Black Students of California United

Leadership & Staff


Our professional team is here to help you with any questions or concerns. Learn about each staff member and our roles.

Tyler Alce

Program Manager

Jeremy Arey

Community Partner

Sherinda Bryant

Community Partner

Leslie Loftis

Communication Coordinator

Crystal Green

Program Coordinator

Executive Board

Vincent Bailey


Vincent Bailey is a 20-year publishing industry veteran. Having worked in every capacity at such notable publications as Rolling Stone, Esquire, Vibe, TIME, Sports Illustrated, Travel & Leisure, and People, Vince brings a depth of knowledge to every project that is unmatched. In addition to being a leading expert and sought after speaker, Vince spent 10 years as instructor at the prestigious, Columbia University Publishing Course and is an active member of Magazine Publishers of America and P3-Partnership in Print Production, the leading think tank of the publishing community. Vince graduated from CUNY-New York City College of Technology with a BA-Graphic Communication Arts. Vince is currently the Manager of Print Production and Graphic Typesetting at Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District. Over the past 20 years Vince has sat on the board of several non-profit organizations including, Valley Teen Ranch, and The United Negro College Fund-Fresno. Vince currently serves as Executive Director of Agape Enterprises Foundation through which he oversees The Alliance Magazine Workshop, an afterschool program he founded to introduce high school students to the basics of video production, broadcasting, editorial production, graphic design, project management, public speaking, and more through the publication of Alliance Magazine. In 2012 Vince founded Central Valley Sports Report (CVSR), a media resource wholly dedicated to connecting high school athletes with academic and athletic scholarships.

Adonai Mark

Vice President

Adonai Mack is the Senior Director of Equity Services for the Association for California School Administrators (ACSA). As Sr. Director of Equity Services, Mack focuses on increasing diversity and awareness and providing relevant equity leadership training to build capacity in cultural proficiency and educational equity. Prior to this position, Mack was the Senior Director of Federal Relations where he led ACSA’s federal advocacy activities. In addition, Mack has also served as the Director of Political Affairs and Strategy leading ACSA’s efforts to select candidates for endorsements and investments in political campaigns. Mack directed ACSA’s Political Action Committee (PAC), which has supported Democrats and Republicans, incumbents and new candidates. Mack also led ACSA’s legislative advocacy for members during ACSA’s Legislative Action Day. Mack has advocated for members of ACSA in the areas of the state budget, special education, transportation, pupil services, and preschool other areas for just under a decade.

Prior to joining ACSA, Mack was a legislative advocate at the California School Boards Association, where he focused on the issues of charter schools, facilities, retirement and professional development. He has also worked as an advocate for the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell and for Governor Gray Davis in his Office of the Secretary for Education. The son of former longtime Sacramento-area superintendent, Dr. Carl Mack, Adonai has been interested in education most of his life. He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta before returning to the Sacramento area.

Mack has three children, 2 adult children, a high school child and 2 grandchildren. He spends his spare time serving on the board of a nonprofit that advocates for closing the achievement gap for African-American children and on an advisory committee for a nonprofit that specializes in advocating for children with mental health needs.

Tachelle Herron Lane, M.A.


Tachelle was born and raised in San Francisco, California in Bayview Hunters Point. She is a first generation college student who obtained multiple college degrees in Social Science, Liberal Arts and African American Studies from Laney College. She also obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Studies and Black Studies from San Francisco State University. Tachelle has graduated with a Masters in Art in Equity and Social Justice in Education. She was the first Black female educator to teach Ethnic Studies at Willie L. Brown Middle School at San Francisco Unified School District. She was the president of San Francisco State Black Student Union, Chairperson of Jabulani Black Graduation and Vice President of University Affairs for Associated Students. Tachelle plans on continuing her education to earn her Educational Doctorate Degree in the near future in order to become Secretary of Education for the United States of America.

Tara Hawthorne, M.ED


Tara Hawthorne is currently an employee with Fresno County Sheriff. Tara was recently endorsed by the Sheriff to become a civil committee member of the California State Sheriff’s Association. As a professional staff committee member, Tara will continue to educate herself and her colleagues in civil process. In addition to this aforementioned honor, Tara is a committee member of a Civil Forum established by Fresno County Sheriff Civil Unit. As a member, Tara is well known for giving support and responding to the needs of her colleagues. In 2015, Tara, a single mother of eight children, graduated from Fresno State with a Master’s in Education, an Option in: Higher Education and an Emphasis in: Higher Education Administration and Leadership. When Tara isn’t handling civil business, she is volunteering at her children’s high school. Education is an important part of Tara’s life; she is a descendant of a family of educators. Tara’s philosophy places a strong value on students by fostering goals, networking, and involvement. Tara’s DIAMOND’S philosophy-Duty, Integrity, Advocacy, Mission, Opportunity, Narrative, Diversity, and Service is the many values she pledges to students. “Students are invaluable and precious. As a community, we must be careful on how we shape our students in order for them to give off their radiance.”

Kaya Herron


Originally from Fairfield, California, Herron earned her Bachelors in Political Science from Philander Smith College, a private HBCU in Little Rock, Arkansas, where she studied Political Science and Social Justice. Her degree opened the doors for work on grassroots political campaigns, internships in the office of Senator Mark Pryor and the Arkansas Times newspaper, and the opportunity to serve as Director of Services for a STEAM education company providing after school and summer programming for youth between the ages of 5 and 15. As the Director of Community Engagement and Advocacy for the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce, Kaya works directly with the community, representing the chamber in collaboratives and partnerships, guiding policy and advocacy positions, and providing technical assistance to small businesses and leaders. Prior to this role, Kaya served as Government Affairs Liaison for the chamber, building on her work as an Americorps VISTA, working with local, state, and federal governments on programs and opportunities for small ethnic businesses to promote economic opportunities and equity through government contracting, relationship building and entrepreneurship. Kaya currently serves as a co-chair of the Fresno County Complete Count Committee for the 2020 Census and is working to ensure a complete and accurate count of Fresno County. She was recently awarded the business professional “Top 40 under 40” award by Business Street Online in Fresno County for her strong work ethic and commitment to her community. Kaya is proud to call Fresno home and is committed to sustainable, inclusive economic development, and a California that provides equitable opportunity for all.

Dr. Marianna Y. Harris, Ed.D

Executive Board Member

Dr. Marianna Harris, is a leader in the field of Education. She has over two decades of on- site experience in K-12 schools. Further, Dr. Harris is a recognized expert in educational leadership has led the training of teachers through teacher credentialing; masters and doctoral programs in both California and China. In 2008, Dr. Harris created a college master’s course entitled “Urban Issues in Education” for the purpose of preparing new and veteran teachers for the unique challenges they are likely to face in an urban classroom setting. Dr. Harris’ “Urban Issues” course curriculum is constantly evolving due to the nature of the changing demographics in California schools. Dr. Harris wrote her dissertation entitled, “A Case Study about Young African Male Achievers: Achieving a Scholar Identity,” to enlighten the education community about the nexus between some Black males and their pursuit of academic excellence. In addition, she is Special Assistant to the AVC for Schools & Community Relations at UC Merced.

Dr. Harris received her BA in Education with a Multicultural/ Bilingual emphasis from CSU, Sacramento, and went on to complete a Master’s in Staff Development and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership both from Mills College in Oakland, California.

Carmela Smith


Carmela Smith is a publicist, author, Smithsonian NMAAHC ambassador, and STEAM professional. She is a proud Sacramento State alumna where she received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Carmela has worked in the Information Technology field for over 10 years for the State of California. She started her California state service as a Student Assistant, and she progressed to a Senior Information Technology Security Specialist. Her family and friends affectionately call her “Sho’Nuff Mela” because of her ability to complete projects with precision, timeliness, and ease. Carmela has an innate eagerness and discernment to encourage and assist others to obtain their goals.

In 2010, the Sacramento Cultural Hub honored her with an “Exceptional Woman of Color” award for her devotion to community service. In 2015, she was appointed as Chief of Staff to the national board of the National Urban League Young Professionals (NULYP).  She also became an Ambassador for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, DC. Carmela has been interviewed on SiriusXM for their NMAAHC Dedication special in September 2016 regarding her connection with the museum. Currently, she volunteers on the National Urban League’s Guild and Young Professionals Advocacy committees, Sacramento Chapter of Blacks in Government (lifetime member) and the Charles Bibbs Cultural Museum.

Carmela’s public relation skills have placed her in position to interview the legendary director and actor Bill Duke about his documentary “Dark Girls”, which premiered on the Oprah Winfrey Network in June 2013. She also secured several radio interviews for Mr. Duke to promote the film. Carmela is currently the publicist for world-renowned artists Synthia SAINT JAMES, Charles Bibbs, as well as national community advocates and emerging artists.

When she is not attending a concert or traveling across the country for a special event, she spends quality time with her two young nieces.

Debra Watkins

Member / Co-founder

Debra Watkins spent 37 years in the East Side Union High School District as a teacher, counselor and project manager. During that same time period, she was a founding member of the Santa Clara County Alliance of Black Educators (SCCABE) and served as president from 1994 – 2001. In 2001, she founded the California Alliance of African American Educators (CAAAE) and the Dr. Frank S. Greene Scholars Program (GSP). Named after an African American scientist who helped pave the way for today’s computers, the GSP sends 100% of its students to college, 90% graduate in 4 years with BA or BS degrees, and 60% of those are in STEM which is about 8 times the national average for Black students. In 2016, Debra published a book entitled Thoughts Held Hostage: A Black Teacher’s Journey of Unlocking Young Minds. It has been well-received in educational circles nationally. In 2017, Debra officially changed the name of the CAAAE to A Black Education Network (ABEN). She served as Executive Director until April 2020 before assuming the role of Founder Emerita and Director of Strategic Partnerships. Since 2017, Debra has served on the national Coordinating Council for the Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC).


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