Meet the DCVYP team

Committee members

Dion cucuta, founder and ceo

Retired US Marine Corps, Volunteer Culinary Arts Professor - Bergen Community College

Dion Cucuta was born and raised in Harlem, NYC during the Heroin uprise & epidemic. He escaped the uprising and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1977, and served until 1983. Once graduated from boot camp, he received orders to report to Camp Lejeune to Culinary School and became a cook. Dion’s ability to work with others, develop bonds and leadership was noticed by many Senior Marines, and he immediately received meritorious promotions and climbed the Rank to Sgt in only 3 years of active service. He attended Drill Instructor School, received 2 Honorable discharges, several citations, and service connected injury.

Upon being discharged, he began exploring the culinary world. The opportunity to train under Chef David Burke was experience in and of itself, and learning the actual meaning of Cuisine and Fine Dining accelerated his way of thinking outside the box.

Since 1985, Chef/Coach Dion has been working with underprivileged youth, Gangs, and athletes, and leads the charge with answers and hope for so many young people. He went on to create the Brothers and Sisters Coming Together (BSCT) program in the Harlem community. Helping people of all kinds has been a core value in his veins.

In 2004, Dion met his current wife Stephanie and they married after three years. By realizing they had the same passion in working with youth in underprivileged communities, they became a support mechanism for many in need. The pair share common goals, as well as eight children, 10 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren.

In 2010, Dion Cucuta began volunteering as an Englewood Junior Raider football coach, a role which he would fill for 7 years. His team won League Championships for five of those years, and for the first time ever the Junior Raiders swept the entire league all 3 teams winning the Championship.

In 2009, Dion created the Culinary Cadets afterschool program at JDMS, which ran successfully for five years. He inspired hopeful 7th and 8th grade Chefs and gave them the opportunity to learn culinary skills. These special young people provided 600 suppers for those participating in extracurricular activities, such as members of the football, basketball, and baseball teams, as well as those in after-hours tutoring.

In 2010, Dion Cucuta, along with his wife Stephanie Taylor-Cucuta, founded their organization, “Disabled Combat Veterans Youth Programs”, which was incorporated by the State Of New Jersey in 2013.

From 2014-2020 Chef/Coach Dion served as a Volunteer Culinary Arts professor at Bergen Community College in Paramus, NJ, where he trained students in quantity production, A la Carte, butchering, and the Art of plating. He worked one on one with students to demonstrate the proper cooking techniques, and developed a structured classroom environment to empower his students.

Together Dion & Stephanie mentored many young males & females through their Man-Up & No Boys Allowed mentoring programs for the Bergen County Community. They continuously empower young people by providing them with tools needed to become great citizens, such as critical thinking and planning with an emphasis on education. They also advised them on making immediate adjustments and spiritual guidance.

In March 2020, when the pandemic took over the entire world, Chef Dion went ahead full throttle with a weekly food distribution program. He spoke to the Table To Table food rescue organization, many worship houses, and several local nonprofits to create the Table To Table Tuesdays food distribution. The program is currently servicing 3,000 families weekly and supporting the 3rd & 4th regions in Bergen County.

He also emphasizes and facilitates voter registration, census reporting, COVID19 testing and vaccination, Simplicity healthcare, flu vaccines, and community outreach.

Stephanie taylor-cucuta, co-founder and coo

Retired Senior Executive Assistant - Citibank, Licensed Life Coach

Seasoned Senior Executive for Citibank; Mentor; Vice President to D.C.V.Y.P. (Disabled Combats Veteran Youth Probram) & Licensed Life Coach.

In 1990, Stephanie Taylor-Cucuta began her path of mentoring today's youth when she joined Catholic Big brothers/sisters. She became employed at a nonprofit organization, "A Better Bronx for Youth" soon after, where she spearheaded her first mentoring program and partnered with various organizations to improve the life of youth in the South Bronx of New York. From there, she went on to Corporate America, where she worked for Citibank as a senior executive assistant for the past 22 years, and continued to mentor through the bank's mentoring program. Stephanie also mentors Young Ladies in a program entitled “Girl Talk”. Meanwhile, she became the Vice President of D.C.V.Y.P., a nonprofit organization she & her husband began in 2010. She runs the girls portion of the mentoring program, “No Boys Allowed”, and in addition to her endless work for the community, Stephanie enjoys her family, exercising, and traveling. She strongly believes in empowering women and participates in speaking engagements surrounding topics such as domestic violence, mental illness & being a survivor.

romaine Hassanah, Director of operations

Educational Support and Community Outreach Coordinator - Englewood on the Palisades Charter School

Romaine Hassanah is a top-performing professional with 20 years of experience performing in increasingly demanding roles and responsibilities within Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She earned an Associate’s Degree in Child Development, as well as an Associate’s in Applied Science, from Dover Business College. She’s a passionate advocate for change, possessing exceptional work ethic in program management and teaching while cultivating a school culture that encourages the academic, social, and emotional development of students. She’s an excellent communicator with proven success building positive relationships with students, parents, colleagues, and the community, as well as a dedicated leader accomplished in devising and executing instruction and assessment requirements while adhering to district and state guidelines. Romaine is a results-driven team player who has been recognized for improving student achievement and exceeding performance expectations.

She’s served as a teaching assistant, as well as the Community Outreach Program Coordinator, at one of NJ’s top charter schools (Englewood on the Palisades) since 1999, a role in which she has excelled. Romaine fosters group work, social interaction, and character building amongst her students, and expertly manages a classroom. She excels at establishing and maintaining positive communication, and has spent years supporting literacy and technology training efforts for parents through workshops.

Romaine Hassanah is the only child born to stunning parents strongly committed to their 52-year marriage. She takes pride in her Guyanese heritage, and she’s the mother of three incredible sons - two well-established adults and a loving soon-to-be ten year old. She’s an incredibly supportive wife to her husband, and she approaches being a public servant with the same dedication and determination that she displays in her other roles in life. She has worked with Dion and Stephanie for the past six years, and excelled as Director of Operations at DCVYP. Romaine has brought incredible teamwork facilitation and leadership skills into our organization, and has proved herself to be an essential player in our team’s success.

Henry washington, Head of project management

Realtor Salesperson - Madison Adams Real Estate

Henry Washington has 5+ years of Product Management and technology support experience as well as over ten years of experience in people management. His BA in Business has made him an essential part of improving our organization's efficiency and problem-solving skills. He has excelled in repairing fractured processes, providing new products/services, and in generating revenue /cost reductions.

Enhancing and improving community is Henry’s passion. He has always displayed an affinity for community service, and he has worked with various organizations since childhood to keep his community healthy, happy, and safe. As a former member of the United States Junior Chamber (Jaycees), Henry was able to develop his passion for community service through the leadership development process the organization cultivated.

Henry strongly believes in Thomas Edison’s quote, “Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration,” and his hard work and determination when serving the community strongly echoes this sentiment. He looks forward to seeing the positive impact an effort will have on the people and the community after a job well done.

Gila comet, outreach coordinator

Board members

Victor M. Brown, President

Dr. Victor M. Brown, is a native of Montego Bay, Jamaica and the first in his family to attend college. He earned a B.Sc. in Chemistry and Biochemistry from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. Dr. Brown was a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar in London, England, where he served as Ambassador of Goodwill for Rotary International and earned a Postgraduate Diploma in Molecular Plant Pathology and Tissue Culture from Wye College, University of London. He holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry through a joint program between the University of the West Indies and Wye College; and an M.B.A. in Business Administration from Goizueta Business School, Emory University.

Dr. Brown has held senior administrative and faculty positions at two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities in Alabama, Georgia, New Jersey, and New York. He led the restructuring of academic programs, including embedding high impact practices, stackable credentials, guided pathways and experiential learning in curricula. He fostered strategic partnerships with two- and four-year institutions to develop Baccalaureate and Baccalaureate-Master transfer agreements with national and international institutions to accelerate student progression and completion. Dr. Brown was influential in developing institutional policies to impact student recruitment, retention, and graduation rates through exposure and engagement with high impact practices to strengthen student persistence. As a professor at Tuskegee University, he was instrumental in the development of an early college high school initiative between Selma High School and Wallace Community College in Selma, AL to provide students with the opportunity to simultaneously complete college and high school. Currently, he is the Associate Provost for Academic Programs and Education Effectiveness at Lehman College, The City University of New York.

Dr. Brown has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, promoting and fostering strategic partnerships, and developing strategic planning. Dr. Brown has a passion for increasing the number of college-eligible, underrepresented youth. As such, he collaborates with schools, government and non-profit organization to develop strategic initiatives to create awareness of the educational and career opportunities through research, leadership development, and personal enrichment. He received awards, commendations, and citations from organizations such as New Jersey’s Bergen County Executive; New Jersey’s Bergen County Board of Freeholders; The South Carolina House of Representatives; and The Southeastern Consortium of Minorities in Engineering; for his selfless dedication to working with underrepresented youth. Dr. Brown serves on the Board for the National Alliance for Partnership Public Policy Committee, he National Alliance for Partnership Education Foundation, the YMCA of Greater Bergen County, the Disable Combat Veterans Youth Program, and the Wise Scholars Foundation.

Torry Moorer, Vice president

Torry M. Moorer is a Human Resource Training and Professional Development manager with over 25 years of direct and administrative experience in youth care and development. He obtained his Bachelor and Master degrees from the City University of New York at Queens college respectively in Political Science and Urban Affairs, with a concentration in Public Policy & Administration.

He has worked as a Youth Coordinator with the Department of Youth Services and as Director of the Rev. Thomas Mason Community Center- one of the first “Beacon Programs” funded by Safe Streets, Safe City legislation. With the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) he has served as Chief of the Alternative High School Program, providing opportunities for NYCHA residents to obtain HS Equivalency diplomas. He also served as management trainer with NYCHA, responsible for training and interpreting NYS School-Age Child Care rules and regulations and all physical plant code requirements in the provision of care for youth and staff in over 75 community centers throughout the five boroughs of the city of New York.

In 2010, New York State began the long overdue process of transforming its juvenile justice system from a detention model of care to a therapeutic model of care, incorporating the “reality of the individual” and infusing a trauma informed care perspective into the training and development milieu for juvenile care providers. In his capacity as Director of Training for the NYC Department of Juvenile Justice, now known as the Administration for Children Services’ Division of Youth and Family Justice (DYFJ), he was responsible with incorporating best practices for in-service and pre-service training for over 700 secure and non-secure detention facility staff charged with providing care and custody of pre-adjudicated criminal and family court youth and with the identification, selection and implementation of Safe Crisis Management as the agency’s recognized and sanctioned verbal de-escalation and emergency physical intervention technique.

From 2013- 2015, Torry served as the Director of Training and Professional Development for the New York City Transit Authority, the largest mass-transit agency in the nation with over 40,000 employees. As Director, Torry was responsible for planning and administration of HR Training and Development programs to ensure compliance with best practice and industry standards to aid in the on-boarding and on-the-job training of new and promoted employees. In his role, he was directly responsible for facilitating and advancing the business objectives, talent and change management plans of the organization.

Tomer zilkha, treasurer

rev. joanne alston, community outreach

Rev. JoAnn Alston is Senior Associate Minister of the Mount Calvary Baptist Church, and the Minister of Christian Education and Discipleship. Since her tenure at Mount Calvary, Rev. Alston has developed a New Membership Manual, and she’s responsible for preparing two annual leadership institutes for the Mount Calvary Family. Rev. Alston, serving as the coordinator for Vacation Bible School, has designed and developed her own curriculum, as well as coordinated the feeding of the seniors and the Homeless monthly. She’s the CEO of Calvary Cares After School Program and was instrumental in starting the Back to School Celebration, a program that has lasted over 20 years.

Rev. Alston is a member of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs’ where she served as statistician, and a member of the Northeast Region Federation of Women’s Club. She has served as Recording Secretary and Regional Chaplain for the organization, and as the Northeast District President and Club President of Love, Hope & Charity. She is also Newly Elected Trustee, State Chaplain, Legislation Chairperson, and 21st State President of the New Jersey State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs and Youth Clubs, and is listed in Who’s Who for Women, Business, and Teaching after receiving the Rev. Elijah Hendon Teachers Award following her second year of teaching. She worked as an account coordinator of A.C. Nielson for 26 years, and is currently a teacher of the handicap on the Jersey City Board of Education. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from New Jersey City University with a major in Business Administration and a Certification in Special Education, as well as a Master of Divinity degree from New York Theological Seminary, and is a current Doctoral Candidate for a PhD in Education.

Magalye matos, secretary

"Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"

Grassroots community organizer, parent advocate, and a volunteer in our schools for ten solid years and counting. I have volunteered, advocated, listened, petitioned and connected parents, women, children, and seniors to key resources and services within our Englewood Community, Bergen County and Statewide services. I am humbly a recipient of Bergen County Civic Engagement Award and the Bergen County Census Award. I served successfully as former Parent Teacher Organization President of the Englewood Public School District, a trustee/volunteer on the Englewood Board Library for two terms and serve the Women's Rights Information Center. I have worked on countless projects such as #EnglewoodMaskUp, #DMHS 2020 Grad Lawn Signs, promote our CommUNITY, our diversity and equity amongst the residents. Assisted residents in overcoming language barriers and obstacles to services and information in our Latino community. My colorful experiences have made me stronger, wiser and more determined to serve.