New Jersey SEEDS Welcomes Alumna Taffi Ayodele to Board of Trustees

New Jersey SEEDS, a nonprofit that provides educational access to high-achieving, low-income students, announced Taffi Ayodele joined its Board of Trustees.

Taffi AyodeleTaffi is an alumna of New Jersey SEEDS’ Scholars Program. One of the academic programs at SEEDS, this 14-month initiative provides free academic classes over two summers and the Saturdays in between to motivated eighth-grade students. Working closely with SEEDS, students are then placed in selective secondary schools with substantial financial aid packages. For Taffi, that school was Newark Academy. Following her graduation from Newark Academy, Taffi went on to obtain her Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree from New York University. Today, she is the Chief Fit Officer of Thando Holdings, LLC, a company she also co-founded.

“I am so proud to welcome Taffi to the Board of Trustees,” explains John F. Castano, SEEDS’ Executive Director. “For years, Taffi has generously shared her experience as a highly successful business founder and owner with the SEEDS alumni community. As we launch New Jersey SEEDS into its second 25 years, we are excited and proud to strengthen our board with a strong Trustee who is truly a paragon of SEEDS’ mission. When the founders sat down to plan the future of SEEDS, they envisioned our alumni being the ones who would lead the organization. There is no doubt that Taffi is the sort of leader they had in mind.”

Taffi Ayodele co-founded Thando’s, a Lagos- and New York-based footwear design and distribution company that provides a platform for African artists to co-design shoes for women that are comfortable, convenient, stylish and affordable. Thando’s seeks to have a positive impact on the image of the African continent across the globe. Thando’s tied for 1st place in the Beta Group at the Diaspora Demo Day pitch competition at the WorldBank in 2015.

Prior to Thando’s, she served as Director of the Office of Executive Initiatives at the New York State Dormitory Authority (DASNY), one of the nation’s largest issuers of low-cost, tax-exempt bonds and one of its biggest public builders. At DASNY, Taffi developed Authority-wide diversity programs and initiatives to broaden procurement opportunities and increase utilization of women and minority-owned businesses. 

She holds an MBA specializing in Global Business and Entrepreneurship and a BA in Economics from New York University. She was recently appointed to the Board of Trustees of New York University and serves on its Global Initiatives and Student Life Committees. Taffi was the 3rd place winner for the inaugural She Leads Africa Startup Competition in Lagos, and was listed in Forbes as one of the 10 Emerging Women Entrepreneurs to Watch in Africa.

In addition to Taffi’s appointment, SEEDS Trustee Debbie Barker, former Chair of the Board of Bowdoin College, was honored by the Board of Trustees as an Emeritus member. All appointments were effective as of February 8, 2017.

About New Jersey SEEDS
For 25 years, New Jersey SEEDS has provided educational access for highly motivated, low-income students and created a viable path for them to achieve their full potential. SEEDS strives for a world in which young people’s initiative, creativity and intellect can flourish without regard to socioeconomic status. Since SEEDS’ founding in 1992, 2,296 scholars have graduated from its programs. For more information, visit