Our Board of Trustees

Craig Drinkard


Rodney Brutton

Vice Chair

Scott Emerick


Jennifer Finnerty


Dominique Lee


Meet 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.

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.

Traci joined the YBN Network November 2017 as Operations Manger. She was the former Director of Operations at Newark Prep Charter School Powered by K12 Inc. Ms. Orlandino brings both district and charter school experience to her role. She holds a B.S. in Accounting from James Madison University, an M.B.A in Business Adminstration from Seton Hall University.

Danny joined LEAD as the founding history teacher in the September 2017 school year. Prior to joining LEAD, Danny worked in the education field for ten years in different capacities. Danny worked as a history teacher at Plainfield High School in New Jersey and Ombudsman Educational Services in Philadelphia. Danny holds a B.A. in History/Political Science and a MA in Liberal Arts.

HSE Instructor for Lead at La Casa De Don Pedro. Before joining Lead, worked as a WTW ABE instructor at La Casa De Don Pedro. Posseses a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from NJIT. Prior to La Casa De Don Pedro, worked as a Work Readiness Instructor / Computer Lab Instructor at a Community Corrections Facility.

Juan Rodriguez joined the YBN in 2018 as Technology Teacher and Coordinator. He is former adjunct Professor at Union County College and CUNY-Guttman. He worked over 20 years in various Help Desk roles.

Juan has a BS in psychology from CUNY-John Jay and a Master Degree in Cyber Security from Mercy College. He lives in North Bergen with his wife
and three kids. He is the biggest Yankee fan in NJ.

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.

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.

Lenora Williams proudly serves at Lead Charter School as a Program Aide who specializes in English. She is committed to student success not just in the classroom, but in everyday life. Lenora has served as a pillar in the community for several years by coordinating various give back events for families in need and offering mentoring services to young people. In doing so, Lenora was the 2018 recipient of the Leadership and Service award from The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club. From 2016-2018 she has served as a long-term substitute English teacher at West Orange High School . She recently graduated from Rutgers Newark, with a B.A in English (2018) and also holds an A.S in Science from Union County College(2013). Lenora is also aggressively pursuing the completion of obtaining her teaching certification, in order to become a Full-time English teacher and anticipates returning to school Fall 2019 to obtain a Masters in Education.

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.

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

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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

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