Our team is a committed group of concerned Connecticut residents who believe there is no greater mission than to be a voice for the voiceless.
Our team is a committed group of concerned Connecticut residents who believe there is no greater mission than to be a voice for the voiceless.
Shenae Draughn, M.S., is the Executive Vice President of The Glendower Group, an instrumentality of the Housing Authority of the City of New Haven. She joined the Housing Authority in 2009 and was promoted to Executive Vice President of The Glendower Group in October 2021. During ECC President Karen DuBois-Walton’s leave of absence, she held the position of Interim President between May 1, 2021 – August 27, 2021.
As the Executive Vice President of The Glendower Group, Ms. Draughn is responsible for developing and executing long-term real estate strategic plans and asset management. In her capacity as Executive Vice President, she plays an instrumental role in determining the feasibility of specific projects, while also helping to coordinate city-wide development plans. Additionally, Ms. Draughn was responsible for ensuring compliance with investors and program requirements, including CHFA (Connecticut Housing Finance Authority), HUD (United States Department of Housing and Urban Development), State Department of Housing, and various other government agencies.
Ms. Draughn has over fifteen years of experience in the real estate development industry with an expertise in affordable housing, managing complex projects utilizing tax credits, private debt, state grants, and HUD- mixed-finance and RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration). Ms. Draughn’s background and experience has helped provide for over $500 million dollars of real estate development in the Greater New Haven area.
Prior to working for The Glendower Group, Inc, Ms. Draughn was a Senior Vice President with primary responsibility of planning, directing and managing the full scope of projects – from feasibility analyses, to control of related expenditures and tax credits. Ms. Draughn also worked at the Mutual Housing Association of South Central Connecticut, Inc. for many years – most recently as the Deputy Executive Director where she identified affordable housing needs, promoted the development and implementation of affordable housing measures, and supervised and directed all related real estate transactions.
Ms. Draughn holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law and Real Estate Studies from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA and received a Master of Science in Management from Albertus Magnus in New Haven, CT.
Paula S. Gilberto has 44 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. She capped a 24 year career with United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, retiring in March 2022 as its President and CEO. Prior to that, she served in various management positions with the American Red Cross, Connecticut Region.
Paula’s career has included building public/private partnerships to further student achievement, economic mobility, and workforce development. She also held leadership roles in strategic planning, fundraising, and organizational development, as well as developing and replicating education and financial security initiatives regionally and nationally.
Paula is a founding member of United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut’s Women United and Women of Tocqueville, two diverse networks committed to ensuring economic mobility for women and families. She serves on the board of directors of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, the American Savings Foundation, and the YWCA New Britain. She is also a member of the National Organization for Italian American Women and United Way NEXT.
Paula holds a Master of Science in Organizational Behavior from University of Hartford and a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Psychology from University of Bridgeport. She is also a Family Strengthening for Success Fellow from Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
Hector Glynn, M.S.W., is Vice President of Community, Family and Clinical Services at The Village for Families and Children. He has extensive experience with the juvenile justice system and the needs of urban youth. Prior to coming to the Village, he was Executive Director of the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, where he led the way for major reforms in the Connecticut juvenile justice system’s policies and procedures. The Connecticut General Assembly (CGA) appointed Mr. Glynn to the CGA’s Juvenile Jurisdiction Planning and Implementation Committee. He also worked for Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Hartford for ten years in the Youth Services Division, providing direct services, program coordination, and staff supervision. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and a Master in School Work from the University of Connecticut.
Derrick M. Gordon, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology Section) at Yale University School of Medicine and Child Study Center. He directs the Program on Male Development in the Division of Prevention and Community Research and is a scientist in the Community Research Core of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA). Dr. Gordon’s research, consultation, and clinical efforts are focused on those factors that either support or undermine men transitioning from prison back to the community; the engagement of low-income, non-custodial fathers; the identification and service of adolescent fathers committed to child protection services; and men mandated to batterer intervention groups in the community. As a licensed clinical-community psychologist, his work also focuses on bringing clinical care to community contexts that increases the acceptability and engagement in that care. Overall, Dr. Gordon’s work has and continues to focus on increasing community and family health through attention to segments of the community often ignored in those considerations.
Leonard Jahad, M.S., is a lifelong resident of the greater New Haven area. A veteran of more than 24 years of law enforcement including stints in Connecticut Department of Corrections and community corrections before retiring as Chief Probation Officer for the New Haven Adult Probation Office where he specialized in supervising Youthful offenders and Violent offenders. Jahad is currently employed as Executive Director of the Connecticut Violence Intervention Program (CT-VIP), where he supervises a team of outreach workers that mentor the most at-risk youth in New Haven and Hamden communities. He also works within the New Haven Public School System as an Intervention Specialist,utilizing restorative practices and mediation techniques to restore relationships among students, staff and parents. Jahad is a strong advocate for mentoring as he currently serves as President of the New Haven My Brother’s Keeper Mentoring Program as well as a football coach in for the New Haven Steelers of the Pop Warner Football Association. Besides being the proud dad of 2 biological daughters, Jahad has also been a foster parent to over 12 young men and women since 1996. When not working or volunteering, Jahad enjoys volunteering with the Prince Hall Shriners and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. He also serves on many non-profit Boards including treasurer for the Elm City Freddy Fixer Parade and Bereavement Care Network. Personally, he enjoys working on his antique muscle car collection, spending time with family and Bikram Yoga.
Fred McKinney, Ph.D., is the co-founder and principal of the economic consulting firm, BJM Solutions, LLC. BJM Solutions works with large and small organizations since 1999. BJM specializes in corporate supplier diversity and minority business development. Dr. McKinney earned his Ph.D. in economics from Yale University in 1983. Before retiring from Quinnipiac University, Fred served as the managing director at the Tuck School of Business Minority Business Executive Leadership Program. From 2001 to 2015, Fred was President and CEO of the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council. Fred served on the boards of Habitat for Humanity, The Greater Bridgeport Community Foundation, the Fairfield Community Foundation, The Federal Reserve Board of Boston Community Advisory Board, and several other for-profit and not-for-profit boards. Fred writes a bi-monthly column for the CT Hearst newspapers where he covers issues of race, equality, economics, and public policy. Fred lives in Trumbull with his wife Ivy and two dogs, Rory and Bentley. Ivy and Fred have two adult children who live in Minneapolis and Washington, DC.
David Nee, M.B.A., retired in 2014 as the first executive director of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, founded in 1993 to improve education for Connecticut’s children. Prior to his leadership of the Graustein Memorial Fund, Mr. Nee acted as the executive director of the Ittleson Foundation and of the Florence V. Burden Foundation. He has served on the boards of the Connecticut Academy for Education in Math Science and Technology, and Grantmakers for Children Youth and Families. He co-chaired the Governor’s Early Childhood Research and Policy Council from 2006-2009. He founded and continues to serve on the Board of the Connecticut Center for School Change. A graduate of Harvard College, Mr. Nee holds a master’s degree in English from Yale University and a master’s degree in business administration from Boston University
Dr. Nunez-Smith, M.D., M.H.S., is an Associate Professor at the Yale School of Medicine, Associate Professor at the Yale School of Public Health, Director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center, Director of the Center for Research Engagement, Core Faculty in the National Clinician Scholars Program, and Deputy Director at the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation. Dr. Nunez-Smith’s research focuses on promoting healthcare equity for vulnerable populations with an emphasis on healthcare workforce development, patient assessment of healthcare experiences, and healthcare system strengthening to address chronic disease in low and middle resource settings.
Enid Mercedes Rey, J.D., is the President and CEO of BRAVE Consulting Solutions LLC., a firm working at the local and national levels to transform systems that affect and impact the wellbeing of children, youth and families. Most recently, Rey was invited by the National Administration for Children and Families as part of a specialized team of consultant partners supporting the rapid unification of unaccompanied children and youth crossing into borderlands of the United States. Rey is known both locally and nationally for her work in the fields of positive youth development, education, civic leadership, community-building and school integration. Her expertise and experiences span various sectors, including Philanthropy, Education, Youth Development, Juvenile Justice, Workforce Development and Immigration. A lawyer and advocate by training and vocation, Rey has held various leadership roles including CEO of Our Piece of the Pie, Inc, Director of Hartford Public Schools’ Office of School Choice, Director of the City of Hartford’s Office for Youth Services and Program Officer at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. A graduate of Hartford Public High School, she earned her B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and her law degree from UCONN School of Law. Among other affiliations, Rey was recognized as the Center for Children’s 2021 Advocacy Champion, serves on the newly created University of Connecticut School of Law, Community Safety, Policing and Inequality in Law Community Advisory Council and is an Annie E. Casey Foundation Children Youth and Families Fellow.
Kimberley Russo is the executive director of The Fund for Greater Hartford and has served in this position since 2015. Previously she served as the director of community investment for United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut for more than 10 years. Prior to joining the philanthropic field, Kimberley served as the program manager for Meriden-Wallingford Chrysalis and worked as a residential services coordinator for the Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County in Rhode Island. In recent years, Kimberley has served as chair of the board of directors of the CT After School Network, chaired the Coalition for New Britain’s Youth as well as co-chaired the CT Early Childhood Funders Collaborative.
Dr. Laine Taylor, D.O., M.B.A., is Medical Director at The Village for Families and Children. Prior to joining the Village, Dr. Taylor was an Assistant Professor at the Yale Child Study Center and worked on the child psychiatric inpatient service for seven years; she was also the Associate Medical Director of the Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital’s Children’s Psychiatric Inpatient Service. Dr. Taylor completed medical school at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, her Psychiatry residency at the University of Arizona and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry fellowship at the Yale Child Study Center-Riverview track. She has a Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Leadership from Rockburst University, Kansas City, Missouri. Her areas of interest are organizational development, culture in medicine, and healthcare policy. She is an advocate for children and families as a clinician and on the state level working to develop programs and legislation in the state of Connecticut. Her areas of specialty include medical education, interdisciplinary collaboration, emergency psychiatry, structural family therapy, and inpatient child and adolescent psychiatry.
Pedro Zayas is a Puerto Rican journalist and communications leader with over 20 years of media experience. A resident of Newington, Mr. Zayas moved to the State of Connecticut with his family in 2007. Mr. Zayas’ news writing, editing, research, and audiovisual production work in both English and Spanish have featured on ESPN, The Associated Press, El Diario/La Prensa, The San Juan Star, the Puerto Rico Public Broadcasting Corporation, and other premium content platforms. He currently serves as Senior Communications Advisor for the New England Health Care Employees Union, SEIU 1199NE, supporting nearly 30,000 health care providers in Connecticut and Rhode Island, as well as advocating for quality services and economic justice in historically underserved communities.
Carla Abdo-Katsipis, Ph.D., is a Research and Policy Fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children. Her focus is on family economic security research and policy, specifically employment and early care and education. She is part of the Program Team.
Previously, Carla was a visiting assistant professor of public policy at Wesleyan University. She has extensive expertise in socio-economic security, equity, and social development, particularly among women within democratic and non-democratic systems of government.
Carla earned a Ph.D. in government and politics from the University of Maryland. She also earned an M.A in comparative political studies at the American University of Beirut and a B.A. in Political Science/International affairs at the Lebanese American University of Beirut.
Samaila Adelaiye, Ph.D., is a Research & Policy Fellow with Connecticut Voices for Children. His focus is on family economic security research and policy, specifically affordable housing. He is part of the Program Team.
He is an expert on the issue areas of political economy, equitable growth and development, particularly within the context of comparative international relations. Prior to joining Connecticut Voices for Children, Samaila taught at the University at Buffalo (SUNY), SUNY Buffalo State College, and SUNY Geneseo.
Samaila was awarded a Ph.D. in political science from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He also earned an M.A. in strategic studies from the University of Aberdeen and a B.S. in international relations from Ahmadu Bello University.
Jasmine Cruz, M.B.A., is the External Affairs Deputy Director with Connecticut Voices for Children. She is part of the Program Team.
Previously, Jasmine served as an Events & Special Projects Associate with Voices. She has over 5 years of operations experience in the education sector. A native New Yorker, Jasmine was born in the Bronx but is a long-time resident of Bridgeport, CT. Jasmine is a fierce advocate for educational equity and has witnessed first-hand the impact strong educators and effective learning environments can have on communities of color. She is the proud mother of Madelyn, who published her first book of poetry at age 12 and will graduate the University of New Haven in 2024.
Jasmine earned an M.B.A. from the University of Bridgeport and a B.A. in Business Management from Albertus Magnus College.
Lin Kabachia, M.P.P., is the Events & Development Associate with Connecticut Voices for Children. Her focus is on event operations, grant writing, and data management. She leads the Kids Count work for the organization and is part of the Executive Team.
Previously, Lin was a Research & Policy Associate with Voices. After having spent time in the philanthropic sector as a proposal writer and researcher with PAAJAF. She is a champion for racial equity and educational equity. As a former public school teacher in South Korea, Lin witnessed how a high investment in education from all stakeholders provides a solid foundation for students to reach their full potential. Lin seeks to launch innovative ideas that lead to the strategic development and implementation of policies that create inclusive communities.
Lin earned a M.P.P. from the Korea Development Institute (KDI) School of Public Policy and Management and a B.A. in history from The University of Alabama.
Patrick, Ph.D., is the Research & Policy Director with Connecticut Voices for Children. His focus is on fiscal and economic research and policy, specifically tax reform. He is part of the Program Team.
Previously, Patrick served as a Research & Policy Fellow with Voices. He is an expert on the issue area of presidential control over public finance policymaking, broadly defined to include fiscal policy, monetary policy, and the effect of both on economic policy. Prior to joining Connecticut Voices for Children, Patrick was a postdoctoral research and teaching fellow at Trinity College in Hartford, CT and he remains a Visiting Assistant Professor of Public Policy.
Patrick was awarded a Ph.D. in political science from Yale University. He also earned an M.A. in political science from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a B.S. in economics from DePaul University.
Lauren Ruth, Ph.D., is a Research & Policy Fellow with Connecticut Voices for Children. Her focus is on family economic security research and policy, specifically criminal justice and early childhood education and care. She is part of the Program Team.
Previously, Lauren served as the Research & Policy Director with Voices. She has an extensive background in policy and advocacy for under-represented groups. Her academic research focuses on psychological methods to reduce prejudice and increase support for equity-related public policy. Prior to joining the team at Connecticut Voices for Children, she worked first as a special education instructor and then as a lobbyist for early childhood, health equity, and juvenile justice organizations at the state capitol in Hartford.
She was awarded a Ph.D. in Psychology from Yale University. She also earned an M.S. and M.Phil. in Psychology from Yale as well as a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Philosophy from Tulane University.
Eli Sabin is a Legislative Coordinator at Connecticut Voices for Children. He is part of the Program Team.
Eli has extensive experience in government policy-making, organizing, and advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels. In his work, Eli focuses on the advancement of policies and issues that are closest to home for him as a lifelong New Haven resident: affordable housing, fair taxation, school funding equity, neighborhood safety, and job creation.
Eli earned a B.A. in Political Science from Yale University and was a 2021 Truman Scholar representing Connecticut.
Sana Shah, M.S., is the Power Building & Advocacy Director / Chief of Staff with Connecticut Voices for Children. She leads on movement and issue campaigns as well as legislative affairs. She is part of the Program Team.
Sana has over 10 years of experience working in education and advocacy for children in New Jersey, Texas, New York, and Connecticut. Growing up in an immigrant family, Sana was taught the value of solidarity and collective action; she has an extensive background building power with communities impacted by injustice. Sana has organized around issues such as criminal law reform, education equity, increasing teacher diversity in Connecticut, immigrants’ rights and liberties, and defending those who identify as LGBTQ+.
Sana earned an M.S. in Education from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. in both Psychology and History from Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
Nick is the Local Strategies Deputy Director with Connecticut Voices for Children. He is part of the Program Team.
Nick is a lifelong resident of Connecticut, born and raised in the Northwest Corner. Previously, Nick spent five years organizing around issues that affect working families, including housing justice, fair wages and taxation, affordable healthcare, and equitable access to reproductive care. He has worked with lawmakers across Connecticut at the federal, state, and local levels.
Nick is a proud product of Connecticut’s State Colleges, having graduated from Tunxis Community College and Central Connecticut State University.
Betsy Yagla is the Operations & Philanthropy Director with Connecticut Voices for Children. She is part of the Executive Team.
Betsy joins Connecticut Voices for Children with nearly 20 years of professional experience in the government, nonprofit and media sectors. A trained journalist, Betsy wrote for the Spanish-language Registro newspaper before becoming Associate Editor of the New Haven Advocate. She expanded her storytelling portfolio at New Haven Promise where she was responsible for overall communications as well as parent and community outreach and engagement. As a public servant, Betsy focused on project management, community building, communications and grant writing.
Betsy earned a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri.
Emily Byrne, M.P.A., is the Executive Director of Connecticut Voices for Children.
She has extensive experience in developing human-centered policies and programs as well as driving effective advocacy strategies in service of progressive change. Byrne has led and contributed to work that has been recognized by past White House administrations and has appeared in numerous publications. Most notably, she was the founding Executive Director of New Haven Promise, a nonprofit at the intersection of education and economic development.
Emily earned an M.P.A. from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and a B.A. in Political Science from Providence College. A public servant by training, she started her career as a policy analyst for the City of New Haven, CT where she helped design the nation’s first municipal identification card for residents irrespective of immigration status. Since then she has held various governmental leadership positions as a systems intrapreneur within the social and economic justice arenas.
She is also a past U.S. Visiting Fellow with the Robert Bosch Foundation in Germany. Her research focused on migrant rights and racial justice vis-à-vis democratic participation and education.
Ellen Scalettar, J.D., is a Senior Fellow for Fiscal Policy at Connecticut Voices for Children.
Ellen’s history with Connecticut Voices goes back to the mid-1990’s and precedes her time with the organization as a staffer when, as a State Representative in the General Assembly, she relied heavily on our tax and budget work. She continued to collaborate with Voices on projects and policies affecting the state’s children and families in her role as Assistant State Treasurer for Governmental & Community Relations and later as Director of Policy, Research and Legislation for the then-Senate President Pro Tempore.
Ellen is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the City College of New York and earned her J.D. degree with honors from the University of Maryland School of Law. Ellen is currently a Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School; her earlier legal career focused on litigation in the areas of defamation and privacy.
Shelley Geballe, J.D., M.P.H., is the Distinguished Senior Fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children.
A Co-Founder of CT Voices in 1995, Attorney Geballe served as Voices’ President until October 2008 when she became its Distinguished Senior Fellow – an advisory role. Now a Professor of Clinical Public Health in the Yale School of Public Health, her courses include Public Health Law, Health Disparities and a Health Policy Practicum. For 20 years she was also a Clinical Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School where she co-taught the Legislative Advocacy Clinic.
Over her time with CT Voices, Attorney Geballe’s research and writing focused on state and federal tax and budget policy, family economic security, child welfare and juvenile justice, and children’s health and mental health. She has served in multiple appointed positions in the state, including currently on the Advisory Committee of the Office of the Child Advocate. She has been a consultant in diverse international contexts (e.g., on the non-profit sector at Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China, on HIV/AIDS law at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and on public health law at the Union School of Public Health in Beijing, China).
Prior to co-founding CT Voices, Attorney Geballe practiced civil rights law with the Connecticut ACLU, serving as counsel in a variety of federal class action cases, including representing the state’s abused and neglected children in a systemic class action challenge to CT’s foster care system, children with HIV/AIDS who were excluded from the New Haven public schools, women incarcerated in CT’s prison system, and CT inmates living with HIV disease. She also co-taught Federal Civil Rights Practice at the University of Connecticut Law School. Her publications include Geballe, Gruendel, & Andiman (eds.), Forgotten Children of the AIDS Epidemic (Yale University Press, 1995).
For her work on behalf of CT’s young people and their families, Attorney Geballe has been honored by many organizations including the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy (John Filer Award), the Connecticut Public Health Association (C-E. A. Winslow Award), the CT Bar Association, American Academy of Pediatrics – Connecticut Chapter, the CT Psychological Association, the National Association of Social Workers – CT Chapter, the National Organization for Women – CT Chapter, Casey Family Services, the CT Youth Service Association, the CT Association of Mental Health Clinics for Children, the CT Community Providers Association, the CT Probate Court Assembly, Gateway Community College, the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, and United Way of Greater New Haven.
Attorney Geballe received her law degree from Yale Law School (1976) and her public health degree from Yale Medical School (1995). She is married to Gordon Geballe, former Associate Dean of and current Lecturer in the Yale School of the Environment. They have three sons, three daughters-in-law, seven grandsons and two granddaughters.