New York Staff

CollegeSpring New York’s  staff is smart, hardworking, and dedicated to the belief that all students should have the opportunity to choose a four-year college education. As members of a small team, we thrive in a fast paced environment where initiative and creativity are the norm.


Matthew Phifer

New York Executive Director

Matthew Phifer’s passion for youth development began in 1999 at Binghamton University. As an undergraduate, he was a teaching assistant for numerous Sociology and Africana Studies courses. Working as a Family Life Specialist for the Children’s Home of Wyoming Conference, Matthew saw the connections between his coursework and the harsh realities of poverty, marginalization, and lack of resources. These experiences helped solidify his perceptions about the importance of education, critical thought and social emotional learning, particularly within young inner city communities of color. Upon graduation he joined the Henry Street Settlement as a case manager for the New Beginnings Alternative High School at the Boys and Girls Republic. He was responsible for counseling youth with severe attendance issues and one-year suspensions, as well as providing referrals and managing academic interventions with students. Most recently, Matt served as Director of Education Services where he oversaw Henry Street’s adolescent, early childhood and after-school elementary educational services, which provide results-driven academic enrichment programming to more than 2000 inner-city youth annually.

In his current role as CollegeSpring New York Executive Director, he oversees partnership development, fundraising, site management, and program execution.  Matthew holds bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and in Africana Studies, and a master’s degree in Social Sciences with a concentration in Public Administration, all from Binghamton University.

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Allyson Cook

New York Programs Manager

Allyson began her career as an educator as an Americorps Member and full time teacher in Paterson, New Jersey for a yearlong service commitment. Working as a dedicated Language Arts teacher, academic tutor, founding Dance Team coach, and parent liaison, Allyson was able to see the benefits of community outreach within educational institutions. Allyson completed her term of service and shifted her focus to educational leadership and supporting schools by assuming the role of Deputy Campus Director of Citizen Schools, in the New Jersey region. After growing and learning how to best support teachers, parents, and scholars Allyson has thus worked in other school districts in New Jersey as an Academic Counselor for a TRIO program at Rutgers University-Newark Campus, where she managed undergraduate and graduate students who supported a total of 500 students. Allyson completed her master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, NJ.

Allyson views herself as an integrated change agent who is committed to: empowering all scholars to build character, ensuring they develop mastery in 21st century skills, and providing access to high quality colleges and professional careers by creating diverse, engaging learning opportunities. She strives to guide youth to their full potential, meanwhile engaging families and community members to be more involved in the academic success of the youth. She is an advocate for education reform with the hope to narrow (and one day close) the opportunity and achievement gaps in America.

Allyson assists with CollegeSpring’s New York programs and operations. She helps with mentor recruitment, training, and support; and ensures quick turnaround of test results to students and partner organizations.

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Samee Muhammad

New York Associate Programs Manager

Abdul Samee Muhammad (“Samee”) graduated from Georgia State University with a B.S. in Psychology. After graduation he moved to Los Angeles to work with underserved youth via City Year. He worked at William J. Clinton Middle School for two years mentoring, tutoring and impacting youth and other AmeriCorps members. Samee’s passion to work with low-income youth all around the world through financial literacy, performing arts education, youth development, and college readiness, led him to CollegeSpring. He believes in the words of activist Mahatma Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Samee assists with CollegeSpring’s New York’s programs and operations. He conducts mentor recruitment, training, and support; and ensures quick turnaround of test results to students and partner organizations.   


Siettah Parks

New York Programs Associate

Siettah graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a B.A. in Sociology. Upon graduating, she relocated to Newark, NJ to serve as an AmeriCorps member in the Tutor Corps at Great Oaks Charter School. Siettah provided the students with daily small group tutorials and assisted the administration with the execution of programs that focused on homework help and test-prep.

Siettah’s experience in Newark sparked her interest in education. Upon completing the AmeriCorps program, she moved to the New York area and continued her work with students at VOICE Charter School. Her time spent with students, teachers and administrators inspired her to enter a program at a research institution focused on equality in education. She is currently pursuing an M.A. in Sociology and Education with a concentration in Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University. She plans to conduct research that will inform policy makers and positively affect our public school system.

Siettah assists with the day-to-day operations in the New York office and has broad interaction and responsibility across the programs team as a whole.