Rajan S. Mathews

President, Nyack College and Theological Seminary

Rajan S. Mathews is the 13th president of Nyack College, founded in 1882 and Alliance Theological Seminary, founded in 1960, both located in Manhattan with an extension site in Puerto Rico.

Prior to being named president in May 2021, President Mathews was the Director General (2010-2020) of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the Telecom Communications Industry Association in India, leading a $36 billion advocacy group representing the industry in India and around the globe. His career has also been distinguished by other senior executive positions including Chief Executive Officer, President, Chief Financial Officer, Vice President-Controller of companies such as AT&T, Telargo Inc., Call Sciences Inc., Afghan Wireless Communications, Beatrice Foods International and Columbia Tri-Star Pictures.

While at AT&T, Rajan Mathews was named President & CEO of Birla AT&T, then AT&T’s largest international investment, where he introduced digital mobile telephony services in India, building out and operating one of India’s largest Global System for Mobile Communications networks.

President Mathews earned an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He also holds an MA in economics and an MBA in finance and professional accounting, both from Rutgers University. He is also a CPA in the State of New Jersey.

President Mathews and his wife, Grace reside in Mercer County, New Jersey and are members of Stone Hill Church in Princeton, where he is a board elder. They are the parents of two daughters—Kavita and Nithya, who is married to Jeffy Joseph.

Visit the President's Page

Dr. David Turk

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. Turk has an extensive relationship with Nyack, which began when he enrolled for undergraduate studies and subsequently completed his bachelor's degree in English in 1975. He later earned both his M.A. and Ph.D. in English at New York University.

Dr. Turk served as Nyack's director of Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), 1978-1984; English Department professor, 1978-1997; chair of the English Department, 1992-1997; director of Nyack's Drama Ensemble, 1984-1997; and dean/vice president for Nyack College New York City 1997-2002 and became Nyack College’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs in 2005.

In Nyack's English Department, Dr. Turk has taught 20 different courses, specializing in Shakespeare and Milton. He has also directed 20 plays and musicals. In addition, he has led numerous student groups for studies in London, England and regularly leads book discussions at public libraries.

In 2016 Dr. Turk re-launched Nyack College’s drama program and directed the successful productions of West Side Story(2016) and In the Heights (2017) in the NYC theater district.

Dr. Turk has also served as an Evaluation Team Chair for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The MSCHE is an accrediting agency for higher education institutions in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Mrs. Karen Davie

Vice President of Human Resources and Title IX Coordinator

Karen is responsible for overseeing employee benefits, payroll, employment policies, employee relations and Title IX compliance. She diligently serves the employees of Nyack College and is passionate about making Nyack College a great college to work for. With admirable success, she is the administrator of the high-benefit, cost-effective employee health insurance plan and enhancements to the retirement plan. Prior to joining the Nyack College staff, she was an employee benefits consultant at two large firms in New York City, specializing in health and welfare benefits. 

Karen completed both undergraduate and graduate studies majoring in mathematics. Her bachelor’s degree was earned at Houghton College in Houghton, New York and a master’s degree at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York.

Karen is a member of Living Christ Church in Nyack, New York where she currently serves as Assistant Treasurer and a member of the personnel team. She also serves on the Benefit Board of The Christian and Missionary Alliance.

With her husband, Keith, and their three sons, Rockland County is her home. Karen enjoys staying active and supporting the many athletic pursuits of her family.

Dr. Antoinette Gines-Rivera

Dean of Alliance Graduate School of Counseling

Dr. Antoinette Gines-Rivera is a graduate of Regent University where she obtained her Ph.D. in Psychology & Counseling with a specialization in Counselor Education & Supervision. 
She also earned a dual MS degree in Bilingual Education and Bilingual School Psychology from Fordham University in NYC, after which she worked for the NYS Department of Education for ten years before pursuing her doctorate.

Dr. Toni’s duo-language bilingual abilities afforded her the opportunity to conduct an emic international research study where she investigated the counseling needs of the Honduran population in-country. Her study has been published in an ACA (American Counseling Association) publication in 2013, titled Counseling Around the World: An International Handbook. This publication has opened countless doors for Dr. Toni to speak publically abroad and in the United States where she teaches and trains those who are working in the trenches of helping the native Hondureńo and Latino family with their hardships and suffering. Currently, Dr. Toni is working with the Bhatt Foundation in developing the Honduras Mental Health Systems, which is also projected to be implemented in India and Africa.

Dr. Toni’s passion for counseling and spiritual well-being comes on the heels of her own childhood trauma which became her catalyst to developing into the resilient woman she is today. She has learned to embrace the biblical truth that suffering is what God uses to prepare and train us to be a beacon of light for others who suffer in this world. Through her journey of faith in God, inner healing and education, she has found her passion and purpose in the world. Dr. Toni’s story is featured in Pastor Jim Cymbala’s 2017 released book, The Rescue, where he tells the powerful stories of seven people. She has also been featured in Laura Contreras Rowe’s 2009 book, Aim High: Extraordinary Stories of Hispanic & Latina Women.

As Director of AGSC, Dr. Toni’s objective is to guide applicants interested in Mental Health counseling in navigating through the process of discovering their passion, dreams and highest career choice potential. Choosing a graduate school can have a significant impact on one’s future profession, ministry, and personal life as counseling is both a calling and a responsibility requiring competency, compassion, discipline and discipleship.

Dr. Charles Hammond

Vice President for Church Relations/Dean of the Chapel

Dr. Hammond joined the staff of Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary in 2005 as assistant to the 11th president.  For nearly three decades, he has served as an associate pastor at the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church.

Dean Hammond serves as a member of several boards in the Tri-State New York region including Christ Tabernacle, New York School of Urban Ministry, Grace Gospel Tabernacle and Praxis Connection.

Charles earned a Ph.D. from Trinity College of the Bible and Trinity Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana. The title of his published doctoral dissertation is “Second Generation Korean American Presbyterians revitalizing their faith by adapting to North American Culture.” He earned a Master of Professional Studies in Urban Ministry at Alliance Theological Seminary and a bachelor’s degree in business administration at New York University.

He and his wife, Myrna Marie, have been married for 36 years. They are the parents of Charles III and Melinda and enjoy their three grandchildren—Tekoa, Avery and Jax.

Dr. Peter Holsberg

Dean, School of Music

Dr. Peter Holsberg is Dean of the Alliance University School of Music after serving as a professor of trumpet and music education for the last ten years. Previously, Dr. Holsberg was the Director of Instrumental Music at Talent Unlimited High School, a public performing arts school in New York City. Prior to that, he served as Arts Director and Chair of Music at The Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn. He was a founding member of the award-winning music program at St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark, NJ.

Dr. Holsberg has served on the music and music education faculty at Teachers College, Columbia University. He held several roles for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Youth Programs, including director of the Youth Philharmonic, director of the Middle School Jazz Academy program, and principal conductor for the New York All-City Jazz Ensemble.

He earned the EdD and MEd from Teachers College, Columbia University; M.M. from SUNY Stony Brook; and a BS in Music Education from Duquesne University. He is also an alumnus of the nationally-renowned band program of DeMatha Catholic in Washington, D.C. He has published articles in The Instrumentalist and the NJMEA’s Tempo Magazine. A Master Teacher for the Master Teacher Collaborative of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, he served on the organization’s governing board. He has been nominated for the Music Education Grammy four times; he was three times a quarterfinalist and once a semifinalist in this award program.

Dr. Nathaniel Perez

Director of the Center for Racial Reconciliation

Dr. Nathaniel Perez is the director of Nyack’s Center for Racial Reconciliation (CRR). He earned his Doctor of Ministry and his Master of Divinity at Alliance Theological Seminary. In addition to being on the pastoral staff of churches in Westchester County, NY and Bergen County, NJ, Dr. Perez has served as a church planter and as pastor of a multi-ethnic church in White Plains, NY. 

Dr. Perez has been a longtime proponent of the educational empowerment of underserved students as a counselor for the Nyack College Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). Beyond the boundaries of the classroom and the campus, Dr. Perez has coordinated and supervised trips to Albany, NY with HEOP students for the annual New York Student Aid Alliance Advocacy Day to lobby for state student aid programs and to meet with legislators. As an academic advisor and eventually as Chair of Developmental Education in the Division of Student Success, he also taught development courses, recruited students and was appointed director of the Racial and Cultural Reconciliation Initiative.

In an effort to inspire a new generation of leaders, Dr. Perez has led small groups with a theme of racial reconciliation. He has been a frequent chapel speaker at Nyack on that topic. He also teaches a course in collaboration with the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Sankofa Journey that has toured the Civil Rights memorial sites in the South.

As director of the new Center for Racial Reconciliation at Nyack, Dr. Perez facilitates special forums, panel discussions, and seminars including the Nyack Scholars Symposium. He spearheads the initiative to educate, disciple and empower students and all members of the campus community to lead the charge for justice and reconciliation in the local community, our nation and around the world.

Melissa Ruttanai

Vice President for Marketing and Communications

Working in digital marketing since 2011, Melissa began her career in Search Engine Optimization and Content Marketing with a specialization and obsession for travel blogging.  She enjoyed working with small and medium-sized businesses to help modernize their digital presence via web design, social media engagement, and rich content creation. 

In 2013, Melissa was hired to manage Nyack College’s organic content on social media.  Soon after, she launched the school’s first Facebook ads.  Working as a member of the Marketing Team, she expanded her role as the Director of Digital Media. She built out Nyack’s Social Media Marketing strategies and established an integrated Google Ads presence through Search Engine Marketing, Display Networks, and Video Marketing.

Melissa earned a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University at Albany and a Master’s degree in Education from Rutgers University.  A former digital nomad, she’s traveled to 35 countries and 25 US States including 13 months in Japan, several summers in Thailand and 3 month stays in Croatia, Ecuador, and Peru.

Dr. Elizabeth Simon

Dean, Cheryl Phenicie School of Nursing

Dr. Elizabeth Simon is welcomed back by the campus community, returning to her role as Dean of the Cheryl Phenicie School of Nursing. Under her administration, the School of Nursing was granted approval to offer the Bachelor of Science degree in nursing by the New York State Board of Regents in the spring of 2010. The school was dedicated during Homecoming Weekend in October 2010.

An alumna of Hunter College (MA), Walden University (PhD), Teachers College, and Columbia University (EdM), Dr. Simon most recently served as Assistant Dean of Clinical Affairs in the School of Health Professions at New York Institute of Technology, Old Westbury, NY. There, she taught in the Nursing Department and served as Nursing Department Committee Chair from fall 2018 to fall 2021. She revised the RN-BS curriculum for online programming and obtained New York State Education Department approval in 2020. Dr. Simon also revised the BS in Nursing curriculum to add independent Fundamentals in Nursing and Health Assessment courses.

A recipient of the Fulbright-Nehru U.S. Scholarship for Academic Excellence, Dr. Simon is a much sought-after national and international conference speaker. She has contributed to published books and written articles published in peer-reviewed journals, publications, and websites.

Dr. Anita Underwood

Dean, School of Business & Leadership

Dr. Underwood is the founding director of Nyack’s Master of Science in Organizational Leadership program offered on both the Rockland County and Manhattan campuses.

An organizational psychologist, she has extensive global experience in the areas of strategic planning, change-management, leadership development and talent management. In addition to her corporate experience in senior and executive roles, she has worked as a management consultant for CEOs and executive teams to improve organizational effectiveness and competitive advantage. Her corporate success made her an invaluable resource for leaders of churches and educational institutions in the areas of strategy formulation, leadership development and accreditation.

Dr. Underwood’s career began at UNISYS Corporation as manager of international education and continued in executive roles at corporations including Equitable Life Insurance and PepsiCo. At Dun and Bradstreet, she was vice president of organizational management.

During her tenure in the corporate world, she also maintained a commitment to institutions of higher education. She served as an adjunct professor at Rutgers University Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology and held directorships on the Board of Overseers for the Graduate School of Business at the University of Connecticut; the Advisory Board for the Minority Summer Institute at the University of Michigan and the Board of Directors for American Assembly Collegiate Schools of Business.

Dr. Underwood has been featured in several international publications and is profiled in Who’s Who Among Global Business Leaders. Recognized by many organizations for her impressive civic and community contributions, she has received business achievement awards from groups such the African American Chamber of Commerce, The National Alumnae Association of Spelman College - New York Chapter, the Harlem YMCA and the Corporate Women’s Network. Her professional affiliations include memberships in the American Psychological Association and the Academy of Management.

Dr. Underwood earned a Ph.D. in community psychology from the University of Michigan; an MA in clinical psychology from Fisk University in a joint program with Meharry Medical College; and a BA from Spelman College.

Mr. Jose Valencia

Vice President for Finance & Business; Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Jose Valencia was named the Vice President for Finance & Business and Chief Financial Officer. The alumnus of Bernard Baruch College and Certified Public Accountant in the State of New York comes to the University with more than 25 years of progressive operational and financial experience. Mr. Valencia has a solid track record of managing complex organizations in areas such as program services, finance, human resources, IT, performance improvement, grant management, and risk management.

Mr. Valencia has served in key executive roles at ASA, a private for-profit school with two campuses in New York City and one in Florida. In his ASA tenure between 2009 and 2022, he led the school in roles that included President, Acting President, and Interim President. In addition, he served as Vice President in the areas of Finance, Budgets, and Strategic Planning. In September 2017, he became an evaluator for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. He has enjoyed success with striking the delicate balance between dedication to mission, the need for bold entrepreneurial initiatives, and the application of sound business management.

His heart for serving others has been demonstrated in his leadership of the New York Association for New Americans, Inc. as its President. He was most notably involved in the resettlement of 500,000 Jewish people in the metropolitan area and the provision of housing to hundreds of thousands of homeless people in the Bronx.

Mrs. Wanda Velez

Vice President for Student Development/Dean of Students

Wanda Velez joined the staff of Nyack College in 2001 and served as the Director of Alumni Relations until 2003, when she joined the Office of Student Development as a Resident Director for Simpson Hall. Her tenure at Nyack has included a broad spectrum of responsibility from fundraising, community engagement and leadership development to crisis intervention, mentorship and spiritual formation. Previous experience as a youth director, a staff developer, a counselor in training program trainer for the Salvation Army Greater New York Youth Division.

Named Dean of Students on the Rockland County residential campus in 2010, Wanda oversees all aspects of campus life. In addition to her oversight of policies, procedures and a code of conduct for students, she has been instrumental in changing the culture of Residence Life raising the standard of maturity, responsibility, accountability and community. She created and implemented a student leadership selection and mentorship process.

Ordained as a minister of the gospel in June 2011 by the Gathering Place Global Ministries, Dean Velez takes a holistic approach to her leadership role with a heart for seeing young men and women rising to realize their full potential. Going above and beyond the call of duty, Dean Velez has invested in the lives of hundreds of students via numerous outreach ministries and small groups, as well as one on one mentoring. For Nyack’s rite of passage program, “Woman,” she has been a curriculum facilitator and mentor. For the past eight years, she has served as a Spiritual Formation director.

The first in her family to attend college, she arrived at Nyack to pursue undergraduate studies when the institution was embarking on the journey towards intentional diversity. The Bronx native is among the campus leaders who have witnessed the influx of students from the Tri-State New York urban communities.

Wanda’s ethnic identity and personal journey empower her to be an effective leader--on campus, in her home church, and in the community. Her passion for “story” has been a driving force behind her leadership style. She believes we are most effective when we are willing to share our own stories of failures, as well as successes, to impact the lives of others. As result, she has been influential in developing hundreds of students leaders at Nyack College.

In addition to earning her BA in English at Nyack College and her Master of Professional Studies at Alliance Theological Seminary, Dean Velez is an alumna of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) Women’s Advanced Leadership Institute (WALI) and the Multi-Ethnic Leadership Development Institute (M-ELDI). A mentor for the C&MA Metro District certificate program for women, “Empower,” she regularly serves as a conference speaker and as a panelist for higher education and ministry events.

Dean Velez is currently pursuing her Doctor of Ministry at Alliance Theological Seminary.

Ms. R. Lizzie Wahab

Vice President for Enrollment

Ms. R. Lizzie Wahab joins the institutional leadership team as Vice President for Enrollment. With more than 18 years of experience in higher education, she is a proven advocate for student academic success and fiscal sustainability. Ms. Wahab has served as an administrator, market assessor, and negotiator. Her rebranding campaigns for universities in New England and the Mid-Atlantic have achieved major successes. The common spark in each of her roles is her ability to evoke in colleagues a desire to establish a vision of future growth, one rooted in courage and service to all students.

At the height of the global pandemic in 2020, Ms. Wahab joined the State University of New York, Plattsburgh and Queensbury campuses, in the role of Administrative Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success. Placing health and safety as top priorities for SUNY, she was instrumental in leading a growth initiative attracting 4,869 students to the North country campuses in 2021, reversing a 10-year decline. She earned a master’s degree in biomedical sciences at the State University of New York at Buffalo and worked as a research scientist at Bristol-Myers Squibb Research Institute before transitioning to academic administration. Currently, she is pursuing her doctorate in Organizational Leadership and Change Management at Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Ronald Walborn

Vice President; Dean of Alliance Theological Seminary & School of Bible & Christian Ministry

Dr. Walborn was appointed dean of the seminary in 2008. He has been a member of the Board of Directors for The Christian and Missionary Alliance since May 2005.

In 1984, he earned an undergraduate degree in history at Nyack College and a Master of Divinity at Alliance Theological Seminary in 1988. Dr. Walborn has pastored C&MA churches in Connecticut and California. He planted Risen King Community Church in Redding, CA in 1989. While living in Redding for 10 years, he completed his doctoral studies at Fuller Theological Seminary.

After a time in church leadership, he returned to Nyack and grew the Pastoral Ministry program into one of the largest divisions at the college. His passion for connecting the lost to the love of God and his commitment to bringing renewal to the church make him a popular guest speaker at retreats, conferences, camps, and mega-churches.

Dr. Kwiryung Yun

Dean, School of Social Work

Dr. Kwi Yun has been a leader of the Nyack social work program for the last 18 years, first as director of the Bachelor of Social Work program and then as the dean of the School of Social Work.  With the vision of preparing students to become “competent and compassionate catalysts,” who are rooted in their relationship with Christ, she implemented curriculum, along with social work faculty members, that integrates social work education with a Christian worldview developing a context that facilitates spiritual formation.

Desiring to provide students with the opportunity to learn beyond their own boundaries, she created an international social work course and has been leading an annual Global Service-Learning trip to the Philippines for the past 10 years.  The trip explores the issues of poverty and sex trafficking while developing relationships with children and their families in the community.

Dr. Yun’s research interests are stress, coping, and self-care among social work students, and the impact of the international trip on the students.  She has presented her papers at numerous professional conferences including Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and North American Association of Christians in Social Work (NACSW).

She earned her Ph.D. and MSW from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI and her BSW from the Sacred Heart College for Women in South Korea.  She also worked as a mental health counselor and hospital social worker before joining Nyack College.