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Administrative Team


Ameer Washington

Chief Executive Officer
Ameer Washington grew up at Boys & Girls Club of Newark, having joined the Club as a six-year-old in 1989. By his senior year in high school, he was elected Keystone Club President and Youth of the Year for the state of New Jersey. Ameer went on to earn a bachelors degree in economics from Temple University, and then returned to the Club to hold numerous leadership positions in the organization, including coordination of BGCN’s first school-based site at First Avenue School. He currently serves as BGCN’s Chief Executive Officer, leading the charge of Building Great Futures in Newark's youth and families.

Cynthia M. Banks

Vice President of Operations
Cynthia has served the Boys & Girls Club of Newark with distinction for over 30 years in several leadership roles, though no single title could ever contain the full force and scope of her impact on the children who have been in her care. She has been recognized with numerous awards, including the 2009 Ms. BGCN Award, and selection as a 2011 Professional of the Year for Outstanding Service by the Garden State Chapter for her work with women and minority professionals. Cynthia currently serves on the Youth of the Year Committee for Boys & Girls Clubs in New Jersey, working with colleagues from across the state.
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Catherine Plymel, MPA

Chief Operating Officer
Catherine has been a part of the Boys & Girls Club since 2014 and started as an intern while attending Rutgers University in Newark, NJ. After her internship she joined the team and has been hard at work ever since. Catherine completed her Bachelors of Arts in Public and Non Profit Administration and is pursuing her masters in Public Administration and Non Profit from Rutgers Newark with a concentration in leadership. She has over 10 years of experience in organizational leadership and is passionate about harvesting a healthy, happy workplace with real emphasis on a strong organizational culture.

Rosa Arenas

Director of Engagement & Volunteering
Roselle “Rosa” Arenas has been a part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark family for over 25 years. She was first a member and then joined the BGCN staff as a camp counselor. Her responsibilities grew within the organization, leading our team as the Clubhouse Manager. Today, Rosa serves as the Director of Engagement & Volunteering, overseeing partnership and volunteer opportunities for our Clubhouse facility and external school-based sites. Rosa is a dedicated employee of the Boys & Girls Club of Newark and is passionate about the care and nurturing of the all of our Club Members and their families.
Staff Photos

Gardan Speights, LCSW

Executive Director of Community Wellness
Gardan Speights is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 13 years of experience in the field of mental health with a focus on child/ adolescent behavioral and mental health. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Black Studies from SUNY New Paltz, and a Master in Social Work (MSW) from Columbia University. Gardan is a Doctoral candidate and has a passion for mentoring and coaching future leaders. Gardan’s clinical experience includes working with adults with developmental disabilities and co-morbid mental health challenges, providing psychotherapy and crisis stabilization to adults and adolescents in NYC’s largest jail system, served as an inpatient psychiatric social worker at one of the largest inpatient behavioral health hospitals in NJ and currently provides consultation and supervision in private practice. She has also co-facilitated programming for the Tyrone D. Franklin Technology Center in Westwood, NJ. Gardan is a social worker at heart and grounds her personal and professional values on integrity, service, and social justice.  Gardan enjoys ensuring that members and their families at BGCN have access to equitable support and services.

Berlynn Eustache, MPA

Development Manager
Berlynn Eustache began her Resource Development journey serving at the Boys & Girls Club of Newark as a Development Associate and Grant Writer a few months before the height of the pandemic. Starting out in the field of behavioral health services after getting her Bachelor's in Sociology from Bloomfield College, with a minor in Criminal Justice, Berlynn went on to get her Master's in Public Administration from Kean University in 2018. She hit the ground running applying her skillset in the nonprofit world through social media marketing and content creation, fundraising, grants and event planning. With COVID-19 bringing forth so many organizational changes, Berlynn and the BGCN team worked together to pivot as necessary, ultimately providing her with the experience and training necessary to effectively support the Development department under the guidance of the CEO. Currently serving as the Development Manager, Berlynn continues to assist the organization in driving awareness to what Newark's Club is doing to provide opportunities, resources, and services to Newark's youth and families.

Program Team


Shontonette Crawford

Membership Manager
Shontonette has been with the Boys & Girls Club of Newark for over 11 years. An integral member of the BGCN team, she has served a number of different functions at the administrative level, including managing the Club's office and Registration department, coordinating with all our parents to ensure the successful enrollment of their children.

Fiona Ramdeo

People Operations Coordinator
Fiona started out at the Club as a Youth Development Specialist, winning over kids and parents with her bright smile and bubbly personality. Assimilating into BGCN culture and also enrolling her son into the program, Fiona has since grown tremendously as an integral member of the BGCN team. After serving within the Enrollment and Registration department, Fiona has fit right into Human Resources, now serving as the People Operations Coordinator.

Kimberly Alfonso, LSW

Wellness Coordinator
Kimberly serves at BGCN as the Wellness Coordinator for our mental and behavioral health clinic. A Licensed Social Worker, she has a Bachelor's of Arts in Psychology with minor in Social Work from Montclair State University, and a Master's in Social Work from Rutgers University with a certificate in Violence Against Women and Children. Kimberly has worked with families impacted by domestic violence and has found herself as an advocate for those impacted by various types of trauma. She also has experience working with populations impacted by the legal system. Kimberly is excited to be a part of BGCN and continue to help families stay healthy and well at BGCN as an on-site psychotherapist.

Austin Koiquah

Clubhouse Program Director
Austin Koiquah graduated from New Jersey City University with a BA in Political Science and Minor in History and is a member of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. He has been a part of the Boys and Girls Club organization/movement for four years, holding positions as a Youth Development Specialist, Teen Specialist, Team Member and Site Coordinator for Spark Academy. Now serving's as Program Director for our main Clubhouse facility, Austin's goal every year is to bring a high-quality Club experience to our members.

Rebecca Innocent

Program Development Manager
Rebecca joined the BGCN movement last year, hitting the ground running assisting in building out the STEM program at the main Clubhouse facility. Rebecca oversees all operations related to STEM programming and instruction. With a passion for teaching, Rebecca instructs grades K-12 in a variety of topics such as coding, robotics, science, and implementation of technology in classroom. With hopes to expand the STEM program to all our school-based sites full-time, Rebecca conducts STEM programming at the Club House, Kura Academy, Seek Academy, and Life Academy throughout the week, bringing the fun and flair to every site she enters.

Tiffany Brown

Tier-II Trainer for Staff & Volunteers
Starting out a Youth Development Specialist almost a decade ago, Tiffany has served as a Team Lead, Site Coordinator for KIPP Life Academy, and is now a Tier-II Trainer recognized by our national branch BGCA. With a determined attitude and confident approach, Tiffany has reached many different milestones over the years, and continues to lead the charge in serving youth and families through preparing our caring and dedicated staff at the Club.

Portia Askew

Site Coordinator: SEEK Academy
Starting off as a Youth Development Specialist in 2017, Ms. Portia transitioned into the role of Site Coordinator for KIPP Seek Academy. Ever since graduating with a B.A in Mathematics from William Paterson University, the Boys & Girls Club of Newark has been her home. Although she is not a product of the Club, she feels that working with the organization has helped her grow into the leader that she is today.

Chidera Sibeudu

Site Coordinator: SPARK Academy
Chidera Sibeudu joined the Boys and Girls Club's movement as a YDS in the middle of the pandemic in 2020. With three plus years in Youth Development, Child Advocacy and research, he strives for youth access to care and support while encouraging healthy daily habits meant to help members develop essential life skills and knowledge. His background is in Community Health Education from Kean University in Union, NJ and experience he has as a YDS, Team Lead and Group Leader, and current role as a research intern for CDF-NY has prepared him to be a leader as the Site Supervisor for the KIPP Spark Academy site. He envisions an active learning environment with members expressing creative ideas in while participating healthy, safe and fun activities and programming daily.

Martin Mathis

Site Coordinator: LIFE Academy
Serving as the Site Coordinator at KIPP Life Academy, Martin has a passion for youth and the growth of tomorrow's leaders. Born and raised in Newark, NJ by two immigrant parents, Martin quickly gained an interest in education and entertainment. Since attending the prestigious Newark Boys Chorus school, he was able to travel the world and perform for presidents and celebrities. Martin then attended and graduated from Arts High school in Newark, NJ with a major in music. After going on to attend Ramapo College, he received his Bachelor's in Social Work and minor in Criminal Justice. He then went on to acquire his Masters in Social Work, later leading teams in the field of social services that are dedicated to changing the lives of youth's and their families. Since collaborating with DCP&P to provide foster homes for the youth of Essex County, Martin is currently pursuing his BCBA and continuing to help the future leaders of communities such as Newark!

John Wilson

Head of Custodial Staff
Mr. John Wilson has served the Club for almost three decades, making sure that the facility is running smoothly and efficiently. Mr. Wilson heads the custodial department in order to ensure that our youth at the Clubhouse have a safe and enjoyable experience every day. Thank you, Mr. Wilson!

Board of Trustees


Officers of the Board

Troy Glover, President
Core Bridge Financial

Sharad D. Madison, Board Chair
CEO, United Building Maintenance

Members of the Board

Joseph F. Accardo Jr.
Deputy General Counsel, PSEG Services Corporation

Sam Boraie 
Vice President, Boraie Development LLC

Ryan S. Curran, CPA, JD
Principal and Founders, Curran Unger LLP

Maria R. Fruci 
Counsel, Genova Burns

Michael Gilfillan
President, Brick City Sports Capital

Kate Gratto
Vice President, HR Service Delivery, Prudential Financial

Michael Gruber, DMD
Dentist, Gruber Dentistry

Thomas R. Valen
Partner, Gibbons, PC

Gina Gruhn
Senior Vice President, Optum

Rayshine Harris
CEO, SHINE Tumblers

Jan Hines
Assistant Director, Transplant Community Relations

Heather McFeely
Managing Director, Head of Multi-Asset Sales, HSBC Securities (USA) Inc.

Marshall McLean
Senior Vice President, Private Client Advisor, U.S. Trust, Bank of America Wealth Management

Charlie Rubin
Executive, MCJ Amelior

Jason Sobel
Of Counsel - Real Estate, Sill Cummis & Gross P.C.

Dean Thompson
Vice President of Finance, Enterprise Holdings

Kelly Thompson
Self Employed

Patrick Walsh
Partner, Withum