2022 CEEJAC Members

Click on a name below to go directly to the member's bio:
Dr. Mark Mitchell (Co-Chair) | Commissioner Katie Dykes (Co-Chair) | Liany E. Arroyo | Rev. Dr. Albert Bailey Jr. | Leticia Colon de Mejias | Gerry Garcia | Shante Hanks | Adrienne Farrar Houël | Manisha Juthani, MD | Kimberly Lesay | Sharon Lewis | Taylor Mayes | Cierra Patrick | Alex Rodriguez | Theresa Hopkins-Staten | Yolanda L. Stinson | Maisa L. Tisdale



Dr. Mark Mitchell

Mark Mitchell, M.D., MPH, FACPM, is Associate Professor of Climate Change, Energy & Environmental Health Equity at George Mason University. Dr. Mitchell is Director of State Affairs for the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health and is Founder and Director of the Climate and Health Equity Fellowship, a leadership development program for physicians of color to advance equitable climate solutions. He also co-chairs the National Medical Association’s Commission on Environmental Health and co-chairs the Governor’s Connecticut Equity and Environmental Justice Advisory Council (CEEJAC). 

A preventive medicine physician trained in environmental health and health policy, Dr. Mitchell has spent over twenty years working in the public health sector, including as Director of the Hartford, Connecticut, Health Department and Deputy Director of the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department. He spent fifteen years working with environmental justice communities to prevent and reduce environmentally related disease as well as to change policies that are detrimental to environmental health. He is the Founder and Senior Policy Advisor of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice. 

Dr. Mitchell has served on several U.S. EPA and FDA advisory committees and has received a number of awards for his community and environmental health leadership.  

Dr. Mitchell earned his bachelors and medical degrees from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and his Masters of Public Health from The Johns Hopkins University.


Commissioner Katie DykesKatie S. Dykes - Commissioner, DEEP

Co-Chair of CEEJAC, Katie Scharf Dykes is the Commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP). She was nominated by Governor Ned Lamont to serve as the Commissioner of DEEP, and was confirmed on February 20, 2019. Katie previously served as Chair of the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) from 2015-2018, and as Deputy Commissioner for Energy at Connecticut DEEP from 2012-2015. Katie also served as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Inc. (RGGI) from 2014 to 2017. RGGI is a multi-state effort focused on reducing carbon emissions from electric generating facilities. Katie joined CT DEEP in March 2012 after prior service as Deputy General Counsel for the White House Council on Environmental Quality and as a Legal Advisor to the General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Energy. She is a graduate of Yale College and the Yale Law School.



Liany E. Arroyo

Liany E. Arroyo, MPH, CPH Director, Department of Health and Human Services City of Hartford. Liany E. Arroyo has been the Director of Hartford’s Department of Health and Human Services since December 2017. She oversees five divisions whose aim is to improve and protect the health of the City’s nearly 122,000 residents and its many visitors. In her role, she has led the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic for the City of Hartford as well as expanding the Department’s work to include chronic disease prevention and reducing deaths due to opioid misuse.   

Most recently, Liany served as the Senior Director for Health Equity at Power to Decide where she oversaw a three-year community health worker research project to prevent teen pregnancy on the U.S.-Mexico border. Liany also was the Associate Director of the Education and Children’s Project and Director of the Institute for Hispanic Health at UnidosUS, where she focused on improving the lives of our nation’s Latino communities. With over 22 years of experience working in the non-profit and government sectors developing programs and promoting public policies to improve the health status of communities of color across the nation, Liany’s expertise has been sought out by local and national media including NPR, The New York Times, and Univision.  

Originally, from Bridgeport, CT, Liany currently lives in Hartford, CT, with her husband and two daughters. She holds a BA in psychology from Wellesley College and an MPH from Columbia University, and is Certified in Public Health.



Rev. Dr. Albert Bailey Jr.

Rev. Dr. Bailey Jr. is the Pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Hartford. He is a product of Detroit Publics Schools and understands the importance of faith, family and community. He was licensed to preach and ordained at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, Detroit, MI. Rev. Born and raised in Detroit, MI, he currently lives in Windsor, CT.  

Dr. Bailey for the past 17 years has worked in the educational field, as a teacher, contractor, intervention specialist and community advocate. He is the former Youth & Young Adult Pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist – Woodlawn. Dr. Bailey Jr., earned his Doctor of Ministry Degree from United Theological Seminary in Ohio. His degree area was Prophetic Preaching and Practice. The title of his project was “From Monument Back into Movement: Reengaging the Black Church with Its Community.” Rev. Dr. Bailey Jr, currently serves as the Director of Alumni Affairs at Wilberforce University has a wealth of experience in community development, fundraising and activism, from working with agencies that deal with individuals experiencing homelessness to other groups looking to invest in urban communities. 

Rev. Dr. Bailey Jr. is a member of, among others: Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.; Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masons (Pride of the Valley #95); King Solomon Consistory #20; the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He is a member and former supervisor of workshops for the Midwest Missionary Baptist Youth Conference and a proud member of the NAACP, Urban League, and Young Preachers Association and various community, religious and civil rights organizations.. He holds affiliations with the National Baptist Convention and Progressive National Baptist Convention.  

Rev. Dr. Bailey Jr. is a proud graduate of Wilberforce University Class of 2005. In addition to his Doctor of Ministry Degree, he received a Master of Divinity Degree from Payne Theological Seminary in Ohio. When not nurturing and helping the people spiritually, academically and socially, Dr. Bailey enjoys going to the movies, reading a good book, listening to jazz music, watching wrestling, playing golf and basketball. Rev. Dr. Bailey Jr. and his amazing wife, Erica, are the proud parents of four children, twins Albert Bailey III & Aliyah Bailey, Amiyah Bailey and Alecia Bailey. 



Leticia Colon de Mejias

Leticia Colon de Mejias is the recipient of multiple awards and honors related to her Environmental work and DEI accomplishments. She is a board member for numerous local and national non-profit organizations. She is a visionary who leads with tenacity and passion. Leticia’s work has been highlighted by the US Congress, the US Department of Energy, the US Department of Education, Time Magazine, TEDx, WNPR, The Hartford Courant, Hartford Business Journal, the National Small Business Association, the National Building Performance Association, and many others. 

After a successful 16-year corporate career in healthcare, research, workforce development, and community relations at Hartford Healthcare, Leticia learned about the health-related impacts of our energy demand and in response, she opened her own energy efficiency company in 2010. As the founder of Energy Efficiencies Solutions, Leticia leads one of the largest Latina and woman-owned energy demand reduction companies in the country. She has received many national awards for her work in energy conservation, environmental justice, and building science which helps Americans use building retrofits to protect the environment, improve human health, conserve energy, and reduce utility costs. Currently, Leticia aligns her work within the community to successfully implement engaging workforce development efforts and increase the clean energy industry’s diversity, inclusivity, and engagement. Leticia is an award-winning children’s book author and her works include Pesky Plastic, Dinero Learns to Save Energy, Defeating the Phantom Draw, Luis and the Giant, graphic texts, and certified Next Generation Science Standards climate action education materials. She has authored over 20 children’s books that explore the environment, pollinators, plastic waste, energy, and social emotional awareness.  
Leticia and her teams focus on recruiting members who embrace the company’s “Warrior Way Culture, taking action-based approaches to solving human disparities and lowering environmental burdens. She co-created two non-profit entities–Efficiency For All and Green Eco Warriors–to support continued community engagement and community prosperity and agency, through her work in climate action, energy equity, health, environmental justice, and the interconnectedness economic success nexus. 

A tireless advocate for the representation of people of color, working families, and historically underrepresented communities, Leticia believes in the inclusion of all voices and works to elevate minority-owned businesses, drive sustainable policies, protect human health, and create equitable opportunities for all. As a result, she is a highly sought-after thought leader on issues relating to minority entrepreneurship, clean energy transitions, electrification, climate education consulting, energy efficiency, workforce development, utility affordability, sustainability, and diversity, equity and inclusion. Leticia has testified for multiple US congressional committees, is a renowned public speaker, and celebrated author.



Gerry Garcia – Department of Economic & Community Development
To dispel myths immediately, Gerry is not the reincarnated lead singer from the Grateful Dead, though he is a fan of the ice cream and frequently wears the ties that bear his name. His father, who hails from Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, offers his surname. His mother, who was of Austrian and Romanian descent, gave Gerry his first name. 

Gerry, Community Development Assistant Administrator, CT Department of Economic and Community Development, is a proud product of Wilbur Cross High School and the New Haven Public Schools. He won UFCW scholarships that helped put him through Yale University, where he became a leader in the Latino and Jewish communities. He served simultaneously as Co-Chair of Yale’s leading Hispanic service organization, Despierta Boricua, and as a national board member for the Alpha Epsilon Pi Jewish Fraternity, which he helped to found at Yale. 

After college, Gerry ran diversity education programs with the Anti-Defamation League. He left ADL for private sector banking, and while at People's Bank ran for New Haven's Board of Aldermen, where he served for five years. 

As Alderman, Gerry sponsored and got passed Connecticut's first Living Wage legislation. He also introduced clean-government initiatives and proposed tying future increases in the Mayor's salary to increases in voter turnout in an effort to inject performance measures and accountability into the system.

Gerry returned to Yale to pursue an MBA and stepped down from the Board of Aldermen upon graduating in May 2001. He accepted a position in New York. A schedule change just before September 11th saved his life by putting him across the street at 3 World Financial Center instead of on the top floor of the North Tower, where Garcia had been working until the Friday before. 

Gerry moved his financial advisory business to Connecticut to enable him to care for his terminally ill mother. She passed just 18 days after voting for Barack Obama. She refused an absentee ballot and voted at the polls despite her illness. This experience shaped Garcia's understanding of how our sick, seniors, single moms, commuters, small business owners, veterans and many others share in common barriers to voting on Election Day. 



Shante Hanks, Department of Housing

Shanté Hanks joined the Connecticut Department of Housing as Deputy Commissioner in January of 2019. She is responsible for National Disaster Resiliency and the communities affected by Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, as well as continuing to make certain Connecticut is a national leader in eradicating homelessness. 
Deputy Commissioner Hanks returns to State service after most recently working as Deputy Director in Congressman Jim Himes’ district office and was responsible for his constituent services operation, Housing and Disaster Relief Services. During her 8-year tenure at the congressional office, she worked closely with the municipal leadership of the 17 cities and towns in Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District, representing over 600,000 constituents. Also during her tenure at the congressional office, Ms. Hanks served as the American Recovery Reinvestment Act Recovery Director. Prior to working for Congressman Himes, Ms. Hanks worked for the State of Connecticut in Higher Education at Southern Connecticut State University in the Department of Housing and as Director of Student Life & Activities in Student Affairs at Housatonic Community College, where she served as a member of the campus expansion steering committee. 
Deputy Commissioner Hanks is well versed in issues relating to Housing due to her experience as a licensed Realtor for over 14 years, previous service on the Bridgeport Public Housing Authority Board Commission for 7 years, including time served as the Chair and her work experience in Residence Life at Southern Connecticut State University. Ms. Hanks has also served on the Connecticut Housing Coalition Board, Opening Doors Fairfield County and the Bridgeport Regional Business Council (BRBC) Green Business Award nominating committee. In addition, Ms. Hanks volunteers with numerous community organizations, serves on the Executive Board of Emerge America Connecticut Chapter and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Connecticut’s Advisory Board. 
Ms. Hanks has a Bachelor of Science in History and Secondary Education, Master of Science in Elementary Education, Sixth-Year Degree in Educational Foundations with a focus in Urban Studies & Curriculum, and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree. She is an author, enjoys traveling and currently resides in Bridgeport.



Adrienne Farrar Houël
Adrienne Farrar Houël is Founder President and CEO of Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises, Inc., a nonprofit community development corporation that develops nonprofit sustainability enterprises to create jobs for disadvantaged area residents; has trained and placed low and moderate- income residents in green jobs; and advocates for more programs and businesses positively impacting climate change in the Bridgeport area and throughout the State of Connecticut.  

Ms Farrar Houël has extensive international executive experience in France, Russia and Ireland in real estate development, construction and marketing. In 2002, she returned to the U.S. and initiated a career in community and economic development. In her most recent capacities, she has designed, funded and operated workforce development training programs; worked on curriculum design and delivery of business development courses for Resident Owned Businesses for CT housing authorities; and created GBCE with three nonprofit, sustainability enterprises under its umbrella.  

GBCE uses its expertise to create economic opportunity by developing “triple bottom line” businesses featuring: environmental sustainability; social good by training and hiring disadvantaged, low-income, unemployed residents enabling them to become economically self-sufficient; and economic and community development opportunities for distressed urban neighborhoods. In June 2012, GBCE opened Park City Green, a mattress deconstruction/materials recycling division. Park City Green employs 22 persons largely from Bridgeport’s Re-Entry community in its growing enterprise, recycling more than 380,000 units since the implementation of the state’s mattress recycling law in mid-2015.  

Ms Farrar Houël contributed to the City of Bridgeport’s BGreen 2020 Initiative from its inception in 2008. She chaired the City of Bridgeport’s Energy Improvement District and, in 2015, served as Chair to the Community Advisory Committee negotiating a community benefits agreement with the owner of the Bridgeport Harbor Coal plant which resulted in the closure of the last coal plan in CT in 2020 and community investments of $2M. 

Ms Farrar Houël has been active in Preservation from 2003 to 2018 as a trustee and officer of Preservation Connecticut. Also, in the interest of preserving and developing an important African-American historic site in Bridgeport, she joined the founding board of the Mary and Eliza Freeman Foundation for History and Community and still serves to this day. In 2012, GBCE’s Green Team integrated deconstruction classes at the site while performing the initial phases of preserving the houses’ structures for future re-development. 

For the State of CT, Ms Farrar Houël was Co-Chair of the 2013 Governor’s Task Force on Modernizing Recycling in Connecticut and served on the Green Jobs Committee, a joint committee of CT’s Department of Labor and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. More recently in 2016-2019, she served on the state’s Energy Efficiency Board named by Commissioner Dykes of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and chaired the Residential Sub-Committee of the Board. In 2020 she began service on the Governor’s Climate Change Committee contributing to the policy recommendations for Financing and Funding Climate Adaptation and Resilience through the lens of Environmental Justice. The CT Women’s Hall of Fame honored Ms Farrar Houël for her leadership in community and economic development in 2019. She has also been awarded for her environmentally focused economic and community development programs by CT League of Conservation Voters and CT Green Building Council. More recently, in March 2021, Governor Ned Lamont named Ms Farrar Houël to the board of directors of the Connecticut Green Bank.  

Ms. Farrar Houël earned her BA at Antioch College and her MBA at Harvard Business School. She resides in Bridgeport, Connecticut with her husband, Christian.



Manisha Juthani, MD – Department of Public Health

Manisha Juthani, MD, is the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Commissioner Juthani came to DPH from the Yale School of Medicine, where she has served as an associate professor of medicine, and director of the Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program. Additionally, she has served as the associate program director for career development in the Internal Medicine Residency Program there since 2017. 

Commissioner Juthani attended Edgemont High School in Scarsdale, NY, and received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1994 and her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in 1998. She completed her internal medicine residency training at New-York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell where she served as an assistant chief resident. She also was a chief medical resident at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center from 2001-2002. 

Commissioner Juthani came to the Yale School of Medicine as a fellow in infectious diseases in 2002. Her research focused on the diagnosis, management, and prevention of infections in older adults, specifically urinary tract infection and pneumonia in nursing home residents. She has more than 50 peer-reviewed publications in this field.  

Additionally, Commissioner Juthani was the principal investigator of an R01-funded research project that resulted in the 2016 JAMA publication entitled, “Effect of Cranberry Capsules on Bacteriuria Plus Pyuria Among Older Women in Nursing Homes: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” This publication received widespread attention in numerous news media outlets including the New York Times and CNN. She also achieved an Almetric Attention Score that placed it in the top 5 percent of all research outputs scored by Altmetric in 2016. In December 2016, the New Yorker identified this research as one of the most notable medical findings of 2016. Additionally, in her parallel work with pneumonia prevention, she was the first author on the 2015 Clinical Infectious Diseases publication entitled, “A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial of a Multicomponent Intervention Protocol for Pneumonia Prevention Among Nursing Home Elders.” Her investigative expertise has made her a sought-after editorialist in high impact journals such as JAMA, JAMA Internal Medicine, and the British Medical Journal. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Commissioner Juthani was a leader in the response at Yale. She was a voice to help educate the public and was featured on CNN, WTNH News 8, ABC's 20/20, Connecticut Public Radio/NPR, BBC's News Hour, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, and the Washington Post to name a few. Throughout her career, she has been inspired to protect our most vulnerable citizens and advocate for the ideal of health as a human right. This vision and passion is what she now brings to the role of Commissioner of the Department of Public Health.



Kimberly Lesay, Department of Transportation

Kimberly Lesay is the Bureau Chief of Policy & Planning at the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Kimberly has a degree in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from UCONN and began her career in Environmental Planning as an entry level trainee. With over 25 years in the Transportation industry, much of her career has been dedicated to public sector service. Kimberly is striving to break down both internal and external silos and improve processes within the Bureau in the mission to provide for increased safety, sustainability, accessibility and mobility of people and goods, protection and enhancement of the cultural and natural resources, and enhanced modal integration of the transportation system. 



Sharon Lewis

Sharon Lewis is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ). CCEJ has worked tirelessly for more than two decades to eliminate or mitigate the environmental injustices borne by low income and communities of color and to provide a seat at the table where rules, laws, and policies regarding the environment are formulated and implemented. Sharon Lewis’ work experience spans more than 40 years, split evenly between the for-profit and non-profit business sectors. She enjoyed a 20-year career with the insurance industry, beginning with the Aetna Insurance Company as an underwriter specializing in municipal insurance coverages. From there, she transitioned to the Treaty Reinsurance sector, where she designed and underwrote reinsurance products for municipalities and Fortune 500 companies.  

In 1998, she joined Hartford residents as they fought to close the North Hartford Landfill. She went on to work for Dr. Mark Mitchell, founder of the CT Coalition for Environmental Justice. 

Sharon is a life-long Hartford resident and lives in an environmental justice community in the North End of Hartford. She obtained her BA and MA from Mount Holyoke College, where she majored Urban Studies/Urban Planning. She is the Recipient of the U.S. EPA Region 1 Merit Award.



Taylor Mayes

Taylor has been working in the environmental and climate justice field for the past six years. Starting with a degree in environmental studies and political science at the University of Connecticut, she was able to ground her understanding of the climate crisis in the need to advance racial justice for Black communities in the United States. 

After graduating, she started work as communications coordinator and field organizer at the Connecticut roundtable on Climate and Jobs. Having the opportunity to work with labor unions and community based organizations to advance important climate legislation in Connecticut, including the Climate and Community Investment Act (Senate Bill-999), broadened her understanding of the type of unconventional partnerships that are necessary in achieving climate justice at the local and state level. 

An outgrowth from her organizing work at the Roundtable, Taylor now leads a Statewide Network of Black environmental professionals called BEAM (Black environmental activist movement). The network meets monthly, and works to uplift and prioritize environmental and climate justice issues that disproportionately burden Black communities across the state. 

Taylor is currently obtaining her masters degree in Urban Planning at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design with a concentration in Environment, Climate, and Health. 



Cierra Patrick

Cierra Patrick is an economic and community developer from New London, CT. Cierra orchestrates the strategic planning, implementation, and investment for local improvements, infrastructure, community assets and amenities for the City of Groton, CT.

Cierra earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Hampton University and went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Georgetown University. Feeding her curiosity about the tools of entrepreneurs in our economy, bottom-up economic development, community revitalization and wealth creation, Cierra devises creative approaches to community engagement that encourage a variety of local stakeholders to collaborate. Cierra’s gift is her ability to engage diverse members of the City’s citizenry in developing and implementing plans/projects that support economic activity, stimulate local excitement, and enhance local quality of life. 



Alex Rodriguez

As Climate Advocate for Save the Sound, Alex Rodriguez is responsible for youth mobilization, supporting climate-related communications, coalition building, community engagement, and legislative advocacy. 

Prior to joining Save the Sound, Alex served as Community Organizer to the CT League of Conservation Voters where he planned and executed campaigns relating to climate action, voting rights, and electric school bus advancement. He has also served in roles such as Chair of the Public Participation subcommittee of the Governor’s Council on Climate Change, and Vice Chair of Hartford’s Advisory Commission on the Environment.



Theresa Hopkins-Staten
Theresa oversees the company’s foundation and is responsible for community-related employee engagement and development opportunities. She has developed a strategy to invest in initiatives and organizations that provide broad, meaningful, and sustainable impact in communities served by Eversource. She was named Vice President, Corporate Citizenship and Equity in May 2021, and leads Eversource’s new enterprise-wide focus on Pro-Equity, which is defined as engaging all stakeholders, including customers and communities with respect and dignity, while working toward fair and just outcomes, especially for those burdened with economic challenges, racial inequity, negative environmental impacts and justice disparities. 

Theresa began her career at Eversource in the Legal Department as Senior Counsel and Assistant Corporate Secretary. She is currently a Co-chair of the University of Connecticut African American Alumni Council, a Board member of the iQuilt Partnership and a Trustee of the Connecticut-Rhode Island National Multiple Sclerosis Society. She previously served on the Saint Francis Foundation Board of Directors; Connecticut State Board of Education; Chair of the United Way of Connecticut Board of Directors; Chair of the Urban League of Greater Hartford Board of Directors; and the National Urban League Board of Trustees.  

Theresa has received numerous recognitions and awards for her unwavering leadership and dedication to community service, including the UConn Law School’s 150th anniversary “Gallery of Pioneers” honoring alumni for their community service and professional achievements and the 2018 Connecticut Bar Association “Citizen of the Law Award”.  

Theresa graduated from the University of Connecticut with a B.A. in Sociology, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. In addition, she earned a JD from the University of Connecticut School of Law and received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree (PhD) from Goodwin University.



Yolanda L. Stinson

Yolanda L. Stinson was first introduced to Environmental Concerns in 1972 through the PYE (Protect Your Environment) club. Back then, we were more worried about automobile emissions, and manufacturers emitting pollution.   

She is a Bridgeport resident and Lead Organizer for the Connecticut Coalition for Economic and Environment Justice (CCEEJ). Yolanda has fought to get a seat at the table for those people impacted by the environment and economic rules, regulations, and laws that determine whether they live or die. She gained the knowledge of Environmental Injustices and Climate Change and learned to effectively use her voice to begin the change in the urban communities. Yolanda aim is to learn and educate the other residents in her community that they too can “FIGHT FOR THE RIGHT” to live and breathe in a community which is NOT slowly killing them. 



Maisa L. Tisdale

Maisa L. Tisdale has advocated for the preservation of the Mary & Eliza Freeman Houses since 1994, and founded the Mary & Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community in 2009 after coordinating a successful movement to save the homes from demolition. Ms. Tisdale led the Freeman Center as a volunteer until 2019, when she became the Freeman Center’s first professional staff member. Over the past ten years, Ms. Tisdale not only focused on the restoration of the Freeman houses, but also has worked to create a safer and healthier “built” environment in Bridgeport’s South End – focusing on historic preservation, community development, and climate change.  

Maisa Tisdale was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Her parents, James and Loyse Tisdale, were educators and civil rights activists. Their dedication to civil and human rights – and love of history – remain Ms. Tisdale’s strongest influences. She also studied African and African American arts and culture in Bridgeport at Youthbridge, Inc.: A Theatrical Arts Workshop from the age of 10 through her early college years. Six generations of Maisa Tisdale's family were born or have lived in Bridgeport. 

Ms. Tisdale strengthened her background in African American Studies during her undergraduate years at Yale University, where she earned a BA in Asian Studies. She also studied sociology and history as a postgraduate special student at Columbia University. Maisa Tisdale went on to work as a private contractor for the US Department of State’s Bureau of Education & Cultural Affairs (ECA) for many years; and has worked as: Executive Director of The Ocean Classroom (Bridgeport, CT); Assistant Director of  Admissions  at  Fairfield University (Fairfield, CT); and Manager of Sponsorships and Grants, Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center (Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation).