Center for Wellbeing & Happiness

Our Instructors

The Center for Wellbeing and Happiness is staffed by experienced community-based instructors and partners from Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, NYC Health + Hospitals, and other organizations with experience serving the Lower East Side.

Photo of Jaimé Yawa Dzandu - Instructor of the Center for Wellbeing & Happiness

Jaimé Yawa Dzandu

Jaimé Yawa Dzandu is a spiritualist, movement artist, choreographer, educator, facilitator, and community organizer with roots from Hampton, Virginia and Wusuta Dzigbe- Ghana, West Africa. For over a decade, Jaimé has been committed to holding space for youth, facilitating a learning environment of self discovery and empowerment through dance. Jaimé uses dance/movement to create restorative, loving, and libratory spaces. She facilitates year-round programs for Lower Eastside Girls Club, Mark Morris Dance Center, Family Arts Movement, and Fontbonne Hall Academy. As a choreographer, she creates participatory art-based experiences, rooted in an African Diasporic, experimental movement practice. Her choreographic work reflects the sacred in performance and focuses on exploring the complexities of race, gender, lineage, and spirituality.

She has presented her choreographic works at 92nd Street Y, Movement Research, New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center, Bushwick Starr, National Black Theatre, BAAD!, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and Gibney Dance. She is a proud recipient of 2017 – 2018 Angela’s Pulse Dancing While Black Fellowship. Additionally, she is a member of the Urban Bush Women Dance Company as a BOLD Facilitator (Builders, Organizers, and Leaders through Dance). She collaborates with a range of artists, who explore performance at the center and edges of dance, theatre, and ritual. She holds a B.F.A in Dance & Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University and resides in Brooklyn, NY. Jaimé bows in gratitude to all that came before her, who gather with her in circle through her life’s work of creating ceremony through the arts, (re)membering embodied knowledge, and building collective liberation.

Photo of Zoraida Ramirez

Zoraida Ramirez

Zoraida is a peer trainer at Rise, an organization that supports parents’ leadership to dismantle the family policing system. Zoraida graduated from the Rise & Shine Parent Leadership Program in 2021 and began working as a Peer Trainer. She is part of the parent-led team that is working to develop and implement a peer and community care model to support safe, thriving families and to prevent involvement with the family policing system.

“I am so excited about my new role at Rise as a Peer Trainer. I am passionate about this work because, like many women at Rise, I was impacted by the family policing system. I am ready to empower many other parents and I can’t wait to see where our work will take us. I would like to see families and communities supported better with resources that can truly make a difference in their lives.” — Zoraida

Our Instructors of the Center for Wellbeing & Happiness

Our Instructors of the Center for Wellbeing & Happiness

A photo of Denise Gumora - Instructor of the Center for Wellbeing & Happiness

Denise Gumora

Denise lives on the Lower East Side and has been teaching dance fitness classes for 15 years. She teaches all levels and ages. Zumba is fun for all generations, so Denise invites your parent, or child, to join you in her classes. You don’t have to be a dancer; the steps are easy to follow. Just follow Denise’s lead, and let’s have fun.

Photo of Shakira Paige

Shakira Paige

Shakira is a peer trainer at Rise, an organization that supports parents’ leadership to dismantle the family policing system. Shakira graduated from the Rise & Shine Parent Leadership Program and has been a Rise Magazine contributor since 2019. Shakira also became part of Rise’s Peer Vision Team in 2020, working to develop a report and model for peer and community care to support safe, thriving families and prevent involvement with the family policing system. Since 2021, Shakira has been a Peer Trainer and is now part of the parent-led team that is working to develop and implement the peer and community care model.

“As a Contributor at Rise, I did things that I love. Now, I’m excited and passionate about stepping into my new role as a Peer Trainer at Rise. I know I can support parents and, like always, I’m ready for the long run. I’m ready for the progress my team and I are going to make with providing parents the support they want and need.” — Shakira

Photo of Teresa Marrero - Instructor of the Center for Wellbeing & Happiness

Teresa Marrero

As the Parent Advocate Training Coordinator at Rise, an organization that supports parents’ leadership to dismantle the family policing system, Teresa prepares New York City parents impacted by the child welfare system to work as parent advocates within the child welfare system (preventive and foster care agencies) as well as in impacted communities. Prior to joining the Rise team, Teresa M worked as a Parent Advocate / Parent Resource Specialist at Heartshare/St. Vincent Services for 3 years. Teresa is a graduate of the Child Welfare Organizing Project where she started her journey of becoming the parent advocate she is today.

Teresa is passionate about working with Rise because she believes in the mission of Rise. She also feels that this is a great opportunity to reach other advocates like her to train and guide them to be stronger, more knowledgeable advocates for families.

Our Instructors of the Center for Wellbeing & Happiness

A photo of Jasmine Sharpe - Instructor of the Center for Wellbeing & Happiness

Jasmine Sharpe 

Jasmine is a certified Yoga Teacher, Holistic Health Coach, a middle school teacher, and a Lower Eastside Girls Club alum. While most of her time is spent in the classroom, her love for teaching stems from the joy of yoga. Jasmine grew up in the LES as a member of the Girls Club, where she took her first yoga class. She also attended Bard High School Early College, SUNY New Paltz for undergrad, and CUNY City College for her masters in Education. She wants to create more accessible wellness through yoga, meditation, and holistic health practices. Together as a community, we can create a safer space for personal growth, joy, and discovery, wherever you may be in your journey of practice.

Photo of Bernard Saavedra

Bernard Saavedra

Bernard was born and raised in Colombia, where he studied Business Administration, and spent many years in the business and marketing management fields. Bernard has been working as a senior financial counselor with NYC Financial Empowerment Program for the past 5 years. He completed the certification for financial counseling from CUNY and currently works as a financial counselor for the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. He is passionate about helping New Yorkers to improve their finances and achieve their financial goals. He is a firm believer that anyone can improve their financial life with the right information and the right tools. Outside the office, you can find him cycling on the greenway or enjoying outdoor events in the city.

Photo of Clara Ibarra - Instructor of the Center for Wellbeing & Happiness

Clara Ibarra

Clara Ibarra is a Latinx Brooklyn-based artist and journalist. She earned her political science and economics degrees in her hometown, Bogotá, Colombia, where she grew her passion for mountains, photography, and storytelling. Clara came to NYC in 2006 to pursue a MA in Media Studies at The New School. Since then, she has been working in the production of multimedia endeavors that involve education and the telling of stories. Currently, she leads the Spanish programming at Democracy Now!, and runs The Grandparents StoryLab, an intergenerational project connecting children with older adults through podcasting and art. When she’s not telling stories, Clara is riding her bike around NYC.

Our Instructors of the Center for Wellbeing & Happiness