Our Staff

Mark Comesañas is the Head of School at LEAD Charter School.

Mark is a lifelong Newarker giving back to the city that has sown so much in him. He has been an educational leader within the Newark Public Schools district for thirteen years – four of them as the founding principal of UPLIFT Academy (formerly known as Fast Track Success Academy), which is a partner alternative vocational high school that draws upon NOYN’s youth development framework to engage over-age and under-credited youth. He is also an active Community Advisory Board Member for My Brother’s Keeper Newark and sits on the Board of his local church, La Vid Verdadera (translated: The True Vine). Mark earned a Masters degree in Educational Leadership from Montclair State University and a Bachelors degree from Rutgers University.

Danielle Fongh joined the LEAD Charter School team as the Founding Guidance Counselor in 2018. Danielle received her BS in Biology from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2013. She then pursued her Masters in School Counseling from Liberty University, completing the program in December 2017. Danielle served as an intern in the Roselle Public Schools for one year prior to entering her new role here at LEAD.

For fun, Danielle enjoys spending time with her family and dog, as well as traveling.

Darrell Price is a former New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) Director who possess over twenty (20) years of youth development programming experience. During his tenure with YouthBuild Newark, he has served as Program Manager, Director of Re-Entry and Program Director. Two years ago he transitioned to become the Director of Climate and Culture at Newark Leadership Academy, which operated in partnership with YBN serving over-aged, under-credited high school students. He currently serves in the same title at LEAD Charter School.

Danny Cerdas is the Humanities Teacher at LEAD Charter School. He joined LEAD to help students have a positive impact on their communities. Danny has a Masters in Liberal Arts from Temple University and a Bachelors from Rutgers University. When he’s not teaching, Danny is reading, watching movies, and chasing after his very energetic son.

Gisele Bartley has 17 years of youth development and youth advocacy experience. She started at YouthBuild Newark in 2006 as an Case Manager. She has transitioned from YouthBuild Newark to providing technical assistance at UPLIFT Academy to founding advocate counselor at LEAD Charter School. Gisele holds a Bachelors of Science in Human Service from Walden University with honors and is a member of Alpha Sigma Lambda Society Honor Society & the National Society of Leadership and Success. Gisele has a love for art music and photography and incorporates creativity and art into her practice

Terry Lang joined Lead Charter School staff in 2018, as a CTE Instructor. Mr. Lang is a proud YouthBuild Newark graduate from the inaugurated class in 2004. During his tenure with YBN Terry gained 13 years of experience in youth development and CTE training. In 2008 he successfully completed the Instructor Certification Training Program (ICTP) for the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) for standardized training curriculum as a Core Curricula and Carpentry Fundamentals Instructor. In 2009, he successfully completed the Home Builders Institute’s Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training Curriculum. In 2012, he earned his Weatherization Fundamentals Instructor certification from the NCCER. In 2016, Mr. Lang earned his Green Professional Building Skills (G Pro) certification in Fundamentals of Building Green and Construction Management from the US Green Building Council.

Carlyle Adams has been in the Youthbuild/OYN/Lead Charter School family since 2015. As an Advocate Counselor, Carlyle has goals to support young people, to identify or create habits that support their growth and development, to expose young people to new opportunities they couldn’t imagine, and to support young people with creating and obtaining their social-emotional, personal, academic and post-secondary goals.

Ms. Lenora Williams proudly serves as a Humanities Teacher who specializes in English at Lead Charter School. She is committed to student success, not just in the classroom, but in everyday life. Lenora joined the LEAD family in 2018, and started her journey as a Program Aide. However, she aggressively pursued the completion of her teaching certification, and was able to transition into a prime teaching role inside the classroom. She recently graduated from Rutgers Newark, with a B.A in English (2018) and anticipates returning to school in Spring 2020 to obtain a Masters in Special Education with Learning Disability.

As founding nurse for Lead Charter School, Nurse Nan has 31 years of nursing experience while having 6 yrs of school nursing. She attended Holy Name Hospital School of Nursing and received her nursing diploma for the RN program. Much later she attended Kean University from 09/2010 – 05/2012 and graduated with a Bachelors Degree in nursing (something she is very proud of) Her passion is dancing and loves taking ballroom lessons whenever possible. Also loves spending time with her grandchildren ages 6 and 3 yrs old

Bilal Walker joined OYN October 2019 as the Program Manager for Policy and Advocacy. He received his bachelors of science in business administration from Montclair State University in 2016. Bilal has attended Relay Graduate School of Education, but is currently pursuing his masters in public administration from Montclair State University. Bilal has been a program director for several enrichment programs, a classroom teacher as well as an assistant dean and operations coordinator.

Yajaira Reyes joined LEAD Charter School September 2019, to join a team that works together and makes a positive impact in our youth as a community. She is essential in retrieving data for LEAD and provides support at the front desk while also providing support to the Head of School as his Administrative Assistant. In her free time, Yajaira enjoys spending quality time with her family, cooking and dancing.

Natalie McPhatter joined LEAD Charter School in 2019 as a Program Aide who specializes in STEM. She received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Bloomfield College in 2015 and is currently pursuing her M.P.H. in Public Health from Southern New Hampshire University. She served as a long-term substitute STEM teacher and teaching assistant from 2017-2018 at New Horizons Community Charter School in Newark, NJ. From 2018-2019, she taught Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science and Health at Saint Vincent Academy in Newark. When she’s not in class, she enjoys reading, working out and spending time with her family.

Mr. Soto joined LEAD Charter School in October 2018 as the Allied Heath Instructor. He has over 15 years experience as a NCMA and NCPhlb Tech.( Certified Medical Assistant), over 10 years as an Instructor in Allied Health. Certified Instructor in Post-Secondary Education. Have worked at various Allied Health schools teaching Medical Assisting, Phlebotomy, EKG, CPR and have experience instructing various different student demographics. Mr. Soto is currently pursuing his R.N. degree at Mercer County Comm. College in Trenton.

Khaya Caine brings a wealth of experience and passion for young people to her role as Advocate Counselor at LEAD. In addition to holding various education-related roles, she is the former Parent Engagement Specialist at Invictus Preparatory Charter School in Brooklyn, NY; Director of Strategic Alliances at MediSolutions in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ; and a graduate of the Coaching for Transformation program in New York City where she became a Certified Professional Life Coach. She holds an M.A. in Communications from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a B.A. in Journalism from Clark Atlanta University. She enjoys helping others create opportunities for mindfulness – whether it’s through individual or group coaching, prayer, meditation, yoga or her published work that serves to inspire hope and promote growth mindset.

Jeanetta Springer offers a balance between administration and execution to serve our city’s forgotten young LEADers. She was born and raised in the city of Newark, which has provided her a level of reliability and compassion towards the common struggles our city’s youth cyclically face. With a B.A. in Public Administration, Springer specializes in implementing policies and structural systems as a means of organization. She enjoys serving and creating safe spaces for people to incubate their healing processes. She developed her knack for resourcefulness through six years of Youth Counseling at the homeless shelter Covenant House Int. Through the channels of tough love, her skill of active communication provides young people with strong coaching. Accountability is her strong suit; holding people to their higher selves is what she advocates for. She believes in Newark and encourages people to pursue their purpose to impact change in the community.

James Kosior is the Supervisor of Instruction at LEAD Charter School. He attended Montclair State University and receieved his Bechelor of Science degree and Masters degree in Educational Leadership. When he is not working he enjoys spending time with his family, running and watching football.

Natasha Anderson is the Data and Operations Coordinator for LEAD Charter School/ Newark Opportunity Youth Network (NOYN). She made her official transition to NOYN in July 2019. Natasha is currently pursuing her B.S.W. at Walden University. In her free time, Natasha enjoys spending quality time with her 5-year-old and 1-year-old nephews, binge watching shows on Netflix and traveling.

Anna Obarzanek, or Ms. O, is the Special Services Coordinator at LEAD Charter school. She joined LEAD in August 2019 to help all students realize their potential and work towards achieving their goals. Anna holds a BS in English/Teaching from Montclair State University, a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Montclair State University, and a Masters in Educational Leadership from Fairleigh Dickinson University. When she’s not at LEAD, Anna enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband, nieces, and two German Shepherds.

Nware Burge is the Academic Interventionist and Special Education Teacher for LEAD Charter School. Nware has worked in education for 15 years. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and a Masters in Education from Brooklyn College. Nware is also an Adjunct Professor at Kean University and an Award winning film maker who has screened his documentary film in Accra, Ghana; London, England; Paris and Cannes, France; and right here in Newark, New Jersey; at the Citiplex Theater.

Our Board of Trustees

Craig Drinkard – Chair

Rodney Brutton – Vice Chair

Scott Emerick – Trustee

Dominique Lee – Trustee

Jennifer Finnerty – Trustee

Open Positions at LEAD


Family Resources


201 Bergen Street, Newark, NJ

For inquiries about LEAD Charter School, please email
or call 862-772-1724


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