Elaine Lane — CEO & Founder
Elaine is a native of Charleston, South Carolina, received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Johnson C. Smith University located in Charlotte, North Carolina. A graduate study in Learning Disabilities was taken at Montclair State University.
She was an educator in Newark, New Jersey for the Newark Board of Education for thirty years. She then became Lead Teacher for Montclair State University’s Pre-Collegiate Teaching Academy in Paterson shortly after retiring from Newark. She remained in Paterson for four years. At present, Elaine is an Adjunct Professor at Montclair State University teaching courses related to teaching. She also mentors student teachers.
In 1998– Elaine lost her son to gun violence. In that year 3,792 youth under the age of 19 were killed due to gun violence, according to the Center for Disease Control. The loss of her only child took a heavy toll on her life. After years of suffering with grief, she founded David’s Shoes a New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation. The program’s aim is to reduce teen violence by encouraging children and youth to honor life. She has developed various programs that give opportunity to students to reflect positively about their lives.
Elaine’s dream is to make David’s Shoes’ full program dedicated to uplifting children and parents, making sure our child have roots and wings. Her greatest desire is to be a vehicle of change to at least one teenager.
Patricia A. Session — Vice President
Pat graduated Valedictorian of her high school class and would later attain a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications (Magna Cum Laude) from Kean University in Union New Jersey. While at Kean, she earned the distinction of acceptance into three major academic Honor Societies and Dean’s List honors. Having completed 30 years of service with AT&T, Pat retired in 1999 under the Voluntary Retirement Incentive Plan. At the time of her retirement she served as Marketing Manager for the implementation of new products and services. She is most proud of the wonderful experiences afforded her while traveling, teaching, and touching the lives of so many people along the way.
Not completely ready for retirement, Pat began working as a substitute teacher for the Hillside Board of Education in 1999. At the same time she continued her educational pursuits, graduating from Kean University in 2000. Currently, she serves as Office Manager for the Superintendent of Hillside Public Schools. This position allows her to do that which she believes is her calling, communicating with all types of personalities, and advocating for those who need help. Pat is a founding member of the Nia Fellowship Baptist Church where she proudly serves as the Church Clerk. She represents the church in an Official capacity as she prepares records and maintains all documents pertaining to the church. Pat is a founding member of David’s Shoes, Inc. and has served on the Board of Directors since its inception. Her lifelong ambition can be summarized in these words from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.”
Evelyn L. Stanley — Treasurer
Evelyn was born in Conway South Carolina. Evelyn was a member of the first integrated graduating class of Conway High School. She is an avid student of African American History and Culture. She spends her time researching and gathering as much information as she can find in order to equip and prepare future generations of African American enthusiasts.
Upon graduation from Conway High School, she relocated to Washington, D.C. where she spent a few years working for Governmental agencies. Evelyn moved to New Jersey and worked for the Prudential Insurance Company, retiring after more than 20 years. She also attended Bloomfield College in Bloomfield New Jersey. She is currently employed by the Hillside Board of Education as the District’s Payroll Manager. She is actively involved in the Nia Fellowship Baptist Church where she is one of the founding members. She serves in the capacity of Church Secretary and participates in several other auxiliaries within the church. Her love for working with children is masterfully exhibited through her Sunday school and Vacation Bible School activities that she constantly prepares for them. The Ashanti Proverb “If you are on a road to nowhere, find another road” is her call to action.
Rev. Alphonsus Platt — Board Member
Rev. Platt was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. He was educated in the Newark Public School system where he graduated from Weequahic High School. He has an extensive education and music background. He has two Master’s degrees in Education from New Jersey City University and The College of New Jersey. He also has a Certificate in Christian Ministry from New York Theological Seminary. He has worked as a professional drummer with many well-known gospel artists. He serves as the Pastor of the Nia Fellowship Baptist Church in West Orange, NJ.
Rev. Platt has made a positive impact on the lives of thousands of people since becoming a professional musician in 1975 and becoming a teacher in 1982. He has been the recipient of many community service awards. He works hard to improve the quality of life for all people. He believes that the healing formula to help our communities is the mixture of God, Education, and Love.
Wade Hudson — Board Member
Children’s book publisher and author Wade Hudson, Jr. was born and raised in Mansfield, Louisiana, where he attended Desoto High School. He went on to attend Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he became involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Hudson worked for several Civil Rights organizations in the South and was one of the “Baton Rouge Three,” three African American men arrested because of their involvement with Civil Rights activities in Baton Rouge, LA.
Hudson also worked as a newspaper reporter, a public relations specialist and served as executive director of Pure Energy Music Publishing, a music publishing company he owned with his brothers. In 1988, Hudson and his wife Cheryl, founded Just Us Books, Inc., a company that publishes books for children and young adults that focus on Black history, Black culture, and Black experiences. The company is now one of the nation’s leading children’s book publishers. Because of Hudson’s marketing success with Just Us Books, major companies such as Harper Collins and Scholastic, Inc. have hired him as a marketing consultant to boost their sales in the African American market.
He has received numerous awards and honors, including the Stephen Crane Award for his writing, and he was inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent in 2004. Hudson serves on many boards, including the Langston Hughes Library at the Children’s Defense Fund and he is a Deacon at his church, Imani Baptist Church in East Orange, New Jersey. He lectures around the country on topics such as writing, publishing, black history and culture and black empowerment.
Shirley Thompson — Board Member
Shirley Thompson is an Alumni of Essex County College, concentrating in working with Special Needs children in a learning environment. Thompson’s Military Educational Background includes: The Department of the Army Non-Commissioned Officer Academy, earning the Commandant’s Award for Outstanding Student. Shirley is a graduate of The New Jersey Military Academy, a graduate of USAR Advanced Retention NCO Course at Fort McCoy, WI., a graduate of Authorized Facilitator for the Total Quality Leadership Program in Atlanta, GA. She also graduated and received many other diplomas, certifications, and award letters during 28 year of military duty. Her greatest achievements are helping those in distress or in need. Some of Shirley’s community involvement included: Church, David’s Shoes, United Way, Women’s Resources (shelters for battered women), and Retirement Services Office volunteer (helping retired vets with benefits).