914.200.3646 hello@archforkids.com

The ArchForKids Team

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Janny Gédéon

Founder/President

Janny has a B.S. in architecture from the City College of New York and a M.S. in urban planning from Hunter College.  In 1997, she participated in a Brooklyn middle school career day. There she was alarmed by the number of students who thought that school was not relevant to their lives. That experience inspired Janny to pursue a career that combined her passions for architecture and teaching. For over 20 years, Janny has been a highly regarded Architect-Educator in schools, community centers, and arts organizations throughout the metro NY region. She also led teacher training workshops under the auspices of the NYC Department of Education, Carnegie Mellon, MIT Museum, the NYC YMCA, and many individual schools in the metro area. Reach her at janny@archforkids.com

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Zoe McWhirter

Communications director

Zoe is originally from Atlanta and has a background in non-profit administration, UI/UX Design and Anthropology. She has a MSc from the University of Edinburgh and a BA from Tulane University. For the past decade she has worked with non-profit organizations, museums and small businesses to support their programming and marketing efforts. She worked with the ArchForKids team as an educator for several years before applying her experience to support its virtual programs starting in 2020. She now supports the team by handling external communications and marketing which includes newsletters, social media, website management and more. Reach her at zoe@archforkids.com

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Kathryn Slocum

Special Projects Director

Kathryn has more than 25 years of experience as a senior staff member for cultural and educational organizations, including the Architectural League of New York, the Hudson River Museum, MASS MoCA, and the Art Institute of Chicago. In addition, Kathryn serves on the boards of Jazz Forum Arts and Friends of Dobbs Ferry Waterfront Park. Formerly the Director of ArchForKids, Kathryn has retired from daily duties but remains involved in fundraising and other special projects.

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Lisa Josephson

Business Manager

Lisa has a B.S. in Elementary Education, an M.S. in Reading Instruction and an M.S. in Educational Administration and Supervision, all from the City Colleges of New York. She is a retired NYCDOE school principal who served the D27 community for 21 years after serving as a teacher in the Rockaways. She served the children of NYC for a total of 34 years as both a teacher and administrator. Her passion has always focused upon project-based learning in both social studies and science. She has been a highly regarded administrator in the NYC public schools, but she has also served as a professional developer that led teacher training workshops under the auspices of the NYC Department of Education.This life-long experience inspired Lisa to become a part of the ArchForKids team. She now supports the team by handling sales which includes all aspects of business management and more.  She is excited to help bring young people a dynamic hands-on, minds-on learning experience grounded in architecture, design, engineering and urban planning. Reach her at lisa@archforkids.com.

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Debbie Troop

Senior educator

Debbie has a MS in Secondary English Education from St. John’s University, and a BA in English and Elementary Education from the College of Mount St. Vincent. She taught for 30 years at Hillside Elementary School in Hastings-on-Hudson and before that, at Horace Mann School. In addition, Debbie was an adjunct professor at Manhattanville College teaching graduate students. She was first introduced to ArchforKids after writing a grant for a residency on colonial life in New York and has since written several grants for 4th grade students to experience ArchForKids. Debbie loves her life as an educator and shares her passions for reading, history and painting with her students. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Yonkers. 

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Asal Shakeri

Senior Educator

Asal is a multidisciplinary designer and educator from a diverse background; familiar with the tools to create, develop and implement unique stories and experiences for individuals and communities. She has a MA in Exhibition & Experience Design from SUNY FIT and BA in Graphic Design. For over 20 years she has worked as a designer with various companies, arts and cultural institutions in the US and abroad. Since 2012, she has been a consulting instructor and thesis judge with FIT graduate schools. With a deep passion for education, she has designed lesson plans and workshops for children in California and New York. As a lifetime learner, Asal loves to explore, experience and develop new teaching methods!

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Khuumba Ama

Educator

Khuumba was born in Savannah, Georgia. She has been a proud resident of Harlem NY for many years. A multi-media artist whose work has been exhibited internationally, she is also a master Reiki therapist and certified peer counselor. Similar to how she mixes her crafts – painting, photography/film making, design – Khuumba has found unique ways to blend her skills as a teaching artist. In addition to working with young people, she designed a program for seniors with Alzheimer’s and/or dementia. Khuumba was recently elected President of the National Conference of Artists (NCA), New York Chapter. Her motto is Creativity Saves Minds

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Elizabeth O'Brien

Educator

Elizabeth has been a librarian to children for close to 20 years.  She has a Master in Library Science from Queens College.  She loves and collects great books for children.  She uses books to create hands on lessons producing creative projects and acting activities.  Her travels have inspired her to see objects and places in many different ways adding to her creativity.  Elizabeth is a native of Queens, New York, where she resides today.
 
 
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Aryanna Williams

educator

Aryanna is an Assistant Educator at ArchForKids. A New York native who grew up loving the buildings and structures in the city, she went on to study Architecture and Urbanism at Smith College. She’s especially interested in urban planning, and creating livable, walkable cities throughout the U.S. that foster and strengthen community. Last year, she spent a semester studying in Copenhagen, Denmark, and visited a range of cities throughout Europe that solidified her interests in urban planning. Now with ArchForKids, she hopes to share and instill her appreciation for architecture and urbanism with the students she works with!

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Udeaku Chikezie

educator

Udeaku is a Communications Specialist, Educator, Researcher, and Artist who works in design, fashion, painting, and photography. A graduate of Fine and Applied Arts from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, her first international exhibition began with an award from Agora Gallery. She has since received a few other awards including the 2021 City Artist Corps (NYC). In 2017, Udeaku graduated from the University of Lancaster, United Kingdom, with an M.A. degree in Diplomacy and International Relations. Since then, her focused research covers Security Studies, Statecraft, humanitarian diplomacy, etc. Her communications and photography interests cut across various genres, however, she is passionate about reportage which capture human life conditions. Udeaku enjoys exploring Architecture with students of all ages.

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Jillene Lopez

educator

Jillene currently resides in Manhattan, NY with her family but is a proud Queens native. She’s worked as an interior designer for more than 10 years and loves everything design. Her passion for art started manifesting when she was 14 and worked as an assistant Art Teacher with the Boys Club of NY for summer youth. She’s gained experience in various areas of design such as textiles, passementerie, and luxury furniture. As an artist, Jillene expresses creativity through mediums that include paint, resin, and wood. With her diverse background, she has established her own design firm and craft business. She’s had a strong desire to teach and share her knowledge of art and design for years. Through her 7-year-old son and his school, she was introduced to ArchForKids and now can fulfill that desire to teach youth all things architecture.

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Chandanie Francis

Assistant educator

Raised in New York City, Chandanie found a passion for Architecture from a young age inspired by the beloved history and architecture that can be found in the city. This passion would inspire her to pursue Space Planning and Structure in her academic studies for years to come. She graduated from New York City College of Technology with a Bachelor’s Degree in Architectural Technology. Chandanie channels her interest in architecture through painting, drawing, traveling, and her profound interest in Museums. Having embraced her creative side at a young age through arts and craft, Chandanie hopes to offer the support to the younger generation of students as they venture through their path of success and education.
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Sophie Blumenfeld

Assistant educator

Sophie, a New York native, is an Assistant Educator at ArchForKids. She is a recent college graduate with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Art. With a deep passion for art’s power to heal, she wants to share the experience that art bestowed on her and improve the lives of people who are struggling. Seeing students empowered to openly express and advocate their ideas with ArchForKids has helped to solidify her career interests in art and counseling. She runs her own hand-drawn, customized sneakers business, Sneakers by Sophie. 

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Levi Walkes

Assistant Educator

Levi is a born and raised NYC resident with a passion and love for design. He is a recent college graduate with a bachelors degree in architecture. He also has a deep passion for music and loves to see kids interested in the arts. He has been a part of two freelance architecture projects at the beginning of 2020.
 
 
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Karen Orloff

Co-Founder (retired)

Karen has a B.A. from Colby College, followed by architecture coursework at UCLA.  She spent 10 years working at architectural firms in Los Angeles and NYC. An interest in education inspired a career switch – teaching at the New York Botanical Garden and then the Salvadori Center for the Built Environment. She co-founded ArchForKids in 2013 and was instrumental in its growth/development before retiring in 2019.