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exalt Announces the Appointment of Five New Board Members

New Members Bring Decades of Experience in the Education, Criminal Justice and Social Impact Spaces to Elevate the Organization's Mission to Provide Academic and Job Training to Court-Involved Youth.


Date: May 3, 2023

Contact: Yuridia Peña,

NEW YORK, NYexalt, a New York nonprofit elevating the expectations of personal success for young people who have been involved in the criminal justice system, announced today the appointment of five new members to the board of directors effective April 26, 2023. The new members are former Commissioner for the NYC Department of Probation Ana Bermúdez, former Chief of Global Business Development for Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP Danzey Burnham, Managing Partner at Hamilton Clarke Lance Clarke, President of the Fund for New York City Dr. Lisette Nieves, and Deloitte Global Purpose and Social Impact Leader Stasha Santifort.

The new board members join at a critical juncture for the organization, as it continues to expand its services for court-involved youth and their families navigating the juvenile justice system under the leadership of Executive Director Gisele Castro, who in 2016 took exalt from a $950,000 operation to over $6 million in five years. In addition, she has raised nearly $30 million for exalt, has built capacity, relocated the organization to its first headquarters, and served over 2,000 youth throughout New York City in five years. The appointment of this new governing cohort is part of the new strategic plan to deepen the organization’s impact on academic progression, employment, and criminal justice avoidance.

“We are honored to welcome five extraordinary professionals and advocates to our talented Board of Directors and I look forward to working together with each of them to address the needs of the youth we serve,” said exalt Executive Director Gisele Castro. “These incredible individuals' extensive expertise across sectors and industries will bring new ideas and concepts to how we can further expand our mission to transform the lives of our Black and Brown youth, ensure they move away completely from the criminal justice system and prepare them for a lifetime of success.”

“It is an honor to welcome these dedicated leaders to our board to help us usher in the organization’s new chapter of growth,” said exalt Board Chair Yumari Martinez. “These extraordinary professionals will be instrumental to bringing critical resources to the organization that will expose our young people to meaningful academic and work experiences, help reform the criminal justice system and support pathways to success for our alumni.”

“I am thrilled to be joining the exalt Board of Directors as my lifelong passion for ensuring that young people involved in the justice system have equitable opportunities to thrive as they grow into adulthood aligns perfectly with exalt’s mission and vision,” said former Commissioner for the NYC Department of Probation Ana Bermúdez. “I also look forward to contributing to the implementation of exalt’s new strategic plan and working with the wonderful members of the Board.”

exalt’s mission of empowering at-risk young people by offering a pathway to academic success and employability inspires me,” said former Chief of Global Business Development for Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP Danzey Burnham. “I am particularly excited to work with exalt’s dynamic leadership in further developing the organization’s creative approach to helping court involved youth to overcome barriers and transform their lives.”

exalt has always held true to the values and principles I hold dear,” said Managing Partner at Hamilton Clarke Lance Clarke. “I am extremely happy and excited to accept this appointment and look forward to contributing to the already amazing work exalt has done.”

exalt's program is based on the understanding that all young people are assets and thus creates opportunities that amplify the strengths and gifts of each young person,” said President of the Fund for New York City Dr. Lisette Nieves. “I am honored to be part of such a powerful mission and vision.”

“I am passionate about investing in education, supporting young people to achieve their full potential, and addressing inequality,” said Deloitte Global Purpose and Social Impact Leader Stasha Santifort. “exalt has an incredible track recording of helping youth transform their lives and achieve their aspirations, and I look forward to working with the exalt team to scale their work to reach even more young people.”


Ana M. Bermúdez is the former Commissioner for the NYC Department of Probation (DOP). She was the first openly gay person, first Latina and second woman to be appointed Commissioner of the Department. A graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School, Ms. Bermúdez began her professional career representing children in family court cases at the Legal Aid Society. For over twenty years, she has been a tireless advocate for children and teenagers involved in the justice system through the development and implementation of strengths-based interventions, the application of restorative and youth development practices and the designing of programs that ensure successful re-integration for adjudicated juveniles. During her tenure as DOP’s Deputy Commissioner of Juvenile Operations from 2010 through 2014, she successfully led city-wide initiatives that focused on improving outcomes for court-involved youth through interdisciplinary collaborations. With her appointment to Commissioner in March 2014, she continued to lead the Department in its mission to enhance public safety through appropriate and individualized and community-based interventions in the lives of people on probation to enable them to permanently exit the justice system.

Prior to joining the DOP in 2010, she was the Director of Juvenile Justice Programs at the Children’s Aid Society. She has also worked at CASES (The Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services) holding progressively responsible positions: Director of Training and Technical Assistance; Co-Director of Community Prep High School, a transitional school for court-involved students; and Deputy Director for Court Services and Case Management at CASES’ Court Employment Project, an alternative to incarceration program for adolescents with felony convictions.

Ms. Bermúdez is now a consultant in the areas of leadership and management, restorative justice and restorative practices, juvenile justice and system reform, among others. Danzey Burnham, was previously the Chief of Global Business Development for Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, one of the world’s leading law firms. In this role, she headed the firm’s worldwide business development, marketing and communication functions, building and leading a team of administrative professionals who supported over 1,000 lawyers across 11 global offices. She was also a practicing lawyer at Simpson Thacher earlier in her career, in both the firm’s New York and London offices.

Danzey also was formerly the Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, responsible for managing the overall operations of the state-wide non-profit organization and its education fund. She received her J.D. from Yale Law School and her B.S., magna cum laude, from Birmingham-Southern College, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Currently, Danzey advises clients as a strategic business development consultant and is active in non-profit and civic organizations.

Lance A. Clarke is an experienced trial attorney, litigator, and negotiator. He has served as outside General Counsel, advisor, and consultant, to various CEO’s, executives, and politicians for corporate, criminal, and regulatory proceedings, as well as investigative proceedings with the FBI, SEC, Secret Service, et al. Lance’s experience hails from his expertise in the areas of federal and state criminal defense, white-collar defense, and civil litigation. Due to his strong reputation and pattern of success, Lance is often described as "the go-to guy" for complex and delicate legal matters. He has represented more than 5,000 people in multiple states, both at the federal and state level for matters ranging from money laundering, wire fraud, racketeering, employment discrimination, and breach of contracts.

Lance has also lectured at universities, trained attorneys in trial practice, is an Adjunct Professor at Cardozo Law School for the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program, appeared as a legal analyst across various platforms both domestic and international, served on Judicial Screening Committees to vet prospective judges as well the transition committee for the New York County District Attorney, and assisted companies with promoting a work environment that supports diversity.

Lance has been recognized as a Top-Rated White-Collar Crimes and Criminal Defense Attorney by Super Lawyers, as well as one of the top 100 trial attorneys in the state of New York by the National Trial Lawyers.

Dr. Lisette Nieves is currently the President of the Fund for the City of New York (FCNY), an institution charged with developing and helping to implement innovations in policy, programs, practices and technology in order to advance the functioning of government and nonprofit organizations in New York City and beyond. Key FCNY programs include the Cash Flow Loan Program that has lent over a billion dollars in interest-free loans over the last twenty years and the Partnership Program which provides back-office support and capacity to 80 diverse nonprofit organizations. Also, FCNY hosts the Community Fellows Program and selects the annual Sloan Public Service Awards and Sloan Math and Science Teaching Awards.

Prior to the Fund Lisette was the Director of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and a Full Clinical Professor at NYU Steinhardt where she co-led the design and implementation of a new doctoral program in Leadership and Innovation. Lisette is also a Distinguished Clinical Instructor with NYU, overseeing doctoral students and supporting research initiatives. Lisette holds a B.A. from Brooklyn College, a B.A./M.A. from the University of Oxford, an M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and a doctorate with distinction in Higher Education Management at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a Truman Scholar, Rhodes Scholar, Aspen Pahara Fellow, and a Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow.

For over 25 years, Lisette has served in a variety of cross-sector leadership positions. She is an experienced social entrepreneur, public sector leader, and scholar. Lisette founded Lingo Ventures, which is focused on growth, talent recruitment/retention, and change management. Lisette served as the Belle Zeller Distinguished Visiting Professor in Public Policy at the City University of New York at Brooklyn College. Lisette has also held senior leadership positions in the municipal and federal government. She also served as an Obama appointee on the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, where she co-chaired the higher education subcommittee and supported the production of two reports and convenings.

Lisette also served as the founding Executive Director of Year Up NY, an innovative workforce development program, wherein the span of five years she grew the organization from a $250,000 seed grant to a $6 million operation with over 20 corporate partnerships. Her interest in the workforce and education led to her dissertation on the relationship between student work and school roles, for which she received the 2016 Dissertation of the Year Award by the (NCSD – AACC). Her areas of interest include community colleges, college pathways, workforce and education partnerships which are all represented in her co-authored new book: Working to Learn: Disrupting the Divide between College and Career Pathways for Young People.

Her board affiliations include the Edwin Gould Foundation, The Education Trust, NewSchools Venture Fund, Jobs for the Future (JFF), Propel America, AmeriCorps Board (Presidential Appointee and Senate Confirmed) and Education for Seapower Advisory Board (Naval Secretary Appointee).

Stasha Santifort is a managing director at Deloitte Global, leading purpose and social impact. In this role, Stasha designs strategies and programs for how Deloitte and its 415,000 professionals can make an impact in society. This includes Deloitte’s WorldClass initiative to support 100 million people through education opportunities, as well as initiatives to take action on the climate crisis, humanitarian and disaster relief, human rights, and developing the next generation of social impact leaders.

Stasha is highly skilled at social issue research and analysis, and designing cross-sector programs and partnerships across business, nonprofit, and international organizations. Stasha lives in New York City, and she grew up in Lowell, MA, where her life-long commitment to volunteering and civic engagement began. Stasha earned her B.A. in policy studies and Master of Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.


About exalt:

Founded in 2006, exalt is a nonprofit serving court-involved young people ages 15-19 in New York City to move them away from the criminal justice system by focusing on three connected pillars of success (criminal justice avoidance, educational progression, and employability) to help our youth move from their current burdens, grow academically, avoid further involvement in the justice system, and integrate into the economic mainstream. The nonprofit provides a 21-week intensive program of education, court advocacy and placement in a paid internship. The exalt model is not just about avoiding jail and finding meaningful work. It is also about re-engaging young people in their love of learning and in helping them embrace the urgency of taking action to reverse their journey along the school-to-prison pipeline. For more information on exalt, please visit

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