Meet the Board
Mayor Justin Elicker
Justin grew up in Connecticut. He attended public school, graduated with a BA from Middlebury College in Vermont, and earned both a Masters in Business Administration from the Yale School of Management and a Masters in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry. Justin speaks Spanish and Chinese. He has been an elementary and high school teacher (for at-risk youth) and served for three years as an adjunct professor of education policy at Southern Connecticut State University.
Justin has a wealth of experience in government. He served for four years on the New Haven Board of Alders where he was a champion for residents across the city who felt unheard, underserved, and unsupported by the City of New Haven. He advocated for renters who lived in sub-standard apartments under absentee landlords, and fought against predatory landlords. With his constituentsâ€™ support and at their requests, he promoted fostering more positive, community-police interaction in an underserved neighborhood in order to help mitigate neighborsâ€™ feelings of mistrust and suspicion of police. He successfully implemented neighborhood and economic development improvements in the Cedar Hill neighborhood to promote more business activity and improve quality of life. He promoted protections for gender identity. On the Board of Alders, Justin was also one of the strongest voices for long-term fiscal responsibility, government transparency, and smart governance. He had both one of the best attendance records on the Board, and the best response rates for constituent service requests. In 2013, Justin ran for Mayor in one of the most exciting and close elections in decades. Justin came in second with 45.3% of the vote.
Justin's government experience started long before his involvement at the Board of Alders. Justin worked for five years as a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. State Department. He was posted to Washington, D.C., Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Justin had a substantive focus on U.S. economic and environmental policy. While working for the U.S. government abroad was rewarding and challenging, Justin decided to leave the State Department to come to New Haven because he wanted to live near his family, put down roots, and get involved in a local community that he believed in. Justin lives in East Rock with his wife, Natalie, and daughters Molly and April.
Justin is now the 51st Mayor of New Haven, and will work hard so that every resident has the opportunity to thrive, no matter where they live.
Ms. Yesenia Rivera, President
Yesenia Rivera is currently the Program Director at Edgewood PTA Child Care and is the Director of Housing Assessment and Integration at The Connection's Supportive House for Families Program.
As a parent and as child care director, Yesenia has been committed to the New Haven Public Schools since 1996 as member of the PTA at Edgewood School and Wilbur Cross High School.
Yesenia is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful daughters who all attended New Haven Public Schools. She is a long time resident of New Haven; she attended Troup Middle School and is a graduate of Hill Regional Career High School.
Ms. Rivera also attended college locally earning her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Albertus Magnus College.
Present and past Memberships include:
- Board of Directors, Edgewood PTA Child Care Program, Inc.
- State of Connecticut Healthy Homes Coalition
- State of Connecticut Hoarding Workgroup
- State of Connecticut Subsidized Housing Workgroup
- Child Welfare League of America
Vice Chair: Facilities Naming Committee
Mr. Matthew Wilcox, Vice President
Matt Wilcox is a graduate of programs at Asbury University, James Madison University, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Matt has spent his career in libraries and higher education. He currently serves as the director of the Edward and Barbara Netter Library at Quinnipiac University.
Matt, his spouse JoAnne, and their family have lived in New Haven for more than twenty years. Their children attend and have graduated from New Haven Public Schools.
Matt has a deep and abiding belief that all children can learn and have a right to a high quality, free public education. "Education is not simply done to prepare a person for a lifetime of work, but to help a student build a life – a fulfilling life – as an active, engaged, and thoughtful member of our community."
Chair: Finance and Operations and Head Start Sub-Committee
Vice Chair: Food Service Task Group and Citywide School Building
Dr. Edward Joyner, Secretary
Dr. Edward Joyner was born in the small rural community of Farmville, North Carolina where he attended segregated schools. He graduated from H. B. Suggs High School in 1965 with honors and attended Elizabeth City State University in Elizabeth City, North Carolina where he graduated with high honors receiving a degree in the Social Sciences.
While at Elizabeth City State, Joyner was active in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the vehicle that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used as the vanguard for the human rights movement.
He established the African American History curriculum at Hillhouse High School in 1970 with support from Mr. Thomas Raggozino, the chair of the history department, and Mr. Eugene Vitelli the schoolâ€™s principal. He received a Master of Arts in Teaching from Wesleyan University in 1973 with high honors and completed his doctoral studies in School Administration at the University of Bridgeport in 1989. He has been an assistant principal and principal at the high and middle school levels, a head basketball coach (community college) and an assistant professor and administrator at the Yale Child Study Center where he was the Executive Director of the School Development Program at Yale, the oldest and most comprehensive school change program in America. He retired from Sacred Heart University in 2013 where he had served as the Director of the Five Year Masters of Arts in Education Program. Over the course of his 8 year tenure at Sacred Heart, Dr, Joyner taught and mentored several hundred teacher education majors. Some are currently employed in the New Haven Public Schools.
Dr. Joyner has presented throughout the world and trained educators and social policy makers throughout the United States. He has appeared on BET Tonight, NBC, and ABC addressing issues related to improving schools, especially for minority children. He is the author of the award winning Ebony Guide to Black Student Excellence and has been honored with several other awards in communities throughout the country for his work as an education change agent. He is the co-author of six books addressing the education of poor and/or minority children. They include Rallying the Village and Child by Child, two of the best sellers at Columbia Teachers College Press. He is the lead author of the Field Guide to Comer Schools in Action (Corwin Press, 2005) that describes thirty-five years of work done by the staff of the School Development Program and its founder, Dr. James P. Comer. And he has written chapters in several other books addressing issues of large-scale change in diverse communities. His worked with the ABC television network to do a retrospective evaluation of Â the Black and White kindergartners who integrated the Shaker Heights school system near Cleveland, Ohio several years after the Brown decision. The results were used to create an ABC primetime special on school integration that was shown on August 2005.Â His favorite quote is taken from the words of one of his intellectual heroes, Dr. Benjamin Mays, who was president of Morehouse College: “When you are born behind in the race of life, you must run faster.”
Chair: Teaching and Learning Committee and Facilities Naming
Ms. Andrea L. Downer
Valued for her community engagement, Andrea is well respected and noteworthy. Within her travels throughout the City of New Haven she is known to strategically use resources to seek equitable solutions that engage, serve and impact the diverse communities. She stands on a firm belief that integrity should govern one's credibility and all students deserve a quality education. For many years, her commitment and volunteering her time for community engagement led her to tutoring students in 2nd grade to 12th grade within the New Haven Public School system for the fundamentals and challenges of common core, traditional mathematics and SAT preparation. She takes pride in helping the students while supporting parents to learn and grasp the critical challenges of understanding mathematical key concepts and skills in greater depth.
Andrea's mission while serving on the board will be to help advance, strengthen, and support the students, parents, and the members of the Board of Education. Her experience in strategic leadership and business policy will aid in her decision-making skills that affect the districts overall educational vision, the required curriculum, accountability for the school district's policy and the benefits to community of receiving a quality education. She is a leader who will ensure diversity and inclusive views are well represented with equitable outcomes.
Andrea is a Lead Distribution Engineer for a local public energy company, where she is focused on managing, leading and coaching her team of engineers under a consistent
strategy to optimize critical electric distribution systems while maintaining reliability that enables her organization to successfully meet their overall goals and objectives. She has experience in maintaining compliance of federal regulatory critical protection assets on the transmission bulk electric system.
She received her Bachelor’s Degrees in Management Information Systems from Albertus Magnus College and Electrical Engineering from the University of New Haven (UNH). While attending University of New Haven, she has served for many years as the President of the Evening Student Council. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Business Policy and Strategic Leadership from the University of New Haven (UNH). She is a proud participant of the 2023 Paradigm for Parity Profit and Loss Leadership Acceleration program.
Currently, she serves as a Ward 27 Co-Chair, New Haven Democratic Town Committee. She is a proud graduate of James Hillhouse High School Class of 1989 and educated her daughter Brittney through the New Haven Public School system. She understands that having a quality education is key in escaping poverty, defining one’s purpose in society, understanding rights and the ability to contribute towards positive community that will benefit all now and in the future. She enjoys spending her spare time with family and friends.
Elected Member, New Haven District 2
Term Expires: 12/31/2025
Dr. OrLando Yarborough III
Dr. OrLando Yarborough III is a leadership consultant, coach, scientist, and faith leader. Since 2015 he has served as Pastor at the Black Church at Yale University. Dr. Yarborough also serves as a global teams coach and IPD (interpersonal and group dynamics) facilitator at the Yale School of Management while running his own company â€“ The Well Company â€“ which offers coaching and training services for public and private organizations and professionals.
Dr. Yarborough earned his PhD in Genetics from Yale University investigating the genetics of high blood pressure. He completed a Yale postdoc in Internal Medicine investigating mitochondrial metabolism in Type 2 Diabetes. Prior to that, he completed his undergraduate work at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), where he majored in Biological Sciences and Africana Studies.
Dr. Yarborough serves in leadership capacities of numerous non-profit organizations, including as Board Officer of Friends Center for Children, Board Member of the Yale Alumni Association, and Vice President of the Meyerhoff Alumni Advisory Board for the UMBC Meyerhoff Scholars Program—a national model to increase diversity among future leaders in science, engineering, and related fields.
Dr. Yarborough and his wife, Dr. Rashele Yarborough, have a daughter in elementary school and are members of Church on the Rock New Haven.
Chair: Food Service Task Group
Vice Chair: Finance and Operations
Dr. Abie Benitez
Appointed to the New Haven Board of Education, Abie L. Quiñones-Benítez previously held leadership roles in the New Haven Public Schools, including as a Director of Instruction for a portfolio of schools while supporting school counselors, as well as supporting all schools with a high prevalence of English language learners (ELL), and then oversaw bilingual/ELL instruction district-wide. She served over a decade as Principal of Columbus Family Academy, a dual language school. Before that, she was a curriculum/staff developer, Title I consultant, school counselor, and Adult Education teacher. Originally from Puerto Rico, where she earned her bachelor's, she holds a master's from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from UConn. In 2002, the AERA awarded Dr. QuiÃ±ones-BenÃtez the Best Bilingual Education Dissertation Award, and she was named an Illustrious Woman of Puerto Rico by its government. She has received the Elm/Ivy Award from Yale and the City of New Haven and the Heritage Award from the Board of Alders' Black and Hispanic Caucus, and is founding past president of the Connecticut Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (CALAS). After retirement was until June 2021 Director of Schools for the School District of Lancaster, PA, which is linguistically and culturally diverse, with many refugee students; she supervised principals in half the schools as well as the High School. Now retired her commitment to New Haven's children keep her here where she owns her home since 1989.
Vice Chair: Teaching and Learning and Head Start
Dave John Cruz-Bustamante
Sophomore at Wilbur Cross
John Carlos Serana Musser