Branwen MacDonald, PresidentTerm: 2017-2026
Branwen began her involvement with the school district when her oldest child was still a toddler, volunteering on the Citizens’ School Budget Committee. Since then she has continued to volunteer and advocate within the schools, as well as at the statewide level for increased and more equitable funding for our district. She is a founding member of Peekskill Community for Schools, a group dedicated to strengthening our schools through statewide and local advocacy. She brings her experience in graphic design and marketing to efforts to boost communications within and outside of our schools, and aims to increase opportunities for parent and community involvement in our schools.
Allen Jenkins, Jr., Vice President
Term: 2018-2024Hello, my name is Allen Jenkins Jr. I was elected to serve on the Peekskill Board of Education in 2018. Currently, I am serving as the Vice President and member of the Policy committee, which is an honor. It gives me the chance to help change, shape or promote opportunities our students have in our district. I have learned so much in my first five years serving on the board and I am looking forward to learning more.
I have worked in higher education for over 20 years in many capacities; finance, academics, academic advising, coaching, and as a college administrator. This requires me to work closely with academics, administrative offices, school deans, directors, and the Vice President of Academics. The focus is providing students with the best college experience while giving them the opportunity to better their lives and careers.
During my career, I have organized and established several youth developmental programs through athletics with an emphasis on building strong ties between the participants, the community and getting a job. I have spoken publicly at several high schools and community centers to encourage youths to continue to reach for the stars through their academic and athletic abilities. All of these experiences has given me a perspective on what is needed in our community to prepare our students for higher education and beyond. I am a firm believer in the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”.
Holding a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Alderson Broaddus University and Master of Business Administration in Business Management from Monroe College, allows me to serve on the Curriculum, Standards, Policies, and Compliance (CSPC) Committee and the Academic Affairs Committee which helps create policies, introduce new majors and set best practices for the College community. The success of the youth development programs gives me a unique perception and insight into the needs of students and academic institutions.
I was born, raised, and reside in Peekskill, NY. My wife and I are both Peekskill High School alumni and have three young children who attend the Peekskill City School District.Pamela Hallman-Johnson, Trustee
Mrs. Hallman-Johnson has long been an advocate of quality public school education. She is currently a Special Education CSE Chairperson for the New Rochelle City School District at New Rochelle High School. Pamela has over 20 years of experience. Mrs. Hallman-Johnson has been employed as an Accountant for Pepsi and a Trust and Estate Paralegal for Clifford Chance Law Firm in NYC. She has worked for Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES, Lakeland Central School District and the New York City Department of Education. Pamela has been employed as a Teacher’s Aide, Substitute Teacher, and Special Education Teacher, all at the secondary level. As an emergent leader, Mrs. Hallman-Johnson has been employed as a Special Education Coordinator and a Transition Coordinator.
Pamela is a vested member of the Peekskill City School District. She serves on the Special Education Committee, Policy Committee and the Audit Committee. She has been a member, attended and participated in SEPTO meetings and she has been employed by the district as a Substitute Teacher and a LEAP Teacher. Pamela has worked as a teacher leader for the Peekskill Middle School LEAP Program and she has served on the school district’s FOCUS team. Mrs. Hallman-Johnson has also served as a School Building and District Leader Administrative intern for the district.
Pamela holds a Paralegal Studies Certification, a B.B.A. in Accounting, a M.S. in Adolescent Education, a M.S. in Educational Leadership, an Advanced Certificate in School Building Leadership, an Advanced Certificate in School District Leadership, a Professional Certification in Race, Equity and Leadership in Schools from Harvard University Graduate School of Education’s Professional Studies Program, and a NYS School Building Leadership Certification.
Pamela is the founder and owner of Lily of the Valley Floral Design, Inc. She is a member and serves as an Ambassador of the New Disciples Ministry at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church. Pamela is a founding partner of Enlightened Ministries International. In addition, she serves as the Chaplain for the Mid-Hudson Valley Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. and she is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Mrs. Hallman-Johnson states that her educational philosophy can be summed up as this: “Paving the way for every student every day.”
PHallmanJohnson@peekskillschools.orgEric Rekeda, TrusteeTerm: 2022-2025
Eric Rekeda and his wife, Tricia Schultz, have lived in Peekskill for more than twelve years. They have a daughter and son who attend schools in the Peekskill City School District, and they want to see students, employees, and the community benefit from its continued improvement.
Eric has been a public school teacher for nearly twenty years, the first five in Brooklyn and the remainder in a Westchester County public school district similar in size and demographics to Peekskill. He is a secondary mathematics teacher, and has led the math department at his school the past three years, which has given him familiarity with math curricula and programs at nearly every grade level as well as experience in hiring decisions, strategic planning, and building and district-level administrative work.
Public education is Eric’s passion, and he comes from a family of educators. His wife, mother, father, sister, and many other family members are teachers, and he grew up watching his family dedicate their free time to helping children. For the past five years, Eric has been co-chair of the Peekskill Parent Teacher Organization’s (PTO) Advocacy Committee. In this role, he has helped the district win millions in additional funds from New York State as well as an ongoing commitment to honor monies pledged under Foundation Aid. As part of this, Eric has worked with organizations such as the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) and the NAACP, the latter of which he is also a member of and contributor to its Education Committee. Most recently, Eric has helped create Safe Routes Peekskill - a coalition of the PTO’s Advocacy Committee, PCSD, and Peekskill Walks - to make it safer for students to walk or bike to school, and to encourage less traffic around our schools.
Michael Simpkins, TrusteeTerm: 2002-2025Michael Simpkins is presently employed for the past 15 years as a Youth Counselor at Lincoln Hall in Somers, New York. He provides specialized services for disadvantaged male adolescents /youth to have the potential to become responsible individuals with a sense of self-worth and respect for others and to become successful members of society. Michael also has been employed part-time for the past 2 years at Opengate in Somers, New York working with disabled adults providing social-emotional, medical and independent living skills support.Michael Simpkins was born on May 20, 1960 in Aiken, South Carolina. He is a product of the Graniteville, South Carolina/ Aiken County School System. He is a 1979 graduate of the Leavelle McCampbell High School. He grew up with an interest and a talent for music. Michael grew up singing in the Valley Fair Baptist Church, Elementary School Programs, High School Choir, playing 1st Trombone in High School Marching and Concert Band, Talent Shows, Pageants, Jazz and R&B Bands and gained many opportunities of experience with recording.After graduating from Leavelle McCampbell High School, Michael studied Music, Voice and Art at Claflin University, South Carolina State and USC-Aiken. Michael is listed on the Claflin University Honor Roll for 1982 and 1983. He was awarded the H. V. Manning Claflin Choir Award and inducted into the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Delta Alpha Chapter in 1983 and received a B.S. Degree in Music/Art Minor from Claflin University in 1984.Michael immediately moved to New York and found employment in Jamaica, NY teaching Music and Art at the Concerns Parents of Jamaica Learning Center as an After School Group Teacher for children ages 6-12. In 1988 for 9 years, he became a Certified Caseworker with the New York City Child Welfare Administration. He worked in the Independent Living Unit that developed and supervised plans of permanency for children aging out of Foster Care and the Adoption Unit. Michael also continued his interest in music as a musician and singer working around the New York City, New Jersey and touring Japan. Michael met Jacqueline Johnson, a New York City School Teacher from Bronx, NY and was married on June 29, 1991 and they relocated to live in Mount Vernon, New York.
In 1995, Michael received extensive training with the MHRA/New York City Mental Health Research Association to become a Service Coordinator for the New York State Early Intervention Program. For 12 years Michael worked in the New York City and Westchester County Early Intervention Program as a Service Coordinator/ Supervisor coordinating the performance of evaluations and services for children birth-to-3 with developmental delays. Michael also has had training and 5 years of experience working as a Medicaid Service Coordinator for Adults with developmental delays by developing, implementing and maintaining Individual Service Plans.
In April of 1996, Michael and Jacqueline purchased their first home in Peekskill, New York. Michael and Jacqueline became and continue to be very active residents of the Peekskill, NY community where they continue to nurture and raise their 3 children (Imani/graduate, Nia/graduate and Joshua Simpkins/ 8th grader) that attended/attends the Peekskill City School District. Michael and his family are also active members of the Mount Lebanon Baptist Church in Peekskill, NY.
Amy Vele, Trustee
Term: 2023-2026Amy Vele graduated from Peekskill High School in 2013 and went on to pursue a degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University at Albany. After receiving her B.A. she interned for The Daily Gazette-Schenectady, where her story landed on the newspaper's front page.
Amy moved back to Peekskill after her internship and landed her first job post-graduation with New Era Creative Space, a local nonprofit specializing in uplifting youth. She launched her podcast in 2019 and interviewed local business owners, artists, and discussed global issues. After interviewing then-mayor, Andre Rainey, she started asking how she could get more involved with the Peekskill community.
Amy is now involved with several county-wide political organizations and has worked as a legislative aide to County Legislator Colin Smith. She started her small business at the beginning of this year.
Her love for building community and meaningful connections has been the driving force behind her work. Her Ecuadorian indigenous roots remind her to continue to pursue a better life in honor of her ancestor's sacrifices and dreams.
She loves spending time in nature, roller skating, and painting. She has two cats, Koya and Kayla, and two dogs, Luna and Moo.
Jillian Villon, TrusteeTerm: 2013-2025Jillian Villon is a proud mom and alumni of the Peekskill schools. She was born and raised in Peekskill and has attended every school in our District except Oakside. After graduating from Peekskill High School in 2008, Jillian attended college and graduated from Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina with a B.S. in Business Administration and Psychology and a minor in Human Resource Management. After college, she learned about Educational Advocacy and trained to advocate for students with special needs. Getting elected to the Board of Education in 2013, and dedicating time to the ideal of making a Peekskill education an education of choice, one that would be life-changing and impactful for every student. This led her back to school and in 2017 she graduated with an MSSW from Columbia School of Social Work. She is a member of the Religious Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers, and holds their values of peace, equality, community, stewardship, integrity, and simplicity paramount. She has worked with children and cared about their welfare and education for as long as she can remember- doing everything from babysitting, to donating time in college to help in a first grade classroom, and to helping children in our area as an educational advocate. And in 2021 she and her husband, Genner (also a Peekskill Alumni), proudly started introducing their kids to the district with their first son starting Pre-K at Uriah Hill! They are so excited to have her kids follow in their crimson blue footsteps."Go Red Devils!" - Jillian Villon