Board of Directors

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.

Latricia Allen-Frasier

Jane Coppock

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

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.

Pierre Goubourn

Suzannah Holsenbeck

Suzannah Holsenbeck is the executive director of Read to Grow, a CT based early literacy organization that promotes language and literacy skills for children, beginning at birth, and supports parents as their children’s first teachers. Read to Grow has distributed over 2.2 million books to children and families across CT since its inception in 2000. Prior to leading Read to Grow, Suzannah spent 15 years as an administrator and teacher in a wide variety of rural and urban public schools, including serving as a special education teacher on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and as the arts director at Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School in New Haven. Suzannah oversaw all components of the CT Schoolyards Program at Common Ground, including the CT School Garden Resource Center, Schoolyard Habitat Programs, and partnerships with 23 New Haven public schools. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Yale and a M.Ed. in Urban Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has two young children who currently attend Friends Center for Children.

Kaaren Janssen

Kaaren’s career in science began in the research lab – after graduate school and postdoctoral work, she became a research associate at the Salk Institute in La Jolla. Her growing interest in science communication – teaching, writing and editing – led her into the world of scientific publishing, where she became exposed to a wide range of research topics, discussion and planning with an active and entertaining Editorial Board, helping to sort out the next big application of interest to the readership. At the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Kaaren became further involved in acquisitions and development programs, communications and project evaluation in academic publishing and education, mentoring students. She currently devotes her time to science communication and education, as well as serving as consultant to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, working for the preprint server bioRxiv. Kaaren’s community work has focused on supporting education – as a member of the Guilford Board of Education for 8 years; on the Board of Guilford, A Better Chance for 12. She is now so pleased to be involved with the Friends Center, seeing what a difference can be made when the focus on high quality care and education and family support begins early. Kaaren has two children, now grown – neither went into science, but each married a scientist. Her family all shares a love of hiking and open water swimming.

Greg Melville

Joanna Meyer

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.

Landon Osborn

Brita Roy

Allyx Schiavone

Allyx has over 30 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 Childhood Development and Elementary Education as well as a Bachelor’s degree from Union College. A third-generation New Haven native, 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. Allyx has taught in several elementary schools and pre-school settings in NYC, New Haven and Greenwich; directed summer camps; and written and supervised curricula at elementary, middle and high school levels with an emphasis on multidisciplinary studies. 

Allyx is the driving force behind Friends Center for Children’s rapid growth and innovation. She, along with her team, is responsible for establishing Friends Center for Children as well as the acquisition of three school facilities and all of the supporting work which allows them to thrive. Allyx is the originator of many Friends Center initiatives including; the Emotional Wellbeing Program; the Teacher Housing Initiative; and the Teacher Leadership Program. 

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 who have come together to create an Ideal Learning place-based pilot program in New Haven. 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 a member of the National Ideal Learning Roundtable and the Mayoral-Appointed New Haven Early Childhood Council. She is a recipient of the Bank Street College of Education Alumni Association Recognition Award, presented annually to Bank Street graduates honoring outstanding career accomplishments in the field of education which exemplify the spirit and philosophy of Bank Street College; the Southern Black Nurses Association Community Service Award; the Amity Club Distinguished Italian-American Lifetime Achievement Award; Exchange Magazine’s Master Leader award; and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence’s 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. 

First and foremost, Allyx is an advocate for early care and education, focused on creating alternative systems for members of the early childhood community who are marginalized, overburdened and underfunded. She is the mother of two fantastic adult children, the partner to an amazing man, and the provider for a lovely dog named Tuck.


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.