ABOUT | Our Board

Umi Howard has served on the Empowerment Group Board of Directors for the past two years. During his off time he works for the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania at the Center for Youth Development (CYD). In his four years at CYD he has supported the quality improvement of youth development organizations through the provision of technical assistance and training. For the past year he has served as CYD's Manager for Neighborhood Collaboration, overseeing the support of four youth service collaborations in the Greater Philadelphia area. The purpose of these collaborations being to create networks of high quality service for youth ages 12 to 18.

Prior to his time at United Way, Umi served as Assistant to the President of OIC America. He has also served as a program manager and direct service staff for several youth-serving programs. Umi studied, and worked in South Africa after graduating from Vassar College. This formative experience helped concretize his passion to fight for living equality. At Empowerment Group he has found an energetically productive organization that combines what he sees as the two pillars of any strong Westernized community: education and economic development. EG continually increases its return to his participation.

Cynthia Caldwell, an artist, writer and marketer by genetic design, is currently working in the advertising department of Universal Health Services where she develops campaigns for border town hospitals in Texas. Although raised in a small town just outside of Cleveland, Cynthia's been an adult urban pioneer. And her "never give up - never be satisfied" good nature complete her alliance with EG.

Michael Felberbaum has been with the Empowerment Group since 2001. He started as the Director of Business Development and then became Co-Executive Director with Sylvie Gallier. He is currently serving as the Secretary of the Board of Directors. Michael lives with his wife in New Haven Connecticut, where he is a principal in Advanced Decisions.

Alma Kristina Rodriguez has been serving with non-profit organizations focused on underrepresented populations, youth development and education since 1993. She has worked in an educational, training, recruiting and counseling capacity with organizations such as the National Hispanic Institute, Headstart, Teach for America and YouthBuild. In 2002, she graduated with a Degree with Distinction from the University of Delaware where she majored in sociology and political science. Kristina recently earned her Master of Arts in Sociology from Temple University. At Temple University, Kristina taught undergraduate courses in race and racism and American ethnicity, worked as an academic advisor and instructor with the federally funded, Title IV Student Support Services program, and served as a research assistant on various research projects led by distinguished Temple University faculty. Currently, Kristina is enrolled as a part-time student in the doctoral program in Sociology at Temple University. Her areas of academic interest include the sociology of race, ethnicity, culture, inequality and education and program evaluation. Kristina applies her theoretical knowledge as a teacher and guidance counselor at YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter - where she leads professional development workshops and provides transition planning and for low-income and at-risk students. A quote that really inspires Kristina daily in her work as a community servant is: "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodillas!"

Deborah L. Scott has twenty-eight years of broad business and management experience in public relations, marketing, education, and consumer services in the non-profit, for-profit, and government sectors. For the past seventeen years, she has been employed by Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America, Inc. (OICA). She currently serves as National Program Manager within the OICA Office of National Literacy Programs. OICA is the national headquarters for the OIC network of skills training centers serving the poor and unemployed in 56 communities across the country.

In her position she is responsible for coordinating the academic and functional activities of youth and adult learners participating in OICA corporate and publicly sponsored demonstration programs, and manages the instructional and counseling staff for internal and external program initiatives. She provides technical assistance and training to schools, community groups, and international entities implementing the Quantum Opportunity Program (QOP) and the EXTRA Learning System. Deborah holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from Butler University and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Wilmington College. She is the former Public Information Specialist for the Washington Urban League where she managed a diversified program of communications, public relations and resource development.

Francis McClafferty is founder of inventIT metals, a North Philadelphia-based automotive recycler aggressively focused on shattering the existing economics of Philadelphia’s automotive recycling industry. Prior to starting inventIT, Francis served as an Analyst at ICIC, a Boston-based thinktank founded and led by Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter, the world’s leading authority on strategy and competition. At ICIC, Fran focused on the performance of companies leveraging the inherent competitive advantages of inner cities to create significantly higher than average revenue growth.

Francis has also focused on entrepreneurial-based economic development through his work at The Enterprise Center, a West Philadelphia-based economic development organization focused exclusively on growth via entrepreneurial development and business formation activities. Francis has also worked on an initiative for the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation to evaluate the fiscal impact of public sector economic development activities. Francis graduated summa cum laude from Drexel University with a degree in Finance and Economics. First and foremost an “aspiring” economist dually-focused on industrial firms and the economic performance of regions, you can find him blogging on an array of social, political, and economic issues on the web at http://starvingeconomist.blogspot.com.

Andrea Sáenz, born in Ecuador and raised in Los Angeles, has lived in Philadelphia since 1997. She graduated with honors from Scripps College in Claremont, California with a BA in Latin American Studies. Before beginning her full-time studies at Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania in 2004, she worked with Congreso de Latinos Unidos, one of Pennsylvania 's largest community based organizations, where she was Director of the Workforce Services Division. At Congreso, Andrea led the Frankford/Kensington Greater Philadelphia Works Regional Service Center, part of the City's welfare-to-work program, oversaw two skills specific training programs, community adult education services and helped open the first One-Stop Career Center in Pennsylvania dedicated to connecting Latino job seekers with employment opportunities. In her first year at Fels, Andrea worked on a project with the Transitional Workforce Division of the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation to analyze and improve the labor market relevance of their SPOC training programs. She recently worked as a curriculum consultant to a newly launched bilingual Licensed Practical Nurse career ladder program in Chicago called Carreras en Salud, a collaboration between Association House of Chicago, Humboldt Park Vocational Education Center, Instituto del Progreso Latino and the National Council of La Raza. She is now working with the Central East Region of the Philadelphia School District on the SchoolStat Project, a data-intensive performance management process.

Manuel Portillo is one of the lead technology consultants for non-profits in Philadelphia. His has dedicated much of his work to consulting Latino-serving organizations in the area of technology maintenance and improvement. As the Executive Director of a community-based organization that focuses on teaching computer job skills to Latinos, Manuel has ample experience in training individuals with limited computer proficiency. Mr. Portillo specializes in training non-profit staff how to trouble-shoot, clean and maintain their computers. He advises non-profits on affordable alternatives for their technological needs and assists organizations in building a sustainable and affordable technology maintenance plan to suit the specific needs of different organizations. He also has extensive experience in database development, hardware and software installation and set-up, server installation, and general computer maintenance. In addition, Mr. Portillo is very familiar with open-source software and other low-cost options for non-profits.

Working as a consultant for other non-profits, Manuel carries out a complete assessment of technological capacity and needs, including capacity to develop and service computer labs, wire and wireless Local Area Networks, databases, and staff training. His work is focused on helping other non-profits become more efficient by integrating the use of computer technology to tackle social and economic issues affecting local communities. Manuel Portillo is currently the Executive Director of Open Borders Project, which he founded in 2001, a non-profit organization offering comprehensive education and consultative programs that empower low-income out-of-school youth and adults to build working skills and leadership capacity for community change. His functions include teaching software and hardware courses by use of a student-centered, asset-based and culturally appropriate methodology. He is an A+ Certified Computer Technician and holds an Associate Degree in Data Processing.

Michael Felberbaum has been with the Empowerment Group since 200. He started as the Director of Business Development and then became Co-Executive Director with Sylvie Gallier. He is currently serving as the Secretary of the Board of Directors. Michael lives with his wife in New Haven Connecticut, where he is a principal in Advanced Decisions.

Lorelei Walters is the Associate Director of the Asian Arts Initiative, a community arts center in Philadelphia, and is a resident of Wilmington, Delaware. Her previous job was as Technology Outreach Director at United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, where she worked with community development corporations and other community-based organizations in integrating technology and education into their services. She was a resident in New York for 6 1/2 years where she received a B.A. in Communications and a minor in Visual Arts at Fordham University, an M.A. in Media Studies from the New School University, and was a Development Associate at Playing2Win, the nation’s first technology center to serve an inner-city population.

Min S. Suh is an attorney at law and partner at Reed Smith law firm. Min focuses on business immigration law and involves counseling employers in connection with employment of international recruits on temporary or permanent basis. Min received her B.S. at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and her J.D. from Widener University School of Law. She was formerly a legislative assistant at a Washington D.C. based government relations firm where after she became an Associate at Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP. After that Min worked as a law clerk to the Honorable Stephen Rasalavich of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In 2000 Min joined Reed Smith. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and serves on numerous community boards.

Estela Reyes-Bugg is the Program Coordinator for the Office for Community Development of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia & Catholic Social Services. After graduating from the Institute Luis Andres Zuniga in Honduras, Estela worked as a social worker in North Philadelphia. After that Estela went on to work in Parish and Community outreach within the cluster 19 in North Philadelphia as well as a Volunteer Coordinator under Catholic Social Services at Casa del Carmen where she developed and coordinated the Teenage HOPE & ROSES GIRL’S GROUP. Estela is also on four other organizational boards.

Chris Donahue is a visiting Board Member to the Empowerment Group during 2005-2006. Chris is completing his MBA at Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania. He has broad experience in international and organizational development and has lived in several different locations, including Africa and Micronesia. Chris is participating in a program that was coordinated by the La Salle Non Profit Center, connecting talented MBA students to local non-profits. EG is happy to have him!