Our Staff

Administrative Staff

Maria Strada
Executive Director
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
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.

Jolee Roberts
Finance Manager
908-725-7223 ext 414

Jolee Roberts has been with Middle Earth as our Finance Manager since 2007. Before coming to Middle Earth she was the Finance Director at Carnegie Hall in New York City. She currently lives in Bridgewater New Jersey with her husband and two children.

Full-Time Program Staff

Daeshawn Dowdy
Phone Ext. 410

Daeshawn’s photo and bio are coming soon…

Elijah Greene
Phone Ext. 418

Elijah Greene holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Social Work from Rutgers University, as well as obtaining a certificate in Violence Against Women and Children. He has years of experience working with at-risk youth in many capacities. Elijah previously worked as a Case Manager at a shelter for juvenile offenders in Union County. He has committed his life to be a positive influence in the lives of youth.

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

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.

Michelle Macauley
Phone Ext. 417

Michelle Macauley was born and raised in Somerset, NJ. While she graduated from Rowan University with a degree in Liberal Studies (focus in Sociology and Health Studies), Michelle has lots of experience with Health & Exercise Science. She has had a variety of opportunities to work with the youth; she was a Teen Group Leader at a summer camp for 3 years and is now a part time Track & Field Coach for developmental children at the YMCA.

Cory Matthew
Journeys, Station House Adjustment
Phone Ext. 407

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
Phone Ext. 406
908-963-9519 – Program Cell

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.

Aja Palmer
Linkages, Journeys
Phone Ext. 416

Aja Palmer has experience working with and educating children and adolescents for 5+ years. During her time in middle and high school, Aja participated in a number of afterschool programs that helped shape her into the individual she is today. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in sociology/criminology and a Master’s degree in social work at Rutgers University. With the support of family, teachers, afterschool programs, and community organizations, Aja understands the importance of the saying “it takes a village to raise a child.”

Ricky Pinto
21st CCLC
Phone Ext. 408

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.

Michelle Ramirez-Cruz
Visions, WIB Outreach, YCRP
Phone Ext. 415

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.

Veronica Schumann

Veronica Schumann has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in school psychology, and previously worked in the guidance department for an alternative high school in Tampa, Florida.

Jack Teters
Visions, WIB Outreach, YCRP
Phone Ext. 404
908-625-5135 – Program Cell

Jack Teters has been involved in the Visions Employment Readiness and Youth College Readiness Programs since 2017, serving as a group facilitator, outreach specialist and site coordinator. Before working at Middle Earth, Jack earned his BA in Psychology from Drew University and recently completed his Masters in Public Policy at the Rutgers Bloustein School for Planning and Public Policy, with a concentration in social justice and advocacy.

Gianna Todaro
Mentoring Facilitator,
21st CCLC
Phone Ext. 419

Gianna Todaro graduated from Ithaca College with a bachelor’s of science degree in
Applied Psychology with a double minor in Counseling and Business Administration.
Gianna has been involved in multiple programs through Middle Earth since 2019 and is
now a Mentoring Coordinator for Middle Earth’s Mentoring Program.

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

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.

John Williams
21st CCLC
Phone Ext. 409

John’s photo and bio are coming soon…

Part-Time Program Staff

Brooke Austin
(21st CCLC)

Noelia Bernal
(21st CCLC)

Letetia Ellis
(21st CCLC)

Patrick Hogan

Tameesha Jackson
(21st CCLC)

Lacey Meyer
(21st CCLC)

Wendy Reed

Cecilia Rojas
(21st CCLC)

Oscar Ruiz
(21st CCLC)

Laurie Sedlatschek

Pauline Vargas
(21st CCLC)

John Venture
(21st CCLC)