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Our Mentors

Computer Mentors is a place where passion meets empowerment.

Our mentors are credible, business professionals from the technology sector who believe in the growth of our students. Our programs are designed to ensure each of our students’ receive personalized attention from their mentor. This specialized attention ensures students are given the opportunity to develop superior technology skills that are needed to guide them into successful IT careers. Guiding students through each step of the program, our mentors enable students to find courage in their personal abilities. With the help from our mentors there is no limit to success.

The Founder

Founder & Executive Director
Ralph Smith

Ralph_SmithRalph Smith is a 60 year-old computer professional with a passion toward underprivileged youth.  He is the founder and current Executive Director of Computer Mentors Group (CMG). CMG was founded in 1997 as a volunteer project by Ralph.  CMG started with five teenagers and the idea of providing computers for the homes as a reward for learning.  The vision was to form a volunteer network of computer professionals that would mentor minority and “at risk” youth, and point them in the direction of Information Technology (IT) careers.  Ralph originally got the idea of starting a “small computer school for youth” when he volunteered with the Juvenile Justice System in Lansing Michigan when he was 25 years old. Ralph came to Tampa in 1993 and has dedicated himself to this community ever since.  Prior to becoming the full-time director of CMG he held professional computer related positions ranging from computer technician, computer operator, to computer programming, systems analyst, network engineer, and manager. His last fifteen years prior to becoming the full-time director of Computer Mentors Group was with Citibank where he was an Assistant Vice President in the North American Trade Finance Division. Ralph has a wide variety of Information Technology experience.  As an owner of his consulting company R & L Computing Services, Ralph specialized in non-profits and small businesses.  He positioned R & L Computing Services as a one-stop IT company providing technology consulting, web and email hosting, website development, networking, database design and applications, equipment maintenance, and security.

The Mentors

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Computer Mentors Program Director

Dr. Saba Baptiste

Dr. Saba Baptiste accepted the position of Program Director in October 2017. She is a proven and experienced academic facilitator, building academic and technical systems for students pursuing postsecondary and higher education. Her focus has been in print and digital learning that will lead to academic readiness and technical skills to enhance competitiveness in the 21st century workforce.

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Mentor and TeenTech Program Manager

Nyjel Dukes

Nyjel began at Computer Mentors as a student in 1999 until he left for college in 2006. Nyjel returned as a Mentor after earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Game Design.

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KidsCode Program Manager

David Washington

David comes to us with a wide variety of experience. He is a “Maker Space” enthusiast, and seeks to fashion our coding program with a little bit of engineering and contracting. He is adept with robotics and loves 3D printing. He is also passionate about exposing youth to challenging new things.

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Mentor

Dennis Thicklin

Dennis is a Computer Mentors alumni who now attends University of South Florida. When he is not busy with his studies, Dennis builds phone apps and mentors high school students in TEENTech

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Mentor

Kirk Jackson

Kirk is a military veteran who is now giving back to the community. Kirk holds several industry certifications including the one pursued by our youth in TeenTech.

Board of Directors

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Board Chairperson

Santo Connone

Principal, Santo Connone, llc

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Board Treasurer

David Eason

JPMorgan Chase

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Board Member

Benny Gonzalez

JPMorgan Chase

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Board Member

Christy Sacco

Senior Channel Program Manager, Panasonic

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Board Member

Derrick Thomas

Information Security Engineer, AmGen

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Board Member - Chair Funding Committee

E. Bobby Wilson

Senior VP, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

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Board Member

Kathy Smith

SVP, Services and Education at ConnectWise

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Board Member

Linda Cassaly

Retired from ConnectWise

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Board Member

Mark LaPlante

Development Manager , Connectwise, Inc.

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Board Member

Michael Pedersen

GeoSpatial Systems Engineer, GeodataIT

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Board Member

Ricardo “Rico” Burrage Sr.

Managing Director, Lucayan Technology Solutions LLC

The Honors Board

Arthenia Joyner  Supporter and State Senator | Betty Reed  Former Board Member and State House Member | Bob Buckhorn  Former Board member and Mayor of Tampa | David Omlor  Former CMG Board Chair | Hank Gill  Former CMG Board Chair | Juan Davis  Former CMG Board Chair | Shirley Houston  Former CMG Board Chair | Susanne Gill  Former CMG Board Chair | Machelle Maner  Former CMG Board Chair