Board of Directors
When creating a Board of Directors for PROUD Academy, it was important to us that our team reflected the diversity of the youth we wish to teach. Our Board is a uniquely diverse group of dedicated and passionate individuals who have made it their mission to bring PROUD Academy to life!
Barbara Duncan, PhD (she/her)
Throughout her 30-year career, Dr. Barbara Duncan has filled several key positions with leading schools throughout the Northeast and Southwest. She has worked at every grade level pre-k –12 as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendent. Dr. Duncan received her B.S. in Community and School Health Education from Western Connecticut State University, her M.S. in Health Science and Public Health at Quinnipiac University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Connecticut. Dr. Duncan has her educational certifications in administration, chemistry, biology, general science, health, and physical education. In collaboration with the late Dr. Edward Ziglar from Yale University, Barbara has published work in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology on “Health Services and Head Start: A Forgotten Formula”. Barbara attributes her success to her ability to create partnerships at the local, state, and national levels with students, parents, community, business, and political leaders. Her passion is to ensure all students have an excellent educational option.
Dan Woog, BA (he/him)
Dan Woog is a writer, soccer coach, educator and LGBTQ activist. Dan has written thousands of stories for the mainstream and LGBTQ press, including The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and USA Today. His 18 books include “School’s Out: The Impact of Gay and Lesbian Issues on America’s Schools”; “Friends and Families: True Stories of Gay America’s Straight Allies”; “Gay Men, Straight Jobs”; "Jocks: True Stories of America’s Gay Male Athletes" and the sequel "Jocks 2: Coming Out To Play." His GLBT sports column, "The OutField," was syndicated nationally. His hyper-local blog “06880” (www.06880.org), covering everything going on in his hometown of Westport, CT, is read by up to 20,000 people a day. For 46 years, Dan was associated with the Staples High School (Westport, CT) boys soccer program, as a player and a coach. When he came out, he was one of the very first openly gay high school coaches in the country. He served as head coach from 2003-21, earning one state and four conference championships. Dan has been named National Youth Coach of the Year, and is a member of the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame. He remains active at the state and local level, including as a board member of United Soccer Coaches (the 30,000-member professional organization), overseeing all their DEI initiatives; on the Connecticut High School Soccer Coaches Association, and the soccer committee of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference. Dan was a founder of OutSpoken, Connecticut’s first support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and questioning youth. He speaks regularly on gay issues to sports organizations, schools and universities, corporations and civic groups.
Henrietta Small, LCSW, MSW (she/her)
Henrietta Small received her B.A. in Sociology from Monmouth University, an MPA from Rutgers University School of Public Administration, and an MSW in Public Policy from Rutgers University. Henrietta is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Connecticut and comes to us with an abundance of professional experience working with non-profit organizations. She has provided consulting services for small non-profit agencies including researching and evaluating funding opportunities, as well as federal, state, and local entities to develop federally funded community-based programs. Henrietta has secured over $10 million in federal, state, and local governments, and funding for several social services programs including youth development, mental health and substance use programs, domestic and federal foster care programs, and much more. She is also certified for working with transgender individuals and their families, offering counseling services and support for transitioning youth. Henrietta’s robust commitment to her work makes her an invaluable contributor to PROUD Academy’s future and continued success.
Denise Dukette, MBA (she/her)
Denise Dukette has a primary career in banking, with roles in commercial lending and risk management for a variety of banks in the Springfield MA, and Hartford CT regions. She has also been involved in economic development, working as Director of Lending for a non-profit community economic development fund in Massachusetts for two years, which led to many interesting engagements and offshoots. Through her economic development work, she was involved in the Department of Treasury Healthy Food Financing initiative, which involved writing and presenting a training program for economic development agencies which were interested in lending to small and emerging farm enterprises across the country. She has been on the Massachusetts loan committee for The Carrot Project, which makes loans to small and emerging farm enterprises in the New England region. She is President of the Board of MicroTek, Inc., which is a woman managed not-for-profit manufacturing company employing individuals with disabilities in a fully integrated work environment. She has been on the Board for over ten years, and has helped steer the company through the challenges of COVID as well as the economic challenges facing small manufacturers in the Northeast. She has been a volunteer income tax preparer with VITA for over ten years and is a poll worker in New Haven. She has been involved in a multitude of other not for profit organizations, because she believes that we all have skills and can make a direct contribution to our communities, and that our efforts, however small, add up to creating positive energy and change. She is a firm believer that we need to live in a way that reflects our values, and that we need to be clear about our values of integrity and inclusion in order to teach our youth that they matter, no matter what, and that they, too, can be role models and demonstrate these values. She received her BA in Economics from Wheaton College (MA) and her MBA from University of Connecticut. She moved to New Haven in 2017 and is thrilled to be part of such a dynamic and vibrant community.
John Rose, LLB (he/him)
John Rose, Jr. was the first lawyer of color to have worked in a law firm larger than five lawyers in 1970 and then the first such partner. John attended both Dartmouth College and Yale Law School, from which he moved on to practice law in private firms for some 35 years. In 2004, John became Hartford Corporation Counsel, serving the city for 6 years. In 2015, he was appointed New Haven Corporation Counsel serving for five years, where no lawyer had done before or since. John is also credited as the founder of the George W. Crawford Black Bar Association and a former Director of the Lawyers Collaborative for Diversity. Although mostly retired, John serves on both the Board of Long Wharf Theater and our Board of Directors for PROUD Academy.
AJ Belton, MS (they/them)
AJ Belton received their B.S. in Psychology from the University of Bridgeport and their M.S. in Organizational Psychology at the University of Hartford. AJ possesses an exceptional knowledge of diversified administrative and supervisory experience with a particular interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. AJ also has experience working in higher education and managed responsibilities including event planning and organizing conferences. Presently, they work as a practice manager for East Side Veterinary Clinic. They are an active member of the National Association of Black Veterinarians, Veterinary Hospital Managers Association, the Society for Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Blacks in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and a board member of Veterinary Management Council of Connecticut. AJ also volunteers at the Triangle Community Center and has been a fierce advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, volunteering and canvassing along the east coast for over two decades. They’ve also volunteered for the Homefront Program, a community-based program that provides free repairs to low-income homeowners to keep people comfortable in their homes. AJ’s wealth of experience and care to detail offers a pillar of support for PROUD Academy’s rapid growth.
Devonne Canady, BS (she/her)
Devonne Canady is the founder and Executive Director of Elephant in the Room Boxing Gym in New Haven, responsible for writing grants to secure funding, representing the gym in the local area, and community engagement through educational programs. Devonne is a two-time Women’s World Boxing Champion, sporting a gold medal in the 2001 championship, and earned silver in 2002. She received her B.S. in Respiratory Therapy from Quinnipiac University and currently works as a supervisor for Yale New Haven Hospital’s Respiratory Care Department. Devonne’s professional and athletic experience has equipped her to be an excellent contributor to PROUD Academy as a person dedicated to the betterment of youth’s health and wellness.
Michael Fiorello, MS (he/him)
Michael Fiorello has been a teacher of English and Language Arts in Connecticut public schools for some 32 years. Throughout his career, Michael has assumed volunteer and leadership roles with AIDS Project New Haven, the Connecticut chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) for five years, the Connecticut Writing Project, the Connecticut Education Association, and two high school Gay Straight Alliances. Presently, he serves as the President of the Stratford local affiliate of the CEA.
Brandon Iovene, BA (he/they)
Brandon Iovene serves as the Marketing Committee Chair for PROUD Academy, responsible for social media marketing development and the construction of our website. He received his B.A. in English with a concentration in Professional Writing and a minor in Public Relations from Southern Connecticut State University in May 2022. He was significantly involved on Southern’s campus during his undergraduate education with their Student Government Association as the Vice President of the Board of Student Experience, as a student representative and Vice Chair of the Student Advisory Committee for the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education, and as the Coordinator for the Peer Mentor Program. Presently, Brandon serves as the Graduate Intern for Southern’s Sexuality and Gender Equality Center where he works developing social programming and serves as a fierce advocate for LGBTQ+ students. He is currently pursuing an M.S. in Sociology and expects to graduate in May 2024. Brandon also comes to us with significant managerial experience, having worked as a House Manager for the Goodspeed Opera House and The John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts, and most recently at Choate Rosemary Hall.