I was ‘horse crazy’ in my youth and deemed ‘college material’ by my high school counselor, so it was no surprise that I went to college with the intention of becoming a large animal vet. Within my first year at Oregon State University, I switched species and majored in and graduated with a degree in Sociology. I did an internship my senior year working as a counselor for young people who had dropped out of high school. Seeing the impact of the workplace in reigniting career ambitions, which drives education with a purpose, has guided my career ever since. I have led college and career preparation initiatives at local, regional, state, federal and now national levels—always driven by the incredible impact public-private partnerships can have on young people and their futures. I joined NAF in 2007 and remain impressed and amazed at the power of our network and the tremendous difference our network leaders make in the lives of students every day.
After starting pre-med and changing my major three times at Cornell University, I graduated with a major in Marketing and a minor in Fashion. Fittingly, my career began in the fashion industry at Chanel developing marketing strategies using customer data. I went on to receive my MBA at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where I developed strategic, marketing, and analytical skills that I applied to management consulting, with projects spanning a range of industries and functions often with a data-driven solution. This gave me a great deal of experience affecting change within organizations large and small, but also made me realize that I wanted to use my experience to help make a difference. In 2012 I applied these skills to the nonprofit world by coming to NAF as a consultant to help use student data to tell the NAF story. I then served as Vice President of Marketing & Communications and led a full rebranding of the national organization and was responsible for planning, executing, delivering, and evaluating all aspects of marketing & communications. In my current role as Chief Operating Officer, I oversee the Marketing & Communications, Strategic Planning & Alignment, Finance, Research & Evaluation, Information Technology, Human Resources, and Administration functions.
Dolphin Trainer, Astronaut, News Anchor were all on my list of desired occupations growing up. In high school I excelled at math and science so I my high school guidance counselor guided me to pursue a major in Engineering. I attended UC Davis and after one semester in the School of Engineering, I knew I needed to change my path. Three declared majors later, I graduated with a degree in Economics and a minor in Psychology. I landed my first job through an internship I had with a national marketing consulting firm. Six years later, I changed course when an opportunity arose to help create a non-profit focused on bringing business and education together to better prepare students for 21st Century jobs. I’ve been invested in working with public-private partnerships to better the lives of young people for over 25 years. I joined NAF in 2010 and am honored to work with amazing people committed to helping students realize their full potential and helping employers find diverse, qualified talent.
Although I was accepted to the Wharton School at UPenn, I really had no clear idea of what I wanted to do after I graduated. My business courses were my least favorite so I transferred into liberal arts and got a BA in Political Science. Ironically, my first job was with a bank in a commercial lending officer training program. When I wanted to change from financial services into something more creative, I did informational interviews with senior level executives to find out how to make the transition and landed in Citibank’s marketing department. Later, when I wanted to switch to not-for-profit, I talked with non-profit leaders to ask their advice on which area to pursue in the industry. I was coached to try and find a job in corporate fundraising and found my first non-profit position as Director of Corporate Relations at Citymeals-on-Wheels. I became deeply connected to the plight of the homebound elderly recognizing that their lives literally depended on the service we provided. Now hooked on mission-driven work, I decided to follow my heart and work for Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC helping underprivileged children succeed in life. I joined Memorial Sloan-Kettering where my mother had been treated for cancer, and from there went to The Rogosin Institute, where I raised funds for a new model of healthcare focused on preventing chronic disease in high need communities. My mother was my inspiration for transitioning to not-for-profit and for coming to NAF. For over 20 years, she worked in a low/middle income school and always talked about trying to get “her kids” into college despite the many obstacles they faced. In joining NAF, I feel as though I am carrying on her legacy.
Since high school my passion has always been to work with kids. At one point I wanted a career in the juvenile justice system working with at-risk juveniles and went to work in the Criminal Records Division for Los Angeles County Superior Court. This is where my administrative career began and also took a detour. Working full-time and going to school part-time for business administration, I left Superior Court to pursue opportunities working as an administrative assistant for business management firms in the entertainment industry until I relocated to Northern California. Living in the Silicon Valley, I continued my career as an administrative assistant and then an executive assistant to the Chairman and CEO for various high-tech and startup companies in the semiconductor industry. I was honored when I received an opportunity to join NAF in 2008 as the Executive Assistant to the President. I have been with NAF since 2007 and continue to be impressed and inspired by the students.
As a little girl, I dreamed of becoming a teacher, then a principal – in fact, I liked to play school, but always wanted to be the principal! Coming from a poor family of eight children, college seemed an impossible dream. In fact, my high school counselor told me I wasn’t “college material” even though I had a high grade point average! I set out to prove him wrong. I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree and became an art teacher. Next, I completed a Master’s in Education Administration and became a principal. Then, I completed an Ed.D in Educational Leadership. During my tenure in K-12 education I worked at all levels, and always in schools with a high “at-risk” population. After 16 years as a principal, I was selected to develop an Early College program for a community college. This exciting work led me to NAF. I joined NAF in 2014 as an Academy Development Manager for Region 3.
I graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Education. After graduation and being bitten by the political bug, I moved to Washington, D.C. and began my career at The White House where I held many positions, including working for First Lady, Laura Bush. While in Washington, I had opportunities to work on the G8 Summit, Republican National Convention in New York City, Bush-Cheney 2004 Campaign, Presidential Inauguration, and US Department of Health and Human Services. In 2007, I moved to New York City worked at UBS and Avista Capital Partners. After 7 years in the financial industry, I was ready for a change and wanted to pursue my passion in finding a purpose driven career. I joined NAF in 2014 as the Corporate Engagement Manager which allows me to combine my education and experience to bring partnerships of the highest level to the NAF Network!
I went through my undergrad years pretty directionless. I graduated with a Liberal Arts degree, concentration in Literature, because that’s where most of my credits happened to fall. I remember going to my college’s Career Services office in the last few months of my senior year, having had no such resource back in high school, looking for guidance as I’d only held temporary summer and campus jobs up until that point. I was given another student’s resume and told to copy the format because it was laid out well…and that was it! The sum total of career readiness direction I received before entering the post-collegiate world.
I spent my early 20s bouncing from one job to the next, working everywhere from a brewery to a publishing house to a city government agency. My luckiest break came in 2003, when I contacted a former colleague at a non-profit youth services organization to ask if I could use her as a job reference. She invited me to interview for an entry-level HR position. I got the job—and finally found something that resonated with me. I stayed for 14 years, advancing to lead their HR department and earning a Certificate in HR Management from NYU School of Continuing & Professional Studies; a Masters in Industrial and Labor Relations from Baruch College; a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and the Society for Human Resource Management’s Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) certifications.
My own winding path to my career makes me appreciate NAF’s mission all the more. Particularly as an HR professional, I can appreciate that giving students the tools and support they need to be Future Ready is a win-win.
I was a little girl from South Carolina with big dreams and an adventurous spirit. Future Teachers of America, Debate Club, French Club, Marching Band and the Math Club were all indicative of my future endeavors. I graduated high school wanting to be a business executive. I obtained a degree in Business Administration, and worked as a Marketing Communications Manager for an international telecommunications company. With a shift in the economy, I pursued a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education with a focus on business education and mathematics. This led to a series of opportunities to shape the minds of young people as an award winning teacher, building level administrator, district level administrator and most recently President Elect for Business Teachers Association of New York State. I have had the pleasure of working for the largest school district in the US where I was responsible for aligning operating policies and procedures to federal legislation, state grant funds and NYSED policies. Through NAF, I am dedicated to engaging and empowering all students through STEM education.
I was attending Appalachian State University majoring in Business Administration focusing on banking and finance when I realized that I wanted to work with young people and have a positive impact on the next generation. After college, I was able to use my degree and interest in helping young people by becoming a high school business and marketing teacher. During my time as a teacher, I led a NAF Academy of Hospitality & Tourism. After completing a Master’s Degree in School Administration from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, I took the NAF educational design to the next level in my district, becoming an Academy Coordinator and overseeing the opening of five additional academies in three years. I joined NAF in 2015 because I believe in NAF’s mission and am excited to see the impact our network is going to have in preparing students across the country to be future ready.
I was born in India where the education system was all about exams. As a child, I lived briefly in Baghdad where I attended an international school before moving back to India. In my teenage years, my family moved to Amsterdam where I studied in the IB system, and realized the importance of a really good education. I moved to the United States in 1999 and decided to go to the University of Rochester, New York, to double major in Computer Science and Economics, where I developed my passion for building online tools. Shortly after I graduated, I joined NAF in New York City. During my time here, I have helped develop multiple online systems including data tracking systems and databases to better serve our network and our staff. Through these systems, NAF has been able to track the growth, success and challenges of its network to better provide support to academies, as well as develop proof points to support NAF’s continued success.
Growing up in Brooklyn, my career aspirations ranged from baseball player to doctor to lawyer. My dad was an Accountant and while in high school, I took a few accounting courses which came naturally to me. When it came time to choose a major at Brooklyn College, “lottery winner” was not an option, so I went with accounting. I started my career in public accounting in a medium size firm and then moved on to a “Big 8” firm. I tried my hand on Wall Street as a bank auditor and then in investment banking. After two years of all too frequently watching the sun come up from my office window, I finally found the non-profit world as a way to utilize my skills to make a difference in peoples’ lives while maintaining the work-life balance. After 9 years as CFO for cultural institution in Chelsea, I joined NAF in 2009 and it was the best career move I have ever made.
As the daughter of Cuban immigrants, my life has been filled with many “firsts”. First generation American (who didn’t learn English until I started school); first in my family to graduate from high school…then college…then on through two more degrees. I grew up in Miami, enrolled in the very public school system from which I would eventually retire as an Assistant Superintendent after a 30 year career. Along the way I had mentors who provided guidance at key life-junctures, including the high school counselor who convinced me I was college material, then helped me attain a scholarship, the administrator who insisted I did have leadership potential and promoted me to my first supervisory position, and the superintendent who charged me with leading the district’s secondary school reform effort. I joined NAF in 2013 because I believe in our mission that preparing young people for future success should not rely on a serendipitous route such as mine, but be purposefully guided.
As a teenager, I was interested in pursuing a career in the arts or working in education. In high school, I helped run a fundraising group called Schools for Kabul that raised money to support girls’ education programs in Afghanistan. After high school, I studied International Studies and Studio Art at Kenyon College. Throughout college, I worked at the Gund art gallery on campus and volunteered at the local elementary school. I sought out opportunities to work for arts or education organizations during the summers to gain exposure and experience in the nonprofit world. I interned for Groundswell Community Mural Project, a nonprofit that brings together artists, youth, and community organizations to beautify neighborhoods in New York. This experience piqued my interest in alternative education programs and youth development. During my senior year in college, I was inspired by two professors to apply to City Year, an Americorps program. I accepted a City Year position as English Language Interventionist at Samuel J. Green charter school in New Orleans, and my passion for working in education grew stronger. I also managed two afterschool programs: Youth Run NOLA and Girls On The Run, which created opportunities for my students to gain self-awareness and leadership skills outside of the classroom. When my year of service ended, I joined NAF. I am truly passionate about the work being done at NAF and am thrilled to be part of the team.
I once heard someone say “if you allow yourself to get close to the urgency, the urgency will change you”. My personal background has placed me in the center of that urgency all my life. The youngest of nine siblings, yet the first to attend college, I saw a great deal of untapped potential in my personal environment. I was fortunate enough to have teachers who saw my potential and provided opportunities that lead me to obtain a degree in Chemical Engineering UT, Knoxville. My early career was with Procter & Gamble, where I worked for almost a decade. I left to found a non-profit for youth in a high-needs community in Cincinnati. My contributions opened doors at KnowledgeWorks where I engaged communities in the small schools movement; at Strive, where I helped to develop the cradle to career collect impact framework, and now at NAF, where I have the privilege of providing opportunities to youth to help them realize their potential.
After graduating from Tufts University, with a degree in Sociology, I moved to New York and began my career working as an event planner, mainly planning for non-profits. After working in events for five plus years, adding weddings and parties to the mix, I realized that my passion was in helping non-profits successfully deliver on their missions. Having only worked with Development departments of my nonprofit clients, I returned to school to expand my knowledge of nonprofit work and earned an MPA in Public and Nonprofit Management & Policy from Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU. I came to NAF as a temporary employee working with the Institutional Advancement team before moving to the Communications Department. When a position became available that enabled me to work with all departments within NAF, I was thrilled. My past experiences with various departments within NAF provided me with the background that has been invaluable to my current role.
I knew early on that I wanted to be a teacher, but entered college with plans to become a pharmacist after being told by my high school counselors, “You can do so much more than teach!” Pursuing a liberal arts degree in Biology, I worked with young people in summer camps, prepared science labs for my department, and conducted research. I realized that I was meant to be a teacher and added a teaching credential to my B.S. degree. I taught high school and college science classes for many years before transitioning to various leadership positions in education at the district level, in government, and in the non-profit community supporting STEM education with Communities Foundation of Texas. Along the way, I obtained additional credentials, including a Master’s Degree in Molecular Biology, a Specialist’s degree in Education Leadership, and a Doctoral degree in Education. I guess, in a way, my high school counselors were right. As a teacher, I would indeed do so much more than teach!
Unsure of what I wanted to be when I grew up, I decided to study something I thought would valuable in any career, landing on business and marketing at Sacramento State (California State University-Sacramento). During college, I held administrative roles in Public Relations before shifting to a role in the education field, working for LEED (Linking Education and Economic Development). Over the next few years, I continued to explore my interest in effective communications between business and education. Before joining NAF, I worked for the San Francisco Unified School District supporting career and technical education programs, including NAF academies to help bring the business and education worlds together through work-based learning and business engagement in their future employee pipeline. I also consulted organizations creating employer manuals and state-level work-based learning plans and implementation toolkits. I continue this work today as a member of the corporate engagement & relations team.
When asked in high school about my career aspirations, I would say that I wanted to be a social worker, though I had a limited notion as to what that entailed. In my first year at the University of Alabama – Birmingham, I was still contemplating social work when I took my first sociology course. My professor instantly garnered my interest, and I thought I had finally figured it out– I wanted to be a professor of sociology. As an undergraduate, I worked as a Research Assistant for my university’s Sociology Department, reinforcing my interest in the field. I interned on the successful reelection campaign of Congresswoman Terri Sewell and for the Alabama Association of Nonprofits, training local nonprofits in best practices. After college, I worked at the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) on a fellowship program that supports graduate student fellows as they matriculate through PhD programs. This experience gave me an inside look at the process for earning a PhD and becoming a professor, along with the realization that this career path wasn’t for me after all.
What I liked about my work at SSRC was the opportunity to encourage and witness our fellows’ progress and subsequent scholarly work. This interest in supporting the educational advancement of students is what drew me to NAF, and I’m excited to be working for a cause that I’m passionate about.
At age four, I started dragging a small suitcase full of books all around the house while telling everyone that I was going to school. My mother was a teacher; so, I wanted to be a teacher too. I have always enjoyed school but as a struggling reader, I had to study long and hard to get good grades. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica and started teaching science after graduation. When I moved to Florida, the education system did not recognize my bachelor degree and I had to attain a Bachelor of Arts at Florida International University in order to obtain teacher certification. I continued to teach in parochial and private schools until I earned my Master in Science Education credentials. In the public school system, I have been a teacher, principal, and district administrator. With encouragement from my mentor and boss, I completed a Doctorate in Instructional Leadership at Nova Southeastern University. After 42 years in education, I am excited to be a part of the NAF team as we prepare high school students to Be Future Ready!
I went to American University and studied areas that interested me without a very clear view of how they would lead to a career. I started out as Russian major after learning the language in high school and doing a home stay there. Pretty early on, I decided to change my major and ended up earning B.S. in Computer Science. While I was in college, I had a work study job with a center within the university that brought together UN agencies, NGOs and government officials around a wide range of international development issues. From that experience, I decided to focus my career in the nonprofit sector and dedicate my energies to making the world more of the place I want it to be. I worked at Girls Inc. for nine years and learned so much about fundraising, strategy development, and nonprofit management. I joined NAF in 2006 and have been lucky to play many different roles as the organization continually grows its impact and ambitions.
In high school I purchased my first car, a 1969 Plymouth roadrunner bright orange with a 383 V8. This fueled my love for doing hands-on activities. As I worked on my car, I thought that being a mechanic was in my future. I also loved to cook and studied Culinary Arts in high school, running a student run restaurant on campus. I was also high involved in Future Farmers of America and competed in public speaking. Upon high school graduation I had two scholarship offers, one to study to be a chef, the other to be a teacher. I took the teacher scholarship and graduated from of the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s in Agricultural Education in 1986 and a Master’s of Science in 1991. I worked as an agricultural educator, construction trades instructor and engineering instructor in the Peoria Unified School district in Arizona for 30 years before joining NAF in 2013, where I continue to support the growth of young people.
I’m lucky to be the daughter of two teachers. From an early age, I knew education was going to be my golden ticket to the life that I wanted. When I started college at Suffolk University in Boston, I was undecided on my major. I decided to follow my heart and major in English, a creative and versatile degree that would give me the freedom to choose my own path.
At my first internship, I got a taste for journalism at The Boston Globe as a sports correspondent. While a fun and invaluable experience, I quickly discovered I should leave the sports corresponding to those who actually knew a thing or two about sports. I learned a lot about myself and the type of profession I wanted from that first experience and for my next internship, I experimented in the world of digital marketing as a social media intern. I really enjoyed using my tech skills and being creative on the job.
While on the job hunt, I waitressed at countless restaurants to pay for my education before landing a job at Perkins School for the Blind as a Web Content and Social Media Coordinator. At Perkins, I quickly fell in love with nonprofit work and the opportunity to serve students, especially those who are underserved. When I decided to fulfill my life-long dream of moving to New York City, I knew NAF was the perfect place for me.
I wanted to be a dentist, but I became an educator. No regrets, this decision enabled me to have a career in public education that spanned more than a quarter of a century. I was a teacher and an administrator at both the elementary and secondary levels. I also taught post-secondary courses. I did veer from education in graduate school by enrolling into a liberal arts program where I received a Master’s degree in Speech Communications. Mid-way into the process, I was presented with two offers: 1) a teaching fellowship at Penn State and 2) a teaching position in a public school system; I accepted the paid salary of $6,000. Throughout the years, I completed my MA and Ed.D degrees and retired from public education. I opened an LLC and found myself working part-time with NAF academies. In 2010, I joined NAF and have the privilege of being a Managing Director for Network Engagement.
I graduated from William Paterson University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications. I originally planned to study broadcast journalism, but ultimately decided to concentrate my studies on interpersonal communications. This change in focus led me to my first job in the human resources department of a large financial institution, Bankers Trust. I spent eight years in the finance industry before making the difficult decision to leave the workforce to focus on raising my three young children. After eight years at home, I was excited for the opportunity to join NAF in 2010 — a new commitment for me, supporting both education and the future of underserved children. Since 2010 I’ve been fortunate to support academies in many capacities, including those new to NAF. I am thrilled to collaborate with academies across the network to ensure our students are future ready.
Growing up in a family of educators, the importance of learning and having a unique skillset was engrained in me. I attended NC State University, earned my degree, and began my career in the business industry. After one year, I decided to enter graduate school and pursue a Master’s degree in Counseling & Development, realizing I had a desire to teach, nurture, and inspire students. I earned my graduate degree from Winthrop University and was offered a position as a high school counselor at a NAF academy. My best moments there were building meaningful relationships with my students and helping them discover their own passions. From the experience as an academy counselor, I witnessed firsthand the impact that a rigorous, relevant curriculum, career exploration, work-based learning, and college preparation had on our students’ lives. The NAF academy gave them the resources they needed to find, plan, and pursue their career dreams. Viewing the NAF experience through the students’ eyes inspired me daily. I am pleased to be a part of the NAF team and have the opportunity to make the difference across our network, as we prepare students for the future!
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an entrepreneur, passionate about how people can use technology to do good in the world. In high school, I taught myself to write software and worked my way into a job at Microsoft. I then went on to Dartmouth College, where I majored in Computer Science & Psychology and led an after school mentoring program for middle school students. After college, I co-founded a nonprofit called Common Impact which brought together businesses and nonprofits on pro bono marketing, technology, and finance projects. And most recently, I led the innovation team at Health Leads, where I developed a revolutionary electronic health record for social needs and led strategy, ideation, design, prototyping, and go-to-market efforts for new products. I’m excited to lead technology and innovation efforts at NAF that will help deepen its impact and harness the power of personalized learning for NAF’s students.
When I was nine years old, I would ask my parents to take me to Costco so that I could purchase candy to resell at school. As I marked up the prices to generate a profit, I didn’t realize that I was embarking on a journey of business. At 18, I enrolled at FIU to major in business, but after almost failing Microeconomics, I changed my major to Communications. It was then that life afforded me the opportunity of interning at Estefan Enterprises, FJ560, and Ocean Drive Magazine and I fell in love with Marketing. The internships exposed me to careers in the entertainment, fashion retail, and magazine publishing industries. Upon graduation, I couldn’t find work in entertainment, so I accepted a position at Chase. I quickly realized how much I still loved business and finance and returned to college to obtain my MBA at the University of Miami. I still didn’t feel content and left Chase to work at South Florida Educational Federal Credit Union (SFEFCU) where I was able to merge my love for finance and experience in marketing to develop products and services for the new Gen-Y market.
My involvement with NAF began in 2007 when I began my tenure as an Advisory Board Member for Miami’s Academy of Finance. At SFEFCU, I developed a financial literacy program and work-based learning opportunities for thousands of students. I have mentored and hired over 200 interns and pioneered the opening of 13 student-run high school credit union branches with 100 students across Miami-Dade. I have seen firsthand the results of NAF’s educational design through my former interns, who now as working professionals pay it forward by hiring interns of their own.
I double majored in Family and Consumer Science and Business Management at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA where I also received my Master’s in education. I taught Family and Consumer Science, which included NAF academy courses, at a high school in the Seattle from 2010-2015. My favorite part of teaching was building relationships with my students and witnessing how the relationships impacted their desire to learn content in my courses. The NAF curriculum, business partners, and cross-cultural projects challenged my previous perspective about teaching and prompted me to begin a doctoral program in Educational and Transformative Leadership at Concordia University. As a teacher, I was able to witness how NAF positively affected students in academic and career success in ways I could not have imagined.
I started as a Finance major at Oklahoma State University, ended up with a Clothing, Textiles & Merchandising degree. Discovering retail wasn’t for me, I returned to college and got my Master’s degree and teacher’s certificate in Family and Consumer Sciences. Finally, after several years, I was in the right spot, doing something I loved.
I wasted a lot of money and time chasing careers I was not cut out for. What I lacked throughout my education was career guidance. Not one person tried to help me match that with career possibilities with my interests. I finally became a teacher at the age of 32 with a clear mission: To help students find their way. And as a CTE teacher in Oklahoma, that’s just what I did. When I found out our school was going to become a career academy, I loved the idea: an even BETTER way to help kids find their way. I became the site coordinator, gathered up a team and launched the health sciences academy at my high school.
By 2014, the Oklahoma City Public School District had 10 open academies and decided they needed someone at the district level to provide support and equity among all schools. So I jumped – what a great way to help MORE kids find their way. We launched two more academies as well as a district advisory board.
I am thrilled to be a part the NAF family to provide support and tools to help academies achieve their goals and to help their students find their way to the perfect match.
Athletics have always been a huge part of my life, so becoming a teacher/coach when I graduated from Fresno State was a natural transition. After coaching football for 17 years, with a slight detour in elementary education and receiving my Masters in Education Administration, I became an administrator in 1990 in the Porterville Unified School District, which provided me with a range of experiences and exposure to leadership methods and styles directed at meeting the educational needs of disadvantaged students. I returned to PUSD in 2004 as Principal of Strathmore High School and began my journey in the development of career-themed academies. I was fortunate to be involved in the development of Harmony Magnet Academy, one of the NAF’s first 13 Academies of Engineering. I retired from PUSD in 2010 and came to NAF to lead the regional team pilot in California. I joined NAF in 2010 and look forward to meeting the upcoming challenges of our ever-growing network.
After graduating from high school, I worked as a Mail Room Clerk for a financial bank. My responsibilities ranged from handling incoming, inter-office, and outgoing mail to maintaining mailroom equipment, postage, and related supplies, and managing the maintenance of general office equipment and inventory. As my time with the bank progressed, additional responsibilities came under my task list, including reception and record keeping duties. I came on to NAF as a temp in April of 2014 before joining full-time in September 2015 where I apply these skills to the nonprofit world as an Operations Associate. This position maximizes operating efficiency by providing the highest level of customer service and identifying and implementing process improvements that result in a more productive and cost effective work environment.
I grew up on a farm in Kansas and spent most of my youth playing various sports. I received a scholarship to throw javelin at Kansas State University and my high school career ambition was to own a gym. During college, my interests shifted and I was most captivated by my psychology courses. I changed my major to elementary education and intended to become a school counselor. After graduation, I worked as a paraprofessional in a special needs classroom and taught third grade before seeking additional education. I went on to earn a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology and a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology, both from Wichita State University in Kansas. Along the way I also gained experience teaching undergraduate psychology courses for WSU. Prior to joining NAF, I was employed by the largest school district in Kansas, Wichita Public Schools, where I spent 14 years conducting research, analyzing data, and engaging in evaluation and performance management at the district level. I’m honored to be a part of NAF’s mission to help young people attain successful futures.
I finished degrees in Health Education and Psychology completing an internship with emotionally disturbed children and after graduation, worked as a psychiatric hospital therapist. I later returned to school to study Early Childhood Education, working in the field for a number of years and then in parent education. My work with teenage parenting inspired me to return to pursue a Master’s Degree in Planning and Public Policy. I was fortunate to land a paid internship with the State Commission on Children and Families in Oregon, where I was then hired full-time. From there, I accepted a position as a teacher of Health Education and Family and Consumer Sciences and Director of district Teen Parent Programs and Early Childhood Education. After five years I returned to the university to get my principals license completing an internship at a High School, then became an assistant principal for 2 years, then a district substitute principal for 4 years. With pleasure I joined NAF in 2006.
Being the first to graduate from college in my family, education was not a typical topic around the dinner table. Discovering what you liked to do and determining what you were good at was. I was good at ‘school’ so my high school counselor advised me to go to college. I attended Abilene Christian University in Texas, and majored in Political Science, where I had the vague idea to become an attorney. While attending law school in California, I realized the classroom observations and teacher job shadows that I participated in, while taking a few undergraduate elective education courses, were all pointing me to what I enjoyed and was good at – teaching. After 15 years of classroom experience, I decided to pursue the pathway of becoming an administrator. I wanted to support students in finding their career goals, based on their passions and interests. I completed my Master of Arts in Educational Leadership at California State University, Fresno with the support of mentors and colleagues. I was introduced to NAF as a partner, in supporting college and career pathway development, during my times as a District Administrator for Fresno Unified School District. Today, I am excited to be a part of the NAF team that supports districts, corporate, and civic partners in providing students with the opportunities to find out what they like to do and what they are good at!
Teaching was the first profession I remember wanting to pursue, however, my high school chemistry teacher inspired me to take a different path. With the intention of going to pharmacy school, I declared my major in chemistry at San Diego State University. By my senior year in college, I had started working in a research lab and all dreams of pharmacy school faded away. Not feeling fully prepared to enter the workforce, I applied to graduate school to get more hands-on experience in the lab. Graduate school also exposed me to teaching, as I worked through graduate school as a teaching assistant. After graduation I became a senior research associate for a small biotechnology company exploring the synthesis of small molecules, formulating synthetic processes for replication, and documenting data for future use. At night, I taught chemistry part-time, which later evolved into a full-time job as an adjunct professor at multiple community colleges. As an educator, I seek to instill students with practical and useful skills they can apply in the workforce. My position at NAF enables me to merge my background in science, education, and passion for student success to help better prepare students for their college and career goals.
Growing up, I understood that creative people “do art.” What I didn’t know then was that the creative challenges that engaged me the most had little to do with my own self-expression. Through funding from the National Corporation for Communities and Service, I became an AmeriCorps Member in my early twenties, realizing a passion not for storytelling or painting, but for improving our shared experience. How might creative approaches within all of our learning institutions play out to the benefit of future generations? Professionally, I became an educator, a technologist, and a champion for social impact.
I’m a specialist in digital age learning with broad experience in the design of programs and research to explore new solutions to education’s seemingly intractable problems. My experience is shaped by previous roles as an educator, trainer, and specialist in project learning and youth development. I’ve served as an advisor to corporate and federal foundations, led teams working to catalyze national change in education, and have loved mentoring young professionals in the social impact sector.
I hold a Master’s degree from NYU’s Digital Media Design for Learning program and a B.S. in Cinema and Photography from Ithaca College. I co-founded Emoti-Con, the NYC Youth Digital Media and Technology Festival and, in 2012, was named a National School Boards Association “20-to-Watch” among national leaders in education and technology. I served as the first Practitioner Fellow at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Youth Studies Program, and currently produce No Such Thing, a podcast about learning in the digital age. Above all, I’m a learner, like you.
I have been fortunate to have a rich and rewarding career. My post-secondary education was at High Point University where I acquired some skills that have served me well. That is, I learned to think, analyze, write and develop a capacity to continue to learn. I worked in a number of different Department of Labor programs until I found my real passion, which is for youth — particularly those most vulnerable. Every job was a learning experience. After leaving DOL, I was able to continue to work on youth issues in the non-profit sector focusing on workforce preparedness. At NAF, I have been able to continue much of the work that I valued during my Department of Labor career, which was the School to Work Initiative, jointly administered by the Departments of Education and Labor. I certainly never would have expected when I got out of college that I would follow this career path, but I am glad I did.
Like many kids growing up with Boston sports, I wanted to be a sportswriter. I went to Tufts University and majored in English and History with that in mind. Thanks to the connections I made at a summer journalism program, I had the opportunity to work in the Boston Globe’s Sports department starting my freshman year of college and I continued to work there through college and after graduation. During my senior year at Tufts, I worked for Jumpstart, an early education organization that recruits and trains local college students to work with preschool children in low-income neighborhoods. My time as a Jumpstart corps member sparked an enthusiasm for the education field. I moved to New York knowing how many opportunities there were in the education field in the city, and was lucky enough to discover NAF.
I’ve lived in NYC my whole life, growing up in the East Village. I initially became interested in programming in high school when I took a game development class – a hobby which has stayed with me to this day. I attended the NYU Tandon School of Engineering in Brooklyn majoring in Computer Science. During college, I interned for Pentagram Design building email templates. I learned everything I know on the job, spending most of my first few months on Google. Learning practical skills at Pentagram while simultaneously getting a classical computer science education gave me an interesting perspective, and I was fortunate enough to continue working there as a contractor until my graduation. I then spent some time contracting for another design firm before moving on to a full-time position at a startup involved in the competitive e-sports industry. After six months there, I decided I needed a change in pace, leading me to explore opportunities at more socially aware institutions. I’m excited and honored to be working for NAF, and I hope to make as much of an impact here as I can.
I became interested in computer science sophomore year of high school when I took it as a free elective. I seemed to have a knack for it since I aced the class. In junior year, I enrolled in AP computer science. I was a competitive swimmer at the time and had qualified for the Junior Olympics, but I blew out my shoulder before I was able to compete. I was still healing and on all sorts of medications when I was back at school taking the AP exam. Amazingly enough, I managed to get a 4 on it. My teacher was impressed and suggested that I stick with computer programming. I took her advice and majored in computer science in college before changing to a newly emerged major: information technology. I was sold me on the fact that I would only need to take up to Calculus 2. I took a slight reprieve for a few months after graduation before entering the workforce. My first job was as an iOS developer at EarthCam. I wound up liking mobile application development and continued to do that at my next two roles at Mediacom and The Learning Experience before joining Brimar Industries where I strictly did server-side programming and a little bit of front-end development. After Brimar, I took about six months off and pursued making holistic, vegan, fluoride free, toothpaste, and really started getting into holistic health remedies before returning to my technical roots and lending my talents to NAF’s mission.
I have always been interested in what makes people the way they are. The complex collection of factors that influence human behavior is something I have always been interested in studying. I grew up near Cleveland, Ohio and my plan in high school was to gain a better understanding of human behavior by studying and teaching history. However, during my senior year I was exposed to my first psychology course and never looked back; from that point forward I knew I wanted to study psychology.
In my pursuit to better understand what makes us who we are, I began to study child development. I gained a new appreciation for the importance of early life experiences and how they influence who we grow up to be. I graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from the Ohio State University in 2010 but wanted to further explore child development by pursuing a postgraduate degree. During graduate school, I worked as a research and teaching assistant at Florida Atlantic University while studying perceptual development in typically developing children. I went on to graduate in 2015 with a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology. Before joining NAF, I worked within the Department of Pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School where I conducted research involving both typically and atypically developing children. During this time, I gained additional teaching experience at the graduate level.
I am honored and thrilled to be a part of NAF and am excited about the important research being conducted. I hope to contribute to NAF’s strong research agenda and help make the current generation of students, and many generations to come, future ready.
After graduating high school in Lima, Peru I worked in the marketing department for Schering Corporation before becoming assistant to the CEO and President at Bristol Myers Corporation. Four years later I decided to continue my education at Universidad del Pacifico in Lima majoring in Administration. During that time I had the opportunity to study abroad at Cornell University. After graduating, I moved to California and worked for the California Interscholastic Federation State Office, the governing body of high school athletics for the state of California. This was my first time working for a non-profit organization, and during these very rewarding 15 years at CIF I developed a passion for the education field. In 2011, I joined NAF as the Network Liaison for the Western Region providing customer service and support on our data systems to our academies. Working for NAF fulfills my passion for helping students achieve educational success.
Although I majored in Political Science and minored in Entrepreneurship in college, what prepared me the most for the beginning of my career was my extracurricular activities. At the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL, I served as President of an ethics debate team and Recruitment & Marketing Vice President for my sorority, Alpha Delta Pi. After graduating magna cum laude, I interned at Global Poverty Project and worked as a Leadership Consultant for Alpha Delta Pi, facilitating leadership training and developing strategic recruitment & marketing plans at colleges across the country. I am proud to be a road warrior and cherish the memories of carrying my entire life in three suitcases for a year while I explored different cities. I eventually returned to my hometown of New York City to pursue my passion for marketing! Every day at NAF is an opportunity to increase brand awareness for a great organization, help companies find the talent they need to succeed, and support students on their path to being future ready! I now live in the great state of New Hampshire. Outside of work, I volunteer as the northeast region Philanthropy Director for Alpha Delta Pi Foundation, overseeing the fundraising efforts of 25 collegiate chapters.
I was raised in England by American parents who were academics and educators. They modeled to me the importance of travel, education, and building friendships across the globe. My early career musings were simple — I wanted to help others and I wanted to travel. For my undergraduate studies, I attended Seattle Pacific University and majored in Theology and Sociology. During this time, I spent two summers working at an ecumenical monastery in France (Taizé) where my roommates hailed from India, Uganda, Rwanda, Brazil, and the Philippines. My life was forever changed by their stories of poverty, loss, inequality, as well as hope. Through meeting people who had lived a different reality than mine, my classroom learning was translated into real life. After graduation, I moved to Belize, Central America and taught night school at an adult literacy program leading me to later pursue an MA in Development Studies in The Hague, Netherlands. My career thus far has included university study abroad programming, academic success coaching, community advocacy, and a detour at a tech startup to learn project and portfolio management. Now I am merging my experience with my desire to create opportunities and positive change for underserved students through facilitating high school internships with NAF.
My parents grew up during the Depression era. Being their youngest child and having two older siblings, I learned early on the importance of a good education, a strong work ethic, and creating an affordable path towards success (aka a bright future). My high school business teacher helped guide me with charting my course, although it took many twists and turns along the way. After high school and then business school in Connecticut, I set my sights on a Fortune Global 500 path. First a job at Allstate, which was a great environment to learn and be challenged. When IBM called, I earnestly pursued opportunities to succeed through staff, management, and leadership roles in business operations, sales support, marketing operations, and client satisfaction programs. When IBM sold its global PC business unit to Lenovo, I suddenly found myself with a new employer. At Lenovo, I created the strategy and built the community relations and employee engagement segment for the company’s North America business. In many ways, my roles at Lenovo helped bring me back to my roots. I was able to merge my dedication to helping underserved youth in vulnerable communities dream big and reach for the sky with my passion for building and nurturing relationships and partnerships for maximum mutual benefit. I am honored to continue my professional journey at NAF, helping connect students with employers while empowering and inspiring students to chart their path to Be Future Ready!
As a teenager, I was captivated by computers and focused my ambitions on a career in programming. After obtaining my Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from St. John’s University in Queens NY, I embarked on what was to be an exciting career, that would always keep me learning, in the -dynamic telecommunications/data networking field with Bell Labs/AT&T, and then subsequently with Juniper Networks. The corporate world opened my eyes to the many roles beyond programming and offered generous opportunities to contribute and to grow both individually and in general business operations. I had a multitude of opportunities to learn about new technologies and business practices/processes. I was privileged to be able to travel around the globe and learn about new cultures and collaborate with colleagues, partners, and customers in various assignments with alliance development and management, solutions marketing, and technical sales development/support. My most exciting – and rewarding – career assignment came with founding and leading Juniper’s innovation center, OpenLab. The innovation center’s mission was not only centered on incubating new networking solutions and delivering skills transformation programs, but also on being engaged with the local community. It is through OpenLab that I was introduced to NAF and assumed a champion role for the organization within Juniper and took on a variety of initiatives, including leading a broad array of mentoring engagements for NAF students in the NYC area over 6+ years. Those wonderful win-win interactions with the students were exceptionally rewarding to me in providing for the opportunity to give back. It is those student interactions that fueled my desire to join the NAF Team.
Graduating from Seekonk High School in Massachusetts, it was always my dream to come to NYC to study and establish a career, although as a freshman I believed that the career would be in law. I applied to St. John’s seeking a degree in Pre-Law. But as I began to establish myself, I realized my creativity and care for others is what would ultimately land me in a place where I could excel, so I explored my options.
As a recent graduate of St. John’s University, I attained a degree in Communications while working part-time at T.G.I Friday’s. In addition, I held internships during the school year with Coburn Communications, The Baddish Group, a Public Relations firm and finally with Effie’s Paper as their Social Media Intern. I also had a healthy amount of extracurricular activities where I held chairs on executive boards, volunteering my time and creativity to the American Cancer Society – Relay For Life at St. John’s as first their Social Media Co-Chair and then their Publicity Chair. Global Goals at St. John’s was another great group with which I spent time educating my peers to the seventeen goals the United Nations wanted to eradicate by the end of 2030, such as gender equality, quality education, climate action, and more. We also completed community service projects around these goals to better our community.
From what I was interested in college, I should have known from a young age that I would be at my happiest working in non-profit, with people who genuinely want to see other humans, especially high school students succeed.
I attended the University of Notre Dame and New York University, where I received degrees in English and Journalism respectively, before transitioning from a career as a music critic and magazine editor to one in web development. After a short time, as web developer and technology coordinator for an educational collaborative, I worked as an intranet developer for a tech company outside of Boston. Additionally, I developed sites for writers, actors, artists, and comedians in Los Angeles. I had always wanted to return to New York and decided I wanted to work for an organization that was contributing some good to our increasingly troubled world. As the son of a second-grade teacher and as someone who has helped raise a child with learning disabilities, I’ve always valued education and have always had a great admiration for educators. I am honored to join the Information Technology team at NAF!
I knew in 7th grade that I would be a high school teacher, but my dad wasn’t happy with that choice; “Teachers don’t make no money”, he said. My mother, a school clerk, opined that I’d probably make a good principal since I spent so much time in the principal’s office. Miss. E, my Latin and English teacher became my mentor. She encouraged my desire to be a teacher and planted the seeds that I would cultivate and nurture into a successful and satisfying career in education. Years later, as a high school teacher, I became a mentor to those students I refer to as “good bad kids”. I spent 35 years in urban high schools, 25 years teaching. My most memorable experience was 33 years teaching ESL, 3 hours a night, 3 nights a week to foreign adults. I took that position at $5.00 an hour to supplement my $4,000 teacher salary. My father was right; teachers didn’t make a lot back then. It was a labor of love for someone who loves teaching.
I grew up in rural Western Massachusetts and my own education experiences at Greenfield Center School and Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Public Charter High School lead to my interest in education. While studying at Eugene Lang: The New School for Liberal Arts as an undergraduate I focused my studies on 19th century American history, specifically early feminism. I also worked as a nanny after class and interned at two schools — one public and one private. I later interned at the New York Historical Society. I learned a lot at my internships, mainly that I didn’t want to be a historian or a classroom teacher. But I would never have known that without the hands-on experience. Following graduation, I worked restaurants and eventually rose to become the general manager of a small Brooklyn-based restaurant group. My experience there taught me many things: patience, empathy, understanding, and the ability to think on my feet (literally and figuratively!) I am excited to be working with NAF!
From a love of creative writing, grew a passion for all things communications. After graduating with honors early from the University of Massachusetts -Amherst with a Bachelor’s of Arts in English and minor in Spanish, I was lucky enough to find my place in the non-profit community early on, beginning with an editorial internship in college with Alcoholics Anonymous before launching my career at a county-wide arts organization working in the communications department. I then joined a communications consulting firm serving many non-profits’ strategic communications’ needs before bringing my expertise in-house at NAF where I have been a leader in growing awareness of a national brand since 2010. I’ve continued to grow in communications and received a Master’s degree in corporate communications from Baruch College in 2016.
As a child, I loved to play school with my friends, but the thought of becoming a teacher did not occur to me until my guidance counselor encouraged me to apply for a teaching scholarship to pay for my college education. I always had an interest in advertising and a visit to North Carolina State University showed me that I could combine these two options into one major: Business and Marketing Education. My passion for education served as the impetus of various degrees (including teaching and school administration) with the goal of serving in the area of educational reform. After 10 years of teaching marketing and opening a NAF Academy of Hospitality & Tourism in my school, I decided to join NAF as an Instructional Manager and am excited to lead NAF’s latest venture as Director of Future Ready Labs.
Frank Rhodes, the former president of Cornell University, so perfectly described teaching as “the cultivation of not only the mind, but also the heart…it is a vocation because it is a calling and not simply a job.” When I ponder on his words, my kindergarten teacher, Ms. Bing-Malecka, comes to mind. Early on, she sparked in me a passion for teaching, and in the fifth and sixth grades, I joined Teachers of Tomorrow and was able to shadow her a few days each week. Because of her and my early immersion in teaching, I have embraced my calling with a big bear-hug!
Before joining NAF, I served as an educator for 25 years in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, during which time I earned a Master’s in Education Technology and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Florida Atlantic University. I worked with NAF and an amazing academy team while at Hialeah Gardens High School, serving as a Language Arts teacher and the Academy Coordinator. When I attended the NAF conference in 2011, my philosophies of future-readiness crystallized.
I have seen firsthand, within our schools’ walls and out in the community, how the collaboration of teachers, administrators, advisory boards, industry leaders, and the NAF staff truly cultivates the minds, hands, and hearts of our future.
My interest in accounting started in high school when I enrolled in the NAF Academy of Finance at Northport High School. After high school, I attended St. John’s University’s Tobin School of Business as an Accountancy major. Being introduced to accounting and other business topics at such a young age set me apart from my peers and gave me a competitive edge. Having gained so much knowledge and experience through my NAF academy experience, I knew I had to give back to this incredible organization. During my sophomore year at St. John’s, I joined the Advisory Board for the Academy of Finance at Northport High School as their Secretary and Alumni Coordinator. Through this experience, I attended several NAF Next conferences, which gave me an inside look at all the incredible things NAF has accomplished. I’m excited to be taking my dedication to this organization and its mission to the next level.
I had a knack for asking questions since I was young. When it came time to choose a college major, I knew that journalism was the correct path for my future. I’d be able to document unique experiences, speak to decision makers, and take a journey through all the disciplines I was interested in, all with just a pen and paper in hand. After graduating from Marist College in 2010 with a degree in Communications and a few internships in media under my belt, I began working in the non-profit practice of a public relations firm with clients such as the Alzheimer’s Association, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, Citymeals-on-Wheels, and the Fortune Society. I was proud to play a part in telling their story and bringing much needed recognition to their efforts and achievements. I am pleased to continue my career in the nonprofit arena and shine a spotlight on NAF’s mission and prestigious work and accomplishments.
In middle school, I decided I was going to become a publicist, Dwyane Wade’s publicist to be exact. I had no idea what the job really entailed, but I knew in the future that’s what I wanted to do. I held on to that dream all throughout high school even though most people thought I wanted to be a “publisher” when I expressed my career aspirations. Through the Posse Foundation, I attended Babson College on a full-tuition scholarship. Out of all the Posse NY partner schools, I chose Babson for two reasons. One, it was one of the closest options. Two, I believed attending a business school would give me a greater chance of getting a job after college. In 2015, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and no job. Although I searched desperately for a job to jump-start my career, I only landed in internships and short-term positions. It wasn’t until two years later that I accepted my first full-time job.
As someone who has had many internships, I know the importance of getting exposure to a career before settling into a career. The internships I landed post-graduation were crucial in showing me what I want from a job and what I could contribute. I may not be D Wade’s publicist, but I’m happy to be helping build awareness for NAF and the great work being done to make students future ready.
During my senior year in high school, I thought I wanted a career in the federal government. After graduation, I began my journey working full-time as an office secretary for U.S. Customs Service. During that time, I attended University of the District of Columbia part-time, taking coursework and switching majors not sure if I wanted to pursue Personnel Management as a profession. Dissatisfied with government life, I wanted to make a career change. So, I quit my government job and during my soul-searching, I worked as record store clerk. During those 3 months, a unique opportunity opened for me there as an Administrative Assistant to General Manager and Record Store Manager. For 3 years, this experience gave me better appreciation for record retail operations while still enjoying the office administration side for one of the most successful brick and mortar stores during its time, Tower Records. After 3 years’ there, I left the retail business to work in the administrative offices for a student hosteling organization in DC. Eventually I decided to move to NYC in 2001, so I packed my bags and continued my journey in the office administration field. My experiences lead me to various great opportunities in the for-profit and non-profit world in the arts, investment consulting, children’s social services before joining NAF, a great organization enhancing college and career readiness of future leaders and entrepreneurs.
I distinctly remember standing at my University orientation when a counselor asked me, “What is your major? What would you like to do for your career?” I already answered her silently in mind: I’m 17 and I don’t have a clue. She said, “you seem to be a people person and very outgoing, how about Mass Communications?” That’s how I landed in the Public Relations track with a Communications Studies minor. I wasn’t entirely in love with either, so I chose to get a Marketing Certificate. I knew the only way to see if I was a good fit within the PR field was to experience it. Two PR internships later, it still didn’t feel completely right. Through my internship at a boutique PR firm I became close with one of their clients who asked me what I really wanted to do. I told her I think I’d like producing events for a great cause. She connected me to her friend who worked at a major event company. I interned there for several months and was connected to their client, Keep a Child Alive (KCA). I went to work at KCA planning their annual gala, the Black Ball. This opportunity led to an expansion of my responsibilities to include community events and working with major donors for over 10 years in support of children and families internationally. I’ve always been passionate about education and when I discovered NAF, I immediately connected with the mission as I personally know how valuable work-based learning can be in a student’s future.
I thought I would be a writer, and I am, just not the kind of writer I imagined. After spending my high school and college years focused on athletics and school, I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in need of some work experience, which I gained through volunteerism. I interned in the public relations office at the Ronald McDonald House in Chapel Hill, the North Carolina Writers Network, and the University of North Carolina Press before coming to New York to pursue a Master’s Degree and work in publishing. Having landed in trade sales instead of editorial, I continued to volunteer to gain experience and pursue work closer to my interests, which led me to grant writing. I liked grant writing, and I liked working in the non-profit, all-hands-on-deck environment. Fast-forward 18 years, and I’m thriving in the very fast-paced institutional advancement department at NAF supporting a cause that I believe in and that gives me to hope for the career prospects of the next generation.
I was an English major in college and was fairly certain that I wanted to be a journalist or a teacher. While attending Trinity College in Hartford, I had an internship with The Hartford Courant. It was everything a good work-based learning experience should be: paid, challenging, and fun. After graduating, I got a job with CBS News – the only problem was that it was in sales! I realized quickly that the television world was not for me and reverted back to the idea of teaching. The school where I hoped to work only had an opening for a Capital Campaign associate. I had no idea what that was, but it turned out to be the first step on my road to having a career I was passionate about. Nearly 20 years later, I am fortunate to have built a career developing resources and strategies for leading non-profits, including NAF, whose students are among the most remarkable young people that I have ever met.
My first experience with the nonprofit and education worlds began at the University of Virginia, my alma mater. My mother was an educator. That combined with my love of literature inspired me to study English Education. While in college, I volunteered in local secondary schools during the year and taught songwriting and fiction in academic camps over two summers. I loved every minute of it, and even though I didn’t pursue teaching as a career, I carried the memories of hard-working English teachers with me to New York City. My career started down a different path with academic and trade publishing, but I continued to volunteer my time through the pro-bono organization Catchafire, copywriting and promoting events for small regional groups. After three years, I decided I wanted to spend my time doing something more meaningful than simply pursuing profit (however wonderful the product was!), and began seeking positions in nonprofits, particularly those in education. I’m thrilled to work with the institutional advancement team at NAF, and love that I can continue to explore effective educational solutions and rally to raise funds for this terrific organization.
I graduated from high school thinking I wanted to be a professional musician, so I majored in music at the University of Central Florida. I spent my days playing music, sports, and pledging a fraternity, but failed to have an academic focus. After 3 semesters of struggle I went to work for Disney World, where for the first time in my life I was given responsibility of other employees. I blossomed in this role and was sent to France to open Euro Disney where I lived and worked for three months. Coming back home, I went back to school graduating with a sociology degree from State University of New York Geneseo. I wanted to pursue a career where I could make a difference in the world, particularly for those who have historically been underserved and denied opportunity. I moved to NYC where I taught high school, then was hired by NAF in 2000 to help launch the Academy of Information Technology.
Throughout my secondary school years, I participated in many activities that offered an opportunity to reach young people. I studied English and Secondary Education at Rowan University and continued my studies there, pursuing a Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration, thinking that I wanted to become a Dean of Student Life. After a few interesting events, I decided to turn my focus back to my first passion — teaching. I spent eight years as a high school English teacher before becoming a curriculum supervisor and completing my Doctorate in educational leadership and innovation. I enjoyed training teachers so much that I became an education consultant for four years. From there, I realized I wanted to have the opportunity to not only work with teachers, but to provide opportunities for corporate employees to work with teachers and students. Working at NAF since 2012 has provided me the opportunity to combine my love of curriculum, training and development to support the NAF Network.
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, and I am the youngest of 4. During my public-school years, I would audition for all the school plays and would always land the lead roles. After graduating from Louis D. Brandeis High School, I went to Long Island University’s CW Post where I majored in Public Relations and took a ton of theater electives. In 2006, I transferred to The City College of New York to be closer to my family and started working at a nonprofit off-Broadway theater as an usher which allowed me the flexibility to take acting classes and attend college full time. After a year and a half of being back home, I became a mom and took some much-needed time away from school and acting classes to focus on working hard to provide for my son. In 2014, I went back to finish school. I switched my major to Theater with a minor in Public Relations. I was in my element during those last two years of college. I learned how to write screenplays and even directed two one-act plays. I graduated in 2016 with my bachelor’s degree. After graduation, I worked on a few shows but quickly realized that I needed something more stable to provide for my son. I knew that a nonprofit organization that focused on youth would be a better fit for me. I joined the Professionals for Nonprofits temp agency in 2017 and was placed in jobs that ranged from charter schools to organizations that provided opportunities to underprivileged kids. Now to have this opportunity to work at NAF, knowing that I am part of a team that is focused on the betterment of students truly brings me joy.
Growing up in an “at-risk” community, school became a haven for me, and I decided early that I wanted to influence young people in the same way. After receiving my undergraduate degree in English Education from LSU, I moved to California, where I earned a Master’s degree in Education from Azusa Pacific University. I spent 22 years in two school districts as classroom teacher, mentor teacher, resource facilitator, assistant and associate principal and finally as a NAF academy principal of an Academy of Health Sciences. In 2014, I was honored to join NAF by working directly to support NAF academies in multiple states across our network.
I always had a passion for social justice and intellectual discovery. When I was 14, I became an educational and social activist in my hometown of Freehold, New Jersey and in my high school, which set the stage for my eventual calling — to inspire young people to reach their full potential. My interest in equity, learning, and personal development grew when I enrolled at Kean University. While at Kean University, I immersed myself in my studies with a focus on social work, group dynamics, and empowerment. I received my BSW in social work with the foresight in knowing this was only the beginning of my educational and social justice journey.
I began my professional work with children at New York City’s premier agency for the advocacy and rights of adolescents at The Door. I later went on to become a faculty member at the prestigious Brooklyn Technical High School where I implemented and developed the school’s counseling program for teens. In 2000, I was recruited by the Boys’ Club of New York, where I developed and implemented the organization’s counseling program for 1,600 disadvantaged males. In February 2011, I became a faculty member of the Brooklyn Academy of Global Finance as the NAF and Work-Based Learning Coordinator, and served as the facilitator for their Advisory Leadership Team.
In 2014, I completed the Momentum Basic and Advanced Workshop and recently completed my Discipleship Ministry Training at the Greater Allen Cathedral, which strengthened my purpose, passion, and dedication to my life’s work. I’ve learned one thing for certain from my life’s accomplishments: the only time I took a detour in life was when I wasn’t in alignment with my divine purpose.
After graduating high school I followed a family tradition spanning 4 generations by joining the United States Army. During my tour I travelled the world working as a Broadcast Journalist for American Forces Network. One day, my co-worker brought his children in to meet me. I let them do some voice-overs for me and they were thrilled. Next thing I knew, other coworkers were bringing their kids in so I decided to start a job shadow program. I knew then that whatever career path I chose, it would have to involve young people. After leaving the Army, I earned my BFA in Communication Arts and found my way to NAF. As the Membership Services Coordinator, I juggle many responsibilities but my most rewarding experiences come from my work with the scholarship and internship programs. This allows me to stay connected with our students and witness first-hand the impact NAF has on their lives.
I was born and raised on a farm in Poland before my family moved to America when I was 15. I came here speaking no English and managed to graduate high school by the age of 17. Growing up, I always wanted to do what my grandfather and father were doing. My father received a technical degree from a trade school and was a structural engineer. Over the summers, he’d bring me to work with him to ensure I remained productive when I wasn’t in school. This helped me to build a strong work ethic and discipline.
I remember the first time I borrowed a computer from a friend. Back then, computers were still new and not everyone had one. From that first time using a computer, I was hooked. I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
I attended Briarcliff College where I majored in Computer Science. I worked throughout college putting together computers. Upon graduation, I landed by first job working in IT for the Polish Slavic Federal Credit Union. For many years, I worked as an IT consultant, serving many clients before joining NAF as Network Administrator.
I had no idea what I wanted to be growing up. You could say I was designed to be a teacher. When I was younger, I loved finding out about things and sharing what I learned with others. As I got older, I knew I was destined to “save the world”. How I was going to do that didn’t become evident until I gained career experience. After being a parks/recreation camp counselor, a dance teacher, a fast food employee, a felony/misdemeanor Trial Clerk, a high school math teacher, and an administrator for career and technical education (CTE), I knew I was called to serve the public. From these career experiences, and from the scholastic earnings of a BS in Business Administration (University of South Florida) and an MS in Management (University of Central Florida), I was able to both apply and challenge the experiential and imparted knowledge. From the schools of academia and life, I learned that I like helping people help themselves. I enjoyed sharing what I knew and facilitating others in accessing the resources they needed to be successful.
While I still don’t know what I want to be, I know I’m supposed to be an example. I’m blessed to be able to learn something new about myself and share my expertise with others along this journey. NAF enables me the opportunity to teach, grow, learn, and build relationships. NAF enables me to exercise my own version of saving the world. I look forward to working with anyone who can help me do it.
After spending my senior year in high school serving as the Business Manager for our high school yearbook, I knew that I wanted to work in accounting. I graduated with a BBA in Accounting from Adelphi University. I started my career in public accounting, working for the largest and most prestigious public accounting firm of the “Big Eight.” After leaving the long hours of public accounting, I worked for several Fortune 50 financial services companies before heading to St. John’s School of Risk Management and Insurance (formerly known as The College of Insurance) to earn my MBA. It was during this time that I was introduced to the non-profit industry and began to apply the accounting skills developed in Corporate America to non-profit organizations. I established my own private accounting practice servicing non-profit organizations and other small businesses.
Once again, public accounting got the best of me so I re-entered the job marketplace landing a position as one of the lead internal auditors for the $2 billion granted to New York for the World Trade Center Disaster Recovery. I have held several roles since re-entering the work force, each providing accounting, auditing, and financial management services to nonprofit organizations within the tri-state area. Prior to joining NAF, I was most recently the Controller of GMHC Inc. and Assistant Vice President of Budgets & Grants for The Fortune Society.
I spent many summer afternoons playing school with my friends, teaching anyone who would endure being lectured to during their highly-anticipated break. This early start grew into a passion for learning and education, leading me to study secondary education with focuses in English and science at Oklahoma Baptist University. After graduation, I taught a variety of high school courses in an urban school setting in Oklahoma City, where many of my students had unique learning needs. Studying two drastically different subjects during college instilled an appreciation for integrated learning in my teaching style and pushed me to consider non-traditional types of instruction to meet the diverse needs of my students. I was introduced to NAF in 2014 when asked to be the director of our school’s Academy of Health Sciences, where I quickly came to enjoy the more focused opportunity to help students with post-secondary preparation. As we dove into cross-curricular instruction, internships, and countless work-based learning experiences, I knew students were truly engaged and making progress toward their future goals. I am excited to be a part of the NAF team, supporting academies as they develop programs focused on ensuring each student is college, career, and future ready.
In high school my vision for the future was vague. Encouraged by my English teacher, I ended up a Print Journalism major at the University of Southern California. This was valuable training, but I felt more creatively engaged by the film classes I took and went on to study screenwriting and producing in graduate school at New York University. While there I landed internships that grew my confidence and prepared me for my first jobs in the entertainment industry. I spent the next few years immersed in theater, publishing, film and television on both Coasts. My love of storytelling drove me, but ultimately I found myself searching for a greater sense of purpose. I’d always been passionate about volunteering in education and youth development and knew I wanted to transition to the nonprofit world. On discovering NAF I identified deeply with its mission, and I’m thrilled to be part of work that empowers so many.