MEET THE BOARD
Darlene A. Spencer is the Director of Family Support Initiatives for United Way of Greater New Bedford since 2007. Prior to this position she worked for Department of Children and Families for 23 years where she held varied direct social work positions in the areas of ongoing, adoption, investigations and hotline. The last nine years of her career at DCF she was the resource coordinator for the New Bedford Area office. As the area resource coordinator she was able to build many community partnerships and link both the community and particularly strength based family voice to the child welfare work of the New Bedford area office. In her current position, she directs many family strengthening initiatives through the Family Resource & Development Center. Darlene has been a past chair for the Leadership Council for the Women’s Fund of Southeastern Massachusetts and past chair of the WF’s Social Investment Change Committee. She continues to be a member of the Women’s Fund and is also a member of the Martha Briggs Education Club. Darlene was born on Brooklyn, New York and has been a lifelong resident of New Bedford. She is also the proud mother of two young adults Jamal and Dr. Maya Spencer
Jan Baptist is an educator, mentor, volunteer and community leader. She has a long history of involvement and service to numerous educational and civic associations working for social change. After serving Bristol Community College as a college administrator and instructor for 36 years, in 2009 she retired as Director of Disability Services. She continues with the college as an adjunct faculty member, teaching Developmental Reading and Psychology.
Jan holds an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts from Bristol Community College, a Bachelor in Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and a Masters in Education, Cambridge College. Jan also studied at Smith College as an Ada-Comstock Scholar and is a 2006 graduate of Leadership SouthCoast.
Working at the national and regional level with TRiO, a national social change and advocacy movement, she served many key Boards: New England Educational Opportunities Association Board (NEOA), chairing the Education and Legislation Committee, the Disabilities Task Force, and the Professional Development Committees. Jan co-founded the Massachusetts Educational Opportunities Association, (MEOA) chairing the Government Relations Committee and Annual Conferences.
She became involved locally as a board member of the YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts in 2002, then as Assistant Treasurer for several years, serving as the Board President from 2006 to 2012.
Jan is currently the Chair of the Alma del Mar, Board of Trustees and the Vice President of the Cape Verdean Association of New Bedford.
Past additional community volunteer positions include:
New Bedford Human Relations Commission, Chair
Women’s Fund Advisory Council, Governance Chair
Alumni Board of Directors, Bristol Community College,
The Multicultural Awareness and Diversity Advisory Board, Friends Academy, Dartmouth MA
Treatment on Demand, Director
New Bedford 20/20 Planning Committee, member.
New England Peer Tutor Association (NEPTA), Co-founder
Jan is the recipient of several Bristol Community College awards, the Silver Shield Service Award, the Scepter and Scroll Award for Exceptional Leadership, and Honorary Mention for Outstanding Advisor. She is a recipient of the National Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Recognition Award, for Outstanding Contributions to Student Success.
Gail M. Fortes has served has served as the Executive Director of the YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts since 2006. Gail started at the YWCA 24 years ago, and has served the YWCA in numerous capacities since 1994. Gail has her Bachelors in Physical Education and Masters in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. Gail is the Immediate Past President of the National Association of YWCA Executives, Trustee of Alma del Mar Charter School, Corporator for BayCoast Bank, Past Chair of the Board of Lifestream Inc., Past Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of Our Sister’s School, Board Member of Youth Opportunties Unlimited, Board Member of the SouthCoast LGBTQ Network, Board Member of the SouthCoat Chamber of Commerce, Board Member/Secretary of the United Front Development Corp., and a member of the Advisory Board of the Human Services Department for Bristol Community College and Community Nurses Home Care. She is a past Vice-Chair of the YWCA New England Region, past Board Member of the United Way of Greater New Bedford and past co-chair of the Bristol County Commission on the Status of Women.
Lisa Amaral is a proud New Bedford resident and native. She graduated from Greater New Bedford Regional Vacation Technical High School and attended Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts where she played collegiate basketball. During her time at ENC, her basketball team made it to the “Sweet 16” which taught her that hard work and dedication would take her very far in life and with her community. Lisa is currently a Regional Retail Manager at First Citizens’ Federal Credit Union. She oversees the New Bedford South and North branch locations along with Mattapoisett and Wareham. Although Lisa was born in New Bedford, both of her parents were born in Sao Vicente, Cabo Verde. Lisa grew up in the South End of New Bedford and distinctly remembers her childhood consisting of daily trips to Johnny Papa’s store where Johnny Papa would frequently give her free candy. Lisa’s large Cape Verdean family is very close. They value their relationship with Jesus, share the love of their cultural roots, and, most importantly, they love to help people. Lisa now owns a home in the West End of New Bedford and enjoys spending time with her husband and three children. She has always had a heart for the New Bedford community as it has helped her shape the person she has become. Lisa is now passing that love on to her children by getting them involved in community events alongside her.
Carlos A. Almeida, PH.D
Dr. Carlos A. Almeida is an Associate Professor of Portuguese and the Director of LusoCentro at Bristol Community College in Fall River, Massachusetts and a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Portuguese at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, a Masters of Arts in Hispanic Literatures and Linguistics and a Doctorate in Lusophone Literatures and Cultures from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
He specializes in Portuguese and Cabo Verdean Languages, Literatures and Cultures. He is a co-translator of Baltazar Lopes’ Chiquinho – A Novel of Cabo Verde (2019).
Irondina R. Abreu
Irondina is a Legislative Aide for State Representative Antonio Cabral. Her great passion is to work in the community that she lives in. She considers herself a leader in her community. She is well-known as a successful organizer and people person. She is a very proud, ambitious immigrant from Cape Verde Islands, who came to this land of opportunity with the aspiration to become a successful citizen. By choice, she became a successful professional in the social system and cultural life of communities. To make her career more fascinating she makes sure her presence is involved in organizations such as Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change (MFOFC), Conservation Law Foundation (CIF), MIT Urban Studies Healthy Neighborhood Study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson project, graduate from LIT 1199SEIU (involvement with Coalition for Social Justice Grass Roots Activism and Voter Empowerment), graduate from NeighborWorks with Community Leadership Institute, as well Mass and Motion (MiM). In 2016, while working for United Way of Greater New Bedford, she graduated from Leadership South Coast. Irondina is currently serving as a member of the Cape Verdean Embassy Task Force in Washington D.C.
Starlene Alves, ESQ.
Starlene Alves is a partner at Alves|Santos, PC and has over a decade of legal experience. Prior to starting the firm, Starlene was a solo practitioner servicing the SouthCoast area with a primary focus in estate planning, personal injury and entertainment law. She especially has a passion working with emerging talent drafting and negotiating recording and producer agreements, talent agreements and brand ambassador contracts.
Starlene is a graduate of University of Massachusetts – Amherst and New England Law|Boston. She began her legal career at the Law Office of Moira E. Tierney, a boutique Domestic Relations firm based in the New England area and remained at the firm for nearly eleven years. During her time there, Starlene represented a variety of clients from different cultural backgrounds in divorce, support and custody matters as well as personal injury and estate planning. Starlene also played an integral part in the firm's day-to-day operations and often provided innovative solutions for policy and procedure.
Starlene's goal has always been to give back to her community and to provide legal services to those in need. Starlene focuses much of her practice in transactional matters including contract review and real estate - helping those in underrepresented communities understand their legal rights and obligations.
Starlene is also an executive officer of the Cape Verdean American Lawyers Association and a board member of the United Way of Greater New Bedford.
Leanne M. Fisher-Ross
Leanne M. Fisher-Ross is a Police Officer for the City of New Bedford and the School
Resource Officer at GNB Voc-Tech High School. In this position she is a positive role
model to the youth that she works with. Ms. Fisher-Ross graduated from Fisher College
in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.
She enjoys using her skills to connect with the community to ensure positive
interactions with everyone. She previously served on the YWCA Southeastern MA
Board of Directors for six years, and currently is a member of the Cape Verdean
She and her husband have 3 children who are loved and raised in a faith-based home.
Tanya Alves is a first-generation Cape Verdean American. Fluent in the creole language she
was raised in New Bedford and now resides in Dartmouth with her husband Carl and children Christian and Madison. Taking great pride in her heritage, she never stops learning about her Cape Verdean roots and works to preserve and celebrate the culture in the community. Educated in New Bedford Public Schools she has a Bachelor's degree in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth.
Ms. Alves is the principal in Southcoast Development Solutions, LLC, a consultancy business she owns with her husband. As a business partner with her mother, she operates Celia’s Boutique. Located in downtown New Bedford, it is one of a few minority women-owned businesses in the city.
In service to her community, she values family, faith, community, and advocating for equity and social justice, mentoring young people for more than 20 years, and directing after-school and community employment and training programs. She has served on the board of directors of the YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts, for six years and is presently a member of the Martha Briggs Educational Club and the Dartmouth Rotary.
Angelo Barbosa was born in Cape Verde, in Assomada, Island of Santiago, where he lived his childhood.
Angelo Barbosa holds a BA in Management and Administration by Fundacao Getulio Vargas, Sao Paulo Brazil, and a Master of Science in Computer Science from Ball State University, Indiana, in the United States. As a professional, he worked for more than 20 years in Public Administration, leading innovation projects related to Electronic Governance - EGOV.
For 7 years, he was a member of the newly created University of Cape Verde first Board, as the Chief Information Officer.
He was a member of the Board of Directors and Project Manager of Prime Consulting, a
company in Cape Verde in the field of consulting in information systems, and a pioneer in the introduction of Cloud Computing and Coworking spaces.
Given his strong interest in the Education sector, he has developed special projects with public schools in order to create opportunities for students to be exposed to technology, development tools, and solutions for real-world problems.
He is an Advisor at the Institute for Leadership in Cape Verde, led by the former President
Pedro Pires and a partner at the Barboza Space Center in California, an initiative that aims to create international collaboration in STEM between Cape Verdean and American Students.
He helped to design and implement E-GOV projects and participated in the development of Information Systems at the Ministry of Industry in Angola.
As a musician and a member of one of the most emblematic bands in Cape Verde he uses
music and writing as a platform to develop educational projects and engagement in history,
culture and identity.
Currently he is the Director of the Institute for Cape Verdean Studies at Bridgewater State
University, in Massachusetts.