Higher Achievement has assembled a team of passionate social justice advocates to lead our scholars in becoming life-long learners.

From our dedicated staff to the National Board of Directors to the affiliate Boards of Advisors, the vision we’re working toward wouldn’t be possible without the whole Higher Achievement community.

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Brian Flegel

Board of Directors
Clark Construction

Dom Meier

Board of Directors
Altria

Donald English

Board of Advisors
Baltimore Affiliate
Jackson Lewis

Kim Curry

Board of Directors
Baltimore Board of Advisors
BGE

Jacob Estes

Volunteer and Scholar Coordinator, Ward 4
DC Metro
jestes@higherachievement.org

Jacob assists in running programming at the Ward 7 (The Best! The Best!) Center. His primary responsibility at Ward 7 is making sure that the mentoring component of our programming is fun and engaging for mentors and scholars alike. He also leads a study hall and the cooking seminar at Ward 7.

“I work at Higher Achievement because being of service to our scholars is an immensely gratifying and rewarding experience.”

Emma Maxwell

Volunteer and Scholar Coordinator, Lakeland
Baltimore
emaxwell@higherachievement.org

Kortney Perry

Lead Volunteer & Scholar Coordinator, Henderson
Richmond
kperry@higherachievement.org

General Inquiries

Keona Gardner

Lead Volunteer and Scholar Coordinator, Brookland
DC Metro
kgardner@higherachievement.org

Keona works closely with the Center Director at our Brookland location. She is responsible for the recruitment, supervision, training and support of volunteer teaching mentors, ensuring that they are able to implement the curriculum and actively engage scholars in learning.

“I work at Higher Achievement because all youth deserve equitable access to resources such as education, which no one can ever take away from you.”

Proma Chowdhury

Volunteer and Scholar Coordinator, Alexandria
DC Metro
pchowdhury@higherachievement.org

Proma is the Volunteer and Scholar Coordinator for the DC Metro affiliate, Alexandria Center. As Center staff, she supports volunteer mentors with training and engagement, including the relationships mentors build with their scholars.

“I work at Higher Achievement because community and education are essential for youth to thrive. Opportunities, resources, and options should be available to families in supporting the future of their children beyond the classroom.”

Bri Wallington Ferguson

Center Director, Brookland
DC Metro
bwallingtonferguson@higherachievement.org

Erica Berry Wilson

Board of Directors
PGCPS Board of Education

Katey Comerford

Executive Director, External Affairs
Richmond

Sierra Janjua

Development Associate, Raiser’s Edge
sjanjua@higherachievement.org

Isabel Yordan

Director of Major Gifts
iyordan@higherachievement.org

T Whitfield

Center Director, Boushall
Richmond
twhitfield@higherachievement.org

Lucy Marks

Volunteer and Scholar Coordinator, Binford
Richmond
lmarks@higherachievement.org

Amy Gelbach

Volunteer and Scholar Coordinator, Boushall
Richmond
agelbach@higherachievement.org

Brittany Adams

Program Coordinator
DC Metro
badams@higherachievement.org

Garima Bhatt Handley

Executive Director, External Affairs
Baltimore

Garima works toward increasing the number of Baltimore City scholars we support by leading development and fundraising efforts, expanding partnerships to grow our mentor base and elevating the profile of the program across the city.

“I support Higher Achievement because after-school activities have an extraordinary impact on the academic and career outcomes of students. I am committed to providing under-served students with every opportunity to succeed.”

Carla Watson

Chief Program Officer

Jessica Mullery

Manager of Fundraising Communications
jmullery@higherachievement.org

Jessica works alongside the development team, overseeing Higher Achievement’s communication channels and annual fund appeals.

“I support Higher Achievement because I believe in closing the opportunity gap and giving our scholars the opportunities they deserve.”

Julie Koh

Senior Director of Finance

Julie manages all finance and accounting activities and works closely with senior management and staff to ensure sustainability of the organization. She prepares, analyzes, and interprets financial reports for management and facilitate annual audits.

“I work at Higher Achievement because I believe in its mission and want to bring my finance, communication and leadership skills to help build and sustain the organization.”

Radiya Buchanan

Center Director, Ward 7
DC Metro
rbuchanan@higherachievement.org

Radiya works with scholars, their families, and the community to provide opportunities for scholars to thrive.

“I work at Higher Achievement to be a resource for my scholars on their journey to personal success.”

Kayla Wilson

Americorps Fellow, Wards 6 & 8
DC Metro

Adriana Palacios

Americorps Fellow, Ward 1
DC Metro

Natasha Zakin

Americorps Fellow, Program Support
DC Metro
nzakin@higherachievement.org

Jo Gutierrez-Barnes

Americorps Fellow, Ward 4
DC Metro

LaKeya Williams

Americorps Fellow, Volunteer Recruitment
DC Metro
lwilliams@higherachievement.org

Connor Smith

Development Associate, Fundraising & Events
csmith@higherachievement.org

Connor provides fundraising and administrative support to senior fundraising staff, and provides logistical support for Higher Achievement fundraising events.

“I work at Higher Achievement because I believe in its mission: to bring talent and opportunity together in order to launch our scholars into lifelong success.”

Sierra Townsend

Americorps Fellow, Brookland
DC Metro
stownsend@higherachievement.org

Chris Leech

Board of Directors
McKinsey & Company

Andrea Archer

Richmond Board of Advisors
Altria

Neill Bellamy

Richmond Board of Advisors
Tredegar Corporation

Nick Breslin

Volunteer and Scholar Coordinator, Ward 4
DC Metro
nbreslin@higherachievement.org

Nick manages mentoring at the Ward 4 Achievement Center and works with Ward 4 center staff to create a safe, impactful, and positive learning environment where our scholars can grow and realize their potential.

“I work at Higher Achievement because I want to do what I can to give everyone the chance they deserve to succeed.”

Rachel Brock

Salesforce Administrator
Richmond
rbrock@higherachievement.org

Rachel leads recruitment, onboarding, training, and retention efforts for our mentors and other volunteers. She maintains relationships with university and community partners and supports center staff in planning and analysis related to mentor satisfaction. Interested in volunteering? Email her!

“I believe in leveraging the power of communities to help our young people overcome the opportunity gap and reach their potential!”

Mitch Brooks

Board of Directors, Secretary
DSI

Kate Brown

Director of Grants and Fundraising Operations
kbrown@higherachievement.org

Kate manages DC Metro’s foundation and government grant portfolios. She also manages our volunteer sustainability team, Middle School Matters tours, and annual appeal. She is a proud Ward 7 mentor.

“I work at Higher Achievement because I believe in our scholars and their potential.”

Katina Burley

Volunteer and Scholar Coordinator, Mount Royal
Baltimore
kburley@higherachievement.org

Ryan Chaffo

Baltimore Board of Advisors
Citizens Bank

Christa Coleman

Director of Program Operations
Richmond

Christa supports the center staff at Higher Achievement Richmond. She works to provide impactful and helpful resources and support to the Achievement Center teams.

“I work at Higher Achievement because I believe that middle school is such a pivotal time in a young person’s life. With the right support from caring adults, young people can come to believe in all that’s possible for them.”

Janice Cori

Managing Director of Development

Janice oversees DC Metro’s fundraising and volunteer recruitment activities.

“I work at Higher Achievement to create incredible opportunities for our scholars”

Max Curran

Baltimore Board of Advisors
Venable, LLP

Ronee Davis

Center Director, Binford
Richmond
rdavis@higherachievement.org

Mark DeBord

Richmond Board of Advisors
Community Volunteer

Kevin Doyle

Volunteer and Scholar Coordinator, Ward 1
DC Metro
kdoyle@higherachievement.org

Rick England

Board of Directors
DC Metro President’s Council
Madison Wealth Management

Jay Epstien

Board of Directors, Treasurer
DLA Piper LLP (US)

Elyse Harris

Director of Program Operations
DC Metro

As the leader of the Ward 7 Achievement Center, Elyse works with school staff, community members, families, and Higher Achievement staff to make the Ward 7 Achievement Center a safe, positive, and effective learning environment where our scholars can grow and realize their potential.

“I work at Higher Achievement because I want to help close the opportunity gap by supporting scholars, families, and community members in Ward 7.”

Alexis Hill

Volunteer and Scholar Coordinator, Ward 6
DC Metro
ahill@higherachievement.org

Johanna Flores

Manager of Programs and Operations
DC Metro
jflores@higherachievement.org

Johanna manages field trips, electives, seminars, overnight college trips, center meals, center supplies, and transportation for DC Metro scholars.

“I work at Higher Achievement because it takes an organization like Higher Achievement to create and foster opportunities that will build the future in my community.”

Todd Henry

Baltimore Board of Advisors
T. Rowe Price Associates

Swata Gandhi

Baltimore Board of Advisors, Chair
Consultant

Julie Herwig

Board of Directors, Chair
New York Life

Michelle Gilliard

Board of Directors
FHI360

Jazmin Hooks

Center Director, Henderson
Richmond
jhooks@higherachievement.org

Dimelza Gonzales-Flores

Director of Academics and SEL
DC Metro
dgonzalesflores@higherachievement.org

Lamont Gordon

Board of Directors, Vice Chair
Jackie Robinson Foundation

Sarah Gravitt Baese

Richmond Board of Advisors
Feed More

Yancy Jimenez

Accounting and Payroll Coordinator
yjimenez@higherachievement.org

Yancy guarantees that Higher Achievement can fulfill its mission by working closely with affiliates to provide them with billing support. She also is responsible for processing accounts payable and receivable, and payroll.

“I work at Higher Achievement because I love what Higher Achievement’s mission is: help scholars meet their goals and become someone in life, no matter what.”

Lynn Greer

Richmond Board of Advisors
BrownGreer

Tierra Gregory

Baltimore Board of Advisors
Law Offices of A Dwight Pettit

Taylor Keeney

Richmond Board of Advisors
Hunton Andrews Kurth

Stacy Haney

Richmond Board of Advisors
Haney Phinyowattanachip

Chavonte Harris

Center Director, Ward 4
DC Metro
charris@higherachievement.org

Chavonte is leader of the Ward 4 Achievement Center, she works with school staff, community members, families, and Higher Achievement staff to make the Ward 4 Achievement Center a safe, positive, and effective learning environment where our scholars can grow and realize their potential.

“I work at Higher Achievement because I get to have a strong impact on the academic, social, and emotional development of middle school youth.”

Christine Lattanzio

Board of Directors
PwC

Hannah Lauck

Richmond Board of Advisors
US District Court Judge,
Eastern District of VA

Christie Lerro

Director of Human Capital Management

“I work at Higher Achievement because middle school is a pivotal time in young peoples’ lives, and opportunities matter.”

John Linn

Baltimore Board of Advisors
PwC

Mary Lloyd Parks

Board of Directors
Richmond Board of Advisors, Chair
Community Volunteer

Carolyn Martin

Baltimore Board of Advisors
DAP Products Inc.

Rob Martin

Richmond Board of Advisors
Cherry Bekaert

Lorena Martinez

Senior Director of Programs

Lorena supports Directors of Programs at all three affiliates and develops standardized program resources for all affiliates to use. Lorena also travels to Higher Achievement Centers to learn from Center staff and ensure Centers are effectively serving scholars.

“I work at Higher Achievement because everyone should have opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive. These opportunities should not be denied based on someone’s zip code.”

Christopher McGowan

Richmond Board of Advisors
PwC

James Morgan

Director of Program Operations
DC Metro

James oversees the Ward 8, Ward 1, Greenbelt, Ward 6, and Brookland Achievement Centers, support the implementation of strategic programming, and manage Summer Academy teachers.

“I work at Higher Achievement because I enjoy collaborating with scholars, families, and schools to support scholars’ academic and social growth.”

Fred Morton

Richmond Board of Advisors
Former Henrico County Superintendent

Damian Popkin

Center Director, Ward 1
DC Metro
dpopkin@higherachievement.org

As the leader of the Ward 1 Achievement Center, Damian works with school staff, community members, families, and Higher Achievement staff to make the Greenbelt Achievement Center a safe, positive, and effective learning environment where our scholars can grow and realize their potential.

President’s Council

Many thanks to DC Metro’s dedicated President’s Council.

Please find a list in recognition of their work at the link below.

Emena Quattlebaum

Volunteer and Scholar Coordinator, Ward 8
DC Metro
equattlebaum@higherachievement.org

Emena manages mentoring at the Ward 8 Achievement Center and work with the Ward 8 center staff to create a safe, impactful, and positive learning environment where our scholars can grow and realize their potential.

“I work at Higher Achievement because I enjoy having an impact on the scholars and the city I grew up in!”

Sherry Rhodes

Board of Directors
DC Metro President’s Council

Heather Rosenbloom

Baltimore Board of Advisors
Penn State University

Mike Ruff

Volunteer and Scholar Coordinator, Greenbelt
DC Metro
mruff@higherachievement.org

Mike is responsible for the recruitment, supervision, training, and support of volunteer teaching mentors, ensuring that they are able to implement the curriculum and actively engage scholars in learning. As a VSC, he also plans and executes center events, field trips, and other activities to enhance the scholars’ learning experience.

“I work at Higher Achievement because I am passionate about Higher Achievement’s mission, and this is the perfect position that will allow me to continue working with youth in the DMV area so that I can be an ally.”

Nyasha Rusununguko

Center Director, Ward 8
DC Metro
nrusununguko@higherachievement.org

As the leader of the Ward 8 Achievement Center, Nyasha works with school staff, community members, families, and Higher Achievement staff to make the Ward 8 Achievement Center a safe, positive, and effective learning environment where our scholars can grow and realize their potential.

“I work at Higher Achievement because the mission of Higher Achievement aligns with my personal mission of working directly and advocating on behalf of today’s youth.”

Deborah Santiago

Board of Directors
Excelencia in Education

Ade Sawyer

Board of Directors
Weber Shandwick

Tiara Shelton

Center Director, Greenbelt
DC Metro
tshelton@higherachievement.org

As the leader of the Greenbelt Achievement Center, Tiara works with school staff, community members, families, and Higher Achievement staff to make the Greenbelt Achievement Center a safe, positive, and effective learning environment where our scholars can grow and realize their potential.

I work at Higher Achievement to have the space to provide a voice for youth who are often overlooked. I vision a world of confident youth of color, and it is my job to make sure they have the skills and space to achieve this.

Breylon Smith

Director of High School Placement and Alumni Programs
bsmith@higherachievement.org

Breylon leads the strategy around our High School Placement and Alumni Programs. He believes our scholars and alumni have meaningful things to contribute to their communities and society now and in the future. As they matriculate through our program, he wants to demonstrate his commitment by leveraging opportunities and empowering them.

“I work at Higher Achievement because I am a change agent for good and an active member of the solution.”

Jonathan Smith

Center Director, Lakeland
Baltimore
jsmith@higherachievement.org

Derrick Sydnor

Center Director, Mount Royal
Baltimore
dsydnor@higherachievement.org

Mike Tascher

Board of Directors
KPMG

 

Shelley Thompson

Shelley manages the grant portfolio for Higher Achievement’s Richmond and Baltimore affiliates.

“I work at Higher Achievement because I believe that Youth Development takes time and Higher Achievement’s program model allows us to see our impact, over the course of 4 years.”

Stephanie Valencia

Center Director, Alexandria
DC Metro
svalencia@higherachievement.org

As the leader of the Alexandria Achievement Center, Stephanie works with school staff, community members, families, and Higher Achievement staff to make the Alexandria Achievement Center a safe, positive, and effective learning environment where our scholars can grow and realize their potential.

“I work at Higher Achievement because I appreciate that we focus on preparing middle school youth for long term success and opportunities”

Jessica Walbridge Richardson

Chief Operating Officer

Thalia Washington

Executive Director, External Affairs
DC Metro

As Executive Director, Thalia has operational responsibility for the DC Metro affiliate where ­­­ we serve 550 scholars at eight centers in DC, Alexandria, and Prince George’s County, MD. She engages in senior staff management, stakeholder engagement, fundraising, and organization-wide leadership.

“I work at Higher Achievement because as a first-generation American this mission is personal – the middle to high school transition launched my path to college and it’s an honor to help other young people do the same.”

Niki Whitecar

Baltimore Board of Advisors
Miles & Stockbridge P.C.

Kimberly Yates

Manager of Grants
kyates@higherachievement.org

Kimberly manages the grant portfolio for Higher Achievement’s DC Metro affiliate.

“I work at Higher Achievement because nobody should be denied a bright future because of zip code. In uniting as a community and raising each other up, we can really make a difference.”

Lynsey Wood Jeffries

Lynsey Wood Jeffries

CEO

Bio

Lynsey supports Higher Achievement scholars across all four regions, making sure that we advance our mission and run an effective organization. Lynsey works with the Board of Directors, staff, supporters, and partners to raise funds, grow and evaluate our program, and continually improve.

“I work at Higher Achievement because I’ve witnessed the power of our model as a volunteer and staff member for 19+ years, with countless successful alumni and hard data. Our model bridges divides and advances justice.”

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