Akwasi Opoku-Dakwa, Assistant Professor of Management at Duquesne University
Akwasi Opoku-Dakwa is an assistant professor of management at Duquesne University. His teaching areas include business ethics, human resources and organizational behavior, and his research focuses on corporate responsibility (what is it?) and its effects on employees’ experience of work.
Akwasi hails from Ghana, completed his undergraduate studies at Brown University, Rhode Island, MBA at IMD, Switzerland, and PhD at Rutgers University, New Jersey. Prior to entering academia, he spent 6 years as an information technology consultant in New York City, and 5 years working as a brand manager with Procter & Gamble in South Africa.
Akwasi enjoys cycling to work, running in Schenley park, activities that tire out his kids and, occasionally, doing absolutely nothing (IT ROCKS!!)
Brad Taylor, Manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers
Brad works for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in the assurance practice, with a focus on privately held companies. Brad has over 7 years of public accounting experience and has served multinational clients in numerous industries, including consumer and industrial products, entertainment and media, sports, retail and consumer, and private equity. Brad holds a B.S. in Business from Miami University and is a Certified Public Accountant in New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania as well as a member of American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Brad has a passion for youth education and enjoys teaching financial literacy courses to students on topics such as saving and investing, career exploration and planning and money management.
Brad and his wife, Maura (a Pittsburgh native), recently relocated to Wexford from New York City and are expecting their first child in April 2019.
Brett Fulesday, Treasurer | Senior Manager at Cohen & Company
Brett Fulesday, a Senior Manager with Cohen & Company, has more than 16 years of experience in providing valuation and litigation-support services for public and privately-held, early-stage and mature, companies.
Driven by a desire to continue to learn, Brett pours his energy and effort into the areas of arts, education, entrepreneurship and emerging technology. He serves as the Treasurer for the Pittsburgh Entrepreneurs Forum as well as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Product Development Management Association. He also serves as a board member and partner/coach for Social Venture Partners Pittsburgh. He sits on the Advisory Committee for the Arts Education Collaborative as well as serves on the board for both Pace School and The Early Learning Institute (teli).
No matter the type of service or project, a story must always be told. Whether in writing or in person, he thrives on turning complex processes or procedures into an easy-to-understand story.
Ceda Verbakel, Designer at UPMC Enterprises
Ceda is a designer at UPMC Enterprises where she supports the research and development of technology for healthcare contexts. Before moving to Pittsburgh she ran a technology education space and festival as part of the Maker community in Toronto. Prior career highlights include co-facilitating a futures workshop for the Cook Inlet Tribal Council in Alaska, teaching sex ed to kids (and their parents!) at schools across Melbourne, and entertaining 5 year old birthday parties in an obnoxious frilly pink costume her mum made custom. Camping, dancing and cups of tea are her holy trinity.
Christina Howell, Executive Director, Bloomfield Development Corporation
Christina Howell serves as Executive Director of Bloomfield Development Corporation (BDC), a non-profit working to build a thriving and diverse community through equitable engagement. Her work in community development includes positions at Community Design Center of Pittsburgh (now Design Center), Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation, and Northside/Northshore Chamber of Commerce. With BDC since 2014, she first worked with the community to create the Bloomfield Saturday Market, and then moved into education and advocacy for small businesses, affordable housing, improved mobility and infrastructure, and open and transparent community engagement in all of BDC’s work. Christina currently serves on the Baum Centre Initiative and is a three-year alumnus of AmeriCorp.
Chris Belasco, Adjunct Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and Project Manager for the City of Pittsburgh
Chris Belasco is a Project Manager at the City of Pittsburgh in the Department of Innovation and Performance, where he manages the implementation of large technology projects to improve City operations.
An Adjunct Professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, Chris teaches courses in Program Evaluation and Quantitative Methods; he previously taught courses on Contracting, and undergraduate Political Science courses on Global Studies and Political Development and an introductory social research methods course at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg Campus.
From 2012-8 he served as managing director at the University of Pittsburgh for federally sponsored democracy and governance evaluation, research, and capacity building activities and evaluation of university outreach efforts. During this time, he managed the largest impact evaluation on countering violent extremism programming to date; a training program on monitoring and evaluation for 8 partner nongovernmental organizations in 7 countries in West Africa that resulted in the launch of three training programs in the region; and an evaluation of the effects of all USAID Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG) programming on democratic outcomes from 1990-2016 for the USAID DRG Learning Center.
Chris received his PhD in Public and International Affairs, Master of Public and International Affairs, BS in Information Science, and BA in Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh. During his spare time, he likes to cook, travel, cycle, and visit museums with his two daughters. An 18-year resident of Bloomfield, he can often be found working to restore his old house.
Derek Luke, Associate Attorney with Cozen O'Connor
Derek is an associate attorney with Cozen O’Connor and he focuses his practice on labor and employment law.
Before attending the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Derek worked in public education where he held roles as principal, head teacher, and teacher. Given his enthusiasm for technology, Derek served as co-chair of the district’s technology committee and created the district’s first enrichment programs focused on robotics and computer programming. These programs utilized the popular brands Lego and Minecraft, respectively, to provide students a maker-space where they gained valuable, hands-on exposure to the knowledge and skills involved in those fields.
Derek earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Pennsylvania State University, his master’s in educational leadership from University of Alaska Anchorage, and his law degree, cum laude, from University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
When not practicing law, Derek can be found spending time with his family, completing home renovation or landscaping projects, binge-watching a good TV show, or reading (most recently, articles about subcompact tractors and attachments, vehicle restoration, and brewing).
Doctor Sparks, STEAM Storyteller
Karl is Doctor Sparks, a Pittsburgh-based children’s STEAM storyteller. He tours schools and museums all over the region with a live show that uses whimsical inventions and animal fables to teach science concepts. Karl has a PhD in Biophysics from the University of Rochester and is the former Storyteller-in-Residence at the Carnegie Science Center and the MOXI (The Santa Barbara Children’s Museum). His storytelling has been profiled by USAToday, Scientific American, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In his spare time he enjoys reading, camping, and typewriters.
Dr. Janet M. O’Rourke, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Special Services at Bethel Park School District
Janet O’Rourke is the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Special Services in the Bethel Park School District. She is in her 28th year as a K-12 public school educator. Her career started as a preschool teacher, then an elementary classroom teacher. She then became a school counselor at Bethlehem Center Middle School. Her first administrative position was at Knoch Middle School as the assistant principal. In 1999, she was hired at Bethel Park School District as an assistant principal. Since that time she has held many different roles in the Bethel Park system and started her current role in July 2020. She completed her doctoral degree at the University of Pittsburgh in 2019 and her research topic of her dissertation was the impact of activity during instruction in the elementary classroom.
Janet is a life-long Southwestern Pennsylvania native. She currently resides in South Fayette Township. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, being outdoors, and reading, although recently audio books have captivated her interest and supports her sometimes laziness.
Kara Rubio, Healthy Schools PA Program Manager at Women for a Healthy Environment
Kara is the Healthy Schools PA Program Manager for Women for a Healthy Environment. In her role, Kara works closely with a diverse set of school stakeholders to provide technical assistance, translate current research into public health programming, write and deliver engaging curriculum, and collect and report on environmental health priorities for schools across the Commonwealth. Her goal is to work towards creating healthy and green learning environments where all children can thrive. Kara serves as the Programs Committee co-chair for the Pittsburgh chapter of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, and sits on the advisory boards of several programs at Chatham University, Phipps, the Office of Public Art’s Environment, Health, and Public Art Project, and the Climate Change Initiative at the Woodland Hills School District (Buildings, Grounds, Transportation, and Food chair).
Kara enjoys exploring Pittsburgh by bike (with portable air quality monitor in tow), reading outdoors in city parks, and cooking home-made meals that remind her of her childhood home in Guam.
Kayla Hunter, Business Operations & Intelligence Analyst, JazzHR
Kayla spends her days wrangling data and making pretty visualizations to help leaders make strategic decisions and plans. She works for a SaaS used-to-be-startup that makes hiring software for small- to medium-sized businesses and non-profts. She nerds out on things like regression analyses and clean, tidy code. She began a career in analytics several years ago after studying her master’s at the University of California, San Diego in International Management & Analytics.
Prior to this, however, she worked for several years as an English-as-a second-language teacher and English department head, first in Pittsburgh and then in Bogota, Colombia. Her first love was education, and she’s found a fantastic opportunity at Assemble to combine her teacher side and her tech side. She’s also a Pitt alum and, after many years exploring other places, found her way back home.
Kevin Riley, Founder & President at Totum Realty Advisors
With 17 years of experience, learning the business from some of the best mentors in the world, Kevin founded Totum in 2019 to continue the journey of providing clients with unparalleled service and expertise. Always dedicated to assisting occupier clients by helping them make sound real estate decisions that drive overall business success his first passion and specialization is in corporate tenant advisory services assisting occupier clients on their decisions throughout the United States. Kevin is a creative expert that is client centered and experienced in strategic planning, project management, site selection, and lease negotiation and has developed a unique and dynamic approach to corporate real estate that not only protects the client’s interests but also generates the best financial results.
Dedicated family man, friend and volunteer, Kevin is passionate about being “all in” on every aspect of his life, whether business, family or pleasure. Dedicated involvement includes but not limited to Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM), Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR), NAIOP, and the Urban Land Institute (ULI), United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cleveland, Ronald McDonald House, Saint Kilian’s School and Leadership Pittsburgh (XXXV).
Kristin Morgan, Digital Learning Lead Librarian at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Kristin Morgan worked as the Youth Services Librarian at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Hill District for three years learning and creating with youth of all ages in the community. Embracing youth centered and interest driven librarianship she facilitated a culture of co-learning with staff, volunteers, kids and teens! In classrooms and programs, she offered robotics; coding and creative thinking opportunities for groups of excited learners. Through her work leading Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s (CLP) STEM Committee she brought connected learning to youth throughout the city of Pittsburgh to explore together within and outside the Library walls.
In 2018 Kristin transitioned to CLP’s Digital Learning Lead Librarian position. In this role, she supports Library staff in their efforts to provide literacy and lifelong learning through thoughtful and fun connected learning experiences for all ages. Determined to create inclusive informal and out of school learning, she promotes youth empowerment with access to technology, media mentorship and opportunities to share what they create at CLP’s 19 Library locations, including in The Labs @ CLP.
Kristen Washon, Director of Communications at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council
Kristen Wishon is a strategic communications professional with a special affinity for the nonprofit sector, the arts, environmental causes and education. She is currently the Director of Communications at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, where she works closely with the region’s arts and culture community.
Kristen has experience ranging from marketing campaigns and social media planning to media relations, email marketing and publication development. Her goal is to support individuals, communities and nonprofits that are innovating and creating positive change. Kristen previously worked at the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and Fallingwater, and an independent woman-owned private public relations firm. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism/public relations from West Virginia University. Kristen also serves as Secretary on the board of directors for the Public Relations Society of America’s Pittsburgh chapter and a mentor for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Pittsburgh.
Marian Opoku-Dakwa, Independent Intercultural Consultant and Master’s Candidate at Duquesne University
Marian is an independent Intercultural Consultant who conducts workshops and research for organizations working with international associates. She teaches intercultural awareness, effective intercultural communication and skill building for families moving abroad and for people who will be doing business internationally. She also facilitates cross-cultural discussions between employees of newly merged companies from multiple cultural backgrounds, in order to jump-start the creation of a new company culture.
Marian is currently pursuing a Masters in Education at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and hopes to teach children (and their families) to appreciate diversity and to communicate effectively with teachers, peers and school officials from different backgrounds. She holds a Master in International Affairs from Columbia University (New York, NY) and a double Bachelor’s degree in Economics and French Studies from Smith College (Northampton, MA).
Mary Jayne McCullough, Founder and CEO of Global Wordsmiths
Mary Jayne McCullough is the Founder and CEO of Global Wordsmiths, Adjunct Faculty Lecturer of Translation Technologies and Applied Translation in the MA of Global Communication and Applied Translation program at Carnegie Mellon University, Co-Chair of the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition Board of Directors, and a newly appointment member of the Assemble Board of Directors. She also serves as the Executive Committee Co-Chair of the Pittsburgh-based All for All Coalition, and sits on several Advisory Boards in order to share her broad expertise in the fields of language accessibility and language justice. She is driven and passionate, and dedicated to advancing a culture of language access in Western Pennsylvania.
Nina Zito, Home Visitor, Early Head Start
Nina Zito serves the Northisde area as a Home Visitor for Early Head Start. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh from the Applied Developmental Psychology in Education program. Nina found her passion for working with children at a young age when she became a camp counselor in high school. Prior to her current job she spent 6 years working at Shady Lane Preschool as a lead teacher as well as in the administration department. She spends much of her free time organizing local community events and bringing people together. When she’s not organizing events you can find her in the woods or reading.
Samantha Levinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Allegheny Health Choices
Samantha Levinson is the Senior Policy Analyst at Allegheny HealthChoices, Inc (AHCI), which was formed by Allegheny County to perform oversight, monitoring, and quality improvement of County’s behavioral health Medicaid system. Samantha works on a wide range of topics, including racial disparities in healthcare, value-based care incentives, and data science applications in public sector healthcare.Samantha is also an adjunct professor at Chatham University’s Falk School of Sustainability, where she teaches economics. She also serves on the University of Pittsburgh’s Young Alumni Advisory Team. When she’s not analyzing data (or capitalism), Samantha enjoys boxing, cooking, and watching 90’s sitcoms. Samantha is a graduate of Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University, where she earned her Master of Science in Public Policy, Management, and Data Analytics. She is also a proud alumna of the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned degrees in French Language and Economics.
Shannon Phy, Education Specialist, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Shannon Phy received her BA in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Visual and Performing Arts. She started work in Long Beach public schools before moving to Pittsburgh in 2001 where she taught a Pre-K/K classroom while also creating and teaching the art program for students Pre-K through 5th grade. She has a 20 year career in education with a strong focus on accessibility initiatives. Most recently it has been her pleasure and honor to serve the Pittsburgh community, schools and families doing education programming for a number of cultural institutions and non-profit organizations. Shannon is a mother, an avid doodler, a fan of chickens and a new learner of all boat related things. A long time fan of Assemble, she is thrilled to join the organization and contribute to its mission and work inside the Pittsburgh Community.
Tegan Joseph Mosugu, PhD Candidate at the University of Pittsburgh, Media & Social Impact Consultant
Tegan is a PhD candidate at the University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. He has experience working in nonprofit, academic and media capacities. Prior to Pittsburgh, he worked in the philanthropic sector for Tides, Inc., and as an independent nonprofit consultant for a dozen nonprofits. In this capacity, Teganworked in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa managing a portfolio of programs/projects. He has spearheaded a diverse portfolio ranging from public health, gender/social equality, human rights, education, etc. That said, he has worked on television programs such as: The View (Walt Disney Television), The Rachael Ray Show (CBS Television Distribution), NBC Universal, and BET Networks. As an avid communications professional, Tegan has strategically helped organizations secure successful media placements in both traditional and new media outlets.
At age 19, Tegan earned his B.A. in History from Duke University. He is also an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania and New York University, where he studied organizational behavior and global/public affairs. Tegan has an executive certificate in business administration from Notre Dame. As a doctoral candidate, his research presently focuses on enhancing health care delivery in Nigeria through the application of management perspectives in public administration. During his free time, Tegan loves to dance, listen to Afrobeats, and travel.
Assemble, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering learning and creativity, is searching for committed and enthusiastic individuals to join their Board of Directors. Directors will provide leadership in the oversight and execution of Assemble’s Strategic Plan in a volunteer yet purposeful capacity.
Board Members are the decision makers and ambassadors of the organization. It is important that they share Assemble’s vision for arts, STEAM education, the Maker movement, and community outreach. Board candidates should be ready to help the organization grow. As a growing community arts organization, this is a working Board of Directors. Directors are required to participate on at least one Committee as they are related to the strategic plan.
Assemble’s Board Members serve a two-year term and are eligible for reappointment for additional terms. Board meetings will be held monthly (10 months) and members are required to attend at least 7 of the 10 board meetings in addition to the committee meetings. Assemble Board of Directors will consider Assemble a philanthropic priority and make annual gifts that reflect that priority. This is an extraordinary opportunity for an individual who is passionate about Assemble’s vision and mission.
If you are interested in joining Assemble’s Board of Directors, please send a resume and email of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special consideration will be given to candidates who possess any of the following qualifications:
- Background in mission-driven social justice or community engagement organizations
- Experience in fundraising and grant-writing; non-profit accounting and finance; human resources management; and/or policy development
- Interest in participating in event planning for both fundraising and community outreach
- Connections to Garfield/Friendship/Bloomfield community as a resident or via allied organizations
If you have questions regarding a position or commitment involved, please contact Nina Barbuto at Nina@assemblepgh.org.