We’re a team of educators, social justice advocates, and lifelong learners dedicated to expanding opportunities for equitable test prep.

Across our offices in Oakland, Los Angeles, and New York City, we strive to embody the following Core Values in our work with teachers, students, and each other:

  • Excellence Is Our Standard. We believe in the potential of people, the power of ambitious goals, and supporting each other to achieve excellence.
  • Learning Drives Us. Every day we learn, improve, adapt, and make the changes that propel our progress.
  • Challenges Are Opportunities. A can-do attitude and growth mindset can move mountains.
  • Relationships Fuel Impact. Accountability, trust, and communication are the cornerstones of the relationships, internal and external, which make our impact possible.
  • Equity is Our Aim. We center historically marginalized perspectives and continuously eliminate disparities that affect us and our work.
  • Leadership Team
  • Staff
  • National Board
  • Bay Area Board
  • New York Board
  • SoCal Board
  • Young Professionals Board

Leadership Team

Yoon S. Choi, PhD

Chief Executive Officer
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Dr. Choi has over a decade of leadership, management, and fundraising experience, primarily with organizations serving underrepresented youth. In 2020, she was named a Presidential Leadership Scholar by the program led by the presidential centers of George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson. She has published articles about testing and college access in Inside Higher Ed, The Hechinger Report, and EdSource. She earned her doctorate in anthropology from the University of California at Irvine, as well as a master’s degree from New York University and a bachelor’s degree from Scripps College.

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Neha Bajaj

Head of Finance & Operations
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Neha has extensive experience in both the private and public sectors, having worked in strategy consulting and nonprofits ranging from international development to education. Most recently, Neha worked as the Director of Finance at Blue Engine, where she led the Finance and Accounting team, overseeing financial reporting, forecasting, budgeting, and strategic modeling work. Prior to that, Neha worked at UNICEF USA, where she helped launch UNICEF’s first impact investment fund, developing the operations, investor relations and due diligence processes for the fund. Neha has also served on multiple non-profit boards, advising organizations on how to create more sustainable program models, fundraising strategy and board governance.

Neha has a BS from New York University, an MA in Organizational Psychology also from NYU and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. As the daughter of first generation immigrants and a mother of two, Neha is an advocate for increasing access and equity in education for all students, of all abilities.

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Nichole Gangitano

Head of Programs & Impact
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Nichole leads CollegeSpring’s work in program strategy, quality, training, and data and evaluation. Prior to CollegeSpring, Nichole worked at Reading Partners, a national elementary literacy organization, where she led the national programs team, supported organizational growth and scale, provided executive oversight of an after-school initiative, and served in direct program roles as regional director and program manager in Silicon Valley. Prior to her work at Reading Partners, Nichole worked in the early care and education field, recruiting and training college students to serve as AmeriCorps members in preschool classrooms across San Francisco. She has an MPA in nonprofit administration and a bachelor’s degree in child and adolescent development, both from San Francisco State University. Nichole is a proud AmeriCorps alumni.

With over a decade working in the non-profit educational sector, Nichole is committed to creating equitable educational opportunities for under-resourced schools and communities. A first-generation college graduate, she is honored to work alongside the CollegeSpring team to ensure that a college education becomes a reality for every student.

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Mollie Kutscher

Chief of Staff and Head of Development & Communications
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Mollie has been fundraising on behalf of education for over ten years, and believes equitable access to educational opportunities is imperative to social justice. Most recently, she was the Director of Development & External Affairs at East Harlem Tutorial Program, a community-based organization founded in 1958. There, she oversaw the organization’s annual gala, the completion of a $45M capital campaign, and managed a team of six fundraisers and communications professionals. Prior to that, she was the founding Director of Development at Blue Engine, where she focused on building the systems, team, and donor base to support a rapidly expanding team-teaching and teacher-training model serving New York City public high schools. Before she joined Blue Engine, Mollie held various fundraising roles at the Oakland, CA based organization Reading Partners, and at the San Francisco Regional office of Jumpstart for Young Children.

Mollie holds a B.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago. As the Head of Development & Communications, she is leading the team to build a sustainable fundraising model that supports CollegeSpring’s long-term growth and commitment to innovation.

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Cailin Papszycki

Head of Partnerships
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Cailin has spent the last decade working to support college admissions initiatives in school districts throughout the country. Her passion for increasing equity and access led her to join CollegeSpring in early 2019 to lead partnership development.

Prior to CollegeSpring, she spent nearly 10 years at Kaplan Test Prep. Most recently, she launched and led the Pre-College Kaplan Partner Solutions team as Director of Institutional Partnerships. Previously, Cailin worked at Corporate Executive Board, a best practices research firm that is now owned by Gartner. While at CEB, she held a variety of sales roles, targeting executives in Advertising, Marketing, and Market Research. Cailin holds her B.A. in History from Boston College.

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Staff

Kenny Abbott

Instructional Coach
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Before entering the field of education, Kenny spent several years in the entertainment field in Los Angeles. After graduating from Messiah College with a degree in Communication and an emphasis in Film Production, Kenny spent several years working for camera houses and production companies on a variety of projects. After a few years in this field, he made the decision to go back to school and pursue a career in education. He received his Masters Degree in Urban Education with an emphasis in Teaching with Technology from Loyola Marymount University. Prior to joining the CollegeSpring team, he spent several years as a special education teacher in schools in Watts and Inglewood, California. 

Kenny is passionate about developing a more equitable system of education that provides access for all students to opportunities in higher education. He believes in the power of technology as a tool that can help accelerate equity in education. 

He lives near the beach with his wife and his adorable poodle mix, Finn.

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Allyson Cook

Director of Program Quality and Learning
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Allyson began her career as an educator as an Americorps Member and full time teacher in Paterson, New Jersey and since then as served schools as a teacher, college counselor and academic dean. Allyson pursued her master’s degree in Educational Leadership at Saint Peter’s University, while overseeing academic and enrichment programming in Newark, NJ that focused on identifying supporting student needs with community engagement. Allyson joined the CollegeSpring team in 2016 to hone in on helping students reach their secondary educational goals and has since grown within the organization serving as a regional team member and now national team member.

Allyson views herself as an integrated change agent who is committed to: empowering all scholars to build a growth mindset, 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 is an advocate for education reform with the hope to narrow (and one day close) the opportunity and achievement gaps in America. Allyson develops and oversees key components of CollegeSpring programs such as implementation, quality, learning, and training of Programs Staff, Instructors, and Mentors. Allyson works to support designing and refining CollegeSpring’s national standards for high quality program implementation and then creating, training, and providing assistance to ensure the regional teams are set up to be successful in executing the model in alignment with those standards.

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Aldo D'Agostino

Data and Evaluation Manager
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Aldo provides leadership and day-to-day oversight for all data, student data systems, performance management, and internal/external evaluation activities at CollegeSpring.

Prior to CollegeSpring, Aldo held data management and program evaluation roles at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House and Pencils of Promise in New York City, and at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. In these roles, Aldo contributed to and led strategic and operational initiatives for educational programs serving pre-K to adult populations. His experience and main interests include: program evaluation and improvement, human capital and capacity building, database management and data visualization.

He is a first-generation college graduate and holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Chile and a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University. Aldo is inspired by CollegeSpring’s mission and convinced of the important role college admission exams play in college access and success, economic opportunity, and ultimately, social equity and democracy.

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Jacob Hobson

Development & Communications Coordinator
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Jacob believes that access to quality higher education broadens personal horizons, drives economic mobility, and strengthens our democracy. He holds a concurrent Ph.D. in English and Medieval Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. He designed and taught a range of courses there as a postdoctoral lecturer, from Old English to Berkeley Literature. Jacob has also published several scholarly articles and short notices about medieval England and Scandinavia.

 At CollegeSpring, Jacob is responsible for soliciting institutional funds. 

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Ahan Morris

Human Resources and Operations Manager
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Ahan is responsible for the management of the human resources and related operations functions at CollegeSpring. She oversees the administration of payroll, benefits, compliance with local and federal human resources regulations, and recruitment efforts, among other duties. Prior to CollegeSpring, Ahan was an employment attorney and litigation associate at Fitzgerald Abbott & Beardsley in Oakland, and Bingham McCutchen in Palo Alto. She is a licensed and active California attorney, who holds a J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law and a B.A. from the University of Maryland at College Park. Ahan is a first-generation immigrant and proud mother of two children. She is an advocate for increasing access and equity in education for students in under-resourced schools and communities across the country.

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Eric Santacruz

Data and Testing Coordinator
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Eric graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in History and a Minor in German Studies. Prior to working at CollegeSpring, Eric worked on campaigns and voter registration drives in North Carolina and Southern California.

He joined CollegeSpring after completing a term of service as Public Ally. He believes test prep is an important part of helping students of all backgrounds achieve their potential.

As a Programs & Data Coordinator, Eric provides support in program evaluation and curriculum development.

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Kate Stevens

Instructional Coach
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Kate is a veteran educator and teacher-leader who has navigated the hallways and classrooms of alternative education, small rural K-12 buildings, and large urban high schools for 15 years.  As a former research scientist in the field of anti-infective disease, Kate has a mind for data analysis and scientific problem-solving.  Her experience as a championship off-road stage rally navigator in the American Rally Association is a continuation of her lifelong pursuit of adventure sport, including downhill ski racing and rock climbing.  

Diverse experiences in education and motorsport serve as a platform and source of inspiration for Kate’s blog,”From the Silly Seat” which details the great challenges, but also the incredible triumphs of teaching and education. Kate advocates fiercely for equity and inclusivity, and as her former students and colleagues will tell you, puts community and relationships first. Many have told her that her classroom was their “school home.”  

Kate lives in Detroit with her partner Jimmy (the rally driver), and her dog Ralphie. They make the four hour drive to Northern Michigan as often as they can to swim in Lake Michigan, ski, hike, bike, fish, and be with family. 

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Yvonne Tran

Partner Success Manager
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Yvonne’s passion for helping students lies in her belief that education can transform lives. Her parents left Vietnam in 1975 as refugees and were able to rebuild their lives with the support and education they received in America. For Yvonne, her own education allowed her to break out of her introverted shell and pursue some amazing opportunities.

While attending high school in Southern California, she found a knack for writing and reading, so she decided to pursue fields that allowed her to tell stories. She attended UC San Diego to study communication and received her Master’s degree in Applied Research at Boston University’s College of Communication. Prior to joining CollegeSpring, Yvonne held various positions in higher education, a multicultural advertising agency, and college access program. With over 10 years of experience in education, she now wants to use her storytelling skills to increase student success. As an Instructional Coach in CollegeSpring’s Southern California office, Yvonne builds capacity at CollegeSpring school sites by supporting teachers and ensuring program quality for their students.

Outside of work, Yvonne volunteers for a variety of community organizations that focus on art and youth empowerment. She also dabbles in freelance video editing, traveling, and spoiling her Westie puppy.

 

 

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Andrea Vernitsky

Director of Curriculum and Training
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With more than ten years experience in education, Andrea has dedicated her career to the belief that strong curriculum is the backbone of academic success for all students. After receiving her degree in English and linguistics at NYU, she entered the NYC Teaching Fellows program, where she earned a Master’s Degree in Education and applied her education and training to creating rigorous and engaging curriculum for a diverse group of students while teaching high school English in Brooklyn. She also served as a Literacy Coach, New Teacher Mentor, developed curriculum for afterschool programs, coached aspiring teachers as part of the New Teacher Project and held the position of program manager with a literacy nonprofit organization before joining CollegeSpring.

Andrea leads CollegeSpring’s instructional strategy and the design and development of curriculum and training materials.

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Leila Watkins

Development & Communications Manager
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Leila is deeply invested in equitable access to college and the role higher education plays in promoting civic engagement. She believes that increasing access to college not only improves the economic prospects of individuals but also creates a stronger, more diverse democracy that is good for everyone. Most recently, she worked as a professor at Western Kentucky University, where she taught interdisciplinary courses on democratic dialogue, civic engagement, research and writing, literature, and mental health. She designed collaborative course projects in which students conducted community-based research on local social issues, interviewed stakeholders, and led democratic deliberations to elicit diverse perspectives on issues important to their local communities.

Leila received her Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan and her B.A. from the University of North Carolina. She has published several academic articles on Renaissance literature, poetry, and mental health in seventeenth-century England.

As Development & Communications Manager at CollegeSpring, Leila uses her knowledge of the higher education sector to raise funds and educate the public about the importance of giving all students an equal opportunity to prepare for college.

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National Board

Tom Friel, National Board Chair

Retired Chairman and CEO of Heidrick & Struggles International Inc.
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Tom Friel retired as chairman and CEO of Heidrick & Struggles International Inc. in 2007. Tom joined Heidrick & Struggles in 1979 and played an important role in developing the firm’s leadership position in key markets. He was co-founder and then later assumed the responsibility of managing the firm’s technology practice, which he led from 1987 to 1995. From 1992 to 1999, Tom undertook the additional role of managing partner, Asia Pacific. From 1999 through 2001, he served as president of Heidrick & Struggles Ventures, the firm’s division responsible for all future initiatives, new business strategies, investments and alliances. He served as Chairman from 2003 to 2007, and CEO from 2003 to 2006. Tom is a graduate of Purdue University, where he majored in industrial engineering. He also holds a master’s degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and served on the Business School Advisory Council. In addition to serving as Board Chair of CollegeSpring, Tom currently serves as a Board Member of the Computer History Museum and TalentSky, and is a member of the advisory boards of Docusign Corp. and the Seraph Group.

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Susan Goss Brown

Apparel Retail & Operations Expert
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Susan is an apparel retail and operations expert. Most recently, as President of Gap Foundation, she led the Foundation’s Board of Trustees while overseeing philanthropic and social impact work for Gap Inc., including its overall grant-making strategies, disaster response, global employee volunteer efforts, and the operation of its signature programs, This Way Ahead and P.A.C.E. Throughout her more than 25 years at Gap, Inc., Susan has held various leadership roles across North America store operations for Athleta, Banana Republic, and Gap brands. Susan is a long-time advocate for change and community engagement. Her key priorities are working to clear a pathway for women, girls, and underserved communities while supporting organizations that are working to eliminate systemic racism. Under her leadership, Gap Inc. developed and launched the ASCEND program, which was designed to help the company’s minority leaders realize their potential and achieve their career aspirations through mentorship, opportunity, and individual capacity building. She currently sits on the Advisory Board for the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership (EGAL) at the Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley. While with Gap, Inc., Susan was an eight-year member of the Corporate Diversity Council and an Executive Sponsor for the African American Network Group (AANG) as well as the Color Proud Council.

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Yoon S. Choi, PhD

CEO, CollegeSpring
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Dr. Choi has over a decade of leadership, management, and fundraising experience, primarily with organizations serving underrepresented youth. In 2020, she was named a Presidential Leadership Scholar by the program led by the presidential centers of George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson. She has published articles about testing and college access in Inside Higher Ed, The Hechinger Report, and EdSource. She earned her doctorate in anthropology from the University of California at Irvine, as well as a master’s degree from New York University and a bachelor’s degree from Scripps College.

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Stephanie Cohen

Chief Strategy Officer, Goldman Sachs
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Stephanie Cohen is Goldman Sachs’ Chief Strategy Officer. Building on a 20 year career in M&A, serving Corporate as well as Financial Sponsor clients, she is leading the firm’s commitment to client centricity, innovation and diversity. She was named partner in 2014 and an ex-officio member of management committee in 2018.

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Alex Farman-Farmaian

Partner & Vice Chairman, Edgewood Management
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Alexander Farman-Farmaian is Vice Chairman, Partner and Portfolio Manager at Edgewood.  He joined in January 2006 and helped implement the current valuation approach of the Edgewood Investment Committee. He is an analyst on portfolio companies, served as Director of Research, and produces the “Economents™”, a periodic economic and financial markets update for clients.  Prior to joining Edgewood, Alex was for 19 years a senior member of the Portfolio Management team at W.P. Stewart & Co. where he chaired the Investment Oversight Committee. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR – NY), the World Presidents’ Organization (WPO), and serves as a Trustee of the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), an organization that promotes access to health services and fundamental human rights of women and girls around the world.  Alex was formerly President of the Princeton Club of New York, is a member of the Economics Club of New York and is on the board of Kalinat S.A., a potato chip manufacturing company in Caracas, Venezuela.  He received a BA in Economics from Princeton University in 1987, and speaks fluent French, Spanish, Farsi and conversational Italian.

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Joel Jones

Vice President, Sales Planning and Operations, Facebook
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Joel joined Facebook in 2012 and leads the global Sales Planning & Operations team, which scales Facebook’s business through planning, enablement, and operations. Prior to Facebook, Joel worked at Yahoo! for five years with roles leading the Americas Ad Marketplaces team, as the Chief of Staff to the CEO, and in the Corporate Strategy group. Prior to that, Joel spent seven years with McKinsey & Company leading digital media business growth and go-to-market strategy in high tech.

Joel also serves as Chair of CollegeSpring’s Bay Area board of directors. He has an M.S. in Applied Physics from Caltech and a B.S.E. in Engineering Physics from the University of Michigan, and currently resides in San Jose, CA.

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Larry Kubal

Founder, Labrador Ventures; Managing Partner, Labrador Ventures III, IV and V
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Mr. Kubal has invested in seed and early stage information technology companies for the last 23 years. He is a founder of Labrador Ventures and serves as a managing partner of Labrador Ventures III, IV and V. Labrador was among the founding investors in Pandora Media (NYSE:P) where Mr. Kubal served on the board for seven years up to the IPO. In Addition, Mr. Kubal currently serves as the Labrador representative with portfolio companies Altierre, PlayPhone, and RocketFuel.

In addition to his investment experience, Mr. Kubal was a management consultant with Booz, Allen & Hamilton, a global strategy and technology consulting firm. Prior to consulting, Mr. Kubal worked extensively in computerized database publishing for McGraw-Hill Publications Company and for the Academy for Educational Development. Mr. Kubal was also a founding executive with a venture-backed PC software company, Avalanche Technologies, ultimately acquired by Microsoft.

Mr. Kubal received his undergraduate degree from Duke University (1974), cum laude with departmental distinction, and his MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (1982).

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Juanita Lott

Former Software Entrepreneur and Angel Investor
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Juanita Lott is the founder and former chair and CEO of Bridgestream Software, an enterprise software company that was sold to Oracle in 2007. Gartner recognized Bridgestream as one of the ‘cool vendors in security and privacy’, and Burton Group recognized Ms. Lott as ‘a pioneer’ in role based access management solutions.

Ms. Lott has extensive operational expertise in global companies, particularly those undergoing rapid growth. She served as EVP and CHRO of Epicor Software where she focused on talent, leadership development, organizational and globalization strategies for this privately held ERP software business. Ms. Lott also served as a member of Sybase’s executive team as the organization successfully transitioned from a pre-IPO company to over $1B in revenue.

Ms. Lott is an Investment Partner in the Portfolia Investment Fund and a former member of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and Executives where she received the Forum’s Trailblazer Award in 2001, 2003 and 2004. She is a trustee alumna of Springboard Enterprises, a venture catalyst organization that provides support to women led businesses.Ms. Lott continues to work as an advisor and mentor to women entrepreneurs and is currently on the advisory board of Talent Sonar Software. She has been a presenter at Stanford’s MBA program on entrepreneurship from the perspective of women and is a contributor to Inc.com.

Ms. Lott received her Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts from the University of California and her Master’s Degree from Mills College

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Garrett Neiman

Co-Founder & Former CEO, CollegeSpring
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Garrett is the co-founder and former CEO of CollegeSpring. Garrett incubated CollegeSpring at Stanford University, where he majored in Economics and realized that his experience could help other students prepare for college. During his time at Stanford, Garrett interned at the U.S. Department of Education, conducted research with America’s most prominent education economist, served as an advisor to Google’s Education Applications Team, and co-directed Stanford Dance Marathon, the largest student-led philanthropic event in the Bay Area. He also served as a voting member of Stanford’s Board of Trustees and Public Service Student Advisory Board and Co-Chair of the Senior Gift Committee, where he led an effort that doubled the previous class gift record. Garrett has been honored as an East Palo Alto Social Venture Fellow, Stanford Nonprofits Board Fellow, Public Service Leadership Fellow, and Young People For Fellow. His work has been profiled in the New York Times, BusinessWeek, the Orange County Register, the Stanford Daily, and the USC Trojan, and he has served as an invited speaker at events hosted by The College Board, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Stanford University, among others.

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Todd Penner

Portfolio Director, College Preparation & Completion, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
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Todd oversees the U.S. Education team’s College Preparation & Completion portfolio, which empowers more high-need students to graduate from high school college-ready, enroll in college, and obtain a bachelor’s degree. Prior to joining the foundation in May 2008, Todd spent 13 years at Dell Inc. in various marketing and support positions, his last being Director of Worldwide e-Support. Before Dell, he worked with Exxon Chemical Company and Deloitte Haskins & Sells. Todd has a bachelor’s in business administration in accounting from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s of business administration in finance from the University of Michigan. Todd is currently the Treasurer at Girlstart, an Austin, Texas-based nonprofit that empowers girls in science, technology, engineering and math, and serves on the board of CollegeSpring, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that helps students from low-income backgrounds boost SAT scores, navigate college admissions and financial aid, and confidently pursue college degrees.

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Mindy Rogers

Philanthropist
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Mindy Rogers began her career at Bain & Company. She later joined Wells Fargo Bank as Vice President, where she held a variety of managerial positions in banking operations including General Manager of Northern California check processing, a 24/7 operation with over 300 employees and an $11 million budget. After leaving Wells Fargo, she became a consultant to the bank on a range of issues, including merger integration support, cost reduction, operational management, marketing, and new product launches.

Mindy is very involved in her community. At Sacred Heart Preparatory Atherton, Mindy served in a variety of volunteer capacities, including for seven years as a member of the Board of Trustees. For four years, she chaired the Board, where she led a strategic planning process, worked with the administration to implement numerous key initiatives and launch a $95 million capital campaign, led a search for a new head of school, and worked to improve governance and financial reporting. Currently, she is a Board Member for Stanford New Schools-a network of charter schools in East Palo Alto run by the Stanford School of Education-and an active volunteer with Project Read, the Boys and Girls’ Club of the Peninsula, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Stanford University. Mindy earned her B.A. in Economics, with Honors and Distinction, and her M.B.A. from Stanford University. She is married to Jesse Rogers, with three children.

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Brittany Skoda

Global Head of Software Banking, Morgan Stanley
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Brittany joined Workday in 2018 to lead Workday’s strategic investing and help accelerate the growth of portfolio companies.  In addition to investing, she is responsible for establishing, maintaining and growing relationships with disruptive enterprise technology companies, investment partners and industry thought leaders. Brittany is also a member of Workday’s Corporate Strategy team, responsible for developing integrated business strategies.

She joined Workday after nearly a decade at Goldman Sachs where she was a senior technology investment banker in San Francisco. Brittany brings a deep expertise in enterprise software as both an investor and advisor and was named one of the Top Women Leaders in SaaS of 2018 by The SaaS Report.

Passionate about creating opportunities for under-represented groups, Brittany sits on the National Board of Directors for College Spring and Co-Leads All Raise’s Finance and Operations team.

Brittany is a Georgetown University alum, a former NCAA Division 1 golfer, and IMG Academy / David Leadbetter Golf Academy alum.

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Ralph Sutton

Founder & CEO, Validity Capital Partners, LLC
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A former trial attorney with over 17 years of experience litigating cases, Ralph has deep experience in litigation funding.

Before joining Validity Capital Partners, he was the chief investment officer at Bentham IMF, the US subsidiary of the Australian litigation funding pioneer, where he assisted the company in its investment in more than 40 cases in the US, creating a US investment portfolio with claims valued at approximately $1.5 billion. He also championed Bentham’s focus on fairness and sustainability in the litigation funding industry, and has been a fierce advocate for increased access to civil justice. In 2016, he led the company in its decision to provide a significant capital contribution to the UC Irvine School of Law’s new national Civil Justice Research Institute, which will study factors that limit access to America’s court system.

Ralph also helped found Credit Suisse’s Litigation Risk Strategies group, introducing innovative third-party funding to a traditional Wall Street investment bank. He graduated from Columbia College with honors in English Literature, and received his J.D. from the New York University School of Law. After graduating from NYU, Ralph served as a law clerk to US District Court Judge G. Thomas Eisele for two years.

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Olga Votis

Chairman of the Board, Teaching Matters
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Olga Votis has served as the Chairman of Teaching Matters for the past ten years. During her tenure as chairman, Teaching Matters has grown its cross-disciplinary portfolio of teacher development and coaching services so that more than 1,000 schools, 30,000 teachers and 500,000 students in underserved communities have been positively impacted.

Prior to her work at Teaching Matters, she was the Director of Music Programming at the 92nd Street Y.  Ms. Votis brings creativity and know-how to the Board, along with the ability to apply an entrepreneurial spirit to her leadership. She holds a B.A. from Brown University and an MPhil from Cambridge University. Olga served as a Co-Chair of the New York Public Library and as a founding board member of the Columbia University Innovation Center.  Olga also served as Executive Producer of The Shed in New York as it opened at Hudson Yards and she has been certified by the NACD since 2018.

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Bay Area Board

Joel Jones, Regional Board Chair

Vice President, Sales Planning and Operations, Facebook
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Joel joined Facebook in 2012 and leads the global Sales Planning & Operations team, which scales Facebook’s business through planning, enablement, and operations. Prior to Facebook, Joel worked at Yahoo! for five years with roles leading the Americas Ad Marketplaces team, as the Chief of Staff to the CEO, and in the Corporate Strategy group. Prior to that, Joel spent seven years with McKinsey & Company leading digital media business growth and go-to-market strategy in high tech.

Joel also serves as Chair of CollegeSpring’s Bay Area board of directors. He has an M.S. in Applied Physics from Caltech and a B.S.E. in Engineering Physics from the University of Michigan, and currently resides in San Jose, CA.

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Diana Balgas

Executive Director of Transfer Programs, CSU East Bay

Walker Conolly

Manager, Business Integrity, Facebook
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Walker is a Senior Manager with Facebook’s Business Integrity team. BI’s mission is to ensure safe and trusted connections between people, businesses, and Facebook. In his prior role as Forensics Services Director with PwC, he solved complex regulatory matters and assessed and improved risk and compliance programs for financial services and technology clients. Walker has a B.S. in Computer Science from Lehigh University, and lives in San Francisco.

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Tarah S. Evans

Executive Director, Franklin & Catherine Johnson Foundation
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Tarah has more than 15 years of experience with non-profits and in the private sector and her role is to manage the widespread philanthropic efforts of the company and the Johnson family.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a Master’s Degree in Communication Management from the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California. Tarah also obtained her certification (CPCC) in Executive Coaching in 2005 from the Coaches Training Institute.

Tarah began consulting to the Job Corps division of the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, DC. She also worked as an associate at a consulting firm that developed curricula for job training programs serving at-risk youth.

Tarah was also director of New Ways Workers, a San Francisco-based youth program for high school students. Working with the mayor’s office and the San Francisco school district, she designed and launched a variety of mentoring and school-to-career programs to help students finish high school and move on to college – as well as handling fundraising, grant-writing, and working directly with the youth.

At Asset Management, she handles all manner of giving, including grants to educational, arts and environmental organizations. Youth education programs are her passion – she currently serves on the board of the East Palo Alto Youth Court, one of the newest additions to the portfolio.

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Joan Kiekhaefer

Senior Vice President, US Bank
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Joan Kiekhaefer is SVP at US Bank in the Technology Banking Group.  At US Bank, Joan manages the Bank’s relationships with large corporate technology companies.  Prior to joining US Bank, Joan held similar positions at Banc of America Securities and Fleet Bank.  Joan has worked with a number of education related non-profits including leading the Education Foundation of Orinda.  Joan has an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management and an AB in Economics from Stanford University.  She resides with her family in Orinda, CA.

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Matthew Kinsella

Managing Director, Maverick Capital Ventures
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Mr. Kinsella joined Maverick in 2005 and was responsible for the public software investment effort from 2008 to 2014 and in 2014 he began focusing full-time on Maverick’s private investment efforts. He received his B.B.A. from the University of Notre Dame (Summa Cum Laude, Hamilton Award recipient) where he was President of Keenan Hall and Treasurer of the Class of 2005. Prior to joining Maverick, Mr. Kinsella interned in the Alternative Investments Group at J.P. Morgan, the Notre Dame Endowment Office, and the Chicago Board of Trade. He serves as Chairman of the Maverick Capital Foundation.

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Paula Schmidlin

Global HR Executive

Tony Tao

Program Manager, Medallia
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Tony is a Program Manager at Medallia, Software as a Service company, where he advises customers on how best to use technology to maximize customer satisfaction and experience. Prior to Medallia, he worked at various financial technology companies in New York and London. Outside of work, Tony was Junior Council Chair at Safe Horizon, the nation’s largest victims’ assistance organization, where Tony raised money and awareness among a new generation of donors.
Tony holds a Bachelors from NYU and an MBA from Cornell and grew up in Hayward, CA.  In Hayward, Tony studied with bright classmates who were unable to get the college assistance help they needed. This is his main reason to join CollegeSpring – to help others realize their educational potential.
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Sinohe Terrero

Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer, Quid
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Sinohe Terrero is CFO and COO at Quid, a startup that uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to help the world’s largest organizations make decisions that matter.  Prior to joining Quid, Sinohe held executive level finance and operations roles at high-growth startup companies. Notably, he served as VP of Finance and Analytics at Etsy, an online marketplace, and SVP of Finance and Analytics at Indiegogo, a global crowdfunding platform.  Sinohe also worked for Citigroup as a VP in their Global Financial Services Division on a number of IPO filings. He’s a CPA, and received a BA in Accounting from Baruch College in NYC and an MBA from the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch. Sinohe also served as an adjunct professor at the Zicklin, where he taught Financial Statement Analysis.
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New York Board

Alex Farman-Farmaian

Partner & Vice Chairman, Edgewood Management
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Alexander Farman-Farmaian is Vice Chairman, Partner and Portfolio Manager at Edgewood.  He joined in January 2006 and helped implement the current valuation approach of the Edgewood Investment Committee. He is an analyst on portfolio companies, served as Director of Research, and produces the “Economents™”, a periodic economic and financial markets update for clients.  Prior to joining Edgewood, Alex was for 19 years a senior member of the Portfolio Management team at W.P. Stewart & Co. where he chaired the Investment Oversight Committee. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR – NY), the World Presidents’ Organization (WPO), and serves as a Trustee of the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), an organization that promotes access to health services and fundamental human rights of women and girls around the world.  Alex was formerly President of the Princeton Club of New York, is a member of the Economics Club of New York and is on the board of Kalinat S.A., a potato chip manufacturing company in Caracas, Venezuela.  He received a BA in Economics from Princeton University in 1987, and speaks fluent French, Spanish, Farsi and conversational Italian.

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Russ Krivor

Principal, Sovereign Properties
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Mr. Krivor developed an interest in real estate at a young age. He spent his teenage summers working at his uncle’s high-rise and commercial construction sites in Chicago. While studying Economics at Northwestern University, he observed an incredible demand for affordable single-family homes in south Florida.  Eager to take advantage of the market opportunity, Russ, took a break from college at 19 and founded his first homebuilding company in 2004. The firm initially set out to build 5-10 homes annually. By the end of 2006, they had built and sold over 200 homes.

Recognizing the trend away from home ownership in 2008, Russ wanted to transform the firm into a powerhouse for multifamily development with a strong focus on upscale suburbs with difficult zoning laws. He approached a family friend for equity, and invested a great deal of his own money. In 2010 Dolce Living Mansfield, Mr. Krivor’s first rental community, opened its doors. Since then, under his various brands, Russ has developed nearly 5,000 apartments across five markets in the United States. Today, Mr. Krivor’s firm Sovereign Residential has over $150 million in capital under management and constructs and owns multifamily developments throughout the American southeast.

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Teena-Ann Sankoorikal

Partner, Covington & Burling, LLP
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Teena-Ann V. Sankoorikal is a partner at Covington & Burling, LLP. She has broad experience in litigation, with particular experience in intellectual property-related disputes, including patent, copyright, trade secret and breach of contract, as well as antitrust matters. Ms. Sankoorikal has represented both plaintiffs and defendants including Alarm.com (patent litigation), IBM (copyright, trade secret and antitrust), Qualcomm (patent), Warner Brothers Records (copyright) and Frank Reginald Brown (dispute relating to ownership interest in Snapchat), among others. Ms. Sankoorikal co-authored the Intellectual Property Law Answer Book, published by the Practising Law Institute, which is currently in its fourth edition.

Ms. Sankoorikal was recognized for her work in intellectual property litigation in the Leaders League Innovation – Technology & Intellectual Property Report in 2014. In 2013, Ms. Sankoorikal was named a “Rising Star” by both New York Law Journal and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA). In 2012, she received the “Best Lawyers Under 40” award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association for her outstanding professional achievements and dedication to the Asian Pacific American community.

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SoCal Board

Gene Sykes, Regional Board Chair

Co-Chairman of M&A and Global Technology, Media and Telecom Group, Goldman Sachs
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Gene Sykes is Co-Head of Global Mergers & Acquisitions and Co-Chairman of the Global Technology, Media and Telecom Group. Previously, he was Co-Chairman of Global Mergers & Acquisitions. Mr. Sykes is a member of the Management Committee and the Firmwide Client and Business Standards Committee. He joined the Mergers & Acquisitions Department in New York in 1984 and moved to Los Angeles in 1987. He became a Partner in 1992. Mr. Sykes is a trustee of the California Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, a board member of Common Sense Media, a member of the Advisory Council of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, a member of the Stanford University Board of Trustees, and a trustee of St. Matthew’s Parish School. He earned an MBA from Stanford University in 1984 and an AB from Harvard University in 1980.

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Jason Collins

Retired NBA Player, NBA Cares Ambassador
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Jason Collins is a retired American professional basketball player of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Collins attended Stanford University, where he was an All-American in the 2000-2001 season. Upon graduating with a B.A. from Stanford, Collins was selected in the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft with the 18th overall pick. A 13-year veteran, Collins played center for six teams including New Jersey, Memphis, Minnesota, Atlanta, Boston, Washington and, most recently, the Brooklyn Nets (formerly the New Jersey Nets). While in the league, Collins’ teams earned 10 trips to the playoffs, including 2 NBA Finals appearances.

After the 2012-13 NBA season concluded, Collins publicly came out as gay in a cover story for Sports Illustrated, becoming the first male active player in any of the four major American professional sports to announce that he is gay. President Obama expressed his gratitude to Collins for his courageous announcement and said he “couldn’t be prouder” of Collins, recognizing this as a point of progress for the LGBT community, and one more step in America’s goal to treat everyone fairly and with respect. Collins has traveled the country with the mission of empowering people to live their lives as their true selves, and has become an active member of numerous charities, foundations and organizations. In 2013, GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, honored Collins with the Courage Award at the GLSEN Respect Awards. In 2014, Logo TV honored Collins with its inaugural Trailblazer Award. Also in 2014, the Matthew Shepard Foundation honored Collins with its Making a Difference Award at its annual Honors Gala. In April 2014, Collins was featured on the cover of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.” In January of 2015, the National Civil Rights Museum honored Collins with a Sports Legacy Award.

Jason is an Ambassador for the NBA Cares— spreading goodwill on behalf of the NBA with its players, community and corporate partners. He also served on President Obama’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, which worked to motivate Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle via physical activity and nutrition. Collins resides in Los Angeles, California.

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Shomik Dutta

Co-Founder and Partner, Higher Ground Labs
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Shomik has built a diverse career in politics, renewable energy, and finance. He is a Founding Partner at Higher Ground Labs, a seed-stage accelerator focused on finding and supporting better political technology for progressive campaigns. He is a veteran of several Democratic campaigns and served as the Mid-Atlantic Finance Director for the ’08 Obama Campaign. Shomik worked in the Obama White House as special assistant to the White House Counsel and then served as an Advisor to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. Shomik later worked on President Obama’s re-election campaign as a fundraiser. In 2013, Shomik co-founded a private equity firm focused on renewable energy and infrastructure. He oversaw the planning, financing, and development of two utility-scale solar plants in Asia and in Sub Saharan Africa. Shomik holds a B.A. from Williams College and a M.B.A from The Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania. Shomik recently served as the Chairman of the Board of RePublic Schools, a Charter Management Organization devoted to providing high-quality education to low-income students in the Deep South.

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Scott McConnell

Principal, Ares Relationship Management Group
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Scott is a Principal and Relationship Manager for North America in the Ares Relationship Management Group. Prior to joining Ares in 2007, Mr. McConnell was a Manager in the Centralized Interest Rate Risk Group at IndyMac Bancorp, Inc. Previously, Mr. McConnell was a Senior Associate in the Audit practice at KPMG, LLP, where he focused on the banking and financial services industry. Mr. McConnell holds a B.S., cum laude, from Loyola Marymount University in Accounting. He also holds a B.A. from Loyola Marymount University in Information Systems and Quantitative Management. Mr. McConnell holds a CPA license (inactive) and is a CFA® charterholder.

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Wendy Wachtell

President and CEO, Joseph Drown Foundation
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Wendy Wachtell is President and CEO of the Joseph Drown Foundation, a Los Angeles-based private foundation that distributes approximately $5,000,000 annually to nonprofits in the Los Angeles area. She currently serves on a variety of Boards, including the Joseph Drown Foundation, Los Angeles Urban Funders, The John Thomas Dye School, The Accelerated School, and the Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy at the University of Southern California.

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Young Professionals Board

Bobby Christianson, Co-Chair

Associate, Accel-KKR
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Bobby serves as Co-Chair of the Young Professionals Board and has been involved with CollegeSpring since 2017. He is currently an Associate at Accel-KKR, a technology focused private equity firm. Prior to joining Accel-KKR, Bobby was an Investment Banking Analyst at Goldman Sachs and he received a B.A. in Economics from UCLA. Bobby is passionate about mentorship and also participates in iMentor, a non-profit focused on mentorship and post-secondary education success.

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Justin Lutsch, Co-Chair

Associate, IPV Capital
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Justin serves as Co-Chair of the Young Professionals Board and has been involved with CollegeSpring since 2019. He is currently an Associate at IPV Capital, a technology focused investment firm. Justin is originally from Denver, Colorado and received his B.A. in Economics from the University of Colorado Boulder where he was a first-generation scholar.

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Ali Mrani Alaoui

Associate Consultant, Bain & Company
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Ali serves as a Member of the Young Professionals Board and has been involved with CollegeSpring since 2020. He is currently an Associate Consultant at Bain & Company. Ali is originally from Rabat, Morocco and received a B.S from the University of Toronto in Applied Mathematics. Ali loves reading about technology, education and emerging markets.

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Jonathan Carmona

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion HR Leader, Seattle Children's Pediatric Research Hospital
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Jonathan serves as a Member of the Young Professionals Board and has been involved with CollegeSpring since CollegeSpring’s inception. Jonathan’s history with CollegeSpring started with his participation in the pilot cohort under its original founders, and upon the receipt of his BA, from the University of California, Los Angeles, he moved on to become a formal employee with CollegeSpring, Southern California and CollegeSpring, New York’s programs team. Jonathan received his MA in Org Development from Columbia University, and is currently an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion HR leader with Seattle Children’s Pediatric Research Hospital.

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Becca Faust

Investor, IVP
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Becca serves as a Member of the Young Professionals Board, which she joined in 2020. She is currently an Investor at IVP, a technology-focused venture capital firm. Prior to joining IVP, Becca was an Investment Banking Analyst at Goldman Sachs in the Technology, Media, and Telecommunications group. Becca holds a B.A. from Yale, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa with distinction in History.

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Kaitlin Fong

Investor Relations, E*TRADE
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Kaitlin serves as a Member of the Young Professionals Board and has been involved with CollegeSpring since 2020. She currently serves on the Investor Relations team at E*TRADE in New York. Prior to joining E*TRADE, she served as Investment Banking Analyst at RBC Capital Markets in San Francisco, covering the Technology sector. Kaitlin grew up in Orange County, CA and received a B.A. in Economics from UCLA.

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Rai Froh

Manager of Public Funding, Larkin Street Youth Services
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Rai is a Member of the Young Professionals Board, having joined recently. He is currently the Manager of Public Funding for Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco. Rai is originally from Temecula, California and received his B.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley where he further developed his passion for helping others through mentorship and direct service.

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Ryan Lee

Associate, GI Partners
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Ryan serves as a Member of the Young Professionals Board and has been involved with CollegeSpring since 2020. He is currently an Associate at GI Partners, a technology and healthcare focused private equity firm. Prior to joining GI, Ryan was an Investment Banking Analyst at Citigroup, and he received a B.S. in Finance and Business Economics from New York University and graduated Beta Gamma Sigma, Summa Cum Laude.

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Jessica Ma

Associate, TPG Capital
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Jessica serves as a Member of the Young Professionals Board and has been involved with CollegeSpring since 2020. She is currently an Associate at TPG Capital focused on Healthcare private equity. Prior to joining TPG, Jessica was an Investment Banking Analyst at Evercore. She received a B.S. in Business from NYU Stern and graduated Beta Gamma Sigma, Magna Cum Laude.

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Mohamad Maarouf

Program Manager, Leading Educators; Senior Consultant, KAC Consulting
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Mohamad is excited to join the CollegeSpring team as a Member of the Young Professionals Board. He is currently a Program Manager at Leading Educators and Senior Consultant at KAC Consulting, two roles that provide him the opportunity to develop educational leaders across the nation. Prior to taking on these roles, Mohamad acted as a high school principal in Houston, Texas and received his undergraduate degree from Duke University and Master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas.

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Jay Mehta

Associate, Advent International
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Jay serves as a Member of the Young Professionals Board and has been involved with CollegeSpring since 2020. He is currently an Associate at Advent International, a global private equity firm, where he focuses on technology related investments. He previously worked as an Investment Banking Analyst at Morgan Stanley & Co. in San Francisco. Jay graduated from University of California, Los Angeles, with a B.A. in Economics.

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Taylor Parkinson

Associate, BPEA
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Taylor serves as a Member of the Young Professionals Board and has been involved with CollegeSpring since 2020. He is currently an Associate at BPEA, a private equity firm focused on small buyout and growth investments located in Boston, MA. Prior to BPEA, Taylor was an Associate at PwC in the Deals Valuation practice and received a B.S.B.A., magna cum laude, from Boston University.

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Nicole Vu

Strategy and Analytics Associate, Google
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Nicole serves as a member of the Young Professionals Board and has been involved with CollegeSpring since 2020. She is currently a Strategy and Analytics Associate at Google, driving hiring programs and initiatives to make Google more representative of its users. She also serves as a volunteer tutor with Reading Partners, a literacy nonprofit. Nicole graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Business Economics and a minor in Film, Television, and Digital Media.

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Tim Wang

Investment Banking Associate, Goldman Sachs
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Tim serves as a Member of the Young Professionals Board and has been involved with CollegeSpring since 2017. He is currently an investment banking Associate at Goldman Sachs & Co. and focuses on Healthcare M&A and financings. Prior to joining Goldman, Tim received a B.S.B.A. in Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis and graduated Beta Gamma Sigma, Magna Cum Laude.

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