About ACT


Founded in 1971, The Adults and Children in Trust (ACT) Program provides a safe haven where toddlers to teens from many faiths, cultures and economic backgrounds gather to learn, play and grow, as they participate in a broad range of programs among highly-trained and caring adults. ACT consistently provides children and their families with high quality services that sustain, support and enhance their ability to thrive in diverse communities. ACT offers year-round, affordable, reliable, nonsectarian and socially enriching educational programs and special events for families in and around the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the world's largest Gothic cathedral.


THE SEVEN CORE VALUES established by staff expressed through our actions, program events and staff training activities unify the staff approach in creating memorable and fun camp experiences for each child. Our seven core values are a love of LEARNING, achievement through TEAMWORK and partnerships, acceptance and recognition of DIVERSITY, a FUN and friendly environment, CHILD-CENTEREDNESS, ORGANIZED people and resources that provide a SAFE rewarding experience.



JEN GOWERS, Executive Director

Jen has been a leader in New York City public and public charter education for more than 13 years. She has expertise in curriculum design, instruction, professional development, and assessment practices, as well as experience building and sustaining new schools and managing literacy at the district level. Jen is passionate about transforming systems, developing individual capacity and potential, and making a brighter and better society. She holds a BA in English and a BS in Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; an Ed.M in Secondary Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and an Ed.D in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.


MARIE DEL TEJO, Director of Programs

Marie Del Tejo has worked in the educational field since 1980. She holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science in Education from Hunter College. She attended Columbia University Middle Management program for Youth Services as well as Developing Leaders. In the educational field for the past three decades, Marie has been a classroom teacher, mentor to teachers and group leaders, as well as served as adviser to parents in area of supportive behavioral management. As a resident of the west side since childhood, Marie has served as advisor to parents of the program, friends and family member of exmission process and appropriate steps to take in children’s educational path. She has been with ACT since 1990.


KAREN MACLEAN BLANCQ, Preschool Head Teacher

Karen has been a teacher in public and private school programs throughout New York City for more than 25 years, including Beginnings Nursery School, Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church Day School, P.S. 75 and, most recently, the Early Childhood Learning Center at Temple Israel. She earned a B.A. in Psychology from Hunter College and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College of Education. She both facilitates training for teachers and participates regularly in professional development opportunities that allow her to improve her craft. In February 2019, she was selected to attend the “Documentation in the Digital Age” conference in Reggio Emilia, Italy. While there, she toured the amazing pre-schools and learned more about emergent curriculum and documentation techniques. She is passionate about working with young children and believes wholeheartedly that teaching is her calling – not simply her profession.

ANN SHEPHERD, Nursery Head Teacher

Ann Shepherd, better known as Ms. Ann to our Nursery school children, has been teaching for almost two decades. A graduate of Wells College, with studies in English Literature, Ms. Ann has experience in a wide range of settings with children between the ages of three and eight years old. She has worked in Head Start and in full and parttime programs at the YMCA Coop Nursery. Before becoming a lead teacher, she did a student internship at P.S. 234, tutored children at the Northside Center of Child Development and worked as a volunteer at The Lenox School and the Mabel Barrett Fitzgerald Day Care Center.

ORISSA WOODS, School-Age Program Coordinator

Orissa Woods has nine years experience as an early childhood education teacher. In 2003, she established Unity Group Family Daycare Services and administered the entire operation while maintaining a healthy educational environment. During the year, Ms. Woods serves as ACT's School Age Coordinator, Manages Divine Parties, and, in the summer, is the Voyager Division Head. Orissa has worked at ACT for 12 years.


ALEX GARCIA, Teacher, Sports Specialist and Coordinator

Alex joined the ACT family 14 years ago and has played many important roles: first, as an assistant teacher in the nursery program, creating and teaching lesson plans focusing on non-competitive sports, science & nature, and through Spanish language arts. Alex is the sports coordinator for our summer camp program, and when he is not leading a sports lesson, you can find Alex bright and early as a supervisor for the Sunrise program, making sure children have a successful start to the day! Alex also serves as a lead counselor with ACT after school, as well as a specialist for Divine Parties, in addition to working in the Sunday school program at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.


TANYA GLENN, Office Manager and Registrar

Tanya Glenn has over 10 years of experience providing administrative support. She began as an office assistant and moved up to become our registrar/office manager at ACT. When she is not at ACT, she is baking beautiful cakes and planning events.


ROSIBEL BERNABER, Administrative Assistant

Rossy is a capable, determined, well-organized administrative assistant with over ten years in customer service experience and a passion for working with young people. She has more than three years experience working in day care settings, and assisting young people with tutoring and homework. She obtained her Bachelors of Arts from Lehman College in 2018 and is pursuing a Masters in Early Childhood Special Education. Rossy has a positive, can-do attitude, and a willingness to make a positive mark!



We are able to offer our robust programming through employing a variety of invaluable, caring, trained part-time staff, including:

  • summer school counselors and counselors-in-training;
  • afterschool counselors;
  • visual art, sports and performing arts specialists;
  • nursery school and preschool part time teachers;
  • parent-toddler class instructors and
  • vacation camp support staff

Every staff member is valuable and integral to our organization!


Located at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Enter between 111th and 112th streets and stop at the security booth. ACT is located directly across from security, under the church.

The ACT program is one of the few programs within the five boroughs that can boast of its spacious grounds, a year round program, extended hours and services for a wide range of age groups. Our 11-acre oasis in Manhattan allows children to garden, play in fields, meet outdoors, eat under the shade of cherry trees, play in gymnasiums and use crafts rooms. Peacocks and squirrels roam our unique setting. Come and visit!