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Holiday drive for the homeless, collected socks, hats and gloves, spreading Kwanza love!

About Us

Staff & Faculty

It takes a special kind of teacher to be a "mind builder."


Shirley C. Taylor Executive Director
Juliana Cope Assistant Executive Director for Development and External Affairs
Julia L. Gutiérrez-Rivera Assistant Executive Director for Programming and Productions
Natasha Richards Assistant Executive Director for Finance and Operations


Melvada Hughes Dance Department Director
Esther Grant-Walker Dance Department Assistant Director
Waldo Chavez Music Department Director
Chris Palmer Music Department Assistant Director
Willa Bost PYT Director
Thomas Bennett Martial Arts Program Coordinator & Instructor
Dr. Jametta Davis Folk Culture Program Assistant Director
Desrine Charlton Pre-K Teacher and Education Director
Brittany Scott Pre-K Program Assistant Teacher
Gilanyi Batista Pre-K Program Family Outreach Coordinator and Administrative Assistant


Kathryn Frances Executive Manager
Lynsey Tuthill Marketing and Communications Manager
Sakia Hussain Fiscal Manager
Aliza Rodriguez Bursar/Office Manager
Karen Seymour Operations Manager
Melanie Cabreja Administrative Assistant
Leny Cabrera Facilities Manager
Elvin Hernandez Custodian


Mind-Builders’ instructors are not only expert musicians, dancers, or actors, they are also dedicated coaches who share their passion and skill with our students, encouraging them to hone their own creativity. We believe it takes a special kind of teacher to be a “Mind-Builder”.

Faculty List

Dance Instructors

Music Instructors

Dance Department Title Credentials
Ronald Belger Ballet, Modern and Jazz Instructor
Darleen Carr Fit4Life Stretch Instructor and Costume Supervisor
Monica Celeste Ballet and Jazz Instructor BFA City College Leonard Davis Center for the Performing Arts, Dance Department Founder of Denzel Washington School of the Arts
Boubacar Diabate African Dance Drummer
Jocelyn Gutierrez Artist in Residence; Hip Hop Instructor Founder and Instructor of A.R.E.A. Dance Co.
Keny Guzman Fit4Life Zumba Instructor Crunch Norwood Zumba Instructor
Monica Johnson Ballet, Choreography
Kimberly Jones Tap, Modern, and Adult Praise Instructor BFA in Dance, Marygrove College; MFA in Dance, Ohio State University
Kanzada Juste Creative Movement, African and Hip Hop Fundamentals Instructor B.A. SUNY Potsdam
Aicha Konate African Dance
Michele Lee Ballet and Tap Instructor BFA in Pedagogy
Noelani Love African and Modern Instructor B. S. Mercy College. Program director at Boy's & Girls club, Dance Instructor at Mosholu Montefiore Community Center
Natasha Richards Fit4Life Soca Instructor
Chandni Rodriguez Fit4Life Yoga Meditation Instructor RYT 200hr Registered Yoga Instructor, Yoga Alliance
Gabriel Roxbury African Dance Drummer
Funmi Sofola Tap Instructor BFA in Commercial Dance with a Minor in Arts and Entertainment Management, Pace University
Maurice Whyte Fit4Life Zumba Instructor

Music Department Title Credentials
Andy Bassford Guitar Instructor BA Trinity College; Grammy Winning Recording Artist; Performer; Instructor
Ryan Burvick Production and Studio Director in Residence
Charles Carrington Piano Instructor B.A. Ithaca College; Professional Musician and Recording Artist
Charles Duke Music Department Artistic Director in Residence
Agustin Grasso Guitar Instructor Escuela de Musica Contemporanea in Buenos Aires , Argentina
Lon Ivey Drum Instructor Carnegie Hall Institute; Berklee School of Music. Professional Musician and Recording Artist
Andrew Lamb Woodwind Instructor SUNY Old Westbury; Professional Musician and Recording Artist
Janet Lucy Suzuki Violin Instructor
Christopher Palmer Music Department Assistant Director, Brass Teacher, Stage Band Conductor B.A. Berklee College of Music; Composer, Instructor
Jairo Quinonez Violin Instructor M.A. Lehman College; B.A. Queens College; Teacher with Multicultural Music Group; Professional Musician
Nina Riley Voice Instructor B. A. Manhattan School of Music M.A. Manhattan School of Music in Vocal Performance; Professional Singer
Robin Small Piano and Voice Instructor B.M. Berklee School of Music; Recording Artist; Performer; Vocal and Piano Instructor
Eric Zolan Guitar Instructor B.M. William Paterson Univserity

PYT Theater Department Title Credentials
Willa Bost Director
Hilda Willis PYT Artistic Director In Residence
Malik Beckford PYT Instructor

Martial Arts Program Title Credentials
Thomas Bennet Martial Arts Coordinator and Instructor Martial Arts Master, 8th degree black-belt "Goju Ryu"
Evan Berry Martial Arts Assistant Instructor

Dr. Beverly J. Robinson Community Folk Culture Program Title Credentials
Dr. Jametta Davis Folk Culture Program Director
Melinda Gonzales Folk Culture Program Instructor

Arts Passage XPress Title

Ryan Burvick Digital Music Production Instructor

Darnell Hannon Digital Music Production Instructor

Brittany Murray Youth and Family Support Specialist

Michael Tudor Anime/Visual Arts Instructor

Pre-K Program Title Credentials
Desrine Charlton Teacher/Education Director B.A. SUNY Purchase; M.A. Early Childhood Education Grand Canyon University
Brittany Scott Pre-K Assistant Teacher A.A. Bronx Community College