Meet Our Committee
RYLA District 7255 Rotarian Committee
Lydia A. Wells
Lydia has been part of the RYLA family since 2002 and is currently the RYLA District 7255 chairperson.
Lydia has 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 is currently serving her third term 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!!!
Diane Pacifico Marmann
Diane Pacifico Marmann is the President of the Mineola-Garden City Rotary Club (for the 4th time) and is also the 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.
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.
Jaquelyn Yonick, Jax, member of the Glen Cove Rotary Club, has been a proud member of the District RYLA Committee since 2010. Fitting in perfectly with her professional life as Youth Program Coordinator for the City of Glen Cove, RYLA has been a huge influence in her life and the teens she works with. Jax began working in youth development in December 2002 and has been leading and redefining the City's youth employment programs since. In 2009, she began a community garden to create healthy eating conversations and choices, be a hands-on tool to teach hard work, and later, inspire a farm to table cooking class. On a yearly basis she provides vocational training and employment to thirty-five seasonal employees, ages 14-24, who work with various departments of city government, manage local concession stands, and maintain the community garden. Through Rotary, Jax has travelled globally, witnessed open heart surgery, and has jumped out of a plane!
"RYLA is an experience...like driving a car - you don't quite understand its impact until you experience it yourself*. Leadership development comes from within at RYLA. In order to lead, we serve our communities, plan events, complete projects and develop person to person networks; at RYLA we thrive to succeed and to share our growth with others; and lastly, have courage and be kind**".
* Quoted by Kathy Gibson
** Quoted by Beauty (and the Beast)
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 the past 28 years, Jean is advisor to the Mattituck Interact Club, the 10th grade advisor, and coaches 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.
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 in high school, and now gratefully serves as an Alumni Co-Chair for the RYLA 7255 Organizational Committee. Yean has a B.S in Media/Communications, and is currently pursuing his M.A in Higher Education/Student Affairs at New York University. 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. Since starting in the role of Alumni Co-Chair, along with Sydni and Harry, Yean has helped jumpstart many new initiatives. His focus is primarily administrative tasks, applications, and mentorship. Investing in the students he mentors is his number one priority. 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 him to choose the career he is working on starting. Yean hopes to continue to grow in RYLA as an Alumni Co-Chair, and one day as a Rotarian. More importantly he can't wait to help all future generations of RYLA get the transformative experience he received!
Harry has been involved with RYLA since joining the program as a Rylarian during his sophomore year of high school in 2011. Harry has a B.S. in Political Science and a Masters in Public Administration from Northeastern University. He has continued to come back as a volunteer and mentor since his sophomore year of college. Along with Sydni and Yean, Harry has helped jumpstart more formal mentorship and leadership training for the RYLA participants (particularly seniors). As one of the Alumni Co-Chairs in the program Harry focuses on recruiting alumni to remain involved after they graduate, expanding alumni integration in the program, and organizing alumni events throughout the year. Harry credits RYLA and the lessons learned there with helping him obtain and succeed in internships in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan, a spring 2016 White House Internship, and with the Boston Red Sox during college. He is currently pursuing a law degree at Fordham University after spending two years working as a paralegal in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, and looks forward to continuing to use his experiences to help develop future leaders through RYLA.
Sydni Grossman has been involved with RYLA since entering the program in 2012 as a RYLArian and served on the 2013-2014 Youth Committee. She is a Syosset High School and Quinnipiac University (QU) alumnus and is currently practicing as an acute care physical therapist in New York. Working with others and giving back to the community has been a passion for Sydni throughout her life. She served as the co-president of her Interact club in high school and she created QU’s first ever wheelchair basketball tournament to raise funds for the adaptive sports community. Sydni is currently a co-alumni chair of RYLA and is passionate about helping high schoolers develop their leadership skills. You can find her at the center of any dance party or sing-along and loves to put the RA-RA in RYLA!
Judy has been involved with Rotary for three years and is currently serving as the President of the South-West Queens Club. Joining the District 7255 RYLA Committee last year, Judy is ecstatic to begin to get to work in RYLA! Her passion to give back to youth who lack adequate support at home has driven her involvement in RYLA as it did her career as a New York City Police Officer for over a decade. A proud Mom of 3 and Grandma of 2, Judy enjoys spending time with her own family just as much as her newly found RYLA family. When Judy is not spending time teaching new tricks to the Rylarians you will catch her teaching her 2 dogs, Flo and Fern whom she enjoys spending time with! Judy can't wait to see what is on the horizons for RYLA and is determined to expand the programs outreach further into Queens and Brooklyn.
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 currently the Secretary of Commack-Kings Park and Past Chairperson of a Group Study Exchange program. Joanne currently works at M & T Bank as a Senior Relationship Banker helping both consumers and businesses be successful. 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 Leader Committee
Areeba Ashraf is a senior at Sachem North High School. In school, she is involved with many
organizations such as the Intercultural Club, Interact Club, Science Olympiad Club, Mentors
Club, and Foreign Language Honor Society. Outside of school, Areeba is an active member of
the Sachem Diversity Task Force, NYCLU, LILTA, and the Brookhaven Democratic Committee.
She enjoys volunteering but she also loves to have a good time. Areeba has one sister and no
pets, but her big, crazy family makes up for it. Along with her family, she loves to spend time
with her friends. Areeba loves thrilling activities like riding rollercoasters and zip-lining so she
really wants to go bungee-jumping and sky-diving. When she’s not taking risks, she loves to
bake, draw, read, sleep, and watch Netflix. She watches anything so her “watch-list” ranges from
animes to horror to cheesy romance movies to documentaries. Areeba is so excited to be a Senior
Leader for RYLA and see it flourish!
Sidney Brewer is a senior at Mattituck High School. She is very involved in NJROTC, and is the Commanding Officer of her whole unit this year. She is pursuing a ROTC scholarship in college as well, and is interested in being an environmental engineer. Sidney also loves playing soccer, and she has been playing since she was 4 years old. She has always appreciated all the important skills she has learned from this sport growing up. Being on many different soccer teams has taught her the importance of forming a strong family-like bond with her team and how to lead among friends. These skills have followed into RYLA, helping her grow stronger as a leader. In RYLA Sidney has learned how to lead among a team, not only lead by herself. While still having many leadership skills to learn, she finds leading others comes naturally, and finds joy in other’s success. Sidney cannot wait to be a leader with her friends for RYLA this year.
Yashika Dhall is a senior at The Scholars' Academy. She is incredibly motivated in everything she does whether that be in academics or extracurricular activities, seeing as she is a leader in a number of clubs and other school positions. Some of her passions include travel, cooking, and spending time with family and friends. Yashika has always been academically driven, and most enjoys STEM, hoping to pursue this as a career in the future. She loves RYLA because it is incredibly easy to create a family with people from all over, and as the representation from Queens, she hopes to be able to spread this message further to future participants from the boroughs!
Lane Dominy is an enthusiastic and supportive leader who is ecstatic to be a part of the Senior Leader team this year! Currently, Lane Dominy is a senior at Southold Junior/Senior High School and has participated in her local Interact club, Select Choir, National Honors Society, Drama Club, and Ambassadors Club. In previous years, Dominy had been an active Rylarian in May 2020 with the Grape Group, and has since been a facilitator for the USA Group in April 2021. When Lane Dominy is not participating in RYLA events, she loves going to the beach, paddle boarding, watching reality television shows, and traveling! Some time in the future, Lane
Dominy hopes to visit Nepal. She is so excited to make this a great year, and cannot wait to
become more involved with the RYLA program!
Cassidy Donoghue (she/her) is a senior at Half Hollow Hills High School East. Cassidy loves
meeting new people and trying new things, especially new sports!! When she’s not dancing or
hanging out with friends, you can find her outside playing with her dogs, or just taking a walk!
She is a thrill seeker that’s always up for a crazy roller coaster or anything that gets her outside.
Cassidy is very involved with her academic work, but also loves being a part of her school’s
musicals and participating in a variety of different clubs. Outside of school Cass is a lifelong
dancer and is the First Lieutenant of the Melville Junior Firefighters. She loves all the people she
has met at RYLA that have worked to make the program a fun and creative space. She is so
excited to be a Senior Leader this year and is determined to bring her all into expanding the
program and making it an amazing experience for all!!
Michael Fuentes is a senior at North Babylon High School. He is very kind and is a helping hand to many in his community. Alongside volunteering to read for kids at his local library, he also wishes to help protect the environment by studying biology in the future. He loves all kinds of sports, including basketball, soccer, and swimming, and also loves to go to the beach. He even has a knack to collect objects like seashells and rocks to keep. Michael hopes to inspire and be inspired as a senior leader, and will always be more than willing to offer a smile or a laugh to
anyone at RYLA!
Ciaran Greene is a senior at Glen Cove HIgh School. He is an avid thrill seeker with a huge
passion for nature. You can catch him at the beach surfing all summer and skiing frequently in
the winter. In the future, Ciaran plans to study environmental engineering in hopes of reducing
ocean pollution. He is an active member of the Glen Cove community and enjoys volunteering
through clubs he helps run including his local Interact. Ciaran is a member of the varsity lacrosse
team, and he has a love for fitness. When he’s not outside, Ciaran enjoys playing video games,
talking to his RYLA family, and listening to a vast array of music. Ever since being introduced to
RYLA, Ciaran has pushed himself out of his comfort zone further and further every day, and he
can’t wait to help future RYLArians do the same. RYLA has taught Ciaran many valuable life
lessons and has influenced a great deal of growth in him in such a short time. As a member of
this year’s senior leader committee, he plans to encourage RYLArians to believe in themselves,
focus on the positive, and to grow as leaders. When you see Ciaran at a RYLA event in the
future, don't be scared to say hi, he’d love to get to know you!
Olivia Price(she/her) is an upcoming Senior at West Babylon High School and is beyond excited
to be a RYLA Senior Leader for the 2021- 2022 year. She is an avid volunteer and is a five-time
recipient of the Gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award for her 500+ hours of volunteer
service. When not at RYLA events, she is performing alongside her peers in local community
theatre and her school’s drama club’s productions, playing field hockey, organizing community
service opportunities as President of her school’s chapter of the National Honor Society, or
volunteering on behalf of her platform, Rainbow Families: Raising Awareness and Acceptance of
the Non-traditional Family. She auditioned and was selected as a co-host for American Girl’s
YouTube series, “AG Life”, and held the title of Royal International Miss Junior Teen
2018-2019. She currently holds the title of Miss Broadway’s Outstanding Teen and recently
placed 2nd Runner Up at the Miss New York’s Outstanding Teen Competition. With a passion
for world history, language, and public service, she plans to major in International Relations and
Diplomacy, hoping to one day work for the United Nations! She is a passionate Taylor Swift fan
and the movies Little Women and Ladybird are some of her favorites. Olivia can’t wait for what
the year has to offer as a Senior Leader and is so excited for the next generation of rylarians to
have the experience of a lifetime!
Timothy is a motivated leader who is ecstatic to be on the RYLA District 7255 Committee. A Senior at
St. Mary's College Preparatory High School in Manhasset, Tim enjoys serving as Chief Student Ambassador, President of his class as well as The National Honor Society, and Captain of the Varsity Mock Trial Team. Tim is passionate about creating an environment for students where they are able to thrive in developing practical leadership skills. He believes that RYLA offers a unique program that teaches lessons that go far beyond the capabilities of a classroom. An Eagle Scout, Timothy has held various leadership roles throughout his youth but claims that this remains top of the list as nothing compares to the environment created by the RYLA team. Timothy intends to study Educational Studies for Secondary Education and hopes to work one day to continue the RYLA mission across the globe.
Anna Szarka is a senior at Mattituck-Cutchogue Jr. Sr. High School. She is an incredibly passionate dancer, and strives to be a dance major in college. Anna’s love for the performing arts goes on to include singing, acting, producing, film-making, and guitar playing. She has an immense amount of care for her community and school’s well-being, as she runs the SADD, Unity/GSA, and Interact Clubs. Anna brings positive energy and empathy as she works diligently in everything she does. She adores her RYLA family, and is committed to reciprocating the life-changing experience RYLA gave to her. Through RYLA, Anna has learned how to grow into her best self, bring about change, and accomplish her goals. She is incredibly excited to inspire the upcoming RYLArians to branch out, improve their leadership skills, and apply what they learn in RYLA to every aspect of their life. Don’t be alarmed if the next time you see Anna, she has a different hair color, or is having a random dance party!