Advocating for Equity, Equality, Representation and Accountability through Activism
President & Founder
Adrienne Billings-Smith is a local attorney, flight attendant, and Town Councilor in West Hartford, CT. Adrienne started CPCWH 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 the community and state to ensure that BIPOC and other marginalized communities have their voices heard and supported in terms of educational equity and policy initiatives through research, curriculum development and activism. Through her work with CPCWH she was selected to be the first Community Leader-in -Residence for University of Connecticut’s History Department.
Vice President & Chair of Educational Advancement
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. Patricia leads and coordinates our College Prep Programs for High School seniors. Also, 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.
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 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 Chair & Founding Member
Kaleea has lived in West Hartford for 15 years, and is originally from the Western
Massachusetts area. She holds an undergraduate degree from Union College in Schenectady,
NY and is a graduate from UCONN School of Social Work. Kaleea has worked in the mental
health field as a social work clinician for over 16 years servicing children and families of diverse
backgrounds and circumstances. She currently works for the Town of West Hartford in the
Community Partnerships Division of Social Services.
Kaleea is the biological mother of two children, bonus mother to three children, a foster parent,
and helped raised her two brothers. She comes from a large loving family, who mostly resides
in CT and MA. She considers her home a place of comfort for neighborhood children, and was
often the go-to spot on snow days and school holidays. She coached in West Hartford and
Bloomfield athletic organizations for many years. Kaleea served on the board for her children’s
elementary school, Smith School PTO, and continues to be a presence at both King Phillip
Middle School and Hall High School. Kaleea has dedicated her life to working with children and
families. She is passionate about equity in education, meeting the needs of individuals and
families, and supporting her community through advocacy.
Volunteer & Community Engagement Chair