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.

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.

Shaun Adams

Program Director

Shaun is the Program Director here at Roots and Wings. He earned a Bachelor’s of Social Work Degree from Iona College, and a Master’s degree from The Hunter School of Social Work. For over 14 years, Shaun has been working in the fields of trauma and supportive housing. Shaun’s passion has been to help those who have endured cycles of trauma and abuse break free of those harmful relationships, patterns, and belief systems. He is passionate about building healthy communities, creating stable and nurturing environments, and supporting a strong team of clinicians to make a significant impact in helping our clients to define and achieve full and satisfying lives for themselves.

Allison Mirabelli

RISE Case Manager

Allison Mirabelli is one of Roots and Wing’s Case Managers. She earned a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Bachelor’s degrees in Criminology and Psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She is a National Certified Counselor awaiting her state licensure for Counseling in New Jersey. Allison began her involvement with Roots and Wings as an intern where she developed a passion for helping young adults work towards their goals and independence.

Roben Rasheed-Hernandez

Volunteer Coordinator

Roben Rasheed-Hernandez is the Volunteer Coordinator at Roots and Wings.  She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English from Rutgers University.  Prior to joining Roots and Wings, Roben worked in the corporate sector for 30+ years as a communications consultant, media spokesperson and employee and volunteer programs coordinator. A former board member of the Urban League of Union County, she believes in helping NJ communities in need achieve positive and lasting change.

Lamont James

RISE Case Manager

Lamont James is one of Roots and Wings Case Managers. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from Bloomfield College. Lamont is currently pursuing a boxing trainer certification at Aces Boxing Club in Boonton, NJ and a Personal Training certification at the National Personal Training Institute (NPTI). Lamont has a passion for helping people from all ages and back ground.


Amanda Elgarhi

FLY Program Intern/RISE Case Manager

Amanda Elgarhi is FLY Program Intern at Roots and Wings. She earned her Bachelor’s  degree in English from Dominican College. She is currently completing a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling at the University of Idaho, and due to graduate December 2019. Prior to joining Roots and Wings, she worked with children on the autism spectrum for over 5 years. She is passionate about helping those with disabilities reach their full potential.

Our Amazing Interns

Amanda Elgarhi, Program Intern
Dajah McGowan, Admin Intern

Our Supportive Board


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