Staff Directory

Staff Directory

Staff Directory


2425 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street
Indianapolis, IN 46208
Office: 317-923-8111
Fax: 317-923-8112

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Leadership Team

Dennis E. Bland, Esq. (CLD ’82), President
BA, DePauw University | JD, Indiana University McKinney School of Law
Dennis leads the direction of and manages the operations of CLD to accomplish organizational goals and long-range strategies. His passion is driven by a concern for plight of African American youth and community.

Gail A. Bradford, CPA,  Accounting and Human Resources
BS, University of Arizona
Gail helps insure that CLD is an excellent steward of all financial assets. She prepares financial reports and assists in budget preparation, grant proposals and reports. She also provides human resources support for CLD staff.

April Ervin (CLD ’86), Senior Manager of Development
BS, Northwestern University | MBA, University of Michigan
April oversees the Development team and is responsible for supporting the long-term financial sustainability of the organization. With over 20 years of experience, she is committed to leveraging her background to ensure CLD continues to thrive as one of the most preeminent centers in the nation dedicated to transforming the lives of minority youth. As a CLD Alumna, April has a personal passion for helping all children receive the highest quality education and opportunities she believes were afforded to her. April’s team includes the areas of grant writing, alumni and community relations, fund raising and marketing.

Erika Huber, Director, College Prep Institute
BA, Barat College | M.Ed, DePaul University
Erika oversees the College Prep Institute.   In her 20 plus year career in education, she has developed a firm belief that education is the key to unlocking the door to opportunities that advance and enhance quality of life.  In this belief, she is committed in producing quality programming and services that allows students to have the opportunity to pursue their higher education ambitions and goals.

Whitney Johnson, Senior Manager of Programs
BA, Penn State University
Whitney oversees CLD programs and initiatives. She comes to the organization with great passion and experience from Baltimore schools and youth serving agencies. Whitney leads the Programs Team in achieving the ultimate goal of creating and delivering quality curriculum that empowers youth. Whitney’s team includes the areas of program coordination, administration, evaluation, recruitment, and data management.

Carolyn Ladd, Office Manager
BS, Martin University | MBA, Indiana Wesleyan University
Carolyn organizes and coordinates office operations and procedures in order to ensure organizational efficiency and effectiveness. She is the Executive Assistant to the President. Carolyn is the mother of a CLD Alum.


College Prep Institute Team Members

Karen Bledsoe, Reading Specialist

Mahogany Brown, Program Coordinator
BSW, Indiana University 
Mahogany is responsible for coordinating CLD’s SAT Prep and Success Prep programs.  Serving as a program coordinator in the College Prep Institute, Mahogany oversees the preparation of all program communications and acts as a liaison between participant’s parents, students, facilitators and volunteers. Mahogany’s interests in community organization  and minority youth support the development and advancement of her programmatic portfolio.

Joni Clark, Program Coordinator
BA, Wilberforce University | M.Div. Interdenominational Theological Center | PhD, Indiana University
Joni is responsible for planning, organizing and implementing CLD’s Business Orientation Project and College Prep programs. Committed to empowering minority students to enter higher education prepared, Joni also assists in several one-day opportunities including the College Prep Institute Workshop Series and Lilly Summer Experience.

Jade Dueñas, Administrator
BSW, Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis
As the College Prep Institute Administrator, Jade collects and tracks program data related to CPI services. Jade is responsible for scheduling all CPI services for counselors, tutors, and participants. She also assists with recruitment and training of program facilitators and volunteers. Jade’s interest in data, effective communication skills, and passion for minority youth career development are essential in supporting her work at CLD.

Jordan Finch, Math Tutor

Essence Hibbler, Program Assistant
Essence serves as administrative support and assists in the effective planning, coordination, delivery and evaluation of the following CLD programs: Business Orientation Project (BOP), Rawls Scholars Medicine Initiative, Success Prep, SAT Prep, and Emerging Scholars. Although Essence did not participate in any CLD programs as a youth, she has a passion for helping young people discover their life purpose and is excited to help further the CLD mission.

Shelley Jackson, College Success Coordinator
BS, Northern Michigan University | MA, Ball State University
As the College Success Coordinator, Shelley works with CLD Alumni to help advance their college success and completion. Previously working in higher education, Shelley collaborates with collegiate staff and community partners to identify resources that maximize student achievement. Additionally, Shelley is responsible for planning, organizing and implementing CLD’s college success programs: Emerging Scholars, College Prep, College Goal Sunday, and all internship/job shadowing programs.

Aaron Marshall, English Tutor

Aaron Parker, Math Tutor

Shirley Smith, Receptionist


Development Team Members

Ronald Brown, Development Manager
Ron plans, organizes, and manages the major development events and is the lead CLD grant writer. Ron is directly responsible for the awards granted at the Minority Achievers Awards and Scholarship Gala and is in his 21st year at the Center for Leadership Development. His interest and passion come from a desire to see African American youth succeed at unsurpassed levels to affect change in their lives, their family’s lives and the life of their communities.

Hope Hampton, Alumni and Community Relations Coordinator
BSW, Indiana University 
The Alumni and Community Relations Coordinator is responsible for executing CLD’s Alumni and community re-engagement strategy for nearly 20,000 CLD Alumni and CLD’s numerous community partners. In this role, Hope serves as primary liaison to all CLD Alumni and the Alumni Association and community and corporate partners with a focus on strategic partnership development and volunteer management. Hope’s passion for youth and their long-term success empowers her mission of supporting the CLD Alumni Association mantra of “Educate! Participate! Advocate!” Hope also brings a wealth of experience as a community builder and connector. Email Hope to set up a collaborative opportunity with your organization!

Levorn Mackins, Grants Coordinator
BS, Northern Illinois University
The Grants Coordinator is responsible for management and oversight of grant research and submission processes to ensure the effective coordination of all proposal and report submissions. With over 20 years of grant development and management experience, she is also the mother of a CLD alumnus.

Kayla Plummer (CLD ’12), Development Associate
BA, Indiana University 
As the Development Associate, Kayla provides primary support for all development related activities and team members with an emphasis on donor management, grant research, establishing community partnerships and data entry. Kayla is passionate about holistic youth development and is a proud CLD Alumni.

Kelsey Taylor, Development and Marketing Coordinator
BCJ, Indiana University 
Serving as the Development and Marketing Coordinator, Kelsey coordinates event-related development activities and opportunities with an emphasis on donor retention and engagement, grant research, sponsorship solicitation, reporting, collateral creation and marketing. Kelsey’s fundraising expertise and visual communications background are pivotal in supporting her passion of youth development. Email Kelsey with your request for comment or to inquire about marketing opportunities!


Programs Team Members

Jeanette Caston, Receptionist
With over 20 years of customer service experience, Jeanette services CLD guests via phone and/or face to face inquiries. She provides general information regarding the organization to customers and assists in general administrative and clerical support.

Demarcus Daniels, (CLD ’15)Program Assistant
Demarcus assists in the effective planning, coordination, assembly of program materials and delivery for Project MR., CLD’s flagship program Self-Discovery/Career Exploration Project and other programs as needed. Serving as a program assistant, he also plays an integral role in data integrity including recording of participant applications, registrations, fee payments and attendance. As a CLD Alumni, Demarcus serves as a role-model for future CLD graduates participating in his programmatic portfolio.

Rahja Ford, (CLD ’12)Program Assistant
Rahja serves as administrative support and assists in the effective planning, coordination, delivery and evaluation of the following CLD programs: Imani Book Club, Jr. Self-Discovery/Career Exploration Project and Precious Miss. Having participated in several CLD programs, including Precious Miss, Success Prep and College Prep, Rahja appreciates what CLD has to encourage youth in the community. Rahja has a passion for helping the young people she serves find happiness and success.

Deborah Ross, Manager of Program Evaluations and Administration
BS, Indiana University
Deborah manages the coordination and delivery of all administrative program functions for efficient planning, delivery and data management of all programs. Prior to joining the CLD team, Deborah and her husband volunteered for the organization. They are proud parents of 3 CLD Alumni.

Erika Smith (CLD ’99), Database Coordinator
Erika oversees, maintains and improves CLD’s data collection, tracking and reporting process to enable the organization to identify access, evaluate and accurately report on the performance and outcomes of CLD programs and Fund Development efforts. She also provides assistance to the Development department in identifying and maintaining CLD’s Alumni and donor base.

Gabrielle White (CLD ’11), Recruitment Associate
BA, Purdue University | M.ED, McKendree University 
Serving as the Recruitment Associate, Gabrielle builds awareness of CLD throughout the Greater Indianapolis area with the goal to enroll more parents and students in CLD programs, initiatives and services. Gabrielle brings higher education and student affairs recruitment experience from many colleges and universities, including her alma mater Purdue University, and has a passion for making college acceptance and successful matriculation attainable for all. Email Gabby to schedule a visit to your school from CLD!

Taylor Williams, Program Coordinator
BS, Indiana State University 
As a program coordinator, Taylor oversees and manages the Center for Leadership Development’s junior programs beginning in 4th-6th grades and includes Imani Book Club and Jr. Self-Discovery/Career Exploration Project. Taylor also empowers CLD’s female participants through the Precious Miss program which serves young ladies grades 6th-8th. Taylor’s passion for youth development and community support comes from her background as a case manager, and with the assistance of Rahja Ford seeks to cultivate the next generation of leaders and achievers.

Meet our Licensed Guidance Counselors!

Linda Bingham (Ms. B)
BA, Indiana University | MA, Butler University
“Teaching is my passion! I knew at an early age that I wanted to be an educator. I taught for 7 years with Indianapolis Public Schools’ Crispus Attucks and Northwest High Schools. I was a school counselor for 21 years in Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township Lawrence North, and McKenzie Center for Innovation and Technology. I retired from Lawrence in June 2013 after 28 years as an educator. I had the pleasure of becoming a Licensed Guidance Counselor for the Center for Leadership Development in February 2013 and it feels as though I am living my dream!”
Ms. B specializes in: exceptional learners, organization and time management, study skills and habits and career counseling. 

Magdalene Gates (Nita)
BS, Indiana State University | MS, Indiana State University
As a CLD guidance counselor within the College Prep Institute (CPI), Nita provides academic, career and college counseling services for students and their parent and/or mentor. With more than 8 years of experience, Nita’s passion is helping families with testing and finding scholarships and affordable institutions. She is currently a high school counselor in Washington Township.
Nita specializes in: high school preparation, college preparation, college readiness, test preparation, scholarship research, diploma types, test anxiety and college searches.

Jeffrey Johnson
BA, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma  | MA, Indiana University | MS, Butler University
“From the age of 10 I always wanted to work in schools! For 24 years I have taught history and English in grades 7 through college. I returned to school myself when my daughter entered college, and I earned a M.S. in School Counseling in 2014 after doing my internship at CLD. I was immediately impressed by CLD’s caring staff and their commitment to excellence. In addition to my work here, I currently teach high school history, and I also work as a K-8th grade counselor for Horizons, a summer academic program for at-risk students in Indianapolis.”
Jeffrey specializes in: study skills, time management, success in the classroom, college preparation, growth mindset, college and scholarship searches and application essays.