Board of Education Members

Mayor Toni N. Harp

An abiding commitment to social justice steers Toni Harp’s career in public service. Over time she earned a reputation as “the conscience of the Senate” at the Capitol. Her drive for inclusiveness, equality, and integrity is the byproduct of resonant, across-the-board life experiences.

Toni was raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, the youngest of six children; an African-American Baptist in a primarily white, almost universally Mormon community. Both of her parents worked to support the family. Her mother was a Teamster and worked for Greyhound Bus Lines while her father worked for the Santa Fe Railroad.

Toni’s tireless work ethic is a function of lessons learned from her parents.

In the 1960s, Toni moved to the south side of Chicago to attend college. She earned a degree and began working for the American Society of Planning Officials. Her lifelong interest in urban planning and how cities work can be traced to that first job. From there, Toni was recruited to study at Yale’s School of Architecture where she earned a Master’s degree.

One of Toni’s early lessons about the rewards of activism was the result of a social justice matter when she worked – coincidentally – for the City of New Haven. Toni helped organize AFSCME Local 3144, a management union, and she became the Human Resources Department’s first union steward.

Toni’s enduring respect for working people and her tireless advocacy for issues important to all citizens has been unwavering since.

Toni’s public service in elected office began, first as a member of New Haven’s Board of Aldermen, and then, for the past 20 years, as Senator for the 10th District.

Throughout her distinguished tenure, Toni’s signature issues have never waivered:

—Full access to affordable healthcare, regardless of ethnic, cultural, or economic differences.

—A responsive and effective public safety network working hand-in-hand with an equitable criminal justice system.

—Maximizing opportunity for each individual student through public education, with particular emphasis on early childhood learning and development of reading skills.

—Job creation and economic development so city residents can enjoy the rewards and responsibilities of productive engagement, and so a vibrant city can provide necessary services without putting an excessive burden on taxpayers.

Then-Senator Harp recently co-chaired the state’s Achievement Gap Task Force, created to address the undeniable disparity in educational access and performance, which exists along ethnic, cultural, aharp_children.jpgnd socioeconomic lines. Recommendations made by the task force helped the state live up to its Constitutional mandate to provide every student an equal educational opportunity and meet our moral obligation to prepare the next generation for responsible, productive lives.

Earlier this year, Mayor Harp played a pivotal role -- as senator -- in passing Connecticut’s new law to address Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety. Toni was co-chair of the Mental Health Services Working Group, making recommendations built into the new law about providing mental health first aid services and taking advantage of enhanced behavioral health screening opportunities.

Toni has lived in New Haven for more than 40 years and works as the Homeless Service Director at the Cornell Scott Hill Health Center. She is the proud mother of three grown and accomplished children—Djana, Jamil, and Matthew.
Serves while in office
Chair:  Teaching and Learning Committee
Click here to visit the Mayor's Web Site.

Makayla Dawkins

Makayla Dawkins is a rising junior from James Hillhouse High School. She was the Vice President of her student council, a member of the James Hillhouse math team and has taken various college courses throughout the school year. She is also an educator for Planned Parenthood’s STARS program and firm believer in sexual education. When she isn’t reading or advocating for her peers, you can catch her at a concert or in the mall. She aspires to be a traveling journalist and New York Times best selling author. Makayla wants student government to be implemented in schools across the district and hopes for students to get the best education that they can.
Student Representative
Term Expires: 6/2019

Dr. Edward Joyner

Dr. Edward Joyner was born in the small rural community of Farmville, North Carolina where he attended segregated schools. He graduated from H. B. Suggs High School in 1965 with honors and attended Elizabeth City State University in Elizabeth City, North Carolina where he graduated with high honors receiving a degree in the Social Sciences.
While at Elizabeth City State, Joyner was active in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the vehicle that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used as the vanguard for the human rights movement.
He established the African American History curriculum at Hillhouse High School in 1970 with support from Mr. Thomas Raggozino, the chair of the history department, and Mr. Eugene Vitelli the school’s principal. He received a Master of Arts in Teaching from Wesleyan University in 1973 with high honors and completed his doctoral studies in School Administration at the University of Bridgeport in 1989. He has been an assistant principal and principal at the high and middle school levels, a head basketball coach (community college) and an assistant professor and administrator at the Yale Child Study Center where he was the Executive Director of the School Development Program at Yale, the oldest and most comprehensive school change program in America. He retired from Sacred Heart University in 2013 where he had served as the Director of the Five Year Masters of Arts in Education Program. Over the course of his 8 year tenure at Sacred Heart, Dr, Joyner taught and mentored several hundred teacher education majors. Some are currently employed in the New Haven Public Schools.
Dr. Joyner has presented throughout the world and trained educators and social policy makers throughout the United States. He has appeared on BET Tonight, NBC, and ABC addressing issues related to improving schools, especially for minority children. He is the author of the award winning Ebony Guide to Black Student Excellence and has been honored with several other awards in communities throughout the country for his work as an education change agent. He is the co-author of six books addressing the education of poor and/or minority children. They include Rallying the Village and Child by Child, two of the best sellers at Columbia Teachers College Press. He is the lead author of the Field Guide to Comer Schools in Action (Corwin Press, 2005) that describes thirty-five years of work done by the staff of the School Development Program and its founder, Dr. James P. Comer. And he has written chapters in several other books addressing issues of large-scale change in diverse communities. His worked with the ABC television network to  do a retrospective evaluation of  the Black and White kindergartners who integrated the Shaker Heights school system near Cleveland, Ohio several years after the Brown decision. The results were used to create an ABC primetime special on school integration that was shown on August 2005. His favorite quote is taken from the words of one of his intellectual heroes, Dr. Benjamin Mays, who was president of Morehouse College: “When you are born behind in the race of life, you must run faster.”
Elected Member, District 1 
Term Expires: 12/2021

Darnell Goldson

Darnell Goldson is was born and raised in New Haven, first attending Ivy Street School, Lincoln Bassett, Sheridan Junior High, and graduating as a merit scholar from James Hillhouse High School. While in his senior year at Hillhouse, Mr. Goldson attended a semester at the University of New Haven, and after graduation, attended Tufts University and NYU.
Mr. Goldson has over thirty four (35) years of management, administrative, political and advocacy experience, working in both the public and private fields. After leaving Tufts he joined the staff of Connecticut Congressman Bruce A. Morrison (CT-3); the first presidential campaign of Rev. Jesse Jackson; and various federal, state and local campaigns in and out of New Haven. He was the legislative assistant to the mayor of New Haven; as well as advocacy work for several organizations, including the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), where he spent several years leading that organization’s relief effort in response to Hurricane Katrina. He clerked both the Connecticut State legislature’s Housing and General Law Committees. He led the region’s largest anti-poverty agency, the Community Action Agency, as well as the national YouthBuild program in Massachusetts, where he developed programs to reintegrate high school dropouts into school or alternate educational and training programs. He is currently the Public Relations Director for two companies in northern Connecticut.
Mr. Goldson’s overall goal is to contribute to an educational reform movement that puts Kids First.
Elected Member, New Haven District 2 
Term Expires: 12/2019

Nico Rivera

Edgar “Nico” Rivera is a rising junior at Metropolitan Business Academy. He was born and raised in New Haven, CT along with his three siblings and a loving grandmother.  Nico has attended New Haven Public Schools for all of his educational life.  He began in kindergarten at John S. Martinez Sea Sky Stem Magnet school. After graduating from Martinez School, he chose to attend Metropolitan Business Academy, where he is studying Media and Digital Arts and taking some minor law classes. He is also a proud student athlete playing baseball, track and field, and football for Wilbur Cross.
Nico is a hard working person and leader. He credits his father, a twenty-two year U.S. Army veteran, for instilling the qualities of leadership in him. Nico proudly took the oath to be of service to his community, state, and nation through the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary called Civil Air Patrol were he has attained the rank of staff sergeant.  Nico has held multiple positions of leadership including squadron flight sergeant. Also through the Civil Air Patrol he acquired the training to be part of ground team and search and rescue units as a medic.  Nico is currently working his way up to ground team leader which is the highest position. Nico aspires to attend the U.S. Military Academy West Point in West Point, New York.  
As  a student member of the New Haven Board of Education, Nico's goal is to give the student population more of a voice in Board decisions when it comes to topics that are going to affect students in many ways.  
Student Representative
Term Expires: 6/2020

Dr. Tamiko Jackson-McArthur

Board Secretary
Chair: Governance Committee Meeting
Term Expires:  12/2021

Joseph Rodriguez

Joe Rodriguez is currently the Deputy State Director for the Office of United States Senator Richard Blumenthal where he supervises the Senator’s state staff and oversees two offices. Previously, Joe served as the Connecticut Outreach Organizer for the Senator where he was a liaison between the Senator's constituency and his Hartford and Washington D.C. Offices.  During this time he played a key role in decisions around immigration, housing, education, and issues impacting the island of Puerto Rico.  
Joe is the proud father of a New Haven Public School student and active parent at Benjamin Jepson Magnet. For the longest, he has been active in community service and advocacy - believing in the importance of everyone having a seat at the table when important decisions are being made.  
He also continues to be a long-time advocate for youth issues, specifically engaging young people on the importance of community service, secondary education, and other civic duties. He is often seen visiting local schools for career days and other youth empowerment events. 
Joe is a lifelong New Haven resident and product of the public school system.  
Other Past and Current Memberships Include: 

  • Workforce & Community Council,  Hartford Job Corps
  • Member, National Puerto Rican Agenda
  • Parent Team, Benjamin Jepson Magnet
  • Member, Community Impact Committee, United Way of Greater New Haven
  • Chairman, Connecticut Hispanic Democratic Caucus
  • Board of Directors, Fair Haven Community Health Center
  • Board of Directors, Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology
  • Co-Founder, PRU-Puerto Rican Festival of New Haven
  • Parent Team, Early Childhoods Learning Center
  • City of New Haven Youth Council
  • City of New Haven Board of Alders

Term Expires: 12/2022

Yesenia Rivera

Yesenia Rivera is currently the Program Director at Edgewood PTA Child Care and is the Director of Housing Assessment and Integration at The Connection’s Supportive House for Families Program.
As a parent and as child care director, Yesenia has been committed to the New Haven Public Schools since 1996 as member of the PTA at Edgewood School and Wilbur Cross High School.
Yesenia is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful daughters who all attended New Haven Public Schools. She is a long time resident of New Haven; she attended Troup Middle School and is a graduate of Hill Regional Career High School.
Ms. Rivera also attended college locally earning her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Albertus Magnus College.
Present and past Memberships include:

  • Board of Directors, Edgewood PTA Child Care Program, Inc.
  • State of Connecticut Healthy Homes Coalition
  • State of Connecticut Hoarding Workgroup
  • State of Connecticut Subsidized Housing Workgroup
  • Child Welfare League of America


Matt Wilcox

Matt Wilcox is a graduate of programs at Asbury University, James Madison University, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Matt has spent his career in libraries and higher education. He currently serves as the director of the Edward and Barbara Netter Library at Quinnipiac University.
Matt, his spouse JoAnne, and their family have lived in New Haven for more than twenty years. Their children attend and have graduated from New Haven Public Schools.
Matt has a deep and abiding belief that all children can learn and have a right to a high quality, free public education. “Education is not simply done to prepare a person for a lifetime of work, but to help a student build a life – a fulfilling life – as an active, engaged, and thoughtful member of our community.”