Our Team

Our Team

Strategies for Social Change (SSC) is a woman of color owned consulting firm. Because we value diversity, clients are able to access a multicultural pool of consultants with extensive experience working in diverse sectors of the nonprofit community.

SSC has carefully screened and selected a highly skilled and experienced team of consultants to meet the diverse capacity building needs of nonprofit organizations. A brief profile of each of our consultants is provided below.

We take the time to get to know and understand our client organizations, and our clients often return to us for additional services as they progress through the different stages of organizational development. Our investment allows for deeper levels of trust and organizational insight enabling us to diagnose problems faster and design better strategies and solutions.

Elsa A. Ríos, MSW, JD


Elsa A. Ríos is the Founder and Principal of Strategies for Social Change (SSC), a woman of color owned consulting and leadership coaching firm dedicated to serving social change organizations and movements. She has more than 25 years of nonprofit experience in the areas of management, grant writing, program design, community organizing and public policy analysis and writing. She has led numerous community organizing and social change initiatives addressing gender violence, HIV/AIDS, reproductive justice and child welfare reform, among others.

During her public service career she held several executive level management positions and engaged in extensive fundraising, program and policy development. Her accomplishments include having served as the Founding Director of the Violence Intervention Program, Director of Education for the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund and Senior Policy Analyst for the NYC Mayor’s Office.  Elsa has also served as an adjunct professor teaching leadership and management courses at Baruch College in the School of Public Affairs.

She holds a Juris Doctor degree from New York University School of Law where she received the prestigious Root-Tilden-Snow Scholar Award in recognition of her outstanding public service achievements. She also holds a Master of Science degree in Social Work from Columbia University and is a graduate of the Columbia University Institute for Not-for-Profit Management sponsored by the Graduate School of Business.

Elisabeth E. Garrett

Senior Associate and Coach

Elisabeth Garrett (Lisa) is a leadership consultant and coach with more than 15 years of experience in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors and has worked primarily in community based and youth serving organizations.

Lisa is part of the national Somatics and Social Justice Collaborative which explores how combining both somatics and social justice activism leads to transformative change for individuals, organizations and communities.

In addition to running gMoxie and serving as a SSC Senior Associate, she is a faculty member at the Institute for Life Coach Training where she co-designed and instructs the Coaching for Social Action course. Drawing from her experience as an accomplished martial artist and certified fearless YOGA instructor, Lisa works with various practices to bring awareness to how we truly “embody” our commitment to change.

Faith Bynoe, MDiv, RYT

Healing Justice Practitioner

Faith’s life mission is to creatively support the health of communities through self-care and mindful leadership. For over 20 years, she’s worked with diverse communities throughout the US and internationally. She’s worked in the field of philanthropy, doing program work and technical assistance. As an Integrative Chaplain, Faith does healing justice and systems work with patients, staff and organizations. Her focus is the intersection of integrative health and spiritual formation. Using this framework, Faith’s served thousands, doing individual spiritual care, conducting retreats with community based and national organizations, self-care workshops and healing circles; and as a public speaker staunchly advocating for health equity.  She’s worked with organizations like the NYC- Department of Health’s Center for Health Equity, Annie E Casey Foundation, NOVO Foundation, National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy, the Community Resource Exchange and Columbia University.

Faith is an alumnus of Howard University School of Divinity and educated in Psychology at Long Island University- Brooklyn Campus. She’s a licensed minister, certified RYT- 200hr Yoga teacher, essential oil and a Reiki I practitioner, certified in Medical Reiki, trained in Mind-Body Medicine and the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program. She is currently working at New York-Presbyterian Hospital towards chaplaincy board certification.

Marquita A. James, JD

Senior Associate

Marquita James has a passion for empowering people to be agents of their own change which animates her conflict resolution and consulting practice. In her former role as Manager of Mediator Education at the New York Peace Institute, Marquita oversaw the growth, learning, and development of approximately 400 mediators. She has been facilitating difficult conversations and providing training and coaching to professionals since her tenure at the Harvard Mediation Program at Harvard Law School. Marquita has also traveled the country collecting oral histories as a Mobile Facilitator for StoryCorps and has taught self-advocacy skills building courses and led mentoring programs for court-adjudicated youth.

Recently she facilitated policy dialogues between elected officials and constituents about police-community relations. She also teaches dispute resolution courses at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  Marquita currently helps students hone conflict resolution skills in their professional and personal lives. She has designed and delivered trainings on a host of conflict resolution topics including: mediation strategy and techniques, negotiation, power imbalance, effective communication, emotional intelligence for professionals, and cultural humility.

Shella Brenner

Senior Consultant

Shella Brenner’s career in nonprofit resource development and management spans 30 years and a range of progressive causes–affordable housing, immigrant rights, educational equity, healthcare access, and juvenile justice reform among them. She has helped grow fundraising and infrastructure at the Lexington Center for the Deaf, Marymount Manhattan College, and the Community Service Society in New York, and the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and Legal Services for Children in San Francisco.

Her areas of expertise include foundation and government grants, special events, annual giving and membership programs, and board development, as well as supervising human resources and finance as a senior level manager. Shella holds a Master’s in English literature and history from the City University of New York, Queens College. She is dedicated to animal rights and is a longtime volunteer for Toni’s Kitty Rescue in San Francisco.

Charlene Sinclair

Senior Consultant

Dr. Charlene Sinclair is an organizer, thinker, and writer whose work centers on the intersection of race, gender, economy, and democracy.  A highly sought after human-centered strategist, designer thinker, and facilitator, Charlene is a consultant, trainer, and strategic advisor for leading social change organizations and leaders. Charlene serves as Interim Publisher of Colorlines (colorlines.com), a leading source for accessible media on race, power, and democracy, and Associate Director of BlackPAC and the Black Progressive Action Coalition (BPAC). In her role at BlackPAC/BPAC Charlene designs processes to both educate members and volunteers in structural change work and expand their participation in electoral movements. Strongly influenced by the pathbreaking thought of the late James Cone, founder of Black Liberation Theology, Dr. Sinclair is committed to fashioning strategies that embrace a liberationist approach to faith and spirituality in the context of popular struggles for racial, economic, and gender justice.

Maria Elena Pérez, MSW

Associate Consultant

Maria Elena Pérez is an organizational consultant and trauma-informed healing practitioner with 15 years of experience in social justice organizations, including ten years in executive leadership.

Before joining SSC, Maria Elena worked at both local and national organizations including the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, the National Institute for Reproductive Health, and Make the Road New York. During her career, she’s been a bilingual spokesperson on social and reproductive justice issues, led during critical leadership transitions, and has played key roles facilitating organizational development and change management processes internally.

Maria Elena is also a Certified Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) Practitioner and works 1:1 and in group programs with women of color to heal generational patterns, wounds, and traumas.

A Licensed Master Social Worker in the State of New York, Maria Elena holds an M.S.W. from the City University of New York, Hunter College, and a B.S. from New York University. She is a first-generation Latina born to Dominican and Puerto Rican parents.

Joyce Klemperer, MCP

Senior Associate and Coach

Joyce Klemperer has been lead consultant in executive transition, fund development, and strategic and operational planning engagements. She has a master of city planning degree with a concentration in policy and programs from the University of California, Berkeley.

Joyce has over thirty years experience as a program and network developer, director, and community organizer. She speaks fluent Spanish and has worked extensively in Spanish-speaking communities as a community organizer, director of a community-based women’s center, and a Domestic Violence Coordinator in a public hospital. Her work with grassroots social justice, advocacy and service providing nonprofits and coalitions has included research and policy analysis, planning and organizational development, capacity building, technology development, and fund development.

In addition, Joyce is a talented videographer. She has produced, directed and edited the Reproductive Justice Toolkit Video Series commissioned by the Funder’s Network on Population, Reproductive Health and Rights; as well as created a number of short videos about community-based social justice programs and about artists and their work (joyceklemperer.com).

Sonya Kharas

Associate Consultant

Sonya Kharas is a facilitator and trainer who draws on the practices of meditation, nonviolent communication and popular education to create collaborative and participatory processes for teams to explore their essential needs and create relationships, cultures, and organizational systems that are aligned with their collective values. A perpetual student and learner, Sonya considers her co-facilitators and clients to be her greatest teachers, and is always testing out new ways to bring gratitude and curiosity into every aspect of her personal and professional life.

Prior to joining the team at Strategies for Social Change, Sonya spent a decade managing programs and operations for non-profits and mission-driven businesses working at the intersection of food and social justice. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, is a proud aunt to two nibblings, and experiences true happiness at the beach. She holds a BA in art history from Wesleyan University and a MA in food studies from New York University, and looks forward to bringing her study and appreciation of beauty and nourishment to her social movement work.

Byron James

Program Associate

Byron C. James is a transplanted southerner living, loving and learning in New York City. He brings over 10 years of experience in the creative and event planning sector. From Brazil to the Dominican Republic, Byron has left his mark of undeniable style and influence. He is a devoted husband and doggie father, Byron lives by the credo, ​“A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.”

Educated at the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. He also has degrees from, The Alpha Workshops and Fashion Institute of Technology, in Decorative Arts. He will soon begin graduate school, with his eye on a PhD in Public Administration. Byron has ​worked for many years with nonprofit programs and LGBTQ community organizations. He wants to shape societal mindsets through policies and government programs to address systemic inequalities. Moreover, he wants to work toward effective change that represents the needs of all communities and treats all people with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Surei Quintana

Strategic Communications Manager

Surei loves to help people! She uses her investigative and creative problem-solving skills to help teams achieve their goals. A firm believer in the empowering potential of a quality education, she leveraged her science background to advance educational equity through teaching middle school science in NYC public schools. She has also been a part of the SSC team for over 10 years, as a “Jane-of-all-trades,” pitching in as needed in research and special projects.

Surei is responsible for our strategic communications work including overseeing our website and digital media, email campaigns, infographics, as well as researching and designing our educational and training materials.

Tia Scott of Buzy Bee Concepts

Operations Associate

Tia has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Maryland, and a Certificate in Project Management. She is currently pursing her M.B.A. with a focus on Nonprofit & Association Management. She is also the Founder and CEO of Buzy Bee Concepts, a business administration firm.

Jane Durrett

Operations Associate

Jane comes to us from the suburbs of Washington D.C. but she is a New Yorker at heart. She is our resident data nerd who keeps our databases in order and assists with leadership transitions. She brings nearly two decades of experience from the healthcare and academia sectors, primarily in patient advocacy and clinical research. Prior institutions that have benefited from Jane’s expertise are Stony Brook University & Medical Center in NY and Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA.

She is a supporter of universal healthcare access, abortion rights, and affordable housing. Jane has a masters of science in Health Care Policy and Management with a focus in clinical research, epidemiology, and cognitive neuropsychology from SUNY Stony Brook.

Tracy Leigh

Special Projects Associate and Graphic Designer

Tracy Leigh is our newest Special Projects Associate and helps bring capacity building ideas to life through graphic design. We rely on her to design exceptional materials for our clients. She is a seasoned graphic designer and branding fanatic, working with small, medium and large businesses and start-ups both across the country and internationally.

Tracy has had the privilege of working with numerous non-profits to create outstanding events and memorable collateral that have helped strengthen each organization’s brand recognition, awareness and effectiveness. She is a graduate of Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, Department of Design, and founder and owner of Tracy Leigh Graphic Design, LLC based in Winter Park, Colorado.

Dacio Quintana

Operations Associate

Dacio Quintana is our Operations Associate handling much of SSC’s administration and back office responsibilities. Dacio was a science teacher in the New York City public school system for more than 30 years. He also served as a union organizer and chapter leader in addition to volunteering for WBAI and other progressive causes. He holds a Masters of Education degree from Fordham University.

Lotus for Ignit

Ideas that
Ignite Change

“Without community there is no liberation.”

— Audre Lorde

“Our experience with the SSC team was extraordinarily positive, they facilitated deep and challenging yet enjoyable conversations that helped our team and our work at AFSC grow stronger.”

— Amy Gottlieb

American Friends Service Committee