Meet Our Leadership Team

Officers

Dennis Powell

President
Freedom Fund Committee co-chair
Bio
Dennis L. Powell (Retired) was born and raised in Pittsfield, MA.; graduate of the class of 1963 from Pittsfield High School. I am the proud father of five and grandfather of four!

I am a community activist, the president of the Berkshire County Branch NAACP since 2015, and Chair of the Freedom Fund Committee, an Executive Committee member of the New England Area Conference (NEAC) NAACP, and I serve on its Education Committee. I am vice-chair of the Clinton Church Restoration Project. I serve on the Pittsfield Licensing Board, the Pittsfield School Committee, the Pittsfield 4 Freedom Coalition, the Greylock Community Development Advisory Board, the Railroad Street Youth Project Board (RSYP) in Great Barrington, the Steering Committee of the WEB. Du Bois Educational Series, also in Great Barrington.

I am a veteran of the United States Army, completing my tour of duty in 1966. I am a graduate of the class of 1968 from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). And from 1972 – to 1986, I held positions of instructor and administrator at the CIA. 1987 – 1990 Chef-owner, Wendell House Bistro Pittsfield, MA; 1997 – 1999 Executive Director, Christian Center, Pittsfield, Ma.; 1990 – 2000 Chef-owner Catering By Design; 2000 – 2003 Food Service Manager BSO, Boston Ma.; 2003 – 2010 Director of Food Service/Culinary/Hospitality – Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth, Canaan, NY.

The Berkshire Eagle feature me in their Executive Spotlight Series in 2020. Berkshire Magazine recognized me as one of “Berkshire 25” (Most Dedicated, Most Creative, Most Influential person of 2018. In the 1990s, I received Berkshire Center for Families and Children’s – Outstanding Volunteer Award; and was named by the South Advocate as Pittsfield’s M.V.P (Most Valuable Person). 1977 I was a Culinary Team member. We won five (5) Gold Medals at an International Culinary Competition in Basel Switzerland; and received the Diploma of Honor from the Societe Culinaire Philanthropique; in 1973, received the Culinary Teachers Association – Recognition Award.

I am MAPP Certified – (Massachusetts Approach To Partnerships In Parenting)

Sabrina Allard

Vice-President
Bio
Sabrina (she/her) graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2000 with a BA in Psychology. Currently, she is the Deputy Director at Railroad Street Youth Project.

Originally from Teaneck, NJ, she spent her early childhood years in South County growing up in North Egremont, later residing in all 4 corners of CT over the span of 25 years. She returned to her Berkshire roots with her family in 2013. She is the mother of two amazing middle schoolers.

Early in her career, she worked at St. Francis Behavioral Health as a mental health worker in the adolescent and schizophrenic units, moving into social work as a family health advocate for CT’s H.U.S.K.Y insurance program. Sabrina continued her career in the insurance industry spending 8 years with Liberty Mutual in sales and sales management, managing 3 offices in Fairfield County, CT, earning multiple Pacesetter awards, the Lamplighter award, and a LUTCF designation.

In 2010, Sabrina left Liberty Mutual to start her own fashion styling business, Sabrina Allard, Inc. along with running a home-based business in renewable energy with Viridian Energy for 6 years. There she served as Chairwoman of the Associate Sustainability Council organizing local beach and park cleanups with her team along the east coast. Her work in renewable energy and sustainability allowed the opportunity to help build an international library in Ghana, Africa, and a water accessibility/solar panel project in West Java, Indonesia.

Upon moving to the Berkshires, Sabrina pivoted from the corporate/business world to continue work in social services and pursue her artistic passions. She spent her first two years back in the Berkshires getting to know the south county community as a server at a local restaurant, Prairie Whale. In 2016 Sabrina started work with Railroad Street Youth Project serving as the Mentor Coordinator. In 2017, she became the Director of Empowerment and in 2020, the Deputy Director.

In 2020, the Berkshire Eagle recognized Sabrina as one of the “next generation” change makers for International Women’s Day and she received the Berkshire Nonprofit’s Unsung Hero award. Sabrina is a committee member for the Clinton Church Restoration Project and member Pittsfield Moves, a community project through Jacob’s Pillow. You can find her being a hermit at home, where she paints, writes poetry, sings and creates improv & choreographed dance pieces.

Daryl Shreve

Membership Secretary
Bio
Daryl moved to Pittsfield with his wife, Ashley, and two daughters in June of 2019. He works as the Director of Recreation at Berkshire Community College and coaches the BCC Club Basketball team.

Daryl is a graduate of Drake University where he majored in English and Rhetoric & Communication. In 2015 he received his Master’s Degree from Boston College in Higher Education Administration.

Daryl’s hobbies include playing basketball, hiking through the Berkshires with Ashley, running, playing table tennis with neighbor dads, watching sports, trying to learn Spanish, and going to the Beacon Theater for popcorn while occasionally seeing a movie as well. However Daryl spends most of his time hanging out with his daughters eating ice cream, playing chase, and going to state capitol buildings (we’ve made it to 20 so far).

Marisa Massery

Recording Secretary
Bio
Marisa is a longtime resident of Pittsfield.

Marcus Coleman

Treasurer
Bio

Other Executive Committee Members

Dr. Emmanuel Bile

ACTSO co-chair
Bio

Dr. Emmanuel Bile is an adjunct professor of social work at Elms College, Chicopee, Massachusetts. Dr. Bile also serves as a medical social worker/clinical consultant at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, New York, and works with the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Berkshire Area Office in Pittsfield. Dr. Bile has experience in leadership roles at various Human Service Organizations in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Dr. Bile Co-founded the Choices Mentoring Initiative program to help decrease risk aspects and unearth resiliency to promote the emotional welfare of African American youths ages 10 to 17.

Dr. Bile’s primary interest is fostering learning and collaborating with teams and community partners to provide dignified services and equal opportunity for all the individual protected categories, including age, different abilities, gender identity and sexual orientation, military personnel, national origin or ancestry, race color, or religion. Dr. Bile is a learning facilitator with excellent organizational and leadership skills, proficient in collaborating with others, a team builder, a fast learner, and committed to enhancing the well-being and dignity of all people.

Dr. Bile earned an Associates of Human Services at Berkshire Community College, a Bachelor of Social Work from Elms College, a Master of Social Work from Springfield College, and a Doctor of Social Work from the School of Public Leadership at Capella University. Dr. Bile completed the Commonwealth of Massachusetts CORE Management Program in 2018 and Berkshire Leadership Program in 2017.

Jerome Edgerton, Jr.

ACTSO co-chair
At Large Member
Bio
Jerome Edgerton Jr. is a community activist, writer, musician and motivational speaker and founder of Sessions Life Skills Mentoring program for young men. In 2012 he was awarded the first Tupelo award from Berkshire Taconic Foundation. Besides researching and expanding his knowledge in African Drumming he wrote a well-received production entitled the ” Evolution of Rhythms”, a musical teaching the history of beats. As the Musical Director of Youth Alive he developed the drumline into a band that plays original, popular tunes and transforms to a marching band during parade season.

Jerome is not only a creative genius in the arts but he was inducted into the New England Regional Basketball Hall of Fame for his prowess and athletic abilities on the court as a high school player in August 2015. He attended Nichols and Livingstone Colleges where he played Varsity basketball. Last, but not least Jerome is a minister at New Generation Global Ministry. His passion is to share his talents, experiences and insights with youth.

Shirley Edgerton

Education Committee co-chair
At Large Member
Bio
Shirley Edgerton is a community activist, educator and visionary. As the Cultural Proficiency Coach for Pittsfield public schools she facilitates training in Cultural Competency, initiates cross cultural projects in collaboration with students,educators and community partners.

In 2015 after 21 years of employment she retired from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services as the Director of the Berkshire Service Group. She currently serves on the 18 Degrees Human Services Agency Board, City of Pittsfield Preservation Committee, and other task forces.

Shirley is the founder of the Women of Color Giving Circle of the Berkshires and The Rites of Passage and Empowerment program. The mission of R.O.P.E. is to celebrate and honor the entry of adolescent girls into womanhood and provide them with the skills and knowledge that they need to be successful, independent, and responsible women! It is designed to help them discover their voice and support all components of personal development. Two primary projects of R.O.P.E are college tours locally, in neighboring states, and to Historical Black College and Universities. The second is international service-learning projects in South and West Africa.

Shirley Edgerton earned a M.Ed from MCLA in 2004 and has been recognized for her community work with an honorary Doctorate of Humanity from The College of Our Lady of the Elms, May 2017 and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, 2018.

A.J. Enchill, Jr.

Economic Development and Justice Committee chair
At Large Member
Bio
Born to immigrants from Ghana, A.J. is a native son of Pittsfield and the eldest of four brothers. Living in Pittsfield A.J. attended Sacred Heart, St. Marks School, Reid Middle School, and Taconic High School. In 2009, he transferred to The Governor’s Academy where he became a dorm proctor and lacrosse captain. A.J. is a Bridge to Liberal Arts Success at Tufts (BLAST) scholar and a 2016 graduate of Tufts University with a B.A. in American Studies. In his senior year, he gained his first constituent services experience as an intern for U.S. Congresswoman Katherine Clark.

Since 2017 A.J. has performed constituent services and community outreach as the District Aide for State Senator Adam G. Hinds. He was formerly the board co-chair for Multicultural BRIDGE. He is a board member of Berkshire Community Action Council and Community Health Programs.

A.J. has returned home with the goal to impact his community in a way that inspires young folks to return to the Berkshires to strengthen the place that raised them. A.J. and his wife Grace look forward to raising their family in the Berkshires. 

Linda Evans

Education Committee co-chair
Bio
Linda is an experienced, dedicated, and eager educator with over 20 years of field experience. Most recently, serving as an Academic Support Teacher in the Pittsfield Public Schools District. Also, designed and facilitated interventions for students performing below grade level in the area of reading. Strategically managed the administration of the Read 180 program at the high school level, as well as implementing MCAS interventions with a focus on reading comprehension and writing. She offers a proven track record of commended performance in teaching all students, a passion for education, and a commitment to optimizing student and school success.

KEY CONTRIBUTIONS Continually earns high marks for the quality of classroom teaching, lesson plans, and instructional materials used in teaching diverse subjects (language arts, math, science, social studies, history, life skills, and vocational skills), to a diverse population of students. Consistently commended for ability to redirect students by replacing disruptive, unproductive patterns with positive, productive behavior patterns.

EDUCATION: FITCHBURG STATE UNIVERSITY, FITCHBURG, MA —CAGS JANUARY 2014 – MAY 2016,
Interdisciplinary Studies – Special Education and Reading, 2012-2016
AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE, SPRINGFIELD, MA — M. ED JANUARY 2008 – MAY 2010
School Administration, 2010 Principal/ Assistant
Principal Certification (Grades 9-12) Administrative
Practicum, 2010- Monument Mountain High School

Antony Haynes

Legal Redress Committee co-chair
Bio
Antony  joined Albany Law School in December 2015. He has extensive litigation experience in the intellectual property, securities, and criminal defense areas.   He served as an associate at the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, in Washington, D.C., and before that at Williams & Connolly LLP, in Washington, D.C.Prior to practicing law, Antony was an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he taught courses in programming, developed the Academy’s Information Assurance curriculum, and created the intercollegiate Cyber Defense Exercise.  He has extensive experience with a host of software and hardware technologies, including Cisco routers, Motorola microprocessors, TCP/IP networking protocols, SQL databases, and web-based programming.  He developed an on-line survey-system for the Department of Epidemiology at a major university.  After the Air Force Academy he was an associate at Chatham Financial Corporation, Capital Markets, Kennett Square, Pa., where he led a company-wide software effort, wrote financial software and coordinated technical developers.

He is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he was recognized as the top computer science graduate.  He received his M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, where his thesis focused on machine learning and expert systems. He is an entrepreneur who leverages his background in computer science, technology, business and the law to advise startup companies.  In addition to advising startups, he has spent time acquiring and growing companies. 

Kate Hocker

Communications, Press, and Publicity Committee co-chair
Bio
Kate Hocker earned her BFA from Buffalo State College in 2003. She spent many happy years at a leading marketing agency where she honed her craft. As a Senior Art Director, she managed a team of designers and launched a range of custom, strategic materials for clients that include Marriott, Kaiser Permanente, Behr, and Nationwide.

Her freelance career took root after she moved to the Berkshires with her husband, Tom, to raise their two young children. She spends her days telling stories, with beautiful typography and imagery, from her home office in Pittsfield. She works with many nonprofits in the region, including the NAACP Berkshire County Branch.

Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed

Education Committee co-chair
Bio
Frances is a professor emeritus of history (Ph.D., University of Missouri) and former Director of Women Studies at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, Massachusetts. She teaches local history, African American history, and women’s history. She directed three National Endowment for the Humanities grants and spearheaded a national conference on African American Biography. She is co-director of the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail, a former board member of Mass Humanities, and is presently a member of the Samuel Harrison Society and the Clinton Church Restoration project. She was an NEH Summer Fellow at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University and is currently working on a monograph about W.E.B. Du Bois and editing the autobiography of the Rev. Samuel Harrison. 

Roberta McCullough-Dews

Communictions, Press and Publicity co-chair
Bio

Roberta McCulloch-Dews is a communications and marketing professional with more than 20 years of experience.  

Roberta serves as a Trustee on the board for the Norman Rockwell Museum and is also on the board for the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts, Samuel Harrison Society, and the Berkshire Immigrant Center. She is a youth mentor with the Rites of Passage Empowerment Program (R.O.P.E.) and a founding member of the Equity and Diversity Committee for the Central Berkshire Regional School District. In 2015, Roberta was selected as a finalist for the Berkshire Trendsetters Changemaker, Under 40 Award, and in 2016, Roberta was part of the inaugural class of 40 Under Forty, selected by Berkshire Community College. 

In addition to her professional and community service roles, Roberta is the host of the award-winning podcast, “Backstory-Let’s Hear It.” Roberta graduated from New York University (NYU) with a bachelor’s degree in Print Journalism and, in 2019, earned a master’s degree in Social and Public Policy from SUNY Empire.  

Roberta and her husband, Warren Dews, Jr., have three children, Warren III, West, and Kennedy. 

Caterina Penna

Freedom Fund Committee co-chair
Bio
An 8-year member of the NAACP Berkshire County Branch serving as the Branch Freedom Fund Co-Chair and 2022 Branch Election Nomination Committee member. A first-generation American and former educator for the City of Pittsfield, Caterina brings her passion and commitment to our community through her involvement in several Berkshire County organizations.
In 2017, co-conspiring with a small group of local women, Caterina and friends formed a Huddle focusing on three goals – making the city councils more progressive and representative of our community; addressing environmental issues and advocating to move the state of MA to 100% renewable energy; starting a League of Women Voters chapter (LWV) – a national organization dedicated to increasing voter access, education, and turnout, as well as advocating for environmental issues.
Upon reinstatement of the League of Voters Central Berkshire Unit, Caterina was voted first President and later Voter Services Chair. In addition, she was a 2017 co-organizer of the local March for Science/Earth Day, and later appointed and served as co-chair for the City of Pittsfield Human Rights Commision until her resignation in 2020.
Currently, Caterina serves on the steering committee for 1Berkshire’s Youth Leadership Program, encouraging Berkshire County students to be the next diverse generation of community leaders. She is President of Pittsfield’s Italian Sister City Committee, organizing student study and cultural exchanges.  A board member for DPI (Downtown Pittsfield Inc.), Caterina has also served as a member of Pittsfield’s Artscape committee since 2018, dedicated to bringing free and accessible public art to downtown Pittsfield – paintboxes, sculpture, and murals.
Caterina is the Director of Alumni Relations and Events at Berkshire Community College. She earned her English and Education degree from Sacred Heart University, and is a 2019 graduate of the Berkshire Leadership Program. An animal lover, partial to crows and pigeons, working tirelessly to befriend and defend them.

Darcie Sosa

Communications, Press and Publicity Committee co-chair
Bio
Darcie is a media consultant/writer, who when isn’t working loves traveling, cooking, hiking with her dogs, going to museums, live music, and theatre shows, cooking, Latin dancing, and volunteering.
 
She has become involved with several community groups and organizations including the Berkshire Museum, Berkshire Young Professionals, Berkshire Leadership Program, Friends of Saint Mary’s Ad Hoc Committee, the Pittsfield Farmer’s Market, Berkshire Community College Alumni Association, MCLA Alumni Association, League of Women Voters, and run several successful municipal and county political campaigns. She has been a member of the NAACP, Berkshire County Branch for six years and is humbled to co-chair the Communications, Press, and Publicity Committee Chair. 
 
She is a recipient of the 40 Under 40 Award (Berkshire Community College 2016) and Alumni Association Award for Community Service & Citizenship Award (MCLA 2021) And is an alumnus of Berkshire Community College, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. And a graduate of the Berkshire Leadership Program (2015)

Kamaar Taliaferro

Political Action / Housing Committee co-chair
Bio

I am a lifelong resident of Pittsfield, Ma. born and raised in subsidized housing. I graduated from Pittsfield High School in 2011 and was awarded a Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship, and attended Williams College from 2011 to 2014. I provided editing, analysis, and writing for the 2020 Black Economic Council’s Idea Jam Success Report. I am a co-steward of Growing Legends–a project which seeks to develop an Urban Nursery and Youth Forestry Corp in Pittsfield and to inform new ways of communal gathering and collaborating utilizing art and gardening. In 2021 and early 2022, I was a fellow lead researcher on a case study of the Westside neighborhood in Pittsfield, examining the historical record for the presence, and investigating the ongoing effects of redlining in New England’s mill towns. Currently, I chair the standing committee on Housing for the NAACP, Berkshire County Branch, and am one of a growing handful of Farmers of Color in Berkshire County. You can often find me in Pittsfield at my urban farm tending to and being tended by the earth.

Rebecca Thompson

At Large member
Website Manager
Bio
Rebecca has degrees in History, Teaching and Librarianship. She taught in elementary schools from 1968-1972 in Chicago (briefly), Philadelphia (PA) and Canton (OH). After becoming a librarian she worked in various positions in Oregon, Indiana, and New York, retiring in 2009 as the Director of Libraries at SUNY Potsdam. In 2014 she and husband re-located to Pittsfield. She joined the NAACP in 2017 and became active when she volunteered to manage the Branch website in 2019. She developed and participates in the Branch’s White Learning Circle.