Adrienne Billings-Smith, Esq.
Founder of Concerned Parents of Color of West Hartford
Adrienne Billings-Smith is a local attorney, flight attendant and parent of a West Hartford student. She has lived in various areas of the United States but calls Florida home. Being a black, queer woman from the south she navigated racism and discrimination her entire life. She chose to leave Florida in hopes that New England would afford her family a better life culturally, financially, and politically. Unfortunately, she recognized that racism has no boundaries and realized she needed to speak up for her family and community. In the wake of police brutality and the numerous stories about inequity in education she realized a voice was needed in her community.
Adrienne started Concerned Parents of Color of West Hartford to advocate for change in education, legislation, and representation in West Hartford. Her vision is to build and sustain an open, honest dialogue with leaders of West Hartford. But most importantly to hold the leadership of West Hartford accountable to its citizens of color. She believes that if a community acknowledges these injustices it can move forward and defeat racism and its effects.
As she states to anyone who will listen, “I don’t need you to move a mountain, but I need you to pick up a rock”.
Roselind Amaker, MFT
President & Mental Health Co-Chair
Roselind is a native of Stamford, CT and her family is originally from Ecuador. Roselind served in the military for four years active duty stationed at Fort Bragg, NC as Mental Health counselor and did a tour in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She is a graduate of UCONN with my B.A. in Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Women’s Gender, Sex, and Sexuality. She also has a Masters from CCSU in Marriage and Family Therapy. Further, she has worked in the mental health field in various roles for the past ten years both in the military and civilian life, including a co-facilitator of "The Talk", CPCWH's pilot mental health program. . Roselind is a mother of three beautiful children. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading and researching different ways families interact and handle the difficult transitions of the family cycle but also the macro system in which they live.
Geeno M. Gordon
Vice President & Founding Member
Geeno is a product of Hartford Connecticut, born and raised in Westbrook Village in Hartford’s North End. He is the proud father of two children, Yannick Noah Gordon and EmmiSoliel Niah Gordon who reside in West Hartford.
Geeno has worked with The City of Hartford, The Department of Human Resources and The State Treasurer Denise Nappier as an Executive Assistant. He has worked as a consultant with various organizations in the Greater Hartford area with a focus on community engagement. He has also been a consultant with the Capital Region Educational Council (CREC) Choice Program, spearheading the development of curriculum learning modules and workshops for urban youth involved in the Choice Program. The various school systems he has worked with are Granby School (middle and high schools), Windsor High, Avon High, Simsbury High and Asnuntuck Community College. He served as board chair of Hartford Areas Rally Together (H.A.R.T.).
Geeno played an instrumental role in assisting the MDC and CDM with community outreach for the Clean Water Project. He also worked with Guinan and Associates as the Community Relations Director to garner support from various community organizations. This included educating the public and various municipalities on the need to vote “YES” on the referendum that resulted in an $800 million allocation over seven years to improve the district’s infrastructure.
Geeno is about establishing connections, building bridges, maintaining fruitful and rewarding relationships across diverse groups and communities.
He is also a caterer, personal chef, poet and collegiate tennis player.
Secretary & Founding Member
Nicole Edwards Torres grew up in Fairfield, a town in Southern Connecticut. After graduating high school, she left to study Art History at the University of Connecticut where she met her husband Marcos Torres in 2006. During school and after graduation she traveled throughout Europe. These trips were predominately focused on the study of art, architecture, culture, farming, food production and cooking. In 2013 Marcos, Nicole and their then one-year old son decided to buy a home in West Hartford as it was the town Marcos grew up in. To her, West Harford seemed like a place full of diversity and inclusivity. Many of the people that Nicole met at UCONN hailed from West Hartford; some originally from Ukraine, Vietnam, Puerto Rico, Greece, and Russia. Her Jewish faith is also strongly represented in the town. As a West Hartford resident of 7 years and with two children in the elementary school system she is understanding that West Hartford too, as much of Connecticut, still has problems with accurately representing the communities of color. Therefore, she would like to continue to further develop the diversity and inclusivity that brought her there in the first place. As a mother of inter-racial and inter-faith children she strives to bring them up in a world that is fair to everyone, no matter of their background. Her hopes are that the West Hartford community can be equally represented by all colors and all faiths.
Treasurer & Founding Member
Rena Billings moved to Connecticut from Florida to help raise her grandson. She has been in Finance and Accounting for over 30 years and served as General Accounting Manager for the City of Cocoa, Florida before moving to West Hartford and taking a position as Business Office Manager with the American School for the Deaf.
Rena was the stereotypical military child. She has lived from sea-to-shining-sea and even spent time in Italy as a young child. She has seen and witnessed the effects of racism for over 50 years and still realizes we have a long way to go. She believes that representation is important not only to children of color, but for all children. She recognizes that a community can effectuate change if it demands the best from its leadership and that voices of color need to be heard in order to make real change in our community and country.
Chair of Educational Advancement & Founding Member
Patricia Billings has been in leadership roles within Financial Aid in higher education for over ten years. She relocated to West Hartford in 2015 after spending over twenty years in the Seattle area. Throughout her Financial Aid career, she has helped coordinate diversity and inclusion efforts on campuses including campus-wide diversity trainings. A long-time ally to the LGBTQIA+ community, she is committed to fighting for social justice for People of Color and all individuals who have been oppressed.
Chair of Social Media/Communications & Founding Member
Eileen is a parent to 2 young biracial children. Along with her husband and 2 cats, they settled in the Aiken School area of West Hartford to raise their family. Originally from NYC, she graduated from Brooklyn College with a degree in Childhood Education and Sociology.
As a child of Chinese immigrants, she was raised to lay low and avoid confrontation even in the face of discrimination. In today's environment, it has become increasingly clear that inaction doesn't yield positive change. In stepping out of her comfort zone, she hopes to help create a brighter future for minorities in the West Hartford community.
Mental Health Committee Member & Founding Member
Voula Coss is a first generation Greek-American who grew up with a close-knit family, who always emphasized the importance of family values and traditions. Voula’s neighborhood and school in Hartford was predominately of Latino and African American descent. She grew up understanding the importance of welcoming different races, ethnicities, cultures, religions, and socioeconomic status.
Voula obtained her degree from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work and has over fifteen years of experience working in a variety of mental health settings and with clients of diverse backgrounds.
Voula has two young children, ages six and ten, who attend Aiken Elementary School in West Hartford. Her husband Jonathan, who attended school in West Hartford, is first generation from the Dominican Republic. He served in the United States Navy and traveled to many countries around the world. It is important to Voula and Jonathan that their children have the same values as them, as they navigate friendships and relationships in life.
Voula sees and appreciates the diverse cultures and faiths in the town of West Hartford. She is hopeful that with community involvement and outreach, diversity in West Hartford will be represented in all realms.
Mental Health Co-Chair & Founding Member
Volunteer/Community Engagement Chair