Erica Quiroz, Executive Director
Erica has a B.A. in Psychology from NYU and her Master of Public Administration from Baruch College. She spends time volunteering in her community as a member of the Junior League. After graduating from college, she spent several years in advertising at firms in New York City as an Account Executive and Project Manager. Erica started as a camp volunteer in 2011 and joined The ELM Project staff full time in 2012.
Di Masters, Director of Development
Di brings more than twenty years of experience in leadership, strategic planning, programming, development, fundraising, and organization to the Elm Project team. Her combined experience in the financial sector: Morgan Stanley, Phillips & Drew, Int’l., & Crosby Securities, the Non-profit sector, as a 24-year elected municipal official and a certified emergency response volunteer prior to joining the Elm Project enable Di to bring an impressive combination of operational and management expertise, combined with a real commitment to people. Her non-profit work has included Executive Director of the Ridgefield Community Center at historic Lounsbury House, Program Director of Domestic Violence Prevention Programs, and a consultant with Solutions & Services.
Nyeka Desther, Community Engagement Coordinator
Nyeka has a BSW from the New York Institute of Technology. Since graduating college, Nyeka has been dedicated to working with families in the non- profit sector. She has several years of experience working as a case worker in a foster care prevention program at the Harlem Children’s Zone in NYC, and as a Family Advocate at the Norwalk Housing Authority – Early Learning Academy. Nyeka remains dedicated to serving underserved populations. Nyeka is responsible for camper recruitment, building/maintaining relationships with families and community partners.
Our Summer Administrative Team
Steve Kidd, MFA, Program Director
Steve has been involved with camp since 1998. Steve is an actor, director and Assistant Professor of theater at Brown University in Providence. He has worked as an actor and a director in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Boston and London. Steve holds a B.A. from Colby College in Waterville, ME where he double-majored in Performing Arts and English, and an M.A. in Theater Studies from Brown University. Steve was a recipient of a 2008 Lewis Hine Award for his “unique contributions to the essential job of helping children and youth move towards self-sufficient and satisfying adulthoods.” He was honored for his work at Camp AmeriKids and ongoing commitment to educating students about HIV/AIDS through performances of his one-man show Sigh/Omelas.
Dean Straff, MD, Medical Director
Dean is presently an Attending Physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at New York Presbyterian–Weill Cornell Medical Center. He graduated from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed an Emergency Medicine Residency at New York–Presbyterian Hospital, where he was named Chief Resident. As a resident, Dean received Housestaff of the Year award, given by the Cornell Alumni Council. Dean is currently a core member of the Education Committee for the New York–Presbyterian Emergency Medicine Residency Program. He has also participated in numerous Global Health initiatives and has traveled to India, Kenya, Guatemala, and Tanzania.
Robert B. Bristow, MD, Camp Physician
Rob is Director of Disaster Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and serves as Medical Director of Emergency Management at New York–Presbyterian Hospital. He received his SC-MD from the Medical University of South Carolina. Rob has been volunteering with Camp AmeriKids since 1995.
Ann Bello, RN, MA, Nursing Facilitator
Ann is Professor Emeritus of Nursing at Norwalk Community College. Her career began as a staff nurse in New York City where she was among the group of health professionals who opened Martin Luther King Health Center in the Bronx. In addition to teaching nursing, she has been a consultant to home care agencies in their development of programs for mothers and children. Currently she is a volunteer at the AmeriCares Free Clinic in Norwalk, CT. She graduated from St. Vincent’s Hospital School of Nursing in New York, obtained a BSN from Hunter College and an MA in nursing from Teachers College at Columbia University. Ann has been volunteering with Camp AmeriKids since 2006.
Meg Reilly, Wellness Coordinator, Session 1
Meg has a Masters in Counseling, and has been part of the Wellness Team at Camp AmeriKids since 2003. Throughout the year, Meg writes a weekly muse/letter on mindfulness with a focus on compassionate living and making intentional choices. Employing an interdisciplinary approach to achieving good mental and spiritual health, Meg’s purpose is guiding and supporting people of all ages to find and forge their own path. Her mission has been life-long and, over the years, she has served her community in many ways: religion class teacher, poverty volunteer, mentor and hospice counselor. Meg brings her wisdom and experience to all participants at Camp AmeriKids.
Alison Schwenzer, Wellness Coordinator, Session 2
Alison has been part of the camp community for over 10 years. She earned her BS from James Madison University with a major in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences and a minor in Middle School Education. She received her MA in guidance and counseling from New York University. When not at camp, Alison works for the NYC Department of Education as a middle school guidance counselor. At camp, Alison helps to provide emotional support to our campers and staff.
Wesley Jacobs, Director of Operations
Wes attended Camp AmeriKids for many years as a camper before joining our Leader-In-Training program in 2010. After graduating “Most Likely to Win Jeopardy” from the LIT Program, Wes continued to give back to the camp community as a volunteer counselor and a member of the operations team. For several summers, Wes proved himself an invaluable part of the camp program, and in 2014 was promoted to the position of Director of Operations. Wes is in the process of transferring to John Jay College in NYC to complete his BS in police studies and community involvement. He intends to become a police officer in NYC with the goal of creating a better bond between people in the community and the officers who serve them.