Our Backbone

United for Brownsville’s backbone staff support the local stakeholders at the heart of our work: the Family Advisory Board (FAB) and the Provider Action Team (PAT).

By reorienting the early childhood landscape around the strengths of families and service providers, we can create an environment in which infants and toddlers will thrive.

Kassa Belay

Co-Director, SCO Family of Services
kbelay@sco.org 347.918.7870

Kassa supports partnerships between SCO Family of Services and municipal agencies, nonprofits, and community organizations working in Brownsville, Brooklyn. He brings his background in organizing and collective impact to SCO’s expertise in children’s services and its long history in Brownsville. Through his work, he often finds himself participating in initiatives that require a multi-sector approach to address complex issues regarding community development and educational inequities. Kassa graduated from The New School with an MS in Urban Policy Analysis and Management. Previous to that, Kassa graduated from Concordia University, in Montreal, Canada, with a BA in Anthropology and Sociology. Kassa was born in raised in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain.

David Harrington

Co-Director, Community Solutions
dharrington@community.solutions • 347.454.2115

David has a background in the arts and education management and is the proud father of two Brooklyn babies under 4. He brings Community Solutions’ data-driven, collaborative approach to improving the early childhood system. Prior to Community Solutions, David was an Associate Director for the Office of District Planning at the NYC Department of Education, where he helped plan school rezonings and other projects that improved learning conditions for students in the Bronx and Queens. He has also directed educational programs at Legal Outreach, Inc., a non-profit college preparatory organization for students from underserved populations, and led fundraising and communications for a nonprofit bilingual school in Honduras. David hails from Hartford, CT, where he got his start improving systems as a child plaintiff in the public schools desegregation lawsuit Sheff v. O’Neill. He has degrees from Grinnell College and Columbia University.

Danielle Augustine

Project Manager
daugustine@community.solutions
347-669-3730

Danielle Augustine has a background in marketing and is a Native New Yorker. She is responsible for planning and overseeing UB initiatives (Discover Together Brownsville) and managing logistics and relationships within and between UB advisory bodies. Before joining Community Solutions, Danielle served as a Marketing Project Manager for a New York-based creative agency, where she oversaw day to day operations, managed a creative team and helped local and global nonprofit organizations develop and implement branding strategies. Danielle holds a BA in English from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA.

Dionne Grayman

Accountability & Engagement Consultant
dionnegrayman@gmail.com
718-218-4951

An educator, Dionne has facilitating learning for a range of young people from incarcerated youth on Rikers Island to students at Brooklyn Technical High School. In her current role as staff developer for the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, she is responsible for training and coaching staff in the implementation of restorative practices inside of New York City schools.

In her role as community engagement consultant for United for Brownsville,  she works alongside project leadership to co-create strategies; engage in thoughtful planning; provide skilled facilitation, and ensure that their commitment to be held accountable to community members is a high priority. Dionne holds a BA in English and Journalism, and an MS in Special Education. Dionne is most proud of being the mother of three incredible children who keep her hip, cool and dancing.

Athenia Rodney

Community Engagement Associate
arodney@sco.org

Athenia Rodney, a member of the Family Advisory Board (FAB) and newly elected as the FAB Fellow where I will be orchestrating professional development opportunities for my fellow colleagues as well as utilizing my social media and marketing skills to improve the United for Brownsville presence. I am a wife of 11 years and mother of 3 beautiful children ages 10, 5 and 3 years old. I am a business owner of 10 years with Umoja Events and Balloon Decor a full service event planning company that specializes in servicing community organizations in growing their local events and corporate planning. I look forward to expanding my role and building new relationships with community members to help United for Brownsville grow!

Ruth Horry

Family Advisory Board Fellow
rhorry@sco.org

Ruth Horry, a community advocate, member of the Family Advisory Board (FAB), and newly elected FAB Fellow for United for Brownsville (UB). My role was formed to further our creation of community and efficiency in sharing resources and services amongst the FAB, Provider Action Team (PAT), and the communities we serve. I have dedicated the past 5 years to assist the community and its members with changing the narrative of Brownsville by making our voices heard and creating our seat at the table. I am the proud mother of three beautiful girls, my oldest going on her third year in college, one in middle school, and the youngest in pre-k. I am a small business owner and CEO of The Coco Pauline Company, a candle & body shop, where my passion is creating a space for women who look like me to thrive and have a platform to shine.

Aileen Gonzalez

Early Intervention Ambassador
agonzalez@community.solutions

Aileen Gonzalez, is UB’s first Early Intervention Ambassador tasked with moving the Early Intervention needle towards equity. Previously, Aileen worked as a Special Needs Service Coordinator for three years supporting 424 pregnant women, infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children at four Head Start/Early Head Start centered-based locations and through home-based services. Aileen served families in Brooklyn, Bronx, and Manhattan (primarily Harlem) in New York City. The children Aileen supported had either an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or were in the process of getting evaluated to determine their areas of growth. Aileen pursued a career in Communication Disorders and Spanish at SUNY New Paltz. In the process of exploring speech-language pathologies, Aileen earned an Advanced Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders at Brooklyn College. Aileen witnessed first-hand the impact of sensory toys, social stories, adaptive/replacement skills, and communication organizers. Aileen’s goal is to expand and cultivate her skills as an advocate for children with disabilities and underserved communities championing their rights to better access and participation in Early Intervention.

Danielle “Danny” Herring

Early Intervention Ambassador
dherring@community.solutions

As the second EI Ambassador in UB Danny is here to support the families and foster awareness of EI in the Brownsville Community, following the efficient foundation her colleague Aileen laid. Her goal is to advance equity in Early Intervention by bridging the gap between the amount of Brownsville EI referrals to citywide.

Previously, Danny has worked as a Crisis Paraprofessional supporting children with Individual Education Plans ( IEP) in EI and CPSE. This has given her invaluable experience with a wide array of student populations ranging from general education to special education, and 6:1:1 settings from Preschool to Highschool. Danny has a Masters in Guidance and Counseling which opens the door for her to further collaborate with clinical teams to devise and implement FBA’s (Functional Behaviour Assessments), BIP’s (Behaviour Intervention Plans),  BIP progress monitoring, and support a school-wide PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention System). Danny has co-chaired parent meetings in an effort to create a cohesive school/family community. She is also a mother whose son went through the EI referral process and currently receives services through CPSE. Danny witnessed firsthand how EI has helped her son’s development substantially and believes it’s a service that should be accessible to children with disabilities in every community. 

Danny was born and raised in Brooklyn and was once a resident of Brownsville. It is purposeful for Danny to pour back into a community that once poured into her.

Her goal is to expand and nurture her skills as an advocate for children with disabilities and underserved communities so their voices are heard and they have the same access and participation to Early Intervention as their counterparts.