exalt’s Providing Services From Harlem To Hollis Announces New Board Chair Yumari L. Martinez

Executive Director, Gisele Castro announced today the appointment of exalt’s new Board Chair, Yumari L. Martinez, Esq. effective July 1, 2021. An active member of the exalt Board since 2018, Martinez understands the complexities of the issues faced by the students exalt serves and has dedicated his career to addressing the racial injustices and inequalities that have been ingrained in our current criminal justice system.

Martinez succeeds Lizzie Elston, who has served as chair since 2017. Joining Martinez as officers of exalt’s Board are Vice Chair, Lamson Lam, Senior Executive Director, Office of Interschool Collaborative Learning; Treasurer, Ruth Frommer, Chief of Finance and Operations, The Village School, Inc.; and Kunal Das, Director of Strategic Accounts at Bluecore as Secretary.

“I am honored to lead exalt’s talented board and look forward to working with Gisele Castro, our Executive Director, as we grow and expand the influence of this transformative organization throughout the five boroughs of New York City,” said Yumari L. Martinez, Esq., exalt Board Chair. “exalt is truly a one-of-a-kind organization that is dedicated to helping youth, and in particular youth of color, across New York City thrive through a rigorous curriculum that focuses on the effect of the school-to-prison pipeline and brings internship opportunities that build a positive, constructive future and a viable path for economic advancement.”



In addition to his new role as chair of the board, Martinez is also the Co-Director of the Youth Justice Initiatives at the Columbia Justice Lab, at Columbia University in Harlem, NY.

Martinez is also a consultant for the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Previously, Martinez was the Associate Commissioner for the New York City Administration for Children’s Services – Division for Youth and Family Justice.

Martinez also served as the Associate Director of the Center on Youth Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice and was a Clinical Teaching Fellow at New York University School of Law, co-teaching the Offender Reentry Clinic.

Martinez began his career, representing death penalty clients at the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama. He is a graduate from New York University’s Law School.

“exalt is extremely fortunate to have Yumari’s leadership as Board Chair, and I look forward to working together with him as we continue to address the needs of the youth we serve,” said Gisele Castro, Executive Director of exalt.“Yumari’s extensive experience in addressing the inequalities embedded in our current criminal justice and educational systems will greatly assist our organization in initiating change while preparing our students for a lifetime of success.”

Since its inception, exalt has consistently achieved low recidivism rates, vacated and reduced/fairer sentences, and increased school engagement for court-involved youth. The rigorous program model enables youth to make profound behavior changes that are shared with the courts to demonstrate compliance and meaningful growth.

New York’s oldest alternative-to-incarceration agency, and now serving all five boroughs from headquarters in lower Manhattan. exalt has served over 1,900 young people ages 15-19.

Founded in 2006, exalt is an award-winning, best-practice designated program originally conceived at CASES, New York’s oldest alternative-to-incarceration agency, and now serving all five boroughs from headquarters in lower Manhattan. exalt has served over 1,900 young people ages 15-19.

Youth who enter the exalt program attend six weeks of after-school classes where they learn from a rigorous curriculum. Following this phase, our students are prepared for and matched with an 8-week paid internship. exalt interns have worked at high-profile partner organizations such as the Innocence Project and DBI.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the program moved from in-classroom instruction and in-person internships to a fully virtual model, and 333 students have graduated from the program since March of 2020. The exalt model is not just about avoiding jail and finding meaningful work.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the program moved from in-classroom instruction and in-person internships to a fully virtual model, and 333 students have graduated from the program since March of 2020. The exalt model is not just about avoiding jail and finding meaningful work.

It is also about re-engaging young people in their love of learning and in helping them embrace the urgency of taking action to reverse their journey along the school-to-prison pipeline.

For more information on exalt, please visit www.exaltyouth.org

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