Nicia Fullwood is a Texas native, but has lived in Brooklyn, NY for 12 years so one might say she is a New Yorker. Following her undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, she was selected to join Cohort 8 of the New York City Teaching Fellows as a mathematics teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School in East New York. Her commitment to improving educational outcomes for her students led her to Harvard Graduate School of Education where she received a Masters of Education in Educational Policy and Management. After graduation, she returned to NYC, where she was the founding Program Director for the Children’s Aid Society Carerra Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program at the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women (UAI). During her tenure at the Urban Assembly (UA), Nicia also served as Assistant Principal at two UA schools—UAI and the Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice. Nicia is a BELA co-founder.


Shannon Riley is a senior social worker with the Children's Aid Society currently working with the College Success program. She is also the Executive Director of The Riley Family Foundation offering guidance over the strategic planning process for the foundation as well as coordinating and overseeing all foundation giving. Shannon is a native New Yorker, committed to supporting educational opportunities in NYC.  After graduating from Villanova University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications, she did a year of service work with AmeriCorps working with Catholic Charity programs. Returning to NYC in 2005, Shannon pursued her Masters of Science degree in Social Work at Columbia University. Over the past 7 years, Shannon has served as a social worker for the CAS Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program and has advised, supported and counseled a cohort of young women as they moved through their middle and high school years atthe Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women located in Brooklyn, NY. She can proudly say these young women are the inspiration for BELA. Shannon is a BELA co-founder.


Wendy Barrales – Writing Teacher and Instructional Coach, Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women

Wendy Barrales is a writing teacher and instructional coach at the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women. Originally from Los Angeles, she moved to NYC to pursue an M.A. in Literacy at NYU. A recipient of the Fund for Teachers fellowship, she partnered with all-girls empowerment schools throughout South Africa and Malawi. She is currently a PhD student at CUNY- The Graduate Center and is a member of the educators of color group, focusing on the implementation of social justice in schools. Her teaching can be seen on The Annenberg Learner and Learning Cultures website. With teaching experience in both co-ed and all-girls settings, she firmly believes that young women of color thrive when they are in spaces that cultivate a sense of sisterhood and women empowerment. She is excited to be a part of team BELA and the opportunities that it will afford adolescent girls in Brooklyn

Wazina Zondon – Family Life and Sexuality Educator, Children's Aid Society Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program

Wazina Zondon is a sexuality educator and trainer with a focus on intersectionality and holisitic sexuality, engaging stakeholders including teachers, students, parents and staff/administrators at every level. She joins BELA’s vision with over 10 years of experience in the field of sexuality and sexual health including her work training early training early childhood educators on topics of sexuality; supporting teams of teachers and students at GLSEN, a leading national LGBTQ anti-bullying organization; educating and training New York State-based companies and corporations on LGBTQ best practices as part of the Empire State Pride Agenda; and as an educator and trainer for Planned Parenthood of the Mid-Hudson Valley. Currently she is in her 6th year as as Family Life & Sexuality Educator teaching, counseling and growing alongside her cohort of young women as part of the CAS Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program at the Urban Assembly Institute for Math & Science for Young Women.

Wazina grew up in NYC and is proudly a graduate of it’s public school system; she brings with her to BELA the intimate knowledge that when a school community and its partners are committed to authentic learning, curiosity and self-determination, all young people can and will thrive.