Director of the Afro-American Cultural House at Yale University and Assistant Dean of Yale College

Rodney T. Cohen serves as the director of the Center and assistant dean of Yale College. In addition to directing the total operation, programming and outreach of the Center, he chairs the Yale M.L.K. Planning Committee, serves on a number of university committees including the Council on African Studies and serves as an academic advisor. In addition, he is the director of the Science, Technology and Research Scholars (STARS) Summer Program and the Yale College Peer Liaison Program.

Dean Cohen has researched and published on select issues of African Americans in higher education. His work has appeared in the Journal of Urban Education and the International Journal of Educational Advancement. He is the president of the national Association for Black Culture Centers and serves on the boards of Teach for America-Connecticut and the Quinnipiac Medical School Health Career Advisory Council.  Cohen holds a doctorate from Vanderbilt University.


Ikenna Nzewi

Ikenna, or Kenna as he prefers to be called, is a North Carolina native. He was the valedictorian of his class and had extensive experience tutoring students in mathematics and science throughout his high school career. He always tries to instill a meticulous nature within all of his students. Out of the tens of thousands of students who competed in the Math Olympics contest, Kenna was chosen to represent his school at the state level. On top of his interest in mathematics, Kenna has a passion for entrepreneurship and is responsible for two startup companies.

Kenna is excited and determined to serve as one of the Co-Presidents of the organization to rebuild its former influence on the students in the New Haven area. His primary role is to oversee the development of strategies used to educate students. He is in charge of sculpting the curriculum to ensure that it is effective to both the students and tutors.

Kenna is an active member of the Yale Black Men’s Union where he serves as Treasurer. He is also the Freshman Representative for Yale’s Students of Nigeria organization. Kenna, an Eagle Scout, has a passion for volunteering and has received his Silver Congressional Award and now pursues his Gold Level Award.


Isiah Cruz

Born in New Jersey to a working-class family, Isiah is well aware of the challenges facing inner-city kids when it comes to educational advancement. Education has been a monumental part of Isiah’s life; growing up as a child of a teacher, he has learned the power of instruction. Isiah has used schooling as a vehicle to success and is determined to motivate students to do the same.

His main responsibility as one of the co-presidents is to promote and develop the Urban Improvement Corps’ image and branding within the Yale and New Haven communities. Isiah has past experience in the teaching field. He started tutoring middle school students at the Boys & Girls Club of Jersey City in 2011. Additionally, his passion for entrepreneurship began in high school after he founded the Prep Reach Program, a program designed to increase the school’s endowment funds.

At Yale University, Isiah serves as a member of the Intercultural Affairs Committee, Ivy Council, and Sabrosura (Latin Dance Team). He also works at La Casa Cultural Center as a Freshman Liaison and as a Translator at Yale Law School

Christopher Rim

Christopher Rim comes to the Urban Improvement Corps with over 5 years experience in education administration and teaching. As one of the three co-presidents, he oversees the recruitment and outreach process of both the students and tutors. In addition, he is responsible for scheduling tutoring sessions and maintaining the website and social media outlets. Chris is also responsible for creating the curriculum for the tutors. 

Prior to joining the Urban Improvement Corps, Chris served as the Founder and President of Prestige Review Group, a tutoring business he founded in eighth grade. His company is still in operation today and is now serving communities as a non-profit organization in Northern New Jersey. At his high school, Christopher founded the Math Connections tutoring club during his freshman year that later turned into a credit-based elective due to its success. 

Chris is active in the community serving as the CEO and Founder of It Ends Today, Inc., an anti-bullying organization. A few of the celebrities who have recognized Chris for his volunteering efforts include Lady Gaga, Oprah, Governor Chris Christie, Michael Bloomberg, and President Obama. At Yale he serves as the Finance Director on the board of Global Architecture Brigades and as the Treasurer of the Yale Gymnastics Club.