Foundation News: Three New Team Members Join JRF

January 23, 2018 -

We are proud to announce the addition of three new members of the team at the Jackie Robinson Foundation. In 2017 we were joined by Duane Bruce, Vice President of JRF Impact, and Garry Mendez III, Director of Communications. In 2018, we welcome Lamont Gordon, Vice President, Director of Core Programs. 

“These new team members each bring their own set of skills and expertise to the organization that will help us advance our mission in significant ways in the coming year and beyond,” said JRF President and CEO, Della Britton Baeza.

Duane Bruce


In the fall, we appointed Dr. Duane Bruce to the role of Vice President, JRF Impact. Dr. Bruce joins the Foundation, after serving as Director of Co-Curricular Initiatives at LaGuardia Community College. He has served as Assistant Dean and Director of Co-Curricular Initiatives at LaGuardia Community College, Dean of Students at the New York City College of Technology, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Associate Dean of Student Development at Missouri Western State University, and Assistant Dean of New Student Programs at Marquette University. Over his nearly 20-year career as a higher education administrator, he has served on the board of directors of the National Orientation Directors Association and worked across several student affairs areas including residence life, student conduct programs, student activities/student life, multicultural affairs, and new student orientation.

Duane is also the editor of the Journal for College Orientation and Transition and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Graduate-level courses he has taught (one of which he still teaches) in the higher and post-secondary education department at Teachers College include College Student Development Theories, Contemporary Student Issues and Policies, and Social Movements and Activism in Higher Education. His research interests include the experience of people of color in higher education and his dissertation explored the relationship between race/ethnicity and job satisfaction and the impact these variables have on the retention of pre-tenure faculty.

Duane grew up in a small town outside of Kansas City, Missouri and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Missouri Western State University, and an M.S. and Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Kansas.

Garry Mendez


Later in 2017, we added Garry Mendez as our new Director of Communications. Mr. Mendez believes that everyone has a story and he has devoted his career to helping people, causes, and brands tell theirs. To do that, he practices corporate storytelling and communications.

Mr. Mendez has managed brand communications for a diverse range of organizations including a custom clothing brand, Black Lapel Custom Clothiers, an anti-poverty nonprofit, One Economy Corporation and an international membership organization, The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials. As a journalist and author, he has written about everything from efforts to rehabilitate the men of New York’s maximum security prisons, to the music of ancient Polynesian cultures. He’s profiled a wide range of subjects, from left-wing activist and rapper, Chuck D. to right-wing activist and doctor, Ben Carson.

After graduating from Hobart College, Mr. Mendez intended to attend film school and become a screenwriter but a summer internship on horizon online magazine led to becoming a Staff Writer and Art Director for the publication. Instead of attending film school, Mr. Mendez earned his master’s degree in Publications Design from the University of Baltimore and has worked in communications throughout his career.

Lamont Gordon


Finally, we began 2018 by welcoming Dr. Lamont Gordon, as Vice President, Core Programs. Dr. Gordon brings outstanding credentials and a wealth of experience to JRF.  After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University, he served, for seven years, as Director of Admission and Placement at the Community Preparatory School in Providence, Rhode Island.  Subsequently, he served as Director of Education Outreach at Brown University, working closely with the office of Brown’s President Ruth Simmons. Among his achievements at Brown is the development of an outreach program with the Providence school system that addressed the college-prep needs of area K-12 schools while creating teaching, research and funding opportunities for Brown faculty and students. He also led a central advisory committee of faculty and senior leadership from various departments throughout the University and developed, and implemented, a marketing and recruitment plan for the Urban Education Policy (UEP) masters program.

After his impactful stint at Brown, Dr. Gordon joined The Posse Foundation, serving first as Director of the Boston office, where he oversaw all aspects of Posse’s Boston operation, one of Posse’s highest performing divisions. Four years later, he moved to New York City to become Associate Vice President in Posse’s national office where he is responsible for the national career, alumni, and fellowships division that included launching and scaling a career coaching program and developing a graduate school and fellowships program.  Dr. Gordon also worked with Posse’s COO to ensure program quality and consistency at all 10 Posse chapters nationwide and developed national training workshops for Posse staff.

Dr. Gordon also holds Masters and Doctorate degrees in Education from Harvard University. He is published in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education and is a member of the board of directors of Higher Achievement where he chairs the Program and Strategy Committee.