Dedicated professionals with “BIG HEARTS” and brains to match.

With a plethora of experience in both public and private sectors, V-ELMS’ board members advocate critical thinking skills, community involvement, and EQ over IQ (emotional intelligence over intelligence quotient).

Brett Truitt

Brett Truitt

Founding Director

Brett Truitt, Ed.D. is V-ELMS’ Founding Director and this model is the outgrowth of Brett’s over thirty years as an English teacher to an English supervisor in New York State inner-city schools, plus her years of experience as a mentor-professor at Empire State College at the State University of New York. She received her Doctorate in Administrative and Instructional Leadership from St. John’s University with her dissertation titled, “Case Studies of Student Mentoring in Three New York City Community-Based Organizations”.

Linda Scher

Linda Scher

Deputy Director

Linda Scher, M.S. is a community activist, and a retired fine arts and humanities teacher in a New York State inner-city schools. Linda has written, introduced, and practiced a comprehensive curriculum in Humanities. As a practicing artist, with a long resume of art shows, she understands and recognizes the creative juices that spurred Dr. Truitt to develop V-ELMS. As an entrepreneur restoring Brownstones in the neighborhood while employing and teaching local youth these skills, she is aware it’s exposure and encouragement that changes the direction of children’s lives. She is thrilled to use her experiences to assist V-ELMS, this unique model for our neighborhood youth.

Frances Rodriquez-Stern

Frances Rodriguez

Mentee Coordinator

Frances Rodriguez, B.A. Art History from Yale University is dedicated to serve nonprofit organizations such as: Positive Planet – a non-profit that supports quality education for all children of the world; Clinton Hill Society – a non-profit organization for the preservation of the historic district in Brooklyn, New York; Children Art Foundation – non-profit/charitable.

Frieda Huddleston

Frieda Huddleston

Public Relations

Frieda N. Huddleston holds two Bachelor of Science degrees in Business Administration and Accounting. She has a Master of Science in Human Services with an emphasis in Counseling. She has served as an educational counselor for undergraduate and graduate studies and also has experience as a Patient Relations Director for a major military medical center. Her experience runs the gamut of instructing at several community colleges and serving as a senior research analyst, technical writer, and editor for a management consulting firm.

DeVonta Williams

DeVonta Williams

Chair Person

​DeVonta Williams is a native of Brooklyn, New York, and credits her drive and passion for success to her more than 15 years of service as a youth leader for Metro World Child, a faith-based humanitarian organization committed to serving and mentoring hundreds of inner-city kids in Bushwick. Understanding firsthand what it’s like to have people see potential in her fueled her need to give back

DeVonta experienced firsthand the benefits of mentorship. Early in her career, she was afforded opportunities to work closely with and be mentored by senior-level management, build her skills, expand her network, and create a business foundation where she was promoted to Vice President before having finished her bachelor’s degree in International Business and Economics at New York University.

Today, DeVonta is a Finance Operations Executive with over 25 years of experience managing large-scale global Technology Finance teams for multiple Fortune 500 companies. Her expertise has afforded her the opportunity to work for companies such as Dentsu, Morgan Stanley, Bloomberg/Geller & Co., MFUFJ (Bank of Tokyo), and Deloitte, managing teams in the UK, Holland, Japan, and China.

Anne Bush

Anne M. Bush

Anne Bush is a retired Vice President of JPMorgan Chase and former Chief Credit Officer of Trufund Financial Services, Inc. She serves on numerous Boards including V-ELMS; VP-Community Council Board for Medgar Evers College/CUNY; President-Society for Clinton Hill; Teach For America NY Associate Board and the Past President/Advisory Board, Urban Financial Services Coalition (UFSC) National Association. Anne has a BA in Psychology and Mathematics from NYU, a Graduate Business Certificate from LIU, and a Certificate in Philanthropy and Fundraising from NYU. Ms. Bush formerly held securities licenses 7 and 63.

Tricia Lee Riley

Tricia Lee Riley

Tricia Lee Riley is a proud Brooklyn resident, one of Brooklyn’s top real estate brokers and home investors with immense knowledge and appreciation of the borough’s history and the revitalization of its neighborhoods. A Phoenix native, she earned her BA in Communications from Arizona State University. She is an active member of the Myrtle Avenue Redevelopment Program, a board member of V-ELMS, and active with her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. In 2019, Tricia Lee started her passion project, a Women’s Financial Wellness Event Series, Money Matters with Tricia Lee. Annually, Tricia brings together a group of 200+ to discuss behaviors and strategy around money habits, financial freedom, and using real estate to build wealth.


Patricia Martin-Gibbons, JD

Patricia Martin-Gibbons, JD, has practiced since 1988. Since 1991, she has provided representation and legal advice in family law matters. Directly after graduating Brooklyn Law School, she was employed as a prosecutor at The Kings County District Attorney’s Office as an Assistant District Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, New York. Ms. Martin-Gibbons’ work involves representing parents and children in matrimonial matters issues of custody and visitation, cases including allegations of child abuse and neglect, and juvenile delinquency. She also represents individuals in domestic violence cases including defending and obtaining orders of protection. The experience gained in working in the field of family law has provided Ms. Martin-Gibbons with various insights into the importance of academic mentorship.

Abbie Van Wely

Abbie Van Wely

Abbie Van Wely is a former public-school teacher with over thirty years classroom experience teaching English and remedial reading/writing to middle school students. She earned an MS Ed from the College of Saint Rose, and a BA in English from SUNY Albany. At the time of her retirement from Manchester-Shortsville CSD, she had worked with middle school students across a wide range of skill levels and backgrounds, helped to create/guide two new student clubs, helped to provide in-house training for NYS ELA Testing, acted as Team Leader for grade-level NYS ELA testing, acted as Team Leader for grade-level NYS ELA testing (in-house and multi-district). and served M-S CSD as a New Teacher Mentor.


Derek Bourgeois

IT Specialist

Derek Bourgeois is a 17+ year Army Veteran, specializing in computer, satellite, telephone, and radio communications. He is currently a Senior DevOps Engineer at Cisco Systems, Inc where he develops and maintains a large-scale learning and certification platform for Cisco’s products and services. Derek also volunteers with V-ELMS as a Software Engineer to develop its Virtual Campus.

Sean Robinson

Sean Robinson

Financial Advisor

Sean Robinson attended Howard University from 1990 to 1994 and graduated Cum Laude with dual BBA degrees in Accounting and Finance. He received a two-year fellowship from the Consortium of Graduate Study in Management to attend the Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester where he completed his MBA in 1999 with a concentration in Corporate Accounting and Finance. Sean has worked in the financial services industry for over 25 years in various industries including, investment banking, venture capital, SEC Reporting, auditing, and consulting. He is a CPA with licensures in New York, California, Florida, and Washington, DC.

Kirkland Vaughans

Kirkland Vaughans, PH.D.

Kirkland Vaughans, PH.D., a retired school psychologist in the New York State Education system, is a senior adjunct faculty at Adelphi University, founding editor of the “Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy” and co-author of the two-volume series, The Psychology of Black Boys and Adolescents. Dr. Vaughans, who has had several decades-long career as a clinical psychologist treating Black youth, was the recipient of the national honoree for Diversity Award for Psychology in Division 39 for 2021.

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Brooklyn, New York 11205