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Monmouth & Middlesex Counties Team

Acelero Learning recruits the highest quality staff possible.

Our team is the best equipped to serve your children, your family, and your community. We are proud to say that all of our teachers have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or equivalent and our senior leadership team is comprised of experts in education, health, finance, and operations. Our board of directors is made up of respected community leaders, educators, attorneys, financial managers, and Head Start parents.

Senior Leadership Team

Amanda Worth-Colón joined Acelero Learning Monmouth/Middlesex in 2011 and in 2015 became the Vice President, overseeing 10 sites and nearly 1,000 students. Amanda previously served as Director of Education, implementing bilingual classrooms and growing our network to include 13 school district collaborations. In addition to her work at Acelero, she currently serves as the Vice President for the New Jersey Head Start Association. Amanda holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from the College of New Jersey and a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

Adalgisa Plasencia joined Acelero Learning in July 2017. As the Director of Finance she manages the overall Finances of Acelero Learning Monmouth/Middlesex Delegate. Prior to coming on board Adalgisa was the Controller for the Raritan Bay Area YMCA in Perth Amboy, NJ. She holds a Bachelors in Accounting and has over 8 years of non-profit accounting experience.

Angela joined Acelero Learning in 2018 as a Health Coordinator and became the Assistant Director of Family Engagement and Health in 2020. Prior to Acelero, Angela worked for Rutgers Cooperative Extension – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) in Middlesex and Ocean Counties. During her tenure, she provided nutrition and physical fitness education to limited resource youth and adults and expanded the program to reach over 3,000 youth and 250 adults each year throughout Ocean County.  She received the Outstanding Community Service Award from Children’s Home Society in 2015 and recognition as an Outstanding Community Partner from Ocean I.N.C./Head Start in 2016 & 2017. Angela continues to serve on various boards and coalitions as is committed to improving the health and well being of all children.

Cassandre Fernandez serves as the Director of Analysis for the Acelero Learning Monmouth/Middlesex Counties delegate since 2016 and also supports partners with extensive, comprehensive training with our Student Information System (Insight) and related program monitoring support.   She provides high level data analysis for all levels of staff and stakeholders.  Cassandre has several years’ experience in supporting web- based platforms, and technical support for Fortune 500 companies.  Cassandre is an innovator in data visualization who is adept at creating interactive data presentations that help users integrate learning into everyday practical applications.  She’s a New York City native, with a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics, minor in Shakespearean Literature from the City University of Hunter College.

Margarita Arbelaez joined the team in October of 2020. She serves as the Director of Family Engagement and Health for the Monmouth/Middlesex County delegate. Margarita comes from Illinois and bring 14 years of experience working with Head Start/Early Head Start and state funded Grants in roles such Family Support Worker, Family Engagement and ERSEA Coordinator and ultimately as Family Engagement and ERSEA Manager. Margarita is Bilingual English/Spanish and she holds a Masters degree in Psychology and a second Masters degree in International Business Administration.

Meghan Navarro joined us in February of 2011 as a Center Director at our Carteret center.  In March of 2012, Meghan accepted a Center Director transfer to our Asbury Park site which increased the scope/number of classrooms that she managed and coached.  This also gave her the opportunity to successfully collaborate with the Asbury Park School District.  From there, Meghan continued to grow within the organization and was named the Early Learning Specialist before obtaining her current position as Early Learning and Disabilities Specialist-directing overseeing 3 Center Directors.  This position combines two of Meghan’s professional passions, Early Childhood Education and Special Education.  As an Early Learning and Disability Specialist, Meghan coaches Center Directors and supports them in their success as educational leaders.  She also works with the teachers to ensure a high quality and emotionally supportive environment is provided to all program children.  Prior to joining ALMMC, Meghan worked as a Behavioral Therapist for children with autism, as Preschool Teacher and as a Curriculum Director for a childcare center.  She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Rowan University with a specialization in Special Education and Writing Arts.

Board of Directors

Dr. Pamela Brillante is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at the William Paterson University of New Jersey teaching classes in Early Childhood Special Education. She has worked professionally in the area of Early Childhood Special Education for the past twenty-seven years within public schools, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.  Previously, Dr. Brillante served as the Early Childhood Special Education Specialist for the New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Special Education programs where she collaborated with Head Starts providers around the State of New Jersey. Her work centered around helping teachers and programs provide quality inclusive opportunities for children with disabilities, as well as help identify potential disabilities in young children. Dr. Brillante believes that high quality early childhood education is the foundation for including children with disabilities into the community.  This and her long collaboration with Acelero Learning led her to accept the role as a Board Member in 2015. Dr. Brillante serves as as Early Childhood Special Education Expert.

Ricardo Kairios is a senior program coordinator with the New Jersey Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program. In this role, he trains and manages a team of paraprofessional staff, professional staff, and college students to provide research-based lessons to adults and youth living in limited-resource communities. Ricardo’s experiences thrive in behavior change programming related to dietary quality, physical activity, food safety, food resource management, and food security. Ricardo also enjoys contributing to conversations on various community-based coalitions, task forces, and councils with a focus on promoting policy, systems, and environmental efforts that support healthy behaviors. Prior to this position, Ricardo worked as a food service coordinator for Acelero Learning, Head Start/Early Head Start of Monmouth/Middlesex Counties; in which he oversaw reporting for the Child and Adult Care Food Program and food service team in Middlesex County. Ricardo’s professional interests include nutrition security, organizational leadership, community development, sustainable practices, and inclusivity in nutrition and education.

Kerry Carley-Rizzuto is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. Dr. Carley-Rizzuto teaches the full complement of early childhood courses at the undergraduate level as well as courses in the graduate endorsement program. She holds degrees in early childhood education, master’s degrees in both reading and educational administration, as well as a post-graduate degree in special education as a Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant. Dr. Carley-Rizzuto completed her doctoral studies at Rowan University, where the focus of her dissertation was on pupils who are early childhood English Language Learners and their literacy achievement. Prior to joining Monmouth University, Dr. Carley-Rizzuto worked in public schools in New York City and New Jersey as a school administrator, early literacy specialist, and teacher of early childhood classes.
Early Childhood Education Expert

Laverne Finley is a longstanding Board member affiliated with one of Acelero’s community partners and is also a proud former parent of a child in the Acelero Learning Monmouth/Middlesex program. Finley serves as our Head Start parent representative.

Jarteau Israel is a graduate of Montclair State University and received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science, with an emphasis on International Relations. He is a fully Accredited Representative of the Board of Immigration Appeals. Jarteau frequently holds outreach sessions throughout New Jersey that focuses on immigrant rights, human trafficking, and victims of domestic violence. He is fluent in Haitian- Creole, French and functional in Spanish. He is an accredited Board of Education and Planning Board member for the city of Orange. He is also currently serving on the board of Acelero Learning with the goal of lending his expertise to grow and expand their footprint.

Thomas Z Lukoma is a User Experience Designer at JP Morgan Chase.  He has worked professionally in the field of Technology Business Analysis for over 15 years.  He is an experienced visual and verbal communicator, with an eye for integrating across disparate parts.  He has an ease with framing analysis into logical pieces and following through to get the best answer possible with available information.  He has strong experience managing projects through the software development life cycle in the financial services industry.

He has held prior roles at Deutsche Bank and started his career as a Management Consultant with The Monitor Group (now Monitor Deloitte) before transitioning to technology.

He holds a Bachelor Degree in Film Animation from Harvard University.


Susan Golbeck, PhD, is a Professor Emeritus in Educational Psychology at the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers, New Brunswick. She received her PhD in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State University where she worked as a Head Teacher in the Laboratory Preschool. At Rutgers, her research has focused on children’s cognitive development especially in mathematics and spatial thinking. Her research was supported with grants from the Spencer Foundation as well as the National Science Foundation. She taught students in early childhood teacher preparation programs as well as graduate students in the EdM, EdD and the PhD programs in educational psychology at Rutgers.Over the years she worked on a variety of community projects in New Brunswick with the Infant Child Task Force of New Brunswick Tomorrow. She has also worked at the local and state level on topics related to early childhood teacher certification. Currently, she is particularly interested in the use of online instruction for early childhood educators.

Harriet Worobey was an instructor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Director of the Nutritional Sciences Preschool at Rutgers University for 28 years.  Her specialty in the field of Early Childhood Education is child nutrition, with strong interests in literacy and science education.  Since her retirement in 2015, Ms. Worobey has been the president of Meals on Wheels in Greater New Brunswick, Chair of the Child Care Consortium of New Brunswick Tomorrow, and Vice President for Professional Development for NJAEYC.  She was recently appointed to the Anshe Emeth Community Development Corporation.  Ms. Worobey has had a long term interest in Head Start, since being a student volunteer in the first summer of its existence.  She and her husband, Dr. John Worobey, have done nutrition research at 576 Livingston Avenue for many years, with presentations of that research at the Head Start Research Conferences.  She has been an Acelero board member since September 2011 and serves as our Early Childhood Educator representative.