Vice Presidents

Zuhirah Khaldun-Diarra

Zuhirah Khaldun-Diarra / Vice President, Marketing, Communications & Brand

Zuhirah is a strategic communications leader with experience at national and international nonprofit and mission-driven organizations.  She comes to Jumpstart from UNICEF USA where for four years she led multi-channel and digitally-led brand campaigns to increase support for UNICEF’s global humanitarian work in the United States. Her proven expertise in brand, integrated campaigns, digital marketing, social media, media relations, partnerships, entertainment marketing, and award-winning content development has driven transformational impact, narrative change, and organizational growth over the course of her career. Zuhirah began her career in the music industry transfixed by the growing influence of Hip-Hop culture in the mid-1990’s and what it could do to lift the voices of underserved and marginalized communities. After graduating college, Zuhirah’s first job was as a tour publicist for The Roots at Geffen Records. She says this is where she earned her media and communications stripes and where she learned how to craft a narrative and tell a story, uplifting hidden narratives and eventually becoming publicist for Jay-Z as well as Ja Rule, Method Man, Redman, De La Soul, and DMX, among others. Zuhirah was also part of the team that revived a bankrupt Converse brand leading to a sale to Nike and 2400% return for investors before turning to nonprofit communications through a consultancy with the historic civil rights organization, the National Urban League. During what turned into an 8-year tenure at the National Urban League, Zuhirah led and provided strategic direction and management of the organization’s integrated brand marketing and communications initiatives and multi-city events including: Put Our Children 1st education advocacy program with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as managing the Leagues’ marketing of the first ever Red Nose Day in the United States. Zuhirah has lived in New York City, Bermuda, Tanzania, and The Netherlands where she received an MA in Cultural Analysis from the University of Amsterdam. Zuhirah also holds a BA in Economics from Barnard College, Columbia University. Zuhirah currently resides in New York’s Upper Hudson Valley with her husband and two daughters and will every so often pull out her vinyl for a nostalgic DJ set.
Alexandria Mauristhene

Alexandria “Alex” Mauristhene / Vice President, People & Culture

Alexandria “Alex” Mauristhene is a New England transplant, where she has lived for the last fifteen years with her family. Prior to that, she lived throughout the United States including abroad, first as a military brat, and later as a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force. During her time in active duty, she was directly responsible for personnel actions supporting military members and their families domestic and abroad. She served honorably and earned multiple commendation and achievement medals for outstanding dedicated service. She started her post-military career in the education space where she served in mission-driven K-12 settings, private and charter, as well as workforce education. Most recently, she worked for an international organization focused on ending poverty. While there she served as an integral lead for transformation and was the inaugural business partner for the organization. She had the privilege to build out the team while pivoting to meet the needs of the workforce domestically and abroad during COVID. Additionally, she worked closely with the Unions to ensure staff engagement and collaboration through collective bargaining agreements. Alex is joining Jumpstart with nearly fifteen years of experience as a dedicated human resource professional. She has led and served on multiple teams in government as well as non-profit sector, where she successfully led multiple HR functions including recruiting, training, and development, supporting employee relations, and building strong and inclusive workplace cultures. She most enjoyed the building strong working relationships to ensure strong processes and programs to support organizational strategy and alignment. She is looking forward to bringing her experiences, knowledge, abilities, and skills to Jumpstart, working collaboratively to develop human capacity strategies, initiatives, and innovation to supporting workforce development and organizational development. Alex believes strongly in the power of early education and is committed to supporting ways to amplify and elevate this critical work for the next generation. Alex holds a Bachelor of Science from Bethune-Cookman University and a Masters of Science in Organizational and Human Resource Development from Abilene Christian University.
Denise Nelson

Denise Nelson / Vice President, Development

Denise worked at Accion Opportunity Fund (AOF) a nonprofit and microlender working to create an inclusive, healthy financial system that supports the nation’s small business owners-especially entrepreneurs of color and women- by connecting them to affordable capital, educational resources, coaching, and networks. Here she worked a development team responsible for the organization’s  $150MM Equity Campaign and $45MM Small Business Relief Fund and developed an initiative focused on support of Black entrepreneurs and managed two donor affinity networks and AOF’s Southern California Regional Board.

She’s also worked at CLARE|MATRIX, a Southern California based addiction treatment center and at a NYC based advocacy and social service agency, FPWA (formerly Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies).

Prior to joining FPWA, Nelson led the development efforts for two leading educational organizations, Eagle Academy Foundation and PENCIL, and served as Associate Vice President of Major Gifts at United Way of New York City. She also served at Habitat for Humanity in New York City.  She currently serves on Facing History’s Los Angeles Advisory Board and was a member of the AFP-NYC Board until 2020.

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