Chief Executive Officer
Rodney brings to the Boys and Girls Club of Newark a wealth of experience and success in fundraising, youth and community development, education, volunteerism, board and staff development, strategic planning, and executive leadership of youth-service organizations. Rodney is an accomplished community leader and nonprofit executive with more than 20-years experience. He is the former Executive Director at Public Allies New York and has successfully led a number of other organizations in New York. He is a recipient of the Union Square Award, is a Robert Bowne Foundation Research Fellow and is the recipient of many other academic and civic awards. Rodney has been an adjunct professor at Hunter College, Marymount Manhattan College, Ramapo College of New Jersey, and Yeshiva University. Rodney is presently in the dissertation phase of his PhD at Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work.
Cynthia M. Banks
Vice President of Operations
Cynthia has served the Boys & Girls Club of Newark with distinction for over 25 years in several leadership roles, though no single title could ever contain the full force and scope of her impact on the children who have been in her care. She has been recognized with numerous awards, including the 2009 Ms. BGCN Award, and selection as a 2011 Professional of the Year for Outstanding Service by the Garden State Chapter for her work with women and minority professionals. Cynthia currently serves on the Youth of the Year Committee for Boys & Girls Clubs in New Jersey, working with colleagues from across the state.
Director of Culture & Human Resources
Catherine has been a part of the Boys & Girls Club since 2014 and started as an intern while attending Rutgers Newark. After her internship she joined the team and has been hard at work ever since. Catherine completed her Bachelors of Arts in Public and Non Profit Administration and is pursuing her masters in Public Administration and Non Profit from Rutgers Newark with a concentration in leadership. She has over 5 years of experience in organizational leadership and is passionate about harvesting a healthy, happy workplace with real emphasis on a strong organizational culture.
Diana Lynn Zeller
Director of Finance
A valued BGCN finance department employee since 1976. In 2007, Diana developed an innovative means of tracking grant-related staff allocation, a system that has proven instrumental in our own recordkeeping and has been adopted by other Clubs throughout the state. Diana was named a BGCN employee of the Year in 2011, and in 2006 was recognized at BGCA’s Leadership Conference for 30 years of service.
Director of Development
Ameer Washington grew up at BGCN, having joined the Club as a six-year-old in 1989. By his senior year in high school, he was elected Keystone Club President and Youth of the Year for the state of New Jersey. Ameer went on to earn a bachelors degree in economics from Temple University, and then returned to the Club to hold numerous leadership positions in the organization, including coordination of BGCN’s first school-based site at First Avenue School. He currently serves as BGCN’s Director of Development.
Director of Community Wellness and Teen Services
Gardan Speights is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 10 years of experience in the field of mental health with a focus on child/ adolescent behavioral health. She has a bachelor's of Arts in Psychology and Black Studies from SUNY New Paltz, and a Master's in Social Work from Columbia University. Gardan has worked with adults with developmental disabilities and co-morbid mental health challenges, in the jail system, and in one of the largest inpatient behavioral health hospitals in NJ. She has also co-facilitated programming for the Tyrone D. Franklin Technology Center in Westwood, NJ, and is excited to continue helping families stay healthy at BGCN.
Roselle “Rosa” Arenas has been a part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark family for over 25 years. She was first a member and then joined the BGCN staff as a camp counselor. Her responsibilities grew within the organization, leading our team as the Clubhouse Manager. Rosa is a dedicated long-term employee of the Boys & Girls Club of Newark and is passionate about the care and nurturing of the Clubhouse members and their families.
Shantonette has been with the Boys & Girls Club of Newark for the past six years. An integral member of the BGCN team, she has served a number of different functions at the administrative level, including managing the Club's office and coordinating with all our parents to ensure the successful enrollment of their children.
Teen Services Manger
Chris is a Newark native who studied Marketing and Criminal Justice at Boston College and Rutgers University of Newark. He joined the BGCN two years ago in order to follow his dream of working in education, and being a mentor and positive male role-model to young people from Newark. Chris is also a professional martial arts teacher and personal fitness trainer, and a history and culture aficionado. He has three young sons.