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Executive Board

Sheryl Carter Negash graduated from Yale College in 1982 with a BA in History. Sheryl currently serves as the President and Chair of YBAA National Board and as co-chair of the YBAA National Programming Committee. She also leads the YBAA Higher Education Initiative (HEI), a service project with Yale undergraduates which encourages foster youth to attend college. She formerly served as the Chapter Leader for YBAA-Los Angeles and as Regional Director for Southern California for the Yale Day of Service. Sheryl also serves on the YaleWomen Council, and is active with Alumni Schools Committee, Yale Day of Service and as a delegate at-large for the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA). She was awarded the AYA’s leadership award for volunteer innovation and service in 2011. Sheryl considers herself to be a “community change agent.” Working through her own non-profit organization, Chestnut 219 Empowerment, Inc. and other volunteer agencies, she leads efforts to improve the lives of others. Sheryl is a manager with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and is managing partner of Negash and Associates, an employment and training consulting firm.
C’Ardiss Gardner Gleser is Director of Programs at Technology Access Foundation, a Seattle non-profit focused on STEM education for children of color. She received her BA in African American Studies from Yale College and a M.Ed. in Education Administration from Seattle University. She is the current YBAA Vice President and co-chairs the Programming Committee. Ms. Gardner Gleser is passionate about improving educational opportunities and outcomes and is involved with several local and national organizations focused on education, access, and youth mentorship. She lives in Seattle with her husband and three children.
Ivy Onyeador is a social psychology doctoral student at UCLA. She graduated from Yale in 2011 with a BS in Psychology. She is the YBAA National Secretary and serves on the Campus Relations, Strategic Plan, and Programming Committees. Ms. Onyeador is fascinated by perceptions of justice, equality and social identities. She currently lives in Los Angeles, CA.
Tracy A. Campbell is the Founder and Principal of Cynosure Risk Advisors LLC, a national risk management and insurance coverage consulting firm headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Prior to this position, Tracy was a Partner at Schiff Hardin LLP, an elite national law firm headquartered in Chicago where she specialized in corporate counseling in the areas of corporate liability insurance, risk management, compliance and regulatory matters. Tracy received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Yale University in 1996 and her law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1999. In addition to being a former president of the Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago, Inc. and Chair of the 2012 National Summit of Black Women Lawyers, Tracy is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Yale Club of Chicago and the Illinois African American Coalition for Prevention. Tracy is also the National Treasurer of the Yale Black Alumni Association. In her spare time, Tracy enjoys spending time with her furry felines, Roman and Diana.
Cheryl-Lyn Bentley is an attorney. She received her Juris Doctorate at Yale Law School. Before attending Yale Law School, Cheryl-Lyn taught as a New York City Teaching Fellow and pursued her Master’s in Education. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University. On the YBAA board, Cheryl-Lyn served as Parliamentarian from 2012-2013. Cheryl-Lyn is passionate about education reform and social justice. In her free time, she likes to dance and spend time with friends. She currently resides in New York.


Richard Albert is a constitutional law professor at Boston College Law School. He holds degrees in law and political science from Yale (B.A., J.D.), Oxford (B.C.L.) and Harvard (LL.M). He serves on YBAA’s committees on Governance & Nomination and Signature Projects. Annually, on behalf of YBAA, Richard awards a Book Award to a student at the Edward Brooke Charter School in Boston. He enjoys sports, current affairs, and traveling. Richard resides in Boston.
Rene Natasha Herbert, MPH, is currently a program and budget analyst for the United States Department of Health and Human Services in the Office of Budget. She earned her MPH in Health Policy and Administration from Yale School of Epidemiology and Public Health and holds a B.A. in Health and Society from University of Rochester. Ms. Herbert is a YBAA Board Member and member of the Membership Committee. She is passionate about community service and engaging in activities that relate to outreach, awareness, and mentorship of young adults to pursue higher education. She is very involved in her church, Grace Covenant Church of DC, and with her undergrad and graduate alumni organizations. In her spare time, Ms, Herbert is pursuing a PhD in policy studies with a focus in health policy and public health policy. She currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Erin Johnson is an Assistant Secretary at Yale. In that capacity, she provides support for the Yale Corporation and University Council and is, among other things, the liaison to the Sheffield Scientific School Board of Trustees and the Henry Fellowship. She graduated from Yale College in 2008 with a BA in History. On the YBAA Board, she serves as the Chair of the Campus Relations Committee.
Heather Elayne Jones is an attorney specializing in employment litigation. She earned her B.A. in History from Yale University and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. Mrs. Jones is a board member and the Chair of Alumni Mentoring Committee and the Social Chair for YBAA-Los Angeles. She recently created a partnership between YBAA, Undergraduate Career Services (“UCS”), and the Afro-American Cultural Center (the “House”) to forward job announcements to UCS and the House. Career Services then inputs this information in its database with a note indicating that the announcement came from YBAA. She is passionate about mentoring students and young lawyers on how to succeed in their careers and how to approach the job search process. She also loves the theatre, live jazz, and traveling. Mrs. Jones currently resides in Pasadena, California.
Nicolas King ’98 lives in San Francisco with his wife and two sons. He was raised in Harlem, Riverdale and Jamaica. At Yale, Nicolas studied Political Science with a focus Urban Politics and local government. While at Yale, he was active in Urban Improvement Corps, the Yale Black Political Forum, and Alpha Phi Alpha. He was also the leading consumer of mashed potato bacon pizza from Bar on Crown Street. After attending NYU School of Law, he has spent most of his career in local government. He is currently the Director of the Court Appointed Attorney Program for Alameda County.
Ngozi C. Okorafor is the Procurement Counsel for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services. She graduated from Yale in 1995 with B.As in Political Science and Sociology. She has a J.D. from the University Of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College Of Law and an M.A. in labor relations from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations. Ms. Okorafor is a YBAA board member and the chair of the YBAA Member Care Committee. She is also a member of the YBAA Membership Development Committee, Historian Committee, and Community Service Committees. She served as Site Director for the YBAA Yale Day of Service Project in Chicago from 2010-12. She is the YBAA Chicago Outreach Co-Chair/Board Member and a member of the Yale Club of Chicago. Ms. Okorafor is a proud mother of her son, Chinedu Okorafor, who was born on Christmas Eve 2012. She is also impassioned about serving the broader community through leadership and volunteerism, particularly concerning those who do not have a voice. As the child of Nigerian parents, she is equally committed to establishing global and international collaborations in the hopes of identifying sustainable means of eradicating poverty and illness. Ms. Okorafor lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Aaron Shipp runs an executive and personal coaching service, Get Your Life Ripped! In addition to his coaching practice, he is the President and Executive Director of Y-Apply, a non-profit organization he co-founded with other Yale alumni, dedicated to educating high-achieving public school students and their families with the application process to the nation’s top-tier colleges and universities. He serves on the national board of the Yale Black Alumni Association and leads its New York City chapter. He has also served as the Vice-President of the Yale Alumni Association of New York. He is an active member of Marble Collegiate Church in New York City and was a member of the GIFTS leadership team, Marble’s LGBT ministry. Aaron resides in New York City and is a member in good standing of the International Coach Federation.
Maxim Thorne is a thought leader, senior executive, lawyer, activist, and philanthropist. He teaches courses in philanthropy, law, and management that are jointly offered by Yale Law School, Yale School of Management, and Yale College. Through his seminar Philanthropy in Action, his students actually invest $100,000 at the end of each semester to selected charities. Maxim advises philanthropies and families and family foundations. He is also the founder of Weekend Renewing America’s Promise (WRAP), which brings together exceptionally talented leaders from across the globe each year. Mr. Thorne holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Yale College. In addition, Maxim has been a Democratic fundraiser, serving as a bundler for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and serving on the African American Leadership Council and the LGBT Leadership Council and Finance and Policy Committees. Maxim is a featured blogger on the Huffington Post and serves on the Yale Board of Governors, the Executive Committee of the Yale Law School, the Academic Council for the Motion Picture Association of America, the National Board of GLAAD, the National Board of Yale Black Alumni Association, and the Advisory Board of the Division of Gender, Sexuality & Health, Columbia University Department of Psychiatry and NYS Psychiatric Institute. Mr. Thorne lives in New York.
Katrina Waiters-Smith is a 1991 graduate of Yale College (Morse) with a BA in African-American and African Studies. She currently resides in New Jersey with her husband and two children. After Yale, Katrina continued her education at Stanford University where she received a MA in Education in 1994 and a JD in 1999. She currently works with an international sports apparel and footwear company (Starbury/Matzeliger Corporation) as General Counsel, Secretary and Director.
Katrina joined the YBAA Board in 2012 and joined the Membership Committee and volunteer to work on several other exciting projects, including the Strategic Plan. Beginning in July 2013, Katrina will serve as Parliamentarian.
In Katrina’s limited spare time, she is an avid reader and theater enthusiast. She enjoys watching live sporting events with family and is passionate about travel (domestic and international) and plans to visit every Continent and the Seven Wonders of the World in the next 10 years.
Amber N. Wiley is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Tulane School of Architecture. She earned a B.A. in Architecture from Yale University, holds a M.A. in Architectural History from University of Virginia School of Architecture, and a Ph.D. in American Studies from George Washington University. Ms. Wiley is a board member and the YBAA National Historian, Yale Day of Service, served as the Chair of the DC chapter steering committee, and was the AYA At-Large Delegate. Ms. Wiley is passionate about art, community engagement and service, and martial arts. She currently lives in New Orleans, LA.

National Advisory Council

Victor Chears is President and Owner of Chears & Associates, Inc., a management consulting firm in the Chicago area. Mr. Chears received his BA from Yale University, and has a doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) from Fielding Graduate University. At Fielding, he focused on Grounded Theory, Communications, and Capacity Building theories. His dissertation, Taking A Stand For Others: A Grounded Theory, focused on strategies related to investing in and empowering others. Mr. Chears lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Pamela Y. George has been at Yale since August 1999 and spent a decade as director of the Afro-American Cultural Center and assistant dean of student affairs. In these positions she increased Black student graduation rates, developed a stronger infrastructure encompassing a wide-range of student and community support services and programs, fundraised and managed a multi-million dollar renovation of the Center, created a leadership development endowment, and expanded Yale Black alumni resources. For nine years she served as administrative director for the Science, Technology and Research Scholars Program (STARS), the Beckman Science Scholar Program, the Freshman Ethnic Counselor Program and the Amy Rossborough Fellowship. Pamela has extensive background in clinical psychology and therapeutic practice. Prior to coming to Yale, she worked in the Office of Academic Advising at Saint Mary’s College of California, directed the Adolescent Family Life Program for Pregnant and Parenting Teens in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, served as a social psychology researcher at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Black Family Life and Culture and was adjunct faculty in the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. In 2004, she was awarded the Richard H. Brodhead Award for Excellence in Academic Advising at Yale.
Vera F. Wells is the Director of the Sylvia Ardyn Boone Memorial Project. She was a member of Yale’s first undergraduate class to include women and also among the first to enroll in its African American Studies courses in 1969. After graduating in 1971 with a BA in psychology, she studied organization management at Harvard’s Kennedy School. Vera has consulted on education programs and conducted field research in Africa for international development projects. Most of her career, however, was spent as an NBC executive, beginning in promotional research for new TV programs and ending as Director of Corporate and Philanthropic Initiatives.
A former student of Professor Sylvia Ardyn Boone, Vera proposed the Yale seminar on Black women that originally recruited Boone to teach it in 1970 and set in motion their organizing the “Chubb Conference on the Black Woman.” She is Director of the Boone Memorial Project, overseeing the donation of Boone’s papers for archiving so they can be made available to scholars in the future. Ms. Wells used her own assets to endow both an undergraduate scholarship and a graduate student prize to honor her mentor at Yale, as well as her project to secure Boone’s literary estate and intellectual legacy. An active and committed alumna, Vera was the recipient of a 2007 Yale Medal for her volunteer service to the University. She has helped to organize events for women and Black alumni and has championed efforts to raise funds to support the Afro-American Cultural Center, Robert Farris Thompson’s portrait and the Women Faculty Forum. She was an at-large member of the University Council for 10 years, where she served on its Theater Review Committee, a founding committee member for YaleWomen and serves currently on the National Advisory Council of the Yale Black Alumni Association.