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Founder & Executive Director
Jai Nanda is the Founder and Executive Director of the Urban Dove, a non-profit organization that provides positive, educational programs to New York City's at-risk youth. Jai founded Urban Dove in 1998 as a way to reach out to children in need and provide them with the skills they need to become positive, successful citizens. Urban Dove serves hundreds of children each year. Using a unique combination of recreation and education, Urban Dove has Energized, Educated and Empowered thousands of young people, giving them the support and help they need to succeed in school and in life.
Jai is also the founder of Urban Dove TEAM Charter School, located in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Urban Dove TEAM is an incredibly unique and innovative school for Overage/Under-credited students who are at high-risk of dropping out. The school is the first-ever to use a sports, health and fitness curriculum as a way to engage, educate and empower this challenging student population.
Jai has worked with young people his entire life, and has dedicated his career to improving and enriching the lives of young people, especially those in need. He is a founding Board member of Up2Us, a national coalition of Sports Based Youth Development agencies and previously served on PASE's Youth Sport Alliance Council. Jai also has served as Chairman of the Youth Committee for Community Board 4 and was honored as a Local Hero by Bank of America's Neighborhood Excellence Initiative.
Jai was born and raised in New York City. After completing a public school education, he graduated with Honors from the University of Michigan. Before founding Urban Dove, Jai worked as a teacher in the New York City school system both at the high school level and at the City University of New York. He was also a basketball coach for more than 15 years.
Associate Executive Director
Richie Cerrud came to New York City from Panama at the age of 8. He was educated in the NYC public school system at every level. He has been dedicated to youth sports and youth development since 1985 when he started his first football league to help bridge the gap between the youth of Yorkville and Harlem. Richie is passionate about youth development and has dedicated his life to developing innovative programs to help at-risk youth reach their full potential, often using sports as a vehicle to teach life skills, including teamwork, leadership, conflict resolution and responsibility.
Richie has emerged as a respected leader in his field through his unique combination of personal and professional experience. He has served as mentor and role model for thousands of young people who have come in contact with him over the past 20 years. In 1999 Richie was recognized by the Partnership for After School Education as a recipient of the 1st annual PASEsetter award for excellence in youth work. Serving the youth in style, Richie does not have one favorite color, but instead has favorite colors for each season – blue pinstripes in the summer, green and white in the fall/winter, and gold and blue in the winter/spring.
Ismael Asgarian Development and Communication Associate
D. Maria Frazier
D. Maria is a proud native of Brooklyn, New York. Her 15 years of teaching and youth development experience includes working with the National Urban League’s Education Department, NULITES Youth Summit, the Flatbush YMCA and The After School Corporation (TASC). D. Maria joined the Urban Dove team in 2004 and has quickly moved up the ranks from HiRisers Program Coordinator; College All-Stars Founder, Program Associate and Manager; Regional Program Director and currently serves as the Director of Programs. D. Maria holds a B.A. from Brooklyn College in Psychology and Child Studies and has received extensive training with Columbia University’s Non-Profit Management Program. As the most tenured Urban Dove staff member, her longevity, dedication, leadership style, model of excellence and wealth of talent render her an invaluable asset to Urban Dove, its programs, staff and young people.
Jamie Lee Cruz Program Associate
Jamie is a native New Yorker, who grew up in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. As a teenager she began working at the Hudson Guild Beacon Program as a peer counselor and was promoted to program manager after being recognized for her hard work and dedication during her eight years there. Jaime is extremely passionate about youth and community development and has assisted in developing and leading several programs in the fields of teen empowerment, youth councils, after-school programs and drama. She has also developed and directed over ten performing arts productions. Jamie has been a Program Associate with Urban Dove since 2008.
Mike has moved all around New York during his childhood living in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and even a few years in Yonkers. Mike studied Psychology at Clark University in Worcester, MA and graduated in 2007. He came back to New York upon graduation, and worked with Prep for Prep as a counselor for high school students. In the summer of 2010, Mike joined Urban Dove as our Assistant Camp Director and Program Associate for the HiRisers program. He truly enjoys working firsthand with the children, especially teens and always looks to strengthening those relationships and building new ones. When Mike isn’t working with the kids at Urban Dove he likes to travel whenever possible. More often though, Mike enjoys being a couch potato watching his favorite shows or movies, with a hot Italian dish or a couple of sushi rolls.
Tiantha has been working proudly with Urban Dove since 2007 and in September of 2014, she was promoted to the position of Program Associate for the Harlem region. Tiantha has been working with kids since the 6th grade and is particularly interested in youth sports because of the fundamental lessons physical activity as a team teaches. She loves to watch the connections between the participants and youth staff when they collaborate and learn. Tiantha has a Bachelor of the Arts degree in English Language Arts and Studio Arts from CUNY Hunter College. Her favorite sport is Basketball and during season she roots for the New York Knicks. On her off time, Tiantha likes relaxing with a book by the beach, or just photographing or editing photos.
Program Associate Middle School