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Owning My Journey: Striving  & Thriving

May 4, 2024

Speaker Biographies 

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Dr. Danette “Danni” Buie

Dr. Danette Buie serves as a Diversity Coach, Talent Development Strategist, Life and Wellness Architect, and Systems Thinker and Leader. She brings 12+ years of experience to her work and enjoys providing thorough and skillful administrative leadership, fostering high-performance environments, and driving processes that will ultimately improve the company and employee experience.

Danette has completed Harvard University’s Executive Institute for Women in Leadership Program, Howard University’s Executive Diversity Coaching Program, and most recently was appointed to the new Board of Directors for Girls Dream Code, an organization dedicated to empowering young minority girls to pursue an interest in technology by providing free access to tech workshops, education, and resources.

Danette recently founded Thrive Limitlessly, a one-stop shop consultancy for career changers and culture makers.’

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Heather Batten

Heather Batten is a therapist and coach working with people at their breaking point who are ready to make a change. Heather uses her experience in psychology, biology, earth based energy healing, holistic health and cultural and political history to create understanding and change in mind, body and spirit. Heather operates outside of the box and on the edge of what is possible to push her and her clients to reach their highest potential. Heather believes that we each have a special purpose and she works with her clients to unlock that purpose which can be constrained by many of the childhood, familial, ancestral and systemic traumas we experience. Heather hopes to be part of a generational shift that reconnects us to ourselves, each other and our collective ancient wisdom.


Heather is a licensed clinical social worker in NJ. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Bucknell University in Biology and Religion and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Rutgers University. Heather has over 20 years of experience providing clinical social work services to children and families with significant trauma and abuse and 25 years of experience in anti racist community organizing. Heather has post graduate training in reiki, complex developmental trauma, antiracism, and shamanic healing. Heather has Norwegian and Irish ancestry and a Sagittarius Sun, Cancer moon and Scorpio Ascendant. Her most important and favorite role is being the mother to an 11 year old daughter.

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Mayra Salinas-Godsey 

Mayra Salinas-Godsey is a multi-passionate educator, entrepreneur and NYU Certified Executive Coach. Mayra is a proud Texas native hailing from Corpus Christi, raised in Dallas and currently lives in New York City. 

As a First-Gen Latina Coach, Mayra helps entrepreneurs, creatives and everyone in between turn their ideas into ACTION. Her commitment to education is manifested in her full-time role as a student affairs professional and adjunct faculty member at New York University. As a multi-passionate millennial, Mayra is the CEO & Founder of Gran Via Realty, LLC, a real estate investment company based in Texas and Mayra Salinas, LLC, a dynamic coaching and consulting enterprise serving clients across the country. 


Additionally, Mayra is the author of "Write Sh*t Down, Get Sh*t Done: The Chingadera Brain Dump Journal," a publication that underscores the transformative impact of translating thoughts onto paper for effective implementation. Passionate about fostering connections with ambitious changemakers globally, she extends a warm invitation to engage with her on social media to keep the conversation going.

Dr. Melissa Baralt

Melissa Baralt, Ph.D., is an energetic and devoted professor with a commitment to

education and the importance of the family. Currently, she is a Master Educator in the

sciences at Berkeley College, and Montclair State University. She has the professional

privilege of serving as a fountain of knowledge for many diverse and non traditional

students for more than 12 years. At Berkeley College, she was honored as Faculty of the

Year, Honors Faculty of the Year, and is an alumna of Leadership Berkeley. She was the

2016 Berkeley College Commencement Speaker.

Dr. Baralt was born to Dominican parents who immigrated to the United States in search of opportunities. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Biological Science and a Master's degree in Molecular Biology from Montclair State University. She was the recipient of the Bridges Scholarship for minorities in the sciences and it allowed her to further complete studies. She holds a Doctorate in Pathology and Immunology from Rutgers University. Dr. Baralt is also the visionary behind the educational app RecommendNation, enabling students to seek recommendation letters from professors. She has served as a consultant for the United States Credential Evaluation Services to assist foreign nationals validate their scientific and professional credentials.

In 2018, Dr. Baralt was a candidate for the school board election in Paterson, NJ. Shortly after, Dr. Baralt founded SheCaucus, a nonprofit to amplify women's voices by developing leadership, education, and self-confidence. The organization hosts educational workshops, seminars, and multicultural events that empower women and simultaneously, aid community needs. In 2019, she was appointed by the Mayor of Paterson as Commissioner of the Alcohol Beverage Control Committee (ABC). And currently serves as Chairwoman of the board for the city of Paterson.
She has been directly involved with enforcement of NJ state law and local enforcement for business owners and licence holders. She currently serves the city as confidential aide to Councilman at Large Flavio Rivera. This allows her to be directly involved in community efforts. Recently, she initiated her personal consulting business, Bee Better Than Me, LLC. A firm dedicated to the academic and professional advancement of individuals globally. She has collaborated on various efforts that have had a noteworthy impact on women empowerment and education. Some have included joint programming with: Prospanica, Fly Women’s Network, City 
of Paterson, Dominican Parade, Albert Einstein Medical School, United Latinas, and Latino Network.

She is part of several boards that have helped shape the lives of many. Including: The HealthCare Advisory Board for the city of Paterson, Prospanica New Jersey, Diversity and Inclusiveness taskforce Berkeley College, HeadStart Program for the city of Passaic, FLY Women’s Network, and recently Latinas United for Political Empowerment (LUPE). LUPE is a 501c3 organization whose mission is to Educate, Empower, and Engage Latinas to Promote
Leadership and Civic Engagement.

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Crystal Blackmon

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Crystal Blackmon is a whirlwind of energy and compassion, a woman who wears many

hats with grace and a smile. As a wife to her beloved husband Josiah, she brings warmth

and laughter to their home, a haven for their two precious children, Micah and Ari.

A daughter and sister herself, she cherishes the bonds of family, offering unwavering

support and love. But Crystal is more than just the sum of her roles. She's a friend, a confidante,

a source of strength and inspiration for those around her.

Her academic background is a testament to her drive and dedication. With a BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management and a Master's in Hospitality Administration, she climbed the ladder of success in the hotel industry, becoming a respected sales leader. But her passion wasn't just about numbers and deals; it was about creating memorable experiences, exceeding expectations, and finding solutions that made a difference. This passion for service led her to share her knowledge as an adjunct professor, nurturing future hospitality professionals.

In 2020, motherhood and the global shift brought about by the pandemic presented a new chapter. With her characteristic adaptability and resilience, Crystal embarked on a new journey, transitioning to become a high school teacher. This wasn't just a career change; it was an opportunity to inspire young minds, shape futures, and make a positive impact on the world, one lesson at a time.

Today, Crystal thrives in the dynamic environment of the classroom. Her passion for solution-oriented service now guides her students towards academic success and personal growth. Whether it's juggling the demands of family life, making a difference in the classroom, or simply offering a listening ear to a friend, Crystal does it all with unwavering enthusiasm, infectious positivity, and a genuine warmth that lights up every room she enters. She's a role model, a motivator, and a reminder that life's greatest joys are found in connection, service, and the pursuit of a purpose that fills the heart.

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Asenett "Kathy" Martin

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Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, she is the daughter of Juana Ortiz and

Jose Sheppard and sister to four siblings. She immigrated to the United States to

Chicago, Illinois, at the age of 6 with 3 of her siblings. In 1992 she moved to Passaic, NJ,

where she entered Passaic Public Schools.


In 1993 she volunteered in the Office of Homelessness Prevention of Passaic at the

direction of Fran Lawton in the Aspen Place Housing Authority Complex. 


She proudly graduated Passaic High School Class of 1996, overcoming all adversities as a

teen parent after having a beautiful daughter.


Her career as a civil servant began in the summer of 1996 when she started working at

the City of Passaic Department of Community Development as a part-time student

assistant through the PIC Summer Program.


She soon became a full-time employee in 1997 at the Department of Public Works. Her perseverance and determination allowed her to be promoted and transferred to the Administration Department as a Secretary to the Business Administrator. Under the leadership of Ricardo Fernandez, as of 2010, she gained additional knowledge in city operations and it's impact on the community.


On August 21, 2017, she was promoted to Confidential Assistant to the Greatest Mayor in the Universe, Chief Executive Officer of the City of Passaic Mayor Hector C. Lora. Working with such a great leader has helped increase her confidence and level of empowerment in the role, allowing her to overcome the many challenges that came with the physician.


With God's blessings, she has been a proud and loyal Civil Servant to the community of the City of Passaic for the past 25 years as well as it devoted and loving wife to Callel Martin and her three children, Nikki, Jarell, and Amallie.

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