Just applied to join JFFLabs’ Startup Accelerator for Work-Based Learning to ultimate

The Board

Wesley Garvin President/CEO

Wes Garvin the founder of STAND (Students Taking Action Now w/ Determination), leadership organization in 2009.    In the thirty years prior to his involvement in adult education, Wes has been working in the Hospitality Industry, working his way up from an hourly employee to a restaurant and Hotel manager, to a Senior Recruiter, to a self employed entrepreneur and employer of a recruiting agency.  During this last experience of starting and running his own company, has built his expertise in the exact arena which STAND needed in order to become such a powerful voice in the adult education community in such a short amount of time. He knows how to recruit talent, manage projects, and deliver results that continue to build the organization.    

Rich Barchak,

Software and Consulting Solutions – Higher Education Rich has been a thought leader in the higher education field for the past 19 years. He focuses on partnering with key stakeholders to develop innovative solutions that are tailored to improving program efficacy and student learning outcomes.  Rich is a proven consultative and results-oriented leader. He has a passion for empowering lives through access and affordability to educational resources.  Prior to joining Edmentum, Rich worked various in leadership roles within the high growth divisions of several major education companies. He currently serves as a Territory Director for Edmentum Higher Education and is based in Houston, Texas.    

Isa M. Lopes

Currently work as a Case Manager/Employment Specialist for Community Work Services in North Providence, Rhode Island. Ms. Lopes has more than nine years of experience in the field of human service which includes case management, client advocacy and service coordination. Ms.Lopes is passionate and committed to helping individuals that she serves by empowering them to become self-sufficient. She earned her BA in Psychology from University of Massachusetts Boston.     

Maria Duarte

Maria Duarte is a Senior Human Resources Representative of Tiffany & Co. at the Forest Hill Manufacturing Facility in Cumberland, Rhode Island since 2001. Tiffany & Co. is recognized worldwide as an American luxury jewelry and specialty retailer, with its merchandise wrapped inside the iconic Tiffany Blue Box. Prior to joining Tiffany & Co., Maria was the Benefits Administrator for Paramount Cards Inc., a publisher/manufacturer of greeting cards, which was located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Maria Duarte possesses over 30 years of human resources experience which includes talent management, organizational development, training and development, and leadership and management coaching, as well as benefits administration. Maria is passionate about helping businesses make the most of their resources and talent and helping individuals, empowering them to make the most of their personal and professional growth. Maria holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Providence College, majoring in Business and is a member of Society for Human Resource Management.    

Courtney DiDonato


 Currently works for a non-profit agency called WORK, INC located in Pawtucket, RI as a Career Navigator.  She provides job development and job coaching services to adults with disabilities and employment challenges.  She has worked professionally for three years, as well as volunteered throughout her middle and high school years.  Courtney graduated from Rhode Island College with a Bachelors of Arts degree specializing in Psychology and is a Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP).  Her passion and devotion to this field is not only due to her education and experience but also to her dedication and assistance to her sibling who was born with a disability.  Her aspirations to be an advocate for all adults with disabilities and/or employment challenges is what drives her as she moves forward in her future endeavors.  Being raised with a family member with these exact issues has led Courtney to realized and develop the exact strategies to not only assist her sibling but venture forward into this profession.  Her ability to think out of the box and individualized each participant’s strengths and needs is a valued asset she continues to reinforce and build upon.  Courtney is dedicated to assist everyone to seek out their opportunities and reach their employment goals.  

Maria Rivera

Is resident of the City Central Falls, RI, where as of January is a Councilwoman-at-large. She is the first Puertorican coucil at large in this city.  She's currently pursuing her education at Roger Williams University, majoring in Public Administration and works for the State of Rhode Islands Department of Human services as a senior eligibility technician. She's an alumni of the Rhode Island Latina Leadership Institute, previously a member of the Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund and the Rhode Island Political Action Committee and the democratic committee in Central Falls. She currently is the Public Relations officer for Rhode Island Professional Latinos Association, as well as for the Puerto Rican Professional Association of RI.  Maria is the mother of 2 teenagers who have motivated her to continue engaging in the community, the importance of reaching out to today's youth and educating them about the importance of civic engagement, as this is definitely one of her primary focuses.      

Myrtle Jalaber


Myrtle has been in the Recruiting sector of Human Resources for the past 10 years. She is a Talent Acquisition professional who partners with hiring executives and HR teams to optimize human capital management within their organizations and has provided full life cycle recruitment solutions in arenas that encompass hospitality, manufacturing, travel and telecommunications. She has also enjoyed entrepreneurial success in publishing and creative content conceptualization.

What she loves most about what she does is, “giving people a chance to do well.” This ardent passion for the discovery of new ideas, people, places and things has been integral to the development of her well-honed eye for identifying talent and the fosterment of relationships that enhance pipeline generation.

Myrtle holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Myrtle Jalaber

Semhar Abraham


Semhar, customer service representative with over ten years of experience.  As been part of the development team of STAND International Semhar, bilingual adult learner, has played in Integral role in the development of STAND. 

Semhar has been an advisory board member for many adult learner organization in the United States. 

Originally from Eritrea Africa Semhar has acquired a high school diploma in the states as well as graduated from Texas Central Texas College from the Paralegal Program. currently working as a customer service agent for health insurance company Humana.  Semhar believes that outstanding customer service makes a different.

Hellen Metafria


A Self-Motivated, dependable employee who values timeliness. Experienced travel agent, with over ten years customer service experience, with effective communication skills. Hellen is Proficient in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook), Galileo and Amadeus, SITA database programs. Hellen is also fluent in Amharic and English. Hellen has worked for HMSHost at TFGreen Airport, Warwick she has assist in the four different HMSHost businesses in the airport. Hellen has worked in the Airline/Travel business for more than thirteen years. AirServe, Warwick, RI Customer Service agent greets TACV and Condor international passengers and assist them with the ticketing and baggage check in process, verifying identification and ticket.  Gate announcements with regard to the boarding process. Operate jet ways to place them in position prior to aircraft arrival. Hellen currently works with Southwest Airlines at TFGreen Airport, Warwick, RI Ground Ops Customer Service Agent Interacts with passengers to provide them with information about flights. Issuing tickets international or domestic flights Assisting passengers with kiosk for checking process collects payments and verifying identification Gate announcements. Education Rhode Island College, Providence, RI 2009. Customer Service and Insurance Technician Certificate 2009 URI Feinstein Providence Campus, Providence, RI Look and Leap Program 2014.

Andrew Ming II


Andrew Ming II. I was Born in Bermuda in 1980 and moved to America just before my sixth birthday. I am an adult learner who received my GED thru R.I.R.I.A.L., and i know the hardships and struggles that being an adult learner can bring. I now work in the field of helping people with Developmental Disabilities, and i enjoy coming up with new ways to help people. I am a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan and also a diehard Yankee's fan. Hopefully one day my efforts to help people will bring about not just social change, but meaningful change to people's lives.