Friends Center’s Board of Directors is a dedicated group who stewards Friends Center and assures and oversees Friends Center and assure and oversee its organizational health and effectiveness. Working in close partnership with the Executive Director, they give their time, talents, resources and expertise to provide leadership and support to achieve agreed-upon goals and objectives consistent with Friends Center’s mission, vision and values.
Ivory Blount is a native of New Haven, CT. She is a wife, mother of two amazing children, and has worked as a registered nurse for more than 19 years. In her role as mom. she champions her 15-year-old son Tevis Jr., who excels in basketball and academics, and her 12-year-old daughter, Amaya, who is talented artist and student with high achievements. In addition to her own children, Ivory serves as a leader in the youth and young adult department of her church where she oversees the annual Vacation Bible School and organizes a host of other enrichment and development opportunities for young people. As a nurse, Ivory has been a dedicated advocate for her patients and their families and now, as a nurse manager, implements policies and improves practice efficiencies, while training and mentoring new nursing professionals. As a wife, she enjoys the support partnership of her husband of 17 years. Ivory is creative, a hard worker, a quick learner and dedicated to see all people reach their highest potential. She is happy to serve the Friends Center for Children community.
Jane Coppock is a returning volunteer who has been working with our preschool children for several years. She is a former clerk of the New Haven Friends Meeting and a past member of the Friends Center Board of Directors. She will be joining the downstairs preschool again this year.
Connie Dickinson began her career as a high school English teacher who loved the challenge of igniting teenage passion for all manner of literature. Her teaching career included a stint in a New York City pilot program for seriously disturbed adolescent boys. After moving to Chicago, she began working for a marketing firm which led to a long marketing career that included consumer products and, eventually, high-end commercial and multi-family real estate. She started and led DickinsonGroup, which worked nationwide with some of the country’s leading real estate developers. She has served on many non-profit boards both in Chicago and Connecticut, where she moved in 2010. Her community commitments have often involved education and child welfare, and she has a special passion for helping first-generation teens realize their college dreams. She sees Friends Center as the ideal pathway to helping all children become their best selves. She and her husband of 55 years have two children and four grandchildren ranging from age 8 to 17 living on the east coast and view grandparenting as one of the great joys of life.
Marnie Kling Halsey
Robert J. Harrity, Jr
Bob is an Adjunct Professor teaching international finance at Sacred Heart University’s Welch School of Business and teaching corporate finance at the Dolan School of Business. He is a founding partner of RII, an advisory and consulting firm specializing in investment management and risk analysis. For more than 25 years Bob worked as a managing director for leading financial management and investment companies in New York City.
Bob received his MBA in General Management with a concentration in Finance from the Darden School at the University of Virginia and his BA in History from Trinity College. He has been awarded a certificate from the AACSB Bridge Program.
Bob is a member of The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD). He has served as President of St. Anthony Foundation and as a Trustee of The Foote School. He is currently a Trustee, Chairman of the Finance Committee and member of the Executive Committee of the Whitney Center and Chairman (Clerk) of the Board of the Friends Center for Children.
Bob and his wife reside in North Haven, Connecticut. They have two grown children. He enjoys tennis, golf and wooden boats.
Joanna Meyer brings more than 16 years of experience in education to her role as a Friends Center board member. At The Consultation Center at Yale, Joanna’s work focuses on early childhood education through the Partnership for Early Education Research (PEER) and on social and emotional learning through school-based research in Connecticut and New York City.
Prior to her work at Yale, Joanna worked for two years at the Maine Physical Sciences Partnership (MainePSP), a school-university partnership that focused on improving the teaching and learning of science in secondary and post-secondary classrooms. Joanna provided professional development and leadership to teachers implementing MainePSP curricula in their classrooms and engaged in STEM education research.
Joanna began her career as an educator, with ten years of teaching experience that spanned three school districts, a Job Corps center, and two experiential learning settings. As a high school STEM teacher, Meyer led her school’s decennial accreditation process with New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Meyer also served as a fellow of the Maine Writing Project, a mentor teacher for the teacher preparation program at the University of Maine’s College of Education and Human Development, and a coordinating teacher for the NSF GK-12 program at the University of Maine’s College of Engineering.
Joanna is also a proud parent of two Friends Center alumni.
Caroline is a Connecticut native, and has lived and worked in New Haven since 2012. Caroline earned a Bachelor of Arts from Boston College in 2008 and went on to graduate from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2011. Upon graduating law school, Caroline clerked for the Honorable F. Herbert Gruendel at the Connecticut Appellate Court. Following her clerkship, Caroline joined the New Haven law firm of Wiggin & Dana LLP, where she is now counsel in the Labor, Employment & Benefits Department. Caroline represents employers in federal and state court litigation of employment-related disputes, proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board, grievance and arbitration proceedings, and labor contract negotiations, and advises employers on a broad range of personnel-related matters.
Caroline is honored to have served on the Board of Directors of Friends Center since 2015, and is incredibly proud of the work Friends Center is doing in her community. She lives in Westville with her husband Max, a middle school English teacher, and their beagle.
Rose Beatriz Pudlin
Allyx has 29 years of experience in early childhood development and elementary education – as a teacher and administrator in CT and NY. She holds dual Masters’ degrees from Bank Street College of Education in Early Child Development and Elementary Education and a Bachelor’s degree from Union College. A third-generation New Haven native and long-time resident of Fair Haven, Allyx maintains ownership in a New Haven real estate development corporation which she managed from 1998-2009.
Allyx has served as Program Coordinator for New Haven-based Area Cooperative Educational Services (ACES); Early Childhood Classroom Observer for Southern Connecticut State University; and Budget Coordinator for the New Haven Board of Education facilitating a $2 million grant. Allyx has taught in NYC, New Haven and Greenwich in several elementary schools and pre-school settings, directed summer camps and written and supervised curriculums at elementary, middle and high school levels with an emphasis on literacy, math, science, and multidisciplinary studies.
Allyx is a founder of the New Haven Children’s Ideal Learning District (NH ChILD). NH ChILD is a coalition of local and national early childhood proponents that have come together to create a place-based pilot program in New Haven. NH ChILD proposes to revolutionize the early care and education landscape by bringing the community together around a common vision of Ideal Learning with a focus on equity. The goal of NH ChILD is to provide high-quality early care and education experiences for all 15,000 New Haven children ages zero to eight.
She currently serves as an advisory member of the University of New Haven’s Nonprofit Certificate in Leadership, Innovation and Organizational Sustainability and on the Mayoral Appointed New Haven Early Childhood Council. She is a 2019 recipient of the Southern Black Nurses Association Community Service Award and the 2019 Amity Club Distinguished Italian-American Lifetime Achievement Award. She is also Exchange Magazine’s Master Leader award and the recipient of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence Marvin Maurer Spotlight Award. She is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and is a former; board member for Connecticut Voices for Children; appointee to the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Reading; and leader of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund Community Leadership Program. She is the mother of two fantastic teenaged children and has a lovely black dog named Blue.
Louis is a banking professional with more than ten years of diversified experience. During his career, he has had the privilege of working in several capacities within the retail, operations, and commercial sectors of banking. Currently, Louis is a vice president with the Community Investment Corporation. In this role, he is responsible for economic development financing through the administration of various SBA loan programs. Louis also serves as an advisor to small business entrepreneurs in Connecticut. Mr. Silva received his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from the University of Bridgeport. Louis and his wife reside in North Haven, Connecticut. While they have no children, they have two puppies named Lulu and Fifi. In his spare time, Louis enjoys soccer, golf and traveling. Currently, Louis is an active North Haven Rotarian and serves as the club’s chairman of their Dictionary Project.
Henry J. Villegas
Henry Villegas has been working with UPS as an International Manager for 11 years. Previously, he worked for Bank of America as a senior account manager for business accounts. Former chef for Restaurant Pacifico, Sonora and Rusty Scupper in New Haven. Henry shares and embraces the importance of quality childhood education and diversity in the world and our surrounding communities. Coming from South America, he understands how important is to maintain the roots of his culture and at the same time open up to many new cultures that enrich the day to day life of his child and family. Henry Graduated from Universidad Catolica Andres Bello in Caracas, Venezuela in Hotel Management, and also earned a Associates Degree in Restaurant Management from New England Culinary Institute. Henry is married to his incredible wife Brenda who is a quality engineer. Together they have one child, Sneyder Villegas, who formerly attended Friends Center and at the moment attends Elm City Montessori School.
In his free time, Henry enjoys cooking with family, traveling, playing sports, chess and visiting natural habitats with his wife and son where the coexistence of nature and humans brings peace to his mind and nurtures his soul. He is very happy to have found a community like Friends Center that shares his values and has taught him so much.
OrLando Yarborough, III
OrLando Yarborough III, PhD is a scientist, leadership coach and strategist who helped train 19,000 Guatemalan leaders in the first-ever national transformation effort. He coaches and trains a diverse and international portfolio of young professionals, academics, and community and business leaders in leader development, professional skills and personal growth.
His passion is to help shape our environments to be launching pads and landing places, to create healthy systems where leaders are equipped, encouraged and empowered to live transformed lives and multiply their influence to create positive change.
OrLando is the founder of the Well Company, Yarborough Coaching Solutions, and is an Executive Director of The John Maxwell Team. He is a Meyerhoff Scholar and holds a B.A. in Biology/Africana Studies from University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a Ph.D. and M.Phil in Genetics from Yale University, and certificates in marriage counseling and pastoral leadership.
OrLando pastors The Black Church at Yale. He and his wife have a four-year-old daughter at the Friends School. OrLando is most grateful that his values and the values of Friends Center align, and highly respects Friend Center integrity in promoting and executing its mission.