Before joining BUILD, Alfred dedicated his efforts towards community-led systems change with high schools as fulcrum at XQ Institute. He led the professional learning community within the network of schools across the country to actualize their bold ideas and fostered the partnership with the Carnegie Foundation of the Advancement of Teaching to build a new architecture for learning to replace the current time-based system.
While at the Buck Institute for Education (now PBLWorks), Alfred led the development of their integrated Project Based Learning teacher experience that offered services and tools to guide educators in their journey toward sustained, high-quality PBL practice.
Alfred also taught math and physics at High Tech High where he used his engineering background and industry experience to design classroom projects and educator workshops. Alfred started his career with Andersen Consulting doing business/internet consulting and later joined a Bay Area venture fund, CreateLabs.
Alfred currently resides in Minneapolis with his wife and daughter.
Betsy Neptune comes to BUILD with over 15 years of experience in community economic development in Latin America and the U.S. She is passionate about creating a world in which everyone can have a job that they love and one through which they can grow and develop in order to have a positive impact. In her most recent role as the Chief of Economic Development for the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, she led economic recovery and resilience efforts for 101 cities and towns in Greater Boston. During her tenure, she expanded the work of the team beyond traditional economic development efforts, to include workforce development, digital access, and other strategies to advance wealth creation with a focus on reducing the racial wealth gap. Over the past year, her team played a key role in COVID response and recovery efforts throughout the Greater Boston region.
Prior to that role, she led the Small Business Technical Assistance program for the City of Boston, after serving as the Executive Director of Egleston Square Main Street, an organization in Jamaica Plain/Roxbury whose mission is to support small businesses. This work was shaped by her experiences working in community economic development for several years in Ecuador, Peru, and Chile.
Betsy has a heart for teaching, coaching, and entrepreneurship, so BUILD is a perfect fit. She has taught high school and graduate-level classes and also coaches existing and emerging entrepreneurs through her coaching business. She is a graduate of Trinity College with a degree in Anthropology and has certificates in Nonprofit Management and Corporate Social Responsibility. She received her MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and lives in Boston.
I graduated from high school thinking I wanted to be a professional musician, so I majored in music at the University of Central Florida. I spent my days playing music, sports, and pledging to a fraternity but failed to have an academic focus. After three semesters of struggle, I went to work for Disney World, where for the first time in my life I was given responsibility for other employees. I blossomed in this role and was sent to France to open Euro Disney where I lived and worked for four months. Coming back home with a burning desire to learn more about the African diaspora, I went back to school graduating with a sociology degree from State University of New York Geneseo. I wanted to pursue a career where I could make a difference in the world, particularly for those who have historically been underserved and denied the opportunity. I moved to NYC where I taught high school, then was hired by NAF (National Academy Foundation) in 2000 to help launch the Academy of Information Technology. NAF is a national network of education, business, and community leaders who work together to ensure high school students are college, career, and future ready.
My NAF career has been a wonderful 22-year journey which has prepared me for this incredible opportunity with BUILD. I helped NAF grow from supporting 3,000 students to over 120,000 today, with budgets growing from $8M to $25M, and a staff of 17 to over 90. Growth and scale are not easy hills to climb, however, I am very confident that we will accomplish that at BUILD given the incredible work done to date and the passion and energy that exists to create an even brighter future.
I believe that we are at a critical moment in the United States, confronted with deep partisan divisions roiled by populism, racism, and other dividing forces. Now more than ever, our country needs an organization committed to helping its youth develop the entrepreneurial skills and growth mindsets that will empower them as leaders of innovation, agents of change, and position them for success as the CEOs of their lives. I am very honored and super excited to lead the BUILD team at this unique moment.
Ed Wilson has over a decade of experience in fundraising and development. Prior to leading BUILD’s National Development efforts, Ed served as the Development Director for BUILD Boston. Ed earned his MBA, with a concentration in Leadership & Organizational Change, from Northeastern University, and his BA in Economics and Management from Albion College, Michigan. Ed resides in Dedham, MA with his wife Jennie and his two daughters Adeline and Violet.
Karleton Thomas is a social entrepreneur and workforce development practitioner who has spent much of his career developing opportunities for marginalized communities. After nearly a decade of engaging vulnerable populations and witnessing the myriad of barriers to effective programming, Karleton is poised to deliver on the “dream” and provide sustainable solutions to the students, residents, and parents of our communities.
As a former Political candidate, Criminal Justice Reform Program Director & CEO, Educational Administrator, and also an established transformational leader in both the private and public sector, Lamar Blackwell joins BUILD as the Founding Director with a plethora of relevant relationships and invaluable experience. Lamar has had an amazing track record of reforming broken communities through administrative duties. He attended the 9th-ranked dual-degree graduate and law school program in the United States, Georgia State University. Lamar also received his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College in 2016. Lamar has mastered the ability to maximize equity through creating, influencing, and operating policy that justly allocates resources to under-served residents, students, and communities. He is an accomplished professional with extensive experience advocating and campaigning to mitigate injustice for individuals by leading social justice organizations, schools, and social service agencies. The unmatched ability to connect community partners, potential funders, and regular people to a product has helped Lamar Blackwell establish himself as a “widely-recognized” dynamic leader throughout the region.
Mr. Blackwell was born and raised in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the Northeast; at one point he attended one of the lowest-performing schools in Pennsylvania, Peabody High School. He states “of all the friends I grew up around, I’m the only one who is currently walking the streets free. Half are dead, half are incarcerated, but it started from the time we were students.” Lamar realized that being born into an unsatisfactory environment, with little resources would lead many to a life of self-destruction. He noticed that many of the friends he grew up with were struggling due to the fact that they were not connected to the work they were doing and didn’t have a chance to create opportunities for themselves. At that point, Lamar dedicated himself to fighting for equity and opportunity for those who are unable to fight for themselves.
Lamar has served numerous low-income communities and transformed the minds of many speaking professionally to over 900,000 people and raising millions of dollars for low-income residents and nonprofit organizations. Lamar has created strong networks, working alongside diverse groups of people, ranging from troubled minority students to formerly incarcerated individuals. Lamar looks forward to serving BUILD and helping change the trajectory of the lives of students through informal education.
Ryan Oliver serves as Regional Executive Director for BUILD Bay Area and Los Angeles, holding primary responsibility for leading growth initiatives and directing strategy. Ryan brings twenty years of experience as an innovative educator, leader, and program designer in urban schools, from Boston and Pittsburgh to Los Angeles and East Oakland. Previously, Ryan served as Founding Program Director for BUILD Boston. A Bay Area native, Ryan has lived, learned, and worked on both coasts. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Harvard University, a Master of Arts in Education from California State University Monterey Bay, and Principal Certification from University of Pittsburgh.
Sue has over 25 years’ experience as a regional and national nonprofit executive, successfully building and leading cross-functional, inclusive, high performing teams. Sue began her career with audience development work for Shear Madness/Cranberry Productions, one of the nation’s longest-running theatrical productions. She moved into the nonprofit sector with her role as the Director of Registration and Student Services at the Boston Center for Adult Education and eventually as its first Director of Development. She then became Director of Posse Boston at The Posse Foundation, an acclaimed national college access and diversity program. After transforming the Boston site to a revenue self-sustaining and programmatically successful one, Sue rose to Regional Vice President, implementing the strategic plan and ensuring overall health of the organization while overseeing numerous chapters. During her subsequent tenure as a member of the executive team at Health Leads, a social enterprise, she led in several areas including national program and revenue and helped to position the organization to capitalize on market changes through greatly increased programmatic efficiency and productivity. Later, at Peace First, Sue served as a Senior Advisor to the executive team in a variety of functional and strategic areas, and, more recently, as Chief Operating Officer for Big Sister Association of Greater Boston. Sue also served as Chair of the board of directors for Y2Y Network, an innovative, student-run, overnight shelter which provides a safe and affirming environment for young adults experiencing homelessness.
Thais comes to us from BizWorld, having formerly spent the last eight years as BizWorld’s CEO, where she grew the organization to become the largest teacher-led entrepreneurship education non-profit in the world, serving over 850,000 students worldwide. She launched BizWorld’s innovative YES! Program to support young entrepreneurs to gain access to tools, mentorship, and capital needed to make their entrepreneurial dreams a reality.
Thais holds an unwavering commitment to making economic opportunities and entrepreneurship education accessible to all students, particularly those from traditionally underserved and underrepresented backgrounds. She started her career in the non-profit world, focusing on micro-enterprise development. For eight years, she led the growth of innovative programming and the organizational expansion at Women’s Initiative for Self Employment. As the lead developer of the successful business propulsion program “SuccessLink,” she set a new national standard for entrepreneurship support services that became a national model. Thais worked for the Mexican Consulate as part of The Mexican Communities Abroad Team, where she helped implement and develop health, education, and business trade programs. Her background also includes journalism work in both TV and print, covering the tech industry. She resides with her husband and three daughters in Seattle.
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