Arlenis Almonte is an experienced brand marketer specializing in multicultural consumer segments and communities. Her passion is curating culturally relevant and authentic consumer experiences to help brands garner genuine engagement and achieve their business goals.
Arlenis has a range of marketing strategy and implementation experience for multimillion-dollar brands, inclusive of MetLife, Nestle, Target, and Covergirl. She’s held roles in product development and innovation, conducting ethnographic research to obtain relevant cultural trends and linguistic nuances, and identifying the proper metrics and tactics to measure impact, partnering with creative agencies to bring innovative ideas to life (TV, Print, Digital). She’s knowledgeable across industries but has spent most of her career in retail/e-commerce, finance, insurance, and beauty.
Arlenis is a Management Leadership for Tomorrow MBA Prep and Career Prep Fellow, Forté Foundation Fellow, and an Echoing Green Direct Impact Alumni. She holds an MBA from Duke University, Fuqua School of Business in Durham, NC and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Bentley University in Waltham, MA.
She dedicates most of her “free” time mentoring and recruiting students of color, to pursue higher education. She also enjoys cultural travel, cooking, and training for endurance events.
Pat Collins is a Partnerships Lead on the Agency Sales team at Google. Pat joined the company in January 2015 and focuses on driving yearlong media partnerships with Google’s largest advertisers, with an emphasis on video. Pat spent the previous ten years in the media and entertainment industry, across various Sales and Strategy positions at NBC Universal, Viacom and AMC Networks. He has lived in New York for twelve years and currently resides in the Gramercy neighborhood of Manhattan. Pat was born and raised in Erie, PA and attended school at Penn State University, earning a BS in Finance and minor in Economics. He joined the I Challenge Myself board in September 2016 and is passionate about the positive lifelong influences of fitness.
Vagnes De La Rosa
Vagnes De La Rosa is the Chief of Staff at Safe Horizon since joining them in 2014. Vagnes was previously a deputy director of the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation, where he was responsible for 24 college readiness programs. He has over a decade of management experience in the non-profit sector, specializing in youth development and leadership programs. He has also worked as a management consultant, trainer and motivational speaker. Vagnes is passionate about working with the community, especially for those who sometimes need a little extra support. He received a Master’s in Public Administration in Non-Profit Management from Baruch College's School of Public Affairs and a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Rochester. Vagnes was born in the Dominican Republic and after spending many years living in Washington Heights NY, he now resides in Staten Island.
Peter Ho a native of Hong Kong, Peter and his family have lived in the New York metro area for almost two decades. Peter is the founder of MultiplyIQ, a learning discovery platform. He has over a decade of corporate financial management experience with Monster.com, a global online recruitment provider. Peter earned a master’s degree in business administration from Yale School of Management and received B.S. and M.S. degrees, both in Electrical Engineering, from Virginia Tech. When he is not busy shuttling his two daughters to different weekend activities, you may find him riding his bike around City Island.
Cliff Landesman grew up in St. Louis, MO and New York City. He was the Director of Electronic Media at W. W. Norton & Co., a leading independent employee-owned book publisher. There he spearheaded several new initiatives, including ebook production for college and trade titles, online technical support, and the expanded use of national and international freelancers. Cliff has been involved with nonprofits for over 30 years, having formerly worked for the New York Public Library, Vermont Public Radio, Princeton University, and the Fund for the City of New York. In the early 1990s, he founded the Internet Nonprofit Center, one of the first web sites to provide comprehensive information about nonprofit organizations. He holds a BA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, an MA from Oxford University, and a PhD from Princeton University. His PhD dissertation was titled "The Voluntary Provision of Public Goods." He lives with his wife and two children in Brooklyn, NY. At 55, he challenged himself to ride a unicycle, the simplest of all wheeled vehicles.
Dr. Pedro Pérez
Dr. Pedro Pérez currently serves as the Director for the College Discovery Program at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York (BMCC). Previously he served as counseling faculty and recently completed more than 20 years with BMCC. Additionally, he was an adjunct professor in the Department of Social Science for more than seven years where he taught human services and social work. Some of his other professional experience includes working with the Children’s Aid Society, Aspira of New York, and the American Red Cross. He is a member of the American Counseling Association and the New York Mental Health Counselors Association. Pedro is a native New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent. In pursuance of his social work degree he attended Lehman College in the Bronx (great program and very fond memories). He continued graduate studies at Long Island University—School Counseling Program. Eventually he went on to complete his doctorate in higher education at Nova Southeastern University. Some of his interests include the integration and use of technology in counseling. He advocates living life through nourishing the four dimensions (Covey): spiritual, physical, mental, and social/emotional. To that end, exercise is a regular part of his life. Additionally, he is an avid fan and player of one-wall paddleball.
Ana Reyes, is I Challenge Myself's founder and executive director. Ana was born in the Dominican Republic, raised in the South Bronx and is a product of New York City public schools. Ana’s experience training for and completing a 3-day 286-mile bike tour from Boston to NYC, as a novice cyclist and non-athlete, planted the seed for I Challenge Myself. A former high school teacher and educator, she set out to design a similarly demanding endurance fitness challenge that would allow public high school students to tap into that “deep in the belly” strength that we all possess but oftentimes are unaware of its existence. She recognized the importance of helping youth connect with their inner strength during the critical period of adolescence in which they make formative decisions regarding lifestyles, identities and their futures. Under Ana’s leadership, I Challenge Myself has grown from a seasonal after school program with two part-time staff to thriving in-school and after school programs that challenge and support public high school students to push outside their comfort zones in a 100-miles 1-day bike tour, 2-hour fitness obstacle course or 400+ mile 7-day bike tour of colleges in upstate New York. Since its launch in 2005, I Challenge Myself has provided one-of- a kind experiences to over 1,000 high school students to strengthen their bodies, minds, spirits and develop habits and life skills that prepare them for college and the workforce. Prior to starting I Challenge Myself Ana was involved in the largest reform of NYC secondary schools through her work at New Visions for Public Schools. This initiative has resulted in the creation of over 80 small quality public high schools that have replaced the most under-performing comprehensive high schools in NYC. She has taught English and Spanish at high schools in Washington D.C and at a private high school and college in Culiacan, Mexico. Ana holds a B.A. in English from George Mason University and an M.A. in Secondary Education from George Washington University. Ana has been recognized as NY1’s New Yorker of the Week, Home Reporter and Brooklyn Spectator 2014 Rising Stars Award, and the Hearts on Fire 2015 Visionary of the Year award. Ana lives in New York City.
Alison Sher is a litigation associate at Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett LLP where she has worked on securities, insurance and false advertising cases and has an active pro bono practice. Alison graduated from Harvard Law School where she was President of the Student Government and student director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending. Prior to attending law school, Alison worked in New Orleans, Louisiana, teaching high school math with Teach For America. She received her undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, from Boston University.
Emerita Torres currently serves as a political advisor at the U.S Mission to the United Nations, where she negotiates UN Security Council issues and products, including counter terrorism issues and sanctions in Africa, as well as coordinating U.S. policy in these areas. Emerita has nearly a decade of international affairs experience as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, working in political, economic, labor, and multilateral diplomacy-related positions focused geographically on South Asia, Latin America and Africa. Emerita received her Master of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, where she focused on political and economic development and leadership. While at Harvard, she was the co-Editor-in- Chief of the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, volunteered for the Barack Obama presidential campaign, and was a teaching fellow for a community organizing course, which inspired her to become an organizer and train others on how to build community power through organizing. Emerita received her undergraduate degree in history from New York University. Emerita is a native New Yorker from the Bronx. She is passionate about health and wellness; Emerita is a certified group fitness instructor, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner, and has led nutrition workshops in her community.
Alex Ostroy, NYVelocity
Alex is the founder of both NYVelocity.com, which Bicycling magazine calls the "undisputed leader in NYC cycling," and Team NY Velocity. Alex is dedicated to turning New Yorkers into riders and riders into racers.
Dr. Lourdes Rodriguez, New York State Health Foundation
Dr. Rodriguez is a program officer at the New York State Health Foundation where she works on projects related to diabetes prevention. Prior to joining NYSHealth, Dr. Rodriguez served as the associate director of community partnerships for the Healthy Neighborhoods initiative at City Harvest. She is a lecturer at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
Roger Schwed, Attorney
Roger was born, raised and still lives in, New York City on the Upper West Side. He is the former Executive Vice President and General Counsel of United Rentals, Inc. (NYSE: URI), the largest equipment rental company in the world, with approximately 600 locations in North America and 7,000 employees. Prior to United Rentals, Roger was for nine years the General Counsel of Maxcor Financial Group Inc. (Nasdaq: MAXF), an international financial services company whose principal business line was inter-dealer brokerage conducted through its various Euro Brokers affiliates in New York, London and Tokyo. Prior to Maxcor, Roger was M&A Counsel at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in New York and an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. Roger graduated from Columbia University Law School, where he was an Editor of the Law Review and a Kent Scholar. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the New York Foundation. Roger has had a lifelong love affair with cycling, and has regularly commuted to work by bicycling and participated in “centuries” and other bike rides. He is also a pretty decent bike mechanic. In addition, he works regularly with children in his capacity as a head coach for many years of his two sons’ various teams in West Side Little League, Safe Haven Basketball and West Side Soccer.
Nelson Vails, Olympic Medalist
As a teenager, Nelson trained with the Century Cycling Association, a local cycling club in Manhattan. He fed his competitive spirit on Saturday mornings by participating in races sponsored by the club in Central Park. By the time he reached high school, Nelson had successfully combined his love of cycling with a well-paying job. Working after school and full-time in the summer, he earned recognition as an efficient and reliable bike messenger for New York’s Cycle Service Center. “I did well,” Nelson muses. “I was willing to work even on the rainy days.”
At the same time, Nelson found himself immersed in the fast-paced world of national, and ultimately international, cycling competition. After being invited to participate in a cycling development program in Colorado Springs in 1981, he made the U.S. Cycling Team. He and his teammates were among the first competitive U.S. cyclists to train in the Soviet Union, at the height of the Cold War.
In 1983, Nelson won a gold medal at the 1983 Pan American Games. At the Olympic Trials, he placed second to earn a spot on the eight-person 1984 U.S. Olympic Cycling Team. Not expected to “make the podium,” he surprised fans and foes by beating out the favorite and winning the silver medal in the 1000-meter match sprint at the Games in Los Angeles.
Today, Nelson pursues his love of cycling through challenging recreational tours across the country, especially in the West. “My Olympic experience made me a much more disciplined person,” observes Nelson. “In the nearly twenty years since 1984, I have come to appreciate my medal more and more.”
Dr. Sandy Weinbaum, Guttman Community College
Dr. Weinbaum is currently a senior consultant at Guttman Community College of CUNY, the University’s first new community college in more than 40 years. Before that Dr. Weinbaum was the vice-president and co-director of the AED Center for School and Community Services for over twenty years. She has extensive experience in developing, supervising, and conducting evaluation, technical assistance, and research projects geared to educational reform and postsecondary access and success, school-community collaborations, youth employment and literacy, and school self-assessment. Dr. Weinbaum has published numerous reports and articles on her work in education reform and is the lead author of study on teacher inquiry into the quality of student work: Teaching as Inquiry: Asking Hard Questions to Improve Practice and Student Achievement from Teachers College Press, 2004. Dr. Weinbaum holds a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University.