WAE Center Administration
Mother | Chef
Ayisha enjoys spending time with her daughter, family and friends. She loves baking and cooking various dishes. She’s outgoing and loves networking and getting to know others. Ayisha utilizes her personality and interpersonal skills to connect with the WAE members.
Harry Klein (he/him)
Director, WAE Center
Guided by Love | Fabulous Family Man
Harry earned his BFA with honors through New York University. He later went on to study with Larry Singer at the Michael Howard Studios. Harry’s passion for servicing others in their personal journeys has often led him to jobs that are person-centered; his first job was working with United Cerebral Palsy at age 15 in a neighborhood residential facility and an onsite day program. For many years, Harry worked as a peer educator for Mt. Sinai Hospital’s Adolescent Health Center. After working as an educator for 4 years, Harry was offered the opportunity to develop and oversee a new outreach program, geared at empowering young people to make healthy decisions around sexuality, personal identity, and self-expression.
Harry was thrilled to be offered the position of Art Studio Manager at the JSDD WAE Center in April of 2012. He worked with staff to encourage them to come from a neutral point of view while working with the members; allowing participants to discover their own opinions and giving them the ability to express those ideas with confidence. The thrust of his programming for the Art Studio was geared toward offering the members every opportunity to uncover their own abilities and develop their self-esteem. When covid struck, Harry worked tirelessly to construct and co-run the WAE Center virtual learning program. This was the only way that the WAE Center was able to remain in contact with the members; providing learning opportunities and more importantly, much needed social interaction. Not long after, Harry was asked to step into the job of Senior Manager of Program and Personnel Development for the WAE Center. Harry was ready to take the managerial skills he had developed during his years to the whole of the WAE Center. Harry worked on team building and bringing the staff together to further advance the programming offered at the WAE Center.
In March of 2022, Harry was offered the position of Director for the JSDD WAE Center; he is thrilled to take on this new challenge. Harry’s primary focus is to continue to provide a safe and fun learning environment for staff and members to uncover and develop their unique greatness. To foster a space of unconditional acceptance and safety for people to feel free to risk and test themselves. To offer a setting where everyone’s voice is cheered and deserves to be heard. With a focus on expansion and growth, Harry is determined to build a community at the WAE Center where everyone can thrive and live as their authentic selves.
Harry feels that it is a rare and special gift to be able to “come to work every day, not knowing what is in store, and have your soul filled in a meaningful and provocative way.”
Director of Marketing and Communications
Outdoor Adventures | Retail Therapy
Monica’s background in business brought her love of retail and merchandising to the task of creating a WAE Center product line.
She works with artists and staff to cultivate new merchandise, messages, marketing materials, exhibits, special events and opportunities in the arts community. Monica graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Clark University and an Advertising and Communications degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Monica sees working with members as joyful and life-affirming and considers herself lucky to be doing such important work with such wonderful people.
Dedicated | Genuine
Justina came to JSDD in February 2023 as the Administrative Coordinator of the WAE Center. She has been working within the DDD community for 10 years with 7 years as director of a residential home. Justina has a big heart that allows her to help as many people as possible. Justina loves receiving positive feedback from individuals that come in for a tour of the center. Justina is always thrilled to see the members in their classes enjoying and interacting with each other. “I look forward to bringing more members to this organization to experience all the great things the WAE Center has to offer.
WAE Center Management
Associate Program Manager
Gate-Keeper | Counselor
John specializes in connecting with others on many levels. His likes are art & poetry. He brings to the table his work ethic to the WAE Center with his business background and education from Bloomfield College. “I enjoy the staff and the JSDD organization. The organization is welcoming, and supportive of all members who join. Every day is a new expectation and experience!
Art Studio Manager
Always have a plan B | Create
Faye Graye has been a teaching artist at the JCC In the Palisades Therapeutic Nursery/ Springboard School from 1999-2019. She came to the WAE Center as an art facilitator in April, 2019. She is an advocate for housing and employment for adults with developmental disabilities. She resides in Bergen County with a tremendously supportive family.
What I love about my work at the WAE: “I love working at the WAE Center because of the immense amount of love and friendship that surrounds each person in the place. The care and concern that the staff show to the members is proof of their dedication to high a quality program. The members are some of the smartest, kindest, funniest people around. It is for sure that I am learning as much from them as they are from me.”
Senior Manager of Program Operations
Food Lover | Mom
Anthonice came to the WAE Center in 2017 as Associate Program Manager and WWAP Coordinator of the respite program. Arriving with a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences, Anthonice earned a Master’s in Public Administration with a focus in Nonprofit Management in 2019 while working at the WAE Center. Anthonice prides herself in being a proactive and highly motivated self-starter who demonstrates commitment to the community she serves.
“I love my job at the WAE Center” I get to work with an amazing group of people, in a beautiful building, with members who are funny, smart, creative and passionate about life and living it to the fullest. The WAE Center is a home away from home and I cherish every connection I’ve made while I’ve been here.”
Manager of Prevocational Arts
Yvette joined JSDD’s WAE Center in October 2012. During that time, she has been given the privilege to teach, build, and learn in an exciting atmosphere of creativity and love through the WAE Center members and its staff. She is thankful for the opportunity to develop, manage, and teach in programs for the WAE Center such as the after-hours program WAE Beyond, and prevocational Workability/WAE Works.
Grateful for all the life experiences that are useful in her work at JSDD’s WAE Center, Yvette is a printmaker and photographer who graduated from Cooper Union in NYC with a BFA. She also studied at Mason Gross School of the arts and The School of Visual Arts for digital art. Her background as a fine artist, graphic designer, prepress manager, business owner, and longtime board member of the local arts organization, Studio Montclair, brings a diverse set of tools to her work. “I love my work with our members who bring joy into everything we do here, their greetings from my first day made me know that I belonged with them”.
Rebeka Joy Scott
WAE to Connect Associate Program Manager
Creator, Healer, Light-worker
Rebeka is an emerging figurative artist who is based in Miami, Florida and currently working towards her master’s degree in art education. Rebeka has always aspired to be a spiritual teacher and a light to others when in times of need. Since her time at the WAE center, Rebeka learned how to express and share her light to others. The WAE center has also inspired her to share her artwork with others, and to build confidence in herself and her work. Rebeka’s goal is to inspire and motivate others to feel powerful within themselves, so that they can carry and share the light she gives. On her free time, Rebeka enjoys partaking in deep conversations, attending events within her community, and flowing with positive vibes!
WAE Center Staff
Passionate | Consistent | Thoughtful
Tamita enjoys taking care of the JSDD WAE Center members and watching them grow and achieve their goals. Tamita hopes to continue to inspire and motivate staff and the members to shoot for the stars. When she’s not at the WAE Center, Tamita love to create new pieces for her clothing brand and go to museums. She’s drawn to the WAE Center by the art and beautiful souls that come to the program.
Art Studio Program Assistant
Joan Carter joined the WAE team as a DSP in the Spring of 2022. Advocating for the members is one of the things that brings Joan great satisfaction. She appreciates the classes being offered, especially the art classes where the members “can create beautiful art”. An artist herself, Joan enjoys abstract painting; during her down time, one can often find her in the park working on a new art piece. Or she is camping on the beach, among the wild horses.
Joan Carter a deposit at the Wea program in Livingston NJ. She became a member of our team in the month of May 2022. She enjoys all the program classes especially the art classes. Joan is a great asset to the program and brings delight to everyone.
- I sell canvas pour and abstract art on my off time.
- I also enjoy sewing clothes for myself and others.
- It shows them that they can create beautiful art just like everyone else.
- Being an advocate for the client’s.
- Painting in the park or enjoying camping out at the beach with the wild horses.
Direct Support Professional
Onica Clarke is a complicated, compassionate, loving, kind and sometimes tolerant mother of five, which also possess the ability to care for others. As a Direct Support Professional, she enjoys working with the members at the WAE Center; they keep her humble. She is often amazed by and has the upmost respect for the members. Whenever she is afforded an opportunity to witness them expressing and advocating for themselves in such a purposeful manner, it gives her greater appreciation for all. She is anxious to experience all that lies ahead for both the members and the staff.
Ex-Farmer | Beat Maker | Eagle Scout
Bill’s strong backgrounds in fine & digital art, as well as his horticultural know-how, have allowed him to jump in and get his hands dirty.
Bill studied multiple disciplines under scholarship at The Maine College of Art (MECA), before training off grid as a farm apprentice on an island part of Maine’s mid coastal region. He has since worked as an NJDRCC for MHANJ and FEMA during Hurricane Sandy, held a longtime role as Social Media & Design Specialist for a local farm here in North Jersey, and developed a freelancing practice. Bill has also studied at the historical Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan, CT and the School of Visual Arts in NYC.
“I love making digital art accessible, creating opportunities for others to learn valuable skills and develop interests outside of their comfort zones.
Randy Harris, Sr.
For more than a decade, Randy Harris has been a Language Arts facilitator with the WAE Center. He has led classes in creative writing, speaking circles, meditation, geography, documentary, peer advocacy groups (e.g, ABLE – Abundance, Beauty, Love, Expansiveness), Civics (e.g, Let’s Talk About Us), book clubs as well as one to one sessions with members.
Randy is a graduate of Rutgers University, Livingston College, with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He has experience as an undergraduate tutor and graduate co-adjunct instructor and counselor for Rutgers University. In addition, he has decades of experience as an analyst, consultant and project manager for Chase Bank, Prudential and MS&D Consulting.
Randy is honored, passionate and inspired to facilitate members finding their inner voice and creative spark through a variety of disciplines.
Direct Support Professional
Tara has been working in the DDD field for over 10 years. This population holds a special place in her heart and she is passionate about serving the community. Tara is a person who is grateful for second chances and believes everyone deserves one. Tara is grateful for having been referred to the WAE Center. “I love the WAE Center. I love the staff, I love the members, I love coming to my job. It is very for a person to wake-up and say they love coming to their job. I see myself being here for a very long time.”
Tara is a mother of two grown children and enjoys traveling.
Mother | Reader | Runner
Hagit is the Judaic Coordinator for JSDD and a Program Facilitator for the WAE Center. She compliments the team by bringing master’s Degrees in both Gerontology and Public Administration from the University of Southern California (USC) with undergraduate degrees in both the History of the Middle East and in the History of Africa from Tel Aviv University, Israel.
Hagit delivers an Israeli and Jewish edge to the programs and is passionate about her work. She loves to celebrate Shabbat each week with program participants as well as all the Jewish holidays and feels blessed to be part of our innovative and creative team.
Mother | Selfie-Enthusiast
Miesha has been working with JSDD’s Wae Center since 2017, beginning as a Direct Support Professional and moving into the role of Program Assistant. In January 2022, Miesha became the Floor Supervisor for the WAE Program. Working with the members is key to Miesha’s passion for the work that she does: “I love the members and the joy and happiness that they bring to each day. I am big-hearted, and had I known how fulfilling this work would be I would have chosen this career years ago.” She is also a mother of “one 11-year-old Princess Milan and a new dog mom to Blaze.”
Miesha is excited to be a part pf this new chapter in the growth of JSDD and the WAE Center.
Digital Art Program Assistant
Creative | Perspicacious | Loving | Energetic
Brianna enjoys keeping a smile on members faces, also allowing them to be their authentic self. She hopes to keep spreading love and positivity to each member and staff to help them achieve their goals. Brianna brings her can-do work ethic to the WAE Center and is always willing to help with anything. When she’s not at the WAE Center, Brianna enjoys family time , exploring , and creating exciting new content! She is drawn to the welcoming open arms and comfortability the WAE Center places right at the front door.
“When life gets blurry, adjust your focus”
Artist | Nature Lover
I came to the WAE Center, as a working artist many years ago now. When I learned about the way art was made here, I was quite amazed. It seemed so very much in line with my own discoveries and interests. The work and process of the members inspires my own art. I have exhibited my work in group as well as in solo shows in galleries and other local venues.
What I love about my work at the WAE Center is the gentleness in which we help members discover their own voice and style in their art making. It is by listening and giving space, offering choices, and allowing for exploration and expansion that I have seen members grow and learn in amazing ways.
Program Assistant, WAE to Connect
Energetic | Optimistic | Quirky
Julie has always aspired to be a helper. She doesn’t look at career in terms of a specific title. To succeed would be to make a difference for one or many. She enjoys the outdoors. Julie loves to read, listen to music, dance, & cook. Julie loves working at the WAE center because everyone, members and staff all demonstrate kindness and inclusion like a family would. She feels blessed to be a part of the team at the WAE center.
Direct Support Professional
I’mari is a passionate mother of 3 boys who is highly motivated to work with and for others. She is easy going, loving, caring, creative, smart & ambitious. Her favorite way to spend free time is with her children, family & friends. I’mari also loves traveling.
“JSDD is a great place to be! Staff and members make you feel welcomed & loved! We are a family!”
Onnie C. Strother
Onnie Strother is a visual artist, teacher, and curator. He was born and raised in Newark NJ where he continues to live and make art. He loves to teach and spent his career as an art instructor in public school. As a lifelong learner, Onnie has degrees in fine arts, arts education and administration and supervision. Working in a variety of mediums and deriving images from the media, popular music, political and social issues as well as memories from childhood and adult environment. As an artist, Onnie often works to create a series that consist of multiple works concerned with the same issues. This facilitator has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Onnie’s artwork can be seen in public and private collections and online.
In 2010 Onnie and the artist Gladys Grauer took part in the Chairs of Inclusion Project with the WAE Center. After working with the WAE family he wanted to be a part of their vison of service and inclusion. As they say, “the rest is history”. Onnie has taught various art classes at the WAE and loves every minute of it. He is inspired by the joy and creativity of the members.
WAE Center Consultants & Volunteers
Happy | Musical
Bob’s career has spanned the fields of both Technology and Management for a number of Fortune 500 companies. Since retiring, Bob has been teaching Software, Technology, and Business courses for Seton Hall University. One of his many hobbies is playing guitar and engaging in musical sessions with groups of people with disabilities. This volunteer work was originally based on Bob’s interactions with a close family member with Autism. His volunteer background includes providing Music activities for YCS (Youth Consultative Services) located in Newark NJ. Bob also provided music sessions for PRIDE (ECLC Adult program) in Chatham NJ. After learning about the WAE Center, this became a natural extension of his volunteer activities. The clients in Bob’s music class play a variety of instruments including tambourines, drums, rain sticks, and cowbells. Teaching the WAE Center members new songs and seeing them really engaged with the live music is extremely fun and very rewarding to Bob.
Empathic | Open Minded | Loyal
Being involved in theater for as long as she can remember, Taylor always knew that working in the arts was her biggest passion. At the age of 15, she started training professionally at The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City. In her senior year of high school, Taylor was accepted into the oldest, and one of the most prestigious theater conservatories in the country, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and graduated with her associate degree in Theater. Taylor has graduated from Lehman College with her BFA in theater, as well as a 4.0 GPA, in May of 2022. She has worked with adults who have developmental disabilities at two different day programs in NYC before moving back to New Jersey and finding WAE. Teaching is something that brings Taylor so much joy because she loves to see people smiling and getting to express themselves through art. The WAE center is very exciting because of its lifting nature up of the arts and the opportunities it brings its members to try out different art forms. Taylor hopes to write and work on short plays with the members and cultivate her theater classes to fit each persons’ individual needs.
Consultant – Grants & Special Projects
Nature Lover | Art Enthusiast
Aubrie has been at the WAE Center since 2014, beginning in Program Development, becoming Associate Director, and finally moving into the position of Director in July 2020. Taking a step back, Aubrie assumed the role of Consultant, Grants & Special Projects in spring of 2022. Aubrie holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, a graduate degree in Counseling and has done advanced coursework in art Therapy. This diverse educational background informs Aubrie’s world view and belief in the potential of people to grow and thrive with the right opportunities.
“This work is creative and utilizes my love of art and desire to make a difference in the lives of people every day. I am always excited about our current projects and looking for ways that programming can be consistent, dynamic, and ever evolving.”
Phebe Khalil (she/her)
Friendly | Pensive
Phebe had the pleasure of being introduced to the WAE center back in 2012 when she was hired to be an art facilitator. The idea of empowering artists to make their own decisions in their work and life was compelling. She liked this idea of a “hands off” approach in guiding someone’s work. At that time in her life, she was making a career shift from interior designer to photographer. The design industry had left her feeling like a cog in a machine opposed to an inspired artist. The WAE Center brought her back to life, reminding her to follow her own “spark within”.
After managing the art studio for a few years, she decided to step away from the WAE Center to focus on developing and honing her work as a photographer. She now captures lifestyle images, utilizing what she learned at the WAE Center, by stepping back and allowing my subjects to be as they are. She tries to limit direction while focusing on capturing a person or a moment as it is. Capturing authenticity, personality, and feeling through her images continues to keep her inspired all these years. Ten years later, Phebe was excited and proud to witness how much the WAE Center had grown. She was honored to be asked to rejoin the WAE family as a consultant, teaching the members photography.
A graduate of Rutgers University’s Business School & the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Fine Arts program, Phebe considers herself a perpetual student always learning and exploring behind the lens. You can find her current photography work at www.phebekhalil.com.
Open-Hearted | Playful
Sue is a dance/movement therapist, yoga teacher and Reiki practitioner. She has worked in healthcare centers for numerous years with people with differing abilities across the lifespan. She has had opportunities to publish, teach, lead workshops, and supervise others in her field, and with people of related disciplines. Sue believes strongly in the integration of body-mind-spirit. The discoveries of body-mind awareness, mixed with creativity and fun, offer new insights for how we can express ourselves and learn from listening to our bodies. Members call her “DJ Sue,” as she plays musical selections from members at the WAE center where we can experience joy, release stress, build social interactions, and enjoy the power of dance/movement. Sue always feels a strong connection to WAE members in her classes as, together, we use our imaginations to connect to our bodies in renewed and exciting ways. All creative dance/movement contributions are woven together with inclusive respect for each person’s natural movement signature.
Artist | Animal Lover
Lisette has always loved expressing herself through art and music. She graduated from the School of Art & Design at F.I.T with a BFA in Illustration. Lisette came to the WAE Center back in 2005 when a little ad in the paper caught her eye. She fell in love with the methodology, the process and the people and has loved being part of WAE ever since.
Lisette was studio manager for over 3 years in the early days and trained other facilitators to work in the Art Studio. She works as an illustrator and graphic & web designer for various clients in the NY/NJ area including the WAE Center. She designed the branding for Chairs of Inclusion, created the WAE gallery website and designs print materials and graphics to promote the program and artwork.
Lisette cherishes her connection with members, the pure creative moments she witnesses and is continually inspired by their bold, amazing artwork.
Certified Yoga Teacher
Yogini | Chocolate Lover | Passionate
Marni Task, CYT/ERYT 1000+ In 1987 Marni was lucky enough to get introduced to yoga as part of her acting training at New York University’s Experimental Theater Wing in Paris. It was then when she got a taste of yoga and a few years later met her dear teacher Sharon Gannon at Crunch Gym and from then on was hooked! She began teaching in 1995 and became an Advanced Certified Jivamukti Yoga Teacher in 1997. Her classes are infused with the ancient teachings of yoga for the modern mind. Like all Jivamukti classes, while offering healthy and creative sequencing to heal the body and mind, her classes are steeped with inspirational music, poetry, humor and spoken word.
What I love about my work at the WAE: “I love contributing to the health and happiness of these exceptional people. Yoga can be beneficial for anyone’s body, mind, and spirit, but I believe this community of people is more sensitive and therefor maybe even more receptive to its benefits. I notice that teaching the members has softened me and taught me to be even more patient and nonjudgmental.
Elena’s passion is helping people of all ages and abilities ignite their confidence and discover their inner chef. Elena believes that cooking is a powerful tool that can motivate, educate, and build strong foundations for a delicious & fulfilled life.
Before graduating from the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts, Elena was a Board-Certified Associate Behavior Analyst and Verbal Behavior therapist for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She left the more “traditional” therapy world to pursue her culinary passions and established Well Rooted Kitchen, LLC. www.wellrootedkitchen.com. Along the way she also certified in Ayurvedic Nutrition, Postpartum Support and Nutritional Psychology. She has combined her many passions by teaching life skills through cooking. She loves to share her knowledge about nutrition, the effect of food on mood, and how to utilize cooking as a therapeutic activity. Whether its helping people translate medically prescribed diets into easy-to-make meals or practicing executive functioning skills while cooking, she is passionate about empowering people to cultivate and create culinary confidence which will then radiate into their life beyond the kitchen. In all that she does, she strives to show the world that cooking should be adventurous, yet approachable, exciting and most of all DELICIOUS!
Compassionate | Musical | Friendly
That the joy of musical expression is something that all individuals deserve to experience and explore. Tammy has been a lifelong musician and advocate for individuals with disabilities. She attended Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio where she earned both a B.A. in music performance, and an M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology. As a Speech-Language Pathologist, Tammy enjoyed working with both children and adults. She began her career at the Easter Seals of Philadelphia preschool, and later spent many years helping adults with neurologically based communication difficulties in rehabilitation facilities in Buffalo and NYC.
Tammy has always experienced a deep love of music. She studied piano, clarinet, and vocal performance at Case Western Reserve University, and has performed with varied choirs, chamber ensembles, and bands over the years. Following her work as a Speech-Language Pathologist, Tammy began a second career as a music teacher in NYC teaching instrumental and choral music to 4th and 5th graders. She found tremendous joy in sharing the gift of music with her students.
Tammy feels incredibly fortunate to have found the WAE Center. Upon entering the doors of the WAE Center, one feels enveloped by a loving, accepting, and kind community. The WAE Center’s mission of celebrating individuality and promoting expression and independence through the creative arts is clear upon meeting the facilitators and staff at the center. She is excited to bring her love of music to the WAE Center members. Tammy feels that her experiences as both a musician and Speech-Language Pathologist have provided her with some unique insights about communication through music. She looks forward to her musical journey with the WAE Center members and hopes to help each participant find creative ways to enjoy and express themselves through music.