Our Team

Committed to families, community engagement, museum education, and early learning.

Board Members

Will DuBose, Will DuBose Design
Cathy Elkies, Phillips
Lois Gelernt, Manhattan Country School
Samantha Gilbert, Ford Foundation
Dr. Christopher-John Godfrey, Pace University
Rob Krulak, Acme Projects LLC
Kevin Lee, Treasurer, AIG
Karen C. Liu, Community Leader
Risa Meyer, Style Simple
Edwina Meyers, NYC Administration for Children's Services (Ret.)
Lawrence Provette, Professional Association of Directors of Early Childhood Education of NYC
Bevy Smith, Host of BEVELATIONS on SiriusXM Radio & Page Six TV Co-host
Jonathan VanAntwerpen, Henry Luce Foundation
Ahmed Yearwood, Y INTERACT

Staff

  • Candice Anderson

    Executive Director

    Candice Anderson has been the Executive Director of Cool Culture since 2007, and has devoted her career to improving educational opportunity and life outcomes for children and families in New York City's most disadvantaged communities. Prior to joining Cool Culture, Candice served as Director of Child Care and Head Start Collaboration at the NYC Administration for Children’s Services; and as Senior Policy Associate for Child Care, Education and Youth Development at Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, New York City’s premier child advocacy organization where she conducted research and advocated on behalf of vulnerable children and families. Candice received the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Extraordinary Women award while at Cool Culture, has an MS in Urban Planning from the New School for Social Research, received her B.A. from Oberlin College and in 2010 became a graduate of the Executive Level Program at Columbia Business School’s Institute for Not-for-Profit Management. In October of 2015, Candice was appointed by NYC Mayor, Bill de Blasio, as a new member to the Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission.

  • Nilufa Begum

    Development Assistant

    Nilufa Begum is the Development Assistant at Cool Culture, where she supports the Development team with fundraising and marketing efforts across the organization. She first joined Cool Culture as a Development Intern during the Summer of 2016. Nilufa also volunteers as a Digital Analyst at Project HEAL. Prior to Cool Culture, Nilufa has worked as a University Center Building Manager and as a Leep Center Student Assistant at Clark University. She also worked as a Development & External Affairs Intern at Inwood House. Nilufa holds a BA in Economics with a minor in Business Management from Clark University.

  • Nora Chen

    Program Manager

    Nora Chen is a Program Manager at Cool Culture. Born in Oklahoma and raised in Western Massachusetts, Nora has lived in New York City for over a decade. Prior to joining Cool Culture, Nora was an Art and Art Education Faculty Assistant at Columbia University’s Teachers College and an Educator at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. She comes from years of interior design project management experience and an academic background in the arts—receiving her B.A. in Art History, Philosophy, and Studio Art from New York University and her M.A. in Art and Art Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College. Nora is interested in the empowering intersections of art, design, culture, and education and is excited to play her part in educational and socially responsive initiatives.

  • Veronica Cheyne

    Communications Fellow

    Veronica Cheyne is the Communications Fellow at Cool Culture. She is an Americorps member and is passionate about the arts, culture and social justice. She has a background in video editing and direction. Previously, she was a social media intern and office assistant at a product design and brand marketing start up company. Veronica received her B.A. in Media Studies & Communications from CUNY Queens College.

  • Marisol Cruz

    Communications Manager

    Marisol Cruz is the Communications Manager at Cool Culture. She is a communications professional with over a decade of experience in public relations and with a specialty in media relations. Past experiences include working in the entertainment industry, with companies such as Nancy Seltzer & Associates, where she cultivated the images of established and emerging personalities in film, television and theater. Her diversified background also includes developing and implementing PR campaigns for fashion, consumer and beauty accounts and companies. Marisol has extensive experience with outreach in the Hispanic, African American and general markets and press. After years of working in dependently and at agencies on consumer accounts and personalities, she is ecstatic to use her skills for a greater good, to help NYC's most underserved families.

  • Nicole Goodwin

    Institutional Giving Manager

    Nicole Goodwin is the Institutional Giving Manager at Cool Culture. Nicole sought out a career informed by her earliest childhood memories with Yale University's free museums and arts programming. Most recently, Nicole worked as Development Associate at the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, a global network of museums and historic sites that connect past struggles to current movements for human rights. While there, she played a lead role in writing grant proposals and reports for foundation and government funders, as well as managing the organization's institutional funding pipeline. Her work experience also includes coordinating art appraisals at Doyle Auctioneers and Appraisers, coordinating events at Louis Blouin Media, and processing applications at the National Endowment for the Arts. Nicole has a B.A. from Tufts University, studied proposal writing at NYU's School of Professional Studies, and speaks French.

  • Lena Jayaram

    Individual Giving Manager

    Lena Jayaram is Individual Giving Manager at Cool Culture , where she is responsible for leading annual giving efforts, supporting strategy development, and executing fundraising plans for sustaining and growing the organization's individual donor base. Lena brings a diverse skill set in fund development and strategic planning to Cool Culture. Prior to joining Cool Culture, Lena served as the Development Associate at Citizens' Committee for Children, where she managed donor relations, special events, grant writing, and foundation and corporate relations. Previously, Lena was the Development Manager at SCO Family of Services, where she supported the growth and expansion of short- and long-term fundraising strategies, as well as individual giving and events. Lena holds a BA in History from New York University.

  • Sandra Nanita

    Assistant Director of Programs

    Sandra Nanita is a Program Manager at Cool Culture. Previously, she worked with NJ SEEDS, an organization that builds leaders from inner city youth while closing the achievement gap. Sandra is experienced in working with children and young adults in various programs focused on building youth leadership. Sandra graduated from Rutgers University, where she earned a BS in Business Management and Latin American Studies. Also an artist, Sandra has showcased her artwork in exhibits throughout New Jersey.

  • Adriana Herrera Perhamus

    Program Assistant

    Adriana Herrera Perhamus is the Program Assistant at Cool Culture. She has a background in community organizing and arts administration. Her work is driven by a mission to see the world become more equitable for young people. Before joining Cool Culture, she worked as the Community Programs Fellow with NEW INC, an arts and design incubator initiative of the New Museum. Adriana was born and raised in Rochester, New York. She holds a B.A from Eugene Lang College, where she graduated with a degree in Culture & Media and Race & Ethnicity studies.

  • Kanika Srinivasan

    Senior Director of Operations and Strategy

    Kanika Srinivasan is the Senior Director of Operations and Strategy at Cool Culture. She has a diverse professional background in local and international community development, program implementation, partnership management, and operations. Kanika comes to us from Citizen Schools where she served as the Director of External Engagement and led her department to create sustainable partnerships, mobilize volunteers, ensure stakeholder satisfaction, and deliver high-quality programming for students. Prior to Citizen Schools, she served as an Indicorp Fellow in Western India concentrating on agricultural development and public health in tribal communities. She also worked at the Council on Foreign Relations in the Corporate Program, as well as in the Executive Office as the Special Assistant to the President. Kanika graduated from Bucknell University with a double major in International Relations and Spanish.

Associates

  • Chang Chia "James" Liu

    Evaluation Consultant

    Chang Chia "James" Liu is an Evaluation Consultant at Cool Culture. He was born and grew up in Taiwan, and completed his double Masters degrees in Psychology and Art History at the City University of New York. He is currently a PhD candidate at Purdue University studying Educational Psychology with a focus on learning motivation and evaluation. James is also an artist, specializing in oil paintings and digital illustrations.

  • Melissa Ptacek

    Educator

    Melissa Ptacek has been involved in the field of education for 25 years. She has been an elementary school teacher, university professor, school administrator and staff developer. In an earlier career, Melissa worked as a textile designer in the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy. She has taught in the NYC public school system, as well as teaching several college courses and art classes to all age levels.She has designed and carried out workshops on avariety of topics for both parents and educators. Most recently, Melissa has worked as a private educational consultant specializing in curriculum development with both private and public schools and independent organizations in urban and suburban settings. In her work with cultural institutions, she strives to foster inquiry learning for young children and their families.

  • Kristin Scarola

    Museum Educator and Consultant

    Kristin Scarola is a Museum Educator and Consultant who provides experiences for museum visitors that are accessible, engaging, and informative. Kristin specializes inearly childhood and family programming, while working with a range of audiences including school groups, access, and educators. Currently Kristin is teaching at the Museum of Modern Art,the Brooklyn Museum and the Borough of Manhattan Community College, along with various independent projects. Previously, she was a Senior Educator at the Brooklyn Museum where she created The Sensory Tour an inclusive program for adults with visual impairments and Meet the Museum a gallery, studio, and free play program for toddlers. Her practice as an educator is informed by her work as an interdisciplinary artist and ethnographer. Kristin's M.A. entitled "Critical Studies and Creative Ethnography" was obtained from New York University.

  • Cathleen Wiggins

    Director, Leadership in Technology and the Arts, Bank Street College

    Cathleen Wiggins is Director of the Leadership in Technology and the Arts Program at Bank Street College of Education, which is a collaborative Master's degree program with Parsons New School of Design and Sarah Lawrence College. Cathleen is also a member of the Museum Education faculty at Bank Street. A former public early childhood and elementary school teacher and theater artist, she brings her life long love of the arts and education to her many professional endeavors. She is passionate about museum education, the transformative power of the arts in education, and to minimizing the success and opportunity gap for our nation's children.