MindOpen Learning Strategies projects draw on a team of dynamic subject matter experts known for their commitment to and innovation in advancing social justice.
MindOpen's Principal and Founder, Dr. Elizabeth Speck, knows firsthand that well-timed transformative learning leads to better client services and less burnout among staff. With 25 years of direct service, management, and capacity-building experience in New York City's complex human service systems, Elizabeth has adapted to many program and policy changes, broken down systems silos, and built a network of leaders committed to moving beyond the status quo.
With a background in community-based theatre for social change, Elizabeth started her career as a Teaching Artist in schools, shelters, hospitals, jails, and prisons. She earned a Master’s Degree in Drama Therapy from New York University while a Fellow with the Creative Arts Team, and was among the first Licensed Creative Arts Therapists in New York State. Her subsequent diversified experience in new program development and organizational change led her to pursue a Ph.D. in Organizational Development from Fielding Graduate University. A lifelong learner, Elizabeth is always adding new tools to share for building thriving organizations, and is currently a Social Innovation Fellow with the Starting Bloc Institute and Fielding Graduate University’s Institute for Social Innovation. With MindOpen Learning Strategies, Elizabeth both leads and guides coaching, training, and consulting services, drawing from a cadre of dynamic subject matter experts.
Projects and Communications Associate
Samantha King recently graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a B.A in Journalism. With her major in Journalism and minor in Sociology, Samantha has a passion for social justice and helping amplify the voices and needs of the oppressed and underserved. Samantha’s first steps after graduating included interning for MindOpen in the summer of 2021. She now serves as the Project and Communications associate and contributes behind the scenes.
Tarik Greene is Co-founder and Deputy Executive Director of M.A.D.E. Transitional Services, where he leads housing and employment services for returning citizens in Rockland County, NY and beyond. Among many civic leadership roles in New York State, Tarik is a Trainer of Trainers for the Offender Workforce Development Specialist certification. As a co-creator of MindOpen’s “Leveraging the Workforce of the Future” curriculum, Tarik brings his unique ability to facilitate critical conversations that matter between diverse community members, to inspire deep empathy and action.
Toney Earl, Jr.
Toney Earl, Jr., is Co-founder and Executive Director of M.A.D.E. Transitional Services, the nonprofit organization he conceived to fill the long-standing service gap for returning citizens in the Hudson Valley region of New York and beyond. Toney has held several Chair and Fellowship positions in reentry leadership, was named by New York Nonprofit News as a 40 under 40 Rising Star, and is a frequent national panelist with entities such as Columbia University and the Rand Corporation. As a co-creator of MindOpen’s “Leveraging the Workforce of the Future” curriculum, Toney continually cultivates cross-sector collaborations.
Social Capital & Youth Workforce Development Advisor
Edward DeJesus is a legendary educator whose rallying cry “Alive and Free” has galvanized hundreds of thousands of youth and young adults (and those who love them) who have been marginalized from traditional economic success. Ed created the Social Capital Builders Institute, and helps ensure that MindOpen’s services to the workforce and youth development professions lead to “no more disconnected youth.”
Melissa D. Elliott
Accomplished Not-for-Profit Senior Director with 10+ years of success in education, workforce development, mental health, and child welfare. Creates and manages multiple high-quality, productive programs that meet agency policies and procedures, resulting in positive outcomes that achieve stakeholder goals. Cultivates and fosters trusting relationships with staff, colleagues, community organizations, public/private educational institutions, K-12 schools, mental health and medical clinics, administrations, adults, families, and children. Dedicated and proactive professional recognized for superior leadership, interpersonal, and communication skills.