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Board of Directors



Sue Atkins

Sue Atkins is a Managing Director at JPMorgan, specializing in Corporate Restructuring. She has a degree in Education from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA in Finance from the University of Minnesota. In addition to serving on LitWorld's Executive Board, she volunteers for the Big Brother Big Sister program and the Parents Advisory Committee at Kenyon College. Sue lives with her husband, Eben Shapiro, and her two children in New York City.

Chernor Bah

Chernor Bah is a youth advocate and former refugee from Sierra Leone. Following years of civil war in his country, he founded and led the Children’s Forum Network, Sierra Leone’s children parliament. In that role, Chernor presented a report on the experience of Sierra Leonean children to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 2002, Chernor served as Junior Executive Producer of a UN Children/youth radio project, designed to involve young people in Sierra Leone’s post conflict discourse. Since then Chernor has worked with youth in Liberia, Lebanon, Haiti, Uganda and other emergency settings, leading efforts to strengthen youth voices in development and policy processes. A former UNFPA Special Youth Fellow, Chernor co-wrote a report titled "Will You Listen-Young Voices from Conflict Zones" and co-led the Youth Zones initiative. Chernor holds an MA in Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame and a Bachelors degree from the University of Sierra Leone.

Mabel Bejarano

Mabel Bejarano is the Director of Round Star Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access to soccer training and practice and extending the many benefits soccer provides to any individual. Mabel has worked in the field of education, youth development and social services for the past 10 years. Before joining Round Star, Mabel worked as the Education Senior Program Manager at United Way of New York City, the Summer Activities Coordinator and Spanish Teacher at a community based organization called Little Sisters of the Assumption, and as an English Teacher with children and youth in South Korea. She also worked as a counselor at CESIP, a center that provides social services to low income communities in Cali-Colombia. Mabel holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Javeriana University in Colombia and a Master's degree in Nonprofit Management from Milano, The Newschool for Management and Urban Policy. Mabel has a special interest in the arts and was one of the founder members of a nonprofit organization created to promote contemporary dance in Colombia. Mabel has volunteered with different nonprofit organizations in the USA and in Colombia including Canto por la Vida (a Music School in Colombia) and Bushwick Impact in NYC. Her professional career goal is to improve the quality of life of children and youth from underserved communities around the world.

Sophie Belisha (Treasurer)

Sophie Belisha, CPA, is a Manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Banking and Capital Markets Assurance group. Sophie is a former lieutenant in the Education Division of the Israeli Defense Forces where she taught underprivileged minorities and immigrant soldiers, providing them with a second opportunity to access literacy and education. Sophie holds a B.Sc. in accounting (Cum Laude) from Lander College, New York. Sophie currently lives in New York with her husband Itamar.

Lauren Blum

Lauren Blum is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner. For 24 years she has worked with children and adolescents in a variety of practice settings across New York including a school-based clinic, family shelter, child advocacy center, and most recently in private practice. Lauren is a founding member of the LitWorld Advisory Council and has traveled to LitWorld’s international programming sites in Kenya and Haiti. She plans to return to LitWorld's Innovation Hub in Port-au-Prince with the non-profit organization Hands Up for Haiti to conduct health training sessions with the LitClub participants there. Lauren is a longtime volunteer at the Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, New York. For over 10 years she has been working with adolescent boys in the foster care system to ignite a passion for reading through the Books for Boys program, and spearheaded the FLY program (Foundations for Literate Youth) there. Lauren's interest in the interrelationship between literacy and health has fueled her commitment and involvement with LitWorld. Lauren holds a B.Sc. in Nursing from Emory University, Atlanta and a M.Sc. in Nursing from Columbia University, New York.

Christine J. Chao

Christine J. Chao is currently General Counsel of the Foremost Group, an international shipping company. Christine has extensive corporate and commercial law experience having worked in senior legal positions for three Fortune 100 companies: GE, Federal Express, and Ultramar Corporation. Christine began her legal career upon graduation from Columbia Law School with the Wall Street law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf focusing on M&A, US securities, leasing and project finance. Christine holds a Bachelor of Arts from Colgate University and currently serves as a Trustee for her alma mater as well as the Foremost Foundation, which strives to help young people access higher education and greater opportunities generally. After living abroad in Hong Kong,China and London, England, Christine now resides in Greenwich, CT with her husband and two sons.

Sabrina Conyers

Sabrina Conyers is an associate at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, specializing in corporate transactions, real estate finance and tax law. Sabrina has an LLM in Taxation from NYU Law School (2010). She received her JD from Columbia Law School (2004) and her BA from Morgan State University (1999). In the nonprofit sector, Sabrina assists clients with the formation of nonprofit corporations and securing exemption from federal income taxation. She also provides general corporate counseling to nonprofit organizations advising them on a broad range of operating issues including corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, structuring subsidiaries, grants management, program related investments and other tax issues. Sabrina also serves as a frequent lecturer on the legal issues facing nonprofit organizations. Sabrina lives with her husband, Justin Conyers and their two children in New Jersey.

Jeff DaPuzzo

Jeff DaPuzzo is a former advertising executive turned educator. Jeff currently divides his time as a 6th grade math teacher at Girls Prep Middle School, parent homemaker, freelance photographer and private investor. He was accepted into the NYC Teaching Fellows program in 2003 after an 18-year corporate career in marketing and advertising.  He has a BS in Business Administration from the University of Denver, and a MS in Education from Mercy College. He has been a Big Brother mentor, served as a volunteer teacher with the New York Civil Rights Coalition, and created a Books For Children project, which generated over 700 books for the St. Aloysius School in Harlem in 1999.  He currently serves on the Vestry of his church and is chairman of his family’s private charitable foundation.  Jeff lives in New York City with his partner Rob and daughter Hadly.

Ellen Fredericks (Chair)

Ellen Fredericks, MCC, is a Managing Partner for Leading Initiatives Worldwide and is on the staff at the University of Texas at Dallas for the Executive Coaching Program. Her clients include executives and leaders from start-up firms, professional practice firms and Fortune 500 companies including Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Chanel, Cisco, Harcourt, and Prudential, among several others. She is one of several hundred coaches worldwide awarded the designation of Master Certified Coach by the International Coach Federation (ICF). Ellen holds a certificate in coaching, a B.S in Computer Science and an M.S. in Management. She attended Executive Management Training Programs at Duke University and Arizona State University. Ellen is a contributing author to the ASTD published book, “Coaching for Extraordinary Results”, the co-author of  “Executive Think Time – Thinking That Gets Results”, “Executive Foundation – 5 Essential Skills for Senior Leaders”, and “From Cross Purposes to Cooperation – The 10 Factors That Unify a Cross Functional Team.”

Dr. Ernest Morrell

Dr. Ernest Morrell is a professor of English Education at Teachers College, Columbia University and the president-elect of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). He is also the Director of Teachers College’s Harlem-based Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME). Prior to this, Dr. Morrell was an award winning high school English teacher in Northern California, and he continues to work with teachers, schools and adolescents across the country to infuse multicultural literature, youth popular culture and media production into standards-based literacy curricula and after school programs. Dr. Morrell received his Ph.D. in Language, Literacy and Culture from the University of California at Berkeley where he received the Outstanding Dissertation Award. He is a published author, and his books include Critical Media Pedagogy: Teaching for Achievement in City Schools and Linking Literacy and Popular Culture. In his spare time he coaches youth sports and writes poems and plays.

Nicole Nakashian

Nicole Nakashian is the Managing Director of Client Services at Agio Technology. She has been leading technology teams within the finance industry for over 10 years. Nicole earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from SUNY Albany, a MBA from Long Island University, is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), and holds Series 7 and 63 licenses. Nicole lives with her partner in New York City and is the proud mother of twin girls, Madeline and Avery.