With over forty years of experience in the construction business Bernard Thomas brings a particular quality to the team through the unique and innovative blend of experience.  His virtues touch some of the most important aspects of any construction:  the community and its youth, information/technology, and construction management experience.  As such, he provides special insight to the intangible, yet critical part of construction projects, as well as the visual and practical aspects necessary.

Bernard Thomas is the founder and for the past 26 years, Executive Director of the Hartford knights: a non-for-profit organization that is dedicated to enhancing the lives of Connecticut’s at-risk youth.  He also brought his talent to the City of Hartford as Senior Support on significant construction projects.  Mr. Thomas also provides Minority Contractor Assistance and Oversight on school construction projects.  BT Solutions another company founded by Mr. Thomas, provides information technology and data solutions on major construction projects.

Bernard Thomas

Nichelle is a native of Hartford, Connecticut.  She grew up in the north end of Hartford, and matriculated from the Hartford Public School system.  She is married and has three children, ages twenty, five and one years old.

Nichelle attended the university of Michigan and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and African/African American Studies.  She attended Syracuse University College of Law and graduated in 2001 with a Juris Doctor.  Most recently, she completed the degree requirements for a Masters I Healthcare Administration from Walden University in February 2016.  Nichelle enrolled in this program because she wanted to learn more about the nuances of healthcare, including financial management, quality, strategic planning, and operations.

She worked for the law firm of Robinson & Cole, LLP as an associate from 2001 to 2003.  While at Robinson & Cole she practiced in the areas of Public Finance and Employment law.  She left Robinson & Cole in 2003 to open her own legal practice.  From 2004 to 2008, she practiced in the areas of real estate, small business creation, wills and trusts, general corporate, personal injury and employment law.  She also represented children and parents in child abuse, neglect and juvenile delinquency hearings.  After closing her practice, she worked in the Legal Affairs Unit for the State Department of Public Safety and then as a Deputy Assistant State’s Attorney in Rockville, CT.  After the birth of her second daughter, she took some time off work to raise her.  During that time, she taught business and legal classes at Manchester Community College and Goodwin College, she began employment at Charter Oak Health Center in 2012 as its Compliance Officer.

Nichelle has always enjoyed working with nonprofit organizations.  As a mentor with Star Mentoring Services, she worked with teenage girls who were committed to care with the Department of Children and Families.  She also trained the mentor staff on laws related to education and disability so that mentors were equipped to advocate on behalf of their mentees.  Nichelle served on the board of directors for the Center for Children’s Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that advocates on the behalf of children’s legal and educational rights making systemic and individual impact. She also serves on the board of trustees for the Jacob L. and Lewis Fox Foundation, an organization that awards scholarships to seniors graduating from Hartford high schools.  Lastly, she is an ordained minister at New Generation Ministries in New Britain, CT.  She serves on the board of directors for the ministry and teaches Sunday school and speaks at various conferences and seminars, as needed.

Nichelle A. Mullins

Alejandro Melendez-Cooper was born in Lima, Peru and has resided in the United States of America since 1989.  A long time community advocate he brings rich experience and insight to his endeavors.

With a diverse background including the Arts, Business, Education and Healthcare, Melendez-Cooper founded the Hispanic Alliance of Southeastern Connecticut, has held leadership positions at Centro de La Communidad of New London CT; Connecticut College; the Leadership, Education and Athletics in Partnership (LEAP); and the Opportunities Industrialization Center.  He served on the Board of Directors of over 50 organizations and most recently served as Director of the Community Health Center(s) of New London and Groton Connecticut where he was instrumental in developing and implementing significant operational and organizational programs that benefit their respective constituencies through the delivery of accessible, high quality healthcare.

Intensely interested in negotiation and conflict resolution, Alejandro Melendez-Cooper received training through the Harvard Law School and subsequently founded the American Project Partnership (TAPP) to promote collaboration and partnerships among regional community organizations and businesses.

Currently, Melendez-Cooper serves as President of the Hispanic Alliance of Southeastern Connecticut and Chairperson of the Hispanic Health Council.

Alejandro Melendez-Cooper

Gina manages Community Solutions’ Hartford properties, and leads the community mobilization and health work in North Hartford, Connecticut. Prior to joining Community Solutions, Gina served as the Development Director for John Dempsey Hospital and the UConn School of Medicine at the University of Connecticut Medical Center. Gina has more than 20 years of experience in the non-profit field and has held leadership posts at The Children’s Museum in West Hartford, the Wadsworth Atheneum, the Boston Children’s Museum and Boston Children’s Hospital. She is a Director at Large at for the Aurora Foundation for Women and Girls and on the Board of Corporators for Connecticut Community Care Inc. and the iQuilt Plan.  Gina has a BA from Smith College and has completed graduate study in non-profit management at Harvard University. She lives in West Hartford and is the mother to Sofia, 9 and Lily, 5.

Gina Federico Muslim

Faina Dookh is currently a Project Manager at the State Innovation Model Program Management Office in Hartford, Connecticut. In her role, Ms. Dookh helps to plan and administer a $45 million State Innovation Model federal grant to reform Connecticut’s health payment and delivery system so that it is higher quality, more equitable, and more affordable.

Ms. Dookh previously served as a policy fellow in the Governor’s Office in Connecticut. In that capacity, she worked on policy and legislative issues and worked on a team that prepared Connecticut’s State Healthcare Innovation Plan. Much of Ms. Dookh’s previous experience involves direct service work in underserved communities and identifying and working for systems-level change including her work in non-profits in Connecticut, Chicago, and South Africa and as a Teach for America teacher in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Ms. Dookh is a graduate of the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS) at the University of Chicago, where she studied local and international community development, initiatives in education, the dynamics of urban poverty, and social and economic policy. She graduated with honors from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, with a focus on social stratification and education.  Ms. Dookh was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia before living for many years in Stamford, Connecticut. Outside of work she enjoys creating art, teaching, and volunteering.

Faina Dookh

Darcey Lynn Cobbs-Lomax is the Executive Director of Project Access of New Haven (PANH). She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Florida State University in French with a concentration in finance, her Masters of Business Administration Degree from Georgia State University with a concentration in personnel and employment relations and her Masters of Public Health Degree from Walden University with a concentration in community health.

Darcey’s public health career began in 2002 while working for the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation with a Women, Infants and Children program. It was while working in a small clinic in the South Bronx that Darcey realized her calling was to work with the underserved in her community.  Over the next ten years Darcey’s work brought her to Harlem Hospital Center where she served as an Administrator in their Infectious Disease Clinic and then to New Haven Connecticut where she worked with the City of New Haven Health Department and their asthma initiative.  In this role Darcey lead an asthma management collaborative with representatives from neighboring towns actively looking for solutions to the increasing rates of Emergency Room visits for asthmatic children. Darcey honed her human service skills as the Director of Elderly Services for the City of New Haven, and then traveled to the position of Manager, Business Operations at the Yale-YNHH Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation before coming to PANH.

Darcey is committed to improving community health and dedicated to working with the underserved.  She is a graduate of the Connecticut Health Foundation 2014 Leadership Fellows Class and served as a Senior Fellow during the 2014-2015 program year. She has a commitment to her community and making an impact and is a past Board member of the Fair Haven Community Health Center Board of Directors and the Southern Regional Sickle Cell Association Board of Directors. She is currently a member of the Partnership for a Healthier Greater New Haven and serves as the co-chair of the access to care subcommittee.

Darcey’s collaborative work in healthcare access and health equity has been published in peer reviewed journals including the Academy of Emergency Medicine and she frequently presents at national conferences. Most recently Darcey gave the key note address at the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare conference with her talk entitled “Lost in translation. Can you hear me now? The voice of the patient in the healthcare setting.” Also notably this year she presented collaboratively at the Society for General Internal Medicine conference on the role and benefit of Patient Navigators and Community health workers.

Darcey is married and a mother of 4 children. In addition to her work in heath equity Darcey volunteers as a Girl Scout Troop Leader with the Girl Scouts of Connecticut, is a Merit Badge counselor with the Boy Scouts of America and she enjoys teaching Sunday school once a month at her church. She is a member of Jack and Jill of America, and Alpha Kappa, Alpha Sorority.  In her free time she enjoys sewing and gardening.

Darcey Lynn Cobbs-Lomax

Robyn is an ordained Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and serves as Pastor of the Blackwell AME Zion Church in Hartford, CT. Robyn served as an Associate Minister at Cross Street AME Zion Church for over 15 years.   In the ministry at Cross Street Robyn had Pastoral Oversight of Administration, Christian Education, Women’s Ministry, Family Life and Education and serves as President of the Board of Directors for the Cross Street Training and Academic Center.  Currently Robyn serves as the Project Director which is a collaboration of the CT Health Foundation, CSTAT and the North Central Mental Health Board, ministerial health fellowship. The ministerial Health fellowship is a group of pastors from the New Britain, Hartford and Middletown local ministerial alliances who are working to enhance their health ministry’s as well as become health care advocates that advocate for health equity policies.  Robyn served as the Former Coordinator for the Hartford District of the New England Conference Balm of Gilead Ministry. She previously served as the New England Conference Christian Education Director and currently is the Assistant Director.   Prior to relocating back to Connecticut Robyn served in the ministry at Covenant Baptist Church in Washington, DC for over sixteen years.

Robyn is currently pursuing her Master of Divinity with a concentration in Urban Ministry at the Boston Campus of Gordon Conwell Theological Institute. Robyn is a member of the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation. She holds an Associate Degree in Information Systems, Bachelor Degrees in Computer Science and Counseling, and a Masters Degree in Counseling.  She is   graduate of Middlesex Theology and Technical Institute, FaithWorks Leadership Institute, Saint Francis Clinical Pastoral Counseling Program and, Hartford Seminary Women’s Leadership Program. She has a completed a Graduate Certificate in Spirituality from Hartford Seminary.

Robyn Anderson has over thirty years of experience in the Human Services field.  She is currently employed by Advanced Behavioral Health, Inc. as the Program Director for the Multidimensional Family Therapy, Training, Consultation and Quality Assurance Program for the State of Connecticut.

She has over thirty years of experience working with adults and adolescents who have co-occurring disorders.  She has managed and directed Inpatient and Outpatient Substance Abuse Programs for adults and adolescents.  Robyn has and continues to provide Clinical Consultation to state programs, community based substance abuse treatment programs and the faith based community in the Hartford and Washington, DC area.  She is a facilitator for the Saint Francis Pastoral Counseling Program and has served as an Adjunct Professor and Lecturer for universities and community colleges.  Robyn has authored many articles and publications that have been published in Psychology Journals.

As a change agent for the Human Services field Robyn is a strong advocate for HIV/STD Education/Treatment culturally competent, innovative, trauma sensitive, gender specific, family driven and quality services for families throughout the Diaspora.

Robyn is a licensed and Certified Addictions Counselor (LADC) and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).  Robyn Anderson has and still serves on many civic and community boards.  She is an author and has received many leadership community service awards.

Robyn Anderson

Ingrid Alvarez-DiMarzo is the Hispanic Federation’s Connecticut State Director (CSD) responsible for the implementation of the Hispanic Federation’s state-wide strategic goals, including the institution’s nonprofit capacity-building work, public policy advocacy and direct service programs.

With over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management and capacity building, she has lent dynamic cross-functional experience in high impact program development, implementation and evaluation to the nonprofit sector in New York and Connecticut.

From 2008 to 2013, Ingrid served as the Executive Director of the Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury, Inc. establishing rapport with diverse and broad-ranging constituency, consistently bringing forth an inspiring level of commitment to the Center and community. She balances over two decades of operational experience with her commitment to effective communication and transformative solutions.

She was the recipient of the 2012 Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award by the National Community Development Association, Washington, D.C., appointed to the City of Danbury Main Street Revitalization Partnership Commission, a member of the Board of Directors for Family and Children’s Aid, and serving her second year as bank Corporator for Union Savings Bank.

Ingrid Alvarez-DiMarzo holds a Masters of Arts Degree in Public Policy from Teachers College Columbia University, along with a Bachelors Degree in Political Science and Spanish, Language, Culture and Literature from Syracuse University. Ingrid is bilingual in English and Spanish and a native of the Bronx, New York. Ingrid resides in Fairfield County, Connecticut with her husband and two children.

Ingrid Alvarez-DiMarzo