Alphonzo M. Hedgepeth II, Board Member
Alphonzo was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. As a student who went to private, charter, and public schools, he has first-hand experience to contribute to S2S. He graduated from North Carolina Central University with a Bachelor’s in Accounting and is currently attending North Carolina Central University for his MBA in Wealth Management. While Alphonzo’s expertise is in accounting, ranging from tax services to trust services and beyond, he is dedicated to helping as many people as possible with the knowledge he gained from accounting. When not working/assisting clients, Alphonzo enjoys spending time with his family and dogs, cooking, and playing chess. He is committed to helping Students to Scholars grow and to being a valuable resource, not only on the board, but also in the community.
Annise Weaver, Vice-Chair
Annise has over fifteen years of experience developing initiatives that better serve diverse populations. Annise serves as the Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and NC-PAL Education & Outreach Manager-Community of Duke University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Before joining Duke, Annise oversaw two mental health treatment programs that served largely Black and Latinx clients in New York City. Throughout Annise’s career, she has been a leader in spearheading initiatives to serve underrepresented students. Annise received her undergraduate degree from the University at Albany and her Master’s degree in Education of Science with a focus on Rehabilitation Counseling from Hunter College. Annise maintains a credential as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. She received an award from New York State as the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor of the Year in 2014. Most recently, Annise received the Samuel DuBois Cook Society Staff Award for Duke University in 2022. She moved to the Triangle in 2019 and lives in Durham.
Chelsea Nielsen, Board Member
Chelsea Nielsen is a S2S volunteer turned board member interested in helping students access educational opportunities. Her passion for education is rooted in her deep love of learning, which drove her to pursue degrees in Biology and Anthropology at the University of Miami and now a Master of Environmental Management and Juris Doctor at Duke University. Before moving to Durham, she was a teaching assistant and tutor in subjects from reading to university physics. She then worked in museum collections, facilitating internship programs at the Frost Museum of Science in Miami and the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum in the Florida Everglades. Seeing students flourish strengthened her commitment to helping maximize their potential, drawing her to Students to Scholars. Chelsea's experience working with young students and diverse communities complements the organization's commitment to preparing local students for success.
Jackie Cerón Hernandez, Board Member
Born in Mexico as one of two children, Jacqueline (Jackie) Cerón Hernández migrated to the United States at the age of 11 with her family. Jackie graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Public Policy and a minor in Hispanic Studies. While at Carolina, she was involved in various student organizations that worked with historically excluded high school and first-year college students. Additionally, she spent half a year in Washington, D.C working with the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative and in the Office of Congressman G. K. Butterfield.
Upon graduation Jackie worked at the Emily Krzyzewski Center (EKC), a college access hub for the city of Durham, NC. She served as a College Readiness Counselor (CRC) for the Scholars to College program and later as a Postsecondary Access Advisor for the “Game Plan: College” program. Jackie worked to create meaningful systemic change in Durham by providing college access support to Durham Public School (DPS) students — especially those who have traditionally been marginalized by socio-economic and racial inequities. In 2022, she left the nonprofit sector to join local government where she presently serves as a Bilingual Community and Economic Development Analyst with the City of Durham.
Janie Bryant, Board Chair
Janie is a North Carolina native who graduated from Riverside High School and North Carolina A&T State University with a degree in Public Relations. She currently works in the healthcare industry. She is the parent of Jarod Bryant, who is a former Scholar. Jarod attended Carolina Friends School 7th-9th grade through Students to Scholars, after spending K-6 grades in Durham Public School. Janie supports Students to Scholars because she's seen, first hand, the academic benefits it has afforded her son. She brings her passion for education, a desire to help all children succeed, and a lived experience as a parent in the Students to Scholars program.
Jeanne Langley, Secretary and Co-Founder
Jeanne is brings to the board an expertise in business, primarily in sales of research and consulting services to innovation teams; the personal experience of her son attending both private and independent schools; a passion for equity in education; and a love of children. She lives in Chapel Hill, NC and continues to be involved in tutoring the young children applying to Students to Scholars, as she has done since first volunteering with the Boys & Girls Club in 2015. Jeanne is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati.
Khari Williams, Board Member
Khari grew up in Durham, NC and attend college at the University of Virginia where he studied Commerce. Following graduation Khari has spent time living in Washington DC, Nashville TN, and has now moved back to Durham. Khari has spent his entire career working in Tech and currently serves as a Sr. R&D Program Manager at Pendo.io in Raleigh. On the side, Khari has dedicated his time back into his local community here in Durham. Khari serves as a Success Coach for the Durham Success Summit, an Assistant Varsity Basketball Coach at his high school, Durham Academy, and also is a member of the Alumni Board at DA as well. Khari joined the Board of Directors here at Students to Scholars because he loved his Durham Academy experience and wants to help other minority students enjoy their independent school as well. He wishes there had been support groups he was a part of like Students to Scholars to help him with the transition into DA from his middle school so he wants to make sure students like him can have a resource in him to make their transition easier than his was and help them maximize their potential and opportunity.
Leisha DeRiso, Board Member
Leisha has been in higher education for 16 years beginning as an Instructor at Louisiana Tech University in Louisiana until her recent position as Director of Pre-College High School Programs at Duke University in North Carolina. Much of her time in higher education has been dedicated to international students and global education as exemplified by her service as Director for the English Language Program at Clemson University and Managing Director of a new English Pathway Program at Louisiana State University, as well as through her national and regional presentations on the topic. Leisha is currently pursing her PhD in Higher Education Administration in hopes of bringing knowledge and solutions for leadership in the education of future leaders and global citizens. She is committed to ensuring equitable opportunities for all.
Meriel Parker, Board Member
Meriel originates from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, though her family’s roots run deep in North Carolina. After a well-established career in clinical research, healthcare administration and entrepreneurial ventures, she relocated to Greensboro, North Carolina to work as Director of Life Science Research at North Carolina A&T State University’s Division of Research and Economic Development. Representing the university as its research partnership liaison with Chapel Hill-based institutions such as University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and RTI International, she ultimately relocated to the triangle area. Subsequently, she worked with clinicians around the world, managing scientific programs for the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis. In 2023, she decided to pursue her entrepreneurial passions and launched a nonprofit organization designed help patients battling a rare immune disease, Inclusion Body Myosistis; to access critically needed, life-extending mobility equipment. Her “to-do list” consists of a number of uniquely impactful projects but she considers her service to the Board of S2S “coming full circle.” In high school, she volunteered as a tutor at the Boys & Girls Club in Pontiac, MI. She later founded and led the Young Adult Committee (YAC) of the NAACP-North Oakland County Branch. Through those experiences, she learned the profound impact which results from taking active interest in a child’s education and work towards a culture of equity.
Meriel is an advocate for STEM exposure, bringing a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University in Physiology and a Master of Science Degree from University of Detroit-Mercy in Biology. She recently earned a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University and is a graduate of NC Farm School. Her daughter, a freshman in high school, has proudly attended Durham Academy since 2nd grade.
Stephanie Strickland, Treasurer
Stephanie is from Baltimore, MD and went to college at University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She currently resides in Durham, NC with her husband, Jon, and 2 young kids (Emma and Asher). She is a CPA who has worked over 15 years in the Financial Services Industry. She currently works for Fannie Mae as a Senior Manager responsible for the Sub-Servicing program. Stephanie enjoys being with her family, being outdoors, and traveling. Stephanie is passionate about helping and supporting others. She states, "The impact of S2S is not only seen in these young students, but also in the parents, community, and schools. The commitment to their early education continues to lay the fundamentals along with excitement and passion for learning."
Takeasia McArn, Parent Representative
Takeasia is the Parent Representative for 2023-24. Her daughter, Asia, attended Duke School from grades 6-8 where she was an outstanding student. Takeasia is a teacher in Wake County, having achieved her Bachelors of Science degree from North Carolina Central University in Family and Consumer Sciences. She lives in Briar Creek and loves traveling and shopping in her free time. As the Parent Representative, Takeasia shares her perspective as an S2S parent to help the board make decisions that are reflective of the parents’ needs. She became the Parent Representative on the Board to voice the opinions of the parents who represent Students to Scholars and build a strong community between participating families, the Board, and the schools.