Our passion for diversity education took off a few years ago, when Tommy and Ronit built a mentorship organization that partnered under-serviced elementary schools with high schools. Seeing students, from completely different backgrounds and communities, humanize one another through conversation and the sharing of stories inspired us to build Diversity Discovered. By giving classrooms the resources to explore perspectives and experiences they may be unfamiliar with, we build citizens who understand that we are united in our diversity.
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Thomas Colitsas is a student at Duke University where he studies economics. He created Diversity Discovered after spending three years managing Education for Success, a non-profit that supported low income elementary schools with tutoring, mentorship, and community engagement. Through conversation with his mother (a teacher) and other educators, Thomas recognized the national shortfall in student exposure to different perspectives and cultures. Building on a framework of Social and Emotional Learning, research proves that this exposure can turn students into more empathetic, collaborative, and accepting citizens. As Executive Director, Thomas helps develop the Diversity Discovered curriculum structure, outreach strategies, and secure grants and donations to fund the program.
Co-Founder and Head of Curriculum
Ronit Sethi is a student at Duke University majoring in economics on the pre-medicine track. Having been involved in developing a New Jersey-based educational mentoring organization and directing various high school science mentorship programs, he was very excited to build something to promote broader strokes societal values among students and foster a sense of social awareness. With Diversity Discovered, he looks to bridge the gap between traditional learning and social learning, expanding the landscape of current education. As the Head of Curriculum for Diversity Discovered, Ronit has spent months researching and editing our lessons in conjunction with a team of educators, academic professionals, and community leaders.
Co-Founder and Director of Finance
Saketh is a high school senior concentrated on business, statistics, and their intersection with public policy and education. While leading Education for Success, he spent years confronted with the challenges that teachers and students in struggling public schools face. Inspired by this, he put his data science skillset to use, analyzing the effects of school funding on the performance of students. His findings enlightened him as to the applications of business and quantitative methods in public policy and how public institutions can be better managed. As Director of Finance, Saketh employs this quantitative and problem-solving skillset to help Diversity Discovered face pressing challenges and expand its reach.
Director of Community Outreach
Denia Smith is a Junior in high school and youth activist from West-Windsor, New Jersey. Denia has founded the People of Color (POC) Advocacy Group to promote changes in policy, education, and programming within her community and is a leader of the Black Student Union and Student Government at her high school where she focuses on digital outreach and non-profit engagement. Denia has also developed a teacher manual on racial sensitivity with her school climate team and has led a march in honor of the Black Lives Matter movement with hundreds of attendees. As the Director of Community Outreach, Denia helps Diversity Discovered develop strategic partnerships, market our products to educators across the nation, and develop a brand centered around cultural awareness and tolerance.
Co-Founder and Director of Innovation & Strategy
Akash Bobba is a high school senior concentrated in public policy and computer science. Having worked extensively with mentoring non-profits across New Jersey and through his leadership at CSRemastered, a non-profit championing STEM education, Akash has had the opportunity to encounter students from all walks of life. These invaluable experiences, have helped him realize the lack of meaningful diversity education in traditional education systems. As the Director of Innovation and Strategy at Diversity Discovered, Akash aims to remedy this deficiency by marketing Diversity Discovered's incredible resources, developing new avenues for outreach/fundraising, and ultimately helping classrooms foster discussion around cultural awareness and inclusivity.
Annabell Su is a student at UC Berkeley intending to major in Business Administration and Data Science. She is interested in analyzing the impacts of public policy on social movements and various economic statuses in the US. The value of listening and inclusion has always been a priority in every aspect of her life thus far, from leading as class president in high school to heading a successful cancer fundraiser that raised $6,000 for cancer research. As the Operations Manager for Diversity Discovered, she is extremely excited to reach out to students and educators to promote conversations that challenge and expand the next generation’s perceptions of society and its diverse cultural elements. She believes that it is through this mindset that the world’s obstacles can be overcome with true unity and strength.
Director of Program Evolution
Isabella Colitsas is a high school junior focusing on the political implications of inequitable education. Her work with young students from trenton to princeton has inspired a desire to work on the inequity of opportunity currently present in the United States education system. She recognizes the importance of quality education at a young age and recognizes that future generations shape the future. Working for the NJ state assembly, she believes understanding the intersection between cultural tolerance and closing the gap in education is the key to providing future generations with the tools necessary for a more united and equitable society. Her goal as Director of Program Evolution is to elevate this project to address both national issues of intolerance and inequity.
DR. MARYBETH GASMAN
Marybeth Gasman is the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Chair in Education at Rutgers University and the Executive Director of the Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions. Prior to joining the faculty at Rutgers, Marybeth was a Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her areas of expertise include topics such as racism and diversity. She is the author or editor of 25 books, has penned over 450 opinion articles, and is ranked by Education Week as one of the 10 most influential education scholars in the nation. Dr. Gasman helps Diversity Discovered ensure authenticity and student engagement in the lessons.
DR. ERICA RYAN
Erica Ryan received her Ph.D. from Brown University and is now an Associate Professor of History and the Director of the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program at Rider University. Her expertise includes modern American history, culture, women, and sexuality. She has published titles including When the World Broke in Two: the Roaring Twenties and the Dawn of America's Culture Wars and Red War on the Family: Sex, Gender, and Americanism in the First Red Scare. Dr. Ryan’s guidance has helped us solidify our narrative centered lesson model and ensure that our materials authentically include themes of culture and identity.
DR. ROBERTA FISKE-RUSCIANO
Roberta Fiske-Rusciano is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Political Science, Global Studies, Multicultural Studies, and Gender Studies at Rider University. She has published three books entitled Experiencing Race, Class, and Gender in the United States (Editions 4, 5, and 6) and her articles have appeared in such journals as the Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics. Her research interests include different fields of anthropology and policy challenges in multi-ethnic cities. Since so much of her work has helped create productive dialogue to combat cultural stigmas, Dr. Fiske-Rusciano played an invaluable role in helping us develop discussion focused reflection activities that resonate with students.
DR. DEBRA COHEN
Debra Cohen has received her EdD from Drexel University, spent over twelve years across three school districts as an educator, and is currently working in Washington D.C. where she serves as an education marketing consultant. Dr. Cohen has helped Diversity Discovered connect with community leaders, develop marketing and outreach strategies, and has refined our lessons to combat stigmas and ask students how they can be more accepting within their communities. She has also connected us with other educators and in the process helped Diversity Discovered develop a standard operating procedure for curriculum review.
Lisa Romano is the Supervisor of Language Arts and Social Studies for 5th-8th grade at Montgomery School District, NJ. Her experience includes developing reading curriculums for grades K-8, developing and implementing a framework of document based learning for her districts social studies curriculum, and serving as an Adjunct Instructor at the the College of New Jersey where she taught youth literature and storytelling. Lisa has helped Diversity Discovered run our materials through focus groups of educators, select meaningful books for our Diversity Library, and develop a deeper understanding of how to incorporate common core alignment and appropriate context within our lessons.
DR. FRANK RUSCIANO
Dr. Frank Rusciano is the Director of the Global Studies Program and a Professor of Political Science at Rider University, a Fulbright Scholar, and has served as a guest professor at the Institut für Publizistik in Germany. Dr. Rusciano is nationally recognized for his research in international affairs, having received a National Science Foundation Grant for Dissertation Research, and has penned titles including World Opinion and the Emerging International Order and Instructor’s Manual for Comparative Politics Today. Dr. Rusciano’s guidance has helped us identify powerful stories and marginalized groups to highlight within our books and lesson plans.