Board of Directors

Drawing on their experience in government, non-profit agencies and journalism, the Board of Directors assist the CONNECT leadership team in the development and implementation of programs, fund-raising efforts and other strategic initiatives.

Ronnie Eldridge was the special assistant to Mayor John Lindsay and also served as the Director of Community and Government Affairs for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. She was a member of Governor Mario Cuomo’s cabinet as the Director of the Division for Women and was an advocate for women’s needs and interests, proposing programs and legislation. She was the Director of Special Projects at MS Magazine and the Executive Director of the MS Foundation for Women. She also was the Executive Producer of a feminist series on network public television, WOMAN ALIVE. She was elected to the New York City Council in 1989 and served through 2001. She is currently the host of Eldridge & Co., a weekly television program on CUNY TV, Channel 75 in New York City.

Derrick Gordon, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine and the Director of the Program on Male Development in the Division of Prevention and Community Research of the Department of Psychiatry, and is a Core scientist in the Community Research Core of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA). Dr. Gordon is also the Coordinator of the Clinical Psychology Pre-doctoral Internship program for The Consultation Center in the Division of Prevention and Community Research. Dr. Gordon has considerable experience in intervention and prevention development, having served as an investigator on several federal, National Institute of Health (NIH), and state-funded projects and studies that either support or undermine men transitioning from prison back to the community; the engagement of low-income, non-custodial fathers; the identification and service of adolescent fathers committed to child protection services; and men mandated to batterer intervention groups in the community. He is currently a co-investigator and a minority supplement recipient on an NIH-funded project that examines the STI risk of heterosexual young men to their pregnant female partners. Iin his research, Dr. Gordon seeks to identify those factors that enhance the access to and use of preventive and indicated health care services by men on the “fringes.”

Jan Albert began her career in non-commercial radio, producing and hosting documentaries for WBAI-FM and NPR She has written and produced television news stories and documentaries for CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS, A&E, Lifetime, The Learning Channel, The History Channel, King World, the Hallmark Channel, TV Land, and the Discovery Channel, Her articles have appeared in The Village Voice, Working Women, The New York Daily News and the Columbia Journalism Review. She wrote an audio tour for the Intrepid Museum, featuring memories from the men who served on the ship during WWII and the Vietnam War. She also wrote and produced the DVD accompanying the Simon and Schuster book: “What We Saw: The Events of September 11, 2001 in Words, Pictures and Video.” Her work has been recognized with two Emmys, a Cable Ace Award and the Armstrong and Corporation for Public Broadcasting Awards. In 2000, she organized and co-curated the first GIRLS FILM FESTIVAL, an event to introduce young women to film and television as an art form and career. She works regularly with the Lower East Side Girls Club and helped to create Moving On Aerobics, a program for women recovering from cancer.

Alyson Spindell is presently with the Bureau of Intergovernmental Affairs of the Offices of the Attorney General of the State of New York. Previously, she had been a consultant to Friends of Schneiderman, Operations Manager for the Office of State Senator Eric Schneiderman and Director of Constituent Services for the Office of NYC Council Member Ronnie Eldridge. She has also been involved in numerous political campaigns. Ms. Spindell has served on the CONNECT board since 2003. She is also an active member of her community, serving on committees for local political clubs, synagogues, and schools.

Jeff Arbour is the Co-Founder of PLYFE, The Digital Rewards Club that takes users online activity and turns it into real-life rewards. He sits on several advisory boards for digital companies, including Quixey, Fast Society, SoNYC Media and 4info, and is an LP in the venture fund ENIAC. Jeff is also a founding advisor for Palindrome Advisors, a not-for-profit organization that links other non-profits with executive-level leaders who give back through a number of programs.  He has served as Senior Vice President of North America for The Hyperfactory overseeing domestic and global mobile strategies and executions for some of the world’s most prestigious brands.  Over the years, Jeff has worked with key clients such as Toyota, Ab InBev, BlackBerry, L’Oréal, Coca-Cola, Intel, Microsoft and Kraft.  He has won numerous awards recognized by the Mobile Marketing Association, AdTech and the Webbys, among others. In 2008, Jeff was named #1 in DM News’ Top 30 Under 30, Direct and Interactive Marketers Under 30, as well as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Marketers of 2008 and 2009 by Invesp Consulting.

Christopher Chaney is the Director of Advertising at NV Magazine.  Mr. Chaney, a 1995 graduate from York College (City University of New York) with a degree in English, has amassed over 15 years in the publishing industry. He has existed as a reporter, editor, salesperson and currently a “multitasker,” capable of taking on any responsibility necessary to further the greater goal.  After graduation he was a freelance journalist for six years covering the electronics industry and then small business before beginning his career in sales. He has worked in sales since 1997, starting at The Network Journal, a regional New York-based business publication, serving Black small business owners in the tri-state area.  His passion to empower those without hope with knowledge and inspiration that can guide them towards success led him to NV Magazine in 1998.  Mr. Chaney has spearheaded several successful projects and events such as the NV Awards series, Infiniti in Black, Behind the Mask, and NV AfterHours.  He is a Bronx native, who currently resides in Harlem with his family.

Shelley Simmons is Vice President of Global Communications at Aveda.  Ms. Simmons is responsible for the communications strategy for Aveda in 35 countries, including North America, EMEA, UK and Asia Pacific.   Her responsibilities include raising brand awareness across the professional industry (hair and spa) and consumer audiences via the media on the brand’s high performance, botanically driven products and the heart and soul of the brand in terms of its commitment to sustainability and creating positive change in the world.  Over the years, Shelly has worked at The Body Shop as Brand Communications & Values Director, in the US, Canada and Mexico where she was responsible for public relations, all external & internal communications, including brand values initiatives and corporate communications.  She also held the position of Global Head of Public Relations for The Body Shop International in the UK.  While there, Shelly established a PR structure and developed a comprehensive communications program.  Shelly is well travelled and regularly represented the business for product launches, corporate and values events.  In previous roles she travelled and worked with the company founder on corporate programs in countries including Kosovo, India, Korea, Indonesia and Singapore.  Projects undertaken have also included remote working in Zambia, Namibia, Brazil, Guatemala and Nicaragua.   Shelley has also held positions as PR Manager for British Film Institute and Press Officer for BBC Television and Film.  She is a UK native who currently resides in Manhattan.