Panelist Bios

Real Talk About Racism: A Panel Discussion Facilitated by Marlon Smith

Learn more about the incredible group of panelists that will be sharing their thoughts, experiences, and expertise as part of our panel on Tuesday night. We are so grateful for their involvement!

Katrina James is the Founder and Principal of Sàga Consulting Services, which provides strategic and programmatic support to nonprofit and educational organizations. She is also the founding Deputy Executive Director of Building Bridges NY, an educational advocacy organization that serves students in Staten Island. Prior to this position, she was the Senior Director, College and Career Programs at the Harlem Children's Zone. She also was a Senior Associate at the corporate law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in New York.  Immediately after obtaining her JD in 2007, she worked for Clifford Chance US, LLP for one year. Ms. James's early career after graduation was in social work and higher education administration. Before she began practicing law, she worked in a multi-service child welfare agency as a social worker and part of the leadership team, and in graduate schools of social work and public policy as an administrator. Ms. James is an active volunteer in her community. At Cornell, Ms. James has served in various leadership roles, including three terms as Chair of the Cornell University Council, and leading the Committee on Alumni Trustee Nominations, Cornell Black Alumni Association, and the Class of 1996. She is also President of the Law Alumni Association at the NYU School of Law and serves on the Leadership Council at Lawyers for ChildrenMs. James graduated from Cornell University in 1996 with a degree in Human Service Studies and a concentration in Social Work. She obtained her MSW from NYU in 1997 and her JD from NYU in 2007. Ms. James also obtained an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership in 2017 upon completion of the two-year Broad Residency in Urban Education. She lives in Jersey City, NJ, and is a TIGS Alumna.

Semaj Mcleod first attended LMTI as a participant in 2017. He then was selected to be a member of the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) in 2018 and 2019. A recent graduate of McNair Academic in Jersey City, Semaj enjoys playing soccer, designing and working on things for his clothing brand, spending time in the city, watching sports, and listening to music. He will be attending New Jersey City University in the fall to study Sports Business and Management.

Born and raised in a rural town of Puerto Rico, Dr. Melany Rivera-Maldonado decided to change her career path in 2010 from journalism to clinical psychology. Hardheaded, but with a kind heart and a love for stories, she found in psychology the possibility to create, and help others create, a healing narrative of life itself. From journalism to psychology, Dr. Rivera-Maldonado guides others in their journey to find the many sides of relationships, and how they shape how we react towards distress, closeness and happiness. Dr. Rivera-Maldonado is currently the Director of the YCS Institute for Preschool and Infant Mental Health and the owner of Round Room Psychology. As part of her work, she provides training to doctoral students while providing services to children and families in Hudson and Essex counties. She has taught at higher education institutions and currently provides consultation and workshops to non-profits on topics such as, diversity, child development and trauma informed care. As a first generation graduate student, she values the importance of mentorship and the power of fostering and nurturing relationships

Jazmin first became involved with LMTI in 2017 with the Harrison High School Action Group. She is currently a sophomore attending Hudson Community College. Jazmin plans to attend law school to become a United States District Judge. She is very passionate about immigrant and civil rights, and plans to change our judicial and incarceration system by working in policies that will empower people of all different backgrounds. Jazmin stands for those who cannot stand, and speaks for those who cannot speak. She plans on changing lives and empowering people.

Andre Richburg (known as Dre in the TI world) is a nearly 20-year veteran in the higher education, college admissions field. Hailing from Passaic, NJ, Dre was a TIGger back in 1994, a YAC the following year, part of the inaugural year of College Track in 1996, a 3-year CAT, member of the TI staff as well as a YAC and CATS Coordinator. Dre's passion for inclusion, access and success for individuals from marginalized populations is exemplified by his creation of diversity programs in the Garden State, support for underserved students in college and educating professionals on the needs and resources for this segment of our society. Dre currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Liz. 

For the past decade, De’Marco Fomby has been working to live out his passion — inspiring and motivating young people to become the absolute best they can be. Using his background in music, sports, and mentoring, he encourages middle and high school students to think for themselves and to make choices based on what benefits them in the future, rather than the here and now. De’Marco aims to help teens understand that there is power in their passions, and through those passions, they can change the world with their influence.