Arlene Berkman
Executive Director, Board Chair and Founder

Arlene Berkman felt there was a need to make people aware of the pervasive issue of “Bullying” and founded the Foundation for Respect Ability. Arlene taught Health and Physical Education at the Middle and High School level for several years. She did her student teaching on the elementary level. This work exposed her to how children interact with each other under all kinds of circumstances and at all age levels. It gave her an opportunity to observe their social, emotional and physical growth.  Her students nicknamed her “Mother B”, always there to listen and not to judge. This helped to prepare her for her next job at Montefiore Hospital . It is at Montefiore Hospital that she was introduced to the Cranio-Facial Center. She was the liaison between the Department of Dentistry and Department of Plastic Surgery. The Cranio-Facial center evaluated children and adults with facial deformities and provided coordinated multi-disciplinary treatment plan for correction of those deformities.

Arlene served on the Board of Directors of the Colony Condominium in Westchester County, New York and held the positions of President of the Colony Condominium as well as other offices on the Board. She served for ten years on the Board of Directors for the Greenburgh Hebrew Center in different capacities. An additional five years was spent in the designing, fund raising and building of a new building for their religious worship.  In addition, Arlene, over a period of 34 years, designed, built and managed every aspect of her husband’s Orthodontic practice in Scarsdale, New York.

Dr. Milton Berkman
Vice Chair and Founding Board Member

 

Dr. Milton Berkman is celebrating his 50th reunion from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in April 2015. His pediatric / orthodontic career has included many years of clinical experience, teaching, research and professional publications regarding children and adults with dental, oral and facial deformities, disorders and birth defects i.e., cleft palate and craniofacial anomalies, and his passion and devotion to resolving these complex problems through interdisciplinary teamwork.  Teamwork is the “it factor” in successful resolution of so many problems and issues in life and this may be his most important asset he brings as a member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Respect Ability.

In 1977 Dr. Berkman moved his private practice from Montefiore Hospital to Scarsdale, New York where he practiced until June 2009.  He had an illustrious career treating both children and adults with conventional orthodontic problems, temporomandibular and craniofacial disorders. For seven years Dr. Berkman lead the Roth Legacy Fund, the charitable arm of the Roth Williams International Society of Orthodontists and raised over $400,000 for educational and research projects and publication of a textbook by the Fund.

With his background in integrative teamwork activities and fundraising Dr.Berkman brings special life skills as a Board Member for the Foundation for Respect Ability and the organizations motivation and inspiration to improve culture and climate in select schools and communities in the Charlotte region through social and emotional learning and character education programs.

Dr. Loucrecia Collin
Board Member

Dr. Loucrecia Watson-Collins is a Board Member of the Foundation for Respect Ability. The award winning educator has a career which spans over 30 years. During her tenure, she has been a teacher, elementary school principal, radio broadcaster, book author and now serves as an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. A native of West Point, Mississippi, Dr. Collins is a graduate of the West Point School District . She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree, Masters’ of Curriculum and Instruction and Doctorate of Education from Mississippi State University. Further studies have been completed at Harvard and the University of Alaska.

During her time in public schools, she has taught in Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, and Alaska. She was recognized as the teacher of the year for Emerson Elementary in Starkville, Mississippi and the Principal of the Year for the Anchorage School District. She is nationally known for her work in conflict resolution and transforming schools through social emotional learning.

The innovative educator has been an agent of change since her arrival at UAB and joined the Educational Leadership faculty. She has been honored with the UAB Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching and the UAB Mentoring Award. Many new trails have been blazed by this dynamic educator at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Collins developed the Study Abroad Program for the School of Education and has directed student learning experiences throughout Italy. She has presented research in Florence, Italy, Paris, France, Athens, Greece, Cairo, Egypt, and Capetown, South Africa.

Her extensive research includes multicultural education, conflict resolution, and bullying. As a faculty member, she works closely with doctoral students and has directed over 50 doctoral dissertations. Dr. Collins has the distinct honor of being the first African American female to earn tenure in the history of the School of Education at UAB. As a scholar, she was the first African American to serve on the Editorial Board of Delta Kappa Gamma, an International teaching sorority. 

Susan Vaseleniuck
Board Member    

Susan has had over fourteen years teaching experience. Her teaching included incorporating the Orff/Kodaly method which is a style of teaching music based on methods created by Carl Orff and Zoltan Kodaly. It combines music, movement, drama, and speech into lessons that are similar to a child's world of play. The Orff Approach is now used throughout the world to teach students in a natural and comfortable environment.  Her teaching also involved creating curriculum in a Middle School Magnet setting (Grades 6-8) incorporating academics and the arts (music, art, drama).

Susan is also a program leader and facilitator. She has had eleven years of experience as leader for “Created by God” Human Sexuality program for 4th-5th graders. She has also facilitated program called “Caught in the Middle” for divorcing couples with children. As the Education Outreach Coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Eastern Tennessee, she spoke to high school and college students and wrote curriculum for presentations and interacted with the Adolescent Pregnancy Council.  In addition she also presented programs to college audiences regarding date rape/decision-making options. 

Susan has a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education with a Minor in Music Ed. from the University of Georgia. She has sung in choirs all her life and loves to play the piano.

Sandra K. Beetner
Board Member

Sandra Beetner was a pioneer in the Computer Graphics Industry. In her early career, she worked in New York for General Electric on the development of Genigraphics; a computer graphics technology used to produce business graphics. As Vice President of Genigraphics, she led a joint venture with Microsoft to develop the presentation templates and clip art for the original Microsoft Powerpoint product.

In 1996, Sandra relocated to her home state of Ohio, to raise her young family. She started a Digital Printing Company, producing event graphics for major retail and service clients headquartered in the Columbus market. While in Ohio, Sandy served on the Board of Directors of the Powell Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Dublin Ohio Chapter of Rotary International. She served for ten years as the advisor for the Dublin Interact Club; a Rotary organization of over 200 teens providing community service. In 2005, she founded Laps for Life; a non-profit organization dedicated to leadership development for teens in community service. The Laps for Life non-profit was active for eight years, and local teens raised over $280,000 to support area cancer patients.

Sandra sold her digital printing company and moved to Mooresville, North Carolina in 2011. She quickly affiliated with The Iredell County Children’s Home working as a volunteer beginning in March of 2012 and serving on their Board of Directors from October of 2012 to September of 2014.

Christina Wells
Board Member

Chrissy Wells is a mother and a passionate educator who thrives on providing a healthy learning environment for school-aged children.  With a combined 10 years of classroom and leadership experience and 15 years of dance education, she serves as a board member for the Respect Ability Foundation.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from the Ohio University.  She lives in Davidson, NC with her husband of 18 years, 2 adorable children and one lovable dog named Cleo.

Mark Weiss
Advisor to the Board, Facilitator and Director of Education, Operation Respect

Mark Weiss has been the Education Director of Operation Respect for 11 years.  He was a New York City school principal for 20 years, founding the first alternative high school in the Bronx in 1979 and leading that school for 13 years.  He then founded a New Visions 6th – 12th grade public school, School for the Physical City, in 1993 heralded in a New York Times Magazine cover story as “A City School Experiment That Actually Works” leading that school for more than 7 years.  Both were New York City public schools

Mr. Weiss’s work as Principal at Bronx Regional High School served students in the poorest congressional district in the United States, students who were not successful in traditional high schools.  Each year, 50 students graduated from Bronx Regional High School, with a New York City High School diploma, in a school with 350 students, and each year the nearest neighborhood high school graduated about 100 students with a population of 1800 students.  Mr. Weiss attributes these extraordinary statistics to building a strong feeling of community and bond between students and staff as well as a relevant and engaging instructional program with great teachers and staff. 

Mr. Weiss brings his commitment and expertise in building school communities of respect and learning to his work with Operation Respect.  As Educator Director, Mr. Weiss works with a staff of trainers who lead workshops nationally from New York City to Charlotte, North Carolina to the Clark County School District in Las Vegas Nevada, and internationally in Israel and Palestine, Jordan and Ukraine as recent examples.

Mark and his wife, Jane, live in Putnam Valley, New York. They have three grown daughters—a kindergarten teacher and two social workers—and four granddaughters.

Wendy Wiseman
Summer Camps

Wendy Wiseman derives no greater joy than helping others fulfill their musical potential. She is a member of the Charlotte Symphony Chorus and teaches in Opera Carolina’s Minds on Music Program. With over a decade of classroom experience, she serves as Music Education Program Coordinator for the Respect Ability Foundation.

She holds a Social Science and Music Performance degree from the University of North Carolina, achieving first place in North Carolina regional NATS (National Association of Teacher’s of Singing) for Women’s Continuing Education. Her on-stage experience includes contemporary gospel, jazz, oratorio, musical theater, and opera roles such as Hansel & Gretel’s Dew Fairy and Gianni Schicci’s Loretta. She is happily married to her husband of 21 years and proud mother to two children, two dachshunds, two parakeets, and a Chinese hamster named Bagel.

Lori Anne Sword
Director of Music Education


Lori Anne Sword holds a BA in Arts Administration from Catawba College and an MFA in Musical Theatre from the University of California – Irvine.  She has been an award winning theatre educator as well as a private audition and college coach for over 20 years .  Lori Anne has received two regional excellence in directing awards from the North Carolina Theatre Conference for her productions of Children of Eden and Almost, Maine.  In May of 2012, her production of West Side Story earned seven nominations at the inaugural Blumey Awards and her students received the Best Supporting Actress Award and the Mary Doctor Performing Arts Scholarship.  In 2013, her production of Oklahoma garnered eleven Blumey Nominations and was awarded four awards for Best Lighting, Best Ensemble, Best Choreography and the Wells Fargo Best Musical Blumey award. Additionally, Lori Anne’s students have won numerous acting and technical awards at the North Carolina Theatre Conference regional and state play festivals, the Shakespeare Competition at Wingate University, and the Christians In Theatre Arts competition in Greenville, South Carolina.

As a performer, she recently has appeared at the Pines Dinner Theatre in The Miracle of Christmas (Mrs. Claud) and Church Basement Ladies (Mavis), Halton Theatre in Hairspray (Female Authority Figure – Metrolina Theatre Award nominee),Annie Get Your Gun (Dolly Tate), Bye Bye Birdie (Doris MacAfee), Cabaret(Fraulein Kost), My Fair Lady (Mrs. Pearce), Hello Dolly (Ernestina Money), and Guys and Dolls (General Cartwright). She has also appeared  in several productions at Theatre Charlotteincluding Annie, Oliver, and The Full Monty (Metrolina Theatre Award winner for Best Musical). As a young performer, Lori Anne worked in regional theatre, on cruise ships, for Busch and Opryland Entertainment companies and appeared in a variety of film, television, and voice over productions in Los Angeles, New York City, San Antonio, and Orlando.

Several of Lori Anne Sword’s private students have representation with New York agencies and have performed on National Tours and in professional regional theatres.  She has coached many college bound musical theatre students who are now enrolled in top BFA musical theatre programs.  Lori Anne truly believes that students need to develop solid technique and receive excellent training in order to succeed in the highly competitive realm of musical theatre.  She is proud to see her artistic vision for youth in theatre realized through Teen City Stage student success in professional quality productions supported with training from talented, encouraging instructors.

Dr. Temeka Brantley
Director of Programs

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Temeka Brantley’s professional success has been charged with an innate entrepreneurial spirit, commitment to education, and endless dedication to serving her community. Upon obtaining a Bachelors in English from John Carroll University, Dr. T. Brantley began her career as a young professional by founding and managing Me’ I’ Go Coffeehouse. To hone her business skills, she obtained a Masters in Management from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Having achieved success at such a young age, Dr. T. Brantley realized her true passion lied in enabling others to do the same, through education. She served at an after-school program, teaching and mentoring youth ages 5-16. Dr. T. Brantley began her experience in education working with high-performing charter schools in Ohio, as a Sr. Director of Admissions & Community Outreach. During this time, she also served as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for Revelation Arts Academy. Dr. T. Brantley continued her career in education, serving various roles such as the Ex. Director of Expansion & Outreach and Chief Operations Officer of a school network. In such roles, she was responsible for developing, launching, and managing multiple school sites, with the success of opening many schools.

Dr. T. Brantley lives by the words of Gandhi, “be the change you want to see”. Driven to improve her community through its youth, Dr. T. Brantley also joins her husband in youth ministry serving roles as an Associate Minister, Youth Program Director, and Percussionist. She has dedicated her life to helping others and organizations fulfill their greatest potential. In her pursuit, Dr. T. Brantley earned a Doctorate of Education in Leadership at Ashland University, and conducted research on leadership, with a focus on youth leadership development. Her most recent published work is a study on youth leadership development programs.

Serving as a consultant and public speaker, Dr. T. Brantley currently helps organizations and individuals fulfill their goals. As a consultant to The Respect Ability Foundation (RAF), Dr. T. Brantley conducts training workshops for teachers, students, and parents, while assisting with RAF organizational development. The training’s include a focus on bullying, cyber-bullying, conflict resolution, and peer mediation. In addition, Dr. T. Brantley will assist RAF with the development of a leadership program for high school students. She believes, “To make a change, you must first be a change agent”.