Meet the Manny Cantor Center Leadership Team
Jamie Davidson Craig
Jamie Davidson Craig is a seasoned educator and organizational leader. She founded New York City Charter School of the Arts in the fall of 2016, establishing the first arts-based charter middle school in Manhattan. Prior to founding her school, Jamie worked as a curriculum specialist and reading teacher at Charter Schools in the Bronx and Brooklyn.
Jamie earned her BA in Comparative Literature from Barnard College with New York State certification in Secondary ELA, and completed a Master’s degree in Language and Literacy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She proudly serves on the board of Project Basta, whose mission is to create a bridge of opportunity between employers and first-generation college-goers.
As the Director of the Co-op Village NORC, Christine Dey brings over 15 years of experience in the field of social work serving diverse communities in need. Prior to working at the Manny Cantor Center, Christine was the Director of Social Services at Hudson Guild, a multi-service organization located in Chelsea.
Originally from Toronto, Canada, Christine holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Silberman School of Social Work and a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from York University, Toronto. In her spare time, you’ll find Christine engaged in some form of creating art.
Martha Lee is the Senior Director of Early Childhood at The Manny Cantor Center. She has been working in education for over two decades with the majority of her experience in early childhood education. She feels passionate about educational justice and high quality early childhood education for all students.
Martha started her career as a speech-language pathologist and has been working various roles in educational administration for the past 15 years. Prior to coming to EA@MCC, she was with the Department of Education working to support schools that provide specialized services to students and subsequently in special education administration.
Martha earned her BS from Northwestern University, MA from University of Colorado, Boulder and her School Building Leader and School District Leader advanced certification from Hunter College. Martha lives in Chelsea and is the proud mother of three teenagers: one two-legged and two four-legged. She can be found baking, cooking, or forest bathing in her free time.
Xiomara (SEE-oh-MAH-RAH) Maldonado is best known for her unabated love of her native Lower East Side, her penchant for poetry, and her energetic presence, which is often revealed by her recognizable laugh. During her free time, she loves to read books, eat delicious food, and play board games with her husband and two children.
The daughter of Nuyorican parents, Xiomara graduated from Barnard College-Columbia University and has dedicated her life to pursuing social justice through a career in nonprofits. As a child, Xiomara practiced martial arts and created ceramics at Educational Alliance and, many years later, gladly enrolled her youngest child in its early childhood program.
Inspired by the dedication and compassion of the agency’s employees, she accepted a position at the Weinberg Center for Balanced Living in 2013 and then transitioned to the Sirovich Center for Balanced Living, where she has enthusiastically led its innovative programming and important advocacy efforts for the past six years. “I am so excited to return to the Manny Cantor Center as the Senior Director of Older Adult Programs,” she says. “In spite of the challenges wrought by the pandemic, I believe that we can move into the future with joy, creativity, and hope. I look forward to connecting with you!”
Jasmine O. Palmer is a licensed clinical social worker who has worked in the field of child and family development for more than 20 years. Jasmine’s past experience includes providing counseling for mothers of babies born in the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility; designing a comprehensive family wrap-around support program for the Cambridge Public Health Department; implementing community arts education and wellness programing for the Smithsonian Institution’s Anacostia Community Museum and the Kennedy Center; and most recently developing and directing the Early Childhood Education Social Work program at the Educational Alliance’s Manny Cantor Center (MCC). Currently Jasmine serves as the Senior Director of Social Work Services at MCC. She designed and established the Family Resource Center (FRC) and currently leads the FRC.
Jasmine holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Spelman College, a Master’s Degree in English from the University of Maryland at College Park, and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College.
For more than 12 years working in social services, Jason has specialized in organizational strategy, project management, policy development, and business operations. Currently, as the Associate Executive Director of Business Operations and Strategy for the Manny Cantor Center (MCC), Jason provides leadership, program oversight, operational management, and strategic execution on organizational strategy and cross-divisional activity. Jason is primarily responsible for strategy formulation and management, overseeing project planning, and leading strategic initiatives. In addition, Jason oversees the financial health of the community center and all components of the MCC budget.
Jason earned his Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from Lehman College, his Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Studies and Public Administration from City College of New York, and his Associate’s Degree in Human Services from Bronx Community College. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP®) and an Adjunct Lecturer at Lehman College within the Department of Counseling Leadership, Literacy, and Special Education.
As Director, Strategic Service & Civic Engagement for Educational Alliance’s Manny Cantor Center Deb Scher leads MCC Changemakers, a certified Service Enterprise Initiative, which aims to engage volunteers in strategic, mission-aligned opportunities while building a stronger, more connected, and engaged community. She was selected for the 2017-2018 Ruskay Jewish Leadership Fellowship, which recognizes rising leaders in the New York Jewish nonprofit sector.
Prior to joining the MCC team, Deb was Director of Volunteer & Corporate Partnerships at Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF). Deb earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Culture from Indiana University and currently resides in Astoria, Queens.
Brian Weiss brings 20 years of fitness and wellness experience, a marketing background, and a positive upbeat attitude that can cheer up any crowd — to MCC Fitness Center. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science from West Chester University of Pennsylvania and is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist, and CPR/AED/1st Aid Certified.
In addition to his impressive professional experience, he loves spending time with friends and family, finding new adventures, and helping people be the best they can be. He lives by the motto, “if you put your mind to it then anything is possible.”