Elizabeth Horton Sheff
Elizabeth Horton Sheff is a justice seeker. Throughout her many years of community activism, she has advocated on many civil rights fronts, including championing the rights of persons who reside in public housing; those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS; families marginalized by economic challenges and grandparents raising grandchildren. Horton Sheff is also known for her role as named plaintiff of Sheff vs. O’Neill, the successful landmark civil rights lawsuit, with mandate to provide equal access to quality, integrated public education in Connecticut. She served on the City of Hartford, Court of Common Council from 1991-1995 and 1999-2001. During her tenure there, Ms. Horton Sheff initiated the “Campaign for Civic Pride,” which increased citizen access to and participation on City Boards and Commissions; promoted jobs and wealth building opportunities for Hartford residents and businesses in city assisted projects; created and led the city-wide literary effort “Keep Them Reading” campaign; encouraged community policing through strengthening the city’s Civilian Police Review Board; and hosted “Community Council,” a monthly public access television show through which she kept Hartford residents informed of resources available and happenings in Hartford city hall. Ms. Horton Sheff is a trained licensed nurse and a graduate of the Hartford Seminary Black Ministries Certificate Program. She holds an Associate and a Bachelor’s degree from Charter Oak State College, and a Masters of Education, Educational Technology degree, from the University of Hartford. She is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including a Doctorate of Humane Letters granted by the University of Hartford in 2013.
James “Jim” Boucher is co-chair of the Sheff Movement Coalition and has been active in the Sheff Movement for two decades. Jim also served two terms on Hartford’s City Council, from 2004-2012. During that time, he was the majority leader and chaired the Council’s Education Committee. He was selected to serve on the Hartford School Board, State Trustees Overseeing Hartford Board of Education from 2000-2002. Jim’s extensive experience includes working to strengthen positive youth development in the Greater Hartford region as well as years of successful experience as a leader of a multi-service community organization. Jim received his M.S.W. in Policy and Planning from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, and his B.A. in Political Science from the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA. Jim resides in Hartford, CT with his wife Kristen. Jim has two adult daughters Kara and Nicole Boucher.
Patricia (Patti) S. Beckett is a Connecticut native with a long history of involvement in education and social support programs. A graduate of Hartford Public High School, she earned a BA in ED from Arizona State University, then an MS in marriage and family counseling at Central Connecticut State University. She has taught at both elementary and technical schools, directed a young parent’s program, been involved in counseling in various settings and managed an independent family business. Patti has volunteered in a number of capacities with her church and in the community. She is a widow, with four adult children, twelve grandchildren, and two great-grand sons.
Sam Gloeckner is a certified public accountant licensed in Ohio and Connecticut. Sam is Manager in Ernst & Young's International and Transaction Tax Services practice. Sam has been the treasurer for Sheff Movement and a member of its board since February 2021. Sam and his wife Kayla are residents of West Hartford.
Norma Neumann-Johnson, Director of the Breakthrough Training Institute (breakthroughtraininginstitute.com), runs training courses and workshops in the powerful tools of mindfulness and brain science for parents, teachers, schools and communities. Her background includes several decades founding, designing, and being the principal of one, of the two Breakthrough Magnet Schools run by the Hartford Board of Education, known as "Global Schools for Students of Character." Norma testified in the Sheff vs. O'Neill court case for the plaintiffs and has participated in the Sheff Movement Coalition for the past two decades, serving on the Board of the SMC since 2016.
Leslie Cayer Ohta
Following college, Leslie taught Chemistry and Physics in the Philippines as a Peace Corps volunteer, and lived in Japan for five years, where she taught English and was a copy editor. Leslie was a U. S. Department of Justice attorney for over 30 years, where she handled a large variety of civil and criminal cases. Prior to her retirement, she volunteered to serve for a year in Iraq as a Federal Prosecutor. Leslie has done volunteer work in Uganda, South Africa, Malawi, Kenya, Thailand, the Czech. Republic, Bosnia, and on a Navajo Indian Reservation. In addition, Leslie has been involved with The Children’s Law Center, The Children’s Law Center, Lawyers for Children America, Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, the Glastonbury Rotary Club, the Glastonbury Democratic Town Committee, Glastonbury League of Women Voters, and the Glastonbury Board of Education. Currently, Leslie is on the following Boards of Directors: ABC House, which provides housing and a high school education for minority students; the Glastonbury MLK Community Initiative; and the Board of Probus, which provides support to intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals. In addition, Leslie is on the Steering Committee for the Catalyst Fund of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. Leslie is also involved with the League of Women Voters and the Social Justice Committee of TALK, a Glastonbury non-profit which addresses social justice issues; and serves on the Missions and on the Refugee committees of the Congregational Church of South Glastonbury.
Jessica Pepin is a Hartford native and has worked in education for over 20 years as a School Counselor & Administrator. She earned her B.A. from Central Connecticut State University in Sociology and Criminology and graduated from the Honors Program. After studying the criminal justice system she decided that education and early intervention would be where she focused her energy. She returned to Central Connecticut State University to earn her Masters and 6th Year degrees in School Counseling and Educational Leadership. She is currently an Elementary Assistant Principal for Capitol Region Education Council. She is also licensed as a LPC, Licensed Professional Counselor, in the state of Connecticut. Jessica has been steadfast in her commitment to equity in education and teacher development.
Duane P. Pierre
Duane P. Pierre is the Executive Director and founder of ParaDYM Academy, Inc, a tech ed program that combines critical conscious youth development with vocational training in the digital arts and sciences. Duane is a CCSU alumni with a BA in Communication who retains close professional ties to the University, particularly with the Department of Communication, the Office of Community Engagement and the Office of Continuing Education. Duane has been an instructor and an educator for over 21 years, including 3 years teaching at theJournalism and Media Academy in Hartford, CT for 3 years. Duane also works with youth in Title I school districts, charter and magnet schools throughout Connecticut. He is also a parent with 3 children who have either graduated or currently attend a Hartford magnet school.
Rev. Dr. Chinma Uche
Rev. Dr. Chinma Uche is a Math and Computer Science teacher at CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering. She holds Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Mathematics, a Doctor of Philosophy in Biomathematics (Epidemiology), and a Master of Divinity degree from Drew University Theological School. Three of Dr. Uche’s four children attended CREC magnet schools, thereby benefiting from the work of the Sheff Movement Coalition (SMC). Dr. Uche brings to the SMC board her experience advocating for access to quality Computer Science Education for all K-12 students, her experience as a teacher-leader and teacher-trainer, training teachers to bring Computer Science to their classroom across the nation. Dr. Uche also serves her community as the Pastor of East Berlin United Methodist Church.