Urban Alliance

Board of Directors

Douglas Casey

As Executive Director for the CT State Commission for Educational Technology (CET), Doug designs and manages strategic plans that ensure the successful integration of technology in Connecticut's schools, libraries, universities, and towns. The CET oversees statewide programs such as its flagship research and education broadband network, the CEN.

Doug’s prior experience includes managing technology and security for a network of magnet schools that are helping to close the achievement gap between urban and suburban learners. He began his career as a middle school English teacher and brings a diversity of experience to every challenge — from managing online publications for the Smithsonian Institution to systems engineering for the U.S. House of Representatives and national security agencies. He holds a BA from the College of William & Mary, MA from Georgetown University, and MS from George Washington University. Doug has  been involved with Urban Alliance for may years, including as a volunteer. Outside of work, Doug enjoys time with family, mission work, and triathlon.

Erica Dean


Erica serves as Sr. Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Comcast Cable, which employs 2,000 individuals and serves more than 800,000 customers in over 300 communities in CT, NY, VT, western MA and western NH. In this role she is a strategic business partner to the leadership within the Customer Care and Inbound Sales organizations. Erica works with these teams to institute the best possible organizational design and delivery, with ultimate responsibility for translating business needs into HR policies and practices. She attended the Pennsylvania State University where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Management Science and Information Systems, her Graduate Certificate in Industrial Relations and Human Resources, and her Master’s degree in Industrial Relations and Human Resources. Erica also loves to dance, plays the clarinet and is a self-proclaimed huge Steelers fan.

Romanita Hairston

Romanita Hairston is President & Founder of MORE320, a non-profit consulting, leadership development, and publishing organization, Director of Philanthropies Engagement for Microsoft, and Program Advisor for the Murdock Charitable Trust, a top 100 foundation. Prior to the Murdock Charitable Trust, she spent 20 years at World Vision, starting as a Program Director just prior to completing her MBA. Romanita is a nationally recognized thought leader on issues impacting vulnerable populations and, in 2016, she was recognized for her service by the National Council of Negro Women. Romanita writes a regular blog called the “Power of One” and is a seasoned marathon runner.

Jay Kuhrt

Jay is currently the Director of Congregational Care at Valley Community Baptist Church in Avon.  He has been in this role for three years after working in the Information Technology area for over thirty years at Pratt & Whitney and Computer Sciences Corporation.  In his current role he assists people within his congregation and in the local community with a variety of services and unique programs such as Celebrate Recovery, GriefShare and other programs related to life situations.  He is a graduate of Taylor University with a B.S. in Business/Systems and the University of Hartford with a MBA.  Jay is married with four adult children and five grandchildren. 

Perkin Simpson

Executive Director

Perkin is the Executive Director of Urban Alliance.  After completing his B.A. in Communications from the University of Connecticut, he went on to obtain his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and his Master of Science in Financial Services (MSFS) from the American College, where he holds a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP®) designation and is currently pursuing his PhD (ABD).  Perkin is an ordained minister and has a vocational background in finances, philanthropy, communications, and organizational management & development.  He and his wife, Lisa, have been married for over 20 years and are proud parents of two wonderful sons. 

George Thompson


George earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Connecticut School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Wesleyan University. He is Vice President of WorldBusiness Capital, where he is responsible for their lending, underwriting, and marketing activities in Eurasia, Africa, and the United States. He previously served as Associate Director for ORIX Growth Capital and worked as a Senior Associate for Smith Whiley & Company, where he led business development, deal analysis and portfolio management with a focus on subordinated debt and minority equity investments. George enjoys coaching his two children in basketball and baseball and believes that “have fun every day” are great words to live by.

Jeffrey J. Vanderploeg, Ph.D.


Dr. Vanderploeg is the President and Chief Executive Officer at the Child Health and Development Institute (CHDI), based in Farmington, Connecticut. He also leads the Children’s Fund of Connecticut, a public charitable foundation that serves as the parent organization to CHDI. He serves on a number of state committees and task forces in the pediatric health care and behavioral health care arena, including serving as Co-Chair of the Behavioral Health Partnership’s Quality Access and Policy Subcommittee, and as a member of the Children’s Behavioral Health Plan Implementation Advisory Board. Dr. Vanderploeg received a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a Ph.D. in child clinical psychology from Bowling Green State University. He lives in Farmington, Connecticut with his wife and two children and attends Calvary Fellowship in West Hartford.