NCLC Staff

Reginald Lewis, Executive Director

Effective September 2016, Reggie Lewis comes to the NCLC after serving as executive director of The Chad School Foundation, Inc., a Newark-based education policy and advocacy organization that seeks to improve conditions in public school systems serving disadvantaged and at-risk youth.  Housed at the Rutgers University-Newark’s Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies, NCLC is a citywide post-secondary attainment initiative that seeks to increase the percentage of Newark residents who hold degrees, certificates, and other high-quality credentials to 25% by the year 2025.
Reggie brings to his new role at the NCLC more than 15 years of senior management experience from the philanthropic, non-profit, state, and municipal government sectors. He has held positions with the Ford Foundation in New York, New York; Joyce Foundation in Chicago, Illinois; Victoria Foundation in Newark, New Jersey; and The Fund for New Jersey in New Brunswick, New Jersey. While at The Fund for New Jersey, he co-edited Better Schools, an issue report that outlined strategies for improving New Jersey’s K-12 public schools. He has also served as City Administrator for the City of East Orange, New Jersey, and an Obama appointee on the U.S. Commission on Presidential Scholars. In addition to his duties at NCLC, Reggie is serving as Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in the Rutgers University-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration. A cum laude graduate of Morehouse College, Reggie holds a Masters in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago.

Chirag Menon, Associate Director of Strategic Planning and Development

Chirag Menon is the Associate Director of Strategic Planning and Development at NCLC. His duties include supporting NCLC’s college pathway programs, assisting in the development of data and program infrastructure, and building and maintaining partnerships within the NCLC.
Chirag is a recording/performing artist, writer, facilitator and educator. He has recorded and released eight albums under Chee Malabar and hip-hop groups Himalayan Project and Oblique Brown.  He continues to perform his music and speak at universities and colleges around issues of American identity and race. He was featured in the landmark South Asian-American documentary 'Brown Like Dat', and his lyrics and work are the subject of the book Hip Hop Desi's and a Global Race Consciousness by Northwestern University professor Nitasha Sharma. 
In 2014, Chirag and Filmmaker Tanuj Chopra’s co-written screenplay Chee and T was awarded a $100,000 grant from Visual Communications. His writing has appeared in The New Enquiry, The Asian American Literary Review, Scroll, and Wasafiri Magazine.  In addition, his work has been featured in various anthologies about Hip Hop. 
Prior to joining NCLC, he served as a Program Director and Teaching Artist with Street Poets Inc., a non-profit poetry-based peace-making organization dedicated to the creative process as a force for individual and community transformation.
Chirag is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University (B.A. Political Science) and holds an M.F.A. in Fiction from Brooklyn College.

Chanel Donaldson, Communications and Special Projects Manager

Chanel Donaldson oversees all aspects of NCLC communications, including media coverage (television, news articles), marketing and promotional materials, and social media/web presence. Chanel also develops and writes grant proposals and interim reports to funders who support NCLC programs and capacity.

Prior to assuming her role as Communications and Special Projects manager, Chanel  worked with NCLC and the Cornwall Center for over 3 years as an Associate Program Manager and Reserach Associate. Chanel has previous research expereince in public policy, education, transportation, and psychology. Chanel is also a Public Policy Fellow with Leadership Newark, Class of 2019. She holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Psychology from the Steinhardt School at New York University.

Sasha Karunaratne, PAS Project Manager

Sasha Karunaratne serves as PAS Project Manager at the Newark City of Learning Collaborative. Sasha manages NCLC’s signature college access program: Pathways to Achievement and Success (PAS), a multi-year citywide initiative designed to create guided college pathways for the city’s youth. Currently, the program provides college readiness and enrichment to over 100 youth across the city of Newark.
Prior to joining NCLC, Sasha’s work in the public sector focused on anti-poverty and education reform programs. Sasha received her master’s degree in Education from John’s Hopkins University and earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Rutgers University-Newark. She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration at the Rutgers University-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration. 

Kimberly Ledgister, YLSP Project Manager

Kimberly Ledgister serves as the Project Manager for the Youth Leadership & Success Program (YLSP). Kim has over 8 years of experience mentoring, teaching, and supporting youth through dynamic community focused programs. She currently oversees YLSP, a college pathway program for traditional and opportunity youth.

Formerly, Kim served as Program Coordinator for the ALI College Success Centers, Program Director for Bethany Cares Inc. Freedom School, and a teacher for English learners in South Korea.

Kimberly holds a Master of Public Administration from Seton Hall University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from La Salle University in Philadelphia.

Christine Harding, New Jersey Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA

Christine Harding is the New Jersey Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA serving with the Newark City of Learning Collaborative. In her role as a VISTA, Christine provides programmatic support to the Pathways to Achievement and Success Program and assists with external communication and research for NCLC. Prior to joining the Newark City of Learning Collaborative, Christine graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and History.

Pooja Gupta, Project Consultant

Pooja Gupta currently works as a Project Consultant for the Newark City of Learning Collaborative. In her role, Pooja primarily works on the development of the NCLC data infrastructure, management of partnership relationships, and the development and implementation of the NCLC Project Management Tool.

Prior to joining NCLC as a consultant, Pooja  worked as an Associate Program Manager at the Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies at Rutgers University-Newark. Her work with NCLC focused on partnership development, conducting research, and analyzing data, along with assisting with program implementation. Pooja also previously served as a Student and Academic Services Assistant at the Rutgers University-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration, where she assisted with day-to-day administration. Beyond that, Pooja has more than 9 years of experience working in immigration and New York City government. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Economics at Temple University and her Master of Public Administration at the Rutgers University-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration.