Our Staff

Administrative Staff

Maria Strada
Executive Director
mstrada@middleearthnj.org
908-725-7223 ext 412

Maria Strada has been with Middle Earth since 1997, first as a Program Director and then becoming Executive Director in 2012. She has a B.A. from Rutgers University and a Master’s Degree from Montclair University. Prior to Middle Earth, Maria worked in the Somerset County Office of Youth Services, and she worked with adults experiencing mental health issues. She is passionate about our mission and loves working with a talented staff who make positive changes in the lives of youth.

Maggie Navatto
Associate Executive Director
mnavatto@middleearthnj.org
908-725-7223 ext 413

Maggie Navatto has been with Middle Earth since 2005. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Law & Justice from Rowan University. Maggie has experience with Middle Earth’s juvenile justice programs, mentoring services, and afterschool programs. She has been the Associate Executive Director since 2014. Maggie also has extensive volunteer experience through Somerset County 4-H.


Full-Time Program Staff

Corey Griffin
Linkages
Phone Ext. 418
cgriffin@middleearthnj.org

Corey Griffin is a graduate of Virginia State University with a degree in Health and Physical Education. He has worked for many schools in the Edison township area, as well as being employed by Edison Recreation. He has a passion for team building and mentoring youth through events that bring people together and build on core strengths and improve weaknesses. He uses his free time to enjoy family and events notable to the community.

Becky Lyons
21st CCLC, Outreach
Phone Ext. 405
908-809-9572 – Program Cell
blyons@middleearthnj.org

Becky has a Bachelor’s degree in Educational Studies from WGU. Becky has worked with children and youth for over 10 years and has always had a passion for it. Becky has worked for Middle Earth since 2013 in the 21st CCLC afterschool program as well as the mentoring program. Currently, Becky is the Lead Site Coordinator for 21st CCLC and runs the Mentoring Program.

Cory Matthew
Journeys, Station House Adjustment
Phone Ext. 407
cmatthew@middleearthnj.org

Cory Matthew is a Case Manager and Life Skills Facilitator for Middle Earth. He has 8+ years of experience working with and educating diverse populations of adolescents of various ages and now works within both the Journeys and Promise programs for Middle Earth. After graduating from Kean University with a degree in Psychology and Health, he still enjoys working on his professional development in the fields of adolescent psychology and social work.

Ike Onyejiaka
Journeys
Phone Ext. 406
908-963-9519 – Program Cell
ikeo@middleearthnj.org

Ike Onyejiaka is a Somerset, NJ native. He graduated from Rowan University with a degree in Law & Justice. Ike has enjoyed working at Middle Earth since 2013. He currently serves as the Program Coordinator for the Promise and Journeys programs. In his free time, he is passionate about mentoring youth from his community.

Ricky Pinto
21st CCLC
Phone Ext. 408
rpinto@middleearthnj.org

Ricky is a Site Coordinator at 21st CCLC. He graduated from Kean University with a Bachelors in Recreation Administration. He is a native to New Jersey and has over 10 years experience in early childhood education, from paraprofessional positions to coaching sports. In his spare time, he enjoys visiting friends and family and rooting for his favorite sport teams.

Kevin Quinn
21st CCLC, Visions
Phone Ext. 420
kquinn@middleearthnj.org

Kevin is a Site Coordinator at 21st CCLC in Manville and a group facilitator with the Visions program. He graduated with a Bachelors in History from George Washington University. Since then, he has gained extensive experience in the education field, having worked with students in academic, recreational, and residential settings. Prior to joining Middle Earth, he worked with a variety of prominent youth development organizations, including CIty Year, the Work-Family Connection, and Catholic Charities. In his free time, Kevin enjoys reading, watching sports, and coaching tennis. 

Michelle Ramirez-Cruz
Visions, WIB Outreach, YCRP
Phone Ext. 415
mramirez-cruz@middleearthnj.org

Michelle Ramirez-Cruz holds an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Middlesex County College. She then attended Rutgers University where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology. She has previously worked with Rutgers University Transfer Center to support and mentor incoming students. Michelle is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology at Montclair State University.

Jelsie Taggert
Mentoring, 21st CCLC
Phone Ext. 410
jtaggert@middleearthnj.org

Jelsie Taggert graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Linguistics and Education as a Social Science. During her time at Rutgers, she worked in the university’s Transfer Center to mentor and facilitate the adjustment process for new transfer students. Jelsie has hands-on experience with youth in classroom settings as a substitute teacher as well as an after-school program teacher assistant. She has worked closely with children grades pre-k to 8th, supporting their academic, social, and emotional needs.

Kyle Vandenberg
Promise, Visions,
WIB Outreach, YCRP
Phone Ext. 403
908-963-9479 – Program Cell
kvandenberg@middleearthnj.org

Kyle Vandenberg has been with Middle Earth since 2014, first working in 21st CCLC and Mentoring, before taking over as coordinator of the Visions Program in 2015 and the coordinator of YCRP in 2017. Prior to working at Middle Earth, Kyle held positions as the Mentoring Coordinator for the Boys and Girls Club of Paterson and Program Director in charge of Native American Ministries for YouthWorks. He holds a Bachelor’s in Youth Ministry from Nyack College and is pursuing his Master’s in Family Studies from Amberton University.

Davont’e Whitaker
Promise, Journeys
Phone Ext. 419
dwhitaker@middleearthnj.org

Davont’e Whitaker is a native of Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from SUNY Canton with a Bachelors in Criminal Investigation. He has previously worked with youth in school/classroom settings, after school and summer programs; in juvenile detention programs; as well as at-risk youth and young adults on a mental health disability aspect. No matter what community Davont’e finds himself a part of, he enjoys giving back; guiding youth of all ages and from different backgrounds towards success, in efforts to reach their full potential. 

Alexis Williams is a Somerset, New Jersey native. She graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. She has always had a passion for youth and community outreach. She has previous experience with mentoring programs in school settings and community service programs. 

John Williams
21st CCLC
Phone Ext. 409
johnwilliams@middleearthnj.org

John Williams is the Site-Coordinator in Manville, NJ and has been working for Middle Earth since 2018. Before his employment with 21st CCLC, John attended Brooklyn College where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He has hands-on experience in a large classroom setting working with children ranging from grades 2nd to 6th as well as experience with one-on-one mentoring.


Part-Time Program Staff

Ayla Carthy
(21st CCLC)
acarthy@middleearthnj.org

Letetia Ellis
(21st CCLC)
lellis@middleearthnj.org

Mariah Ellis
(21st CCLC)
mellis@middleearthnj.org

Adelina Gullia
(21st CCLC)
agullia@middleearthnj.org

Patrick Hogan
(Journeys)
phogan@middleearthnj.org

Grace Hummel
(21st CCLC)
ghummel@middleearthnj.org

Melanie Johnnidis
(21st CCLC)
mjohnnidis@middleearthnj.org

Lacey Meyer
(21st CCLC)
lmeyer@middleearthnj.org

Nicole Meyer
(21st CCLC)
nmeyer@middleearthnj.org

Jennifer Murphy
Finance Manager
jmurphy@middleearthnj.org

Aja Palmer
(Journeys)
apalmer@middleearthnj.org

Kevin Quinn
(21st CCLC)
kquinn@middleearthnj.org

Wendy Reed
Marketing

Brittney Sanders
(21st CCLC)
bsanders@middleearthnj.org

Veronica Schumann
(21st CCLC)
vschumann@middleearthnj.org

Laurie Sedlatschek
Grants

Jamie Tesar
(21st CCLC)
jtesar@middleearthnj.org

Gianna Todaro
(21st CCLC)
gtodaro@middleearthnj.org

Kemar Tulloch
(Journeys)
ktulloch@middleearthnj.org

John Ventura
(21st CCLC)
jventura@middleearthnj.org

Jordyn Williams
(Journeys)
jwilliams@middleearthnj.org

Malaika Zahid
(21st CCLC)
mzahid@middleearthnj.org