Our Staff

Arway Boker

External Relations Manager
Arway Boker is the External Relations Manager with the CUNY Early College Initiative, ensuring the ECI mission is well supported through information sharing and collaboration with partners. Prior to joining the ECI team, she gained significant professional development and youth leadership experience supporting the delivery of service-learning initiatives at various community-based organizations and school districts throughout the country. She is pleased to now help elevate stories within the early college experience to bring deeper meaning and understanding to the work for ongoing planning. Arway holds an undergraduate degree in Public Policy Studies from Duke University.

Sharae D. Brown

College Completion Specialist & Alumni Manager
Sharae D. Brown is the College Completion Specialist & Alumni Manager for the CUNY Early College Initiative. In this role, Sharae supports initiatives for CUNY Early College graduates as they transition to becoming fully matriculated college graduates. She works with ECI high schools, receiving colleges, and various partners to implement best practices and decrease challenges that may impede college success and degree completion. Prior to joining ECI Sharae was the Senior Project Manager for Graduate NYC, a citywide initiative that worked closely with CUNY, the NYC DOE, and nonprofits to help students transition to, persist in, and graduate from college. She has vast experience cultivating partners, managing grants, strengthening marketing and media engagement, and executing large events and professional development for organizations as diverse as CUNY, the New York State Health Foundation, The After-School Corporation (TASC now ExpandED), the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SoBRO) and the YWCA of the City of New York. Sharae was an INROADS-NYC intern during three summers in college at her sponsoring company, Lord & Taylor and also began her career there as an Assistant Buyer. Sharae graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Marketing from Morgan State University and has a Masters of Public Administration from the City University of New York’s Baruch College School of Public Affairs where she was a National Urban Fellow.

Brian Donnelly

Director
Brian Donnelly is currently the Director of the Early College Initiative. In his previous position as Program Officer, Brian supported the network’s school-college partnerships by engaging leadership and staff in the development of policies and structures that support the early college model. Brian began his career as a teacher in Houston, TX with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps where he came to understand the importance of improving educational paths for young people so that they could access college. For the past 20 years, Brian has worked as a 6th grade teacher at a Brooklyn parochial school, high school social studies teacher at a Manhattan public school, Lead Project Manager for Social Studies Curriculum at Kaplan K12, and a member of the CUNY ECI team. He holds a BA in history from Boston College, an MA in the Teaching of Social Studies from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an MPA with a focus on Program Management from Baruch College

Melissa Giroux

Work-Based Learning & Employer Partner Relations Specialist
Melissa Giroux is the Work-Based Learning and Employer Partner Relations Specialist at CUNY ECI. She began her career as a high school special education and humanities teacher with the New York City Teaching Fellows and developed a passion for building interdisciplinary, mastery-based, and experiential curriculum. While working at Citizen Schools as a Campus Director, she managed volunteer programs that pair AmeriCorps service members with corporate volunteers to teach hands-on apprenticeships, supported an increase in family engagement through student showcase events, and supported the School Leadership Team in evaluating school-wide initiatives through data analysis and observation. She holds a BA in journalism and public policy from Syracuse University and graduated with a Master’s degree in Urban Policy and Leadership with a concentration in education policy from Hunter College in 2020.

Rodrigo Ramirez

Program Officer
Rodrigo Ramirez joins the ECI Team as Program Officer, his work will include cultivating the relationships between our college and school partners, managing and developing policy, in collaboration with CUNY Central and ECI Network partners, coordinating the research agenda and analyzing data to improve program implementation, and assess impact. Additionally, he will explore areas of advocacy, funding, and budget management, and lead aspects of ECI strategic planning aimed to address ECI program goals. Rodrigo graduated from Dartmouth College in 2006 with a double-major in Psychological & Brain Sciences and Asian and Middle Eastern Languages & Literatures (Japanese). After graduating, he returned to Dartmouth to join the Student Activities team, and later Career Services. In his various roles, his work focused on assessment, data management, strategic planning, and educational programming. As Assistant Director of Career Services, he developed a new marketing and branding strategy for the office, coordinated outreach, and advised students on their career and educational development. For his last five years at Dartmouth he served as Assistant Dean & Advisor to Latinx Students in the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, there he helped create divisional policies on inclusion, student support, assessment, as well as oversee the Latinx Community at the College. In 2014, Rodrigo received a Masters in Liberal Arts & Sciences degree with a Globalization concentration from Dartmouth. His master’s thesis entitled, “Examining the Social and Economic Benefits of Education as an Instrument for Economic Growth,” analyzed the positive pro-social, and micro- and macro-economic benefits to investments in education, and discussed the pedagogical structures of national systems which achieve the best outcomes for their respective students.

Michael Steele

Grades 6-12 Program Manager, Leadership Development & Instructional Support
Michael Steele is a former high school English teacher and Administrator (Loyola High School Detroit), College Professor (University of Detroit Mercy), Principal (Nativity School of Worcester), Academic Dean (Cambridge School of Weston), and Network Administrator (Believe High Schools Network). He joined the CUNY staff in 2012 as a School Support Coordinator. In that role, he was responsible for developing positive working relationships with teachers and principals and working with them to identify school goals, priorities, and challenges. He also had to coordinate all aspects of the school support to assist principals in achieving their goals and addressing challenges. In 2016, Michael joined the ECI team as the primary support of the 6-12 schools. His focus is on making sure that the transition from middle school to high school is an easy one. Michael has spent over 20 years educating the whole child. He holds a BA from Alabama State University and a MA in Teaching from Central Michigan University. Michael did his principal training at Harvard University.