Social Studies Teacher, MBK Advisor, and Men of Elmont Advisor, Elmont Memorial High School, Sewanhaka Central High School District
“I also had a mentor, so I know the importance of having a mentor. Mentoring you guys, and being mindful of how I speak to you, and how I tell you stuff, and making sure you work on being the best version of yourself, that has allowed me to grow and become a better version of myself.”
Dr. Syene Cooper
Leadership Academy Principal, Albany City School District
“[My proudest moment with MBK was] the voters registration drive, the first annual voter registration here at Albany High School, and it involved every last MBK Student. They showed leadership, it showed organization and showed communication skills, it showed oratory skills, it showcased the ability for students to initiate engaging in recruiting and marketing, advertising. It really tapped on a lot of the career and academic proficiencies that most of the fellows have been able to exemplify.”
Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives, Office of Safety and Youth Development, New York City Department of Education
“One thing that we are big on, I am big on, is empowering their authentic voices, asking how do you want this to be? How can your voice be a part of whatever gathering and convening we have? And by having the MBK fellows express to me, their perspectives, their desires, their likes and dislikes, their tastes, it helps me, it educates me…. In terms of the national racial reckoning…that was taking place in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others, the young people, as always is the case, were at the forefront of pushing for social change, just as it happened years ago in Civil Rights movement, with the guidance [and] council of elders, but the young people had that energy and activism to really push for change.”
Principal Kevin Dougherty
Principal, Elmont Memorial High School, Sewanhaka Central High School District
“[MBK stands for] having the access to other communities, and connecting our young men with other communities, and being able to talk to boys and young men about issues that are going on…as well as hearing other people’s stories as well as having guest speakers and trips and other things–All obviously will have a positive impact.”
Program Coordinator, My Borther’s Keeper Teacher Opportunity Corps, SUNY Old Westbury
“My Brother’s Keeper is a national initiative. New York is one of the few or maybe the only state that has embraced it and has allocated funding for it on a statewide basis. But [MBK] is my hope, my dream, my mission, and I’m contributing as much as I can towards that, for as long as I’m allowed to.”
Home-School Coordinator, Citizenship Academy,
Albany City School District
“[MBK is about] educating and getting our young men to understand how they must operate and move…. [By doing this] we’re changing outcomes…. It is my job to make sure that I soak the information [of those blazing the trail] and spread the knowledge to those coming up behind me.””
Angel Gaud Jr.
Deputy Director of Education and Youth Services,
Office of the Bronx Bureau President
“You’re here to help these young men, and to become a leader of leaders…providing them networking and different experiences to get them in a room, actually have them take the lead…. Providing a safe haven for each other. Now that’s one of my favorite parts.”
Dr. Edwin Quezada
Superintendent, Yonkers City School District
“Young men of color in today’s America require special attention, simply stated. It’s not whether we like it or not…it’s just they need special attention. Because everywhere they go, there are forces working against them…. And I strongly believe that the institutions have colluded towards ensuring that young men of color do not have access to what they are so much entitled to…. MBK has really given a kind of legitimacy that encourages changes in code of conduct, equity, diversity policies, restorative practices.”
Dr. Raymond Sanchez
Superintendent, Ossining Union Free School District
“[MBK provides me with] the opportunity to help emerging teachers of color to be able to tap into that identity that they already bring….. What I got out of [MBK], unexpectedly was, I think, a wealth of love, which is something that isn’t talked about enough. Too often, faculty at universities say you’re all adults, you can speak for yourselves. But the reality is that sometimes you need people to advocate for you. And that somewhat became my role….. I think I helped people to tap into some strengths and powers that…they had, but they didn’t see themselves. And that, to me, was very rewarding.”
Dr. Chief Taylor
Assistant Principal, Ross Center, Brentwood High School,
Brentwood Union Free School District
For MBK, the original vision was to change the academic trajectory of young men. And as we know that young men [of color] have lower graduation rates, they have lower rates going into post-secondary education…. So anything that we can do to impact that in a positive way. Now, getting from there to here is creating a safe space for young men that come together. Talk about common things that affect all of us…. You’re not going to solve every problem, but you’re going to help that student, if not solve the problem, come up with ways of how to deal with the situation in a positive manner. And then wrapped and intertwined is exposing them to the college application process because a lot of students don’t see themselves going to college….. Exposing them to that culture by college trips, and giving them a roadmap.”
Rev. Dr. Alfonso Wyatt
Founder of Strategic Destiny: Designing Futures Through Faith and Facts
“I always wanted my young people to be in an environment that was static-free. And MBK is a static-free environment…. What I loved about MBK is that we didn’t give desire, but we removed or helped to remove obstacles that got in the way of young people seeing and getting in touch with their desire.”
Richard Diaz is an educator who works at the SUNY Old Westbury (OW) School of Education, as Program Coordinator of the university’s My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Teacher Opportunity Corps (TOC) program, which supports 50+ undergraduate students who are emerging teachers of color. Prior to this role, he worked for four years as the director of the TOC program at Queens College CUNY, where he launched and maintained the undergraduate and graduate pre-service teacher mentoring and internship initiative, in coalition with priority school districts (CSD 27, 28, 29) in South Eastern Queens, and CBOs to “Change the Narrative” of boys and young men of color, and all students to reach their full potential, by closing the opportunity gaps they face. Richard is also distinguished for facilitating cross MBK institution collaboration, including sponsoring the launch of the first NYSED Virtual TOC Summit, pooling resources with two other TOC schools of higher education to remotely establish cross state communities and spaces for personal and professional development, attending as a regular participant during MBK’s Mastermind Book Reading Series for young men in the Fellows program, while also serving as mentor to high school students in the NYC MBK Fellows program.
Before his MBK focused work, for several years Richard taught graduate student level teaching courses, such as Multicultural Art for education, and methods of using Art Making as a Social Practice. Additionally, he served as a clinical field supervisor for student teachers, sharing his K-12 educator experiences as former NYC public school teacher. Richard holds a Master of Science in Education degree, a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and is an accomplished visual artist who works in a variety of media, including carved stone, drawing and painting.
Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, Superintendent of the Yonkers Public Schools, is passionate about quality teaching and learning, compassionate about children, proud of his humble beginnings and devoted to family. Personified by animated dialogue, perpetual motion and thoughtful collegial research, Dr. Quezada moves the agenda of public education in Yonkers, New York, the fourth largest school district in the state serving almost 26,000 students and employing 3,900 staff.
Under Dr. Quezada’s tutelage in 2021, Yonkers achieved an on-time graduation rate of 91%, the highest of New York State’s Big 5 City School Districts and the first of this group to achieve over 90%. Additionally, Yonkers continues to close the achievement gaps among all race, gender and sub groups. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, Yonkers achieved the highest on-time graduation rate of New York State’s Big 5 City School Districts annually exceeding 80%. Accolades abound for Yonkers My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiated by Dr. Quezada and launched in 2016, part of the national and New York State movement. Recognized as a model for New York State, the MBK Challenge flourishes through a coalition with City of Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and Yonkers Nepperhan Community Center Executive Director Rev. Dr. Jim Bostic. Yonkers MBK aims to close the opportunity gap for boys and young men of color through mentoring, academic preparedness and emotional and social skill building; 60 percent of Yonkers Public Schools’ students are Latino descendants. National organizations such as the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, the Executive’s Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color and NBA Cares recognize Yonkers MBK’s work.
Dr. Raymond Sanchez is the superintendent of the Ossining Union Free School District, a position he has held since 2013. Dr. Sanchez has been an integral member of the district staff since 1998, starting as a fourth-grade teacher and serving in various leadership positions before he was appointed superintendent.
Dr. Sanchez received several awards and honors in 2020 for his leadership, vision and outreach, including the Distinguished Service Award from his peers in the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents. He also earned recognition from Latino U College Access; the Ossining Children’s Center; and the Hanami Foundation, which works with the immigrant community. He received the 2017 Champions for Children Award from the Child Care Council of Westchester; the 2017 Partnership Award from Pace University; the 2016 Excellence in Educational Leadership Award from the University Council for Education Administration; and the 2016 Government Service Award from the Westchester Community Opportunity Program Inc. In 2017, he was named a “Superintendent to Watch” by the National School Public Relations Association. He is a past recipient of the Raymond Delaney Award from the New York State Council of School Superintendents.
Dr. Chief Taylor, a retired Air Force Command Chief First Sergeant, who held the second highest enlisted position as the interim Command Chief, USSTRATCOM under Admiral Ellis. Chief Taylor is the prior Commandant & Coordinator of the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, NY-773, Brentwood, New York. Dr. Taylor was promoted to be the Assistant Principle of the Freshman Center and is currently the Assistant Principal of the Brentwood High School Ross Center. Dr. Taylor is the District Technology Committee Co-Chair and he is the District Coordinator of the My Brother’s Keeper Program (MBK).
Dr. Taylor earned his Doctor of Education degree in Innovative Education Leadership & Administration, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration & Human Resource Management from Wilmington University in Wilmington, DE, a Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering and Human Resource Management from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, as well as an FAA Airframe and Power Plant License. Dr. Taylor subsequently earned a Master’s Degree in School Building and School District Leadership from Stony Brook University. Dr. Taylor has extensive experience in academia, research, community service and fundraising.
Rev. Dr. Alfonso Wyatt retired as vice president of the Fund for the City of New York after serving over two decades. He is founder of Strategic Destiny: Designing Futures Through Faith and Facts. He has mentored thousands ranging from young people in foster care, juvenile detention facilities, adults in prison, as well as individuals in Corporate America, youth-serving organizations, the faith community, or mentees receiving their Ph.D. He serves as an adviser and consultant to government, colleges, civic groups, community based organizations, public and charter schools, education intermediaries, foundations and the broader faith community.
He is the author of seven books, his latest for young people is, Madd Truth: Lasting Lessons for Students of Life. Dr. Wyatt attended Howard University, Columbia Teachers College, The Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy, Columbia Business School Institute for Nonprofit Management, and New York Theological Seminary. He serves on the Board of The Osborne Association.