Meet the Team
Administrative Coordinator, Learning, Evaluation & Data Management
A Baltimore City native, Michelle Brownson is the Administrative Coordinator for Learning, Evaluation, and Data Management for the BCYF. With over 25 years of experience as an administrative professional, Michelle brings resource-intensive insight and the ability to implement best practices while prioritizing and producing favorable results.
In her previous role, she worked within the Maryland State Department of Education, operating as the Finance Administrator for the Division of Career and College Readiness. Michelle is strategic and works hard to bring value to the team so that all can successfully move the needle to get the job done.
Administrative Coordinator and Accounting Clerk, Finance and Compliance
Nikea was born, raised, and educated in Baltimore City, Maryland. She graduated from Edmondson-Westside high school and continued pursuing her education at Paul Smith’s College in New York before transferring to Morgan State University. Finding a desire and interest in healthcare, Nikea received her certification and licensure in Medical Assistance in 2007. Upon receiving her diploma, she had the opportunity to work in various specialties and departments within healthcare, such as Internal Medicine, Oncology, Gynecology, Infectious Disease, Plastic, Reconstructive Surgery, and many more. She provided training and job placement for pre-certified Medical Assistant externships, new employees, and the disabled during her tenure. Nike has always believed in helping; however, she can do so while learning.
Administrative Coordinator, President's Office
Destiny Coleman is the Administrative Coordinator for Baltimore Children and Youth Fund. She is an East Baltimore native graduating from the Institute of Notre Dame. She has dedicated a decade of focus to sales and marketing, operations, client relations, and customer success. Previously, Destiny was a contracting Executive Administrative Assistant for a few of Maryland’s brightest commercial real estate companies.
Beyond the title, Destiny advocates for racial equity, an increase in youth-led programs, and humility. She has been actively working in the community alongside other small outreach organizations to change the narrative. Destiny stands as a strong advocate for the nonprofit sector due to her dedication to the community.
Grant Process Manager
Catherine Frost (she/her) is a theatre-maker, educator, and arts administrator. As a panelist, applicant, and administrator, she has participated in various grant review processes with local and state-level arts and community philanthropic organizations such as the Maryland State Arts Council, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and the Mayor’s Office on African Affairs. As a Teaching Artist, she has engaged learners at the National Portrait Gallery, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater, and Young Playwrights’ Theater. In community engagement roles at multiple DC theaters, Catherine has curated free events connecting audiences with local activists and service providers. She’s also a member of the DC playwrights’ collective, The Welders. Outside work, Cat enjoys exploring eateries, galleries, landmarks, art classes, and improv shows.
Director of Strategic & Philanthropic Partnerships
Brandon Hansen (he/him) is the Director of Strategic and Philanthropic Partnerships at Baltimore Children and Youth Fund. Prior to working at BCYF, Brandon worked for Baltimore Center Stage for six seasons, finishing his tenure as Interim Director of Advancement where he was responsible for securing over $3.5M in funding for the theater’s Annual Fund, special projects, and capacity building initiatives. He is also a part-time fundraising consultant, rooting his work in decolonization and dismantling the nonprofit industrial complex. He has also held previous positions at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Two River Theater. Brandon has served as a grant panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, Maryland State Arts Council, and as an Advisor to Baltimore Corps Brain Trust and New Wave Singers of Baltimore–an LGBTQ+ Choir.
Director of Strategic Initiatives and Planning
Lillian Jacobson (she/her) is an experienced administrator and event planner. She joins the Baltimore Children & Youth Fund as the Strategic Initiatives and Planning Officer. She previously served as the fine arts project manager at the Maryland State Department of Education overseeing grants, developing professional learning for educators, and creating opportunities to celebrate students’ voices through the arts; and as the Regional Events Planner at the Maryland State Arts Council, executing in-person and virtual events throughout Maryland. Lillian is currently on the Kennedy Center’s Community Advisory Board. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Vice President of Operations & Culture
Sherrona Lawrence, MSOL, PHR, SHRM-CP
Sherrona Lawrence is a seasoned Human Resources professional with over 20 years of experience working in the Government, non-profit, and global sectors. She has extensive experience in recruitment, compensation, benefits administration, wellness, employee relations, and organizational leadership. Sherrona holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources Management, as well as a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership, both from Columbia Southern University. She is also certified as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and a Certified Professional by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM-CP). Sherrona is dedicated to improving the culture of the employee and employer relationship and is passionate about helping organizations create a positive and productive work environment.
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 specializing 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.
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 founded a grassroots youth development organization, Sister Cities Girlchoir (SCG). In 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, the National Association of University Women, the Stockton Bartol Foundation, the 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.
Hana received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Maryland – College Park and earned her Master’s in School Counseling from Johns Hopkins University. Before earning her Master’s degree, Hana worked at the Division of Psychiatric Services Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine on an intervention study with high-risk participants. She has spent the past three years working as a Baltimore County Public Schools School Counselor. She has dedicated her time to creating equitable learning spaces for students and providing them with individualized resources to help them succeed. Hana is excited to utilize her varied skills and experience to support Baltimore children, youth and families.
Director of Data Management
Born and raised in Baltimore, Sheree truly understands the inner city’s challenges. She is passionate about identifying and treating the disease of drug addiction and advocates for the fair treatment of all incarcerated people. In recent years, Sheree has provided technical assistance for several youth-based grassroots and non-profit organizations across MD and DC.
Sheree is married with two sons and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Coppin State University. She promotes dignity, respect, safety, hope, and care at-promise youth.
Kayla Morgan was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland where she received her Bachelor in Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art, graduating magna cum laude. Morgan is an alum of the 2019 Urban Arts Leadership Cohort, an initiative of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, and of the Arts Educator & Artist Campaign School cohort. Her multidisciplinary training in various creative processes, along with her ambition to engage and serve her community has led her to continue her work as an artist and administrator in her home city of Baltimore.
Charisse M. Paige
Director of Grantmaking
Erik Peay joins the BCYF team as the Human Resources Administrator after serving as Human Resources Generalist for Lexington Market, Inc. and Baltimore Public Markets Corporation. Having served in both the private and quasi-public fields, he brings with him over 10 years of HR experience, including, mediation, conflict resolution, investigation, training and development, and payroll and benefit administration.
A West Baltimore native and trained counselor, Erik is passionate for justice and healing in his City and seeks to serve toward this end.
Director of Accounting & Compliance
April Prachniak is the Director of Accounting & Compliance. She is an accounting professional with 40 years of experience specializing in the nonprofit and government sectors. Before joining Baltimore Children and Youth Fund, she started her accounting career at Girl Scouts of Central Maryland before transitioning to the position of Controller for sister non-profit quasi government organizations Lexington Market, Inc. and Baltimore Public Markets Corporation. She is an East Baltimore native who attended Western High School and holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Baltimore. Her loves include family, creating greeting cards, baseball and animals.
Creative Assets Manager
Kevin Rucker (he/him) joins the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund as the Creative Assets Manager, with over a decade of experience leading the creative direction and branding for numerous freelance clients, in-house organizations, and Federal government contracts. Prior to joining BCYF, Kevin held the position of Senior Graphic Designer and E-Learning Course Developer as a Federal contractor for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Outside of work, he dedicates his time to supporting local small businesses, producing logos and graphics that bring their brands to fruition. Kevin is excited to apply the same visionary dedication to develop and expand BCYF’s brand identity to amplify the work being led by and for youth in Baltimore.
Director of Information Technology
Keith is the Director of Information Technology at Baltimore Children and Youth Fund. He was born, raised, and educated in Baltimore City as a graduate of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. He served his country during Desert Storm and began his leadership career. Keith continued his education through Strayer University. In previous roles, Keith has elevated himself through manager roles, deputy director roles, and director roles in both private and public sectors. He was awarded the SmartCEO Executive Award as an IT Professional. He is a technology leader and a certified Project Management Professional with a diverse leadership and business acumen background.
Vice President of Finance & Compliance
Bennice Thayer is an experienced finance and accounting professional across nonprofit, technology, and service-oriented arenas. Before joining Baltimore Children and Youth Fund, she was the Director of Finance and Administration for sister organizations Lexington Market, Inc. and Baltimore Public Markets Corporation. She was second-in-command in operating six public markets across Baltimore City.
Her background includes grants and contracts management at international, federal, state, and local levels; working with European and South African organizations; contracting with the Department of Defense, Department of Human Services, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, U.S. Agency for International Development, among others, and through high-technology satellite and long-distance telecommunications.
She is the former co-founder and Executive Director of a learning center that serviced over one hundred schools, from elementary through post-graduate studies, in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
Administrative Coordinator, Grantmaking & Technical Assistance
A native of Baltimore, Dione is a graduate of Western Senior High School. She has over 16 years of experience providing both administrative and financial services support for one of the top hospitals in the region. She has worked closely with surgeons, research nurses, and a diverse patient population to provide timely and expert office support. Dione is a dedicated professional with a strong work ethic and commitment to excellence.
Austin Ubannwa is joining the team as the Marketing Manager after working as project manager/ Communications Coordinator for Maryland State Department of Education Department of Fine Arts. He is also co-founder of Other Side of the Wall Pediatric Brain Tumor Association and serves as head of youth outreach. Austin is also a multidisciplinary artist that believes you can be whoever and whatever you want and should pursue life without regard to limitations. Limitations are simply an indication that there is a need for adjustment.
Harold is a Baltimore native who received his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Maryland College Park. Since graduating, Harold has been dedicated to helping the citizens of Baltimore in various ways throughout his career. He has previously been a Case Worker and Trainer for Baltimore City Department of Social Services, a Prevention Coordinator at Behavioral Health System Baltimore, and a Family Engagement Specialist at Baltimore City Public Schools. Harold is also an active actor and comedian and has performed in various theaters and comedy festivals across North America. He is currently a member of the Artistic Council at the Baltimore Improv Group where he also performs occasionally. Harold is excited about continuing his work with Baltimore’s children, youth, and families.