Board of Directors

Ridvan Foxhall | Founder & Executive Director

Guided by the belief in the oneness of humanity, Ridvan Foxhall is committed to promoting in young people the conviction that they can be the voice of positive change in the world. To this end, for over two decades, she has committed her time, energy and resources to developing creative and educational programs for children with an emphasis on developing their moral capabilities alongside their intellectual and artistic talent.

In 2006, inspired by the Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) a non-profit organization based in NYC dedicated to “building character on stage,” She founded a Peekskill chapter of CTC.  In 2013, New Era Creative Space came into being, in response to the growing need for educational programs that were both creative and provided children the opportunity to develop leadership skills. Ridvan’s vision for NECS to become a hub for creative initiatives, community engagement and to inspire the next generation of mindful and innovative thinkers.

Ridvan Foxhall holds a Masters degree in occupational therapy and is a certified parenting educator. Originally from Nigeria, she currently resides in Peekskill with her husband and two children. She enjoys reading, dancing, playing tennis and hiking. 

Leslie Fields Cruz | Board Member & Secretary

Leslie Fields Cruz is the Executive Director of the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), and produces the PBS series AfroPOP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange.

Searching for an opportunity to share her love of theater with her children, Leslie Fields-Cruz joined the staff of Peekskill’s Children’s theatre company in 2009 with her own kids in tow. Since then, every fall season Leslie eagerly looks forward to creating the magic that is theater with the CTC community. Leslie served as the Artistic Director of City Lights Youth Theater in NYC from 1998-2000, and spent several years prior to that as an actor performing on stages in New York and Los Angeles.

When she is not playmaking at CTC, Leslie spends her time funding and distributing documentary films that explore the cultures of African Americans and people of the African Diaspora. Leslie lives in Cortlandt Manor with her musician husband Gerry Cruz, and their three daughters, Maya, Sumara, and Cierra.

Karen Foxhall-Schneider | Board President & Treasurer

Karen Foxhall-Schneider is a Certified Management Accountant and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from SUNY New Paltz and an MBA in Finance and Information Systems from Pace University. She has been employed by GE Capital for more than 10 years and currently works on SEC Reporting for GE. Her professional experience includes accounting for Manufacturing, Sales & Distribution, Industrial and Financial Services. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children.

Carmita Abrigo | Board Member

Carmita Abrigo joins our board because of her passion for the arts, creativity and providing youth the opportunities to explore all of the arts. Carmita understands that through the arts all children and adults can visualize what they are truly capable of and that is why she is committed to organizations like NECS.

Carmita started  volunteering in grade school, and then working for the Pacific Arts Center as an arts program manager full time through college and won the Sterling Munro Public Service award her senior year as she worked with professional artists and the local community providing arts programming to all sectors of the community but focused in on the low-income at-risk communities in Seattle, WA. She continues her volunteer work through the Girl Scouts of America as a delegate and completed her MBA in 2006. She has over 8 years of non-profit management experience and brings over 20 years of territory management experience to NECS. She continues to work in the Pharmaceutical industry as a Senior Sales Representative and a Regional Sales Manager focusing in Dermatology and Facial Aesthetics. Carmita Abrigo’s primary focus for NECS is writing grants and fundraising.

Advisory Board

Sharla St. Rose

Sharla is responsible for leading NFP’s voluntary benefits practice in the Northeast and also serves as a national subject matter expert. In her role she helps clients develop voluntary benefits programs that complement their core benefit offering. She works closely with companies and their consultants to develop enrollment and communication strategies that will lead to increased employee engagement.

Prior to working in voluntary benefits, Sharla worked as a Health and Welfare consultant and project manager, focusing on large clients with complex benefits programs. She is a frequent media contributor and panelist on all things related to voluntary benefits, enrollment, communication and engagement strategies. In 2014, Sharla was selected as the Voluntary Benefits Adviser of the Year by Employee Benefits Adviser Magazine.

Sharla is currently a Doctoral Candidate at Florida International University’s Chapman School of Business focusing on insurance related research, including health insurance literacy and moral hazard impact analysis.


Christine Kelly-Edelman | Managing Director

Jared Foxhall | Research and Development

Jared Foxhall is a resident of Peekskill, NY and a current sophomore at Bowdoin College in Maine where he studies government and history. He has a long history volunteering for NECS from social media marketing to mentorship. A global citizen, Jared has spent time living in China where he worked as a summer analyst for venture capital firm, SOSV, investing in tech-startups. He brings his passion for research, fundraising, and business development to NECS as a part-time grant writer and development strategist.