Meet the Dedicated Employees of West Harlem Development Corporation
WHDC Staff (Photo below l to r): Dr. Kofi A. Boateng, PhD, Executive Director; Migdalia Rodriguez, Manager of WHSTC; Justin Ariyku, WHSTC Asst. Job Developer; Yolene Legrand, Manager of Finance; Alicia Barksdale, Arise!SYEEP Program Manager; Shana Marks, SSEP Program Manager; Cynthia Marty, Administrative Assistant; Ariel Quinones, Associate Manager of Programs; Raesha Cartagena, Manager of Communications & Development; and Dean Morris, Director of Programs
Kofi A. Boateng, CPA, PhD
Kofi A. Boateng joined West Harlem Development Corporation as its first Executive Director in April 2012. He is a Certified Public Accountant and his doctorate dissertation was nominated for a Best Award. The topic was “Modeling External Capital Inflows and Economic Growth in Africa Utilizing Ordinal Logistic Regression.” An entrepreneur, he founded Traders International Inc. and Rising Sun Financial Services, Inc. Prior to WHDC, he was the COO and acting CEO of the World Trade Centers Association where he oversaw activities in 95 countries. He has served as COO of The Africa America Institute and as the Executive Director of National Puerto Rican Forum where he turned around the organization from insolvency with no program revenue and only a staff of 3 into a $35 million-funded project with 110 employees within five years. He had previously worked for Prudential Insurance Company and KPMG. He is a graduate of Yale, Northeastern and Walden Universities.
Dean C. Morris
Director of Programs
Dean C. Morris joined West Harlem Development Corporation as Director-Programs on August 15, 2012. Dean has worked in the non-profit arena for over a decade. His most recent employer was Ford Foundation where he worked for nearly six years. At Ford, Dean coordinated grant-making and programmatic activities in the Freedom of Expression Unit with a focus on ethnic media. Dean also served as Program Officer for Education as a member of Ford Foundation’s Good Neighbor Committee that oversaw grants to organizations whose missions were to increase economic opportunities for underrepresented communities. In addition to grant-making, Dean has worked for community organizations that provided direct services such as the Liberty Partnerships Program at Fordham University, a mentorship program for at-risk youth, and Sequoia Community Initiatives, a transitional housing management organization. At Sequoia, he served as an Ombudsman and advocate for people coping with homelessness, mental illness, and substance abuse. Dean has a certificate in Mediation and Conflict Resolution and a Master’s degree in Organizational Change Management from Milano – The New School for Management & Urban Policy in New York, NY.
Associate Manager of Programs
Ariel Quinones is a native Puerto Rican and a proud West Harlem’s CD9 resident since 2003. He joined WHDC as a graduate intern on September 3, 2013, and was subsequently hired as Associate Manager-Programs on May 19, 2014. Prior to joining WHDC, he served as Community Liaison Intern at the Councilmember Robert Jackson’s community office in West Harlem. Ariel holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from City College’s Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. He served as managing director for Diversity in Arts and Nations for Cultural Education (DANCE), a Bronx based arts organization, for six years. At DANCE, he expanded the organization’s outreach initiatives by launching the Arts in Education program in 2008 and the Annual South Bronx Folk Festival in 2010, and currently serves as an active member of its Board of Directors. In addition, Ariel holds a bachelor’s degree in Dance from Hunter College, and has trained and performed in Puerto Rico, US, Cuba and Brazil.
Communications & Development Manager
Raesha Cartagena joined WHDC as the Manager of Communications and Development in April 2017. Originally from East Harlem and a resident of the Bronx, she has served in various communications and development roles for nearly 15 years. Her past work includes being a print journalist and theater producer before she transitioned into the non-profit sector as a Development professional in 2005. She has worked for organizations such as Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education, The Apollo Theater, Harlem Stage, The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, and most recently with the Hispanic Federation. Her diverse background in media communications, government and community relations, and fundraising has helped implement a variety of initiatives in both Harlem and the Bronx that have addressed the need to increase arts education, workforce development and social justice advocacy in various community districts. She has an MBA in Media Management from the Metropolitan College of New York, a BA in Communications, Film, & Video from the City College of New York, and currently serves on the community advisory boards for WNYC-New York Public Radio and DYCD Neighborhood Advisory Board(NBA).
Cynthia started working for West Harlem Development Corporation on October 11, 2016 as the Administrative Assistant. Cynthia has worked as a Teacher and Office Manager at a private school on the Upper West Side. Cynthia attended Antioch College in Yellow Spring, Ohio. She enjoys going to the theater and watching films. She is a wife and a mother to an 18 year old daughter.
Manager of West Harlem Skills Training Center
Migdalia Rodriguez joined West Harlem Development Corporation as the Manager of the West Harlem Skills Training Center on August 22, 2016. Migdalia is a Certified Workforce Development Professional with over thirty years of workforce, community outreach and entrepreneurship development experience. Prior to joining WHDC, she was employed as Senior Manager at St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development where she worked for nearly five years. Throughout her career she has also demonstrated her capacity as an event planner, motivational speaker and consultant to community leaders and artists. She currently also serves as President of United Coalition of Blocks Association in Brooklyn and is a member of the Brooklyn Women Coalition, National Council of Jewish Women, NAACP, International Association Reiki Professionals. She is bilingual in English and Spanish.
Manager of Finance
Yolène Legrand joined West Harlem Development Corporation in May 2016 as the Manager of Finance overseeing the organization’s fiscal budget, financial reports, monitoring accounts, and preparing activity reports and financial forecasts. Although, she originally studied business in college and went on to receive a Master’s degree in Finance from NYU Stern Business School and pursue a successful career in International Banking for nearly two decades, her passion for art always remained strong. Ms. Legrand is also a renowned artist who hails from Haiti, and her paintings have been exhibited in many galleries and museums in the US, Europe and Haiti, and are included in many private and corporate collections.
Assistant Job Developer, West Harlem Skills Training Center
Justin Aryiku joined West Harlem Development Corporation as an Assistant Job Developer for the West Harlem Skills Training Center in September 2017. Justin is a native New Yorker who is a longtime resident of West Harlem, and feels a genuine connection to the work demonstrated by West Harlem Development Corporation being apart of the community. Mr. Aryiku received his BA in Writing from Ithaca College, and he enjoys reading, and writing short stories.
Program Manager, Arise! Summer Youth Employment and Education Program
Alicia Barksdale joined West Harlem Development Corporation as the Arise! SYEEP Program Manager in 2017. Ms. Barksdale is a long-time resident and community advocate in the West Harlem community and has served her community both in the private and public sector for more than two decades. Her committment and involvement in the West Harlem community has provided support to residents in CB9 through initiatives that helped improve affordable housing, workforce development and tenant advocacy. She brings tenacity, discipline and community awareness to the Arise!SYEEP program that has made this program a success since its inception in 2017.