top of page



Tony is a seasoned community advocate, accomplished non-profit leader and youth development professional. As the first Executive Director for NYC’s I Have Dream Foundation, he played a key role in growing the organization nationally. He led Aspira of New York, the nation’s first Puerto Rican-led youth development and educational advocacy organization in developing 1,000 high school students into leaders at three Beacon community schools and in 30 high schools. There, he advocated for English Language Learners by monitoring NYC Department of Education’s compliance to the Aspira Consent Decree. He has served as a collaborator, thought partner and facilitator to numerous policy makers and elected officials on school reform related to Career and Technical Education, Charter Schools and K-12 educational pipelines. In 2007, he founded the Aprendes Foundation to support community-based solutions in education and youth development. (Fun Fact: Tony believes that training & running a marathon is a metaphor for life.)

Anju J. Rupchandani, M.S.Ed. 

Managing Director

Anju J. Rupchandani is a native of Astoria, Queens and a graduate from William C. Bryant High School, one of Zone126’s targeted schools. She first began her career in youth development close to 20 years ago with the Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation at her local elementary school in District # 30. While attending college she continued to work in the field of youth development in a variety of leadership roles. Anju’s experience varies a great deal from program design and administration, to facilitating school-age child care trainings, as well having knowledge in fundraising and oversight of multiple endangered out-of-school time programs. Anju has held positions as Program Director at SASF, Sunnyside Community Services, and the Educational Alliance/Boys & Girls Club of America. Anju holds a dual bachelor’s degree in Adolescent Education and History from Pace University’s School of Education, an Executive Management Certificate from Fordham University, Executive Certification from Columbia Business School and a Master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education in Leadership in Community Based Learning. (Fun Fact: You can always catch Anju armed with three things a bagel, a book, and a cup of tea.) 

Andre T. Stith

Organizing Director

Andre Stith is a product of the Long Island City public school system having attended PS 171Q, IS 126Q and Bryant High School. He is a father of 4 and a grandfather of 6. He is dedicated to helping bring positive change for communities he serves and the families that live there.


Jeimy Portillo

Data Entry Assistant

Long Island City High School

Jeimy S Portillo Torres graduated in June 2018 from Long Island City High School. She was elected to participate in a school-based internship during her senior year, where she enjoyed learning how to work in a team. Fun fact: Jeimy likes to go on runs with her dog, dance, and she can understand Portuguese.

Dylan Woloszczuk

Young Adults Succeed Coordinator

Long Island City High School

A Philadelphia native, Dylan attended Haverford College in Pennsylvania. Dylan graduated from Haverford with a B.A. in Psychology in 2015. Dylan moved to Queens, New York where she worked closely with families all over the city in order to develop appropriate safety and permanency plans for children involved in the foster care system. Dylan has become increasingly interested in supporting local children and families in the educational system. (Fun Fact: Dylan’s favorite animal is the flamingo!)

Claudia M. Esteva

Director of College & Career Readiness

Long Island City High School

Made in the Dominican Republic, grown in the Bronx, Claudia has always had a knack for connecting with the community. Her career in education started when she initially went away to a summer program at the age of 12. Ever since then, she has been volunteering and working for organizations that continue to bring youth the opportunity to better their education. She has worked for non profit organizations for high-achieving, low-income students that prepare their participants for higher education and career opportunities. Those experiences has since led her to be a Community Liaison where she arranged family engagement activities and hosted an array of community resources for a Bronx middle school. Fun Fact: Claudia loves to bake homemade desserts.  

Screen Shot 2018-11-02 at 12.03.38

Lisseth Castillo

Data Entry Assistant

Long Island City High School

Lisseth was born and raised in Mexico but moved to NY at the age of 12. She is a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College studying graphic design. She graduated from Long Island City High School and was a Zone 126 intern her senior year. 


Michelle Makabali

Community School Director, Long Island City High School

Michelle Makabali brings 12 years of experience in the education field to Zone 126. She received a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Molloy College in Long Island, NY. Michelle most recently taught music education at a high needs urban school in Denver, CO for K-12 students.  In addition, she outreached to local businesses, creating fundraisers that helped build stronger relationships between the school and the community. Her passion for education through music has led her to many opportunities to help students and families achieve personal goals and success. Michelle is excited to utilize her skills and experiences as Community School Coordinator at Long Island City High School. Besides her love of music and education, Michelle enjoys cooking, trying new recipes, is a fan of football, and traveling. 

Rebecca Lee

Executive Assistant

Rebecca Lee is a proud product of public schools and a Queens native. She graduated from Macaulay Honors College at Queens College with a Bachelor's of Arts in Sociology. Throughout college, she volunteered and interned at several organizations, mentoring and coaching students in times of transition. Interning as a youth mentor at Briarwood Family Residence sparked her interest in non-traditional educational settings. Her commitment to supporting students in realizing their potential both inside and outside of the classroom led her to Zone 126, where she became a Community School Intern. Rebecca is passionate about engaging students in various educational settings and is excited to apply her problem-solving skills and creativity at Zone 126. Fun Fact: Rebecca's favorite animal is the African Penguin!

bottom of page