Our Team


Hope Savich, Director of NICE Program

Hope Savich is a graduate of Columbia University and has a Masters of Education in School Building Leadership and a Masters of Arts in Cognitive Psychology.  Hope has worked in high schools for 18 years in various capacities including a Social Studies Teacher, Tutor, Educational Researcher, Data Coordinator, Dean of Students, and finally as the NICE Program Director.  Hope began her teaching career on Chicago’s South Side and has also worked at both public and charter schools in East Harlem and the Bronx, New York, as well as a private international school in La Ceiba, Honduras.  Hope has always been passionate about building a positive learning community where all students feel like they have a voice.


Wicile Joseph, NICE Staff

Wicile Joseph, has a Masters of Science degree in Mental Health Counseling and has worked in the social work field for the past 10 years. Wicile, is currently a member of the NICE Program at Ramapo Senior High School where she is providing social emotional support to the students, in an effort to promote academic success and increase self-efficacy. Wicile is also experienced in mediating and resolving conflict between students, facilitating individualized treatment meetings, building community in the classroom, connect students and their families to appropriate resources and engaging parents. Wicile is well versed in utilizing the Restorative Justice Practices, Collaborative Problem Solving, and the Solutions Based Casework framework in her everyday work.


Johan Esteban, NICE Staff

Johan Esteban earned his Masters of Arts in Philosophy from The New School in New York City and is a Ph.D candidate at Goethe-Universitat Frankfurt Am Main in Germany. He started his career in 2005 working with young people in Colombia where he taught Ethics, Philosophy, Literature and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). He finds his work at NICE challenging, rewarding and necessary to lessen poverty-related disparities among young people. His favorite part of the day is when circle keepers create positive energy within the circle, and use it to face the challenges of the day. His work is done when young people are empowered.


Kalyca Thomas, NICE Staff

Kalyca Thomas has taught middle school English in Harlem and The Bronx for thirteen years. She steadily looks for ways to invest in educational dialogue for the creation of trans-formative change. Kalyca is also a Bronx trained mediator through the Institute of Mediation and Conflict Resolution (IMCR) and believes in restorative justice practices when holding adolescent children accountable. She holds a B.A. in Literature from The Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL (Go Noles!). In her spare time, Kalyca enjoys Facetime conversations with her nephews, especially when Elmo is involved, returning home to shop with her pioneering mom and sassy grandmother and taking long walks in Pelham Bay Park.


Shayaun Pakizegi, NICE Staff

Shayaun Pakizegi is a Nice Staff member working at Ramapo high school. He grew up in Montclair, New Jersey and earned his bachelors degree in sociology from Ithaca College and concentrated in culture, race, and ethnicity studies as well as history. Shy has professional experience with students of color from the juvenile justice system to social emotional counseling in middle and high schools. He has worked in urban communities in Ozone Park, Queens and Paterson New Jersey. He is very passionate about academic achievement and mental health, especially among youth of color. His passion and experiences working in urban and in communities of color will continue to serve him as he aims to best serve the students and community of East Ramapo and Hudson Valley.


Jesús Soto Condor, NICE Staff

Jesús Soto Condor has worked in the field of social services and human rights for more than 20 years. Originally from Peru, Jesús specializes in children, youth and children’s rights. He has worked with prominent international NGOs as well as the Ministry of Women and Children in Peru. Before joining the NICE Team, he worked for Habitat for Humanity as their Community Development Manager as well as the Regional Environmental Council.


Aliza Martinez, NICE Staff

Aliza Martinez is part of the NICE staff at Spring Valley High School. She is an alumni of Spring Valley and is grateful to have been given the opportunity to give back to the community she was raised in. She received her Master’s Degree in School Counseling from Long Island University and is a Certified School Counselor.


Wilene Joseph, NICE Staff

Wilene Joseph is a Certified School Counselor and currently works for he NICE team at Spring Valley High School. She got her undergraduate degree in Sociology at Long Island University and her Masters Degree at The College of New Rochelle. Prior to joining the NICE team, Ms. Joseph worked in a Residential Treatment Center for 6 years under the auspices of NYS Foster Care System who serves children with dual-diagnoses and their families. Ms. Joseph worked with the youngest boys on campus (8-14 years of age) with varying diagnoses including PTSD, Autism, ADHD and emotional disturbance. Ms. Joseph acted as a parent, mentor, friend, role model and therapist for youth who may not have anyone else they could trust to take care of them. She is certified in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, which she used masterfully in order to help aid in the de-escalation process of the youth. With the most challenging youth and families, Ms. Joseph exhibit much patience and care, taking time to listen to the youth, comforted them and helped them.


Janelle Taylor, NICE Staff

After completing her Bachelors degree in Social Work at St. Bonaventure University, Janelle began her social work career in the department of Welfare to Work in Social Services located in Newburgh N.Y. This is when her strong desire to support young people through their academic, personal and social needs motivated her to continue her education at Mercy college completing her Masters of Science degree in Counseling. Working as a School Counselor in the Clarkstown School District, her true passion for supporting students, teachers and administrators flourished. Here at Ramapo she now has the opportunity to connect with students through a variety of practices including classroom circles, mediations, one on one counseling, college counseling and restorative practices. Through supportive conversations students can understand their potential by focusing on their accomplishments, big or small, and reflecting on past successes.


Lizzette Ruiz, NICE Staff

Lizzette Ruiz is a bilingual member of the NICE staff at Ramapo High School. She graduated from Saint Thomas Aquinas College with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. Lizzette’s work experience includes Head Start of Rockland as a family worker; a community educator at Cooperative Extension as well as a program assistant for T.O.U.C.H. (Together Our Unity Can Heal). She is passionate about helping others and looks forward to continuing her work with the N.I.C.E. program.