Leadership & Staff


Governance Advisory Board Staff


Julie_Alleyne.jpg   Julie Alleyne: Currently, Ms. Alleyne is the CEO of a startup Deposit Group, of which she is a co-founder. The company is providing alternatives to the cash security deposit for renters. Prior to Deposit Group, Julie Alleyne served as a Director in the Bond Claim Department of The Hartford, where she managed a team of attorneys and claim professionals. She was with The Hartford from 2002 to 2011, prior to which she was in-house counsel with Travelers. She has focused her career in the area of Construction, Surety and Fidelity law for over 17 years, originally starting in private practice in CT. Ms. Alleyne is a regular speaker at industry conferences and contributing author for industry publications, including the ABA Torts and Insurance Practices Section's Fidelity and Surety Law Committee and the Pearlman Conference in Seattle, WA.  She received her B.A. from Drew University in 1992 and her J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law in 1995.
bethany_headshot_11-14.jpg    Bethany Berger: Professor Bethany Berger is a widely read scholar of Property Law and Legal History and one of the leading federal Indian Law scholars in the country.  She is a co-author and member of the Editorial Board of Felix S. Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law, the foundational treatise in the field, and co-author of leading casebooks in both Property Law and American Indian Law.  Her articles have appeared in the Michigan Law Review, California Law Review, UCLA Law Review, and the Duke Law Journal, among other publications, and have been excerpted and discussed in many casebooks and edited collections as well as in briefs to the Supreme Court and testimony before Congress. Professor Berger graduated with honors from Wesleyan University, where she was elected to phi beta kappa, and from Yale Law School.  After law school, Professor Berger went to the Navajo and Hopi Nations to serve as the Director of the Native American Youth Law Project of DNA-People's Legal Services.  There, she conducted litigation challenging discrimination against Indian children, drafted and secured the passage of tribal laws affecting children, and helped to create a Navajo alternative to detention program.  She then became Managing Attorney of Advocates for Children of New York, where she worked on impact litigation and policy reform concerning the rights of children in public education. At the University of Connecticut School of Law, Professor Berger teaches American Indian Law, Property, Tribal Law, and Conflict of Laws.  She is also the Wallace Stevens Professor of Law, a chair named for one of America’s greatest poets, a lawyer who lived and worked in Hartford for most of his life.  She has served as a judge for the Southwest Intertribal Court of Appeals and as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and the University of Michigan Law School.
Dani_Briggs.png   Dani Briggs: Dani is a Senior Vice President and Commercial Relationship Manager in the New England region for Santander Bank. In this capacity she is responsible for advising and providing financing and treasury solutions to business clients in the Small and Middle Market areas.

Throughout her 11 years at Santander, she has worked with companies of all sizes and stages – from start-ups to small/medium size enterprise companies. Most recently, and prior to her current role, she led a team of Business Banking Relationship Managers in the Southern New England region. Under her guidance, her team of Bankers provided an invaluable service to the business community – by becoming the voice of the business customer within the Bank and advising them on the best solutions to access and manage capital to achieve their financial goals.

Dani is also a founding committee member of the Women’s Network Group at Santander – which promotes diversity, philanthropy, mentorship, and professional development for women within the Bank. She also represented her business banking colleagues on the Executive Business Council.

She is graduate of the University of Connecticut and an active community member, currently serving as Vice-Chairperson on the Board of the South Windsor Child Development Center.

Fisher__T._Portrait_CROPPED_HEADSHOT.JPG   Timothy Fisher: Tim is a Professor of Law at the UConn Law School, where he served as Dean from 2013 to 2020. A graduate of Hartford Public High School, Yale University and Columbia Law School, Tim practiced law in the Hartford area for several decades before joining UConn. While in private practice he focused his work on municipal law, construction, family wealth disputes, and ethics. He held leadership roles in his firms, including their pro bono programs. His advocacy work has included criminal justice reform, the innocence movement, access to justice and marriage equality. Tim has served on numerous nonprofit boards, including as Board President at the Prison Policy Initiative and at the Connecticut Bar Foundation. He has also served on numerous state commissions and task forces, including as co-chair of the 2016 Task Force on access to Justice in Civil Matters, and chair of the 2021 federal District of Connecticut Magistrate Merit Selection Committee, and the 2012 Commission on Judicial Compensation. Tim is a resident of Hartford.
John_Flores.png   John Rubén Flores: John is an attorney with extensive experience in the financial services industry involving compliance, governance, investments, regulatory issues, litigation and board membership. He recently served as General Counsel to The Connecticut Treasurer regarding the $43 billion state employee retirement funds. Prior to his state service he was the Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary at Boston Mutual Life Insurance Company. Before beginning his career at Boston Mutual Life in 2012, John worked for the Phoenix Companies for fourteen years as Vice President of litigation. Prior to that position, he worked as in-house counsel for Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company for fourteen years and led the litigation unit through the merger with Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company. He started his career as a litigation associate at Robinson, Robinson & Cole.

John volunteered as an administrative law judge for the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities for eight years and served as a special master for the United States District Court (D. Conn.). Currently he serves on the Federal Grievance Committee. He received his B.A. from Columbia College and his JD from Columbia Law School.

He is a member of the American, Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut Bar Associations and active in industry organizations, including past president of the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association, past chair of the Connecticut Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Executive Committee, Treasurer of the CBA (1998-99) and past chair of the American Council of Life Insurers’ Litigation Committee. Also, he served on the Board of Governors for the Association of Life Insurance Counsel.

John was elected to the Catholic Charities’ Board of Trustees in 2005. Three years later, he was elected Chairperson of the Board and held this office for over ten years. He served on the boards of numerous non-profits and quasi-government entities.

Shanay.png   Shanay Fulton: Shanay's connection to Middletown started when she first moved to the North End of town and began attending community action meetings with the North End Action Team. At the time she was looking to engage and feel part of the Middletown community. Her biggest break into community engagement was when she began working for Middletown Public Schools in 2016. She began working as a paraprofessional in Middletown High School, where she started a youth community engagement group with MHS students at North End Action Team. She also worked as a paraprofessional at Keigwin Middle School and currently as a Family Resource Specialist at Macdonough Elementary providing community resources to families.

Racial equity and inclusion is very important to Shanay because it’s been a topic often swept under the rug. With such a highly sensitive social and political climate, one of the first target areas has been with regards to racial equity. People of color, especially, women of color are stepping into more leadership roles and sitting at the table as change makers for their communities. As a woman of color Shanay has been extremely proud to be on the spectrum of that community change.

Joining Middletown Works!, a Working Cities Initiative first as a Co-Leader with Executive Director Rebecca Lemanski and then as the Asset Mapping Manager has opened up doors of opportunity for Shanay to continue community engagement. On Friday evenings, Shanay and her CORE Team partner Shardae Nicholson provide single mothers of color a space via FB Live series to discuss topics affecting the women. This opportunity gives a platform to other women to voice their concerns, showcase their talents, and offer services. Women of color account for some of the highest levels of racial inequities due to systemic racism in the workforce and education which often result in poverty. Poverty is one of the main issues the Middletown Works! initiative is looking to change with hope to bridge the gap within the

Shanay is the current Commissioner of Planning and Zoning in Middletown.

hinton.png   Robert Hinton: Robert C. Hinton has extensive experience in all phases of commercial and complex litigation and employment law counseling and is a member of Pullman & Comley LLC's Labor, Employment Law & Employee Benefits Department.  He has represented a wide range of clients from small business owners to Fortune 500 companies. He regularly litigates and counsels on breach of contract claims; employment discrimination claims; non-compete litigation; wage and hour claims; Family Medical Leave Act claims; ERISA benefit denial of disability claims; enforcement/execution of domestic and foreign judgments; recovery of funds, assets, and property; commercial landlord/tenant matters; unfair and/or deceptive trade practices; and fraudulent conveyances.  Prior to beginning his legal career, Bob served more than eight years on active duty in the United States Army. 
dejesus.png   Anthony De Jesús: Dr. De Jesús is an Assistant Professor of Social Work and Latino Community Practice and Director of Field Education for the new MSW Program at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, CT. Dr. De Jesús has extensive experience as a social work practitioner, administrator and researcher in urban schools, community based organizations, and institutions of higher education and previously served as an Assistant Professor at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and as a researcher and Interim Director at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College. Dr. De Jesús holds an Ed.D. in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, an MSW from the Boston University School of Social Work and a BSW from Dominican College. Dr. De Jesús’ current research focuses on examining pathway models into health and social work careers for Latinos, the post-secondary experiences of Latinos within higher education, the effectiveness of cultural competence training in child welfare and the evaluation of supportive housing and mental health services provided to formerly incarcerated women.
Makaela_Kingsley.jpg   Makaela Kingsley: Prior to joining the Open Communities Alliance board in 2016, Makaela lived in 9 different places - from rural farmland in the Catskills to the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It was when she bought her first home in suburban Connecticut in 2010 that she became fascinated by the intersection of systemic racism, housing, and access to opportunity. She read Raj Chetty’s research on the link between zip code and life outcomes, and she later joined the OCA Coalition to find out what she could do to create change. 

Today, Makaela still lives in Hamden with her husband Matt, their kids Amelia and Eli, and a hedgehog named Avi. Previously, she worked as director of Wesleyan University’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and she is now head of strategic partnerships in Dream.Org’s office of the founder and, occasionally, a substitute teacher. 

Estela_2019_portrait.jpg   Estela R. López: Estela retired from the CT State Colleges and Universities System where she served as the Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. She is the former Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs of the Connecticut State University System. She served in that capacity from 2002 to 2007.

From 1997 to 2002, Dr. López occupied the position of provost and vice president for academic affairs at Northeastern Illinois University. Prior to joining NEIU, López served as a senior associate at the American Association for Higher Education and as a senior fellow at the American Council on Education while on a year long sabbatical.

From 1990 to 1995, López was vice president for academic affairs and planning at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico.

López earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish literature at Queens College. She then attended Columbia University, where she earned both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Spanish literature.

She is the recipient of the Hispanic Caucus of AAHE Distinguished Leadership in Higher Education Award. She is also the recipient of the Illinois Latino Council in Higher Education Distinguished Service Award. In 2005 she was the recipient of the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund Award. The Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission selected her as the Latina Citizen of the Year for 2006. In 2008 she also received The Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association Achievement Award. She was selected as one of the 2017 Wonder Women by Malta House.

In 2015, she was reappointed as a board member of the Connecticut State Board of Education and served as the vice chair of the board until 2022. In addition, she served on the boards of Connecticut Health and Education Financial Authority, and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. She is currently a member of the board of Malta House of Care.

In October 2022 the National Conference for Community and Justice awarded her the Human Relations Award.

Royster.png   Constance Royster: Constance L. Royster is the principal of Laurel Associates LLC. She is a recognized fundraising, education, nonprofit, and organizational leader. Ms. Royster served as the first ever director of major giving for WSHU National Public Radio in Connecticut, and subsequently at Yale University, her alma mater, as associate director of development at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and then as director of development at the Yale Divinity School. Ms. Royster came to nonprofit work after a successful career as a lawyer and is deeply committed to civic responsibility. In addition to Open Communities Alliance, she has been entrusted with leadership positions at numerous local, national, and international organizations that have benefited from her wisdom. Beyond her impressive career accomplishments, Ms. Royster brings to OCA her family’s deep civil rights legacy. Her aunt, Constance Baker Motley, was the first black female federal judge, and participated in drafting the complaint in Brown v. Board of Education. Ms. Royster and her extended family remain committed supporters of civil rights and social justice issues. Born and raised in New Haven, CT, Ms. Royster is a Fellow of Jonathan Edwards College at Yale. She received her juris doctor from Rutgers University Law School – Newark and graduated with a B.A. cum laude from Yale University.
Bilal_Sekou.png   Bilal Dabir Sekou, Ph.D.: Bilal Dabir Sekou is an Associate Professor of Political Science in Hillyer College at the University of Hartford. His research interests are race and politics, urban politics, and campaigns, elections, and voting behavior. Sekou has published articles on social and political participation by African Americans and public attitudes toward quality and integrated education in Connecticut.

Sekou was born in Detroit, Michigan. He received a BS in public administration and governmental economics from Eastern Michigan University, and earned his MA in public administration and Ph.D. in political science from The Ohio State University. He has been teaching at the University of Hartford since the summer of 2002.

As an engaged scholar, over the years Sekou has served on the Boards of Directors for a number of organizations working on democracy reforms, and racial and economic justice, including Northeast Action, Democracy Works, Connecticut Citizen’s Action Group, the Connecticut Center for a New Economy, and One Connecticut. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Mirror, Open Communities Alliance, and he is the Chair of the Board of Directors of Common Cause in Connecticut and a member of the National Governing Board for Common Cause.

tegeler.png   Philip Tegeler: Mr. Tegeler is the Executive Director of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC), a civil rights policy organization based in Washington, DC. PRRAC’s current work focuses on the areas of housing, education, and environmental justice, with a focus on developing actionable policies to overcome the mechanisms that continue to reproduce historical patterns of racial and economic segregation. Mr. Tegeler is a civil rights lawyer with more than 25 years’ experience in fair housing, educational equity, land use law, and criminal justice reform. Before coming to PRRAC, he was with the Connecticut ACLU, where he served as Legal Director from 1997-2003. He has also worked as Legal Projects Director at the Metropolitan Action Institute in New York City, and taught in the University of Connecticut School of Law clinical program. Mr. Tegeler is a graduate of Harvard College and the Columbia Law School. (Member of the Connecticut and District of Columbia Bar). 













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