J. Donald Lawrence – Chairperson
Donald Lawrence has thirty five years of Executive and Administrative experience in Human Services, which includes Heath Care, Housing, Criminal Justice and Public Administration.Mr. Lawrence was one of two dozen youth ambassadors for Americas first Anti Poverty Program “Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited,” (HARYOU )of which One Hundred and Eighteen Million Dollars was champion thru and funded by the United States Government by the Late Honorable Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, JR in the early nineteen sixties to combat Poverty. The creation of HARYOU not only created educational programs for Harlem youth, it helped to create and sustain a strong middle class in Harlem. He is also the President of the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Memorial Committee, which spear headed the efforts to raising the funds to commission the statue of the late Congressman, which now stands on the plaza of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Sate Building Plaza n Harlem.
Mr. Lawrence is proud of his work in the civil rights movement in New York City and across the nation. One of his proudest moments came when he and other Harlem Youth and adults were arrested after stopping traffic from entering Harlem from the Triboro Bridge,in order to have street lights placed at the corners of Public School PS 133 at 131 and 130th street at fifth avenue, where several children were struck down by speeding cars,two of them losing their life. This act of civil disobedience also resulted in an overpass being constructed at 128th street and Lexington Avenue,where children suffered the same fate as the children of PS 133. These actions resulting in Donald having his picture displayed on the front page of the major NYC tabloids.
Through the years Mr. Lawrencehashadthe privilege of receiving a world class education by sitting at the feet of many greatHarlem Heroes and She roes,of theHarlem community, for which he will be forever grateful.
Mr. Lawrence has a Master of Human Services Degree from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania,a Certificate in Health Care Management from Baruch College in New York City and received numerous awards for outstanding service to his community. He is a Certified Mediator and the President of Urban Alternatives, a company specializing in Conflict Resolution and Board of Directors Training,the President of Asante General Contractors and the Proud President of Citizens Against Recidivism.
Mika’il DeVeaux – Executive Director/Founder
Mika’il DeVeaux is an adjunct lecturer at several senior colleges in the City University of New York. He is the co/founder and Executive Director of Citizens Against Recidivism, Inc. and directs Citizens’ Muslim Re-entry Initiative. DeVeaux is also a certified anger management facilitator and a current doctoral candidate at The Graduate Center of CUNY and Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. DeVeaux has over three decades of experience working with men and women impacted by the criminal justice system.
DeVeaux is also the founder and principal at DeVeaux Association, a consulting firm that provides evaluation, monitoring and other services for nonprofits. Mr. DeVeaux has published papers in the Harvard Civil-Rights Civil Liberties Law Review, New Directions in Evaluation: A Publication of the American Evaluation Association, Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, Crescent International, Journal of Social Issues (co-authored) and others.
He is the recipient of several recent fellowships related to his doctoral studies in social welfare including Dean K. Harrison Fellowship, CUNY Graduate Center (2011 – 2013), Advance Research College Student Fellowship, CUNY Graduate Center (2012), University Fellowship, CUNY Graduate Center (2010 – 2011) and the recipient of a Soros Justice Fellowship (2006 – 2007) for advocacy that focused on policy and program development within the Muslim community around criminal justice and re-entry issues. He has also received recognition from public officials for his advocacy around issues related to incarceration, re-entry and civic engagement.
Baruti N. Bediako, CPA – Treasurer
Baruti N. Bediako has over thirty years of extensive tax,accounting and auditing experience with not-for-profit organizations.He co-founded an accounting firm in 1982 and since then,his clientele has expanded to include small businesses in the service and retail industries,self-managed multi-unit properties,churches,and other not-for-profits.From the beginning his practice has been committed to providing his clients access to the latest technology enabling them to maximum the impact of their sometimes limited human and financial resources.
In addition to maintaining his own practice, BNBCPA, he is affiliated with BCAWatsonRiceLLP. There he is principally responsible for the preparation of the Federal and state information returns for the firm’s not-for-profit clients, He also oversees the firm’s client accounting support services practice that specializes in serving not-for-profit organizations including social service entities and churches.The roster of not-for-profits clients he’s provide tax services to includes Harlem Commonwealth Council, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and Affiliates and Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council and Affiliates and Westchester Community Opportunity Program and Affiliates.
Baruti is a registered CPA in New York and currently a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and of the National Association of Black Accountants.In addition to serving as the treasurer of Citizens Against Recidivism,Inc. He is also the treasurer of Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy, Inc., a Brooklyn based not-for profit arts and cultural organization that serves youth and families of African descent. Baruti was born,raised and currently lives in Harlem.
Porsche Dames – Secretary
Porsche Dames is currently an Assistant Vice President at Citigroup (Citi) in the Community Development group. Prior to Citi, Porsche worked as a Senior Analyst at Goldman Sachs (Goldman) within Internal Audit. Porsche began working at Goldman after graduating from Amherst College cum laude with a degree in Art History and Black Studies. During her junior year at Amherst, she spent a semester abroad in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil where she studied Portuguese language and Brazilian culture, primarily Afro-Brazilian culture and the ramifications of the slave trade on the city and country. While at Amherst, Porsche wrote a senior thesis titled, “Continuity in Rhythm: The Aural Visual Nexus in Kehinde Wiley’s Work and Hip Hop,” which imagined the artist’s work in relation to sonic and visual elements of the African American cultural experience, including traditional African art, jazz, blues, hip-hop, and 20th and 21st century American literature, theory, and portraiture. She was awarded the department prize for her work.
Porsche enjoys travelling, including Cuba most recently, and writing in her free time; she currently contributes monthly to an online blog that discuss global culture and philanthropy.
Porsche grew up in Harlem and looks forward to continuing to grow and build her life in the community.
Afiya Bediako is the Advisory Board Chairwoman. She is an Associate at Goldman Sachs (Goldman) in their Operations division. Afiya went to work at Goldman after graduating from Amherst College (Amherst) cum laude with a degree in Black Studies. At Amherst she spent a semester in Madrid where she received her Certificado Básico de Español de los Negocios. Afiya’s senior thesis, “The Unhealed Wounds of Slavery: How Slavery traumatized African-Americans Long Past Emancipation,” focused on how the residual effects of American Enslavement affect the Black community. During her time at Amherst, Afiya served as Campus Coordinator for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program of Hampshire County and mentored a young girl from the town of Amherst. In her spare time she works at her father’s firm assisting with providing accounting and consulting services to non-profit organizations and churches, volunteers with Boys and Girls Harbor as a member of their Young Leadership Council, and enjoys entertaining friends and family.
Afiya is a Harlem native who has had a love for the performing arts since a young age. Growing up she attended LaRocque Bey Dance Theater, Harlem School of the Arts, Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy, Dance Theater of Harlem, Ballet Hispanico, and Steps on Broadway where she studied Ballet, Flamenco, Tap Dance, and Spanish Folk Dance.
Malcolm A. Punter is a business professional managing several aspects of real estate operations. He has managed the New York State Department of State sponsored Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) economic and environmental study focusing on developing the highest and best use for over thirteen real estate development sites in Bradhurst area of Harlem. Mr. Punter holds a B.S., a Master in Business Administration (MBA) specializing in financial management and a Master of Science of Law (JSM) specializing in corporate reorganization, corporate and partnership taxation.
Mr. Punter is completing his Doctor of Law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and currently writing his Doctoral Dissertation on Foreign Direct Investment and its impact on the U.S. real estate industry. Malcolm A. Punter has over 12 years real estate finance and operations experience. He served as a project manager for several clusters of I RS Code Section 42 financed housing rehabilitated under the NYC Neighborhood Entrepreneur Program comprising of over $50 million dollar rehabilitation budget. Mr. Punter is experienced in all aspects of construction finance and management. Mr. Punter has consulted on LIHTC compliance, HUD Section 8 and other income based eligibility housing programs. He has developed his real estate development, construction and property management, sales and marketing experience through the acquisition and management of private and public equity ventures in New York and Connecticut.
Mr. Punter also acted as the principal advisor for private client investors on distressed property acquisitions. He coordinates and manages the strategy for 2,500 unit affordable housing portfolio valued at $ 750 million dollars. Mr. Punter is also an adjunct professor for 10 years at the College of New Rochelle where is instructs students in small business development, economics, and investments strategies.. Mr. Punter is a NYS Licensed Real Estate Broker and markets diverse housing to qualified buyers and sellers primarily in the New York City. He holds membership in various real estate trade organizations. He resides with his wife and two children in New York City.