Dr. Vanessa E. Beary is currently an Education Entrepreneur at 1776, a global incubator. From 2014 until early 2016, she served as Senior Advisor on Youth Entrepreneurship at the U.S. Department of State and spearheaded the design of the Department's Resilient, Entrepreneurial, and Dynamic Youth (READY) Initiative. She holds a Doctor of Education from Harvard University, a Master of Education from Harvard University, a Master of Philosophy from the University of Cambridge, and a Bachelors of Arts with honors from Brown University. Vanessa currently serves as Immediate Past President of Harvard Alumni for Education Shared Interest Group, as well as Vice President of Harvard Club of Washington, DC.
Nell O'Donnell, President
Eleanor (Nell) O'Donnell Weberis a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an education consultant. She has over ten years of experience working with nonprofit organizations, international non-governmental organizations, and schools. Her particular areas of interest include the impact of parental beliefs on their children’s education, early childhood care and education, emergent literacy and numeracy, global education, and curriculum development. She holds a B.A. in International Studies and French from Washington University in St. Louis, MO and an Ed.M. in International Education Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, MA.
Xianhui (Grace) Dong is a 2 nd Year Doctoral Student in the Educational Leadership Program Division at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Manager of Curriculum and Implementation at Achieve3000. Grace is deeply committed to equitable outcomes for all students and her research explores the intersection of organizational change, technology, and social justice in education. Grace received her Master’s in Education from Harvard University and her Bachelor’s with Distinction and Department Honors from The University of California, Berkeley.
Shima Gholamimehrabadi | Vice President
Shima Gholamimehrabadi works as a Consultant for research teams at international organizations that are transitioning from paper-based data collection to computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) systems. She holds an Ed.M. in International Education Policy from Harvard University, and undergraduate degrees in International Business and Persian Studies from the University of Maryland-College Park.
Michael Sanders | Co-Founder
Michael Sanders is a performer, education advocate, communications, media and informal learning practitioner and advocate. He has worked with a number of non-profit, arts, news media, higher education and entertainment organizations. He served as a research associate for Sustain Arts, an arts and data research initiative at Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership. As an artist, he has performed in traditional and experimental theater in Louisiana and New York and hosted Harvard Graduate School of Education's TEDxHGSE. He currently serves as a Director-at-large for the Harvard Club of Washington, DC. Michael holds a BA with honors in Mass Communication from Xavier University of Louisiana, an MA in Communication Studies from Louisiana State University, and an EdM in Arts and Media in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Treasurer | Vacant
Matthew Williams | Secretary
Matthew Williams holds a B.A. in Education from Berea College and an Ed. M. in International Education Policy from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. He has a passion for education in all forms and has worked in enterprise training, consulting, international development, and taught in the classroom in the United States and abroad.
Lakita Edwards serves as a specialist with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), an independent federal agency supporting artists and arts organizations and bringing the arts to all Americans. As a specialist she manages the grants portfolio for both visual arts and media arts projects serving K-12. Prior to her work with the NEA, Lakita was an education specialist for the National Park Service. Lakita received her bachelor’s degree in art history and psychology from Bard College at Simon’s Rock and her master’s degree in arts education from Harvard University.
Rufina K. Park, Director of International Engagement
Rufina Kyung Eun Park is the Paul Reynolds Post-Graduate Research Fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada where she researches creativity and software education and helps develop an Asian Studies curriculum. Previously she has worked with organizations such as the World Bank, the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University, and the Global Ideas Institute at the University of Toronto. Rufina is particularly interested in quality and equity in education in the 21st century and innovative practices in education research. She is also passionate about design, social innovation, and youth mentorship. She holds a master's degree in International Education Policy from Harvard University, and graduated with high distinction from Trinity College, University of Toronto with a dual concentration in Asia Pacific Studies and International Relations.
Merisenda Alatorre | Director of Communications and Marketing
Merisenda Alatorre is an award-winning educator with an extensive background in multimedia production. She is currently a Manger of Digital Learning and Instructional Design at the National Math and Science Initiative.
Previous organizations she has worked with include KQED, Teach for America, and the MIT Media Lab. She's passionate about leveraging media, technology, and design thinking in education.
She holds a Master of Education from Harvard University, a Master of Arts in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast and Digital Journalism from University of Southern California.
Johnny is passionate about advancing children’s education through bold innovations and leadership. As a core member of the founding team, Johnny helped grow Entrepreneurial Ventures in Education from a regional summer learning pilot into a high-performing school network serving nearly 6,000 children in Indiana, Michigan, and Florida. Today, Entrepreneurial Ventures ranks among the top three largest nonprofit school turnaround operators in the country. In his role as Chief Strategy and Development Officer, Johnny develops pathways to scale; secures grants and contracts; and facilitates the calibration of organizational strategy to drive sustained growth and success. He has consulted with nationally recognized educational initiatives including Reach Out and Read, Smarter Learning Group, and America: Team HOPE. Johnny is a first-generation college graduate. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from UC Berkeley (where he graduated early in two years), and a Master’s Degree in Education Policy and Management from Harvard.
Julie Rukavina | Co-Chair, Washington, D.C.
Rukavina is currently a secondary public school teacher in the District of Columbia Public Schools. She is dual certified in Social Studies and Special Education and is passionate about urban education and ensuring students, no matter their background, have the opportunity to achieve their own version of success.
She did her undergraduate degrees in History and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia, which later brought her to New York City where she ran her own small production company.. Her work in Television and film taught her a lot, but it was not as fulfilling as the work she did running a small, but mighty, literacy program at a local New York public elementary school through New York Cares.
Rukavina attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education and graduated with an M.Ed. in Education Policy and Management. While at HGSE she also began volunteering with Room to Read, an organization dedicated to literacy and girl's education, and continues to do so to this day. Her degree brought her into the classroom and into the company of other amazing educators in the DC area. She is honored to be a part of the HAed Executive Committee and hopes to bring education focused people together in a meaningful and progressive way.
Bettina Dembek graduated from HGSE in 2001 with an EdM in International Education Policy.
Bettina is still very actively involved in the Harvard community as the co-President of the HAEd SIG for DC and she also leads the International Education Policy Alumni network.
Her work and life has taken her to six continents as an educator, environmentalist, and community advocate. Bettina worked with the Aborigines in Northern Australia to empower them to seek ownership over their children’s education and deal with the Uranium mines infringing on their territory; she helped corporations in leadership and staff capacity training, worked with the National Science Foundation and USAID to create effective communities of practice, and has authored and led the development of many curricula and learning environments online and face-to-face around the world on a range of subjects.
Bettina believes that effective education is the key to changed attitudes and practices and thus crucial in shaping the future world we want to live in. Bettina seeks to bring her experience and attitude to the HAEd SIG in DC and wants to connect like-minded alumni from all the schools of Harvard for cross-sectoral discussions that will inform practice and lead to action.
Dr. Nathaniel Dunigan has spent his career on the Continent—at the intersection of social entrepreneurship and scholarship—working with national teams to create sustainable initiatives in education, HIV/AIDS care, and psychology. He is Chief Executive Officer at AidChild.org, the first organization to have provided free anti-retroviral therapy to children in Uganda. He holds a Master’s Degree in Education, Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University where he was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship at the Harvard Kennedy School. He also holds a Ph.D. in Leadership and Psychology from the University of San Diego where he is the Dammeyer Fellow in Global Education Leadership. Dr. Dunigan is the author of “We Are Not Mahogany: An exploration of the social construction of masculinity in the Ugandan context,” and of “We Are Not Mahogany: Three stories about the male African life.”
Jennifer Kizza has a strong interest in the intersection of healthcare, education, and research. She is currently assessing the incidence and prevalence of neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders in Uganda as a Fulbright U.S. Student Researcher. She holds a B.A. with honors in Neurobiology and Global Health and Health Policy from Harvard College and graduated with distinction with an MSc in Global Health Science from the University of Oxford.
A Bay Area native and UC Berkeley graduate (Go Bears!), Reza is thrilled to return home from completing the Higher Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). Reza is currently the Outreach and Engagement Program Director at the Haas Center for Public Service, where he works to promote Cardinal Service, a university-wide initiative to elevate and expand service as a distinctive feature of a Stanford education. Prior to attending HGSE, he worked in China, where he guided high school students through the college application process and worked on an initiative with international schools to create an online mentor-mentee portal for students acclimating to their new university environment in the United States. In his free time, Reza likes to hike, read non-fiction, travel, and has been keeping busy learning the functions of his new camera.
McKay Roozen | Co-Chair, San Francisco
McKay is a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is Co-President of the Harvard Alumni for Education San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. McKay started her career as a teacher in a low resource classroom and now works in education technology in an effort to increase global access to high quality education. She currently manages university partnerships for Coursera, the worlds largest MOOC platform. Previously, McKay managed Asian business partnerships for Udemy, an online learning marketplace based in San Francisco, where she focused on user acquisition. She has also consulted for UNICEF and VIPKid. When she’s not traveling for work or pleasure, she enjoys attending the opera, ballet and symphony, where the conditions are perfect for a good nap!
Ali Slack | Co-Chair, NYC
Ali is currently the Director of Continuous Improvement at Student Success Network (SSN), a New York-based nonprofit which aims to connecting education and youth development organizations around improving student social and emotional learning. Prior to joining SSN, she taught high school science with Teach for America in her hometown of Atlanta, GA and later joined Accenture as a Management Consultant. She graduated from Harvard College in 2011 and was a proud member of the Women’s Swimming and Diving Team.
Taylor Chapman | Co-Chair, NYC
Taylor Chapman leads the Local Ops team at Remind, a education technology company providing a free tool for educators to safely text-message students and families. Before joining Remind, he was a leader in McKinsey & Company’s Education practice and a Public Sector Fellow in McKinsey’s DC office. Prior to earning a Master in Public Policy degree at Harvard Kennedy School, Taylor was a public school teacher four years. He taught for two years at a high-poverty school in Charlotte, NC with Teach for America and for two years in Kumamoto, Japan with the JET Program. Taylor currently serves as the Co-Chair of the New York City chapter of HAEd.
Emily Pope aims to leverage educational technology to increase the reach and impact of education for underserved communities. Currently, she manages online educational programs at Harvard Medical School’s Office of Global and Continuing Education.
Emily has five years of experience in adult and higher education. She was a lecturer at Ataturk University with the Fulbright Commission and has also served as a teacher and advisor to refugee students in the US, Turkey, and Egypt. Emily holds a BA in Philosophy and International Development from Calvin College and an Ed M in International Education Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Christine Gentry | Co-Chair, Los Angeles
Christine Gentry is a Visiting Assistant Professor and Corona-Norco Residency Director in the NYU Steinhardt Teacher Residency. Christine’s research explores the intersection of identity development and community in the urban public school classroom. In addition to her work in the Los Angeles chapter of Harvard Alumni for Education, Christine co-chairs the Los Angeles chapter of the First-Generation Harvard Alumni SIG. Before her work in teacher preparation, Christine taught English, creative writing, and oral storytelling in the public schools of Boston and New York City for twelve years.
Ghazal Gulati | Co-Chair, Los Angeles
Ghazal Gulati is a multi-disciplinary professional who works on improving the use of data to improve accountability networks across schools and education focused non profit organisations. She co-founded Meraki Foundation in India, an organisation that empowers low income parents in India for bettering child development outcomes. She is presently managing the data & strategy team at Alliance College Ready Public Schools, the largest charter network in Los Angeles. Ghazal is a chartered accountant and a Teach For India Fellow. She has a Master's in International Education Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Nicole Erb | Co-Chair, Detroit
Nicole Erb currently works with Detroit Public Schools Community District as the Supervisor for Curriculum and Instruction. In her role, she supports district-wide initiatives related to curriculum, professional development, and teacher leadership. Prior to serving at the district level, she taught middle and high school English in Indiana and Massachusetts and served as a choreographer for school musicals and dance groups. She is particularly interested in innovative, project-based learning that challenges students to impact their communities. She holds a B.S. in Secondary English Education from Indiana University Bloomington and an Ed.M. in Teaching and Learning from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Mary Grech | Co-Chair, Detroit
Mary Grech is a data and policy analyst supporting qualitative and quantitative research initiatives at the Education Trust-Midwest. Mary began her career as an elementary school teacher in Dayton, Ohio where she worked with students to strengthen their early literacy skills. Her time in the classroom further developed her passion for improving educational opportunities for students of all backgrounds and for connecting practitioners’ expertise to the policy design process. A Michigan native, Mary holds a Bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary and a Master’s degree in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University.
Carlos Obando | Co-Chair, Seattle
Carlos Luis Obando is Founder and Managing Member of Mercer Island Capital Management, LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor providing investment management and financial advisory services. He has over 20 years of experience in international and US financial markets.
Eloise Quintanilla | Co-Chair, Seattle
Eloise Quintanilla graduated from Harvard College with an A.B. in government in 2008. While at Harvard, she studied abroad in Cuba and South Korea, and co-led several cultural organizations, including Presencia Latina and RAZA. A Mexico City native, she started her career at NPR in Washington, DC. As a Kroc Fellow, she worked on NPR’s Weekend Edition show, National and Digital News Desks, and at a member station in San Francisco. Following NPR, she moved to Brooklyn to work with National Geographic before joining The Christian Science Monitor bureau back in DC. Eloise eventually moved west to Seattle and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she was a writer and researcher for the Giving Pledge and led issue advocacy campaigns across multiple continents for the communications and policy teams. Most recently, Eloise oversaw communications for Intellectual Ventures Lab, a Gates-funded invention skunk works near Seattle. She currently leads communications for Facebook Reality Labs, a pioneer in next-gen AR/VR technology. In addition to co-chairing the Seattle Chapter of HAEd, Eloise sits on the Advisory Team for the Bezos Center for Innovation, a children's museum in Seattle.
Dr. Crystal Rose | Advisor
Dr. Crystal Rose is the driving force behind OZY’s rocket-launch into the EDU world. Seeking to instill new guidelines to elevate news journalism, Dr. Crystal Rose works to make OZY a shining beacon in an era where academic discourse and current events should be two sides of the same coin. Since completing her M.D./PhD at University of Heidelberg and Harvard, she has worked with top universities globally. Before joining OZY, Dr. Rose was part of an educational coalition that worked with Yale, Harvard and Stanford graduate students in medicine, law, business and engineering to identify sustainable solutions (health services, clean water, etc.) for distressed regions of Brazil, South Africa and beyond. Now, as OZY’s Executive Director of Academic Affairs, she continues to collaborate with schools and universities — all in an effort to bring the real world into the classroom.