Our Team

Executive Leadership

Alysia Lee

President

Alysia receives national recognition for advancing access, equity, and decolonization with artists, organizations, and communities. Her methods center on anti-racism, creativity, and justice. 

 

Previously, Lee was the education program supervisor for Fine Arts Education for the Maryland State Department of Education across five arts disciplines: music, dance, visual art, theatre, and media arts. She supported the statewide arts learning community by advancing policies for arts-rich, lifelong learning in and through the arts for all Marylanders, producing over 1,000 hours of robust technical assistance annually, and managing a robust grant portfolio.

 

Alysia also founded a grassroots youth development organization, Sister Cities Girlchoir (SCG). Heading into its 11th season, Sister Cities Girlchoir is an award-winning and trendsetting choral education program with performance credits from Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, and numerous school and community stages.

Recent recognitions include awards from The Kennedy Center, The Knight Foundation, National Association of University Women, Stockton Bartol Foundation, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and BEQ Pride. Recent speaking/facilitation engagements include the U.S. Department of Education, The Kennedy Center, VH-1 Save the Music, Carnegie Hall, Arts Education Partnership, TEDX, many colleges and universities, and national and state professional associations.

Niccassia Belton

Vice President of Learning, Evaluation and Data Management

Dr. Nicassia Belton is the Vice President of Learning, Evaluation and Data Management. She joins BCYF from the Maryland State Department of Education where she served as the Director of Data and Accountability for Career Programs providing strategic oversight of all accountability systems, program evaluations, research, and data collections for all career programs in Maryland.

 

She has spent over 15 years working with state and local education agencies, postsecondary institutions, and nonprofits leading the work to promote the use of accountability ecosystems centered on culturally responsive and equitable evaluation and strategic research and data use to drive change to improve equity in access, opportunity, and outcomes for our children and youth.

Kieta Iriarte-Amin

Vice President of Community Engagement and Strategic Partnerships

Kieta M Iriarte-Amin is the Vice President of Community Engagement and Strategic Partnerships at Baltimore Children & Youth Fund (BCYF). Kieta Iriarte-Amin is multi-hyphenated Baltimore based, vetted non-profit professional who before this role focused on providing technical assistance, grant and project management consultation to entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, schools, and nonprofit organizations when she wasn’t at home with her loving family.

 

Kieta holds a B.A. in Mass Communication + Communication Studies and an M.A. in Nonprofit Management + Women’s Studies both from Towson University and In a past life Kieta was the co-founder and is now the Board Chair of Bmore Empowered (BE) a non-profit based in West Baltimore. At BE everything from fiscal sponsorship to a camp for young women and girls of color through mindfulness and entrepreneurship were at the nougat of Kieta’s role.

 

Just like the projects that Kieta has touched before this role BCYF is more than grantmaking and Kieta’s soft, caring yet effective approach to telling the BCYF story with external stakeholders, creating engaging initiatives to engage the BCYF community and stakeholders will be

 

Her heart and empathetic disposition toward youth and especially Black and Brown girls in Baltimore city as well as her expertise as a powerhouse of advocacy for accurate grant monitoring, reporting, fiscal responsibility and improving the overall climate of businesses any and everywhere from ideation to longstanding bring Kieta to BCYF to whom she’s not a stranger as she serves as a consultant focusing on grassroots technical assistance and capacity building since 2019.

Kera Ritter

Vice President of Finance And Administration

Kera Ritter is the Vice President of Finance And Administration for the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund. She has served on the BCYF team since 2018 in various roles including project manager, lead operations and finance consultant, and transition manager.

 

Kera is a former president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake, a nonprofit serving almost 1,000 youth in the Greater Baltimore area. During an 18-month tenure, Kera took a nonprofit steeped in debt, stabilized it, and guided its transition into Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Y while keeping the organization solvent and exceeding national program standards. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake successfully achieved compliance with national standards for the first time in seven years and won a Quality Award for its programming, scoring in the top 10 percent of chapters nationwide.

 

Prior to joining Big Brothers Big Sisters, Kera spent 15 years in journalism at renowned outlets, including Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs, The Boston Globe, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. As an award-winning journalist, Kera chronicled the intersection of race, class and gender, and the impact of public policy on social issues such as child welfare, workforce development and criminal justice. Following her career in journalism, Ms. Ritter served as a Foreign Affairs Officer for the U.S. Department of State.

 

Kera holds a Master of Science from Drexel University and a bachelor’s degree from University of Maryland, College Park. She is originally from New Jersey and currently resides in Baltimore City with her husband and an occasional foster dog from the Maryland SPCA.

 

Kera is also president of The Ritter Group, LLC, a consulting firm which helps organizations and leaders solve their most difficult challenges, particularly during times of crises and transition.

Regina Salliey Cooper

Vice President of Grantmaking and Technical Assistance

Regina Salliey Cooper brings experience from the nonprofit, public, philanthropic and academic sectors. She is founding principal of R. Salliey Philanthropic Advisors- whose mission is to make life better for others through philanthropy- and has applied her social work training to promote opportunities for youth, particularly girls, and families. She is also co-creator of Black Girls Global Exchange, a global ambassador program for middle and high school girls in the US, Eswatini and South Africa. Regina previously served as a Program Associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, managing a portfolio of national programs that promoted educational and economic opportunities for youth and families; Deputy Director of the Maryland Department of Human Resources’ Office of Grants Management, overseeing food & nutrition, victim services, fatherhood, and homeless & transitional services programs; and Adjunct Faculty at University of Maryland School of Social Work. A Baltimore native, Regina is one of four daughters, and a proud wife and mother.
In addition to over 20 years of direct service and administrative experience in the nonprofit, public, philanthropic, academic and private sectors, Regina uniquely holds the experience of being both a grantee and funder. Working at both the programmatic and macro levels provided her with a breadth of perspectives on public private partnerships and moving the needle for change. Moreover, it has provided her with a firm grasp of the intricacies and challenges that nonprofits face. With significant familiarity with youth development and philanthropy, she supports the notion of disrupting the status quo and shifting the paradigm of philanthropy.

Staff

Ariel Davis

Director of Communications

Ariel is the Director of Communications at the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund. Additionally, she is the co-founder of The Arts Administrators of Color Network, a non-profit organization she helped establish in 2016. There, she has helped steward communications efforts in order to provide professional development and networking opportunities for creative leaders throughout the United States.

 

Previous experiences include work with the Save The Music Foundation, The Kennedy Center, The MusicianShip, the Lewis Prize for Music, and the HBCU Jazz Education Initiative.

Maria Lay

Contracts and Grants Manager
Maria Lay is the Grants & Contracts Manager for Baltimore Children and Youth Fund. She is a West Baltimore native with over 20 years of experience in economic data analysis, compliance and administration across government and nonprofit sectors. Maria holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations & Promotions from Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism & Communications. She also holds an MBA with a specialization in Human Resources Management from Louisiana State University. Outside of work, Maria is a classically trained singer who has traveled the world performing multiple genres with countless well known artists. She loves creative writing, dry humor, animals and home improvement projects.

Sarita Edwards

Executive Assistant to the President

Ms. Sarita S. Edwards is the Executive Assistant to the President of Baltimore Children and Youth Fund, Inc. Sarita brings over 12 years of exceptional administrative experience to BCYF. Sarita has spent her occupational career working alongside high-level executives, community, military, and political officials. She has gained the acumen and expertise to manage and coordinate large projects, including working with corporate boards and community leaders. During the 2020 Presidential Election, Sarita served as a key Morgan State University leader who guided the university to become an election sight for the first time in its 155-year history.

 

Sarita is currently a candidate for a Master of Public Administration (M.P.A) from the University of Baltimore. Sarita is an active member of the Baltimore County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated, Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society as well as Sigma Nu Tau Entrepreneurship Honor Society.

 

Reporting directly to President Alysia D. Lee, Sarita is honored to have the opportunity to help develop improved administrative management systems on behalf of BCYF, Inc.