National Conference for Community and Justice

Helping Humans, Human Better, Together.

Our Mission

NCCJ promotes inclusion and acceptance by providing education and advocacy while building communities that are respectful and just for all.


Our Story

The National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) promotes inclusion and acceptance through education and advocacy to building inclusive, respectful  communities. Since 1927, NCCJ’s mission has evolved to include nine areas of social justice identity: Ability, Age, Body Size, Class, Gender, Race, Religion, Sex, and Sexual Orientation. 

For 96 years NCCJ has served as a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) anchor institute, a community convener, catalyst for change, and collaborator for innovation in DEI education to strengthen communities.  NCCJ celebrates the diversity of races, religions, cultures, genders, abilities, and sexual orientations.

Headquartered in Middletown, CT, NCCJ designs and delivers DEI programs and consulting services to thousands annually. NCCJ offers a continuum of free programs including fee for service DEI Consulting Services which include, executive coaching, focus groups, community conversations, customized curriculum, assessments tools and development of affinity groups. Helping humans human better together is not only our mission, it is our call to action. 


Our Staff

President & CEO

Monique Lorenzo

About Monique Lorenzo

Monique Lorenzo’s social justice journey has been defined by several pivotal life-transforming experiences that have coursed her personal, educational, and professional trajectory. As a Dominican woman she was raised with a foundation of faith which ingrained tenets of virtue, value of human rights and life. Lorenzo is a fierce Afro-Latina who has dedicated over two decades as a relentless civil leader, tireless change agent, and fearless disrupter. She has a wealth of experience in the areas of nonprofit C-suite and corporate management.

In July 2022, Lorenzo joined the National Conference for Community and Justice, NCCJ. As President and Chief Executive Officer, Lorenzo leads the human relations organization in its mission to advance equity and equality, promote justice, and build diverse and inclusive communities in Connecticut, Massachusetts and nationwide. Lorenzo is an adaptive leader, strategic visionary, and critical thinker whose results-based approach and transformational leadership support systems change. She believes intrinsic motivation and a growth mindset allow one to leverage strengths to guide positive change. For Lorenzo social justice is standing in the face of oppression, standing with marginalized communities, leading change, and social transformation one person at a time. At NCCJ we understand that life is complex, and it’s our mission to create safe spaces to ‘help humans, human better,’ together.

Lorenzo has a Master of Science in Urban Policy Analysis and Management from Milano, The New School for Management and Urban Policy, and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Legal Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In her personal life, she loves to garden year-round, collect vinyl records, write, and play crossword puzzles. Lorenzo lives with her beloved husband, adored son, dog and kittens in Connecticut.

Director of Operations

Sandra Vonneissen-Applebee

About Sandra Vonneissen-Applebee

Sandra Vonniessen-Applebee is the Director of Operations for the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). Sandra has been a social justice educator for more than 25 years, working as a private consultant as well as a facilitator of social justice programs for many of the leading organizations in the field. She has worked in a number of areas of higher education/student affairs and taught as an adjunct at the college level as well as engaging with organizations, corporations, and religious institutions. She has worked extensively throughout Connecticut with participants from aged 5 to over 80 years old. Originally from Canada, Sandra received her undergraduate degree at The University of British Columbia and her master’s degree at Bowling Green State University. Sandra believes in brave allies who are lifelong learners, who educate and challenge others to show up for those who are marginalized as well as challenging and changing the systems that marginalize people.

Director of Programs

Nyaunu Stevens

About Nyaunu Stevens

Nyaunu Stevens is the Director of Programs for the National Conference for Community and Justice. She is a passionate advocate for social justice and brings with her over two decades of experience as an educator and 15 years of experience in the world of social justice advocacy. Trained as an actress and an academic, Nyaunu is a powerful presenter and facilitator. She has worked with people of all ages, from preschool to adult, and with people from a myriad of identity backgrounds. She has served as a Lead Teaching Artist with Cleveland Public Theater where she worked to bring theater education to marginalized youth on their own territory. She spent years at The Cleveland Play House as an instructor and in collaboration with Project Act’s The Reading Company staging children’s books for children experiencing homelessness in an effort to foster their literacy skills. She has also taught in the fields of Sociology and Women’s Studies. She holds a Master’s in Sociology from the University of Connecticut and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in Theater from Cleveland State University where she was graduated summa cum laude. She is a subject matter expert in Sociology of the Body, Fat Studies, and Race, Class, and Gender.

Director of Community Engagement & Partnerships

Lisa Tatko

About Lisa Tatko

Lisa Tatko, the Director of Community Engagement and Partnerships at NCCJ, brings over 30 years of entrepreneurial and consulting experience to NCCJ. Her primary focus is on supporting leaders and organizations to seamlessly integrate DEI initiatives into daily practices, while fostering understanding and measurable progress in communities and workplace cultures. With a commitment to aligning personal and professional values, Lisa works to ensure that these efforts have a lasting and meaningful impact for everyone.


Board Officers

Erica M. Dean

Senior Director of Inclusion and Diversity, Comcast Western New England Region

Susan Dunn

Non-Profit Consultant

Edmund S. Kindelan, CPA

Office Managing Partner – Boston, CohnReznick

Edward Lewis

Senior Managing Director & Head of Alternative Investments, CIGNA Investment Management

Brooke Penders

Director of Employer Relations,

Quinnipiac University

James Ray, Esq.

Robinson & Cole, LLP

Board Members

Matthew Cambi

Principal, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, LLP

Ellen Weiss Freyman, Esq.

Shatz, Schwartz & Fentin, PC

Matthew J. Guanci, Jr., Esq.

Partner, Robinson + Cole, LLP

Paul E. Lambert

Executive Director, Springfield Symphony Orchestra

Robert J. Martino, Esq.

Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, PC

Ryan S. McCollum

Owner/Principal,Marketing Consultant, RMC Strategies/Get Set Marketing

Tracy McMillan

Managing Principal, Broadview Talent Partners

Paul Robbins

President, Paul Robbins Associates

Yolande Spears

Senior VP, Education and Community Relations, The Bushnell Center for Performing Arts

Mark A. Wasilefsky

Senior VP, Marketing Commercial Credit Mgr.,

TD Bank

Foundation Partners


When there is an act of bias or hate, NCCJ speaks out…and we empower those we work with to find their voice for change.

Join, support, and add your name to building inclusive communities for all.