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Advisory Board Members

Our advisory board members are respected community leaders who advise the center as needed. They don’t officially vote and are not required to attend meetings, but they are available to render advice to the center.

Paula Rayman

Dr. Paula Rayman is Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

"At this moment of history we need more than ever to celebrate diversity in our communities. As we launch this new Center, we are saying "Yes We Can" in creating movement towards equality and respect and dignity for all." (2016)

Phala Chea

"I am honored to serve as a senior advisory board member of the African Community Center of Lowell. As a former refugee, I understand the many difficulties and challenges of starting a new life in a new country, where language, customs, culture, rules, laws and expectations are so different. I am proud of Gordon Halm's leadership and appreciative of his work with the community to establish this very important Center. New immigrants and refugees will need the Center to connect and orient themselves to Lowell. In my capacity as a senior advisor, I will support and champion the Center's mission and services to promote the quality of life and citizenship of immigrants and refugees. I look forward to celebrating the Center's many accomplishments."

Samuel Beh

Dr. Samuel Nyeon Beh, Sr. is originally from Liberia. He came to the United States in 1987 to pursue graduate studies at Boston University School of Education. He holds a master degree (M.Ed.) in Social Studies education and a doctorate (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Policy, Planning and Administration, both from Boston University School of Education. In response to a plea for assistance from the administration of the University of Liberia, his alma mater, to rebuild the institution following Liberia's brutal civil war of the 1990's that destroyed the physical facilities of the University, Dr. Beh in 2008, co-founded the Massachusetts Alliance for the Restoration of the University of Liberia (MARUL), Inc. and served as president for two consecutive terms. MARUL, Inc. provides scholarships to undergraduate students at the University of Liberia. Dr. Beh is a member of the advisory board of the Trustees of Donations for Education in Liberia (TDEL), a Massachusetts charitable educational corporation incorporated in 1850 for the promotion and support of higher education in Liberia.

Currently, he teaches social studies at Lexington High School (AP Human Geography and World History) and has been a Lexington educator since 2002.

"With the closure of the African Assistance Center, the newly established African Community Center fills an important need for African refugees and immigrants in the Greater Lowell Area. The Center was established with the aim of promoting the educational, social, and cultural aspirations of its target population. My desire to serve on the board of the Center comes out of the conviction that my background and many years of experience as a public school educator can be useful in assisting the center in realizing its educational objectives. Developing partnerships between the home and school is crucial for academic success and as a result, I will encourage and support programs that foster parental involvement in the schools and education of their children. Additionally, I will work with the Center’s Executive Director and others in equipping our newly arrived parents with the skills that will help them better understand how to navigate the public school system."

Dr.Beh served as the Board Chair of ACCL from 2016 thru'2022.

Shannon Butler-Mokoro

Dr. Shannon Butler-Mokoro, MSW, Ph.D. is currently the Special Assistant to the Dean in the School of Education and Social Policy. She has worked in higher education for over 20 years as a student affairs professional and social work educator. Her areas of research and interest include helping to build culturally humble and proficient organizations, social welfare history, the history of higher education, faith-based social work. She is a social work educator and conducts workshops and trainings for various schools and nonprofits around the issues of diversity, equity, access, and inclusion.

Shannon has served on the Board of ACCL since 2019, most recently as co-chair of the Board.

Fundi Bisoka

Mr. Fundi Bisoka is originally come from Democratic Republic of Congo. He came to the United States of America with his family as a refugee through the International Institute of New England, Lowell in 2015. He taught as a teacher in Burundi for seven years then became a school inspector at a refugee camp called “Camp Nyarujusu” in Tanzania for 17 years before his arrival to the City of Lowell. He currently lives in Lowell with his family and he is a well-respected elder in the Congolese Community of Massachusetts.

George Joseph

Dr. George Joseph is an Associate Professor of Accounting at the Manning School of Business, University of Massachusetts Lowell. He has a PhD in Accounting from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is a Chartered Accountant from India.

George is a supporter of ACCL activities and participates in our events. He has highlighted the work of ACCL as part of a project on Community and Sustainability.

Cecilia Idika-Kalu

Cecilia has been a guest speaker at the ACCL events, including our Anniversary Gala and Kofi Annan memorial. She is also a volunteer teacher on leadership for the Center’s Summer School Programs. She is a mom of three, a PhD Candidate and Adjunct Professor in the Political Science Department of the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Her research is at the intersection of Security, Human Rights, and Gender. She is a Boston Civic Action Project Policy Fellow and has years of experience in International development and Management consulting. Cecilia is a Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) and a TEDx speaker who loves to read and travel.

Latifah Phillip

Latifah Phillips, Chief Equity and Engagement Officer in Lowell Public Schools, has held district and state-level education leadership positions in Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Washington. She began her professional career working at the California Trade Office in Mexico City, Mexico, and later taught in public schools in Takasaki, Gunma, Japan for three years before returning to teach elementary and middle school in the US.

Most recently, Ms. Phillips served as the State Director of Native Education in Washington State, providing technical assistance and educational support to Tribal and public schools serving over 60,000 Native students and 29 federally recognized Tribes. She has also served as Assistant Secretary of Indian Education for the New Mexico Public Education Department, Chief of Staff for Santa Fe Public Schools and Executive Director of Non-instructional Professional Development and Performance Management in the School District of Philadelphia. Ms. Phillips holds a Master of Education degree in Secondary Education from the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, and a Master of Arts degree in International Education Development with a focus on language and literacy from Columbia University, Teachers College.

As a first-generation college graduate, Ms. Phillips believes that education is one of the greatest equalizing factors in society. She speaks Spanish and Japanese and is driven by a personal mission of helping to create educational opportunities for all children which will enable them to successfully explore and pursue their life options. She is honored to serve the children and families of Lowell Public Schools

Jessica Sutherland-Ryan

Jessica Sutherland-Ryan grew up outside Boston, MA. She graduated from Northeastern University with a B.S. in Finance and Accounting. For over twenty years, she has worked in Finance, Accounting and Human Resources with a wide range of companies and clients. She hopes to share her skills and experiences as a member of the Board. She currently works as the Payroll and Human Resources Administrator at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell. Jessica enjoys music, history, art, learning about different cultures and doing these things with her family.

Rose Agbede

"The African Community Center of Lowell is our Village in Lowell. Remember the saying, 'It takes a Village to a raise a Child?' Our village is Lowell."

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