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.
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.
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 young boy growing up in Brooklyn, NY, I had dreams of becoming a professional baseball player and a computer programmer. However, by my sophomore year at the University at Albany (UA), I realized that neither of these occupations was right for me. A volunteer opportunity at a local afterschool youth outreach center working with middle and high school students was the catalyst for my interest in education and serving young people. I earned a bachelor’s degree in information science and policy followed by a master’s degree in the same area of study with a focus on school library media from UA and began my journey as an educator in a non-traditional subject.
From there, I began my journey working to eliminate education and opportunity gaps faced by youth and families in diverse and under-resourced communities. I spent over a decade in K-8 urban public education, where I have served as a school library media specialist, an assistant principal, and a school principal leading one of the top-performing middle schools in Albany. I also co-founded a K-4 elementary school while earning a doctor of education in executive leadership from Saint John Fisher College. These rich experiences have led to leadership positions in state government at the New York State Education Department overseeing the NYS My Brother’s Keeper initiative and at the Department of Labor overseeing programs in workforce development.
I am excited to join the NAF team and have the opportunity to ensure that today’s youth gain transformative experiences that will positively impact their ability to live fulfilled lives in the future.
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.
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.
I grew up in Syracuse, NY with parents who were teachers in the Syracuse City School District (of which I am a proud alum!). I had a lot of ideas of what I wanted to be when I “grew up”, including a jazz singer or a physical therapist, neither of which came to fruition! I graduated from Le Moyne College, a small liberal arts college, with a BA in Sociology, with ideas of going into law, but no concrete sense of where my education and career would take me.
It wasn’t until a couple of years post-college, after moving back to the Syracuse area (with no intentions of staying) that I took a job with a small nonprofit and found my passion in community health. My early professional career started in HIV/AIDS advocacy and research, which led to me going back to get my Master of Public Administration from Syracuse University. My career interests broadened over time to focus on the social determinants of health and organizational strategy, working in a variety of sectors. Fifteen years after receiving my MPA, I then earned an MBA from Syracuse University.
It is my passion to support people, organizations, and communities to reach their fullest potential. I strongly believe the most sustainable solutions come from diverse voices, including those on the ground and in the communities in which we serve. I am excited to be at NAF and to work closely with its partners and students across the country.
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.
I’ve always had a passion for education but never quite knew what that was going to look like. Up until middle school, I always said I would become a teacher. Once I got into high school, that dream changed when I was accepted into the Fashion Retail Marketing magnet program at Thomas Jefferson High School in Tampa, Florida. I was able to build a resume, job shadow in the Fashion industry, mock interview, and complete an internship in retail all by my senior year!
Once I started college at the Art Institute of Tampa, I knew something within Fashion Marketing and Management is what I wanted to pursue. I was able to obtain several internships in retail, host gallery events, and participate in multiple fashion shows. I worked my way up from an associate to manager in various retail corporations, one being Justice – a tween clothing brand for girls, that molded me to have the confidence and work ethic to continue striving for more. After working 10 years in a customer service-driven world, I then landed at a newly built charter high school with a new opportunity to help shape our future leaders, and the privilege to initiate their NAF Academy of Information Technology. Once I realized what amazing opportunities NAF provided students, similar to the ones I had, I knew that this was an organization to which I belonged. Communication and relationship building are skills that I pride myself in and will always implement for the betterment of our students and their futures!
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!
I have loved the arts from a young age, and it led me to pursuing a B.A. in Art History from Boston University. After working in a fine art gallery on Fifth Avenue after graduation, I realized that the art world was not for me. My career really started to take shape while I was booking group tours for the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and I saw the impact that visiting the museum had on students of all ages. I have now held several positions related to education, but I’m not a teacher! I love when my work impacts the lives of students – it is what I am most passionate about, professionally. I have had the pleasure of running a leadership program for high school juniors, organizing career fairs for juniors and seniors, and – most importantly for this role – working with the students at Johnson & Wales University – North Miami and alumni from all of the JWU campuses. I am proud to be joining NAF as Manager, Alumni Engagement after three years of serving as the Advisory Board Chair in Broward County, FL. I have seen firsthand the impact that NAF academies provide, and I am excited to help guide students and alumni to great careers.
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!
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.
As I went through high school, I always had a strong interest in accounting and information systems. I was not sure what direction I wanted to go in, so in my senior year, I worked for a tax preparer. That’s when I knew that I would concentrate on systems as it related to business.
I graduated with a BS in Management Information Systems with a minor in accounting from New York Institute of Technology and started my career in advertising working as a Staff Accountant. I had the opportunity to work with the technology team enhancing the cost accounting system. I had a long stay and was very fortunate to be mentored by my CFO and moved through the ranks to become VP of Finance for both general and digital agency. In 2009, I took a position at an ad-tech company as EVP of Finance. My first project was to take them off Quickbooks and implement a full-scale ERP system (Netsuite). It’s a project to this day I am proud of, as we created workflows and automation that increased communications and efficiencies across departments. In 2014, I made a move away from advertising and served as CFO for a commercial ink manufacturer and distribution company. Most recently, I was the VP of Finance for a structural company in its infancy, where I was responsible for accounting, budgets and capital raises. One of my career goals was to apply my experience across multiple sectors — non-profit being one of them. I came to NAF as a consultant and liked the challenges it presented, especially as it related to systems, and I look forward to working with the accounting team on providing solutions.
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.
I was born in Pakistan and migrated to the United States when I was eleven years old. One of the most challenging obstacles I experienced in school was not being able to communicate in English; however, I did not let this deter me from succeeding in my classes due to my willingness to learn and ability to work hard. My interest in Mathematics started in middle school when I discovered my passion for problem-solving. From that point on, I knew that I wanted to immerse my career in numbers. I attended New York City College of Technology, where I was able to take accounting classes in my first semester. After taking Principles of Accounting 1 in my first semester, I fell in love with the major and decided to continue. After three semesters in NYCCT, I transferred to Baruch College to further pursue my degree in accountancy. I studied extremely hard to maintain a 3.80 GPA and was awarded two accounting scholarships – one from the New York Society of CPA’s and the other from Baruch College itself. As my academic career progressed, I began working part-time at the New York Transit Museum as an Administrative Intern, and during my senior year, I had the opportunity to complete a full-time internship at Ernst & Young as an Assurance Audit Intern. As a result of interning at both organizations, I was able to develop and enhance my accounting and finance knowledge, learned how to collaborate with other staff members, and operate in a fast-paced corporate environment. I was inspired to work for a non-profit organization after being a member of South Asian Youth Action (SAYA), which provides financial and educational support to college students. Since SAYA played an essential role in my academic success, I was very excited to find the opportunity with NAF because it will allow me to contribute to the organization’s mission. I am looking forward to working with NAF and contributing as much as I can to help the organization achieve its goals.
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!
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.
Coming from a single-parent household, my siblings and I were not afforded some of the same opportunities I saw in my more affluent classmates. From an early age, I knew that I wanted to give back to students from similar backgrounds to mine. My passion for being a mission-based communicator began junior year of college, while attending the University of South Florida where I received a degree in Public Relations. While attending classes, I became involved with local grassroots nonprofit organizations – donating my time to help expand their social media presence. That is where I got a taste of the real impact an effective communications strategy can have on under-invested communities. After seeing the positive impact of my contributions, I decided that I wanted to expand my efforts and reach national audiences. I began interning at College to Congress, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a more inclusive and effective Congress by providing Pell Grant-eligible students with fully-funded congressional internships. I am living proof that internships change lives; upon graduation, I was hired by the organization to work on their communications team. This experience provided life-changing opportunities to students, including myself, ultimately leading me to NAF. I instantly connected with our mission and am excited to support NAF’s talented students.
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.
As a first-generation college graduate, I experienced first-hand what it feels like to struggle every step of the way towards your dreams. I was unsure of what to study at the University of Southern California and found that public policy fed my desire to learn and be part of social change. Throughout college, I worked at my former school as a tutor and later as a Site Coordinator. What transpired in the following years was working together with communities addressing a variety of important social problems. After getting a master’s degree in International Affairs, my work took me around the world from Nicaragua to Uganda, but eventually, I grew weary of being so inaccessible to my family and decided to return to the U.S. My life has had a common thread and it is the gift I inherited from my father: deference and passion for education. Not surprisingly, I found myself teaching Computer Science and serving as a NAF Lead Teacher at Miami Southridge. This is how my NAF story begins.
I grew up on a farm in Kansas and spent a great amount of time at my grandparents’ house as a kid. My interest in understanding human behavior can be traced back to conversations I had with my emotionally intelligent grandmother. She was always helping me consider other peoples’ viewpoints and I think this led me to want to be a school counselor as my initial undergraduate path. While I never quite made it to a counseling position, I am still very interested in understanding human behavior and the underlying mechanisms that guide it. I have worked as a paraprofessional, taught third grade, and taught undergraduate psychology courses but it was not until I began my graduate work that I understood my true passion. I love turning messy data into usable information. The messier, the better!
To help me hone my data and research skills, I earned a master’s degree in Educational Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Factors Psychology, both from Wichita State University in Kansas. Prior to joining NAF, I was employed by the largest school district in Kansas, Wichita Public Schools, where I spent 15 years conducting research, analyzing data, and engaging in evaluation and performance management at the district level.
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.
I was born in Ecuador to a mother and father who were determined to set me and my brothers up for success. My father, a neurosurgeon, moved us to Argentina and then ultimately to the United States when I was 8 years old. He believed that here in the USA we had the best chance of becoming successful doctors. I knew no English when I arrived, and as I worked my way through my grade school years (and the US Immigration System), I wondered if college was even a reality for me, let alone a career in medicine. It was thanks to a number of mentors and advocates who saw my potential that I was accepted into Franklin & Marshall College where I dutifully signed up for the pre-med studies track. It took countless hours behind the lab bench, in class, and through extracurricular research, for me to realize that my heart wasn’t in medicine. Instead, I majored in Spanish with a concentration in Neuroscience and set out to follow my true passion: advocacy work in support of young people who went through similar experiences to my own. I worked for a nonprofit organization leading medical mission trips in Honduras, I tried sales in IT (an interesting and informative career tangent), I became the Statewide Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center, I returned to my alma mater as an Assistant Director of Admissions, and I discovered NAF, the organization that brought it all together for me. NAF is where I can put my entire skill set to work: my analytical skill and my advocacy work combined. I’m so excited to be able to dedicate my energy to helping young people find their path; the one that really gets them where they want to go!
It has always been important for me to seize every opportunity I could to better myself and learn from the amazing world around me. Every pivotal moment in my life happened because I took a chance and decided, “Why not?” In high school, I took a chance with the NAF Academy of Finance and learned career skills beyond my peers, and was found impressive enough to be offered 5 scholarships.
At Biola University, I was fortunate to perform in chamber groups, operas and concerts, all while serving in student leadership roles such as the VP of Diversity & Inclusion in Student Government, a Resident Advisor, and a Conference Coordinator for the nationally-renowned, SCORR conference. I led the creation of the university’s Institutional Diversity Strategic Plan– alongside the CDO – that would inform the change of culture, diversity and inclusion (D&I) for the next 5 years. I led this effort while administering the restructure of the Student Government Association’s D&I branch, to better organize its relationships and responsibilities. I originally started off majoring in Pre-Nursing and switched to Sociology after meeting two sociology professors at an Asian-American women’s affinity group I had decided to attend at a whim. I graduated Cum Laude majoring in Sociology and minoring in Biblical Studies and Music.
After returning to my hometown in California, I applied to numerous jobs and spent some time working as a barista. I began looking into the possibility of a master’s degree, when NAF reached out to me, asking if I would consider working for them. I never expected to be back, but as a proud NAF Alumna, it is an honor being a part of this amazing organization.
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.
In my early teens, my uncle introduced me to race karting and fueled (pun intended) my interests in potentially becoming a professional driver. The national competition quickly made me realize that the path would be too difficult and expensive to pursue though my passion for competitive driving still exists. As a lifelong New Yorker, I attended Adelphi University for Business but quickly realized that business wasn’t going to be my intended career path. Soon I discovered my passion for technology and a knack for fixing things. I was at my previous software company for 12+ yrs in the IT trade and am very happy to be finally be working at NAF.
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.
Beginning in the third grade, I had two primary ambitions in life – becoming a member of the KISS Army (official card-carrying devotees of the rock band KISS) and competing on the professional bowlers’ tour, passions that haven’t wavered much over the course of my lifetime. What I learned most from both experiences is that success doesn’t come easy, and you only get out what you put in (no matter what it is), but at least you never have regrets when you know you gave something 100%. While I never became a household name on the PBA Tour (despite averaging 221 over 1,000 games in my very best year), I have seen (and met) KISS well over 50 times so at least I’ve got that going for me!
After spending six years at a Christian Brother’s run Army ROTC prep-school, I left my small-town Upstate NY life to head South to attend college at Saint Leo University in Tampa, Florida. Upon graduating, I returned to the Albany area to “settle down” and began what became a nine-year career as an auditor and consultant with KPMG, dedicated to working exclusively in the not-for-profit sector, while obtaining my master’s degree at SUNY Albany during that same time.
Over the next 20 years, upon moving to Manhattan, my focus evolved even further towards working for organizations dedicated to the education and empowerment of women and children, especially in underserved communities in the U.S. and other impoverished areas of the World (primarily Africa). This journey ultimately led to my joining NAF in the middle of 2019, first as a consultant and now as Chief Financial Officer.
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.
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!
Graduating from Seekonk High School in Massachusetts, it was always my dream to come to New York 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.
Upon graduating high school, I thought business school was the smart and safe career choice since I grew up with parents who owned a restaurant, and I had to work there as soon as I could reach the cash register! I graduated from Bentley University with a Bachelor of Science in Finance and International Studies minor. After graduation, I spent two years sitting in a cubicle crunching numbers. One day I thought to myself, “Is this really what I want to be doing for the rest of my life?” And it clearly wasn’t.
I left my first job to teach English as a Second Language to elementary students in Thailand for a year. It was easily the scariest and best decision of my life. It was such a fulfilling learning experience, and I wanted more of it. I returned to the U.S. determined to find a job in the education or non-profit sector. Without much of an education background aside from a year of teaching abroad, I got my foot through the door by becoming an AmeriCorps servicemember for a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship to low-income high school students. Since then, I have spent the last 10 years dedicating myself to serving students and communities across various sectors, specifically through the use of data and technology, to which I attribute my foundational skills and training from my background in business! I am a Salesforce Certified Administrator and plan to become a Salesforce Certified Non-Profit Cloud Consultant in the near future. I’m excited to be leading NAF’s Salesforce implementation to improve relationship management and coordination across departments, academies, and stakeholders and ultimately improve services and experiences for NAF students and alumni.
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 led to my interest in education. While at Eugene Lang: The New School for Liberal Arts as an undergraduate, I focused my studies on 19th-century American history, specifically early feminism and the Second Great Awakening. I interned at two schools — one public and one private — and also 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 in restaurants and eventually rose to become the general manager of a small Brooklyn-based restaurant group. My experience there taught me many skills I use here at NAF, like patience, empathy, and the ability to think on my feet (literally and figuratively!)
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 in 2013 and currently serve as the Senior Director of Work-Based Learning.
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.
Growing up I was going to find the cure for sickle cell anemia when I found out about the devastating effects it had on my community. I graduated from Tufts University, not pre-med, but with an undergraduate degree in community mental health. However, life does come full circle. Although I did not find the cure for sickle cell anemia, later in life I did have the honor of serving on the board of a regional sickle cell association. After graduating from college, I spent a couple of years as a social worker at a Head Start program and went on to receive my Master of Public Health from Yale University. I spent the next several years in managed behavioral health and medical surgical, and Medicaid managed care before I had an “aha” moment that led me to my career in human resources. I started as a training manager and took advantage of the opportunity to grow and develop in my career. I soon became a HR business partner and diversity and inclusion leader. I wore three hats and loved each one of them. My goal was, and still is, to keep the “human” in human resources to ensure all have the opportunity to develop and grow throughout their career journey.
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.
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’ve always known that my career would involve helping those who would come after me. It’s just always been through different avenues. Initially, it was through sports as that will always be my first love. I went to the Business of Sports School (now a NAF academy) for high school before attending college at St. John’s University where I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Sports Management. While in high school, I was part of the NFTE program and in college, I had the opportunity to intern for the organization, where I helped students launch their businesses. Once I graduated college, I had the opportunity to become a NYC NAF Future Ready Lab facilitator. It was a blessing to be in the Lab with 20-25 interns working on their business development skills and watching them grow. I then became the CTEISP Industry Partnership Coordinator which allowed me to help students obtain internships with amazing companies in the business and hospitality sector. That was the official stamp that verified to me that I will focus on helping our future leaders.
Coming from a school that is now a NAF academy, there’s a lot of pride that comes along with it. NAF has always blessed me with the opportunity to give back even before I officially came on board. It’s always a great feeling knowing that our students see me and have the feeling that they can make a difference too.
My first introduction to the nonprofit world was through my parents. Both are mental health professionals that founded and ran a community counseling center in the Los Angeles area for twenty years. Although the mental health field is not the path I decided to take, this experience
continues to shape me and fuel my fight for access in communities that have been systemically pushed out. Growing up, I have always dreamed of becoming a lawyer and now with the goal of starting a nonprofit that provides affordable legal services. I know that the nonprofit sector is where I belong.
I graduated from the University of San Francisco with a B.A. in Politics (with double minors in African American Studies and Legal Studies). Through my classes and internship experiences, I developed a strong interest in public service and community engagement. I then pursued a Master of Public Administration degree from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. During my first year in New York, I had the opportunity to work as a Graduate Aide for the NYC Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Unit. I supported projects such as community schools and youth employment programs in the City. This experience has stayed with me and drew me to this great organization. I am excited to be a member of the NAF team and supporting this important work!
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.
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.
For me, being Future Ready means finding new ways to apply my strengths to an ever-changing world—a philosophy I’ve subconsciously been living out since college. My majors in rhetoric and art history from U.C. Berkeley didn’t spell out an obvious career trajectory, but I was passionate about the subject matter and found value in the analytical and research skills I developed along the way. Thinking I’d pursue a curatorial path, I went after jobs in museums—first, on a collection move project at Berkeley’s Hearst Museum, and then, as a development assistant at the Ashmolean Museum while I completed my master’s degree at Oxford. Both roles solidified my enthusiasm for mission-driven organizations and helped broaden my professional ambitions.
By that point, I knew the nonprofit sector was where I wanted to build my career and that working in development struck harmony between the creative and methodical sides of my brain. I moved to New York and continued this work at the Guggenheim, leading cross-departmental efforts to produce the museum’s signature fundraising events. Then in 2020, drawn to NAF’s vision for young people and eager to impact meaningful change, I joined the Institutional Advancement team.
As a military brat, our family moved around the country often. One of my most memorable moments was when we were stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where I attended a Department of Defense elementary school. I can recall my third-grade teacher conferencing my parents to discuss how to channel my energies because I completed assignments quickly and then disturbed others. A month later the teacher assigned me the role of “peer tutor” explaining that I did a better job than she did in helping students understand their lessons. At that moment, my love for education was born.
During high school, I found my niche in the Fashion Marketing Pathway which led to an internship at a boutique in Virginia, and later, the position of store manager. While working, I pursued a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Marketing/Education at Old Dominion University with an option upon graduation to teach Fashion Marketing or transition to the business sector. A month after graduation, I moved to Detroit and accepted a Fashion Marketing teaching position at Randolph CTC. Along my educational journey, I earned a Master’s in Career Technical Education, Certification in Educational Leadership, and a Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Wayne State University.
I became passionate about NAF upon following the notable Finance Academy at Golightly CTC in Detroit. Following NAF’s educational design shaped what I provided to students as I climbed the career ladder as a Curriculum Leader, Assistant Principal, Principal, and Director of Career Technical Education for the largest school district in Michigan. Pathways work!
All in all, I am blessed to join NAF’s best and the brightest in the quest to resolve challenges that will bring key stakeholders together for children.
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.
My interest in accounting and finance started around the end of my sophomore year of college. I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from Delaware State University (HBCU). The lifelong relationships and experiences that I have encountered by choosing to attend an HBCU molded me towards becoming the business professional that I am today. I have been Introduced to NAF by an alumnus member and after learning more about the company, I completely fell in love with their mission. NAF provides high schoolers with career readiness opportunities from such early ages. Being that I was never introduced to a situation of this nature in high school, I instantly wanted to be a part of this organization. I want to encourage more young individuals with similar backgrounds as mine to start taking advantage of opportunities that will help aid their career early on.
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.