She went to a good school in her native Guyana, but saw that students in rural areas didn’t have the same privilege. After she came to study in the United States, she ended up in Newark, opening up her own school.
“We attracted kids who were from really tough backgrounds,” Fonseca said. “We wanted to show that if we started with them and gave them a very challenging program, including an after-school, holistic experience, that we could place them in competitive schools.”
She started small with just a handful of students, but eventually expanded to more than 200 students. Though the school received no public funding, Fonseca fundraised and “built the school up.”
Then she took on a new challenge. She was recruited to run the Masters School, a private co-ed school in Dobbs Ferry. There, she focused on the philosophy of service learning.
“Students, beyond doing well academically, need to give back to society,” she said. “The children have grow up to contribute and to serve.”
After 15 years leading that school, Fonseca wanted yet another challenge. This time, she didn’t want to work at a school.
Last September, she took on the role as CEO of the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation, one of the largest organizations running after-school programs in the city.
“This is such a powerful organization because you’re able to impact children,” she said. “Even when you have two parents and they’re working, it’s hard raising kids in New York. It’s an expensive place to be.”
She’s been working on development and executing a long-term strategic plan for the organization.
“That’s why it makes sense for me to be here,” Fonseca said. “There are some challenges, but I’m excited to work with the incredible board and the staff. I am just blown away by their commitment to the kids.”