Current Members

Emary Aronson is the Managing Director of Education at the Robin Hood Foundation. She is also the managing director of the Robin Hood Relief Fund, a $65 million fund dedicated to addressing the needs of those affected by September 11.

Before joining Robin Hood, Emary was the Director of Education Initiatives at the New York City Partnership and Chamber of Commerce. In this role, she helped develop a $29 million education reform program as well as manage a youth employment program and a school principal management training program.

Prior to her work with the New York City Partnership, Emary taught history and economics at the college level.

Emary holds a BA in History from Smith College, an MSc in Economic History from the London School of Economics, an MPPM from the Yale School of Management, and a PhD in History from the University of Chicago.

Phoebe Boyer was selected by the Children’s Aid Board of Trustees to be its president and chief executive officer in 2014. Since then, Phoebe has worked to strengthen its programs and operations with a keen focus on optimizing the impact on the lives of children, youth, and families. Under her leadership, Children’s Aid was recognized for exceptional management practices as a 2017 winner of the New York Community Trust’s Nonprofit Excellence Awards.
City & State honored Phoebe on its 2018 Above & Beyond list of 30 remarkable women, and selected her and nine other nonprofit leaders for its 2019 Responsible 100 list of people who are improving their communities and making transformative change.
Phoebe came to Children’s Aid from the Robertson Foundation, a $1 billion foundation created by Julian Robertson and his family that takes a targeted approach to supporting critical national issues, including education reform. She spent more than a decade at the foundation, most recently as its executive director, where she oversaw operations and grantmaking of more than $100 million annually. During her tenure, she developed and executed the foundation’s national K-12 education reform strategy.

She also served for 12 years (1999-2012) as the executive director of the Tiger Foundation, founded by Julian Robertson as well, with a mission to break the cycle of poverty in New York City. During her tenure at the Tiger Foundation, the organization provided more than $112 million in funding to New York City nonprofits in the areas of education, youth development, job training, and social services. Phoebe also raised more than $200 million to support the foundation’s work.

Phoebe graduated from Wesleyan University, on whose board she serves, and earned her M.B.A. from Columbia Business School. She serves on the board of Independent Sector and is also an inaugural member of the Pahara Aspen Education Fellowship.

Geoffrey Canada is renowned around the world for his pioneering work helping children and families, and as a thought leader and passionate advocate for education reform across the country. Canada grew up in one of the most devastated communities in the United States, the South Bronx. Despite his troubled surroundings, he achieved great academic success, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. After graduating, Canada began his life’s work. He created the Harlem Children’s Zone, a birth-through-college network of programs that today serves more than 13,000 low-income students and families in a 97-block area of Central Harlem in New York City.

The unprecedented success of the Harlem Children’s Zone has attracted the attention of the media and leaders around the world. In 2011, Canada was named one of the world’s most influential people by Time magazine and as one of the 50 greatest leaders by Fortune magazine in 2014. President Barack Obama created the Promise Neighborhoods Initiative to replicate the Harlem Children’s Zone model across the country.

Canada has been profiled extensively in the media, including The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Forbes, among others. He was featured in the documentary about the dire state of American education Waiting for Superman. He has influenced a new generation of education reformers through his writings, having published essays in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Chronicle of Philanthropy as well as two critically acclaimed books on poverty and violence: Fist Stick Knife Gun and Reaching Up for Manhood.

After 30 years with the organization, Canada stepped down in 2014 as Chief Executive Officer of the Harlem Children’s Zone but continues to serve as President.

In June 2020, Canada founded The William Julius Wilson Institute (WJW), which will serve as the national platform to help communities impacted by poverty across the country design and implement their own place-based programs — its first initiative was to combat the devastation of COVID-19. Currently we are implementing an innovative initiative focused on narrowing the racial wealth gap and building economic mobility in the Black community. 

Cecily M. Carson is president of the Carson Family Charitable Trust. She is also a trustee of The Museum of Arts and Design, Fisher House Foundation and the Excellence Girls and Excellence Boys Charter Schools of Bedford-Stuyvesant; chair of the Robin Hood Foundation’s Leadership Council; and a member of the President’s Leadership Council at Dartmouth College, the Advisory Board for Columbia School of Business’s Social Enterprise Program and the NY Public Library’s Library Council

Ms. Carson is a native New Yorker who graduated from Dartmouth College in 1995. She majored in Government, minored in Film and has a certificate in Women’s Studies. She spent two years at Andrew Edson & Associates, Inc., a corporate and financial public and investor relations firm in New York. She then studied for two years in the Fashion Institute of Technology’s (FIT) Jewelry Design program and started an independent jewelry design business called, CMC Jewelry Designs, Inc.

Mark Dunetz began his career as an educator teaching English as a second language and social studies in New York City public schools. In his two decades working in education, Dr. Dunetz has worked as a program evaluator, an educational consultant and a professor of research methods and educational administration. He first worked at New Visions for Public Schools in 2006 when he supported the implementation of the organization’s first certification program for aspiring school administrators. While at New Visions, Dr. Dunetz also led the design of the first public high school to provide pathways to students from underrepresented communities into well-paid “below the line” careers in New York City’s television and film industry. Dr. Dunetz served as the founding principal of the Academy for Careers in Television and Film from 2008 until 2013 as it developed into one of the city’s most academically successful non-selective high schools.

In 2013, Dr. Dunetz returned to New Visions as Vice President for School Support and Operations responsible for leading the organization’s partnership with the New York City Department of Education and the support of 80 partner schools. To strengthen this work, he led a significant expansion of the organization’s data and analytics capacity, the launch of a software development team and the creation of open source high school curriculum in core subjects. In 2016, Dr. Dunetz was selected to replace Robert L. Hughes as the president of New Visions. Dr. Dunetz holds a B.A. in U.S. History from the University of California, Santa Cruz; an M.A. in Teaching Speakers of Other Languages from New York University; and a Ph.D. in Urban Education with a concentration in education policy from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Dr. Dunetz sits on the boards of the New York City Charter School Center and The Research Alliance for New York City Schools.

Spencer Robertson is the Founder and Executive Director of PAVE Academy Charter School in Red Hook. Before launching PAVE, Mr. Robertson worked at North Star Academy Charter School of Newark. Mr. Robertson completed the Building Excellent Schools Fellowship, which provided him one year to study the highest performing public schools in America. His education career includes three years as a seventh and eighth graders language arts and Spanish teacher and co-founder of the school’s running club. He then served as a program officer at the Tiger Foundation, supporting after-school programs and early child development initiatives throughout New York City.

Mr. Robertson holds an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, with a focus on the non-profit sector and an undergraduate degree from Duke University. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and four children.

Dr. Basil Smikle Jr. is a Distinguished Lecturer and Director of the Public Policy Program at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. He also lectures at Columbia University in the School of International and Public Affairs and Teachers College. With over 15 years in higher education and 25 years of a career dedicated to public service, Basil regularly shares insights on electoral politics, governance, and public policy on national media outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, and Bloomberg TV.

He holds a PhD in Politics and Education and an MPA from Columbia University and received a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University. Previously, Basil served as the Distinguished Lecturer of Politics and Public Policy at the City University of New York’s School of Labor and Urban Studies. He was appointed by former Governor David Paterson to serve as the Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Party during the 2016 presidential cycle where he was the “second highest ranking Democrat” in the State.

Basil worked closely with elected officials and community leaders to manage electoral and fundraising strategies for the State. He recruited candidates for political office and worked closely with the Democratic National Committee to create grassroots mobilization programs and act as a Party surrogate. Under Basil’s leadership, Democrats flipped county legislatures, and county-wide seats – laying the foundation for returning the State Senate to full Democratic control in 2018 and flipping three Congressional seats. He received awards from the Governor and Comptroller of New York State for his commitment to public service and education equity.

Emeritus Member

Mr. Reich, along with his wife, Carol, is the co-founder of the Beginning with Children Foundation. He was a founder of the New York Charter School Center and served as its Chairman until December, 2007. He was formerly the managing general partner of Centennial Associates and Centennial Energy Partners, L.P., investment partnerships.

He was the founder of Reich & Tang, Inc. in 1970, a leading investment management firm. He served as president until 1987 and Chairman of the Board of Directors until 1989. Additionally, he was a co-sponsor, with his wife, of an “I Have A Dream” Foundation class of 62 Brooklyn children and serves as a trustee of Continuum Health Partners and the New York City Investment Fund.

He received a B.A. in Economics from Cornell University and an M.B.A from Stanford University.


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