Advisory Board Members
Mr. Sanders is the president, CEO, and co-founder of WSM Associates, LLC, www.wsmassociatesllc.com established in 2003. He earned his Bachelor’s of Architecture from Hampton University, where he finished at the top of his class.
While growing up in the Newark community, community development was always a part of his upbringing. He modeled himself after his grandfather Cecil H. Sanders Sr. who was a Newark resident and father Cecil H. Sanders Jr. also a Newark resident and built his own Newark based business, C.H.S. Construction Co. www.chsconsructionco.com.
Mr. Sanders often bore in mind how the two were always heavily involved in community building activities; the fruit didn't fall far from the tree, as it were. Mr. Sanders heard about the heavily publicized cuts to the NJ Educational System such as afterschool, arts, and elective programs. Knowing that youth development would greatly suffer, he saw a need in the Newark community and decided to get involved. He developed an elective program called "How to Create a Visionary with an Architect's Mind" and began teaching and mentoring at many schools, churches and juvenile detention centers, in Newark and the Essex County area. He understands that Education is the key to building a child's foundation and instilling a culture of learning. He also understands that mentorship and life skills training are extremely necessary to fill the voids that every human being has and are a necessary support system, without which many would fall through the cracks. Mr. Sanders’ primary solution and secondary goal is to eliminate these cracks by developing a Wisdom Shapes Minds After Schoool Program and a Wisdom Shapes Minds Learning Center. Last but not least, Chris desires to build a Newark Community Cultural Center in the heart of Newark which will promote wellness, healing, architectural life skills, financial literacy, entreprenuerial leadership, legal rights training, job readiness, empathy and education for adults and children that will afford, stabilize, and energize the wisdom to live happier lives. Lastly, he was the Hosts The Wisdom Shapes Minds Radio Show every Sunday, from 3-4pm on www.celestialspaceradio.com. This online radio show, was focused on shining a light on communal issues, providing solutions and the steps to implement the solutions in oder to stop youth falling through the cracks.
C. Christopher Sanders
& Founder / CEO
Through a variety of life experiences, educational endeavors, and practical applications, Ms. Searcy began her vocational career in education as a primary, intermediate, and secondary school educator in south-east Asia. In 2005, while living in Australia, she was recruited by an intermediate school which led to her relocation to New Jersey. In total, she has 18 years’ experience teaching AP English, AP US History II, and American / British Literature as well as World Literature and English/ History vertical thematic curriculum. She is a founding educator of a secondary school in Newark, NJ.Ms. Searcy was an alumna of Central State University and Wright State University where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Pre-Med /Biology. She has also earned the achievement of an advanced degree in World and English Literature from the University of Oxford, Worcester College, under the tutelage of Prof. David Bradshaw. At Oxford, she studied nineteenth and twentieth-century English Literature, especially the relationship between literature, society, and ideas in the period 1880-1945. Ms. Searcy is also member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Char-Lotte L. Searcy - Sanders
Board Vice President
Mr. Henry is a business owner and entrepreneur. He is the CEO of VetSoureUSA LLC; whose mission is to help US Veterans find meaningful employment in Technology and other Corporate Service Areas. Lyon has worked as a Network Engineer, IT Project Manager, and Technologist over the last 2 decades. He has worked for a variety of corporate entities including Verizon, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, and Reckitt Benckiser.
Lyon has served in the US Army and the New Jersey National Guard as an Information Security Officer. He has since retired after 21 years of service. His service included: 2 consecutive tours in South Korea and one tour in Iraq.
Lyon is passionate about Digital Divide issues that challenge Urban America and promote STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Writing, Engineering, and Math) education. Lyon holds an MBA in Technology Management from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and a BA from Rutgers University in Information Technology and Informatics.
& Technical Systems Advisor
Linda McDonald Carter currently serves as an Associate Professor and Director of the Paralegal Studies Program at Essex County College. Her humble beginnings started over five decades ago during the tumultuous 1950’s and the Civil Rights era that evolved into the Black Power Movement. Linda blossomed early as an active citizen, protesting the Vietnam War at the tender age of 12. She vividly recalls seeing the world through the eyes of the media and TV show about attorney Perry Mason rather than the realities she witnessed daily growing up in the Scudder Housing Projects located in Newark’s Central Ward after the Newark Rebellion of 1967. She vowed then to become an attorney, not necessarily to practice law and make money, but, rather to help make a difference in her community assisting with interpreting the language of law and providing direction on how to navigate the justice system.
Linda’s burning interest in the world in which we live intensified as she was introduced to new cultures, religions, and people. Throughout her experiences she gained an appreciation and deep respect for the History of the African Diaspora, and the political “isms.” She enrolled in Upward Bound at Bloomfield College, studied Political Science at Rutgers University, participated in the Continuing Legal Educational Opportunity Program at Howard University, and eventually completed her studies in law at Rutgers University.
After living in Southern California, Linda returned New Jersey. Again, working in the area of voter registration; particulary, working with the New York/New Jersey Motor Voter Project. Later In 1989, she began her current career providing instruction as an adjunct at Essex County College. Simultaneously, in 1990 she held the position of Assistant Corporation Counsel in East Orange. In 1992, she opened her own law firm, before joining with Lisa Hendricks-Richardson, Rhonda Pope Stephenson and Vanessa Williams Powell, to form one of the first and largest African American women law firms in New Jersey ( if not the U.S.) Richardson, Stephenson, Powell and Carter, LLC in 1996. During this time, Linda also served as an Assistant Public Defender for the City of Orange.
Linda is a member of the Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey – Vice President & member of the Social Justice Committee, the Garden State Bar Association –Member of the Social Justice Task Force, the New Jersey State Bar Association, and New Jersey Bar Association Committee on Paralegals, American Bar Association the American Association for Paralegal Education, Essex Bar Association and Paralegal Association of New Jersey. She also serves on the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics Fee Arbitration Committee for Essex County and was recently appointed to the New Jersey State Bar Foundation Law Adventure Committee & Program Development Committee.
Linda completed a Fellowship through the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Bridging Historias through Latino History and Culture Program, at the Graduate Center, CUNY, Presentation, titled, “The Evolution of Latino Politics in the U.S.” Additionally, in march 2016 Linda was sworn-in to practice law before the United States Supreme Court and later in November 2016 she was elected to the position of American Association for Paralegal Educators (AAfPE) reprehensive to the American Bar Association (ABA)
Linda’s community service activities are extensive and include currently serving as an Elder in the grass roots organization VOCAL (Voices of Change and Liberation).Linda is the eldest of 6 brothers, 2 sisters; aunt of 17 nieces and nephews and also grandaunt of 17. She is also the wife of a real cool husband, Aaron.
Linda McDonald Carter, Esq.
& Legal Advisor
Mr. Cooper was introduced to community service as a young man when in college. There, he became a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s, Iota Gamma Chapter. The fraternity was instrumental in introducing him to the concept of uplift through community service and mentoring. These are elements that he has adopted and has incorporated into his life today.
The evidence of Steven’s commitment to service is shown in several leadership positions he has held over the years. He is a former member of the Rider University Alumni Association Board of Directors, former Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the Central Jersey Arts Charter School, former Commissioner of the Franklin Township Redevelopment Authority, former Vice President of the New Jersey Association of Minority Real Estate Professionals, former President of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Upsilon Phi Graduate Chapter, and until recently, President of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, Scholarship Ministry.
He presently serves as the 2015 Youth Leadership Chairperson for the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s District Conference, Charter Member for Dialogue Parties Toastmasters Club, and a member of the East Orange Chamber of Commerce. His latest self initiative is to mentor 400 young men in the Newark and East Orange communities, with the assistance of several local non-profit organizations.
Professionally, Steven has been a licensed mortgage banker for 25 years, where in 2007 he was named “National Mortgage Professional of the Year” by the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB).
Steven is a graduate of Rider University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce. Additionally he attended Fairleigh Dickinson University where he studied in their Masters of Business Administration program.
In his leisure time Steven loves reading, mentoring, public speaking and is an avid skier. He is the very proud father of Chelsea Cooper, who currently attends Syracuse University where she is majoring in Finance. Steven has fully embraced a life of service where he encourages others to step out of their comfort zone and into their true greatness. His motto is “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.
Board Advisor Advisor
Ms. Gist-Esmond is a native of Newark, NJ, who attended Newark Public Schools. It is within those walls of public education where Ms. Gist-Esmond participated in track and field; was captain of the twirlers; member of the orchestra; and the honors program. Essex County College is where she practiced Computer Science. Her decision to enter into fitness was based upon both family and personal history. While watching her father’s challenges with Diabetes and High Blood Pressure, Ms. Gist-Esmond learned early on that, by adopting a healthy lifestyle, she could help ensure that she would not follow in with “the family footsteps”. Ms. Gist-Esmond soon discovered that she had a love for the fitness field and made the decision to become a certified Aerobics Instructor/Trainer. This enabled her to share her passion for Health and Wellness with others. Throughout her career, she has had the opportunity to educate, motivate, inspire and empower others on how to achieve and maintain their own personal fitness goals. She also has been in the position to train those who want to be a personal trainer. Currently, she is pursuing a more personal goal of “giving back to her community” by teaching, health & fitness programs in local churches, community centers and schools. Ms. Gist-Esmond has been in the fitness field for over 20 years.
As a business adviser/ change agent, I have been working with entrepreneurs and small businesses development for over 30 years. I am able to guide individuals through the life style transition process to successful business ownership.Empowering companies and their owners with the strategic value of mutualism and synergistic partnership. In 2016 was a member of The City of Newark Strategic Planning Committee regarding business and real state development planning for 2017.
Business & Strategic Advisor
Narelle Myke is an urban infill developer and real estate investor. Having worked over 15 years in clinical research in both academia and the pharmaceutical industry, Narelle uses her extensive background of managing clinical trials and clinical project teams to lead multiple residential development projects.
Narelle possesses a wealth of experience investing in and managing residential properties in Newark, NJ. She is the President of New Age Investment Properties, LLC, a real estate investment and development company whose mission is to provide clean, affordable, and habitable rental units within communities in Newark, NJ. Key to her current role is managing all infill projects from start to finish, including site selection & acquisition to project design & oversight of the construction process. Ms. Myke leads a series of contemporary, residential developments currently in pre-construction, all of which will positively add to each neighborhood’s revitalization activities.
Ms. Myke serves as the Parliamentarian for Wisdom Shapes Minds Community Development Corporation. As a board member for this community organization, one of her long-term goals is to develop a curriculum geared towards students and parents interested in learning and participating in small scale development projects within their neighborhoods.
Narelle has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from New York Medical College. She also holds a real estate agent license in the state of New Jersey and is a member of the National Association of Realtors and the Incremental Development Alliance.
Ms. Leach-Toomer, a native of Plainfield, NJ has been active in the community since she was a teenager as part of the National Council of Negro Women. She is a graduate of The Wardlaw-Hartridge School and holds an undergraduate degree from Douglass College and a graduate degree from Seton Hall University. Her career has taken her from the entertainment industry to the classroom. While working as an entertainment publicist, Ms. Leach-Toomer decided to give teaching a try and has remained an adjunct professor in the Humanities department of Essex County Community College since 1992. Additionally, she was an integral member of the Communications and Community Engagement team for the Newark Public Schools. During her tenure with NPS, she served as project manager for community and parental engagement programs. Ms. Leach-Toomer currently works for the United Way of Essex and West Hudson for the “My Very Own Library” program, that gives away free books to students in the Newark Public Schools. She resides in Essex County with her family.
Karen Leach -Toomer
Ms. Gallmon is a career educator and an experienced math educator consultant, who exudes a passionate commitment for children to succeed. A former employee in the Plainfield and South Plainfield Schools, Ms. Gallmon has held to the philosophy that all students will learn when educators provide a positive learning environment that promotes student confidence and instruction that is engaging, reflective, research-based, and differentiated to meet the needs of our students. This has led Ms. Gallmon to think out of the box when reflecting on her own instructional practices, while also advocating for her students when she felt that additional resources were needed to help them succeed, not just academically, but as a whole child. This passion has also facilitated various opportunities one being a presenter at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Ms. Gallmon received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Tuskegee University, and a Master of Education in School Counseling. Her passion and background keeps Ms. Gallmon at the forefront of advocacy and allows her given-gifts to be used to have a positive impact on the communities which she serve. She is a resident of Plainfield, where she lives with her college age daughters.