Catalyst Network Foundation

Leadership Team

 Laurel Djoukeng

Laurel Djoukeng

Founder & Executive Director

Those with wisdom beyond my years often label me an “old soul.” I thrive through the interconnectedness of my mind, body, and soul. Bringing ideas into fruition and developing meaningful relationships invigorate my ambition. I seek the thrill of business, the art of finance and the density of socioeconomics. I’m on an endless venture to become an expert in these areas and convert that knowledge into action as I combat critical issues in globally-impoverished communities.

Why CNF?

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Each man has his own vocation; his talent is his call. There is one direction in which all space is open to him”. CNF is the platform that allows me to exert my talents in one direction towards a great calling.

Monica Myers

Monica Myers

Director of Resource Management

As a native inner-city New Yorker and product of life changing mentorships and programs, it is my nature to pass on what I’ve learned to others and live by the motto “To whom much is given, much is expected”. I believe inspiring and servicing others, especially young people, is key to community building and a cycle that must not be broken. Outside of community involvement, I also enjoy music, playing tennis, following fashion, and traveling.

Why CNF?

I joined CNF to be a formal part of the support system in helping to bridge ambition with opportunity. I am excited about CNF’s potential to engage young people to proactively pursue goal achievement, positivity, and life enrichment.

Sebastian Johnson

Sebastian Johnson

Director of Educational Development

A native of the Washington, DC area, Sebastian was raised in Takoma Park and attended public schools in Montgomery County. He earned his undergraduate degree in Political Economy from Georgetown University in 2010, and spent his third year abroad at the London School of Economics. Sebastian joined Teach for America after college, and taught 3rd grade in Lawrence, MA. He recently earned his Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and is now a policy analyst with the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Why CNF?

I joined CNF to give other promising students the opportunities I’ve had to succeed.

Tialer Maxwell

Tialer Maxwell

Director of Marketing

My heart is warmed daily by humble acts of love. I am forever compelled to be a humanitarian and live my life in expectation of being an encouraging example to someone or a great service to something. I welcome people to take a deeper look beyond what meets their eye; you will discover a cognitively complex being with an unmatched zest for life, love and finding the true value and merit in all things.

Why CNF?

The CNF is positive psychology. Providing effervescing strength and the complex task of teaching virtuosity, CNF yields authentic happiness and success to deserving individuals and communities.

Max Frederic

Max Frederic

Director of Youth Programs

As a native New Yorker, I returned home after receiving my B.S. in Banking and Finance from Hampton University (2008). I currently reside in New York City and work for a premier minority-owned investment bank. The lack of financial literacy within our community fuels my desire to teach and encourage young adults to invest in their future early on in life. As a thrill seeker, I snowboard and ride a motorcycle for recreation.

Over the past few years I have come to realize and appreciate that I am a product of the support system I had as an adolescent. It is important to me to provide this same inspiration and direction for others. The Catalyst Network Foundation provides an environment that fosters this activity and I look forward to the simultaneous process of learning from the program’s participants while teaching them.

Why CNF?

Creativity and determination can go but so far without encouragement and guidance. The Catalyst Network Foundation gives me the opportunity to support and inspire young people to maximize their potential.

Iris Chau

Iris Chau

Creative Director

I have always had a wide range of interests from music, art, health, science, technology, fashion, language, travel, history and more. I wanted to delve into everything but learned that you cannot achieve greatness or success alone. Rather by helping others achieve their goals you can achieve your own. My vision, desire, and ambitions fueled me to see and provide a greater vision; the means for others to achieve and pursue their goals.

Why CNF?

I always had a passion for giving back and helping others; for improving my community, my environment, the world as a whole. It starts with each thought, mind, heart, and soul. Positive change can be contagious and I’m excited to be a catalyst and pioneer of change!

Wilmon Christian III

Wilmon Christian III

Director of College Preparatory Programs

I am a higher education professional who is all about student success. I understand that success is inextricably tied to learning (something that I enjoy immensely) and as an educator, I want my students to have a passion for learning that exceeds my own. My interest in student learning is complemented by the attention I also place on student development. With these two concepts in mind, I intentionally seek out ways to enhance students’ in-college experience, broaden their educational perspective, and enable their personal growth. In addition, I am particularly drawn to understanding the impact of college learning environments and how they affect educational outcomes for different student types. As a scholar, my research interests lie in areas such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, underrepresented student populations, Black students and students of color in higher education, Black men in higher education, and issues of access, persistence, and college student success. I am currently working in Washington, DC, at The George Washington University as an advisor and instructor. Here, I get to engage undergraduate students in meaningful, high-impact educational experiences while assisting them with navigating complex landscapes. I take pleasure in working with students in this way and aspire to a faculty role that will allow me to teach and explore my research agenda. I am pleased that at this juncture, DC, GWU, and CNF have come together for me in such a way so as to form the ideal space where I can seamlessly move between my interests and apply my strengths. I look forward to assisting CNF expand in the DC metropolitan area.

Why CNF?

As an educator, I have an interest in working with underrepresented students, and what excites me is that I get to work with them in capacities that enable their success. I absolutely love success stories, and working with students in such a way that allows them to author their own is work that I cannot stay away from. CNF at its core is an organization of successful young adults who, single mindedly, are focused on positively affecting the educational and social trajectories of young people. I am pleased that as stakeholders in their development, CNF commits itself to thinking through and providing experiences supporting this objective. I’m glad to use my talents to bring shape to people’s lives in that way and CNF is a platform that allows me to do this.

 

Justine Johnson

Justine Johnson

Program Coordinator

As a high school student growing up in Los Angeles, California, I was able to break generational barriers of attaining higher education through the support of Upward Bound and an after-school program called Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID). Through these programs I was exposed to college campuses and was assisted by program staff in crafting my personal statement. I believe that programs such as these and CNF link students to resources that will make them prosperous students in academia.

Why CNF?

I joined CNF because I am passionate about the development of today’s youth. I believe that the only way we can promise our youth a bright future is through on-going support and consistent mentorship.

Rashad West

Rashad West

Director of Relationship Management

My goal is that everyone I come across will find the kind of success that is mentioned in my favorite book “There is no desire that anyone holds for any other reason than that they believe they will feel better in the achievement of it. Whether it is a material object, a physical state of being, a relationship, a condition, or a circumstance–at the heart of every desire is the desire to feel good. And so, the standard of success in life is not the things or the money–the standard of success is absolutely the amount of joy you feel.” I believe that understanding this is the key to accomplishing ones dreams.

Why CNF?

I joined CNF to inspire people to follow their passion and to see individuals enjoy their positive progression.

Lanaya Irvin

Lanaya Irvin

Director of Corporate Development

Lanaya Irvin is a Treasury Solutions Officer in GCB Middle Market Banking, providing treasury operations, cash management, and liquidity solutions to US based multi-national companies. Ms. Irvin joined Bank of America in 2008 as part of the GCIB MBA Leadership Program and spent two years as a Senior Associate in corporate lending and client management. In 2010, Lanaya was promoted to Vice President and offered a role in the Treasury Management organization.

Prior to joining the bank, Ms. Irvin completed strategy work for Eli Lilly & Co and Proctor & Gamble. From 2004 to 2006, Ms. Irvin served as Chief Executive of a cooperatively run textbook retailer in California. She holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas McCombs School of Business. She received her B.A. from the University of California. Lanaya is highly involved in diversity & inclusion at Bank of America and currently serves as co-chair of the LGBT Employee Network for Metro New York. She is a member of the Interbank Roundtable and Co-Chair of the organization’s speaker series committee.

DeVaughn Fowlkes

DeVaughn Fowlkes

Director of External Relations

Be the change you want to see and boldly pursue the reality you envision. The time is now!

Why CNF?

I chose to be a part of CNF because it was a ‘call to action’ by professionals who roll up their sleeves to create opportunity for young people and who embrace the responsibility of community leadership.

Dr. Tiffani Bright

Dr. Tiffani Bright

Why CNF?

Obinna Onungwa

Obinna Onungwa

Director of Innovation

Obinna Onungwa is the Founder of Cue. He attended the University of Maryland College Park where he earned a BA in African History. He also pursued an independent study at Howard University focused on emerging markets in Africa from which he interned at Goldman Sachs in their Securities Division. He sits on the Youth Board of the Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance, an organization of African entrepreneurs throughout the globe dedicated to using practical knowledge to solve real African problems through enterprise. He also tutors underserved youth throughout Washington D.C. with a particular focus on mathematics.

Why CNF?

The aim is simple. I am committed to attacking large, looming problems in black communities throughout the globe. Education is a vital piece of the equation. How do you inspire versus instruct? How do you encourage intellectual curiosity versus stale, academic obedience? The highest service I can lend my community is a bold provocation of the mind! Knowledge is power. Learn more. Do more. Be more!

No man is an island unto himself. No woman is an island unto herself. The catalyst network foundation is the brainchild of countless discussions on what our generation should do to best equip underserved youths with the tools they need to compete in the 21st century global economy. CNF allows me to “pay it forward” in a deep and meaningful way. Human capital is the highest form indeed and through this channel, I intend on making a lasting investment with generational impact.

Tristan Lewis

Tristan Lewis

Marketing Consultant

As a youth, I’ve witnessed firsthand how important the community is in order for one to discover their potential. I’m the product of those who have preceded me and have been selfless in their giving. As a result I’ve committed a life to giving back and helping others reach their potential.

Why CNF?

I joined CNF to harness the opportunity to give, inspire, and help others reach their purpose and potential.

Bryan Young

Bryan Young

Chief Technology Officer

Bryan Young is CEO of BEC with over five years’ experience creating award winning digital campaigns and integrated programs for national clients. His interactive expertise has spanned from online advertising and interactive websites to social media, blogs and mobile experiences. His creative approach has always factored in consumer insights to his digital strategies, creating smart marketing that forms a strong consumer relationship with a brand. In 2011 Bloomberg Businessweek named him one of Americas Best Young Entrepreneurs under the age of 25.

Why CNF?

I simply want my life and the progress I’ve made to mean something. I feel the youth can relate better to individuals that look like them.

 

Trey Barnette

Trey Barnette

Director of Development

Why CNF?

BRIEF OVERVIEW

The Catalyst Network Foundation Inc.(CNF).

Is a non-profit education initiative 501(c)(3) organization based in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Founded in 2011, CNF is focused on life enrichment and professional development, with a mission to engage high-potential youth (ages 14-25) and veterans (ages 21-30) with successful projects by providing the proper tools, network, and development opportunities.

The social enterprise is fundamentally grassroots, steered by a volunteer leadership team in New York City and Washington, D.C. In July of 2012, Ranking Congressman Ed Towns awarded a proclamation to the Foundation, in recognition of the organization’s achievements.

CNF holds a Summer Intensive Program for rising high school juniors and seniors in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Successful applicants are enrolled at a CNF partnership high school. Over 200 students have been admitted to the Fellowship Program and are CNF Fellows (99% have graduated High school, and more than 90% of them have enrolled in college or a trade school).

The fellowship scholars are trained from day one: they tour corporate offices, pitch business ideas, and develop professional skills. CNF personnel assess the Fellows career aspirations, expose them to various opportunities, and foster intrapersonal growth. Each student receives individualized attention and internships in preparation for higher education and community service.

Through CNF’s Mentorship Program, Fellowship scholars are paired with a mentor that is a trailblazer in the profession or career field the fellows aspire to pursue.

The CNF Internship Program secures CNF Fellows with internships at top startups, corporations, and medical institutions.

Since 2011, the Fellows have participated in corporate tours and create or pitched presentations about inner-city school challenges to several corporations, including: Google, Goldman Sachs, NIKE, LinkedIn, Morgan Stanley, HBO, Microsoft, Covington & Burling LLP, GAP, BET, Essence Magazine, NPR, Kaye Scholer LLP, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Hughes Hubbard Reed LLP, Bloomberg, Peebles Corporation, Infor, Deloitte, FOX News, and NBC Studios.

The youth initiative also holds career and college preparatory workshops throughout the school year, educating over 800 high school students in the aforementioned metropolitan areas.

The organization works with American veterans (ages 21-30), connecting them with resources and information to assist them with their career and academic ambitions.

CNF host a professional mixer and panel discussion called The Meeting of the Minds (MOTM) a gathering that is held quarterly it uniquely combines networking and thoughtful policy discussion on topics affecting minority communities. The goal is to provide a forum for critical conversation on issues often ignored by mainstream media outlets. After the general discussion, the event transforms into an in-person social component allowing attendees to build on ideas.

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