President & Chief Executive Officer
Johnny J. Patterson, II is an accomplished leader in public service and organizational development. He is also a recognized expert on youth empowerment and public policy. Mr. Patterson attended Columbia University where he studied Public Administration and Policy. As the former Director of Public Policy & Government Relations for a Baltimore City Council Member, Special Assistant to the Mayor for Intergovernmental Relations/Deputy Chief of Staff and Interim Commissioner of Parks and Recreation for the City of Mount Vernon, NY and also serving as the Assistant Deputy Mayor & Deputy Commissioner of Public Policy, International Government Relations for Mayor Bloomberg in the City of New York. Mr. Patterson has also served as the former Executive Vice President of the Hip-Hop Education Entertainment and Activism Tour, Inc. and as a Senior Aide for Students for Obama. Mr. Patterson has garnered these experiences to now propel him to another possibility in public service.
Mr. Patterson has dedicated his life to public service and youth empowerment. He has taken a significant interest in policy and procedures relating to corporations and there relations with government (Municipal, State and Federal), community, diversity and government regulations in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois, as demonstrated in his efforts with the City of New York’s Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations and International Affairs, the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network’s Youth Council, The National Exodus Council and the School District of Philadelphia through Hip-Hop Music, Educational Advocacy and Policy.
Mr. Patterson is a member and sits on many boards and has received numerous awards and honors to name a few: Philly Artist Against Violence, The Hip-Hop Education Entertainment and Activism Tour, Philadelphia’s Millions More Movement, the Mount Vernon Community Action Group, University of Pennsylvania Black Men At Penn, Inc., National Hip-Hop Congress, the Ex-Offenders Association of Pennsylvania, and the National Exodus Council. Some awards and recognition’s are National Youth Leadership Forum on Law and International Diplomacy, Who’s Who and Mount Vernon’s most influential youth leader. Mr. Patterson is currently the Founder/President & Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Education Connections Management Group, LLC which is a national education management company, which manages a network of Charter Schools and was founded with the intent to empower urban individuals and communities through education, social justice, youth empowerment, influencing public policy, employment, and effective training and leadership.
Deputy Chief Executive Officer
Vernell Fields is a savvy, results-oriented leader with proven success in managing supplement educational services for a variety of educational providers. Vernell’s previous professional experiences include teaching and supervisory positions in elementary, secondary, and higher education. On an administrative level, Vernell has served as assistant director of a school for alternative education programs. Additionally, she has held the position of Director of Dissemination and Diffusion, a research based program designed to assist educators in developing model educational programs and disseminating them to schools and agencies with the Harvard Oxford Princeton Education University Academy (HOPE UA) Charter Management Group. Vernell’s wide-ranging responsibilities have provided her with experience in the selection, training and supervision of staff. They have also honed her skills as a professional communicator. In the course of her career, she has designed, implemented, monitored and evaluated programs, developed budgets and disseminated information through television appearances, radio talk shows, national educational conferences and other public forums.
Chief Academic Officer
Rachel Volkens has served in the field of education for fifteen years. She began her grassroots career with the School District of Philadelphia where she taught as a Special Education teacher serving three High Schools in Philadelphia. After this pivotal experience of teaching for five years, Rachel took on the role of Special Education Liaison, where she was responsible for ensuring appropriate programming and services for students with special needs. From there, Rachel decided to get her Master’s in Education, K-12 Principal Certification; thus, her administrative journey began. She has served as an Assistant Principal of a charter school, Principal of an alternative school, Special Education Director of a charter school, and is one who is thrilled with this invaluable opportunity to serve children and families for so many years. Her life’s work is dedicated to fight for the educational rights of children. Therefore, her current focus is on a path to develop a school community that is safe, loving, and only has one goal–Kids first, No excuses!
The quintessence of her educational philosophical promotes a humanitarian and progressive educational system. At the core of this educational system is an effective teacher who uses transformational learning as its primary goal. In education, the achievement of the teachable moment is paramount. Breaking ranks with tradition requires educators to motivate and create something new and exciting—teaching outside of the traditional four walls. For Rachel, the goal of education should be to achieve an invaluable, unforgettable learning experience. When educators enlarge their conceptualization of student’s ability, experiences, accomplishments, and teach explicit instruction, students can become independent self-regulated learners. An effective educator is positive, patient, consistent, and understands the strengths and needs of all students.
Director of Application and School Design
Zina B. Davis leads Commonwealth Education Connections (CEC), with superior leadership in the development and implementation of academic vision and strategic planning to ensure high standards to all CEC’s students and families. During our transition phases, she implemented budget reductions and business plans and proposals. Zina have worked cooperatively with foreign ELL (English Language Learners) students in academic achievement. With a strong knowledge of accounting systems, Zina has been responsible for multi year budgets ranging from $20 million to $100 million dollars. She has experience in all aspects of financial accounting, human resources management, and leadership in monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of academic programs. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and two Masters of Science in Administration degrees in Budgeting and Finance and Human Resources Management. Zina is a member of the Sigma Beta Gamma honor society. She has written two Thesis which she won an “Outstanding Thesis” award.
Chief Financial Officer
Gerly Adrien loves to inspire others to find their true calling. She is actively involved in mentoring people to be what God has called them to be in fulfilling in their purpose. She is formerly worked at JP Morgan Chase as a Risk and Controls Analyst in New York / Boston. Gerly is originally from Everett, Massachusetts and graduated from Bentley University. She loves to travel, cook and watch movies / T.D Jakes sermons with her family / friends. With her love for developing youth’s talents, she is president of Generations Inspired, Inc. and The Brooklyn Steppers.
Chief Human Capital Officer for Talent Development and Human Resources
Ms. Courtney Gaddy has worked as an influential manager and strategist with seven years of management experience and a remarkable record of achievement. She has been commended for her leadership approach, which is collaborative, cross-functional, and results-driven. Courtney’s expertise in training and development has increased revenue for various corporations, including Prometrics and Flextronics, exceeded benchmark goals, and has boosted employee morale.
With years of vast experience across industries, Courtney brings sound human resources experience in recruitment and development of our staff and prospective staff. Courtney will be charged with developing and maintaining workforce management strategies, including effective talent development and succession planning processes; Designing and managing competitive compensation programs, including benefits, that enhance the organization’s ability to meet business objectives and attract, motivate and retain a skilled, diverse and effective workforce, Courtney also will be charged with driving and influencing performance management processes throughout the organization. Managing all HR-related risks and providing technical advice and knowledge within the human resources discipline. Providing overall HR leadership and direction in communications and human capital strategies to meet the schools’ short- and long-term needs.
Courtney is a graduate of American InterContinental, holding a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. She earned her Master’s in Business Administration from the same institution, and she is currently in search of doctoral programs to further her education in Public Administration.
Chief of Staff & Special Assistant to the Board
Dyesha Hicks – Bio Coming Soon
Deputy Chief Innovation Officer of Information Technology
Angela Johnson- Bio Coming Soon