Desmond A Baker, P.E., CEM
Desmond A Baker is a native of Kingston, Jamaica, WI, where he attended elementary school through high school at St. Andrew Technical High (STATHS). He holds a Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering from the City College of The City University of New York (CCNY-CUNY). Baker began his engineering career with the Proctor & Gamble Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, and joined The DuPont Company in Delaware in 1980.
In 1985, Baker started Desmond A Baker & Associates, LLC., a full service architectural and consulting engineering firm located in Wilmington, DE. The firm provides architecture, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection engineering services.
For his work in the consulting engineering field, in 1999 Baker was elected as one of two engineers in the state of Delaware as Fellows in The Consulting Engineering Council of America. He possess’ professional engineer registrations in the states of Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Jamaica, West Indies.
Baker is actively engaged with numerous professional and civic organizations. He serves as Vice President of the Board for the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware. A 25-year Rotary Club member where he served as a past president of Caesar Rodney Rotary Club (Wilmington). He is an active member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc (Wilmington Alumni Chapter) and the Kappa Achievement Center.
Baker resides in Delaware with his wife Dr. Glenda Smith. He is father to R-MC graduate Haley R. Baker ’21, (attending Howard University Medical School) , Howard and Georgetown Universities Graduate, Dr. Kia Jan Baker and Hampton and Drexel Universities Graduate, Ian A. Baker (Tay). During his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his grandchildren, Somry, Sage, and Bryce.
Scott Stevens is a General Manager at JP Morgan Chase Global Technology. In this role, Scott is responsible for the Analytics platform and software strategy, design, implementation, and operations. Scott has been with JPM Chase since 2011.
Scott has worked in the Financial Services industry his entire 29-year career, with previous roles at MBNA, Bank of America, and Sallie Mae. Scott has been in data and analytics roles since 1997 – with experience in lead generation, marketing analytics, risk analytics, BI platforms, regulatory reporting, vendor management, ETL, and data management.
Scott enjoys working with local universities to modernize data science curricula, providing guest lectures, and coaching student teams on analytics projects. While at work, Scott enjoys mentoring and helping people advance their careers and skills. Scott is also the co-lead for the JPMC Delaware Technology Diversity and Inclusion workstream.
Scott lives in Delaware with his family. His personal interests include travel, winemaking, photography, non-profit board membership, and rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Denise Davis is the Chief Financial Officer at the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, Delaware. She was a senior leader in many capacities for a Fortune 500 company where she gained extensive experience in financial analysis, budgeting and forecasting for a worldwide global sector. She has served as a finance professional throughout her career and further leveraged her expertise by successfully implementing a legal entity in Bangalore, India. She served on the board of Wilmington’s ‘Trustees of Color’, an organization geared at providing diversity to the numerous non-profit boards throughout Delaware. This organization lead her to Christina Cultural Arts Center where she serves as the board Treasurer. Denise believes in giving back and sharing her talent.
She provides mentorship and is an advisor to teenage girls for her church. She is a member of the Philadelphia Chapter of Carats, Inc. and currently serves as the Correspondence Secretary for the chapter. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, attending performances and concerts, planning family events, exercising, yoga and most importantly being pampered.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
Ally Ewing, Esq.
Alexandra (Ally) Ewing, Esq. is a Delaware attorney and an associate at Richards, Layton & Finger, P.A. Ally currently serves as the Secretary on the Board’s Executive Committee and is a member of the Board’s Governance Committee. Ally is a passionate supporter of CCAC’s mission, particularly the access to arts and music that CCAC provides for all children and young adults in the Wilmington area. Ally has experienced the power of music, arts, and dance in her life through the study of ballet, piano, and violin.
Amber Allen is a marketing professional who specializes in the development of integrated marketing campaigns. Her 15+ year career extends across multiple marketing facets like brand strategy, media management, creative ideation, events, sponsorships and agile team development for brands like Gatorade and JetBlue. Currently, she holds an Assistant Vice President of Channel Marketing position with Barclays. As a childhood participant of performance arts, and knowing the important impact the arts have on youth development, Ms. Allen will bring her marketing know-how to the board to assist in further broadening CCAC’s program awareness and participation. In her free time, Ms. Allen enjoys spending time outdoors hiking or at the beach, cooking up meals for friends and family, and making trips to her hometown in California.
Sarah M. Biliski is a lifelong Delawarean and has spent the last 20+ years in the financial services industry in Delaware. She started her career in public accounting, specializing in non-profits and small business and eventually transitioned into the banking industry. She has held numerous position with various Delaware-based banks and has experience in accounting, tax and regulatory reporting. In her free time she likes to travel with her family, spend time outdoors and often seeks out new restaurants to try. She is passionate about leaving things a little better than she found them and enjoys volunteering her time and talents to help those in her community.
Valerie M. Caldwell is an Executive Director at JPMorgan Chase, currently working in Compliance supporting Credit Card and Connected Commerce. She is a Certified Internal Auditor with over 20 years of experience in Compliance, Operations, Vendor Management, Quality, Controls, and Audit. She has a proven track record of mitigating risk through strategy, influence, control enhancement, and process redesign. Valerie also has a passion for leading people, developing talent, and has managed multi-function organizations of up to 75 members.
Valerie has a strong enthusiasm for helping people through both career development and community service. Valerie is a member of the Board of Directors at Christina Cultural Arts Center, where she serves on the Executive Committee and Finance Committee. She is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., a community service-based organization, and is also actively involved at her church where she serves as a Trustee and spearheads programs for young adults and children.
In addition, Valerie is a member of the Chase Delaware Market Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, where she is actively working on initiatives to foster inclusion, develop talent, and increase diversity across the market. Presently, Valerie is sponsoring 2 programs to train and develop diverse mid-level management and prepare them for future Senior Leadership roles. She has organized and championed multiple community service projects through Chase as well as within her local community.
Mike Cradler has been a board member with Christina Cultural Arts Center for 5 years and is an active member of the finance committee and chair of the audit committee. Mike works at Wells Fargo Advisers as a Branch Support Manager. For the past 27 years Mike has resided in Wilmington.
Sierra Harris is a graduate of Delaware State University and Drexel University, where she received a B.S. in Engineering Physics, minor in mathematics and Master’s degree in Systems Engineering. She holds two certificates in Peace Engineering and Engineering Management. Sierra is a Program Officer at The Longwood Foundation. She considers herself a lifelong learner, and her desire for community engagement is fueled by her diverse upbringing. Sierra’s passion for her community continues to inspire her current push to expand her scope of practice in efforts to benefit the very village that raised her. She enjoys reading, traveling, creating, and mentorship.
Nichelle Polston is a force that shines in the communications arena as a culturally competent journalist, political communications professional, and digital content creator. She’s a respected leader with a strong desire to empower people to share their stories. Nichelle was seven years old when she decided to become a journalist. She began her news career immediately after college and worked in various television markets since 2002. The Temple University graduate eventually transitioned into political communications and later corporate communications after leading a broadcast career for nearly 20 years.
Some of her favorite assignments include WHYY’s television documentary on the 1968 Wilmington riots, and the Delaware Historical Society’s Covid Chronicles.
In Nichelle’s current role, she exercises her creativity in the banking industry where she’s committed to using her storytelling skills. Additionally, she’s obsessed with using her skills to connect people who have been traditionally divided by race, wealth, or education. Nichelle has dedicated a great deal of her time to independent television projects, community service work, and an array of civic engagement initiatives. She relies heavily on her journalism skills to help national and local organizations. Nichelle has served on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Delaware, the Delaware Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Inc., and the Christina Cultural Arts Center. She is currently a committed board member who enjoys working with Resolve: The National Infertility Association, and is a founding member of Resolve’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council.
However, her work doesn’t stop there. Empowering women also hits really close to Nichelle’s heart. A few years ago, she created “Her Normal,” an entertainment website designed to be a source of encouragement for women. Its mission is to uplift women in the race against their biological clocks, and those pressured to achieve a certain level of success in a wide range of areas. It addresses self-care, relationships, infertility as well as explores the impact of societal norms.
When Nichelle’s not busy, you can find the Philadelphia native traveling the world with her husband and encouraging anyone she encounters to “aim for the stars!” Through her faith in God, hard work, and strong support system; Nichelle is living proof that dreams do come true.
Stephen Ovadje is the General Manager of Personal Loans at Marlette Funding. Prior to his return to Marlette, he was the Executive Director of Acquisitions and Loyalty Marketing for Chase Sapphire, JP Morgan Chase’s premier credit card brand. During his initial tenure at Marlette, Stephen served as the Senior Director of strategic planning, expense management, and reporting and analytics for the Finance organization. He also led the customer acquisition teams responsible for lead generation across digital and offline channels. Prior to Marlette Funding, Stephen spent 2+ years in Strategy/Management Consulting at Deloitte where his experience spanned pricing and profitability management, M&A strategy, business process outsourcing, and business model transformation. He also spent four years at Barclaycard US, a division of Barclays, where he led Marketing Analytics for the Travel & Entertainment portfolio.
He received his MBA from The Wharton School, holds a master’s degree in Information Systems from Drexel University, and earned his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Lincoln University, PA.
Outside work, Stephen serves on the boards of Christina Cultural Arts Center, St. Anne’s Episcopal School, Danne Institute for Research, and Dovaheights Energy Limited.
In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, reading, traveling, and watching more television than he’s willing to admit. He is also an avid soccer fan; he roots for Manchester City in the English Premier League, and he has attended the last two World Cups, supporting the Nigerian national team.
Tomoko Werbe began her involvement at the Christina Cultural Arts Center fifteen years ago. As the church’s Outreach Committee liaison to the organization, she was tasked with identifying CCAC’s needs and garnering volunteers and support. Since 2019, Tomoko has been a board director on the Development Committee. She continues to be inspired by CCAC’s students, their enthusiasm, discipline, talent, and performances! A graduate of Williams College, Tomoko has been a volunteer grant writer for non-profit organizations serving youth. As the Grants chair for Eagle Island Camp in upstate NY, she secured significant state funding to rehabilitate and revitalize a historic Adirondack camp for girls. A longtime parishioner at Christ Church Christiana Hundred in Delaware, Tomoko has served on the vestry and, in 2022, in the Racial Reconciliation Ministry. Tomoko and her husband Stephen, a retired businessman and former CCAC board president, enjoy traveling and gathering with their adult children and grandchildren.
Benjamin N. Whitney
Benjamin N. Whitney is a seasoned commercial business and information technology leader passionate about servant leadership and community impact. Known for his natural aptitude for strategic planning and process improvement, Benjamin has a demonstrated track record of driving successful digital transformation internationally through effective organizational leadership and program management.
During his 19+ year career with DuPont, Benjamin has held a variety of leadership roles in strategy, marketing, sales, new business development, product management, M&A, enterprise architecture, telecommunications, and IT integration/governance. Known for driving employee engagement, operational efficiency, and cost reduction, he has been described by his peers as a progressive, driven, down-to-earth, analytical, and managerial expert who can be relied on to deliver significant results on time and on target. Benjamin currently serves as the Mergers & Acquisitions IT Leader for the DuPont Electronics & Industrial business.
Additionally, he currently serves as a Board Member and and Chairman of the Governance Committee for the Christina Cultural Arts Center, is a charter member of the Executive Board and VP of Administration of the Delaware Chapter of 100 Black Men of America, Inc, and is the former chair of the DuPont Black IT Employee Network.
As a native Delawarean, he holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Delaware and an MBA from Drexel University. He enjoys creating memories with his wife and son, flying drones, golfing, and finding opportunities to serve his community.
Marwa Zakharia is the CEO of AssetBook. She has extensive experience as an executive leader, having held the position of both Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer, and has provided strategic counsel and guidance to leadership teams across various industries as a business consultant. Over her 20 years in the financial services industry and fintech space, she has helped companies increase their market share and develop sustainable revenue growth processes. She is well-versed in the principles of strategic business planning, human resources management, and finance and operations. Marwa is active as an executive board member and a frequent volunteer with several local non-profit organizations.