Advisory Council

Sonia Robena Banks is the Chief Innovative Officer at @Play, Inc., an agency specializes in helping behavioral change through therapeutic play and experience-based activities. Dr. Banks uses her social analytic assessment to create sustainable change in families and communities perceptions. She has a proven record of unique and memorable therapeutic design and successful implementation of developmentally matched coaching programs.  Sonia R. Banks has been a licensed practicing psychologist in New York and Virginia for 15 years. Since 2004, Dr. Banks has also developed and conducted a series of weekend retreats, called "Women at Play" and "Couples at Play," for people interested in improving their inter-personal relationships.

Tom Burrell is a marketing communications pioneer is a recognized leader and change-agent credited with revolutionizing the use of positive and realistic images of African Americans in television advertising. Burrell, a self-taught cultural anthropologist and author of "Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority", established Burrell Communications in 1971, leading the company until his retirement in 2004.

An American Advertising Federation’s Advertising Hall of Fame inductee, Burell created some of the most memorable campaigns in advertising history. His award-winning work acknowledged the purchasing power of the African American community and changed the face of American advertising. A reel of Burrell’s advertisements for Coca-Cola is currently archived at the Library of Congress for its historical significance. Today, Burrell Communications bills close to $200 million annually and is one of the top advertising companies in the U.S., specializing in marketing communications targeted to multicultural, urban and youth markets.

Charisse L'Pree is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Syracuse University whose work focuses on how media affects the way we think about ourselves and our perceptions of others. Trained in social psychology and critical media studies, L'Pree's work examines the intersection of communication and psychology to assess how media images and narratives affect viewer identity, attitudes and behaviors, and how individuals use traditional, new and interactive media to express themselves and connect with others. Her current research investigates the psychological effects of intersectional identities and the media's role in personal and social identity conflict. As an actively interdisciplinary scholar, L'Pree has collaborated with researchers across a wide variety of disciplines including psychology, communications, anthropology, sociology, political science, medicine and engineering.

Prior to joining the faculty at Newhouse, she held teaching and research positions at the University of Southern California and Loyola Marymount University. Her research has been funded through the National Institutes of Health, the California HIV/AIDS Research Program and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Geraldine Moriba is the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for CNN Worldwide, developing strategic business initiatives to support the newsroom and reported content, and an executive producer with original program development. Prior to that she served as the Executive Producer of CNN's award winning In America documentary series on the full range of American identities. Geraldine joined CNN after working at NBC News and MSNBC.

As an independent filmmaker Geraldine is the director, writer and executive producer of Until 20, which documents the inspirational life of James Ragan, a Latino Texan, who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at age 13. It’s about his journey as a promising young golfer trying to save the life of the next kid with cancer, before his own time runs out. Until 20 won the Austin Film Festival Marquee Film Audience Award and Courage Award, and the Virginia Film Festival Audience Award for a documentary Feature.

Geraldine is the recipient of five Emmy awards, an Alfred I. DuPont Award and two Peabody Awards. She has two RTNDA-Unity Awards, two Newswomen’s New York Front Page News Feature Awards, two National Association of Black Journalists First Place Documentary Awards, four New York Association of Black Journalists awards, four New York Film Festival Awards, the US Films Video Festival Silver Screen Award, two National Headliner Awards, the “Chris” Award of the Columbus International Film and Video Festival and a Nancy Susan Reynolds Informational Documentary Finalist Award.

Pamela Newkirk is a tenured professor at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, where she also serves as Director of Undergraduate Studies. Ms. Newkirk is an award-winning journalist whose articles have been published in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, and Artnewss. Her book Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga (Harper Collins 2015) reveals a little-known and shameful episode in American history, when an African man was used as a zoo exhibit—a shocking story of racial prejudice, science, and tragedy in the early years of the twentieth century. She is editor of Letters from Black America (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2009; Beacon Press, 2011), and A Love No Less: More Than Two Centuries of African American Love Letters(Doubleday 2004). She is also the author of Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media, (NYU Press 2000), which won the National Press Club Award for Media Criticism. Prior to joining the New York University journalism faculty, she worked at four successive news organizations, including New York Newsday where she was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team. She holds an undergraduate journalism degree from New York University and masters and doctorate degrees from Columbia University.

Amarah Sedreddine is a transactional attorney focusing in nonprofit and exempt-organizations law. She has a wealth of experience advising nonprofit clients, both large and small, on a wide range of tax, regulatory, governance and general corporate and transactional matters. She is currently in the process of launching her own private practice, and previously worked as both Special Counsel and Assistant General Counsel at the Vera Institute of Justice, Associate General Counsel at The New York Community Trust, and in private practice at Morrison & Foerster LLP and Mann Legal Group, a boutique practice exclusively serving nonprofit organizations. She graduated from Princeton University and NYU School of Law.

Dr. Scyatta A. Wallace is an award-winning psychologist and teen expert with over 15 years experience working with youth and youth serving organizations. Dr. Wallace combines her love for arts and educating youth as CEO/Founder of Janisaw Company, a curriculum design firm which focuses on life skills and self esteem building for teen girls and young women. She received her BA in Psychology from Yale University and her PhD in Psychology from Fordham University and is currently an Associate Professor of Psychology (with tenure) at St. John’s University.

Dr. Alfonso Wyatt has worked with four generations of young people in community based organizations, public school and the faith community. He is highly regarded for his work with young people in transfer schools, foster care, and juvenile detention facilities, as well as working with young people on their way to college and beyond. He served as Vice President of the Fund for the City of New York for over two decades and is the founder of Strategic Destiny: Designing Futures Through Faith and Facts. He attended Howard University, Columbia Teacher’s College, The Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy, the Columbia Institute for Nonprofit Management (INM), and New York Theological Seminary. Dr. Wyatt has also served as Chair of The 21st Century Foundation and Chair of The Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, New York Affiliate.

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