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 Founders    Board of Directors 

Our Founders

Kent Warner


Allen Clark


Mary Alice Warner

Founder (In Memoriam) 

Our Board of Directors 

Board of Directors and Executive Director Biographies

Allen Clark - Founder, Director Emeritus 

Kent Warner - Founder, Director Emeritus 

Mary Alice Warner (In Memoriam)  - Founder, Director Emeritus  

Kiren Patel, DDS (Co-President)
Kiren grew up in Manhasset, NY and attended Hofstra University where she obtained her Bachelors in Science and Masters in Oral Biology. She continued to NYU where she received her degree as a Doctor of Dental Surgery, followed by a fellowship in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics from Jacksonville University. Being an orthodontist, Kiren is passionate about oral health, and understands first hand the importance of good hygiene, habits, and a healthy diet.  She absolutely loves working with young families and speaks Spanish.  Kiren moved to Rye, NY in 2017 with her husband Biraj and two children. 

Mary Versfelt, MD  (Co-President)

Mary is a graduate of Princeton University and received her MD degree from Columbia, where she continued with her pediatric residency at Babies Hospital (now Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital).  For more than 35 years, she worked full-time as a pediatrician in Rye Brook, having the privilege of caring for many patients from infancy through parenthood and enjoying numerous “second generation” patients.  She is passionate about the vital importance of making the most of early childhood years.  She has held clinical teaching positions at Columbia and Maria Fareri Children’s Hospitals. She has served on boards of Carver Center and Rye Presbyterian Church. Currently retired, she lives with her husband in Greenwich, CT.  They have three grown children and six grandchildren.  

Guy DeSanctis, CPA [Treasurer]

Guy graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Manhattan College, and later obtained an MBA from Iona University. After graduation, he worked for the accounting firm KPMG for seven years, was CFO of a small public company in Manhattan, and then worked for IBM in their accounting and finance groups for 30 years, the last few years as a Director and Vice President. Guy has been a financial consultant for not-for-profits for over 40 years, and after his retirement from IBM in 2015, he started a CPA practice devoted entirely to not-for-profits while also consulting for IBM and Pitney Bowes. He has served as a Board member and Chairman of the Westchester Alzheimer's Association, was a Trustee of the Mt. Pleasant Public Library, a member of the Mt. Pleasant Planning Board, and is currently the Chairman of the Westchester Chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants. He has also taught accounting as an adjunct professor at Mercy College, Iona University, and Westchester Community College.

Nicole Colwell (Secretary) 
Nicole is a graduate of Vassar College and holds a JD degree from the University of Michigan Law School. Following an early career as a litigator with Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine, she shifted gears to specialize in advising nonprofit entities and media/arts organizations. Most recently she worked as a legal fellow at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Nicole has served on two education-related nonprofit boards, Partnership for Children’s Rights and Reading Reform Foundation of New York, seeking to promote educational opportunities and advance the cause of childhood literacy throughout New York City.

Carolee Brakewood

Carolee is a certified instrumental music teacher with degrees from Northwestern University and Indiana University-Bloomington. After receiving tenure as an elementary band director in Tarrytown's public schools, she spent 14 years teaching music in Port Chester's Kindergarten classrooms Port Chester Council for the Arts. Currently, Carolee teaches private music lessons and offers private college counseling services to families throughout the Northeast. Carolee served for nine years as a Trustee on the Port Chester Board of Education; she currently serves on the Session of Rye Presbyterian Church and as Secretary for the Port Chester Historical Society. She assisted the Warners in forging connections with the school district in the earliest stages of 5 Steps to Five. 

Rachel Fleming, OTR/L

Rachel is a therapist at the Saturday sessions. She is a pediatric occupational therapist who has dedicated her career to working with children from birth through adolescence, helping them succeed in their daily occupations. Rachel is the owner of The Therapy Nest, which is an occupational therapy sensory gym and clinic located in Rye Ridge Plaza in Rye Brook, NY.

Lori Haffey

Lori graduated Miami University with a degree in Early Childhood Education and Family Studies  and received a masters Special Education from Manhattanville College.  Lori taught second grade on the Upper East Side for six years.  Lori has been involved as a volunteer in several non-profits, dedicated to education in underserved or disadvantaged communities including Westchester Institute of Human Development’s LEAP program, Carver Center’s after school program and Blythdale Children’s Hospital Early Childhood Center.  Lori lived in Port Chester for four years and recently moved with her family to Harrison, NY. 

Kristin Jautz 

Kristin Jautz grew up in Germany and worked as an international producer for CNN before moving to Rye with her husband and two children in 2002. She quickly became involved in a number of local organizations, including the Rye Youth Council, Rye Presbyterian Church, Rye Youth Soccer, and Zero Waste Day. She served as president of the board for 5 Steps to Five from 2020 to 2023 and oversaw its transition from founder-led to board-led organization. She now serves as head of the development and communication committees. Kristin recently completed her graduate degree in applied philosophy from Fordham. Now an empty-nester, she and her husband Ken live in Manhattan. 

Amy Kesavan, MSN, RN, IBCLC

Amy graduated from Columbia University with a Master's in Nursing. She has worked in community health with local school districts and is an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) with a local private practice. As an IBCLC, Amy aims to reduce stress and uncertainty around newborn and infant feeding so families can focus on bonding. She has been a local Leche League Leader for ten years and is a Tri-State Breastfeeding Association board member. She loves working with families and building relationships. Her first career was with the United States Air Force at the Pentagon, developing international space acquisition programs with allied air forces. She is the mother of two boys and lives in Rye. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening and beekeeping.

Otoniel Lopez

Otoniel is president of a Westchester-based applied research and impact measurement firm specializing in data-driven impact studies. He has over 20 years of experience working with community organizations, government agencies, school districts and businesses across the U.S. and internationally that aim to directly serve vulnerable populations. His studies span topics such as community needs, youth development, family literacy, community justice, workforce development, arts education, and many others. He also has particular experience working with organizations that serve Westchester community members carrying out critical studies in Port Chester, New Rochelle, Ossining, Yonkers and other local towns. He has a Master’s degree from Columbia University in Developmental Psychology with a minor in applied education research and is fluent in Spanish.

Ann Magalhaes, MBA, CPE

Ann has been leading positive parenting courses, workshops and private sessions for 15 years, most recently as part of The Parent Team. Her parenting education programs are designed to provide practical skills and effective support for parents to ease the stresses of parenting, make home life more enjoyable, and help their children thrive.  Ann is a board member of NPEN, the National Parenting Education Network, and is a NY-state credentialed Parenting Educator. She served on The Heard in Rye committee for 6 years and is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Wainwright House.  She has been volunteering her time with 5 Steps to Five since 2016, providing our parents with parenting education during the Saturday sessions.

Al Mariani, CPA and CGMA

Al graduated from Iona College in New Rochelle, NY with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration and Accounting and is a CPA and Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). Al is currently Chief Financial Officer of United Metro Energy Corporation in Brooklyn, NY. Al was previously employed by Precision Global as its CFO for a number of years managing its 18 international locations. Earlier in his career, he held various positions as Controller, Corporate Controller and Vice President of Finance. In addition to working in the packaging industry at Precision Global, Al has also worked in the automotive industry and the pharmaceutical industry.  Al started his career with KPMG and spent time at Lone Star Industries and Dyson-Kissner-Moran, a private equity firm.

Moises Ochoa
Moises has been serving as a Police Officer in the Village of Port Chester since 2018. A Port Chester native, and son of Mexican immigrants, Moises felt strongly about seeking a career that gives back to his community and fellow Americans. What drove Moises to law enforcement was his desire to create an environment where people feel safe, in their homes and in their neighborhoods, as he believes this is essential for a successful life. Being fluent in English and Spanish, Moises has had the opportunity to be the spokesperson for the Police Department at community events on various occasions, in addition to his routine work as a Police Officer. Before joining Port Chester PD, Moises worked as a paralegal for Cassin & Cassin, a Manhattan real estate law firm. Moises holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Iona College. 

Ilaria St. Florian, CDN 

Ilaria St. Florian has a master’s degree in Nutrition Education from Columbia University and is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.  She works at Stamford Hospital as the Manager of KIDS’ FANS (Fitness and Nutrition Services) which is a non-profit pediatric wellness and obesity prevention program which encourages healthy eating and physical activity for children ages 3 to 18. Although the program is created for all school-age children, special emphasis is placed on those coming from at-risk and food insecure households. Ilaria also works as an outpatient Nutritionist at White Plains Hospital Community Health Center where she provides nutrition counseling to adult and pediatric patients.

Sheri Zarkower

Sheri is a graduate of Brandeis University and received her JD degree from Georgetown University Law Center. Sheri is a practicing attorney specializing ni real estate and education law. She also serves as a legal advocate for the American Diabetes Association advocating for the rights of children within the educational setting. Sheri served six years as a Trustee on the Blind Brook-Rye Union Fre School District Board of Education holding the position of President and Vice- President during her tenure. She has been an active volunteer with Tools for Change and the Blind Brook Community Coalition. Sheri lives in Rye Brook with her husband where they raised three grown children.

Lisa Field [Executive Director]

LIsa Field of 5 Steps to Five starting spring 2016.  Lisa served on the Board of the Rye Historical Society, the Auxiliary Board of the Rye Free Reading Room and has volunteered in a variety of ways throughout Rye, including with The Rye City School district and at all Rye preschools.  Before moving to Rye, Lisa was Manager of Marketing at a nonprofit, America's Promise - The Alliance for Youth, in Washington, D.C., and Manager of the Expulsion Program for the Shaker Heights Youth Center in Ohio.  Lisa received her BA in Communications from the University of Georgia.

Melissa Belleville  [Associate Director]

Melissa has worked as a strategic consultant to international non-profit organizations and has more than fifteen years' experience and education in the fields of international development and business. Her consulting experience included performing on-site strategic evaluations of public health programs in Central America and the Caribbean. Prior to her work as an independent consultant she was a Program Manager for Maternal and Child Health at the international health organization Population Services International (PSI). Her employment history also includes stints at the World Bank, Ernst & Young's International Finance Consulting Practice and American Express. In addition to her travels in Latin America and the Caribbean, she has provided on-the-ground assistance to programs in Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. She holds a master's degree in Marketing and International Relations from the Lauder Institute at the Wharton School and the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor's degree in French from Smith College. She is fluent in Spanish and French and conversant in Portuguese. She lives in Rye with her husband and two sons. 

Kent Warner (Founder)  

Kent returned to Rye from New Hampshire in 2013.  Feeling the need to give back to the under-served community in next-door Port Chester, he and his wife Mary Alice started 5 Steps to Five, which he says has been one of the most rewarding involvements in his life. He received a BSME from Princeton Engineering School before starting an engineering/consulting/construction company.  Kent has long been involved with nonprofit organizations, including being board chair of Westchester Planned Parenthood and Board of Spaulding Youth Center for autistic children in New Hampshire. He was president of the nonprofit company that built the 99-unit Ferris Avenue affordable housing building in White Plains.

Allen Clark (Founder) 

Allen  joined Kent and Mary Alice Warner as Cofounder in late 2013 to start 5 Steps to Five.  80-year year resident of Westchester County, he has lived in Rye since 1984. A cum laude graduate of Amherst College, he worked in advertising for 40 years, including being Partner of Della Femina & Partners for 16 years. He is Publisher Emeritus of The Rye Record newspaper. In the mid-1960s he helped the Mamaroneck Community Action Program build the first community-owned CAP building in the country and served on the Mamaroneck Village Human Rights Commission. For the past three years, he has organized and run a literature discussion program at the Rye library with guest lecturer from Yale, Dr. Mark Schenker.  Allen and his wife, Whitney, live near their daughter, Margot Clark-Junkins and her family.

Mary Alice Warner (Founder - In Memoriam)

Mary Alice with four teenagers, took a course in Parent Effectiveness Training, beginning her special interest in parenting.  A graduate of Smith College and later with a degree in counseling, she worked as a parent, family and youth counselor, in the White Plains Youth Bureau for 9 years, before moving to New Hampshire.  There she volunteered for 16 years in the state prison, leading parent support groups and coaching inmates in parenting their children. She also co-led Parent Journey groups in the local Family Resource Center working with at risk parents to build self-esteem, confidence and enjoyment as parents.  She was happy to have been involved in the planning and setting up of 5 Steps to Five.

Our Mission

A parent is a child’s first and most important teacher. Our mission is to be a trusted resource for parents seeking to give their child the best possible start to school and to life.

Our Program

5 Steps to Five is a local nonprofit organization focused on the crucial importance of infant brain development. Recognizing that a parent is a child’s first and most important teacher, we support parents in the immigrant community by guiding them on how to give their children the best possible start to school and to life. In parent-child group sessions, our trained instructors model ways to promote cognitive, verbal, and social skills using five simple steps: Nurture, Talk, Play, Read, Explore.  Our programs build awareness, confidence, and community, and empower parents to advocate for their children’s future success and well-being

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