Board of Directors
Founder & Board Member
Natalie founded ROC Inc. as a sophomore in high school in 2015 and acted as the Executive Director until September of 2018. Natalie will serve on the boards of ROC Inc., and Valenter, Inc. a technology start-up that seeks to provide underserved communities with access to online job opportunities and skills training. Natalie is also a full time student at Middlebury College where she is pursuing a degree in global health.
Gemma Halfi is the Coordinator of Service Learning and Community Engagement at Emma Willard School in Troy, NY, making strong connections between the students' learning and their contributions to the communities to which they belong. She developed and currently directs a programmatic residential experience for Emma Willard students who are passionate about making positive change in the world. Exploring topics such as social justice, equity, human rights, sustainability, place-based learning, community engagement, and democracy, the year-long program gives 10th-12th grade students the opportunity to explore their beliefs about these topics and discover how to directly connect those beliefs to their actions.
Gemma serves on the program committee at the RISSE Refugee support center in Albany, NY, where she also participates in their Family Helper program as a volunteer Family Mentor. Coming from a background in education and service with an MS from Sage Graduate School, Gemma has also served in the AmeriCorps National Service Organization as a Community Civilian Corps volunteer in areas of education, environmentalism, and social justice. Gemma's passion for justice, equity, and inclusion in schools and communities has been fueled by her recent participation in the NYSAIS Justice, Equity, & Diversity Institute for Independent School diversity practitioners.
Originally from New Jersey, Gemma has lived in Troy for 15 years and considers it her home. She utilizes Troy, NY as a "living laboratory" for her students as they examine topics related to the benefits and challenges of community revitalization.
Khadija Ghanizada is a graduate of Emma Willard School and a freshman at Bard College where she intends to major in Computer Science and Human Rights with a concentration on photography. Having grown up in Kabul, Afghanistan, Khadija is a passionate environmental activist and an intersectional feminist. She has recently written and self-published a book, which encompasses stories of her experiences in Afghanistan and in the USA; these stories are illustrated with her own photographs.
Dr. Steven Shepard
Steve is the founder of Shepard Communications Group in Williston, VT, co-founder of the Executive Crash Course Company, and founder of Shepard Images. A professional author, photographer and educator with more than 30 years of experience in the technology industry, he has written books and articles on a wide variety of topics.
In addition to his work with a wide range of businesses, Steve works extensively in the education sector. He is a Senior Fellow of the Da Vinci Institute of South Africa; Adjunct Professor in the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business; a Founding Director of the African Telecoms Institute; and an Emeritus member of the Board of Trustees of Champlain College. He is also the Resident Director of the University of Southern California’s Executive Leadership and Advanced Management Programs, and adjunct professor at Emory University, Thunderbird University, the University of Vermont, Wharton University, and the Ivey School, among others.
Dr. Shepard specializes in international issues in technology strategy, with an emphasis on social, geopolitical, economic, and competitive implications of technological change.
Julie graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1991. After her residency at the VA Medical Center and group private practice in Portland, Oregon she moved with her family to the Burlington area.
Since 1987 Julie has been an active member of the American Dental Association and since 1994 she has been a member of Vermont State Dental Society. She is also a member of the American Association for Dental Practice Administration and American Association of Oral Systemic Health, which contributed to the evolution the practice of of holistic approach to dental health for whole body health and wellness.
Julie continues to be actively involved in Global Dental Relief and aid organizations. As a former member of the Burlington Rotary and Paul Harris Award recipient and Hands to Honduras in 2006. Julie also works for the student-led group of Global Brigade, Inc in Ghana and Nicaragua. Most recently Julie joined the board of R.O.C. Inc., after setting up a local dental clinic in Ghana for a week in February of 2017 with Natalie Meyer. She also provided free dental services for Refugees at her office in March of 2017. Aid work continues to be Julie’s passion locally and in many corners of the world. She has been one of the leads on R.O.C. Inc.'s health initiative.