Staff

CARA staff bring a range of experiences to their work and share a common passion for working with young people, expanding educational opportunity, and addressing issues of equity and social justice.

  • Janice Bloom, Ph.D.

    Co-Director | janice.bloom@caranyc.org

    Janice co-founded CARA in 2011, and continues to act as its co-director. She has been involved in urban school reform in New York City since graduating from Brown University more than 25 years ago, as a teacher, staff developer, researcher and professor of educational studies. After teaching at Central Park East Secondary School and East Side Community High School, two of New York City’s early small public high schools, she earned a Ph.D. in Urban Education from the CUNY Graduate Center. She was an assistant professor at Eugene Lang College/The New School and has worked as a teacher-mentor and school design coach in schools across New York City.

  • Lori Chajet, Ph.D.

    Co-Director | lori.chajet@caranyc.org

    Lori co-founded CARA in 2011, and continues to act as its co-director. A former high school history teacher and staff developer, Lori has been involved with school change in New York City since 1993. She completed her doctorate in Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she focused her research on college persistence for first-generation, low-income students. Prior to founding CARA, Lori was Acting Director of The Institute of Urban Education at Eugene Lang College/The New School. She earned a BA from Brown University in Educational Studies and Public Policy and an MA in Social Studies Education from Columbia Teachers College.

  • Allyson Hurder Levy

    Director of College Inquiry Programming | ally.levy@caranyc.org

    As director of CARA’s College Inquiry program, Ally coaches principals, counselors, teachers, and CBO staff on developing college access and exploration programs as essential components of their schools and organizations. She previously served New York City students for ten years as an English teacher, Dean, and Literacy Coach at several small public schools in Brownsville and the Bronx. Prior to teaching, Ally was a Development Associate for the education nonprofit Facing History and Ourselves. She is a graduate of Trinity College (BA in English and Women’s Studies), The City College of New York (MA in Secondary English Education), and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Leadership Academy (SBL certification).

  • Shalema Henderson

    Director of College Allies | shalema.henderson@caranyc.org

    As Director of College Allies, Shalema is developing CARA’s resources, coaching, and consulting model for college success work. She has 10+ years of youth development experience working in non-profit educational programs. She worked at Henry Street Settlement as a Middle School Program Coordinator, where she designed and piloted one of just two Middle School Success Center programs in the city that utilized CARA’s Youth Leadership model. Before that, she held several positions at Harlem Children’s Zone including Senior Student Advocate, and College Manager for the College Bound Program. Shalema holds her BA in Sociology from The City College of New York.

  • Leigh McCallen, Ph.D.

    Director of Research and Evaluation | leigh.mccallen@caranyc.org

    Leigh is responsible for conducting impact evaluation of CARA’s programs and leading research projects that translate CARA’s work to practitioner, policy, and academic audiences. She brings expertise in using quantitative, qualitative, and participatory approaches to examine key issues in equitable higher education access and success. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Vassar College and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from The Graduate Center at the City University of New York (CUNY). Prior to joining CARA, Leigh worked in various capacities across the CUNY system, including as an analyst at Institutional Research and as a research associate with the Center for Teaching and Learning at Queens College.

  • Maureen Watkins

    Director of Right to College | maureen.watkins@caranyc.org

    As the Director of Right to College, Maureen supports Youth Leaders and their supervisors to ensure that students are given the direct support they need throughout the college application process. Maureen has taught in the classroom for 13 years before transitioning to college counseling and college access. Maureen has a BA in English and Textual Studies and an MS in English Education from Syracuse University.

  • Qua-Asia Fawcett

    Program Manager for College Allies | qua-asia.fawcett@caranyc.org

    As Program Manager for College Allies, Qua-Asia supports College Allies sites and provides training to Peer Leaders. Qua-Asia brings a wide array of experience in college persistence, career development, and peer mentoring through her work supporting first-generation college students from low income backgrounds. She worked as an Academic Support Manager at Manhattan College, where she oversaw a number of academic support programs and provided training to peer educator and student support staff. Prior to that, she worked at Bottom Line-New York as a Career Team Manager, Senior Career Advisor, and College Success Advisor; she contributed to the design and implementation of the New York site’s first career program. Qua-Asia holds a B.S. from New York University in Applied Psychology and an M.A. in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

  • Richard Robinson

    College Inquiry Coach | richard.robinson@caranyc.org

    As College Inquiry Coach, Rich works with teachers, counselors and other school administrators to cultivate a healthy college going culture and progressive post-secondary environment. Rich has worked in the youth development space for well over 10 years. Previously, he served as the Manager of Fellow Support & Persistence for OneGoal New York, working to personalize and help alums navigate post-secondary pathways, including but not limited to college persistence. Prior to OneGoal, Rich worked as a College Access Counselor at Henry Street Settlement and at Summer Search in a number of capacities, including Program Associate and College Success Associate. Rich earned a B.A. in American Studies from Dickinson College.

  • Deneysis Labrada

    Director of College Bridge | deneysis.labrada@caranyc.org

    As Director of College Bridge, Deneysis supports our coaches and supervisors to implement CARA’s full-year near-peer matriculation model. With 7+ years of experience supporting first- generation students from low- income backgrounds, she brings a wide array of knowledge in college counseling, college access, and near- peer mentoring. During her time in the CollegeBound Initiative and Let’s Get Ready, she counseled high school students’ through their college and financial aid application process while training and supervising Site Coaches. She is a graduate of American University (BA in International Studies and Latin American Studies) and of New York University (Master’s in International Education).

  • Pamela Vasquez

    College Bridge Program Associate | pamela.vasquez@caranyc.org

    In her role as Program Associate, Pamela collaborates with the Director of College Bridge to facilitate training sessions and organize and manage the logistics of training. Pamela brings 5+ years of experience serving undocumented, low-income, and first-generation populations; she started this work as a CARA College Bridge Coach, working on the Bushwick Campus through Make the Road NY. As part of her work with CARA, she collaborated in the creation of a toolkit for undocumented students. Pamela holds a B.A. from John Jay College on International Criminal Justice and minors in Sociology and Human Services (Counseling).

  • Krystal Diaz

    Right to College Program Associate | krystal.diaz@caranyc.org

    As the Program Associate for Right to College, Krystal collaborates with the Director of Right to College to organize, manage the logistics of, and facilitate training for Youth Leaders. Krystal brings 4+ years of experience serving first-generation, low-income, and high-need populations of high school students through her initial CARA role as a College Bridge Coach. She holds an A.A. in Communications from the Borough of Manhattan Community College, and a B.A. from Hunter College in English/Creative Writing.

  • Neshat Yazdani

    Research and Evaluation Associate | neshat.yazdani@caranyc.org

    Neshat contributes to the quantitative and qualitative research CARA is undertaking and maintains the databases used to evaluate the impact of CARA’s programming. She is a Ph.D. candidate in the Applied Developmental Psychology program at Fordham University. Her research focuses on positive development in adulthood, particularly the relationships between stress and adversity, cognitive functioning, and well-being in early adulthood. She is interested in how this research can be used to inform education policy and intervention programs. Neshat graduated with Bachelor’s degrees in psychology and philosophy from Fordham University in 2015.

  • Byron Chamorro

    Graphic Design Intern | byron.chamorro@caranyc.org

    Byron brings a range of experiences to his work at CARA, including serving as a College Bridge Coach for six years at two different high schools, and the graphic design skills he has gathered while majoring in Communication Design at CUNY City Tech. He brings all of these perspectives when creating designs for CARA’s different projects, most recently a toolkit intended to guide undocumented students through the college matriculation process.

  • Michelle Fine, Ph.D.

    Research Advisor

    Michelle Fine is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Urban Education and Women’s Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and Chair of the Social/Personality Psychology program. She has received numerous awards and published innumerable books and articles across the many fields in which she works. Her most recent book is Just Research in Contentious Times: Widening the Methodological Imagination, published by Teachers College Press in 2018.