Our People

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Tom Roderick, Executive Director

Tom oversees all Morningside Center’s programs. During his 33-year tenure as executive director of Morningside Center, Tom has helped build the organization from a one-person operation to a stable mid-sized nonprofit. In 1985, Tom co-founded the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program. In 2002, he created The 4Rs (Reading, Writing, Respect and Resolution). Tom’s early experience teaching in East Harlem is the basis of his book, A School of Our Own: Parents, Power and Community at the East Harlem Block Schools. He has a Bachelors degree from Yale and a Masters in Education from Bank Street College of Education.


Tala Manassah, Deputy Executive Director

Tala joined Morningside Center in 2009. She has led the development and rapid expansion of Restore360, a collaborative effort with the NYC Department of Education to introduce restorative practices into the NYC public schools. Tala serves on Mayor De Blasio's Commission on School Climate and Culture, and on Chancellor Carmen Farina's advisory counsel on social and emotional learning. Before coming to Morningside Center, Tala was the founding executive director of the Middle East Children's Institute (MECI). In 2008, MECI was recognized by the Clinton Global Initiative, and became one of CGI's Member Commitments. Tala has a Bachelors degree in Philosophy and Masters in the Humanities from the University of Chicago. 


Lillian Castro, Director of Operations 

Lillian oversees administration of Morningside Center’s work in schools as well as our PAZ after-school programs. Before joining Morningside Center in 1997, she was coordinator of the Center for Collaborative Education’s Coalition Campus Schools Project and a community school board member. She has a BS degree from Empire State College.



Sara Carrero, Communications Associate

Katrena Dennard, Assistant Controller

Leslie Dennis, Program Associate

Chenelle Francis, Staff Accountant

Larry Garvin, Director of Finance

Yaritza Hernandez, PAZ Program Manager

Bryanna Kolja, Program Director, PAZ @ PS 214 Middle School After-School Program

Doris Lo, Program Associate

Ann Mathews, Human Resources Director

Laura McClure, Director of Fundraising and Communications

Kristin Stuart Valdes, 4Rs/MTP Program Director

Adam Torres, Program Director, PAZ @ PS 214 Elementary School After-School Program

Joseph Yabyabin, Human Resources Assistant




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