Evan Robbins (Founder and CEO)
This project began at Metuchen High School in New Jersey, where he has been teaching social studies since 1997. In 2006, in conjunction with his students, Evan created the Breaking the Chain Through Education (BTCTE) club. The club strived to rescue trafficked children in the fishing industry in Ghana, Africa. We achieved this through learning about the issue and then raising funds for organizations in Ghana (i.e. The International Organization for Migration) to rescue and rehabilitate victims of child trafficking. To help promote education and to free 20 trafficked children, BTCTE built a school in 2013 in the Village of Awate Tornu (the school was completed in exchange for the children’s release).
Recently, the mission of BTCTE shifted to providing long-term care to survivors of trafficking rather than focusing on rescuing more children. This change was based on the children’s demonstrated need for ongoing support to attain financial and emotional independence. While several organizations in Ghana concentrate their efforts on rescuing children, BTCTE is unique in its focus on long-term support. Currently, we are caring for 99 children/young adults by funding their education or entrepreneurial pursuits. In addition to Evan spending time with each child every summer to assess their needs, our social workers visit the children regularly. They monitor their continued progress toward academic or career goals, help them problem-solve and check on their mental and physical well-being. Evan has especially enjoyed the experience of watching these children grow from small children to young adults. They jump into his arms, call him dad and some are overcome with emotion when they see him.
Lisa Robbins (Secretary of the Board)
Lisa Robbins earned her Ed.D. in Special Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and has been teaching children for over 20 years. She is currently employed as a reading specialist in Montclair, NJ where she works with children in grades K-2 who struggle with early literacy acquisition. In addition, she does professional development for teachers. On a trip to Ghana in 2012, she did a workshop for teachers in the new school in Awate Tornu and looks forward to doing more teacher training in Ghana. Currently, she helps organize BTCTE’s fundraising events, promotes the charity in local newspapers, serves as Secretary of the Board, and assists with composing BTCTE’s literature.
Michael Baer (VP Legal Affairs)
Michael D. Baer was born and raised in Bergen County, New Jersey. He graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Mass with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. He then returned to the NYC area and graduated from Pace University School of Law in White Plains with a Doctorate of Law. He currently maintains a law office in New York and New Jersey. His practice focuses on Civil Litigation for individuals, small companies and multi-million dollar corporations. In addition to his law practice, Michael keeps himself busy actively participating as an officer of the Fair Lawn Jewish Center and being on the board of Breaking the Chain Through Education and Areyvut. Michael lives in Fair Lawn, New Jersey with his wife, Robin and their two daughters, Julia and Jessica.
Amiee Idan (Chief Financial Officer)
Amiee Idan holds a BA from Binghampton (NY) University and has been a commercial banker in the New York Metro area for over two decades. In 2017 she graduated from the commuting crowd to take a position at Kearny Bank and refocus on the New Jersey Commercial and Industrial (C&I) market. Though her go-to idea for a fun chat or get-together involves exploring and establishing lending/borrowing opportunities, she is also personally dedicated to funding the operations of organizations that fulfill humanitarian needs. On the side she has proudly raised four children, and is an accomplished watercolorist.
Carolyn Taylor (Director of Development)
Carolyn Taylor was a parent volunteer for Breaking the Chain when her daughters were students at Metuchen High School. In August of 2017, Carolyn was named Director of Development. Her primary responsibilities include administrative duties, fundraising, sponsorship and assisting with the MHS BTCTE Club. She chaired the Sam Liss Memorial 5K in 2018, which raised more than $30,000 and hosted more than 250 participants in its inaugural year.
Carolyn’s day job is at the Metuchen Public Schools Board of Education. Prior to that, she worked for Ray Catena Motor Car and also spent 20 years at Major League Baseball. She graduated from Purdue University many years ago and continues to be a passionate Purdue sports fan.
Jasmin Raab (VP of Fundraising)
Jasmin Raab graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Music. She worked as a Second Level IT specialist for 5 years and a Music Teacher for 1 year before having her two children. For the past 5 years, she has volunteered for the Metuchen School District as PTO High School Secretary, planning and helping run school fundraisers with PTO and Music Dept. Her daughter became involved with BTCTE in her freshman year and Jasmin has been assisting with their functions since then.
Dwayne Wilkins (VP of Cultural Affairs)
Dwayne R. Wilkins is a 30 something father of two, who is messianic about economic growth within urban communities across the country. He was born in Oakland, California but raised in Montclair, NJ by a very politically and community involved family. His Grandfather, a retired high ranking detective, was the Democratic Chairman of Montclair and his Grandmother was the head of Affirmative Action in Essex County. His psychological and sociological attack on inner-city poverty, to no surprise, is transforming him into a hometown hero. He has given multiple lectures at Rutgers-Newark, been interviewed by Brian Brodeur of East Main Media and appeared on Cablevision where he shares his passions with the public. His mission, is to raise the net worth of inner city families by teaching them the importance of building their financial houses. Mr. Wilkins also enourages people to join him in his efforts. He plans to open an office in the "Brick City" and states that, "This is a crusade, and a crusade demands many soldiers that share the same vision."
Brian Valiquette (VP of Technology)
For 13 years Brian Valiquette has worked in the IT field. He has held a number of positions including Systems Analyst/Network Engineer at Engelhard Corp., where he was also the volunteer captain of the first aid squad, and most recently as an Information Security Risk Manager for one of the largest hospitality companies, Wyndham Worldwide. In his division at Wyndham, he is the volunteer fire marshal, and his proclivity for volunteerism has helped the children in his community for more than a decade. He has coached track & field and basketball for the Metuchen/Edison YMCA, coached softball for North Edison and Metuchen Little Leagues, and continues to coach soccer for Metuchen Recreation Commission. In his spare time, Brian uses his computer expertise to act as a veritable “geek squad” for technologically impaired family and friends, and will also use that experience to resolve the technology challenges of Breaking the Chain Through Education. He lives in Metuchen with his wife and two children.
Tracey Diamond (Website Developer & Graphic Design)
Tracey Diamond graduated from American University with a BA in Communications, focusing Advertising and Marketing, along with a minor in Graphic Design. In the years to follow, she worked with a variety of professional building her skills in graphic design, photography, advertising, marketing, screen printing, press production, while also working on her passion as a writer and fine artist. Now with her own company, Tracey Diamond Designs, she brings together her many years of experience to help build and support her clients' brands and personal events which now also includes website and social media development and design. Tracey became part of Breaking the Chain Through Education when we were looking for a website re-design and has followed that up with creating our event graphic for the 2019 Summer Kickoff 5K. Tracey is excited to be spending more free time painting and illustrating, while displaying some through local showings, and looks forward to writing more stories in the hopes to follow her dream to become a children's book author and illustrator.