The NYACCE Board
2022-2023 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Program Manager, Capital Region BOCES
Maria has been employed by the Capital Region BOCES since 2015 and began as the Literacy Zone (LZ) Coordinator at the Capital South Campus Center. As LZ coordinator she collaborated with multiple community partners to provide wrap around services for adult learners and residents in the South End, Arbor Hill, and West Hill neighborhoods. In November 2017, Maria became the Program Manager of Adult Education for Capital Region BOCES and now oversees the Adult Education Department, which supports adult learners who wish to earn their High School Equivalency Diploma, improve their English Language skills, or launch a new career in programs like Welding, HVAC, or Engineering.
Maria has a BA from Niagara University in Elementary and Special Education, and after graduating she volunteered in Egypt and Sudan with VOICA, a Catholic organization. Upon returning home, she enrolled in the School of International Training (SIT) in Brattleboro, VT and received her MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management. She’s very passionate about serving others and helping them reach their full potential.
Director, Schenectady City Schools
As the Director of Adult and Continuing Education for Schenectady City School District, Jesse oversees programs enrolling over 2,500 students in HSE, ESL, Career training, incarcerated education, alternative K-12 education, and a rich continuing education program in an inner city environment struggling with poverty and creating successful pathways for its residents. In addition, his office oversees one of the largest High School Equivalency testing facilities in New York State and has created several new training programs working with colleges, employers, community agencies, city agencies, as well as community advocacy groups. Jesse has served on the NYS "TASC" taskforce on the implementation of the new HSE assessment, the Schenectady County College and Career Counseling Center's advisory board, the municipal housing Family Self-Sufficiency board, and is an active member of the New York State Association of Incarcerated Educational Professionals (NYSAIEP), New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP), and ASCD. Jesse has received citations and awards from the Schenectady City Council and the Human Rights Commission for his service to the community.
VP of Events
Assistant Executive Director, Literacy West
Sarah Wyre is the Assistant Executive Director of Literacy West, NY Inc. located in the Southern Tier. Sarah is graduate of Mercyhurst University, where she received a BA in Art Therapy. After graduation, Sarah worked a year for Americorp in her former high school working with “at-risk” youth. That lead her to working as an educator for a teen pregnancy prevention program sponsored by Planned Parenthood in Corning, NY for the following ten years. After returning to her hometown of Belmont, Sarah was given the opportunity to be the Youth Manger at Literacy West, NY Inc. for Allegany County, NY. Sarah later became Program Site Manager for Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, serving both Youth and Adult education programs. Sarah now oversees seven programs within six counties of Western NY. Sarah enjoys spending quality time with her son, Jaxson.
Director of Adult Education, Buffalo Public Schools
Amanda serves as Director of the Adult and Continuing Education Division of the Buffalo Public School District, one of the premier education and workforce skills training providers in the Western New York region. The Division offers TASC test preparation, English as a Second Language and Computer courses, and vocational training at 35 sites around the city.
Coordinator, Putnam-NorthernWestchester BOCES
Alyson has been with the Putnam-Northern Westchester BOCES since 1982. She started her career in Career and Technical Education in 1989 and then became the Coordinator of Adult and Continuing Education in 2004. The adult education program serves over 2500 students per year in Adult Literacy, Continuing Education and Adult CTE programs. Alyson is also a member of the Putnam/Westchester Workforce Board and the Red Carpet of Putnam County.
DELEGATES AT LARGE
Vocational Case Manager, Adult Education, Capital Region BOCES
Tarin grew up in Buffalo, NY, and she is a proud graduate of the University at Buffalo. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English, a minor in marketing, and then a master’s degree in school counseling. Before landing her dream job in education at Capital Region BOCES, Tarin worked primarily in management and human resources and was often tasked with training others to be efficient, effective, and creative employees. Now she assists Adult Education students in achieving their educational and career goals. Every work day is interesting, and it is exciting to hear about student accomplishments, such as earning the High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma or obtaining that first job!
To combine multiple famous quotes and produce an overall paraphrase, Tarin believes in endeavoring to leave every space she enters better than how she found it. She is delighted to join the NYACCE board. Tarin is appreciative of the chance to engage with and learn from a specialized group of intelligent, energized people who add value to their respective programs and their communities.
Coordinator, Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES
Laurie Bargstedt is the Coordinator of Adult Literacy and Corrections Education at Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES. She manages four adult learning centers: Amsterdam Literacy Zone; Gloversville Literacy Zone; and the Fulton and Montgomery Academies inside the County Correctional Facilities. In a career spanning more than 25 years in adult education she has taught basic education, GED preparation, English as a Second Language and workforce readiness in classroom settings and through distance learning programs. She holds a BS in Adult & Community Education, Master’s in Education Administration and is a certified School Administrator and Supervisor. She is a Certified Manager in Program Improvement and a recipient of the Lawrence Levin Award.
Association Representative- NYCCAL
John Hunt, Interim Assistant Dean for Pre-College Programs Continuing Education Division, LaGuardia Community College
John is the Interim Assistant Dean for Pre-College Programs in the Division of Adult and Continuing Education at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) in the borough of Queens in New York City, where he leads a $8M annual portfolio of non-credit programs in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), integrated workforce development, high school equivalency (HSE), remedial education, and educational and career pathways advisement.
With more than 25 years of experience in the adult education and grants development fields, he has launched and managed contextualized ESOL courses and services for civics and citizenship, parent engagement, and workforce development in the healthcare, retail, and hospitality sectors, including the USDOL Hotel T.E.A.C.H curriculum and the NYC Welcome Back Center for immigrant nurses. He has presented nationally on innovative models of integrated ESOL (“NY-BEST”) and career pathways development, immigrant parent engagement, and skilled immigrant career advisement.
He previously taught ESOL in Japan with the JET Program, and in Spain and New York with International House, having earned the RSA Cambridge DELTA teaching diploma, along with degrees from Vassar College, New York University’s Graduate School or Arts and Science, and Baruch’s Marxe School of Public and International Affairs (CUNY). As a first-generation graduate from an immigrant family and a fluent Spanish speaker, he is committed to creating opportunities for new Americans to achieve their American Dreams.
Association Representative- NYATEP
Executive Director, New York Association of Training & Employment Professionals
Melinda Mack is the Executive Director of the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP), a nationally recognized membership association in the field of workforce development. As a steadfast advocate and expert in system’s change; she champions the investment in and expansion of evidence-based practices to improve employment outcomes for New Yorkers; the use of data to drive decision-making; and for eliminating silos that deter from high quality services. Ms. Mack is a co-lead of the Invest in Skills NY initiative and campaign that successfully engaged the State in 2018 to invest more than $175 million in job training and workforce development. In her previous roles, Ms. Mack was the founding Director for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation program, Graduate NYC! and served as the acting Executive Director for the New York City Workforce Board under the Bloomberg Administration. Before working in New York City, Ms. Mack worked in Upstate New York in local government working in both municipal finance and economic development in Buffalo and Albany.
STAC Liaison - Downstate
Director, Literacy Assistance Center
Nell Eckersley has worked at the Literacy Assistance Center in New York City since 2005. She began as a trainer for the ASISTS data management system, then became the New York City RAEN Director, and since 2014 has been the Director of Instructional Technology and Communication. In 2015, she also became manager of the New York City Support and Technical Assistance Center (STAC) for ALE funded adult education programs in New York City. Nell is on the steering committee of the New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy (NYCCAL). Nell was the Technology chair for COABE from 2013 to 2015. She is a LINCS trainer and a partner of the EdTech Center at World Education. Nell joined the NYACCE board in 2017.
STAC Liaison - Upstate
Executive Director, Literacy New York
Kathy Houghton is the Executive Director of Literacy New York. In this position, she creates, implements, and monitors systems and procedures to ensure delivery of grant and project deliverables, and supports staff in meeting outcomes. Prior to becoming LNY's Executive Director, Kathy was the Director of Program Services for LNY for 12 years. Kathy is the director of Literacy NY's STAC (Support and Technical Assistance Center) program, which provides training and technical assistance to community-based adult literacy programs that are grantees of NYS Adult Literacy Education (ALE) funding.
KAREN DISPO-DE BOOS
Coordinator, Capital North
Executive Director of Literacy Volunteers of Clinton, Essex, and Franklin Counties
Karen is a long-time North Country resident who lived in Australia for ten years but returned to the North Country when her husband retired from the Royal Australian Navy in 2013. Karen has an extensive background in the nonprofit sector but has also worked many years in marketing, advertising, and public relations. She has been the Program Director for the Asian American Journalists Association and recently served on the advisory board of the antipoverty nonprofit Joint Council for Economic Opportunity of Clinton and Franklin Counties. Karen is currently the Board Secretary for the Adirondack Regional Theatre. Before Karen joined Literacy Volunteers, she was the Deputy Director at the Strand Center for the Arts in Plattsburgh, NY. Karen holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Art History from SUNY Plattsburgh and a Master in Nonprofit Management from Regis University. She lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, three sons, and their two dogs.
Coordinator, Capital North
Adult Literacy Teacher, Champlain Valley Educational Services
Katie has worked for Champlain Valley Educational Services as an Adult Literacy Teacher since January 2018. She graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh with a Bachelors Degree in Childhood Education (with a Concentration in English) and a Masters Degree in Special Education. Katie has experience working as a Distance Education Teacher, as well as teaching in the incarcerated programs in both Clinton and Essex County Jails. Katie also holds night classes at a sober living facility. She has a wonderful husband, Eric and a golden retriever, Ivy.
LISA LEE (Past President)
Coordinator, Finger Lakes
CEO, Literacy West
Lisa Lee joined Literacy Volunteers of Allegany County, Inc. in 2003 as the Executive Director. At that time the organization provided adult volunteer tutoring services and peer tutoring programs within the Allegany County school communities. Since that time, the organization has been transformed offering one to one and classroom based education, workforce development, career planning and support services for adults, and quality school based STEAM and afterschool education programs. Now called Literacy West NY, Inc., services have expanded to Wyoming, Cattaraugus and Livingston Counties. Lisa has served on the NYACCE Board since 2006.
Director of Operations, Literacy Buffalo Niagara
Amy Mazur is the Director of Operations for Literacy Buffalo Niagara providing adult literacy services in Western New York State. Amy completed her education with a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from Buffalo State College in Elementary Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Amy has worked for Literacy Buffalo Niagara for over 14 years and oversees all program operations for the agency. Their largest program is their adult literacy tutoring program which trains and supports 150 volunteer tutors. In a typical year, they serves over 200 adult English and Basic Literacy students through he work of their volunteers. Amy is also a member of the Literacy NY Trainer Corp, a state-wide organization that creates and distributes training for staff and tutors of similar programs all across NYS and a certified Learning to Achieve trainer.
Coordinator, New York City
Executive Director, Riverside Language Program
Berta Colón is the Executive Director of the Riverside Language Program, an Immigrant Integration Center that has been serving newly arrived immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers in New York City for over 40 years. Riverside's services include top-quality, full-time English language classes, wrap-around case management and counseling services, and workforce readiness and civic engagement training.
Berta has over 25 years of experience working in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. Prior to joining the Riverside team, Berta was co-President of NEO Philanthropy, a national public charity that works with funders across the country and abroad to support social justice initiatives. During her time in the philanthropic sector, Berta oversaw several national grantmaking initiatives focused on race and gender justice, including a $15 million donor collaborative supporting immigrant rights. From 1997-2002, she served as the economic security program officer for the Ms. Foundation for Women. Berta has a Master's degree in Public Administration from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and a Bachelor's Degree from Barnard College.
Coordinator, New York City
Director of Programs, International Center, Catholic Charities Community Services
Elaine Roberts is the Director of Programs for the International Center, the ESOL department of Catholic Charities Community Services (CCCS). As part of CCCS’ Division of Immigrant and Refugee Services, the International Center provides ESOL and Citizenship Preparation programming in Manhattan and the Bronx and in Westchester, Orange, and Dutchess Counties. The Center’s goal is to provide the language skills and confidence necessary for all English language learners to communicate effectively in their personal, professional, and academic lives in New York. Prior to joining Catholic Charities, Elaine worked with adult learners throughout NYC at several community-based organizations. She has been a steering committee of the New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy (NYCCAL) since 2011.