Saundra Thomas, Chair Emeritus | Ms. Thomas, Vice-President of Community Affairs at WABC-TV since 2001, has made community service the center of her life. Starting at a young age, she was eager to serve, teach, learn and provide opportunity for those in need. She is in her 28th year at Channel 7 and after years of writing and producing on-air topicals for Eyewitness News and award-winning ABC7 special programs, she has gone on to combine her creative skills with her need to serve. Ms. Thomas holds a BA in Journalism from Rutgers University and an MA in Media Studies from the New School. She is a proud and enthusiastic resident of Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, where she lives with her family.

Lauren Elicks McCort, Board Chair | Ms. Elicks McCort joined Youth INC in September of 2012, and serves as Senior Associate Director on the Program team. In her current role, Lauren coaches nonprofit partners in the Metrics Program and Strategic Planning Program, tracks Youth INC’s organizational metrics, and supports communications and programming for the Partner Network. Prior to joining Youth INC, Lauren was Associate Director of Development at Dancewave. Lauren also worked for Harlem-based nonprofit Broadway Housing Communities, and has had the pleasure of providing consulting support for the Binghamton Philharmonic, Broome County Health Department, and The Handicapped Children’s Association. Lauren received her Master in Public Administration and Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Binghamton University. She recently received a certificate in Organizational Psychology and Development at Teachers College Columbia University. Lauren also volunteers as a Success Coach with young adults at The Door.

Sabrina LeBlanc, Secretary | Ms. LeBlanc spent more than 14 years helping millions of people lose weight at Weight Watchers. She was part of the team that founded, establishing one of the Internet's first and most successful subscription-model businesses. She was also a driving force behind the introduction of the PointsPlus diet and other new products and services that combined the latest scientific research with consumer insights. Prior to Weight Watchers, she worked in equity research. She currently sits on the board of Global Workers Justice Alliance, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that protects workers rights across boarders, is the chair of fundraising for Brooklyn Friends School and advises several wellness start-up companies. She holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Yale School of Management.

Colm Leahy, Treasurer  | Mr. Leahy is an Associate in Morgan Stanley's investment banking division, focusing on global power and utilities. Colm was introduced to Dancewave through a collaboration between Morgan Stanley and Youth INC that teamed junior bankers with local non-profits. He joined the board in 2014 and currently serves as Treasurer. His dance experience is typically limited to weddings, but that doesn't prevent him from appreciating the transformative impact that Dancewave has on its students. Mr. Leahy received a BA in International Relations from Brown University and an MBA from Columbia University. He lives with his wife Mari and young son Tighe in Brooklyn Heights.

Grace R. Freedman, PhD, Member | Dr. Freedman is a long-time Brooklyn resident and community advocate, committed to improving arts, dance, educational opportunities for Brooklyn’s youth. Her family has been part of Dancewave for over ten years and her daughters currently dance in DC company and ACE. Her professional background includes work in public health research and grant-writing at Columbia University and the New York Academy of Medicine, adjunct professor in public policy at New York University, and project management and sales support at Thinkmap (a data visualization software company). She is currently Director of Development at Beam Center in Brooklyn and is co-chair of Forth on Fourth Avenue, a committee of the Park Slope Civic Council. She serves on the Dancewave Board on the Development and Capital Campaign Committees, and has been Gala Chair/Co-Chair in 2015 and 2016. Dr. Freedman has a BA from New College in Biology and Social Sciences, and holds an MA and PhD from Columbia University in Sociomedical Sciences (Political Science/Public Health).

Grace Protos, Member | Ms. Protos is the Regional Administrator for the U.S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau where she oversees a large part of the country. In her role, she designs and oversees the implementation of policy, research, projects and advocacy devoted exclusively to promoting the advancement of working women. Ms. Protos develops strong relationships with community-based organizations, federal, state and local government agencies and companies in order to work collaboratively on various initiatives related to women’s advancement in the labor force. As part of the management team, she is responsible for long and short-term planning of goals and the development of employees. Ms. Protos is an adjunct professor at Columbia University School of Social Work where she has taught courses on human resource management and board development. Before joining the Women’s Bureau, she was a senior vice president at MacKenzie Partners, Inc., a corporate advisory services firm, where she worked on corporate mergers, acquisitions and stakeholder identification and communications for clients who were Fortune 500 companies. Ms. Protos has a Master’s degree in social work from Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her family.

Stacie Sherer, Member | Ms. Sherer has served as Vice President of Public Relations for Weight Watchers International, Inc. since 2012. In this role, she helps the company to fulfill its mission to inspire and guide healthier choices that transform lives through internal and external communications. Prior to joining Weight Watchers, she was a Managing Director with leading global public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller. Over her 15-year career with the agency, she advised clients across different industries on public relations, marketing communications, public affairs and issues management. Ms. Sherer earned a BS in Business Administration from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She has lived in Brooklyn since 2007 and moved to Prospect Heights in 2012. She believes in the potential of the arts to unleash the full expression and potential of each individual, and was inspired to join the Dancewave Board after witnessing the energy and passion of the staff, supporters and students.

Jessica Chalifoux holds a strong belief in the power of organizations big and small to positively impact people’s lives positively. In 2013, Jessica was inspired by Diane’s vision for Dancewave through volunteer brand strategy work with Taproot. As the Executive Director of Client Services for advertising agency Yard, Ms. Chalifoux consults with lifestyle brand clients to connect emotionally with their customers. She has 19 years of experience building brand and marketing campaigns for organizations such as Project (RED),, amfAR, Athleta, The Limited, Hawaiian Airlines, Shinsegae International, USA Today, AOL, Google, and more. Ms. Chalifoux lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn with her family, where her daughter is now a student at Dancewave.

Visit Dancewave's Staff page

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