Meet Our Committee
RYLA District 7255 Committee
Yean has been involved with RYLA since participating as a RYLArian during his sophomore year of high school in 2014. He was fortunate enough to serve on the committee of 2015-16 as a Senior Leader. He gratefully served as Alumni Chair for the RYLA 7255 Organizational Committee from 2020-23. During his time in the role of Alumni Co-Chair, Yean helped jumpstart many new initiatives. His focus was primarily administrative tasks, curriculum development, applications systems, and mentorship. Investing in the students he mentors is his number one priority. Yean has a B.S in Media/Communications, and a M.A in Higher Education/Student Affairs from New York University. Now he works full time with students as an Administrator at SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology. His dedication to RYLA has existed since day 1, not missing a single major event since 2014. He has come back to volunteer every year since graduating high school. Although he has always been an outgoing leader, Yean credits RYLA with helping him hone in on the kind of leader he wants to be. He truly credits RYLA, and his work with the Senior Leader Committee, for inspiring his career path. Yean hopes to continue to grow in RYLA as he steps into the District Chairperson role. Within this role, he hopes to reimagine a lot of what RYLA 7255 does, and wants to continue improving/modernizing the program. More importantly he can't wait to help all future generations of RYLA get the transformative experience he received!
Diane Pacifico Marmann
Diane Pacifico Marmann is a four-time President of the Mineola-Garden City Rotary Club and the longtime Treasurer of the RYLA District 7255 Committee, having been involved with RYLA for over a decade. Diane has served as the Youth Protection Officer for District 7250 YEP, and a Youth Exchange host Mom twice. She was Committee Chair of the District Conference in 2020-21 and Co-Chair in 2011-12. She has also served on the Installation Committee for incoming District Governors. Diane loves interacting with the students who attend RYLA and hearing their stories about how the efforts made by the RYLA Committee has truly changed the lives of many young individuals. Diane is an attorney in Hicksville specializing in Real Estate and Wills, Trusts and Estates, and in her "spare" time is involved as a director, stage manager and actor with the Cultural Arts Playhouse and The Kings of the Coast Pirate Show.
Lydia A. Wells
Lydia has been part of the RYLA family since 2002most recently serving as the RYLA District 7255 chairperson. Lydia was recently named the District Governor Nominee and will serve as District Governor in the 2025-2026 Rotary year. Her educational background includes a BS in Elementary Education and a MS plus in Guidance and Counseling. She spent 30 years as a Guidance Counselor in the Greenport School district and before that was a elementary teacher for the Department of Defense. Lyds has been a Rotarian for 22 years. She has served three terms as president of the Rotary Club of Greenport. She has held several Rotary District positions and has been blessed to travel with Rotary on humanitarian trips to Cambodia, and Nepal. Lyds has several passions. She loves to travel and she loves being part of the RYLA family. She has watched the program grow from a one afternoon program run by adults to a year round program run by students. She is extremely proud to have had the opportunity to to share our wonderful RYLA program by participating in several international and zone panels for Rotarians worldwide. Lydia feels blessed to help guide so many young people in their leadership journey and loves that so many of our Rylarians stay involved with the
program as they become adult leaders. She can’t wait to see how the program continues to grow with
all our leaders!!!
Summer RYLA Director
Thud actively serves as the past-President of the Riverhead Rotary Club and past Chairperson of the RYLA Committee and has devoted extensive time and effort to community-minded organizations of various avenues. He is the Executive Director of Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch, located in Riverhead, New York. This is a not-for-profit agency that provides residential and group care for adolescents; he has held various positions within the childcare field including, administrative, clinical and direct care. Previously, Thud has served as President for Long Island Family & Youth Services (LIFY), Chairman of the Riverhead Youth Committee and a Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies (COFCCA) Board Member along with many other positions in his community including the Riverhead High School Varsity Football Team assistant coach from 1997-2005. Mr. Hill is an avid fan of both physical and mental fitness and is actively involved in the RYLA District 7255 Committee.
Jesse has been involved with RYLA since his sophomore year of High School back in 2017. He was blessed with the opportunity to serve on the Senior Leader Committee of 2018-2019 during his senior year of High School as he now serves as the new Alumni Chair & Alumni Association Director of RYLA 7255. Jesse has a B.S Communications, Media Production from Eastern Connecticut State University as he is now the Director of Athletic Media at Eastern Connecticut. His passion and love for RYLA has carried him through all of his academic, athletic and professional journeys as he credits most of his success to the program and how it shaped him into the young man he is today. With his new role in RYLA, Jesse hopes to give back to the students of RYLA with the comradery of his fellow Alumni of the program to expand their horizons in the acts of leadership and service. Jesse calls this program home and being able to serve this community is what makes him hold his role so close to his heart!
Director of Operations & Administration
Tim is a proud RYLA alumni who served in a variety of capacities from his participation as a Rylarian, Facilitator, Senior Leader, and Administrative Intern. He credits his brother Chris, another RYLA alum, for involving him with the program and helping him to find a home within RYLA 7255. His favorite part of the program is seeing ways in which students develop their leadership skills which otherwise would've remained dormant within them. Tim is currently studying at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College of Education and Human Development where he studies the relationship between schooling, society and education. At RYLA he oversees the expansion and development of program initiatives and is always looing for ways to innovate a program rooted in the tradition of capitalizing on the endless potential of our youth. Outside of RYLA, Tim is an avid country music fan and enjoys time spent by the water!
Jean Mahoney has been a member of the Southold Rotary Club since 2012, and credits RYLA for piquing her interest in Rotary. An English teacher at Mattituck High School for 30 years, Jean was the advisor to the Mattituck Interact Club, the 10th grade advisor, and coached Junior High cross country, and Junior high track. A lover of dogs, Jean is often walking or spending time with her Bernese mountain dog, Morgan, and her rescue dog, Dobby. Otherwise, Jean can be found reading mysteries, or working in her garden.
Barbara Ackermann has been a member of the Southold Rotary for over 3 decades, having become the first woman rotarian of her district upon taking her oath! A retired Guidance Director and School Counselor of the Southold School District, Barbara began her professional career as a child protective caseworker and a medical social worker. She continues to serve her community not only through Rotary but on the Board of East End Counselors Association, and the North Fork School Advisory Committee, as well. She is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, and was involved in HUGS from its inception, serving on the Board of Directors for several years. She has served two terms as President of Southold Rotary, in addition to her plethora of other roles within the club. Barbara has served in a number of roles in Rotary including, but not limited to, a multiple time Assistant Governor, the District Scholarship Chairperson and a member of the Youth Exchange Committee. Barbara's valiant efforts to embed the mission of RYLA, "Service Before Self," in all corners of her life has garnered recognition from the Southold Rotary honoring her with the establishment of the "Barbara Ackermann Award for Most Improved Student" and, likewise, from the East End Counselors Association in the establishment of "The Barbara Ackermann Counselor of The Year Award." Barbara is grateful to the experience RYLA has gifted her with as she continues to grow alongside the young people who attend. She passionately believes that RYLA is a life changing experience for all who are involved.
Rich has been part of the RYLA family along with his wife Lydia since 2002. Rich is retired from the
government and also from his second career as a healthcare provider. Rich has been a Rotarian for six
years and he is a past president of the Rotary Club of Greenport and is currently serving as program
chairperson of his club. Rich enjoys traveling and has been part of several Rotary Humanitarian trips to
Cambodia and Nepal. With Rotary, the world is very small and he has had the opportunity to meet many
Rotarians at International conferences. Rich can be seen at RYLA either parking cars or being the “cut-up” guy. At summer, Rich gets up early each morning to fix fresh strawberries for the Rylarians. Rich enjoys watching the young rylarians grow and develop into confident leaders. Rich and Lydia have been married for 48 years and have two adult children and four grandchildren.
Joanne Maiorana-Davis has been a Rotarian since 2004 and has been Past President of two clubs, and currently serves as President of Commack-Kings Park and Past Chairperson of a Group Study Exchange program. Joanne is currently works with First National Bank of Long Island in East Setauket as a Branch Manager. There are several reasons why she joined Rotary, it was an interest not only about “service above self” and doing for others but also about helping each other through business networking and having fun while doing both! There are so many great projects and programs to participate in Rotary but RYLA is one of Joanne’s favorites because we are helping our youths develop leadership skills and come out of their shell or as they phrase it “come out of their comfort zone.” Seeing the kids create new friendships, be non judgmental and learn from others is a very rewarding experience. Watching them grow into young mature adults is amazing. Apart from volunteering Joanne enjoys reading, cooking, traveling and sharing good times with family and friends!
Stephanie joined Rotary in 2019. She is the Past President of the Commack-Kings Park Rotary Club. She is currently the Chair of RMB District 7255 and on the marketing committee for the LGBT Fellowship. She has BAs in pure mathematics and psychology, and MBA in supply chain management, and Graduate Certificates in business analytics and industrial organizational psychology. She has 14 years of experience teaching at the K-12 level and is currently a college professor and business owner. Stephanie loves to travel and attend Islander games. Stephanie became involved with RYLA to further pursue her passion of working with students and helping to shape them to shape the future while becoming strong leaders.
RYLA District 7255 Senior Leadership Team
William Borello is a rising senior at West Islip High School. Outside of classes he is the software
captain of the West Islip Robotechs robotics team, and enjoys spending his time tinkering and
experimenting with new features and ways to innovate on the features implemented in previous
competition builds. He’s also a chief editor for his school’s literary magazine, captain of the West
Islip High School varsity trivia team and mathletes team, and an avid member of the chess
team, gay straight alliance, and marching band. Outside of school William spends his time
painting miniatures to play tabletop wargames, listening to indie and classic rock music, and
writing short stories as well as code. He is incredibly excited for the opportunity to be a senior
leader, and is hoping to expand RYLA and find new way to innovate how to bring the program to
ever corner of the island.
Melvin Cheng is a rising senior who is an attendee at Smithtown High School West. Melvin is a part of a multitude of extracurriculars at his high school. He is captain of the Varsity Tennis team and has played the sport for roughly four years. Melvin is a member of many honor societies affiliated with Smithtown High School West and is an officer in the school’s Math Honor Society (Historian) and Tri-M (Secretary). Regarding music, Melvin has proficiency in the violin, piano, and guitar. With these skills, Melvin Cheng is an officer in Smithtown’s West Chamber Music Society and a member of the school’s Pit Orchestra and Pep Band. Melvin has also taken part in NYSSMA and has achieved a 90+ rating in both piano and violin, allowing him to take part in both the LISFA and SCEMA orchestras. Melvin has also obtained a black belt in mixed martial arts and has taken a huge interest in coding and computing. He cannot wait for all the adventures that lie ahead of him this coming year and is excited to be a role model and friend as a Senior Leader.
Sarah DeVerna is a senior at Westhampton Beach High School and is very excited to be a Senior Leader this year. She is heavily involved in musical theater, performing at Westhampton Beach High School and Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. She is also involved in her school’s Chamber Singers and various other clubs including French Club (treasurer), Drama Club, Interact Club, and Business Club. She is a member of Tri-M Music Honor Society and National Honor Society. Sarah also enjoys giving back to her community. She helps organize, shop, and fill the Westhampton Beach Little Free Pantry. She has been a Girl Scout since Kindergarten and has achieved her Bronze and Silver Awards. Sarah is happy to have the opportunity to give back the experience that she has gotten from the program.
Christina Gabayan is a senior attending West Hempstead High School and is honored to be one of RYLA’s Senior Leaders for the 2023-2024 year. She is heavily involved in various school activities and service including being a varsity cheer captain and current class vice president. Christina has also played the violin for over 8 years, being part of the schools Tri-M honors society and chamber orchestra. With being part of the National Honors Society and Spanish Language Honors society as well, Christina has been proficient with her education over the years. Other from academics, Christina also enjoys all forms of art and music and sharing this passion with others. She also loves to jump in to help wherever her service is needed, being thankful for the opportunity to serve the RYLA program.
Carim Jalloh is a senior at Saint Mary’s High School and is happy to be a Senior Leader this year. He is heavily involved with his school, where he serves as Vice President of his Student Government and a Senior Shepherd. He also is an active member of the Saint Mary’s Chamber Choir and the Musical Theatre Department. Outside of school, Carim enjoys helping and educating others. He tutors his peers and teaches STEM to children around his community. He has also been playing tennis since he was 4 years old both recreationally and competitively. Carim is glad to have the opportunity to give back to the program that has aided him so much.
Christina Wala Kanyongolo is an honor student at Beacon High School in New York City. Starting with the program as a RYLArian in Spring of 2022 Christina is currently in her second year with RYLA. She is a very curious person and absolutely loves to try new things. At school she participates in the Model Congress and Rock Climbing clubs as well as the Varsity Cross Country and Varsity Soccer teams. Outside of school Christina likes to explore music, volunteer, and spend time with loved ones. At RYLA events when she's not dancing and singing she loves to get to know others. Soon to be captain of her Varsity Track team Christina really values and utilizes the leadership skills she has learned through RYLA. She is absolutely ecstatic to be a Senior Leader and is so grateful to be a part of this upcoming RYLA year!
Eric Kim is a senior that attends Smithtown High School West, and is honored to be a Senior Leader. He is an Honor Roll student, and is an active member of the National Honor Society, Math Honor Society, Italian Honor Society, and Science Honor Society. Eric is also passionate in music, as he is in Smithtown West’s Concert Choir and Jazz Choir. Furthermore, Eric is on Smithtown West’s Varsity Volleyball team where he’s a leader on the court and unites his team. Eric is very social and open to new opportunities any chance he gets. Lastly, he is very enthusiastic on giving back to the program that has given him love, leadership, and purpose.
Abby Lynch is a senior at Sachem North High School. At school, Abby is Secretary General of her school’s Model UN club, Co-founder and President of the Astronomy club, Building Coordinator for her school’s Science Olympiad team, and an officer of various other clubs. She is also part of her Cross-Country team where she hosts mental health nights throughout the season. Abby spends her time outside of school either doing research on pulsars for the Pulsar Science Collaboratory, volunteering at her library, attending meetings for the Astronomical Society of Long Island, tutoring kids for various AP classes, or creating study guides for her grade. She is very passionate about astronomy and has even created an astronomy outreach club at her library where she teaches middle schoolers foundational astronomy topics as well as the proper way to use a telescope. When not studying, she enjoys building horn radio telescopes, 3-D printing, creating astronomy-related stickers, and making balloon animals for the kids in her library. In her free time, Abby likes to go on long-distance runs, ride her bike, listen to 80’s music, crochet, and read. She is so honored to be a part of this committee and cannot wait for all of the amazing things this program has to offer!
Tifany attends Riverhead High School and joined RYLA her sophomore year. She is beyond grateful to have been given this opportunity to be a part of the committee. Outside of RYLA, Tifany participates in her school’s varsity volleyball team, theater program, and numerous organizations that are centered around helping the youth within her community. She works at the Southampton Town Youth Bureau, where she has continued to increase her passion for working with young children and will keep following this passion at the collegiate level. Also, you can always catch her watching a Yankees game or camping with her family. Tifany has always been an ambitious individual, which has allowed her to help others become aspiring leaders. She is very thankful for RYLA for all the new skills, friendships, and opportunities that will last a lifetime. Tifany is thrilled to see RYLA get the recognition it deserves for impacting many generations for the better!
Maya Sanabria is a senior at the Ross School in East Hampton and she is thrilled to be a part of RYLA’s Senior Leader Committee this year. Although it will be Maya’s first year at the Ross School, she has spent her past three years at Hampton Bays High School involved in various clubs, ensembles, and organizations, such as Interact Club, Art Club, Thespian Society, Science Club, Select Choir, Tri-M Honor Society, and National Honor Society. Outside of school, Maya is a bass flutist in her local flute choir and an avid enjoyer of art, which she hopes to pursue as a career. And although Maya has no idea what the future holds, she is excited to have a hand in ensuring that RYLA remains the safe and welcoming place that it has always been for her.