Meet the Board of Trustees
The nine trustees in the Mount Vernon Board of Education work with the district in various committees such as the Audit, Special Education, Policy, Insurance, Family and Community Engagement, Budget and Finance, Facilities, Safety and Security, Cable Commission, and Education Committees. They provide community oversight for the public school district and make decisions about curriculum, school buildings and maintenance, annual budgets, and more by consulting with community members, teachers, and the superintendent.
View their profiles here, including the two newly elected trustees.
Board of Education President Lorna Kirwan, serving since 2022
Audit Committee, Claims Committee, Budget/Finance Committee, Human Resources Committee, Insurance Committee, Policy Committee
Trustee Lorna Kirwan has been a PTA Council President and advocating for improved outcomes for all students in the school district for over 10 years. She also volunteers at several organizations within the community.
She believes that a comprehensive approach to nurturing a student’s educational journey is vital to student success. Having universal enrichment through after-school programs is a priority. As a trustee, she has started implementing these programs. Working with the superintendent and fellow trustees, she was instrumental in the partnership between the school district and Iona University’s STEM Department to begin the Artificial Intelligence Afterschool Program at Benjamin Turner Middle School. She also introduced the Con Edison ACE Cohort Mentor program that Mount Vernon STEAM Academy students are now enrolled in.
Her philosophy of board leadership is to establish and implement the school’s strategic and financial plans and implement robust policies while ensuring fiscal health. As the Budget Chair, she works to set the annual district budget and monitor its implementation, providing students with the best education while being a gatekeeper for taxpayers.
She wants to strengthen the curriculum, encourage the superintendent to implement a robust framework to support teachers and staff, and create a safe and friendly working environment. She is committed to working with her fellow trustees to stabilize the school district and increase growth.
Board of Education Vice President Sabina Kelley, serving since 2022
Audit Committee, Budget Committee, Education Committee, Human Resources Committee
Board of Education Vice President Sabina Kelley believes serving on the Board of Education allows her to fulfill her belief in volunteerism and service to her community. As a lifelong advocate she has been involved with various civic organizations.
Trustee Kelley believes in the fiduciary responsibility that the Board of Education has to the larger community. By adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance policies along with sound fiscal management the board will create a recipe for a world-class education. It is important to her to consistently engage and involve the community to ensure district goals, policies and values align with the community’s and the superintendent’s vision.
Trustee Adriane Saunders, serving since 2013
Audit Committee, Budget Committee, Claims Committee, Industrial Development Agency Committee, Insurance Committee, Human Resources Committee, Policy Committee, Special Education Committee
Trustee Adriane Saunders has served on the Board of Education for 10 years. Her main goal is to provide the district’s students with quality education at the lowest cost to the taxpayer.
One of the main reasons she joined the board is to provide oversight to spending in the district and ensure that students with disabilities and students interested in vocational careers are being provided for as well as other students. One of her goals is to ensure that the Special Education Department complies with all state and federal education laws and that students with disabilities are receiving the best free and appropriate education possible. For vocational education, she would like to bring back a wider selection of programs for career and technical education students. Some programs that she would like introduced are plumbing, carpentry, HVAC, and other professions that will always be needed. This ensures that students, whether they want to go to college or not, have the opportunity to learn about those careers and succeed in them. These programs allow students to get jobs out of high school.
President Saunders works to find other avenues of funding for the district to save taxpayers money. There are many grants that can be provided to public schools, and she works with elected officials and other organizations to secure that funding for the district.
Trustee Wanda White, serving since 2015
Audit Committee, Education Committee, Facilities Committee, Human Resources Committee, Special Education Committee
After retiring from 38 years of teaching, Trustee Wanda White still had an interest in education due to her love for children. She wanted to have an impact on the education process, so she decided to run for the Board of Education. Her philosophy on education is that she thinks as an individual and works as a team. Everyone brings their own perspectives to the Board, and Vice President White’s experience as a lifelong educator is valuable in their discussions on how to best serve the children.
She believes that the Board of Education is moving the district in the right direction and working to help meet the needs of all children. The students in Mount Vernon deserve the best that their school district can provide, and her mission is to ensure that they have that. Since she retired, she has donated to one graduating student each year. She asks the teachers to choose a student who deserves it and not to limit it to the brightest students.
Vice President White votes on the resolutions that she believes are in the best interest of the children. She attends PTA meetings, math nights, and ELA nights to spend time with the families within the district and see what the best ways to support them are. She also attends elementary school graduation ceremonies. Being actively involved in the school district allows her to see the perspectives of everyone and represent them better at Board meetings.
Trustee Marc S. Lenci, serving since 2022
Audit Committee, Claims Committee, Facilities Committee, Insurance Committee, Safety and Security Committee
Trustee Marc Lenci’s major objectives are the safety and security of the district’s staff and students, rooting out mismanagement, and in some cases, the improprieties that may exist within the district.
Immediately following his election, Lenci coordinated with the administration and school security consultants to ensure that needed improvements to the district’s physical security and manpower issues were addressed.
Security assessments have now been conducted at each school, resulting in the addition of security measures throughout the district, including cameras, alarms, the training of staff and security personnel, and better coordination with outside agencies.
Lenci makes decisions according to what he believes is right, as opposed to following the crowd or bowing to pressure from special interests. His focus is on fixing what is flawed and broken within the system.
He is of the opinion that conducting himself in such a manner is not conducive to being looked upon favorably by every member of the public, nor by any member of the administration, who may subscribe to a “business as usual” mindset.
Lenci believes he was elected because he comes from outside of what appears to be the dominant culture that permeates local government.
His main concern is ensuring that the school district is running at its best potential, operating efficiently and effectively to help students thrive, and allow the schools to create more well-rounded graduates and better citizens.
Trustee Helene Thompson-Njenga, serving since 2022
Audit Committee, Education Committee, Policy Committee, Safety and Security Committee, Special Education Committee
Trustee Helene Thompson-Njenga comes from a long-standing family of community advocates. Her mother is former State Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson. When she began serving on the Board of Education, she was already commissioner for the Planning Board in Mount Vernon. As a trustee, she values the opportunity to create and develop policies that can support students in the district.
Trustee Thompson-Njenga has a strong working relationship with the other trustees and believes their differences help her see different perspectives. Each trustee has their own specialization, which is very valuable, she said. They find common ground to make the right decisions for students.
One key issue for her is building up special education services in the district and detecting issues early so children can get the attention they need to make corrective actions. She believes that the Board of Education should listen to children.
As a former student of Mount Vernon High School who took architecture classes, she is working to bring back more vocational classes so that the district can support all students. Her goal is to give students a place that they are excited to go to everyday, regardless of what their plans are. When students want to go to school, they will be safer, improve their reading and writing skills, and prepare them for their future.
Trustee Orville Gayle, serving since 2022
Audit Committee, Budget and Finance Committee, Claims Committee, Family and Community Engagement Commitee, Industrial Development Agency Committee
Trustee Orville Gayle joined the Board of Education in order to help children and influence upward mobility in Mount Vernon. He has been a Mount Vernon resident for 24 years and has volunteered at numerous organizations to help children in Mount Vernon, including the Boys and Girls Club of America, the Department of Recreation, and the YMCA.
He sees volunteering on the Board of Education as the most effective way to support children and their futures. As a trustee, he believes that he can contribute to moving the whole city upward and forward. Trustee Gayle wants to ensure there are ample opportunities for all children in the school system and that they are well prepared for their futures. In order to do this, money must be spent properly and effectively, he said.
His philosophy is to be there for the community. He believes the trustees should work to earn the community's trust because they represent it. Trustee Gayle sees the community trust in the Board of Education as a great responsibility. His first priority is to make sure district monies are spent correctly and the district is moving forward. As a trustee, he thinks it is important to hold the leadership of the district accountable and work with them to achieve all the goals that best serve the children.
Trustee Lynne Middleton, serving since 2023
Family and Community Committee, Facilities Committee, Safety and Security Committee, Audit Committee
Trustee Lynne M. Middleton ran in an election for a seat on the Board of Trustees because she is an advocate for all students and wants to, rightfully so, support the MVCSD. Her educational philosophy is that all children can learn. Therefore, it is imperative that in every school in the MVCSD, children should be the number one priority. As a former School Counselor, part of Trustee Lynne’s aim is to make a difference in the overall quality of all children’s education that the district, schools, and staff should provide. After being employed in the MVCSD for 40 years, she understands that the academic, social and emotional development of each student is of paramount importance and needs improvement. She is on assignment as a trustee, sitting in a seat that has afforded her the opportunity to be sure that all students, and ALL staff, are treated fairly and provided with the necessary resources and tools to help them to succeed.
She will always speak of the fact that it is important for trustees to be mindful that they are invaluable to a school district’s development and success. Thus, it will take commitment, time, dedication, and professional workshops to be an effective school board. Trustee Lynne joins her colleagues in keeping an open mind to the vision, mission, and goals of the Superintendent, which will have an optimistic and direct impact on nearly every facet of every school in the district. As she serves, she has vowed to give her utmost attention to engaging in the political aspects of the MVCSD, as well as being a voice and direct reflection of the community.
Trustee Lynne is a native of Mount Vernon, as well as a product of the Mount Vernon school system. She is a graduate of Mercy College with two master’s degrees in School Counseling and in Supervision and Administration. She also received her Doctoral Degree in May 2022 in Effective and Influential Leadership and looks forward to becoming a renowned author by December 2023. She is a member of the United Black Clergy of Westchester amongst other organizations of Leadership. Her desire is to see students thrive to succeed, becoming the change that they want their community and the world at large to see which would be most rewarding.
Trustee Warren Mitchell, serving since 2023
Audit Committee, Facilities Committee, Safety and Security Committee, Wellness Committee
Trustee Warren Mitchell is a native of Mount Vernon and graduated from Mount Vernon High School in 1991. Trustee Mitchell ran for the Board to continue the agenda of basing all decisions on the bettering of children in the school district. He previously served on the Board from 2019 to 2022. He thinks it is important for the community to trust the school district and have a positive perception of it. He wants to continue the narrative that there is no uncharted area that the school district should be afraid to explore. He also wants to ensure that the Board is transparent and has the best interests of the people they serve and the people working in the district to serve the children.
Trustee Mitchell believes the district can become one of the greatest with effort and teamwork. He believes that leadership must be unwavering in their agenda and stay informed of the needs of the district’s staff and students. It is important for him to have a good rapport with the superintendent, so they can work together and achieve their goals. His philosophy is that facts and data are more important than rumors and chaos.
Warren Mitchell volunteers his time to the school district because he says that donated time is more valuable than the work of someone being compensated. When there is no monetary reward, then a volunteer’s efforts and voice can help give voice to the voiceless. He wants to be a voice in the room to add different layers of thought and inspire more critical thinking and focus. He plans to help foster a school district that works and is one with the people that it serves and the people that fund it.