Board of Directors





Ernest E. Hairston, Ph.D., Founder & Honorary Chairman of the Board, grew up in the coal mining town of Stotesbury, West Virginia.  His father was a coal miner, and his mother was a housewife.  At the age of 5, he contracted spinal meningitis which rendered him profoundly deaf.  Through a combination of hard work, family support, mentoring, and scholarships, he became the first Black deaf person to receive a doctoral degree from Gallaudet University.  Dr. Hairston retired from the U.S. Department of Education after more than 40 years of public service in various capacities, including Chief of the Captioning and Adaptation Branch.

Dr. Hairston wrote Black and Deaf In America – Are We that Different? with Linwood Smith in 1983.  He is one of the founders of National Black Deaf Advocates, the oldest and largest organization of deaf and hard of hearing Black people in the United States.  He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Maryland School for the Deaf.  He is a Director of Artistic Sign Language and an advisor to the Department of VSA and Accessibility at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  He is a popular inspirational speaker.  Contact Dr. Ernest Hairston



Mencie Y. Hairston, M.A., Founder & Executive Director, established High Bridge Foundation, Inc. with her husband, Dr. Ernest E. Hairston, in February, 2012.  Having been a self-supporting student in college (University of the Philippines) and graduate school (Gallaudet University), Mrs. Hairston has a personal appreciation for the role scholarships play in allowing students attain their educational goals.

Mrs. Hairston is involved in various educational and community outreach initiatives.  She currently serves on the Scholarship Committee for the the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Maryland, the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, the Board of Directors of Discovering Deaf Worlds, and the Board of Trustees of Mabuhay, Inc., a Filipino-American community organization which she helped establish 30 years ago in Prince George's County, Maryland.  Contact Mencie Hairston



Mayumi Hairston Escalante, President, was raised by two educators.  She gained from them a love of knowledge, a heart for community and public service, and the understanding that education creates opportunities and pathways.  She tutored elementary, middle, and high school students in math and mentored adoptees at Camp Mabuhay, a heritage camp for children adopted from the Philippines and their families.  With the help of scholarships, she attended Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington, D.C.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Maryland on a partnership award from the university and the late Carl Rowan's Project Excellence Foundation.  Mrs. Escalante returned as a volunteer every year the foundation remained active.

Mrs. Escalante works for the U.S. Census Bureau, where she provides training on export classification and ensures the quality of trade statistics.  She is an advisor to the Census Bureau Diversity Council and a member of Toastmasters International.  She enjoys voracious reading and spending time with her husband, four children, and large extended family.  Contact Mayumi Escalante 



Michael Kelly, MBA, Vice President, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice from Morgan State University and holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland University College.  He is currently a senior analyst with twelve years in public service; among his day-to-day responsibilities are data analysis, metrics, and reporting.  His accomplishments include work in the relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.  Mr. Kelly is Chief Executive Officer and President of The Canile Group, LLC.

In addition to his strong passion for education, one of Mr. Kelly's primary reasons for joining the Foundation was to give back to the area that helped shape him into the individual that he is today.  While growing up, he had strong mentors that coached, encouraged, and championed his success.  After seeing firsthand the impact that these actions had on his life, he seeks to do the same for today’s youth.  Contact Michael Kelly

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Brian Alexander, M.S., Treasurer, is currently a Managing Partner for Alexander & Craig Ventures, LLC, a residential real estate development company.   Mr. Alexander along with his business partner Michael Craig, Jr. founded the company in 2009 and have been working on residential rehab projects in Washington, DC, where they have solidified their position in a highly competitive market.  Mr. Alexander earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Bowie State University and a Master of Science in Management Information Systems from the University of Maryland University College.

Mr. Alexander is a true believer in the power of education and the opportunities it can provide to anyone, not only in a career but, more importantly, in life.  He has a great appreciation for the mission of the Foundation and lives by the expression "Pay it forward."  His personal experience of creating and seizing opportunities throughout his life has helped him achieve his goals as he continues to create new ones.  Contact Brian Alexander



Aindrea Conroy, Director, is a life-long resident of the Washington Metropolitan area and attended Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School.  Aindrea is a 2004 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a 2007 graduate from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.

Upon graduation from law school, Aindrea served as a judicial law clerk in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland and as senior judicial law clerk in the Court of Special Appeals, Maryland.  Following her clerkships, Aindrea joined the law firm of Ethridge, Quinn, Kemp, McAuliffe, Rowan & Hartinger where she became a partner in 2016.  Aindrea practices primarily in the areas of family law, criminal defense and commercial ligation.  Contact Aindrea Conroy



Evelyn Lewis, M.S., Director, received a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology from North Carolina State University and a Master of Science in Statistics from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).  She was a teaching assistant for statistics at UMBC and a tutor for Prince George's County students with developmental delays.  She has held leadership positions with the Educational Outreach Ministry for First Baptist Church on Minnesota Avenue.

Mrs. Lewis is a member of the STEM Career Institute and Secretary for the Burtonsville Elementary School Parent Teacher Association.  She works as a statistician for the U.S. Census Bureau and enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children.  Contact Evelyn Lewis





Rebekah Lippman-Tolliver, M.Ed., Director, is passionate about High Bridge Foundation’s mission of promoting the well-being of young people from underserved groups.  Born in Lima, Peru, she was adopted by her American family at 15 months old and was raised in Long Island, New York.  She could not walk nor understand English upon her arrival to the U.S.  Through her parents' dedicated care and rehabilitation, she was able to meet and surpass milestones while progressing through a competitive social and educational system within her community.  She learned at a young age and is frequently reminded that one’s identity is constantly evolving.  Religious, racial, and social diversity are constant threads in Mrs. Tolliver's life.  She and her husband strive to instill in their three multi-racial children the same values and structure to which she owes her success.

Mrs. Tolliver earned her Undergraduate Teacher Certification in Elementary Education from the University of Maryland and a Master of Education in Reading from Trinity University in Washington, D.C.  She is near completion of a Master of Arts in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Notre Dame of Maryland University.  She chairs her Montgomery County, Maryland elementary school’s Special Education Team.  Through this and other leadership roles in the school system, she hopes to build her own legacy that supports children to achieve their potential and become contributing members of society while promoting diversity, self-expression, confidence, and self-esteem.  Contact Rebekah Lippman-Tolliver


Phillip San Gabriel, M.Mus.Ed., Director, is from Upper Marlboro, Maryland.  He earned his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music Education from Howard University in 2009 and 2011, respectively.  Mr. San Gabriel began his teaching career in the District of Columbia Public School system where he taught for four years.  In his second year, he was one of six awardees to receive a Wolf Trap Foundation Grant in recognition of Exceptional Achievement in Performing Arts Education.

In August of 2015, Mr. San Gabriel began his tenure in the Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) system teaching Band and Chorus at Isaac Gourdine Middle School.  During that time, his students participated in the Prince George’s County Band and Solo & Ensemble assessment festivals where they received Excellent and Superior ratings.  Currently, Mr. San Gabriel works in the PGCPS central administration offices providing direct scheduling support for the county’s 48 K-8/Middle schools.  Outside of PGCPS, he is an active musician playing in various community bands and directing/singing in church choirs.  Contact Phillip San Gabriel

 5F63BF0D-C02E-4A2B-A32E-17778A251BBD.jpeg     Pamela Tarectecan, Director, has an extensive history working with young people from middle school to college throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.  She attended Elizabeth Seton High School with the support of scholarships and work-study and then earned dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Biological Sciences and Secondary Science Education from the University of Maryland (UMD).  At UMD, she counseled students on resumes and career development as a Peer Career Educator while fostering community through the Filipino Cultural Association and partnering with local organizations, such as Mabuhay, Inc., Asian American LEAD, Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue, Inc. - District VI, The Rita M. Cacas Foundation, Philippine American Foundation for Charities, and The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project.

She is currently a science teacher and math tutor at Francis Scott Key Middle School in Silver Spring, Maryland.  Furthering her work with students, she leads summer camps and after-school programs in STEM project-based activities.  She hopes to pursue graduate degrees related to education and sciences.  Contact Pamela Tarectecan