Meet the 2020-2021 Power of 3:00 Ambassadors Cohort!

Learn more about our 2020-2021 Power of 3:00 Ambassador Cohort! These 12 individuals will work closely with our Policy Department over the course of a year to become dedicated advocates for New York’s youth and families. Read their bios below to learn more about them.

Wanda Cooper, Rochester

Wanda Cooper has more than 20 years of experience and an extensive background in the non-profit sector. She has a Bachelor’s in Community and Human Services from SUNY Empire State College and is currently pursuing her doctorate for Organizational Change and Leadership at the University of Southern California.

Wanda has earned several community and academic awards and has served many boards and committees. She currently serves as the Regional Executive Director for the Rochester Region at Hillside Work Scholarship Connection.

Wanda has participated in several initiatives that work towards empowering women and young girls.  By sharing her story of how she overcame the perils of domestic violence, she has influenced numerous women to pursue better personal relationships, career paths, and educational goals.

Wanda understands the importance of respecting all people, which is of the utmost importance for our society – where families are experiencing significant losses, difficulties, poverty, etc. She believes that the best and only approach to serving our community is to meet each individual with the utmost respect, and with the focus of partnering with those in need to find the best way to help.

Twitter: @HillsideHWSC

LinkedIn: Wanda LinkedIn

Angela St. Laurent, Liverpool

Angela St. Laurent is a creative, hardworking, reliable and dedicated school-age childcare (SACC) professional who has worked in different capacities for the past ten years. A former childcare teacher, Angela began her professional experience working with school-aged children at BASCOL, as a Site Director in various schools in Liverpool, NY in April 2010. She is now a Program Manager at BASCOL on a full-time basis, where she is she is responsible for ensuring the sites comply and adhere to all school-aged childcare regulations and BASCOL policies and procedures.  Angela has also earned her SAC Credential and is an Endorser for the SAC Credential Program.

Angela was taught that her voice is necessary for change to happen. She has participated in the Network’s previous Advocacy Days and enjoyed speaking with legislators and their staff to share how afterschool matters to the children in their districts. Angela is also very proud to speak up on behalf of the children in her program and the staff that takes care of them.

Facebook: BASCOL Childcare

Bonnie Fogarty, White Plains

Bonnie Fogarty has been a cause-driven Y leader for the past 17 years. Starting her YMCA career as a Child Care Director, Bonnie’s passion and dedication translated into every aspect of her position.  Bonnie’s creative thinking and boundless energy enabled her to become a well-versed leader and in 2014 she was named Executive Director of the Community YMCA, the YMCA of Central & Northern Westchester’s most prosperous branch.

Bonnie’s ability to create connections with families and the community at-large assisted in her adding the Camp Combe YMCA to her leadership in 2016. Known for her creativity and resourcefulness, Bonnie has an eye for detail and demand for excellence in all she does. These skills guarantee success for the Y, now and in the future, in her current position as the Executive Director for the entire YMCA of CNW association. Bonnie currently serves as a board member for the Child Care Council of Dutchess and Putnam, promoting affordable and quality childcare, providing information and support to families, and strengthening the early childhood workforce in Dutchess and Putnam Counties. She is excited for her participation as a 2020-2021 Power of 3:00 Ambassador and for the opportunities to focus on initiatives and policies that promote the importance of afterschool programming. Bonnie lives in Hopewell Junction with her husband, Brian; their two children, Ethan and Magnolia; and their dog Cooper. She enjoys reading, cooking, gardening, and spending time with her family and friends.

Jessica Stasi, Manhattan

Jessica Stasi is the owner of Snapology of Manhattan, a women-led educational enrichment program that teaches S.T.E.A.M Concepts to children ages 2-14 using a play-based inclusive format. The Manhattan location is a mission-driven organization, often partnering with Title I Schools and supporting students in underserved areas.

Jessica is also Co-Chair of the Leadership Council of the Special Olympics New York Organization. The Leadership Council promotes awareness and raises funds in an effort to support Special Olympics New York. Individuals from diverse backgrounds come together to work towards one common goal: to promote Special Olympics New York’s mission of empowering children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities through year-round Olympic-style athletic training and competition.

Most recently, Jessica founded the mission-based organization, The Special Project. The firm strives to bring a variety of progressive, quality, well vetted resources and classes to the special needs community in a private, supportive, non-judgmental, and sympathetic environment. Students are supported both virtually and in-person in a boutique atmosphere that promotes inclusion. Jessica holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Education.

Instagram; Facebook; LinkedIn ; Media Mentions 

Ashley Mebert, Manhattan

Ashley Mebert serves as the director of afterschool programming and manager of strategic programs at Harlem Link Charter School, overseeing an on-site Pre-K-5th Grade program and school garden. She is also the school liaison for the After All Network, coordinating school referrals and instructional partnerships with the SCAN-Harbor and Children’s Aid sites in Harlem.

Initially a community organizer, she coached middle schoolers in public speaking and community surveying as they pushed the NYC City Council to make DOE School Food universally free and locally sourced. She additionally served as an Americorps VISTA in East Harlem, with a focus on localized participatory budgeting and neighborhood food access, and as a graduate student researcher at Sesame Workshop, focusing on play-based learning. She has since helped found a DYCD middle school program in Brooklyn and currently promotes a play-to-learn curriculum in her present elementary school program.

 Ashley is a two-time Hunter College alumna, and hopes to continue supporting pathways for students to foster their confidence and creativity through advocacy and art.

Sharese Vanterpool, The Bronx

Sharese E. Vanterpool is the CEO and Founder of Encouragement and Enrichment Motivational Services. She is a firm believer of channeling energy to solve problems rather than complaining about them. Originally from St. Thomas, Ms. Vanterpool is a native from The Bronx and a product of afterschool programs. She worked in afterschool programs as a teen and ran a Super Saturday program while working as a CASAC counselor in an out-patient program in The Bronx. Her pride and joy has always been about working with children.

In 2019, Ms. Vanterpool and her afterschool program adopted the Alexander Alley Community Park in The Bronx. Alexander Alley Community Park was closed for 25 years and needed care and cleaning. Encouragement and Enrichment Motivational Services worked to clean and reopen the park for the community.

Ms. Vanterpool has received numerous citations from local and state legislators, as well as from the New York City public advocate for her outstanding commitment to community building, and for being an excellent teacher and community leader. Ms. Vanterpool is bringing her expertise and community love to the City of Albany, while still actively overseeing her prevention Super Saturday program in The Bronx.

Ms. Vanterpool currently works at Delaware Community School as a substitute teacher and is currently working on opening an afterschool program in downtown Albany. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Community and Human services with a minor in Education.

Jessica Case, Troy

Jessica Case is currently the Youth Program Director at Hope 7 Community Center and has been with their program since August 2019. Living in a small town in the Hilltowns, Jessica lives with her loving husband and two incredible young boys who between all of them, keep her on her toes!

Growing up in the small town of Berne, New York, Jessica always knew working with children was a passion of hers. While still in high school, Jessica attended the Early Childhood Education program at Albany BOCES where her passion for working with young children increased tremendously. After graduating, Jessica attended SUNY Cobleskill and received her Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Following that, Jessica worked as a lead teacher for children ages 6 months – 12 years old in different daycares and school-aged settings and later transitioned into a Director position at a local preschool. Here, she learned how much she loved working with young children and their families, and other education professionals.

Jessica has grown a new passion for advocating for our youth. Inspired by attending events such as Advocacy Day at the State Capitol has fueled her fire to continue being a voice for our children and the need for programs such as afterschool and summer camps. She looks forward to learning from this new opportunity so she can share her passion with others. Jessica also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from ASPEN University.

Facebook: Hope 7 Community Center 

Twitter: Hope 7 Community Center

Maria DiVito, Buffalo

Maria DiVito grew up participating in dance as an afterschool activity and learned the value of afterschool recreational activities. This helped fuel her passion for sharing her love of dance and having a “second home” for children today.  Her journey as an afterschool professional began as a 21st Century enrichment dance teacher and lead teacher, and she transitioned to became an assistant program director for 21st CCLC programs.  She is currently the Extended School Day/Violence Prevention site facilitator for BestSelf Behavioral Health at Buffalo School 6 and has been in this role for more than 4 years.

One of her favorite aspects of her role is working with students, creating long lasting relationships, and seeing how much they can grow academically, socially, and emotionally from year to year. She is passionate about introducing children to new experiences and creating opportunities for those students to expand and reach their future career goals. In her free time, she continues to teach recreational and competitive dance and instills the importance of commitment and dedication to a passion.

Pamela Payne, Brooklyn

As a parent advocate for the past seventeen years, Pamela Payne found a way to fulfill her passion and to give parents an authentic and genuine voice. She is the founder and CEO of Professional Advocacy Mentorship (PAM). PAM provides workshops and consulting services to low-income parents whose children are in public or charter schools or are beneficiaries of government-funded programs. PAM helps parents release their creative potential. The goal of PAM is to prepare parents to assist their children academically by engaging in advocacy in a professional manner. PAM encourages and inspires parents, leaders, volunteers, donors, and community partners; thus, strengthening families one community school district at a time.

As CEO, Pamela engages in meaningful partnerships and collaborations to help further and deepen parents/students’ academic successes. She leads by example, and she sets and protects the organizational culture as a change agent that empowers parent leaders. She is a catalyst for parental administrative leadership. She integrates her experience from her two decades in the corporate sector in her current role. In these changing times, Pamela believes that parents with children in the New York City Public School System are stakeholders; therefore, if you educate a parent, you educate a child.

Jasimen Washington, Bronx

Jasimen Washington works for New York Edge, the largest non-profit organization across NYC and Staten Island. She oversees the daily operations of TAPCo middle school serving up to 90 students. TAPCo is a DYCD funded program located in the South Bronx Fordham Heights area.

Jasimen was inspired to work in Youth Development in 2006. She was a homework helper at an elementary school in the Bronx with a high Spanish population, where the students wanted to participate in cheer, but the class was at capacity. She decided to teach a hip-hop beginner’s class every day after homework help. She and her students did so well they made it in the Chase Contest. Jasimen’s students were so proud, and she was happy to have given them a skill that opened a new world for them.

14 years later, Jasimen is still striving for excellence for her youth. She loves her career and wants to continue to impact youth in a positive way. She believes that youth development is the foundation to a better world because it is about shaping the minds of youth in New York City.

Her organization’s mission is “to build leaders to give back, to get back”, thus to provide young people with the tools to navigate change within their communities. Jasimen feels that her performing arts background helps her understand that drive, and she wants to instill that drive in her students.

Jennifer Van Dusen, Buffalo

Jennifer Van Dusen is the Director of School-Based Services for BestSelf Behavioral Health’s Building Brighter Futures. Here, Jenn oversees 5 school-based, public-funded afterschool programs that serve grades K-12. In addition to those programs, she supervises the department’s Academic and Sports Coordinators who implement supplemental program services across the department’s 20+ programs.

Jenn began her career in education and youth services in 2007 when she graduated with her B.S. in Early Childhood and Childhood Education. She earned her NYS Teacher Certifications and taught grades 1 and 2 in a rural school district until 2009. As a Masters’ candidate at Buffalo State College, she developed and implemented a pilot Supplemental Educational Services (SES) afterschool program with support from two professors and partnership with the college’s Center for Excellence in Urban and Rural Education (CEURE). When SES funding was eliminated, Jenn had no desire to return to the classroom after having been exposed to and subsequently falling in love with the afterschool world.

Jenn believes that afterschool is vital for youth’s success and must be sustained to bridge the gaps left within the current constraints of the education system. After 10 years of direct afterschool service, Jenn now works to support program coordinators: She is committed to mentor, develop, and support emerging leaders in the field as she also learns, grows, and develops new skills and knowledge. Jenn is looking forward to advocating for the afterschool programs she so dearly loves, as well as the professionals working within them, but most importantly the children and families who rely on the services they provide.

Facebook: Building Brighter Futures at BestSelf

Marcia Tobin-Drake, Rockville Centre

Marcia Tobin-Drake has been the CEO and Founder of Hands-On-Now-The Arts Children Services, Inc., an organization based in Rockville Centre, since 2008. The organization provides quality childcare to impoverished communities in Nassau County, allowing children to access a variety of services such as professional tennis lessons, horseback riding lessons, Brazilian jiu jitsu lessons, ballet classes, and so much more. She was born and raised in Grenada, West Indies to a teenage mom and moved to the United States at age 14 to seek “the more” that life had to offer.  The trauma of living in an underdeveloped country, coupled with the challenge of being the child of a teenage mother drove her to become an advocate of children. The disparities she sees in the community her organization currently serves is something she is familiar with.

Marcia is driven to impact her community by addressing the challenges in navigating single parenthood, childcare, and work.  The life lessons she has learned from living in two different cultures and two different continents has given her a depth of responsibility and ownership to change lives, while breaking the systemic challenges that affect impoverished communities.