Nine Monmouth County community leaders and volunteers will be honored on March 10 during the 32nd annual Wilbur Ray Scholarship Dinner at the Sheraton Hotel in Eatontown.
The event, hosted by Brookdale Community College, recognizes significant contributions by county residents and organizations that, while substantial, do not always result in public recognition.
Proceeds from the dinner benefit the Wilbur Ray Scholarship Program, which awards scholarships to students of color. The awards are named for the late Wilbur Ray, former Brookdale police sergeant and an active volunteer in the Long Branch community.
This year’s honorees include volunteers, activists, professionals and community outreach workers in communities such as Asbury Park, Neptune, Brick, Howell and Hazlet.
Wanda A. Brauner
Wanda Brauner is a community relations representative for Amerigroup RealSolutions, a NJ FamilyCare HMO for the state of New Jersey. NJ FamilyCare provides health care plans for children, parents or caretaker relatives, and for adults without dependent children and specifically for those that need extra support and care.
Wanda received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with cum laude honors from Baruch College, a City University of New York, in 1993. She plans to obtain a master’s degree in health. When she graduated from Baruch College, she worked for the National Marine Manufacturers Association in New York City, where she held various positions but was primarily focused on helping company employees prepare presentations, exhibits, and resolve computer issues. She has been working in the service industry for the past 23 years.
After her first child was born, Wanda found a job in New Jersey with Amerigroup RealSolutions. She began her career as a marketing coordinator assisting marketing representatives with all activities related to managing a marketing team. She assisted clients and explained in detail the NJ FamilyCare program to dozens of prospective members on a daily basis. Wanda then moved on to become a community relations representative where she really began understanding the needs of the community that NJ FamilyCare served.
Wanda has well established roots with many local community organizations across New Jersey, including Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex, Essex, Union and most recently Atlantic and Camden counties. Her goals are to educate the community about health insurance, healthy eating, exercise and the importance of periodic visits to medical doctors, dentists and much more. Wanda’s main objective is to continue working with 501(c) organizations such as the Visiting Nurses Association (VNA) of New Jersey; Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Programs; food banks in and around Monmouth County; Community Affairs; Lunch Break; and other federally qualified health care organizations by informing community members of the importance of health care, explaining eligibility, and describing the exact process of how to continue receiving their health care coverage.
In addition to her work with NJ FamilyCare, Wanda serves as a referral contact for participants who may be eligible for the WIC Program and SNAP programs. She will continue to work with parents and kids at health fairs and other events to educate community members on New Jersey’s health program. She has been a silent but outstanding leader serving the community of Monmouth and other counties.
Ronald E. Dukes
Ron Dukes is a product of the Red Bank community. Coming of age through the grace of God, Ron graduated from Red Bank Regional High School’s Academy of Finance in the top ten percent of his class. Within the walls of RBR and his home church, Calvary Baptist Church, he discovered a burning passion for service, education, and the business world. Taking advantage of every opportunity offered to him, Ron was engaged in enough service and extracurricular activities to receive six U.S. Congressional achievement awards among other local and national distinctions.
Upon graduation Ron matriculated to Villanova University, where he studied accounting and immersed himself in campus life. His excitement and hunger for the accounting profession attracted the attention of the internationally recognized public accounting firm PwC, which offered him a rare paid internship after his freshman year. Ron would later complete three paid internships and receive a full-time job offer by the time he completed his junior year.
After much prayer and meditation, Ron received a calling in his junior year that would forever change the landscape at the Villanova School of Business. In keeping with the stewardship and humanitarian values of Calvary Baptist Church, Ron founded a service organization on campus called the Multicultural Business Association. The mission of this student organization aimed to empower minority business students with the tools and insights necessary to materialize their dreams in the business world. With his legacy established at Villanova, Ron had his sights set on a career in accounting until his senior year.
On the eve of his graduation from Villanova with dual bachelor degrees, the university offered Ron a full ride scholarship to obtain his Masters of Accountancy. In exchange for the full ride, Ron became a Retention Advisor for minority and first-generation sophomores at Villanova University. During that year, Ron completed his master’s degree, became certified as a CPA, and continued to do the work God has continually called him to do.
At the conclusion of an incredible five-year journey at Villanova, Ron began his career with PwC in the heart of New York City. Amidst the international travel, learning, and status that came with working for a prestigious firm, Ron answered the call to serve at Calvary Baptist Church and in the greater Monmouth County community. Within Calvary, Ron serves as Deacon in Training; Trustee; Financial Secretary; President of the Men of Calvary; and founder of the Leadership Academy. When not laboring in the Lord’s work, Ron works for Verizon at the company’s Basking Ridge headquarters.
Ron’s life serves as a testament to the grace of God, the power of prayer, and the adage “it takes a village to raise a child.” Ron’s greatest passion is helping others realize their greatest potential, and he encourages anyone to reach out to him personally. He would love to help.
Gerald Eugene Glisson
Gerald Eugene Glisson was born to Shirley Johnson Laporte’ and Eugene Glisson in Neptune, New Jersey and studied in the Neptune Township School System. While attending Neptune High School he played varsity football, basketball, and track & field. Upon graduation he attended Delaware State University on a football scholarship, where he was a varsity starter for two years and became a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
Mr. Glisson earned a bachelor of arts in sociology/criminal justice from the university in 1996, and soon after began a career with the Delaware Department of Corrections. He returned to New Jersey in 1999, taking a job as a youth worker for the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission. This put him on the track to later take a job with the New Jersey Department of Corrections as the assistant supervisor of recreation. In September of 2001 Mr. Glisson was afforded an opportunity to become a special education teacher for the Paterson Public School System, which he recalls as the greatest career move that he could have ever imagined. In Paterson he has led the Omega Teens Program for the past seven years. The program connects members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. with local male youth aged 8 to 18, providing opportunities for leadership development, social development, and big brother support.
During his tenure as an educator in the Paterson Public School District, Mr. Glisson has worked as special education teacher, teacher assistant to the principal, vice principal, and currently as principal of Great Falls Academy for Alternative Education. He has also returned to his alma mater in Neptune three times to work as a resource teacher, coach, chairperson of alternative education, and most recently as the first minority to become the administrator of co-curricular and athletics for the Neptune Township School District.
While at Neptune, Mr. Glisson instituted programs to assist athletes with tutoring to improve college readiness, mentoring for social development for conflict resolution, and NCAA clearinghouse classifications readiness. He collaborated with various outside agencies to bring male health clinic screenings to the Neptune Township community. under The Father and Daughter initiative programs.
His current appointment, Great Falls Academy, operates as a refuge for disenfranchised high school students who were unsuccessful in reaching required academic/behavior goals in a general educational setting. Great Falls Academy implements remedial measures through clinical counseling, meaningful and relevant instructional experiences, and self-management. The academy provides a safe and intellectually challenging environment that will empower students to become strategic thinkers, creative problem solvers, and inspired learners prepared to thrive in the 21st century.
Mr. Glisson has been married to his college sweetheart, Michelle, for 17 years. They have two beautiful daughters: Sydney (14) and Skylar (9). Together they have attempted to improve the knowledge and understanding of breast cancer to urban families over the past six years. After his wife was diagnosed and defeated cancer twice, Mr. Glisson truly understood the plan that God had for him.
Diteko Hammary is a native of Asbury Park and a 2005 graduate of Brookdale Community College. He has spent more than 20 years serving his community in countless ways. As a player and coach, Diteko – also known as Coach Teko – is a four-time state football champion and two-time national football champion. He strives to help the youth in his ailing community and its surrounding areas.
In 2012 Dietko founded the Sportz Farm Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on tutoring, mentoring, standardized test preparation, college tours and college and career readiness programs for inner city youth. The organization’s mantra is “to produce professionals on and off the field,” and since its founding Sportz Farm has been responsible for exposing hundreds of youth across the state and acrossthe country to colleges and careers beyond high school. Dietko currently serves as executive director of Sportz Farm.
He also serves as second vice president for the Asbury Park AYF and Cheer program, volunteers as a coach for the Matawan AYF football program, serves as president of the Asbury Park/Neptune and Long Branch local chapters of the National Action Network, and is cofounder of Charity Kings and Sportz Farm Cares, which promotes city events such as Get Out To Vote programs, Family Day, Wish Upon a Prom, the Back to School Supply Giveaway, Santa’s Closet and Feed The Unfortunate Thanksgiving Food Drive. Since the inception of Sportz Farm in 2012, the company has overseen more than $3.7 million in scholarships.
Dietko is married to Alisha, his beautiful wife of nine years, and is the proud father of five children. Alisha is also Brookdale alumna.
Jordan and Joelle Hernandez
Jordan and Joelle Hernandez are 24-year-old identical twins from Hazlet. They are both proud alumni of St. John Vianney High School in Holmdel and Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, where they studied communication and specialized in journalism and advertising. Since graduating in 2014, Jordan and Joelle have taken on various aspects of the communications field. They serve as hosts of A Double Dose of Entertainment, a weekly radio show airing on Yes Hour Radio which reports on positive celebrity news while playing gospel and inspirational music. The Double Dose bran houses Double Tap Communications, a social media consulting agency owned and operated by the Hernandez twins. Additionally, Jordan and Joelle are the authors of Twin Tales: Sasha and Sophie Go to School, the debut book of their newly established publishing company Happy People Publishing Inc.
Jordan and Joelle are also leaders in their community. Nearly 14 years ago, the sisters and two of their friends founded Little Souls Inc., a nonprofit organization established to help all of God’s “little souls” everywhere. Through Little Souls, the sisters have organized homemade carnivals in their front yard that helped raise funds for school supplies, a regular Pocketbook Bingo and Gift Auction, a “Jeans for Teens” drive to support local homeless populations and women’s shelters, and a “Christmas Party With a Purpose” toy drive which benefitted transitional housing support organizations such as Manna House in Matawan and Linkages in Tinton Falls. To date Little Souls has donated thousands of dollars to children in various capacities of need, including college scholarships, food, clothing and the beautification of inner city daycare centers. It has received the Kohl’s Kids Care Award, worked internationally with Oprah’s Angel Work, and most recently provided over 500 meals to families across the nation during No Kid Hungry’s Eliminate Hunger event in Manhattan.
Currently Jordan and Joelle are project managers at Mediaplanet USA, where they spearhead advocacy and awareness campaigns by publishing in leading national newspapers and digital media outlets. During their time at Mediaplanet, they have worked with celebrities, industry leaders and organizations including the March of Dimes, Sofia Vergara, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Eva Longoria, the Small Business Administration, Daymond John, Rock the Vote, and countless others.
Jordan and Joelle are both active Loyola alumni and members of the John Early Society and the Young Alumni Advisory Council. Additionally, Joelle recently completed a two-year term on Loyola’s board of trustees. Among their many recent endeavors, the twins have spearheaded “College Power Workshops” to prepare middle and high school students and parents for the realities and rigors of college life. They are also active members of the Cathedral International College Scholarship Committee and recent recipients of the Greater Monmouth Chamber of Commerce Young ATHENA Award, which recognizes individuals for their accomplishments, community service, and mentorship to women in their communities.
Dr. Yesenia Madas
Dr. Yesenia Madas is a first-generation college student and the first in her family to obtain a high school diploma. She is passionate about higher education and student success. She earned her Ed.D in educational leadership from Rowan University as part of the first community college cohort, and she holds a master’s degree in counseling and a bachelor’s degree in psychology, both from Mercy College.
Dr. Madas came to Brookdale Community College in 2004 as an adjunct instructor for the Educational Opportunity Fund summer bridge program. Immediately following the summer program, she began working as a full-time instructor in the counseling department. For the next ten years she worked closely with students in the EOF program.
In 2014, through a release from Brookdale, Dr. Madas served as the founding executive director of the Center for Student Success at the New Jersey Council of County Colleges. In this position she was responsible for providing direction and leadership to achieve the mission, strategy, goals, and objectives of the center. Dr. Madas worked closely with New Jersey’s 19 community colleges to support statewide student success efforts that are moving the needle on student success. Since this important work began, New Jersey’s community colleges have seen an increase of 45 percent in the total number of graduates. Dr. Madas also worked closely on college readiness, dual enrollment, guided pathways and a statewide completion program with Phi Theta Kappa leaders across the state. Upon returning to Brookdale in the fall of 2016, Dr. Madas accepted a new position as the dean of the Freehold Campus.
Her prior experience includes serving as an academic advisor at Mercy College, as a social worker for St. Christopher’s Inc., where she worked with foster care children, and as a secretary and job coach for Lifespire, formerly the Association of Children with Retarded Mental Development.
Dr. Madas has been involved with curriculum development for Brookdale’s College Success Seminar, First Year Experience Program and the EOF Student Success Seminar. She has served on various college-wide committees and numerous hiring committees.
Dr. Madas has received both a Brookdale Curriculum Grant and a Brookdale Innovation Grant. She is the recipient of the Student Life Board Gold Star Award, Outstanding Colleague Award and Volunteer of the Year. Dr. Madas has served two terms as president of the New Jersey Community College Counselor’s Association, co-chair of the EOF Counselor Training Institute and member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the College Board’s Community College Counselor Sourcebook. Dr. Madas has served as an adjunct in the psychology department, has published and is a presenter at numerous local, statewide and national conferences.
Mychal Mills was born and raised in Neptune Township. He is one of two sons born to Deneise and George Mills. He graduated from Red Bank Catholic High School and matriculated to Monmouth University, where he earned both a Bachelor of Science in business management and Master of Business Administration. Mychal currently serves as food sourcing supervisor at the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. He has prior experience in technology sales, healthcare, and youth development. Mychal spends most of his extracurricular time as a mentor, basketball coach and volunteer for various nonprofits in Monmouth County.
Mychal has been very involved in specialized initiatives throughout his academic and professional career. His passion for community enriched his collegiate experience at Monmouth University, and he has initiated many community programs such as sustainable business projects, life skills programs at the Boys & Girls Club, and a community radio station focused on fostering solutions. As president of Monmouth University’s Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) in 2011, he led a mission trip to Uganda, Africa in partnership with Monmouth University and Jersey Shore University Medical Center. The mission focused on healthcare, economic development, nutrition and living with HIV/AIDS. This humbling experience helped Mychal develop a perspective of gratitude for vulnerable communities, both locally and globally.
In his position at the FoodBank of Monmouth & Ocean Counties, Mychal has increased the efficiency of the store donation program, growing it from 400,000 pounds to 2.7 million pounds of food in three years. He is responsible for all incoming food logistics for the FoodBank. Mychal serves as a Junior Entrepreneurship Training mentor and co-director. The program teaches entrepreneurship to middle school-aged youth in Asbury Park by helping them develop and launch micro-businesses while learning lifelong skills such as team building and improved communication skills.
In 2014 Mychal co-founded Konscious Youth Development & Service (KYDS), which focuses on holistic intervention of the body, mind and soul. The organization is a direct reflection of his personal journey of creating inner peace and balance. Mychal believes youth development is more sustainable through internal development, building tools of love and compassion from within that are transferable to any life situation.
Mychal serves as a board of trustee for local community organizations such as the VNACJ Community Health Center, Meal at Noon Soup Kitchen, Long Branch Concordance, and Neptune Township’s Planning Board. He also chaired the Neptune Township Black History Committee for two consecutive years.
Mychal’s heart and passion align with his ability to achieve success.
Dr. Lamont Repollet
Dr. Lamont Repollet is superintendent of the Asbury Park School District in Asbury Park, where he has developed partnerships with parents, businesses and local leaders designed to bring about organizational and instructional leadership within the district. Throughout his 20-year career in education, Dr. Repollet has served as a member of the New Jersey Association of State College and Universities, New Jersey Association of School Administrators, and New Jersey Council of Education. He currently serves on the Kean University Board of Trustees, The Far Hills Country Day School Board of Trustees and Newark Educators Community Charter School Boards of Trustees.
He led the instructional and organizational reformation in Carteret High School for the 21st Century, which resulted in high student achievement in English Language Arts, English Language Learners and Special Education. As a turnaround principal, his schools have garnered national recognition for decreasing the achievement gap in education amongst economically disadvantaged and non-economically disadvantaged students. In 2016 Dr. Repollet was asked to join the New Jersey Department of Education’s delegation for the State Development Network, which engages state delegations in information sharing, consultation and other efforts to improve outcomes in turnaround schools.
As superintendent of Asbury Park School District, Dr. Repollet is implementing a systems-thinking approach to transform the district both instructionally and organizationally into a model urban school district. He introduced a Pre-K-to-12 Literacy Intervention and Leadership Development initiative to create a culture of high expectations. His work has resulted in a 20 percent increase in graduation rates, a 50 percent reduction in dropout rates and significant increases in literacy grade level gains throughout all grades.
Under Dr. Repollet’s leadership the district has secured several grants, including a $2.5 million 21st Century Grant for after-school programming for students in grades 4-8, and a $500,000 Vocation Partnership Grant to create an Engineering Academy using the nationally recognized Project Lead the Way Curriculum. Most recently the district has been recognized by the International Center for Leadership in Education as a 2016 Innovative District for creating innovative programs such as a Comprehensive District Interactive Literacy Intervention, the Power of 10, which is a dropout prevention program; the College and Career Readiness Institute, which has resulted in over 45 job and paid-internship placements; high school Career Academies in engineering, allied health, and law and public safety; and STEAM opportunities such as “maker spaces” and after-school academies.
Dr. Repollet received his Bachelor of Arts in communication from The College of New Jersey, a Masters of Arts in Educational Administration from Kean University, and Doctorate in Education from Nova South Eastern University. He currently resides in Somerset with his wife Darlene and their two daughters Lauryn and Taylor.
[Pictured: Dr. Lamont Repollet, left, signs off on the Asbury Park Dream Academy program with Dr. Maureen Murphy on Aug. 4]