Board of Directors
Ileana Griffiths, President
Ileana Griffiths is a certified Project Manager with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ, where she manages medical cost reduction initiatives. Prior to her role as a project manager, she was a human resources professional with over 14 years of experience in compensation, benefits, recruiting and training. After completing her Masters in Management from Johns Hopkins University, she worked for a petrochemical and pharmaceutical corporation. Ms. Griffiths is also a certified fitness and yoga instructor and is the president of her own wellness company called Your Being. She serves as the GAN Health & Fitness Adviser and was featured in the October 2003 Heart & Soul in a health and fitness article.
Mary Ann Jackson, Chief Financial Officer
Mary Ann Jackson is employed as a Vice President of Process Management in the Global Enterprise Services Project Management Office with Prudential Financial, an insurance company in Newark, NJ. She has been employed with the company since 1997 and has held various, financial, sales and project management roles. Mary Ann graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and minor in Cultural Studies from Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts. She went on to successfully complete a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) in 2005 from the University of Phoenix. Mary Ann is a member of The National Association for Female Executives, BDPA (former VP of Planning & Strategy for the NJ Chapter), an INROADS Alumni, and lifetime member of The National Black MBA Association. In addition, in 2019 she became a Leadership Newark Fellowship Alumni.
Tangiah Wright, Esq., Vice President of Community Outreach and Scholarships
Tangiah Wright is a New York State licensed attorney with significant experience in public sector legal work that touches many legal topics and disciplines. Tangiah received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Spelman College where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. Tangiah first joined the GAN network as a GAN scholar and ambassador when she received the 2006 GAN Summer Scholastic Enrichment Program scholarship to attend the Smith College Summer Science and Engineering Program following her sophomore year of high school, and again in 2007 to attend the Mount Holyoke Summer Math Program following her junior year of high school. Now she is committed to serving the organization that first served her as GAN’s Vice President of Community Outreach and Scholarships.
Elisa Basnight, Esq., Corporate Secretary
Elisa Basnight is an accomplished business leader and lawyer with significant experience in change management and repositioning small, medium and large-scale corporate, governmental and nonprofit enterprises for growth. She graduated from West Point and served as a military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserves. Since transitioning from the military, Elisa has continued to lead transformative change in a variety of senior executive roles within the private and public sectors, including as a White House Presidential appointee. Elisa is also a licensed corporate finance and commercial attorney. She is an avid volunteer of women, girls and military family/veterans’ issues through her opinion writings and affiliations, including her past service as an ex-officio member on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) and as the Department of Veterans Affairs’ representative on the White House Council on Women and Girls. Elisa is a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
BUSINESS AND STRATEGY ADVISORS
Melissa Bradley, CEO is founder and president of New Capitalist™, a Washington DC consulting firm committed to providing business development, strategy, capitalization and management assistance to entrepreneurs and senior management. Ms. Bradley currently holds board positions with Georgetown University Women’s Center, Georgetown University African American Advisory Board, Urban Ed, Inc. and The Woodhull Institute. She also serves on the advisory council for the Center for Women’s Business Research. She holds a BS in Finance from Georgetown University and a MBA in Marketing from American University, where she was a Graduate Fellow and founder of the Graduate Business Association’s Volunteer Service Committee.
EDUCATIONAL AND SOCIAL ADVISORS
Dr. Adunni Slackman Anderson
Dr. Adunni Slackman Anderson is a principal in the Montclair, NJ school system. She holds a BA, MA from Simmons College, an Advanced graduate certificate from Harvard Graduate Schoof of Education in Learning Environments, and a Doctorate of Education in leadership, management, policy from Seton Hall University.
Dr. Quincy Tharps
Quincy J. Tharps, RN, PhD, LPC is a retired Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the college of Nursing, where she was a medical anthropologist and taught Cultural Diversity in Health Care. Additionally, she served as an Adjunct Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where she taught Cultural Psychiatry. She is also a psychotherapist and has been practicing as a family therapist with Psychiatric Associates and Therapist since 1982. Dr. Tharps is a board member of the Alliance of the Mentally Ill as well as other civic and professional groups. She has authored numerous articles and speaks regularly on matters in her field. Her research interests include reproductive issues among single African-American mothers.
Jennifer Kaufman is a Trusts & Estates attorney at the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. She holds an MSC from the London School of Economics in Gender Studies and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law.
HUMAN RESOURCES ADVISORS
Renee Russell is Managing Partner at Russell Pregler Associates, LLC, a global strategy and executive development consultancy. She is a recognized thought leader in the areas of Human Capital Strategy, Top Team Performance, Organizational Transformation and Leadership Development, with over 25 years’ experience building the individual, team and organizational capabilities that drive business performance. Renee has held leadership positions at LexisNexis, Avon, Travelport (a former division of the Cendant Corporation), and Prudential Financial, where her work focused on the development and implementation of Business Transformation, Learning, Talent Management and Organizational Effectiveness strategies. Renee holds a M.B.A from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and a B.S. in Computer Science & Marketing from Westchester University.
Felicia Walker Benson
Felicia Walker Benson is employed at CMI Marketing, Inc. as the Director of Human Resources. In her current role she is responsible for providing overall strategic HR leadership to the company. This includes overseeing the development and implementation of human resources policies, programs and services including recruitment, selection, retention, legal compliance, benefits, employee relations, employment practices and procedures, and employee communications and events. Ms. Benson holds a BA in Political Science from Rutgers University.
STUDENT, VOLUNTEER, AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH
Goldie K. Bonney
Goldie K. Bonney is a UAT Testing Lead at JPMorgan Chase under the Retail Financial Services line of business. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computer Sciences from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and also a Web Application Development certification from DeVry University. In addition to GAN, Goldie is a member of the Board of Directors for the New Jersey chapter of Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA) which is a technology based non-profit organization with over 45 chapters nationwide. She holds the position of Vice President of Membership Management and is also the Chairperson for their annual Families in Technology Day, an event geared towards educating families in the northern New Jersey area and surrounding communities about the importance and advancement of technology.
MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS ADVISORS
Andrea Fant-Hobbs is Vice President of Brand Management at Verizon. Previously, Ms. Fant-Hobbs was vice president and account director for Vigilante, a Publicis Company, in New York. Possessing over 20 years of experience in marketing, advertising and media relations, she is also a marketing coach for the Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership. She has been published by American Legacy and featured in Essence. Ms. Fant-Hobbs was recently awarded a Cannes Media Lion for her role in the critically acclaimed Pontiac G6 promotion on “Oprah.” She has also been honored by The Network Journal as one of the 25 Most Influential Black Women in Business and by Ebony magazine as an Outstanding Woman in Marketing and Communications. She is a graduate of Syracuse University with a dual BS degree in Marketing from the School of Business and in Communications from S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Lisa Russell-Charles is a classical singer, professionally trained actress, former federal prosecutor and motivational speaker. Born in Washington D.C., Lisa went on to attain a Bachelors degree in Political Science from Tufts University and a JD from George Washington Law School. She also has studied voice privately with world renowned opera performer, Renee Corenne. As a recipient of many awards, Lisa has been described as both an accomplished speaker and a moving and talented performer. Lisa currently resides in Maplewood, New Jersey with her family.
LEGAL AND ACCOUNTING ADVISORS
Callie S. Crowder
Callie S. Crowder, CPA is an accountant and business manager. She is a cum laude graduate of Seton Hall University with a BS in Accounting.
TECHNICAL AND TRAINING ADVISORS
John Caime’s experience includes interactive projects for Senesco Technologies, Pfizer, Time Inc. and Verizon Wireless. His work has been recognized on a number of occasions winning a 2002 Addy Award, a “Design Forte” Award on Netdiver.net and the “Best Experimental/Music Video,” 15 Minutes of Fame award.
Jerri Drakes is the owner and founder of the Workstation Inc. and Little Bytes, located in Newark, New Jersey. The Workstation Inc. together with its division known as Little Bytes, continues to develop technology-based curricula that uniquely combines computer training and “life skills.” Jerri is a successful technology educator who helps children and young adults to foster a desire to become life-long learners with technology skills necessary in tomorrow’s marketplace. Jerri has a unique background, which combines 20 years of technical training and business management experience a Bachelors of Science in Social Work and a Bachelors in History.
Connie Russell Gorum
Connie is the Founder and CEO of C. L. Russell Group, LLC (CLRG) – a workforce and learning development company. She is also the founder of the Fashionista Entrepreneur Academy (FashionistaEA), an entrepreneur learning academy strategically designed to teach young girls in elementary schools entrepreneurship basics. A veteran owned small business owner, Connie also serves as a judge for the Chief Learning Officer (CLO) LearningElite program that honors the best organizations worldwide for learning and development and a member of the Workforce Magazine Business Intelligence Board to name a few. Among other associations, she also serves as a board member of the Baltimore Washington Corridor Chamber where she is the Chair for the Women in Business Committee. As an upcoming leading female entrepreneur and a strategic small business influencer she is on a mission to create a future ready workforce. Connie earned degrees in Strategic Leadership, M.A., Business Management, B.S. and Marketing Management, A.S. She also received her Public Manager in Municipal Management Certification from The George Washington University. Connie is an advocate and speaker for transitional women veterans, women in business, single parenting and youth entrepreneurship.
Christella Ritchwood is a project manager at Basement Design, where she plays a pivotal role by researching client industry trends and developing content and marketing strategies for client campaigns. She brings both marketing and project management expertise.