About PEP

Our Mission

Parents Engaging Parents

is on a mission to promote

civic awareness


proactive community advocacy

by advancing the interests of parents and communities.

We believe that Economics, Education, Health, and Social Justice work together to build strong and healthy communities. Each pillar belongs to the PEP Beloved Community Ecosystem and each requires guidance and practice in order to prosper.

PEP strives to unite parents and stakeholders with access and information in order to help parents navigate an ever-evolving world, influence the development of their communities, and promote a productive lifestyle for their families and children.

The Founder's Story

Altorice Frazier is no stranger to hardships. Born in Newark in 1976, he became a ward of the state at the impossibly young age of two. Altorice fell into a life of juvenile delinquency while being unable to process his anger brought on by a troubled childhood. This all too familiar story eventually led to a 13-year prison sentence for selling narcotics at 22 years of age.

In prison, Altorice immediately started to see life more clearly and discovered the importance of education. Within five years he earned his GED and was taking college-level courses in accounting, math, and small business.

After five years of making education and positive decision making a priority, Altorice became eligible for parole and was released with a renewed focus on life, career, and making a positive impact on the community.

While advancing his career and life as a husband and father, Altorice made the time to volunteer at numerous community and nonprofit organizations including Newark Preschool Council, Community education Alumna services , and KIPP: NJ. His work in nonprofit education is where he became hooked on parent advocacy.

In 2017, Altorice’s passion led him to create Parents Engaging Parents, with the goal of strengthening the community of parents across New Jersey. He works with communities to help prevent others from having to go through the hardships he has experienced.

Altorice supports parents thanks to the ongoing contributions of his family, friends, community, and network. In a sign of truly having left his past behind him and devoting his life to the community, Altorice was granted a full pardon for his former indictments from Governor Chris Christie in 2018.

PEP NJ Board Members

Marietta Cozzi

Marietta Cozzi joined the Board of Directors of PEP as a Founding Partner after meeting and immediately connecting to co-founder Altorice at a parent advocacy event in Newark in 2016. Marietta works closely with Altorice and parent champions to manage projects, organize events and communications, and further build PEP.

In addition to PEP, Marietta serves on the Board of Directors for KIPP:NJ and serves on multiple committees at the Community FoodBank of NJ.

Prior to engaging in nonprofit work, she served as Vice President, Talent Acquisition at Prudential for 14 years where she was responsible for the strategic oversight of the company’s talent acquisition strategy, transforming their hiring processes, and providing Prudential with high-quality, diverse talent.

Prior to Prudential, Marietta served as Vice President of Human Resources at American Express for 18 years and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Florida State University and a Master of Science degree in Management from St. Thomas University.

Karen Highsmith
Vice President/Organization Management
Industrial Bank
Hightstown, NJ

Rutgers Graduate School of Social Work – MSW Social Work
Syracuse University School of Liberal Arts – BA Bachelor’s in Psychology
Syracuse University School of Social Work-BSW Bachelor’s in Social Work

I have over 30 years of human services executive level experience, 15 years of corporate consulting experience in the manufacturing and consumer product industries, pharmaceutical and government. My accomplishments include using my skills in areas of change management, program/project management, business process analysis & reengineering, strategy & planning, organizational governance, organizational design, technology & business alignment. My public speaking includes presentations to Presidents/CEOs, Mayors, Local and State Legislatures and Governors. I am incredibly proud of my humility, strong work ethic and continued desire to learn through hard work and intellectual curiosity. I enjoy reading, knitting, and spending time with my grandchildren.

Shelley Skinner

A native of Chicago, IL, and graduate of Pitzer College, Shelley has dedicated the last 15 years to advocating for equitable education for NJ students. She was named Jersey City Woman of Action in 2007, is a former Board President at LCCS, and a former trustee of NJCSA. In addition to education, Shelley has spent the last couple of years combating food insecurity in New Jersey.

In addition to her work on the Board of Directors of PEP, Shelley is the Executive Director of Better Education for Kids (B4K), an education advocacy organization whose goal is to ensure high-quality education opportunities for all children in New Jersey.

Felicia Horne (LCSW)

Felicia Horne (LCSW) is the Executive Director and Founder of Hope Therapeutic Services, HOPE. HOPE was birthed from a passion and commitment to help communities find healing through the power of developing their own internal and external resources. This passion includes supporting culturally inclusive policies and practices which combats mental health stigmas that hinder black and brown communities from taking steps of seeking therapeutic help. Felicia believes that all of therapy is built on a foundation of hope. From such a foundation, combined with proper techniques and the desire to perform the self-compassion work an individual or family can begin to heal. This inspired the founding and development of Hope Therapeutic Services.

As founder and owner of Hope Therapeutic Services, she has created a service provider which has successfully served more than 5000 clients since 2016. Hope Therapeutic Services has a staff of 50+ diverse mental health professionals providing both in-office therapy and in-community therapy within the state of New Jersey.

Felicia is also the founder of Hope Lives Here Inc. a 501(c)(3). Hope Lives Here is a mentoring and social development extension of Hope Therapeutic Services which include older adult services for individuals 60+.

Felicia holds a Master of Social Work from Columbia University, and she is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Additionally, Felicia is also a clinical consultant for various community organizations.


Erica (Arthur) Beverett

Erica (Arthur) Beverett began as a volunteer for Parents Engaging Parents in 2017 in a Backpack and school supplies event held at a KIPP Charter School in Newark, NJ. Erica then learned the importance of parent advocacy and organizing by working with parents, elected officials, and philanthropists throughout New Jersey.

As Outreach Coordinator, Erica is continuing the synergy of engagement between private public, and civic sectors to ensure the community voice is transformed into action. Erica has served the community for 14 years as a preschool teacher, in private schools to Head Start. Erica has experience working closely with families aiding in the educational needs of their children and through shared knowledge of advocacy and organizing for self-driven power. 

Erica has a Bachelor’s degree in  Liberal Arts with a concentration in English and History from William Paterson University. 


Social & Environmental Justice Advisor
Terrance Lamaur Bankston is a parent of one and began as a volunteer for Parents Engaging Parents in 2017. In January 2016 and April 2017, Terrance coordinated and led efforts for over 75 collaborations with local and state-wide parent and youth-based community groups and extended sponsorships for local community events. In 2015, as a ParentAdvocate and as a Director of Engagement for a statewide non-profit, Terrance co-founded Parent University New Jersey, and co-led advocacy efforts, including coalitions of charters, and private and public schools.

In 2023,Terrance serves PEPNJ as the Social and EJ Advisor. In collaboration with PEPNJ and others, Terrance has led an Environmental Justice campaign, defeating Amazon and the NY/NJ Port Authority. Terrance serves as the New Jersey Environmental Justice representative on the New York – New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program (NYNJHEP) Management Committee. Terrance, a Newark, New Jersey native, earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a Master’s Degree in Administrative Sciences from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Terrance was recognized in 2008 by Ebony magazine as one of the top USA 30 leaders under 30.

Parent Champions

Erica (Arthur) Beverett

Erica is affectionately coined by her late Grandfather as “kind to a fault.” As an only child, she was raised by her mother and grandmother and is a first-generation born American from a Guyanese family. Raised in Elizabeth, Erica attended both public and parochial schools. As a teen, Erica was heavily involved with the Youth Ministry and served as a mentor for the afterschool program at Shiloh Baptist Church. After graduating from Roselle Catholic High School she went on to attend Kean University.

In 2013, Erica started working at Trenton Head Start and within four months was promoted to Lead Teacher. In 2017, she earned her degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in English & History from William Paterson University. Erica has been teaching for over a decade and is highly regarded for building relationships with her students and their families at Children’s Home Society of NJ Head Start. “Kind to a fault” some may say and others may say she is a visionary for a Beloved Community. 

Ayesha Boyd

A community-driven parent of six, Ayesha’s community involvement started in high school and grew into an enormous interest in community engagement and advocacy. As a current Parents Engaging Parents and Essex County Council for Young Children member, she is committed to bringing parents and resources together for positive change. She has a strong interest in showing children the importance of having strong community relationships, and her lifelong desire of helping others has helped her grow as a person and as a parent. 

Ayesha has spent numerous years volunteering with Girl Scouts, PTA, and Middle School Leadership Council, was a Board of Education Candidate in Irvington, and partakes in Food Pantry Duty at First Baptist Church of Hillside. Ayesha loves this work because it brings like-minded people together to make community work reflect the community’s voice.