The Team

The Roots & Wings Team: Committed To Excellence

Emily Marchese

Executive Director

Emily Marchese is the Executive Director of Roots & Wings. She earned a Bachelors degree in English from Cornell University and a Masters degree from the London School of Economics. For over twelve years, Emily has been fundraising and developing programs to serve at-risk youth in New York and New Jersey. Her passion for making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and teenagers grew through leadership roles at CancerCare, the Endowment for Inner-City Education, and St. Philip’s Academy, in Newark, New Jersey. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” Every day, she is driven by the enthusiasm of the community in supporting these young adults, the passion of the clients to build a brighter future, and the dedication of this incredible team.

Stella Cook

Program Director

Stella Cook is the Program Director of Roots & Wings.  She earned a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Ithaca College and a Masters degree in Social Work from NYU.  Stella is a licensed clinical social worker and has been in the field of adoption, foster care, and child welfare services for over 20 years.  Her drive to create transformative positive change for youth who have been in foster care stems from her first job out of college, when she was a caseworker for a foster care agency.  Stella saw bright, enthusiastic, and driven teens facing the reality of a bleak future when they aged out of services, and felt powerless to do anything about it.  That experience has stayed with her all these years, and she is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with this dedicated, smart team to help our young people’s dreams for their own futures come true.

Meagan Jensen

Operations Manager

Meagan Jensen is the Operations Manager at Roots & Wings. She is a Licensed Social Worker and graduated with her Masters from Fordham University with a concentration in community based leadership and practice. Prior to Roots & Wings, she worked in development and spent 3 years working with survivors of human trafficking and gender based violence. Meagan has a passion for human rights and social justice.


Talya Readshaw

FLY Program Manager

Talya Readshaw is the FLY Program Manager at Roots and Wings. She completed her Master’s degree in Social Work at Rutgers University, and received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to joining Roots and Wings, Talya spent close to 10 years working with survivors of abuse. She is passionate about supporting teens and young adults as they work towards independence.

Rebecca Hess

RISE Case Manager

Rebecca Hess is one of the Roots and Wings Case Managers. She earned a dual-majored Bachelor’s degree from Montclair State University in Political Science and Gender/Sexuality/Women’s Studies. Rebecca is currently pursuing her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Rebecca has a passion for education accessibility for under-served populations.

Miguel Lockett

RISE Case Manager

Miguel Lockett is one of Roots and Wings Case Managers. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Baker College (Michigan) and a Master’s Degree in Forensic Science and Criminal Justice from Saint Leo University (Florida). Miguel is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Health & Wellness Counseling. Miguel has a passion for helping those in under-served populations.



Our Amazing Interns

Allison Mirabelli, Program Intern
Zeest Khan, Admin Intern

Our Supportive Board

  • Maria Chernock, President
  • June Toth
  • The Honorable Barbara A. Curran
  • Cynthia Evans
  • Roberta Hong
  • Donna Hughes
  • Brian Jennings
  • Scott Keith Kraemer
  • Farad Lowther
  • Wendy Masteller
  • Lisa Phillips
  • Susan Portnoi
  • Maureen Roberts
  • Robert Winston