition for the Capital Children’s Museum in Washington, DC, all of these exhibitions are steeped in rigorous field research and collection of authentic cultural artifacts used in daily and ritual lives of the cultures. Dr. Vexler’s abilities to engage with peoples of different cultures enable her to infuse each project with the rapport, integrity and respect essential to all such endeavors.
JON HAMM, Educational Consultant, Board of Directors,
MIKE MOHAMAD, Board of Directors, has been head of marketing and promotion at two U.S. TV networks: NBC, where he is credited with the development of the iconic peacock logo, and A&E Networks, where he helped launch The History Channel in the U.S. and internationally. In 2014, the three-time Emmy Award winner led programming and marketing for the launch EDAN, an ambitious entertainment TV channel distributed by Canal+ to 24 countries in French-speaking Africa. Mike has owned and partnered in two advertising agencies serving TV clients, including MCA Universal Television. He is currently a partner in two entertainment companies, DMSM Marketing and Sygnificant Productions, both based in New York.
JON ROSKIL, Board of Directions, Mr. Jon Roskill serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Acumatica, Inc., the fastest growing vendor of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions in the Cloud. Previously Mr. Roskill served as the Corporate Vice President of the Worldwide Partner Group at Microsoft Corporation from 2010 to 2013 where he led the teams responsible for Microsoft’s worldwide Channel of 630,000 Partners, as well as associated programs & incentives. From 2004 -2010 Roskill served as Corporate Vice President, Business & Marketing Organization of Microsoft North America where he led the teams responsible for all marketing activities for Microsoft’s commercial products (everything except Xbox & MSN), products together producing revenue in excess of $20b. From 1998 to 2004 he served as General Manager of Developer and .NET Enterprise Server marketing at Microsoft, where he led a team responsible for the marketing and product management of the industry-leading Microsoft SQL Server database software, Microsoft’s Internet server products – Commerce Server, BizTalk Server and Application Center – and the Microsoft family of component-based development tools, lead by Microsoft Visual Studio, together used by 85 percent of professional developers worldwide. He started at Microsoft in 1993 as the product manager of the industry leading development tool, Visual Basic. Prior to Microsoft, he worked at Digital Equipment Corporation, in product management and engineering roles on projects including the Digital AlphaPC and Digital’s Fault Tolerant line of computers. Mr. Roskill has been a Member of Board of Governors at Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Inc., since 2013, he also serves as a Director of Boys & Girls Clubs Of King County, and he is an active investor and advisor in the Northwest start-up scene. Mr. Roskill received a BSEE Summa Cum Laude from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and an M.B.A. from Boston University.
STEFAN McGRATH, Board of Directors, practices corporate law in NYC. He has traveled extensively, gaining a deep appreciation of other cultures. He’s a graduate of Harvard Law School.
BRIAN KNOSTMAN,Education Consultant,
DR. L.A. GABAY,Educational Consultant,
MARYA BAKER,Educational Consultant,
PHIL ALCABES,Video Production,
Phil and Roundhead develop programming for major TV networks. Phil’s has directed long established live network programs, has been a production Consultant for CBS and a long time producer for Showtime Networks. He has held key producing and technical positions on major network shows, and has produced programming for broadcast for WABC, CBS, PBS, Rodale Press, Meredith Magazines and more.
Recently Phil helped the launch of the new Franco-African Broadcast Network, EDAN, where he was the Creative Director in charge of Marketing and Promotions.
DENISSE BENITEZ,Photography & Design Consultant,
Vanessa Koi-Ploski, Graphic design. As a Creative Director, Vanessa blends her knowledge of design, writing, and marketing with practical, creative solutions and technologies. She has designed branding and communications for startups as well as some of the world’s most successful organizations, including Yale University, Schlumberger, Nabisco and Johnson & Johnson. Vanessa’s work has been recognized by the American Institute of Graphic Artists (AIGA), Print Magazine, and Communication Arts. As time permits she likes to support organizations that promote education that leads our children toward a greater understanding through empathy, rational thought and democracy, so all the other matters will eventually yield to a mighty wave of justice. She believes we need schools that encourage our children to love the world so much that they will save it. Vanessa received her BFA in Communication Arts from Parsons School of Design.
Risa B. HOAG, PRESIDENT: GMG PUBLIC RELATIONS
Risa founded GMG Public Relations in 1991. She has worked on numerous prestigious accounts including The Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research, Helmsley Hotels, The Tourism Board of Scotland, AMC and IMAX Theatres, and Morton’s Steakhouse. Locally she has worked with PLI Realty, M1 Capital, Bounce! Trampoline Sports, Keep Rockland Beautiful, Meals on Wheels, The Arts Council of Rockland, The Rockland County Women’s Bar Association, Coupé Dance Studio, The NYS Commission for Social Justice, and The Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board. Her ability to see every business through a creative lens, makes her a valuable business partner.
Risa is the past president of the Westchester Association of Women Business Owners, past board member of the Orange & Rockland Utilities Community Investment Grant Committee, founder and current president of The Greater Nanuet Chamber of Commerce and Executive Vice President of the Rockland Business Women’s Network and received that organization’s Service Woman of the Year Award in 2017. She is a Board Member at Meals on Wheels of, co-founder of the Rockland Chamber Alliance and Chair of the Marketing and Communications Sub Committee for the Clarkstown Business and Economic Development Advisory Committee.
AMY HENRY, Play/Child Development Expert and Partnership Consultant, has spent twenty years as an applied researcher and strategist in the youth space. She has deep expertise in play, which she has used to bring playful and engaging experiences to families with kids through teens.
Amy has worked as a consultant, advisor and research partner to a range of best in class brands in the youth space, including Disney, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Cartoon Network, National Geographic Kids, Netflix, Chick-fil-A, Kellogg, Nickelodeon, MTV, Frito-Lay, CommonSense Media, The American Heart Association, and The Boy Scouts of America.
Amy was selected as last year’s Family Travel Association research partner, in conjunction with members of the Tourism/Travel Dept. at NYU. She has been invited to share her insights on creating kid, teen and family programs to a broad range of companies and brands in the travel and hospitality space. She is also an expert on Gen Z, most recently serving as a keynote speaker at the Gen Z Conference.
Her previous posts included Chief Strategy Officer at Strottman International, chief author and strategist for C+R Research’s YouthBeat service, head of research at The Family Room, and partner at Insight Strategy Group. She started her career at Leo Burnett in Chicago, and made her first-full-time foray into the kid space at The Geppetto Group. Amy earned her Ed.D. in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, and is a Ph.D. candidate in Childhood Studies at Rutgers University (where her dissertation focuses on teens and play in the outdoors). Her formative work in the kid space came from studying with professors in the Education Dept. at Dartmouth.
She is the lucky mom of two boys and lives in the Philly suburb of Haddonfield, NJ.
PAM GOLDFARB LISS,Children’s Marketing and Testing Consultant,
MELISSA CARROLL,Strategy & Finance, member Board of Directors,
J. ERIC COOK,Program Development Specialist, member Board of Directors,
NONPROFIT WORKS is a New York-based consulting firm that specializes in helping nonprofit organizations and municipalities develop the strategies, skills, and tools they need to help themselves — and the communities they serve. They work with clients to identify areas of strength and potential growth, and help build their capacity to enhance overall effectiveness and create a more sustainable organization.
TARA PIETZ,Director of Donor and Subscriber Communications
CHEF BOBO (AKA ROBERT SURLES),Food Consultant,
In 2006, Chef Bobo was honored with the prestigious Outstanding Alumni Award by the French Culinary Institute. Kiwi Magazine has presented him with their “Crusader Award” for the model school lunch program for private schools, and Calhoun has been named one of the top five Vegetarian Friendly schools in the United States by PETA.
Chef Bobo is on the Advisory Board for Spoons Across America, the source for children’s culinary education dedicated to educating children, teachers, and families about the benefits of healthy eating. Many of his flavorful and nutritious recipes can be found in his book, Chef Bobo’s Good Food Cookbook. (Meredith Books), which received a medal as a Finalist for the IACP Cookbook Award in the Health and Special Diet Category.
PHIL RABE,Packing & Shipping Engineer,
LOREN TOOLAJIAN,Composer & Music Consultant,
DAVID ROBINSON,Virtual Reality Consultant,
ANA A. ESCHEVERRIA MS.Ed, Spanish Translation, thirty years experience as a Spanish language, Literature, and Art History teacher. She has been a Spanish language adjunct instructor at Rockland Community College SUNY for 27 years. She has extensive experience in chaperoning students to Europe for over twenty-five years.
She has a BA in Primary Education and 7-12 in Secondary Education with a bilingual education minor, as well as a Masters in Education with a component in Spanish literature from Iona College, New Rochelle. She has 30 graduate credits in Advanced School Psychology from Fordham University at Lincoln Center.
Combine Media, Web Development & Digital Marketing
K&L GATES,Pro Bono Legal Counsel,
RHINO TRUNKS,Trunk Manufacturer,
BOARD OF ADVISORS
Fabiola Riobe is an international researcher, expert, and education advocate. Dignitaries and executives across the world applaud her business acumen and management accomplishments. A natural leader, Fabiola is a powerhouse in the boardroom and a woman of action on the ground championing cultural diversity at every level. Raised in the outskirts of New York City, educated in Paris, France; Montreal, Canada, and top-tier estabas firsthand knowledge of the importance of a global perspective in today’s workforce. In her current role as president and executive director of Community Colleges for International Development, she brings together some of the world’s most leading education experts to foster the exchange of proven strategies and cultivate relationships within the education, business, government sectors. Fabiola’s rich multi-cultural heritage and blended family lineage fuels her passion for bringing about change in communities that need it most.
John has had a lengthy career in the arts. He is an award-winning director and writer, with stage, opera, film, and television projects in New York, Los Angeles, London, Munich, and elsewhere. He’s worked at Sundance, the Eugene O’Neill Center, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival alongside the top artists in the field, including Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, and many others. As a writer, he developed scripts for major studios, and won multiple writing awards. He was a co-founder of Annex Theatre in Seattle, now in its 30th year.
In 2011, Mr. Lawler opened ArTES Magnet, an inner city public school offering a first-class academic education to prepare underserved students for college, and rigorous training in the arts to teach them 21st century skills. ArTES was named a California Gold Ribbon School and recognized by the Arts Schools Network as an Exemplary Arts School. In 2016, Mr. Lawler was honored as the Administrator of the Year for Los Angeles Unified School District, and in 2018, he became principal of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, one of the top conservatory-style schools in the US. As a leader in arts education, Mr. Lawler has encouraged an atmosphere of innovation, creativity, and visionary thinking, and sees arts schools as the incubator of ideas addressing learning and education reform.
Steve Nelson has been Head of School at the Calhoun School, on Manhattan’s Upper Westside, since 1998. Calhoun is one of America’s most notable progressive schools and serves 750 students, from pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade. Calhoun is particularly well regarded for its commitment to diversity and social justice.
Since 1997 Steve has been a columnist for the Valley News, the daily newspaper in the mid-VT/NH area on both sides of the Connecticut River. He has been a regular contributor to the Huffington Post since 2010, writing about education and politics. Before assuming his current position, he worked as an administrator at Vermont Law School and Landmark College. He is an avid violinist and also served for six years as President of a performing arts school in the Midwest.
Steve has competed in many marathons, triathlons, bicycle races and XC ski races, with steadily decreasing success. He now primarily races the grim reaper.
He is married to Wendy Nelson, has two children, Jennifer and Christopher, and three perfect grandchildren – Quinn, Maddie and Jack.