Student Professional Development Program –Meet the Team
Sekou Biddle leads UNCF’s advocacy efforts to ensure more African American students will be college-ready and better prepared to enroll in and complete college by driving sustainable education reforms that benefit students and empower parents and communities to demand improvement. He manages UNCF’s advocacy platform, which includes three major components: grasstops partnerships, grassroots engagement and messaging and research. In addition, Sekou also leads UNCF’s Student Professional Development Programs, preparing students to navigate from college to early-stage careers by exposing students to industry-sector career opportunities through summer and semester training.
He has more than 20 years of experience in urban public education reform and is a former at-large member of the District of Columbia City Council. He represented Wards 3 and 4 on the District of Columbia State Board of Education. As executive director of the southern region of Jumpstart for Young Children, he partnered trained adults in year-long relationships with pre-school-aged children to prepare them for success in school.
Sekou previously was director of community outreach for KIPP DC, which operates 16 schools in the District of Columbia. Prior to this, he trained and supported first- and second-year teachers as a program director with Teach For America, the national teacher corps. He has hands-on experience in the classroom working as a teacher in New York City, Atlanta and Washington, DC. While in the Atlanta Public School System, he provided professional development for elementary school teachers through the Elementary Science Education Partnership, sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
Sekou has a bachelor’s degree in business from Morehouse College and a master of education degree in early childhood education from Georgia State University with a focus on urban education. He also completed advanced studies in education policy at Georgia State.
Taliah Givens is an engineer turned career development leader using her analytical education to solve the social-educational equations of today from K-12 through the higher education sector.
Ms. Givens, originally from Paterson, NJ, completed bachelor’s degrees in both computer engineering and electrical engineering technology from Georgia Tech and Alabama A&M University respectively with support from national academic merit scholarship awards. She completed a master’s in public administration degree from Baruch College, CUNY as a 2006 National Urban Fellow (NUF) to the Xcel Energy Foundation and was a 2012 graduate of the NUF America’s Leaders of Change Executive Leadership program. After starting her career as an Optical Solutions Engineer at Nortel Networks and AT&T, Taliah has worked extensively over 15 years, building integrated public and private sector systems to better serve the needs of youth and education organizations with equity and efficacy.
In her current role as the Senior Director of UNCF Student Professional Development Programs, she has led the strategic direction and management of over 40 UNCF internship and professional development programs building workforce diversity and providing diverse students with valuable career experience and professional training for effective transition from college into careers. In the past 7 years, her department has served over 1200 students across various industries including education, STEM, financial services, public relations, publishing, energy, manufacturing, entertainment, and health care. And she has increased over five times the number of internship programs participating in the annual UNCF Student Leadership Conference, their premier student professional development event designed to provide a framework and forum for equipping students with the skills they will need to be successful as interns and early career professionals.
Melissa Jordan is a passionate, authentic, and dedicated Student Development Practitioner with fourteen progressive years in the field of Higher Education. She obtained a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from Elon University (2004) and a Master’s of Science in Human Services with a concentration in Counseling from Capella University (2009). Currently serving as the Director for Student Professional Development Programs with UNCF, Melissa’s area of work focuses on the successful college transition and the successful career development for students of diverse populations. Her goal is to empower all students to live their authentic self and function at their highest potential.
At the core of her work, Melissa‘s number one priority and honor is the opportunity to assist students in the process of identifying their values, discovering their passion, and designing a blueprint for life that is a true reflection of their most genuine self. It is her belief that living out our most authentic self will have the greatest impact on those around us. A successful “college graduate” is not one that has only completed the requirements of the institution of which they were a part, but one that understands and has considered the impact they will have on the world around them both intentionally and unintentionally. Melissa is on a mission to help students understand and embrace the authority they have in living a life that directly aligns with who they are and who they aspire to be.
Crystal Terry serves in the role of Director, Student Professional Development Programs at UNCF. During her 18 year tenure with UNCF, Crystal has primarily managed Professional Development Programs to include Corporate Scholars/Internship programs which focuses on creating a pipeline of prospective interns for Corporate, Union, and not-for-profit organizations.
Prior to joining UNCF, Crystal worked with a non-profit organization’s national programmatic effort committed to improving the quality of life for residents of specific, federally identified public housing developments, and providing them the skills and services that would enable them to move from dependency to self-sufficiency. Ms. Terry received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Arnika Frazier-Jackson is the Director for UNCF’s Student Professional Develop Programs. She leads the Panda Cares Scholars Program which develops processes and systems to support the successful implementation of the suite of programs to prepare students for professional development. While managing programming for the now 750 student population under the Panda Cares umbrella she also serves the team in strategic planning of new programs and learning initiatives for UNCF’s internship talent pool.
Arnika received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Public Relations from the highest of seven hills Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and her Master’s of Science degree in Integrated Marketing and Management Communication from The Florida State University.
Kashay Spaine is as a Senior Relationship Manager for the Walton-UNCF K-12 Education Fellowship program with the Student Professional Development Programs team. As a Senior Relationship Manager, Kashay will manage program development, partner and fellow engagement, partner recruitment, and fellow placement and onboarding.
Prior to joining UNCF, Kashay was a Program Director for Family League of Baltimore where she oversaw programming, technical assistance, and capacity building for partners in the Out-of-School-Time portfolio. Kashay earned a B.A in History from Alfred University and an M.S. in Project Management from UMUC.
Teena Huffaker is a Senior Relationship Manager for UNCF’s Student Professional Development Programs. She interacts with a variety of programs within the division, including the Panda Cares Scholars Program, The Walt Disney Company UNCF Corporate Scholarship and Internship Program, and the UNCF/Best Buy Corporate Scholars Program. She leads the curriculum initiative within SPPD, designed to provide scholars with engaging and valuable skill sets as they seek to fill their professional career toolkits. She spent 14 years in the K-12 school system before joining UNCF and is passionate about scholar success and empowerment.
Teena received a Bachelor’s degree in English Education from the illustrious Florida A & M University and her Master’s in Education in Educational Leadership from American College of Education.
Brittany A. Harris is the Alumni Relationship Manager for the UNCF K-12 Education Fellowship at UNCF. In this role, she cultivates professional development programming for fellowship recent fellows and alumni, provides career support and resources, oversees the Fellowships alumni council, and supports the recruitment, selection, and placement of new fellows. Prior to joining UNCF, she worked in federal advocacy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and taught 7th grade ELA in Atlanta, GA.
Brittany earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Drexel University and a Master of Public Administration degree with a concentration in Education Policy and Non-Profit Management from The George Washington University.
Carly Munn is the Relationship Manager for the Panda Cares Scholars program at UNCF. A native Virginian, Carly attended James Madison University as a first-generation college student where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Justice Studies. Outside of the classroom, Carly developed a strong passion for student development and assisting students through the college admissions process.
Upon graduating Carly worked in Undergraduate Admissions at both James Madison University and later Guilford College. Now, at UNCF Carly supports scholars on their path to becoming active and engaged citizens post-college graduation. Carly enjoys hiking, cooking, and rooting for the Dallas Cowboys!
Jamese Carrell joins the Student Professional Development Programs (SPDP) team as Relationship Manager. In this role, Jamese will support in developing processes and systems that successfully implement a suite of internship and scholarship programs such as the Chevron Corporate Scholars, career readiness, and a multitude of professional development opportunities, and conferences.
Prior to UNCF, Jamese served as the Member Services Associate at the National College Attainment Network (NCAN). In this role, she supported 500 member organizations through professional development and training with the goal of increasing members’ capacity to serve students from underrepresented backgrounds in entering and completing postsecondary education. Along with state agency, k-12, and educational nonprofit experience, Jamese also spent several years working in higher education. Jamese earned her BA in Communication from Western Illinois University and her MS in Student Affairs and Higher Education Administration from Indiana State University. College access, success, and equity is her passion work.
Tracee Senghor joins the Student Professional Development Programs (SPDP) team as Relationship Manager. In this role, Tracee will support current and alumni fellows and manage program services for the Panda Cares partnership.
Before joining UNCF, Tracee served as a Retention Specialist at Coppin State University, where she was responsible for the academic advisement of students in all major disciplines. Tracee also taught Freshman seminar courses and lead student development and engagement programming. Additionally, Tracee brings her experience as an Education Fellow for Americorp, a Human Resources Associate at Six Flags, and her Education Program Specialist expertise from Port Discovery Children’s Museum. Tracee is a proud two-time alumna of Bowie State University, where she earned both her BS and MA degrees in Communications, Public Relations, and Organizational Communications.
Losa Berhane’s role on the team is the Panda Cares Program Coordinator. Her primary responsibility is to provide scholar support with all program management needs of the Panda Cares awarding and scholar engagement. For the last 5 years, she has devoted her career to transforming education through social justice curriculum development, restorative practices, mentoring, and relationship building.
Losa is passionate about serving and guiding youth in their journey towards leadership development. She enjoys art, fashion, reading, traveling.
Mia Shipp joined the Student Professional Development team as a Program Coordinator in 2017. Prior to joining UNCF, she was a Site Director at the YMCA Anthony Bowen heading up the before and aftercare programs, for the surrounding neighborhood schools. Mia attended the illustrious Hampton University.