Rhonda Palmer – President
Dominic Buffa – Secretary – Non-voting member
Dominic has been working with Dedicated to Make a Change for the past three years. He started off a student volunteer, then moved onto a 400 hour internship, and then upon completion of his Bachelors in Social Work, was hired as the agency’s youth worker and community liaison. Dominic is dedicated to the academic success and mental wellness of teenagers in Ypsilanti. He always enters and leaves the clubhouse with a smile. “Everyday I come in, I’m excited to work with America’s newest generation of scholars, leaders, and earthshakers.”
Dominic is in the process of receiving his LLBSW. He plans to someday open a restaurant that employs youth, utilizes resources from the community, and promotes art and wellness for people in Ypsilanti.
Diane Smith – At Large
As Mission Integration Director at Angela Hospice in Livonia, MI, Rev. Diane Smith is charged with ensuring that Angela Hospice’s ministry maintains its Catholic identity by staying true to the core values of its founders, the Felician Sisters of North America. Her role includes directing the African American Church Empowerment Project, convening the ethics committee, and providing support to staff and volunteers as they work to personify the Angela Hospice mission.
A graduate of Jackson (MS) State University with a BS in Communicative Disorders, and Mississippi University for Women where she earned an MS in Speech Pathology, she holds a Master of Divinity degree from Claremont (CA) School of Theology. She is a Board Certified Chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains.
Rev. Smith began her career in ministry as a Missionary Associate of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), serving as an English lecturer at Osaka (Japan) Junior College for Women. While in Japan she also attended and served as a human rights activist with the Korean Church in Japan, Koreans being the largest minority group in the country.
While in seminary, Rev. Smith was awarded an internship by The Fund for Theological Education (FTE), with a placement at City Mission Society in Boston, MA, where she worked with women involved with the criminal justice system. Later, she worked at Hestia House, a YWCA sponsored shelter in Pasadena, CA, for homeless women and children. An ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Rev. Smith began her career as a hospice chaplain at Community Hospice Care in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles. After moving to Ann Arbor, Rev. Smith served as Transitional Housing Coordinator at SOS Community Services in Ypsilanti, MI. For almost 20 years Rev. Smith was a member of the Spiritual Care team at Arbor Hospice here in Ann Arbor, the last 8 years of which were spent as Lead Spiritual Care Advisor. Through these disparate experiences Rev. Smith has seen the impact of inequality on life choices and on the services available to the disenfranchised from birth through the end of life.
Rev. Smith has served on the board of the Division of Overseas Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and currently serves on the board of the Ann Arbor-based Housing Bureau for Seniors at Michigan Medicine. She is a Golden Life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and is a member of Journey of Faith Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Ann Arbor.
Rev. Smith will be celebrating 25 years of marriage to her husband, Dr. William Londo, in August 2019.
Kyra Brown- At Large-
Kyra has been with Educate Youth since early spring of 2018. She is currently attending Eastern Michigan University and majors in Social Work. From working with the students through her school internship, she has developed relationships with many participants within the program. Through this, Kyra has developed the drive to empower students to focus on their near and distant future.
Kyra has an interest in non-profits and foster care for her future career.
Jorge Guzman – Board Member –
Jorge currently works as an International Adoptions Specialist for a non-profit organization in Ann Arbor. His work background includes special education school teacher, child protective services social worker, a volunteer in a law firm and child custody evaluator/mediator.
Jorge’s educational background. He has a bachelor’s degree on education, a bachelor’s degree on Psychology, a master’s degree on Social Clinical Psychology and a Juris Doctor degree.
Jorge is married to his husband for 8 years and they been together for 22 years. He has four small dogs and a garden.
Jorge was appointed by the mayor of the City of Saline, where he lives, as member of the Arts and Culture Commission where he volunteers his time to expand and promote the arts and culture in his community.
Gail Wolkoff – Executive Director – Non-voting member
Gail is an educator who resigned from teaching and administration in May 2010 to pursue her desire to develop an educational program that connects youth with the world and to promote a love of learning. In Fall 2011, Gail started Dedicated to Make a Change, L3C (DTMAC). In January 2017, Educate Youth 501c3 was started with the mission of increasing the Ypsilanti Community School high school graduation rate and post-high school plan, one student at a time. All of the youth programs and classes were moved from DTMAC to Educate Youth.
Gail has a rich and varied history as an educator. At the Evergreen State College, Olympia Wa, Gail studied Earth Science and Social Work. She earned her Masters of Arts in Teaching in 1985 from the University of Pittsburgh. Gail was invited to teach at the College Learning Center/Campus West, CLL/CW, in Buffalo New York. She taught in a self-contained 3/4th grade. Gail is proud of her inner city work in Buffalo, NY; she worked with the same group of students’ for four years before moving to The Nichols School. She helped the students attending CLL/CW drastically improve their standardized test scores — scores went from four to five years below grade level to just below or slightly above grade level. This was her first introduction to the inequities within the world of education. At Nichols School, Gail was the science teacher in 5th and 8th grades. In the mid-1990’s Gail moved to Ypsilanti for love. She worked at Greenhills School, Ann Arbor, for 17 years. Gail was the team leader 6th grade for ten years and a 7th- 8th grade a Wellness and Health teacher, and the Director of Service Learning.
Gail has developed and continues to update the following curriculums: HIV education, Drug education, Greenhouse gas experiments, Brown VS Board of Education and the impact for Middle School, Comprehensive Sex Education, Orientation, Expression, Identity 101, to name a few. Gail’s five-year plan is to have Educate Youth be self-sufficient and to continue to have high school graduations. In five years, our first high school graduates will be two years out of college and/or seven years into to the working world.
We would like to thank our founding board members, we will be forever grateful for your hard work and dedication.
Douglass Harvey, Justin Carthage, Steve Wilcoxen
Thank you for your commitment and service to all other board members, past and present.
Anne Brown, KaRon Gaines