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 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 ReviewCalifornia Law ReviewUCLA 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: 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.


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. 


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: Makaela Kingsley is the Director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneuership at Wesleyan University. Makaela (Steinberg) Kingsley graduated from Wesleyan in 1998 with a degree in Neuroscience & Behavior. After a brief stint doing public relations for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, she returned to Wesleyan, in 2000, to join the Alumni & Parent Relations team, before becoming the Director of the Patricelli Center in 2013. She has served on boards for Middletown’s North End Action Team, the Neighborhood Preschool, and the Wesleyan Alumni Association, and she has been a judge for the Echoing Green Fellowship and a mentor for Startup Weekend. Currently residing in Hamden, she still considers Middletown and New Haven two of her home cities.


Estela López: Estela R. López was previously the interim provost and senior vice president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education at the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System. Prior to her current appointment, she served as senior associate at Excelencia in Education, a non-profit organization committed to accelerating Latino student success. She is the former vice chancellor of academic affairs for the Connecticut State University System. She served in that capacity from 2002 to 2007. From 1997 to 2002, Ms. López was provost and vice president for academic affairs at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU). Prior to joining NEIU, Ms. 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. Ms. López is a board member of the Connecticut State Board of Education, and a past president of the board of the Fund for Greater Hartford Foundation. In addition, she serves on the board of United Way of Connecticut, Bay Path University, and the Latino Endowment Fund of the Hartford Foundation. 

Richard_Porth.jpg   Richard J. Porth: Richard J. Porth served as President/CEO of United Way of Connecticut (UWC) from 2008 to 2020. UWC helps to meet the needs of Connecticut residents by providing information, education, and connection to services. UWC collaborates with local United Ways and Connecticut state agencies to provide these services.

Richard Porth previously served as Vice President for Grantmaking for the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the community foundation for the Greater Hartford region. In this capacity, he managed the broad-based, responsive part of the Hartford Foundation’s grantmaking, which awards grants to a broad range of community agencies throughout the region.

Before joining the Foundation in 2003, Rick served as the Executive Director of the Capitol Region Council of Governments for more than nine years. In his work for the mayors and first selectmen of the Hartford region, and the cities and towns they represent, he collaborated with business, civic, and government leaders to advocate and implement regional solutions to regional challenges. One area of particular focus for Rick was promoting better access to opportunity for people living in low-income neighborhoods.

Rick started his career in City government in Trenton, New Jersey, ultimately serving as the City’s chief administrative officer. He then served two appointments in New Jersey state government, as Director in the Division of Community Resources and as Executive Director of the Capital City Redevelopment Corporation. He is a graduate of Yale University and holds an MPA from Pennsylvania State University. Rick and his wife have three children.


J. L. Pottenger, Jr.: Professor Pottenger is the Nathan Baker Clinical Professor of Law and Supervising Attorney at Yale Law School. His subjects include housing and community development, legislative advocacy, prison legal services, trial practice, landlord/tenant law, and professional responsibility. Professor Pottenger received his A.B. from Princeton and his J.D. from Yale.


John Relman:Mr. Relman is the founder and director of Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC.  Mr. Relman has represented scores of plaintiffs and public interest organizations in individual and class action discrimination cases in federal court.  Prior to the formation of the firm, Mr. Relman served as project director of the Fair Housing Project at the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.  Under his leadership the project achieved national recognition, winning some of the largest housing, lending, and public accommodations discrimination jury verdicts and settlements obtained in the country.  Prior to joining the Lawyers' Committee, Mr. Relman worked as a staff attorney at the National Office of the Lawyers' Committee.  Mr. Relman received a A.B. from Harvard University, cum laude, and aJ.D. from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.


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 station 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. She has been entrusted with leadership positions at numerous local, national, and international organizations. In addition to Open Communities Alliance, the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven’s Fund for Women and Girls, Federal Bar Council, Yale Alumni Fund, International Festival of Arts & Ideas, and Dwight Hall at Yale – The Center for Public Service and Social Justice are but a few of the boards 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 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, a civil rights policy organization convened by major civil rights, civil liberties, and anti-poverty groups. Mr. Tegeler is a civil rights lawyer with more than 25 years experience in fair housing, educational equity, land use law, and institutional reform litigation. 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). 













  • Open Communities Alliance
  • 75 Charter Oak Avenue
  • Suite 1-200
  • Hartford, CT 06106
  • Phone: 860-610-6040