Ajay invests in early-stage software with a focus on front-office SaaS, AI/ML infrastructure, and supply chain technology. Prior to Bain Capital Ventures, Ajay led product and sales as an early employee at Trilogy, an enterprise software pioneer, growing annual revenues to $300 million.
Ajay’s primary investment themes include AI-enabled applications (Clari, Gainsight), the future of work (Homebase), bottom-up and developer led software (Sendgrid), supply chain and manufacturing transformation (FourKites, ShipBob, Vention), and automation (Ike). Ajay served as board director of several exited companies with combined outcomes of nearly $5 Billion, including SendGrid (acq. by Twilio), TellApart (acq. by Twitter), Kiva Systems (acq. by Amazon), and InfoScout (acq. by Vista Equity), and has been named multiple times to the Forbes Midas List Top 100 Venture Capitalists.
As employee #18 and SVP Product, Sales & Marketing at Trilogy Software, Ajay built a legendary recruiting program, signed multi-million-dollar contracts with Fortune 500 customers, and delivered breakthrough enterprise products, including market leading config-price-quote (CPQ) software. Ajay holds a patent for the “Method and Apparatus of Configuration Solutions”.
Combining his track record at Trilogy with 17 years of investment experience at Bain Capital Ventures, Ajay’s passion is working with early stage founders on team-building, culture, iterating on product-market fit, and scaling go-to-market operations.
Allie Richards is Community Development Advocate and Non-profit professional, passionate about serving under-resourced communities. Before joining BUILD, Allie served as a Community Manager at a small business incubator and previously worked as a consultant on community development projects. Allie has a B.A in International Development & Social Change and an M.A in Community Development & Planning, both from Clark University.
Allie BUILDs because it allows her to highlight the voices of our young people and put them on a path of upward mobility.
Andrea Atwell is the Vice President eCommerce for L’Oreal USA. Prior to this position, she was VP of US Market Supply Chain at L’Oreal’s Luxe Division. Her responsibilities included business, demand and supply planning, and customer care, with the vision of leveraging improved supply chain results to drive strategic relationships with L’Oreal’s US customers. Andrea has helped to lead significant planning process initiatives for L’Oreal which has transformed forecast accuracy, service levels, and inventory results, including managing the supply chain and human transitions of 3 major acquisitions for L’Oreal USA. Andrea’s efforts helped to shape the partnership between the supply chain and brands in L’Oreal, shifting the culture to drive operational awareness, improved results and competitive advantage. Prior to her 10 years at L’Oreal, Andrea has worked in the medical device and food & beverage industries.
Andrea has 15 years of supply chain experience and a true passion for leading and developing teams and recognizing and growing talent. She was recognized as a 2015 Visionary Leader by Consumer Goods Technology for her approach in prioritizing people and leadership to drive supply chain results. Andrea’s leadership has demonstrated that by focusing on people and creating a culture of change leaders, no business challenge is insurmountable. Andrea is also a frequent speaker on supply chain planning and talent development.
Andrea has a BA in Marketing from Michigan State University.
Anna is BUILD Bay Area’s Peninsula Program Manager. She supports teachers with the implementation of curriculum and leads the planning of school and community-based student events. Anna brings a wealth of experience as an educator in varying cultural and country contexts. Prior to joining BUILD, Anna taught primary and secondary school students in South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. She earned a BA in Child and Adolescent Development from San Jose State University and a Master of Education Degree from the University of Hong Kong.
Annie Le graduated from Boston College with a B.A. in Education and Mathematics and has worked in Boston Public Schools for ten years as a math teacher and the Engagement and Student Affairs Coordinator. She currently volunteers at the Networking Organization of Vietnamese-Americans to spearhead the Little Saigon Cultural District in Fields Corner. She is passionate about preserving and promoting the Vietnamese culture, helping people navigate the city, and working with youth to help them learn and grow.
Annie loves to work with people and is inspired by what the community has to offer. Moving from California, the community in Boston has created a new home for her where she can learn and grow. When she is not volunteering or attending community events, you can find her dressing up and taking pictures of her dog, Gravy or walking around the city with her husband.
For the students! Working with students outside of the classroom provides flexibility that did not exist in the confines of a classroom. It allows me to work directly with the students to support their future goals and aspirations.
Anupama Pasumarthy works as a Software Engineer at IBM where she helps IBM.com visitors discover products across global markets through Search and Navigation capabilities. She has experience mentoring young adults, boot camp program design and curriculum building through working with several non-profit organizations, including BUILD where she served as a student mentor in 2017-18. In recognition of her community service efforts, she was honored with The President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2017. She received her Master’s in Computer Science from UMass Amherst in 2016, prior to which she earned her Bachelor’s in CS from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad, India. In her free time, Anu enjoys cooking, running, and yoga.
Ashley Washington holds the position of Student Experience Program Manager of the Oakland, Bay Area programmatic team. Prior to joining the BUILD family Ashley earned her Master of Arts in Education from the University of Southern California and began her career within the teaching field in East Palo Alto, Ca serving her community directly. With East Palo Alto origins, she connects deeply to the purpose behind BUILD’s mission and has a strong connection to the foundation of the organization.
As a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., service has played a dynamic role in her lifestyle and is of high value. Mentorship, service, and impact are instrumental pieces of her holistic approach to life, this aligning directly with the aspirations of BUILD.
Ashley BUILDs to inspire and empower youth by providing opportunities to maximize student potential
Ayele Shakur brings almost three decades of experience as an innovator in urban education. Prior to coming to BUILD, she served as the President and CEO of the Boston Learning Center for 15 years. Under her leadership, the Center expanded from serving 100 students annually in Boston to 700 students across the state. Ayele joined BUILD in 2011 as Boston’s Founding Regional Executive Director.
A veteran classroom teacher, Ayele taught for eleven years in the Los Angeles area and in the Boston Public Schools, and co-authored the book Boost School Performance – A Parent’s Guide to Better Grades Fast. Ayele is the recipient of the 2012 Boston Celtics Heroes Among Us Award, and the 2007 Nan Bennett Kay Great Friend to Kids Award presented by the Boston Children’s Museum. In 2014, she was appointed as Chair of the Education Committee for the Boston NAACP, and held this post for three years. In 2015, she was appointed by the Boston School Committee to co-chair the Opportunity and Achievement Gaps Task Force for the Boston Public Schools. She was honored with the 2017 Barr Fellowship, which recognizes outstanding nonprofit leaders in Boston, and in 2018 became part of the GK100 Most Influential Black Bostonians. She is a motivational speaker and a blogger for the Huffington Post.
A native of Boston, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Boston University and a Master’s degree from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
Ben Mangum is a sales and business development professional specializing in software startups. Ben has been a mentor and board member at BUILD since 2017.
Ben is a graduate of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.
Having been in the for-profit sector for over ten years, Beverly joined BUILD after witnessing BUILD’s impressive student entrepreneurs at the 2013 Gala. Beverly currently leads the National Talent Team and brings her passion for equity into her daily work and connections with BUILDers across all of our regions.
Beverly lives in the San Francisco, Bay Area with her husband, three children and cat. When not supporting our team with the important work, she enjoys watching competitive sports, learning about different cultures, trying new recipes and spending time outdoors.
As an angel investor and mentor to entrepreneurs, Brian served as Chairman of the New York Angels for nearly a decade. As one of the most active angel groups in the world, they have invested nearly $200 million in over 300 startups. Notably, Brian was the first investor in Pinterest and numerous other industry leading startups.
Brian is the author of “What Every Angel Investor Wants You To Know: An Insider Reveals How To Get Smart Funding For Your Billion Dollar Idea” published by McGraw Hill. He continues to guest lecture at Columbia and NYU. He has spoken in dozens of countries helping create and build their angel investor ecosystems.
As a technology media strategist, Brian is considered one of the fathers of science & technology strategic communications and founded Technology Solutions, Inc. (TSI) with his wife in 1983. Notably, TSI received the Gold CIPRA Award in 1998 for the IBM Deep Blue/Gary Kasparov Chess Match Concept and Communications Program. TSI was recognized as the #1 fastest growing agency in the United States. Brian sold the company to The McCann Erickson World Group in 1997. Brian was the publisher of the first computing publications including Computer Systems News and InformationWeek Magazine. As a recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award, Brian holds a Masters Degree in Science Communications from Boston University’s School of Public Communications.
He has been on numerous Boards, including People For the American Way, The World Frontiers Forum and BUILD.org. His current interest is to launch Good Cause Communications, The very first 501C3 strategic marketing/PR agency providing almost free services to struggling nonprofits.
Brian Costanzo was most recently President and CEO of SOCAP International. He entered the association profession in 2005, joining the executive staff of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). He served first as EO’s Senior Vice President, Global Membership and later became the group’s Senior Vice President, Business Development in 2014. Brian’s previous 20 years were spent providing unparalleled client service in a variety of roles—as restaurant manager, sales manager, customer service manager and director of operations—for high-end properties, including Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Signature Hospitality Group. He is a member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and became a Certified Association Executive (CAE) in January 2011. As a former entrepreneur himself, Brian founded his own company, Vision Hospitality, in 2004. Brian says, “Entrepreneurship has been a significant part of my life for many years and I can think of no better mission than to deliver a program to our youth that builds self confidence and self-esteem.”
Brian McMahon is a Business Analyst at Blackstone working in their financial technology group. Previously he spent 3 years working at Booz Allen Hamilton where he co-founded a data science strategy team. Brian has been an associate board member at BUILD since 2018.
Brian is a graduate of the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park where he was also a member of the Maryland football team.
Brigitte is an analyst at Oak HC/FT, a venture capital fund, where she concentrates on growth equity and early-stage venture opportunities in financial services technology. Previously, she as a consultant with Accenture’s M&A Strategy group. Brigitte graduated from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia, where she was an Echols Scholar.
Bruce has been an entrepreneur in New York City for more than 30 years. After graduating from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, he was the co-founder and president of Crescent Communications, which he helped grow into the largest privately-owned pay telephone company in New York City. After selling his payphone route, he attended Stanford Law School. During his time there, he assisted Suzanne McKechnie Klahr during BUILD’s formative stages and had the honor of being one of BUILD’s first mentors. Returning to New York after graduation, Bruce founded BAS Communications, through which he built and then sold one of the largest owner operated ATM portfolios in New York City. His most recent venture was as a co-founder and CFO of a litigation finance provider.
Bryce Jacobs is an educational reformer and educator with a particular interest in family engagement and college equity. Prior to joining BUILD, Dr. Jacobs was Director of National Programs at College Summit, an organization with a mission to help more low income students get to and through college, and previously was a program specialist at the National Parent Teacher Association. In her role at College Summit, Dr. Jacobs wrote training materials, designed curriculum, and innovated new programs that supported 11 regions across the country. She is a founding board chair and current board member of Sela Public Charter School, a Diverse By Design Hebrew language immersion school in Washington DC. Dr. Jacobs has a B.A. in International Development from Clark University, an M.A. from George Washington University in Education, and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in Education Policy and Leadership. Dr. Jacobs served as the Regional Executive Director for BUILD Metro DC for 5 years before moving up to the Chief Strategy Officer role on the National Leadership Team in 2019.
Carlton Charles, Vice President, and Treasurer, Hearst, serves as global treasurer, oversees Risk Management and Insurance, leads the company’s Risk Working Group and is on the Board of Advisors of Hearst Labs, Hearst’s platform for nurturing and grooming early-stage, women-led companies. Carlton has demonstrated financial acumen through a 30-year career in treasury and risk management. Carlton was an early architect of the Enterprise Risk Management program for Moody’s Corporation, a SEC regulated company and one of the largest rating agencies in the world. Carlton regularly reported to the Moody’s board on treasury and enterprise risk topics.
Carlton also developed the operational risk management program for Hearst and is chair of the company’s Risk Working Group. Among the focus areas for the group are cybersecurity and data privacy. Carlton has created an annual risk summit which is an annual convening of CFOs and CTOs from across Hearst’s businesses. Prior to Moody’s, Carlton held increasingly responsible positions in treasury and risk management for International Paper, Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Viacom and Philip Morris.
Carlton currently serves on the Board of Advisors of Hearst Lab, has been working with a group of professionals to establish a business accelerator in Upper Manhattan and The Bronx, was recently on the Board of Trustees of St. Thomas Aquinas College and previously served on The Board of the Bronx Preparatory Charter School.
Carlton holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago and a Masters in Public Policy and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from SUNY at Stony Brook.
Meet Carolina Torres, a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Psychology and Spanish. While in college, Carolina volunteered for the Latin Community Center of Pittsburgh and was the Events Coordinator of the University of Pittsburgh’s Spanish Club. Carolina was elected by her peers to be a group leader of PACT- a student-run volunteer group that raised money for cancer research at the Hillman Cancer Center. In this capacity, Carolina was responsible for organizing both large and small fundraising and other events including 5K runs, concerts, food drives at the hospital, and Funday Fridays for patients and their families. Upon graduation, Carolina moved to New York City to launch her career in educational fundraising. She recently finished a Communications Internship at Brooklyn Prospect Schools and is excited to take everything she’s learned and apply it at BUILD NYC! Carolina is a first-generation Chilean American who loves hiking, traveling, and running!
Caroline Ardery comes to BUILD with a background in product development and consumer packaged goods. Since 2018, Caroline has worked on the product innovation team at Harry’s Inc., a men’s care company that began as a direct-to-consumer razor start-up. Most recently, Caroline supported the launch of Harry’s hair portfolio, an expansion into a new category for Harry’s brand. Prior to joining Harry’s, Caroline worked in brand management within the Writing division at Newell Brands, a manufacturer of consumer and commercial products.
Caroline graduated cum laude from Duke University, where she earned a dual Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Arabic.
Chelsey was born and raised in East Palo Alto in a blended working-class family. The first in her family to attend and graduate college, Chelsey attended San Francisco State University. Chelsey’s own life experiences led her to design programs and advocate for underrepresented youth as Program Director of the well-known non-profits in the Bay Area and in Austin Texas. As the BUILD Program Director for Oakland, Chelsey uses her leadership to guide the Oakland team in implementation of the BUILD program for highest impact. Chelsey is responsible for overseeing regional implementation of BUILD’s program, curriculum and events and developing and managing partnerships with district leaders and school administrators to ensure impact with BUILD target students.
Being a living testimony to what programs such as BUILD can do for a student’s life, Chelsey BUILD’s to continue provide other students like her, with the opportunity to be exposed to a world of endless opportunities!
Chris is an active tech startup investor and founder of C2 Ventures, a privately-held investment firm with a focus on consumer, data, financial tech such as blockchain and wellness. C2V provides seed capital and hustle to early-stage companies both directly and via limited partnerships with Techstars, Bowery Capital, and NYC’s leading angels. C2V’s current portfolio includes 15 investments, three of which have been acquired or returned a multiple for the investors – Arbor.io acquired by LiveRamp, Uru acquired by Adobe and MightyTV acquired by Spotify and JenJo 3X return. C2 Ventures has a 7X return over the last 4 years.
Previously, Chris was the President of Unacast, the leading location data platform which recently raised $17M in series B funding. At Unacast, Chris built the commercial and revenue operations from zero to seven figures in 18 months and led all commercial efforts. Chris was the first US employee and 7th overall. Chris was also the CEO and Co-Founder of appssavvy, a company that pioneered in-app advertising on Facebook and mobile while putting the user experience first through timing and context. In 7 years appssavvy drove over $75MM in gross revenue for the app ecosystem.
Chris has been named one of the “Most Important People in Mobile Advertising” by Business Insider, as well as being an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist 2 years in a row. He’s been a featured speaker at International CES, Cannes Lions, IAB’s Annual Leadership, dmexco, and f.ounders. He is a contributor to CNBC and Bloomberg TV via on-screen appearances and also produces content through C2V Studios. Chris sits on the board of both Build NYC and Cornell Tech here in New York City and strongly believes in supporting young people and their startup journey.
Christine Lee is a Licensed Real Estate Agent at Compass Inc. Where she specializes in the sale of Manhattan condos and coops and helping international buyers relocating to the city. After working with high profile clients and recognizing the significant personal impact of selling and purchasing a home, she sought to help her clients live happily and fulfilled lives as a Certified Professional Life Coach. As a first-generation American, she experienced first hand the impact teachers and mentors had for her growth towards personal and professional success. Her passions lie in bridging the gap between the eastern and western worlds through holistic practices and integrative medicine. Christine is a graduate of Drexel University with a BSBA focused in International Business and Marketing. Find Christine escaping to nature or sipping on a matcha latte somewhere, in nature.
Chymeka Olfonse has dedicated her entire professional career to empowering individuals through education. She currently serves as the Regional Executive Director for BUILD NYC. Prior to BUILD, Chymeka served as the National Executive Director of Minds Matter National Inc., an academic mentoring nonprofit headquartered in New York City. She set the organization’s strategic direction in collaboration with the leadership of 12 chapters. During her tenure, Minds Matter doubled the number of students served and successfully launched four of its 12 chapters. She developed a comprehensive fundraising strategy and formed partnerships to achieve scale and impact to benefit the national network. In addition, Chymeka has worked in programming, development and management capacities at the New York City Department of Education and at The After-School Corporation (TASC). As a Program Manager in the Office of Strategic Partnerships at the New York City Department of Education, she oversaw a number of large efforts to bring private-sector philanthropy into the public schools. Prior to that, Chymeka was Deputy Director for the Mid-Atlantic region of Jumpstart for Young Children
Chymeka is a graduate of Yale University where she earned a dual Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with Economic Policy and African and African-American History. She completed her MPA with a focus in Public and Nonprofit Management at The Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. In the summer of 2012, Chymeka earned a Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management certificate offered through Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program.
Cindy Pineda is a mission-driven educator with over 10 years of experience who has dedicated her life to youth development, fighting social injustices and closing the achievement gap. She cares deeply about future generations and seeks to leave a legacy through everything she does. Hailing from the sunny city of Los Angeles, she attended the University of California Berkeley, where she received her Bachelors’ in Psychology with a minor in Public Policy. Upon graduation, Cindy interned in Washington DC, working on educational policy reform on Capitol Hill. While in Washington, she moved on to work as an Academic Advisor for a non-profit organization called Upward Bound, chaired the Policy Committee for the District of Colombia of Consolidated Services and worked for the US Census Bureau. Her interest in international education came after she worked on and led various Latin American education development projects in Colombia and El Salvador. Being a huge advocate for social change and multicultural exposure, Cindy was devoted to bring students of all backgrounds together to share their stories and experience the world from different perspectives. This interest led her to pursue a Master’s in International Education with a focus on development at New Yok University. While at NYU, she continued her career as the Assistant Director of the Field Projects office. There, she managed the daily operations of all civic engagement, college preparation and community outreach programs with NYC public schools, and designed first-year college programs. At BUILD, Cindy has spent the last 4 years instilling and developing entrepreneurial lessons to a budding group of students in NYC communities. Her innovative ideas and program design have been instrumental in improving the student experience. She serves as an imputation to the first graduating class to become the best they can be, add value to others lives and explore the world as evidence by lessons learned in her travel of over 30 countries. Cindy is obsessed with tacos and french-fries., and loves to try new foods wherever she goes. On her free time, Cindy likes to work out, do yoga, run, cook, show off her dancing skills or just sit at a park on a sunny day and read a good book.
Crissi is a Vice President at Goldman Sachs in New York where she leads global client engagement and technology for the Private Wealth Management division. Crissi is also the Co-Founder of Project Bead Foundation, a social enterprise that sells beaded products made by female Ghanaian entrepreneurs in order to fund scholarships for children in Ghana.
She earned a BS in Finance from Bentley University in 2011 and a Masters in Policy and Nonprofit Management at New York University in 2018.
Dale Lemke has been Chief Financial and Operational Officer of BUILD since August of 2018. Prior to joining BUILD, Dale was Chief Financial Officer of Schools for Children, a non-profit corporation operating multiple independent schools in the greater Boston area. Before transitioning to the non-profit sector, Dale served in various finance and strategic planning roles for nearly 25 years in the for profit sector at firms including W. R. Grace, Marshalls and Ernst & Young. Dale received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and his MBA in Finance and International Business from Columbia University in New York City.
Dale lives in Winchester Massachusetts with his wife Jennifer, daughter Emily and dog Ella. In his free time, Dale enjoys golf, cooking and spending time on the Downeast Maine coast.
Dan is the CEO of an e-learning startup called Nardagani and is involved in a number of other investment and philanthropic activities.
Prior to that, Dan ran the Americas Debt Capital Markets Group for Santander Investment Securities for 11 years and the Latin America Debt Capital Markets Group, among other businesses, at Merrill Lynch for 13 years. Early in his career, he worked at The World Bank and the Bank of Boston.
Dan received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and his MBA from Insead.
Danielle joined BUILD Metro DC in the Fall of 2020 and serves as the hub of all development operations for the Metro DC team. This includes, but is not limited to helping to manage fundraising, coordinating social media/communication, and supporting the Executive Director. Danielle’s background is in events and fundraising, having worked both for political agencies and education nonprofits. She has always had a passion for youth empowerment and an entrepreneurial mindset, believing in the power of education as a pathway to closing the opportunity gap in underserved communities. Danielle graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.A. in International Relations, with a focus in diplomacy and political communication.
A graduate of Howard University with a background in Communications. Decota was born and raised in the Bronx by way of Jamaica. Hailing from a single parent home and growing up in one of the most disenfranchised communities in New York City, Decota has experienced the affects of living and surviving in an under served community. Working with students that look like her and live in the same area she grew up in brings joy to Decota’s heart knowing she can share her experience with others. It is for this very reason she BUILDS. Combining nine years of experience in communications in the entertainment, arts, and lifestyle space and five years in community engagement, Decota is excited to be a part of the BUILD NYC team as its Community Engagement Manager. In her spare time she enjoys listening to music, grounding, traveling and experiencing all the world has to offer. She would ultimately like to create safe spaces for students in under-resourced communities to fully exercise their potential and be given the same opportunities as their counterparts.
Dianna Nguyen is the Junior Staff Accountant at BUILD. She handles account payable activity and trains BUILD staffs on the most effective ways to use Concur. Prior, she was a part of San Jose Grant Thornton Audit team. Dianna had experienced in teaching and working with students during her years in college as a Supplemental Instructor at San Jose City College. She was a member of BAP, a prestigious Accounting Club running by students where she gained an insight Accounting. She also worked at The Health Trust and Bank of America. Dianna is a proud Spartan, graduated from San Jose State with a Bachelor degree in Accounting.
She always believes that “success doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work”.
Divya Talla currently serves as Head of Partnerships at Croissant, a tech company that supports the growing remote and entrepreneurial workforce. Previously, she helped build real estate and tech brands in creative agencies. Her passion is working alongside entrepreneurs and teams building innovative products. She was born and raised outside of Detroit, Michigan and is a proud University of Michigan Alum. She’s traveled to 20+ countries, loves exploring the world’s oceans as a scuba diver, and is busy raising a feisty Husky/Retriever puppy named Rambo.
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.
Liz has been with BUILD since the spring of 2018 and is currently the Development and Program Systems Manager, helping to manage fundraising, student data collection and analysis, and social media/communications. Previously employed by Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts and Arlington Free Clinic, Liz has always had a passion for helping others and working for organizations which put people at the center. She was initially drawn to BUILD because of its mission – helping underserved youth recognize and harness their potential for greatness – and continues to be blown away by the affect BUILD’s programming has on students’ personal growth. In her spare time, Liz refinishes old furniture, volunteers at the local dog shelter, and cheers on her Boston sports teams. Liz graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Studio Art and Family Life Cycle Studies.
Elizabeth, who is a first-generation Nigerian American, was born & raised in Westchester, NY. She attended college in upstate New York at SUNY Albany where she studied Communication & Rhetoric. Following an internship at Vogue Magazine, she worked in IT before becoming a founding team member of the luxury fashion brand, Moda Operandi. Since then, she’s transitioned from fashion to finance to better understand the process that goes into vetting and investing in a company. Now in Fintech, she is focusing her attention on People & Culture at the data delivery startup, Crux Informatics, based in NYC. In her spare time, Elizabeth is building a women’s lifestyle brand, The Anti Heel, which merges fashion with foot wellness. She is an avid runner/yogi/cook and has a deep love for interior design. Currently residing in Brooklyn, she’s a volunteer for Hearts & Bones animal rescue and loves exploring all NYC has to offer.
Before joining BUILD, Emily worked as a Donor Relations Coordinator at Big Sister Association, where she managed their Young Professional Board and supported the VP of Development and CEO with individual donors. Before development, she was a recruitment specialist at Big Sister, building a pipeline of volunteers through corporate and community events. She graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in Communications and has returned there part time to pursue her Master’s in Nonprofit Management.
“I BUILD because I believe in the transformative power of BUILD’s program. Not only do we build a space for students to learn real-life skills, we build a space where their ideas are heard, valued, celebrated, and where it’s okay to fail. I am an advocate for mentoring, opportunities, and access for all youth, and I have seen the difference our program can have in a student’s confidence and competence.”
Erin Brinig is a corporate attorney working in mergers and acquisitions. Previously, she worked as a financial services consultant in San Francisco. Erin has fundraising and event planning experience and has worked with nonprofits to coordinate service projects and programming opportunities for students of all ages. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, with a B.S. in Business Administration and a concentration in Accounting and Finance, and of UCLA School of Law. Erin is originally from San Diego and enjoys playing volleyball, dressmaking, and skiing.
Felicia serves as the Development and Communications Manager to the CEO where she leads communications and thought leadership initiatives to elevate BUILD’s presence as a leader in the fields of equity, youth entrepreneurship, and education.
Gaurav Ahuja is an investor at Thrive Capital, a venture capital firm in NYC that has supported companies like Warby Parker, Instagram, Robinhood Markets, Spotify, GitHub, and Slack. He is responsible for executing investments in growing technology companies with the goal of helping them scale and sculpt their strategy. Prior to being at Thrive, Gaurav worked in San Francisco on later stage, enterprise software investments at TA Associates, a growth private equity firm.
Gaurav was formerly a consultant with McKinsey & Co, a global consulting firm that advises management teams at Fortune 100 companies. He was part of McKinsey’s Technology, Media, and Telecom practice. Gaurav has helped guide several large technology companies with growth strategy and go to market
Gaurav was not only born and raised in Michigan but also attended the University of Michigan, where he studied pre-medical sciences and earned a B.B.A. degree with high distinction. While at the University of Michigan, Gaurav was a Head Resident Advisor in Michigan Housing and the Director of the SAAN, a non-profit group devoted to acting on and spreading awareness of social justice issues. In his free time, he enjoys watching the Detroit Pistons lose and fantasizes about the latest consumer tech gadgets.
Greg Minetti is an Associate on Togetherwork’s Corporate Development team where he works on the Company’s Mergers & Acquisitions strategy. Specifically, Greg is involved with deal sourcing, modeling and financial analysis, market research and deal diligence. Prior to joining Togetherwork, Greg worked in Advertising Sales at AMC Networks. Greg is a graduate of Wake Forest University with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and History. In his spare time, Greg enjoys going to the movies, running, reading and watching sports.
Harry O’Sullivan is VP of Finance at Bowery Valuation, a venture-backed real estate tech startup based in New York. Prior to Bowery, Harry worked at ff Venture Capital, a seed-stage venture fund that invests in a range of early-stage technology companies. Harry has worked with Build for two years, first as a Venture Capital Advisor and more recently as an Associate Board member. In his spare time, Harry enjoys traveling and skiing.
Ike Kier is the co-founder and CEO of KG Funds Management which he established in 2008.
From 2004 to 2008, Ike created management groups responsible for 4 special purpose acquisition companies which collectively raised approximately $200 million from the public markets. All of the management teams completed their mergers/purchases of their targets.
Ike’s business experience includes serving on numerous boards and building two businesses, both of which went public: Lida Inc. (formerly NASDAQ: LIDA) and eDiets (formerly NASDAQ: EDIET).
Ike received the cellular license to build cell towers and serve the I-85 corridor between Montgomery, AL, and Atlanta, GA with cellular service. He held the rights for 2 years, and then negotiated a cash sale of his spectrum rights to the surrounding providers who were encroaching on his territory.
Ike earned a J.D. from George Washington University and a B.A. in Economics from Cornell University.
Ira Levy is a senior partner in Goodwin Procter’s IP Litigation Group, whose practice focuses on the litigation of patent, trademark, copyright, false advertising and related matters for a wide array of industries and in a variety of technical disciplines. Mr. Levy has over 25 years’ experience with disputes involving biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and chemistry; electronics, computers and telecommunications; mechanical devices; industrial and consumer products; and the internet, new media, and e-commerce.
Ira has handled numerous bench and jury trials in federal and state courts nationwide. He also has significant experience practicing before the United States Supreme Court, and various U.S. Courts of Appeals. In addition to his litigation work, Ira works closely with the firm’s Business Law Practice counseling clients on general corporate matters involving intellectual property and the Internet, as well as transactional due diligence.
In addition to his legal work, Ira serves as lead director for Stomp Out Bullying, the leading non-profit focused on eliminating bullying and cyber-bullying. He is married and lives in Westchester County New York with two children and two dogs.
Itzel is a first-generation Chicana who recently earned a BA in Sociology from the University of California, Merced. In recent years, Itzel have worked with youth in various roles. This is where she grew her passion for mentorship and community empowerment. Itzel believes that if we provide guidance and resources to empower our youth, it would better everyone’s future. Itzel’s at BUILD because she truly believes in keeping our students in the center. Itzel also spends her time being a dog mom, traveling, and creating.
Jamaal Glenn is a Vice President at Alumni Ventures Group, a global venture capital firm. He is also an adjunct professor at New York University and the founder of Glenn Media Group, a boutique strategy and digital media consulting firm with clients that include Google, Harvard University, and the City of New York.
Previously, he was Vice President of Strategy, Business Development and Corporate Development at First Look Media, a company started by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar which produces world-class investigative news and journalism, documentary and scripted films/television, digital video, and podcasts. Jamaal led U.S. business development for a venture-backed, Israeli tech startup that was acquired in 2016. He also founded and sold Politiconomist.com and Capitolista.com, and worked at Google and J.P. Morgan.
Jamaal received an MBA from Stanford, an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a bachelors degrees in finance and journalism from the University of Missouri.
Raised in East Oakland, Jasmine graduated high school from Lionel Wilson Prep as a BUILD student. Throughout high school Jasmine spent a lot of her time volunteering at a variety of organizations, such as OUSD and The Red Cross. Jasmine attended Holy Names University, where she received her Bachelor’s in Business marketing in 2018 and her Master’s in business administration in 2019. Throughout her college experience she continued volunteering with different organizations and often remembered about BUILD and the knowledge and benefits it brought her. Jasmine greatly believes in the BUILD program and the doors it can open for students, which is why she decided to come back to the organization and work with high school freshmen and sophomores. As the program associate for Oakland Jasmine is regularly visiting our partner schools. She attends class sessions to work directly with our 9th and 10th grade students preparing them for showcases and ensuring they are receiving the most from the BUILD program.
Jasmine strives to provide students with the same benefits BUILD provided for her. She loves to get to know our BUILD students closely and aspires to be a positive influence in their life.
Jenise Gonzalez is the College & Career Access Coordinator at BUILD Boston. Jenise is a Boston Public Schools alum and is passionate about serving youth in underserved communities. Jenise served an AmeriCorps year with The Massachusetts Promise Fellowship at BUILD Boston working with juniors and seniors with college & career access work. Jenise has a B.A. in Sociology from Stonehill College in Easton, MA.
Jenise grew up in the Hyde Park/Roslindale area. She enjoys blogging, fashion and traveling!
“I BUILD because I see myself in my youth. I was once that student who needed a caring adult in their life to push them towards their goals/aspirations. My youth are full of life, energy, and are innovators. I enjoy listening to them talk about their college and career goals. It also excites me to see their growth throughout the year and relationships they create with peers, mentors, and BUILD staff”
Jessica, a graduate of Virginia Tech, has fifteen years of fundraising experience having worked for nonprofits in both California and Maryland and is an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Prior to joining BUILD in February 2020, Jessica most recently worked for Family Giving Tree where she managed individual and corporate relationships. In her spare time, Jessica has a passion for mentorship and has served as a CASA to foster youth for the past five years.
Jill S. Moran, CSEP, has spent her career creating memorable experiences across the globe bringing people, ideas and organizations together for social, corporate and fundraising initiatives. Throughout her career, she has served in various leadership roles in the International Live Events Association (ILEA), been featured on TV and in the press and lectured at industry events and universities. Her passion for education and innovation prompted her to create the Special Events Institute, an online educational program for event professionals, and ultimately led her to BUILD, where she serves as Director of Events. She leads Boston and National event initiatives and supports all regions with best practices in event management.
She an alumnus of the University of Connecticut and has completed graduate coursework at Babson College, the University of Connecticut and the Arizona State University. She is proud of her numerous industry awards for events she’s created, her online program and for her two books Howto start a Home-based Event Planning Business and How to Start A Home-based Wedding Planning Business(Taylor Trade). She loves a good party, and when she’s not at one, she’s with her family, cooking up something new or in her vegetable garden.
MediaMath’s Chairman and CEO Joe Zawadzki has spent his career redefining the marketing and advertising industries through software and data sciences. He has created and scaled companies with a combined $2B in market value, personally invested in a range of start-ups and is sought after for his vision on the future of technology. Throughout his career representing marketers at top-tier agencies and Fortune 500 companies such as AOL, American Express, IAC, Verizon and Vonage, Joe has focused on the integration of media, data and data sciences, in software. That reached its peak with the founding of MediaMath in 2007, a company credited with starting the programmatic revolution with the first demand-side platform.
Prior to MediaMath, Joe was Founder, President, and Chairman of Poindexter Systems / [x+1], a pure-play marketing optimization enterprise, where he helped found and incubate Right Media, which sold to Yahoo! in 2007. He has been an active champion of digital media and the broader NYC startup ecosystem, having made investments in over 50 companies including 33Across, Accordant, AppNexus, CreditKarma, DataMinr, Electronics, Integral Ad Science, Namely, Optoro, Sourcepoint, and Vistar Media. He is a graduate of Harvard University and was a Teaching Fellow in cosmology, set theory and the history of science. He lives in New York City with his wife, Daria, and their children Dune and Jack.
Joelle has spent her career working with youth. She graduated Quinnipiac University in 2013 with a degree in Psychology and spent her senior year interning as a Social Emotional Class Aid to a 5th grade class in Hartford CT. Joelle continued to work with youth as a Unit Supervisor in a residential facility for girls with trauma based behavioral issues, as a nanny and now at BUILD. Joelle began her career at BUILD working with our students and now works to help prepare our mentors with the tools they need to be extraordinary support systems for our students.
“I BUILD because it has become increasingly clear how necessary it is for a program like this to exist. The skills, confidence, guidance and connections our student’s receive makes a huge difference in their drive to finish high school and pursue a career they are passionate about.”
As he puts it, “Although I grew up in church, I really didn’t discover gospel music until my junior year in college. It was a very gradual process. I knew that I was good at marketing and I had a passion for music so I just started helping local artists in the genre that I liked the most at the time.” From there John discovered a passion for entrepreneurship and decided to pursue an MBA to further elevate his brand.
While in school John was recruited by PepsiCo post a successful consulting projected. He worked for the company for two years overseeing marketing strategy elements for Tropicana, Gatorade, and Lipton in New York. In 2014, unable to avoid his passions , John departed his full-time role and voyaged on a journey back into the Gospel Industry and his hometown of Boston. It was there that John discovered BUILD which seemed to be the perfect opportunity to pair his love for his community and entrepreneurship. In 2015, John began as a part-time E1 teacher at Jeremiah Burke High School. In the years to follow John would come on board full-time as a member of the program staff.
Julie brings her passion for visual storytelling, entrepreneurship and digital design to her position as the National Communications and Marketing Manager. She uses her positive energy and strategic digital tactics to bring the spark to BUILD’s national communications plan, digital campaigns and video production.
Julie comes to BUILD after working with the United Nations as a digital content analyst/video producer where she produced, edited and shot promotional videos in Guinea-Bissau, Cameroon and Hawaii to spotlight grassroots organizations and local sustainable development solutions to be showcased at the UN Climate Change Summit. Julie’s passion for entrepreneurship comes after co-founding the nonprofit organization, Design Xchange in 2019, a startup providing training to Ugandan social enterprises in digital communications. While working in Liberia as a Visual Storytelling Consultant at the nonprofit Accountability Lab, Julie developed her interest for nonprofit communications while producing digital marketing content promoting accountability and exposing corruption.
Julie first developed her passion for education as a teacher during her 2 year Peace Corps service in the small village of Zvan, Macedonia. Julie’s love for teaching only grew while teaching internationally in Morocco and Myanmar in the years following her Peace Corps Service. Julie completed her MPA in Development Practice at Columbia University with a specialization in Technology, Media and Communication. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Architectural Design with a minor in Film Production from the University of Virginia.
Kali Walker has more than 25 years of experience in operations, project management, administration, customer service and sales. She earned a bachelor of arts in English/Communications and Theatre from Regis College in Weston, MA, where she also worked in the role of the Center for Student Services Manager before coming to BUILD. In addition, Kali has worked for Kaplan Test Prep, Harvard University and Young Audiences of Massachusetts. In her spare time, Kali is an active volunteer with Hagar’s Sisters, a domestic violence nonprofit in Acton, MA, as well, as an actor with local performing arts projects on stage and the web.
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.
Katherine Orille, our Development and Events Manager studied Health Science and Nursing at California State University of East Bay. Her passion for event planning incited her decision to change career paths and seek a career in event management, where she brings ten years of experience developing her skills and knowledge of event coordination and logistics. Prior to BUILD, she recently worked for an educational organization, directing and managing all aspects of their professional development events. Katherine carries her strong work ethic into her personal life, as she jumps at any opportunity to plan events for friends and family.
Kenny Roberts is the Program Director of BUILD Boston and has served at BUILD for the past 4 years. Kenny is passionate and committed to working with families and local residents of underserved communities. Before working at BUILD, Kenny served as a Teen Advocate for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, as well as a youth minister in Riverdale, Georgia. Kenny holds a bachelor of arts degree in English from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA.
Kenny lives in Winchester, MA with his wife Tachera and son John Roberts, III. He enjoys golf, fishing, and football.
“Why I BUILD”; Kenny enjoys the opportunity to empower young people through the vehicle of entrepreneurship which can in turn empower their families with valuable resources to expand their outlook on educational opportunities, concepts of financial literacy, and professional development.
Kenya is a dynamic community organizer and youth developer committed to the transformation and upliftment of youth, young adults and their families. She currently serves as Program Director with BUILD NYC. Prior to build, Kenya spent over a decade with University Settlement, a nonprofit that provides services throughout University Settlement.
As Community School Director, Kenya led a team of professionals in planning and implementing enrichment programs for youth, young adults and families, building relationships with stakeholders in the community, and raising funding to sustain and propel youth development forward.
Kenya holds a B.A. in psychology from Barnard College, a Masters of Social Work from Hunter College.
Kim brings 15 years of experience in teaching and program development to BUILD. She taught high school English and journalism for over a decade in the Bay Area, and she also served as a teacher educator and graduate school instructor through the Stanford Teacher Education Program. She has experience leading teacher innovation and collaboration through The Education Trust-West and The Teachers Guild at IDEO. Kim earned a B.A. in English and Urban Studies and a M.A. in Education at Stanford University and lives in San Francisco.
Laura Patel is Director of Strategic Accounts at Density, an analytics platform that uses occupancy sensors to help businesses measure how their spaces are used; eliminating underutilized real estate, delivering exceptional workplace experiences, and strengthening physical security. In line with her work, Laura’s interests lie at the intersection of artificial intelligence and real estate. Prior to joining Density, she spent a decade with digital construction company DIRTT, which specializes in videogame based design, robotics, and manufacturing. She has spoken at dozens of exhibitions and conferences around the world, including the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of New Champions (Dalian, China), Thin Air Festival (Park City, UT), The Art, Science and Bottom Line of Innovative Designs & Technologies (NYC, NY), and The Office of the Future Summit (NYC, NY).
As an active member of the New York architecture, design and engineering community, Laura serves as Co-Chair for CoreNet New York’s Programs Committee, and on Urban Land Institute’s Technology and Innovation Council and their Women’s Leadership Council.
Outside of work, Laura is a board member at BUILD: NYC, a student mentor with Student Sponsor Partners, and a post-secondary coach with Syrian Youth Empowerment. A travel enthusiast, she speaks three languages and has visited 40 countries— most recently exploring Taiwan, Bosnia, and Guatemala.
Lydia Phillips serves as the Director of Licensed Partnerships and Organizational Learning at BUILD where she oversees the strategy and implementation for growth of BUILD’s entrepreneurship to youth nationwide. Additionally, she guides internal learning with a focus on creating a collaborative and inclusive environment. With over 10 years experience in education, both abroad and stateside, Lydia has a passion for ensuring students are receiving high quality experiences in education and focuses on experiential learning. She has her Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of San Diego and has served as an educator with a focus on ELA and Special Education.
“I believe youth are brilliant, creative and hilarious. It is a joy to help them unpack their strengths, their voice and help guide them towards a future of their choice. Entrepreneurship is a unique avenue for self expression, collaboration and innovation. It allows us to work with schools and community partners in a way that uplifts all involved. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?” – Lydia Phillips
With a degree in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley, Mandy has dedicated her life to critiquing and challenging systemic inequalities. Mandy credits her mixed-race identity for fostering her understanding of institutional racism and marginalization and uses this understanding to develop deep connections with BUILD students. In a setting like the Bay Area which combines extreme diversity with extreme wealth imbalances, Mandy is determined to create a more just and equitable future for our E4 students and our communities as a whole. Mandy lives in Oakland, and in her free time, is committed to her art practice and running Lake Merritt.
Positioned at the intersection between family histories of immigration and farm labor, Mandy recognizes the weight of how access to education can impact a family’s economic mobility for subsequent generations. Her family’s love, support, and encouragement to pursue any educational dream is something Mandy strives to emulate with all BUILD students.
Marisol Burgueno is the Community Engagement Manager of BUILD’s Bay Area region. Before BUILD, Marisol dedicated her career to public advocacy and the intersection of design and social impact. Marisol received her Master’s in Product Design & Development from ELISAVA Barcelona School of Engineering and holds a Bachelors in Industrial Design from California College of the Arts. Marisol started her career by working in various roles in product design and visual communications for social entrepreneurship companies. After leaving the for-profit sector, she put her knowledge of design and background in communications to use, working with nonprofit anti-violence organizations and educational programs for under-served youth in the Bay Area. Marisol’s goals are fueled by her passion to bring an end to the cycles of violence and poverty in her community. She is focused on strengthening community partnerships, increasing access to resources and public awareness.
Martin Hui is an attorney at BMO Capital Markets covering mergers and acquisitions. He was previously a corporate associate at law firm Davis Polk and Wardwell LLP. Martin is also an entrepreneur and volunteer, co-founding Everyone’s Canada, a nonprofit advocacy organization that provides a counter-narrative to rising anti-immigrant sentiment in Canada, and Richmond Youth Foundation, a youth philanthropy organization. Martin grew up in Vancouver, Canada and completed his Bachelor of Science at the University of British Columbia. While living in Toronto, Canada, Martin obtained his Juris Doctor at Osgoode Hall Law School and Master of Business Administration at the Schulich School of Business. In his spare time, Martin enjoys boxing, scuba diving, and jogging with his Klee Kai pup, Kimmy.
Mia is the Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer at BUILD. Mia has over seven years of experience supporting high-profile executives in New York and Greater Boston. Prior to joining BUILD, she worked at KPMG, for Managing Partners in the Private Equity and Alternative Investments Group. Mia is a Diversity and Inclusion Champion and recipient of the 2010 Rosoff Award presented by The Ad Club of Boston. A native of Massachusetts, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School.
Michael Cianciotta is a Senior Associate at EY where he consults financial institutions on growth, integration, and business planning through mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures. He previously worked as a consultant at Capco focusing on the Capital Markets space. Michael is passionate about entrepreneurship and utilizing his experience to enhance the education of young entrepreneurs.
Michael studied Finance and Economics at the Boston University Questrom School of Business.
Michael has over 15 years of experience building, running and scaling technology companies and organizations across a wide range of industries. Leading the organization of Neon One brings together Michael’s skills and experience in growing entrepreneurial technology companies with his passion of supporting non-profit organizations to increase their impact in the world. In addition to Neon, Michael serves as Board Chair for Build.org, a national education-based nonprofit that leverage entrepreneurship to empower students in underserved communities.
Michael has a Computer Science Degree from UPenn, and an MBA from the University of Chicago. After starting a career at Accenture where he built global technology systems in New York, London, Singapore, & Seoul, he co-founded CaptainU. Acting as President, he and his team scaled this sports technology platform to millions of customers and organizations. After CaptainU was acquired by Blue Star Sports, Michael joined the Blue Star team as Chief Revenue Office and GM of the Enterprise Software and Payments group, helping scale the organization and combining products to build a product suite for organizations to excel and flourish. Michael is now proud to leverage his background to help nonprofits and other mission-driven organizations drive impact and help them reach their goals more quickly.
Michelle Lacroix is an eight-year veteran teacher from Baltimore. She studied Journalism and Political Science at Penn State before joining Teach for America in 2011. Through her time in Baltimore, she earned her Master’s Degree in Urban Education as well as a Certificate in Supervision. In addition, she helped to establish a non-profit called B’More Global that fundraises scholarships for middle-schoolers to go on trips abroad. She is passionate about providing opportunities to youth and is excited to continue that work with BUILD. She is also an avid traveler has spent time working with teachers in Uganda as well as doing yoga teacher training in Thailand. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing yoga, working on her French speaking skills, and (trying) to play the ukelele.
Mike is an accomplished Entrepreneur, Senior Executive, Thought Leader, and Board Member with demonstrated success across the consumer goods, fashion, entertainment, branding, technology, software, and legal industries. Leveraging extensive experience managing turnarounds and implementing business development initiatives, Mike is a valuable asset for a company experiencing rapid or stagnant growth and needs to support or further drive expansion. His areas of expertise include market analysis and forecasting, M&A, strategic planning, marketing, intellectual property, and P&L management. Mike has held both leadership and board positions with public and private multimillion-dollar organizations, and he currently serves as the Executive Shareholder of Haystack ID and President of ReviewRight. He founded Inspired Review after creating one of the legal industry’s first managed document review models and developed the first document review metrics tracking software, which was voted the number one US-based managed document review service and the number one technology assisted review solution company by Corporate Counsel, National Law Journal, New York Law Journal and The Recorder.
Throughout his executive career, Mike has been responsible for leading acquisitions and integrations while managing P&L, personnel, and process improvements; he has led multiple initiatives to increase EBITDA significantly, and he has launched disruptive industry technology to support growth by more than 700% for multiple companies. Mike has also led the evaluation and enhancement of software for numerous companies as well as branding and PR to optimize lead conversion closures. Mike has proven his ability to develop a company efficiently and has taken multiple organizations from startup to double-digit multimillion-dollar revenues while delivering 100%+ YOY growth, and significantly improving profit margins. Mike is a nationally recognized expert in electronic discovery, document review, and legal staffing and has written chapters on temporary legal staffing in the ABA published Legal Management Handbook.
Mike obtained his JD from New York Law School and his BA in Criminology from the University of Florida. In addition to his entrepreneurial career, he is a published author, speaker, and CLE instructor. He has held board positions with The Masters Conference, IT-Lex, ACEDS, and the Association of Litigation Support Professionals, and he was a key early member of the Sedona Conference. He founded the Electronic Discovery Program at New York Law School and served as its Adjunct Professor. Because of his success, Mike has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the University of Florida’s 2015 Outstanding Young Alumni of the Year, and the 2017 Horizon Award Recipient.
Mike Portegello is an Assurance Partner at Ernst & Young LLP, where he brings more than 30 years of international and domestic experience in public accounting serving publicly traded companies with operations in both the US and abroad. Currently, he serves as the Northeast Region Strategic Growth Markets (SGM) Leader to provide services that help companies navigate the various aspects of a growth-oriented enterprise. SGM is a global network of EY professionals advising the full spectrum of dynamic, fast-moving and groundbreaking companies around the world, including VC-backed/private equity companies and their investors, large private and family enterprises, IPO-bound companies, and public companies in the Russell 3000 and 2000 indexes.
Throughout his career, Mike has worked with clients in New York and California, as well as internationally. He has served US registrants and foreign private issuers on SEC matters including initial public offerings (IPOs), public and private debt offerings, quarterly and annual filings, acquisitions, divestitures, and stock registrations.
Previously, he provided overall management and led high performing teams to deliver audit services to New York State and Connecticut area clients. He continues to work closely with multinational organizations as well as high growth phase companies in the software/technology, media and entertainment, and leasing industries.
Prior to this role, Mike served as Strategic Growth Markets Leader for New York, leading a multidisciplinary team of dedicated professionals in providing perspective to and advising our emerging, IPO-bound, entrepreneurial clients on accelerating their growth. In addition, he has served as a Co-Director of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year New York program.
Mike graduated Suma Cum Laude from St. John’s University and received his MBA from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at NYU.
Miranda has a strong commitment to service and equality, working with youth to help prepare for college and career readiness since high school. Before BUILD, Miranda worked at the Ronald McDonald House of New York City, and was a camp counselor with their summer program for almost a decade. Miranda received her Bachelor’s of Science from the Fashion Institute of Technology, majoring in Advertising and Marketing Communications, minoring in Asian Studies. Miranda is currently pursuing her Master of Science in Urban Policy and Leadership from Hunter College. Outside of work, Miranda enjoys traveling, baking, reading and spending time with her family and friends.
Naveen Shahani is a Principal at Apollo Global Management, where he focuses on the firm’s private equity investments. Prior to Apollo, Naveen worked in the Financial Sponsors Group in the Investment Banking Division of Credit Suisse. He graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Naveen currently serves on the Board of Directors of CEC Entertainment, parent company to Chuck E. Cheese.
Nick Felice is a marketer and digital product leader that has helped brands such as Samsung, PepsiCo, and AstraZeneca stand out in an ever-evolving and competitive landscape. His passion for entrepreneurship and education makes him a natural sponsor of BUILD’s mission to prepare students of today to become tomorrow’s leaders. Prior to BUILD, Nick consulted small businesses through a program at The University of Rhode Island, where he received his B.S. in Business Administration. Outside of his professional and volunteer life, Nick enjoys a challenging hike and a home-cooked meal.
Nicki Ambrose is the Entrepreneurship Program Associate at BUILD Boston. Before joining BUILD, Nicki worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound as an Enrollment Specialist, interviewing “Bigs” and “Littles” and matching them together. Nicki also served an AmeriCorps Year with City Year Seattle King County. She is a proud graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Isenberg School of Business.
“I BUILD because watching freshman high school students found their own business, pitch for funding, and earn profit from their product in the course of a school year is truly amazing and inspiring.I have the privilege of working intensively with freshman and sophomore BUILD students and teachers helping them prepare for selling events and competitions throughout the school year.”
NICOLAS LIRETTEVice President, American Express
Nic most recently served as President at American Express, serving as Chief of Staff for the head of the Consumer business. He was responsible for a range of business planning and strategic activities and partners with leaders across the organization, from country managers globally to c-suite partners. Prior to this role, Nic worked in the Merchant business where he played a central role in the launch of EMV chip cards and contactless payments and helped improve customer satisfaction globally. Prior to American Express, Nic worked in investment banking at UBS and investment management at Wellington Management.
Nic holds an MBA degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor’s degree from Tufts University. Originally from Canada, Nic speaks French fluently. Nic lives in New York with his wife, son, and daughter.
Nicole Fourgoux is Senior Vice President of New Business Development and Acquisitions for L’Oreal.
As Senior Vice President of Business Development and Acquisitions, Ms. Fourgoux is responsible for the strategic portfolio planning for L’Oreal with focus on M&A and brand incubation.
Ms. Fourgoux is a beauty veteran with a 23 year international career at L’Oreal. Prior to her role as Senior Vice President of Strategic Business Development and Acquisitions, she served as General Manager of the Multi-Cultural Beauty Division and Vice President of Marketing for Garnier after joining L’Oreal USA in 2006. Before coming to the U.S., Fourgoux held senior marketing positions for the L’Oreal Paris and Maybelline New York and Vichy brands working out of L’Oreal’s Paris headquarter as well as Germany, UK and Spain. Ms. Fourgoux is a graduate of the prestigious Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf in Germany.
Ms. Fourgoux currently resides in Scarsdale, NY with her husband of fifteen years and her three sons.
Nicole Thomas is currently the Director of Strategic Partnership with BUILD Metro DC and has been with BUILD since 2016. In her role, Nicole spearheads all BUILD Metro DC fundraising-related community outreach activities, recruits volunteers and engages new networks and individual donor prospects. Nicole also oversees BUILD Metro DC’s Associate Board. Prior to her work with BUILD, Nicole was with College Summit for four years. College Summit is a college access non-profit where she executed over 100 successful College Summit workshops on 35 college campuses that served 5,000 students and 1,500 volunteers. Before that, Nicole worked for Monumental Sports and Entertainment for more than 10 years where she was the Director of Community Relations for the Washington Wizards (NBA) and Washington Mystics (WNBA) professional teams. In that role, she managed the community outreach activities including the scheduling, development, and execution of over 400 appearances per year for players, coaches, and front office staff. Nicole graduated from the University of Arizona.
Niko Martinez is the College and Career Readiness Program Manager for BUILD Oakland, serving our E3 students, preparing them through social entrepreneurship, college and career exploration experiences. At UC Berkeley, Niko studied Public Health and Asian American Studies, immersing himself in community organizing for the Filipinx Community, both on and off-campus. As an advocate for post-secondary education, Niko worked to share educational resources and mentorship to youth in and around the Bay Area.
“I am inspired to work at BUILD because personal background growing up in the Bay Area, and studying public health as my coursework; I believe that furthering one’s education is a possible way to affect positive health outcomes, both at the individual level, and ultimately, for their families. I am honored to work and learn by the side of such brilliant youth, who share such amazing stories around their personal experiences. Each day, I’m deeply humbled and filled with gratitude to experience greatness alongside our students.”
Nitita currently serves as the National Manager of Data Systems and Evaluation supporting regions with data management and reporting in Salesforce and leading national evaluation projects to measure student impact and growth. Nitita was one of the founding staff members of BUILD Boston as an AmeriCorps service member and later became the College Access Program Manager. When she moved to New York, she had roles as the Operations & Human Resources Manager at a Brooklyn charter school, Strategic Data Facilitator at New Visions for Public Schools, and Senior Data Analyst at NYU Langone Hospital before she returned to work for BUILD National. She has dedicated her career to using data and technology to support youth and communities. Nitita is also a certified ESL teacher and children’s yoga teacher. As a first-time mom, she doesn’t have much free time, but if she did she would run long distances while listening to audiobooks and start training for her next half marathon. Nitita says, “I choose to be a BUILDer because the BUILD team tirelessly and passionately always put students at the center.”
Pam has spent the majority of her career in the financial services sector where she worked at a range of boutique and bulge bracket firms including Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Mogavero, Lee. Her diverse experience encompasses investment banking, institutional sales and marketing. She has always been passionate about educational equity and child and family welfare and has served as a mentor and nonprofit board member for over twenty years. In 2017, Pam joined the BUILD NYC team where she is responsible for all fundraising activities. Pam graduated from the University of Virginia with Highest Distinction and received her MBA from Columbia Business School.
Pepper Hayes loves to crunch numbers and look for patterns in data. She uses these insights to coach BUILD’s development teams to raise the funds we need to support BUILD students. As Director of Development Operations and Communications she maintains our infrastructure for fundraising operations and oversees donor communication and stewardship. As an entrepreneur herself, Pepper knows first-hand how empowering the experience can be and was immediately drawn to BUILD’s mission, which inspired her to leave her career in law in 2014 to join the BUILD team. Pepper is an enthusiastic cat-lover and blogs about her knitting adventures in her spare time. She holds a BA in History, Philosophy, and Gender Studies from Westminster College and earned her JD at the Boston University School of Law.
Quincy is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and graduated from Kentucky State University with a B.A. in Business Administration in 1995. He is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. Quincy began his career as a financial advisor, but was soon called to the social services field. He moved to the DC area in 2001, where he worked for years in the foster care arena as a Case Manager and Crisis Intervention Specialist. Quincy then began to work as a college access advisor in DC Public Schools. In this role, Quincy worked with all students to include athletes, honor roll, special education, parents, and international students, advising and assisting them on all aspects of college and career planning.
Quincy’s most recent roles includes piloting and managing a peer leader focused program in low-income high schools in D.C., Prince Georges County, MD, Detroit, MI, West Virginia, and Cincinnati, OH. In this program, Quincy fostered relationships with school districts and high schools to enhance the college-going culture and train student leaders and teachers. Before beginning his career as the Program Director of Build Metro DC, Quincy worked to improve the college and career going culture in some of the most challenging high schools in Baltimore City. Quincy holds a M.S.A (2009) from Trinity University, in Organizational Development and a Master’s in Higher Education Leadership for Student Success, from Walden University (2015). Quincy is a proud husband and father of three beautiful children.
Rayna Landa is originally from Springfield, NJ and is a recent graduate of the Pennsylvania State University. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Education and Public Policy with a minor in Sociology. She is thrilled to join the incredible BUILD DC team as this year’s Avodah fellow. Avodah is a Jewish non profit organization whose mission is to develop lifelong social justice leaders. As the Program Associate at BUILD DC, she facilitates mentoring and helps to aid the student experience. This year, she is excited to have the opportunity to live, learn, and work in D.C. with other members of the fellowship, creating a mindful and impactful community. .
Rodrigo Alfaro brings over a decade of experience in community outreach and nonprofit leadership from churches to college access orgs across the Bay Area. A true relationship builder, Rodrigo consistently seeks ways to unify diverse partners in service to equity for under-represented communities. As a native of El Salvador who moved to the Bay Area at a young age, Rodrigo brings a deeply personal perspective to his role. He experienced first-hand the challenges many immigrants face balancing diverse cultural identities, and the transformative power of entrepreneurship for families like his own.
Roger is the founder and Managing Partner of Barton LLP, a law firm of over 30 attorneys practicing across most areas of business law. Roger is widely published and speaks nationally and internationally on law firm innovation, the practice of law as a business, and forming partnering relationships with clients. Barton LLP was recently featured by Law360 in an article entitled Giving Big Law a Run for Its Money as one of “10 boutiques that have established brands on par with the biggest of firms” who are “capable of competing with – and beating – the best big firms at the highest level” and by Acquisition International as among “Ones to Watch: The Best Boutique Law Firms.”
Roger’s practice is mostly high-stakes commercial litigation, but he also enjoys his role as outside General Counsel and adviser to many of the entrepreneurial clients of his firm. He is rated by The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel Magazine and the National Law Journal as one of the Top Commercial Litigators in the United States. He is a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, the invitation-only trial lawyer honorary society limited to less than one-half of one percent of lawyers in America and has been selected as a Super Lawyer in Thompson Reuters’ annual survey of the top 5% of lawyers in the New York Metro Area every year since 2013. He holds an “AV Preeminent” rating, the highest rating in the legal profession for professional excellence and ethical standards, as determined by the peer review of judges and lawyers conducted by Martindale.
Prior to founding Barton LLP, Roger was with Sidley Austin in New York. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan, AB Honors College, and has a JD from Fordham University School of Law.
Roger Du is a dedicated educator with a specific interest in adolescent mental health, immigrant parental involvement, and college access. He brings over 7 years of classroom experience and program development for educational nonprofits. Previously, Roger served as a Youth Job-Readiness Program Director, school counselor, and social studies teacher in Bangkok, Thailand. As a native New Yorker, Roger is devoted to advocating for the youth of New York City. Roger is a graduate of St. John’s University with a Bachelor’s in Adolescent Education with a concentration of History and a Master’s in School Counseling. In his spare time, Roger enjoys playing basketball, scuba diving, and taking his dog, Chance to the dog park.
Ron J Williams is the Managing Partner of proofLabs, a strategy, and product development practice.
Ron helps companies connect to customer needs and design experiments in order to learn faster and innovate smarter. He has built, invested in and advised on Web 2.0 technologies for over 10 years. In varied roles as an entrepreneur, intrapreneur and consultant, he’s helped Fortune 1,000 companies re-engineer core business strategies and systems across industries. Named one of the 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company, Ron loves puzzling out simple solutions to hard, real problems. He is an active mentor in NYC and believes his life’s mission is to “build more builders.”
Ron graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in East Asian Studies and Economics.
Rose Cherubin joins the Build NYC team with years of experience in higher education admissions at her alma mater, Hobart and William Smith (HWS) Colleges. As former Senior Assistant Director of Admissions, she recruited for all five boroughs of New York City, was the office liaison for the HWS’ Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), assisted in creating and leading office-wide diversity recruitment initiatives, and also participated in final selections for HWS’ POSSE Foundation Los Angeles cohorts.
She is excited to join BUILD NYC and transition into college access and counseling, and empower young people to actualize their maximum potential. Rose is also a budding entrepreneur with a venture in digital storytelling and is a volunteer for local blogging/influencer networks. In her spare time, she enjoys travel, photography, and dance. Rose holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
Ryan joined the BUILD family in 2016, stepping into her current role in 2018. She is responsible for gift processing and helps manage BUILD’s donor database. Ryan works closely with Pepper Hayes to develop data and tools that grease the wheels of BUILD’s development team.
Originally from Austin, TX, Ryan now lives with her husband near BUILD headquarters in Redwood City, CA. She earned a BA in Sociology from Eckerd College in 2015. Education has been a guiding beacon of her professional and volunteer efforts. Serving as a math and statistics tutor through high school and college, Ryan found that thinking outside the box with her teaching style helped transform even fervent math-haters into A+ students. As someone who fell through the cracks early in school, Ryan is immensely grateful to have found an alternate path to education that reignited her love of learning. She is proud to draw on her own experience and is determined to support those with diverse paths to achieve their education goals.
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.
Sami Soma is a Partner Lead at Google, working on Advertising and Marketing strategies for large clients within the Consumer Packaged Goods industry. Prior to her role at Google, Sami worked at L’Oreal on digital media efforts across the Luxury product division. She has also held roles in Finance and Marketing across L’Oreal Paris, Active Cosmetics Division and Lancome.
Sami graduated from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business with an emphasis in Finance and Marketing where her passion for supporting under-resourced schools began. Since graduating she has volunteered with various organizations such as The Posse Foundation, The Exodus Foundation and iMentor.
Sandra brings more than a decade of leadership in brand, integrated marketing, public relations, and retail strategy across B2B and B2C brands. Her experience spans across Fortune 100 companies, startups, and agency. Currently, Sandra is the Director of Marketing & Partnerships for Ennovae and Co, where she provides marketing and partnerships counsel for SAP, Verizon, and JP Morgan Chase. Most recently she was the Strategic Marketing Lead at Samsung Ads. In this role, Sandra was responsible for leading in-market engagement in North America inclusive of go-to-market strategy, branding, demand generation, and content development.
Prior to Samsung Ads, Sandra was the Integrated Marketing Lead for Dolby, where she led brand strategy and partner marketing for the consumer products division and Dolby Vision. Before that, Sandra spearheaded retail and channel programs at Jawbone introducing new categories in wireless speakers and wearables. She began her career at Ogilvy and Mather in Digital Strategy where she executed award-winning digital programs for Fortune 100 companies.
Sandra graduated with honors with a dual degree in International Relations and Political Science from the University of California, Davis.
As a Director with The Siegfried Group, Sean works directly with financial executives, across multiple industries, providing them with a combination of accounting and leadership advisory services designed to provide greater professional and personal success. Sean also volunteers domestically and abroad with Digital Divide Data, a social enterprise creating better futures for disadvantaged youth in Cambodia, Laos, and Kenya through an innovative technology driven work/study program founded in 2001. Prior to joining The Siegfried Group, Sean started his career with Deloitte in New York.
Sean is a licensed Certified Public Accountant and graduated with honors from Bentley University. He currently serves on the Bentley Alumni Board of New York and is an active member of the Robin Hood Foundation. Sean lives in New York City and enjoys traveling, running and skiing.
Sean Merriweather is a strategist focused on the intersection of media, data and technology who is currently the VP of Product Marketing at Publicis Media, a top global agency. Sean also teaches in NYU’s MS in Integrated Marketing program.
I came across BUILD during a time when I was searching for a consistent organization to volunteer with and support. I’ve stayed involved over the past 2 years because of the amazing staff and the work they support. It’s great to see the growth of the students even from freshman to sophomore year; from making eye contact, to speaking with confidence and advocating for their ideas it’s incredible to play even a small part in the journey.
Shai Goldman is a Managing Director at Silicon Valley Bank (“SVB”) and has more than 15 years of experience working with the startup and venture capital community. He moved to NYC from the Bay Area in 2011 to help build out SVB’s New York office and launch a new group serving early-stage founders. His current focus is on engaging the local VC community. Previously, he was a Venture Partner at 500 Startups, where he conducted investing, fundraising, community building, and portfolio management.
Shai graduated from Santa Clara University. Similar to the bank he works for, Shai has a global background, having been born in Israel and speaking three languages. He is married to a California native and helps raise their two children and two yorkies.
Stamatis Kakleas is currently an Operations Associate at Tiger Global Management and joined our associate board at the beginning of 2019. Stam has previously worked at Highbridge Capital Management and Stelliam Investment Management and on the Pastry Team of Gramercy Tavern, one of the best restaurants in America.
Stam has a passion for entrepreneurship and has co-founded two businesses of his own; a seasonal gourmet cookie company and a cold brew coffee delivery service. He is a graduate of the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University and studied Pastry and Baking Arts at the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC.
Steve Mea joined BUILD in 2016 and currently serves as Operations Manager for the National Shared Services team. In this role, he supports our organization by keeping tabs on our technology, government filings, insurance coverage, external vendors and contractors, and student program operations. Before stepping in to this position, Steve was a member of the Boston Program team as a Youth Engagement Coordinator and Student Experience Program Manager, in which he supported students, teachers, mentors, and staff in all aspects of the BUILD program. Prior to his time with BUILD, Steve worked for the Germantown Historical Society in Philadelphia and led educational tours of historic homes for 4th and 5th graders. Steve attended Millersville University of Pennsylvania where he studied History and Governmental & Political Affairs, and currently resides in Philadelphia with his Fiancé, rabbit, and two cats. In his spare time, he enjoys playing the drum kit for his band at local Philly-area venues.
“I BUILD because of the incredible impact the program has on students, school communities, and families. I saw this first hand as a member of the Boston Program team, and am fortunate enough to continue this work remotely in Philadelphia. An education in business provides a young person with 21st century skills that their normal course load does not have the time to cover. It empowers them to realize their dreams, and graduate from high school with a vision for the future.” -Steve Mea
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.
Tiffany Reaves is the current director of social impact and fan engagement for the New York Knicks. In this role, she sets the strategy for all community activation, youth basketball programming, and fan engagement platforms. She directs the philanthropic contributions and fundraising efforts and oversees a team that works directly with nonprofits, youth basketball organizations, corporate partners, and players to develop programs and initiatives that address local community challenges and meets business objectives.
Tiffany received her bachelor’s degree in health, recreation, and tourism management from George Mason University in 2009 and went on to attend Columbia University where she obtained her master’s degree in Sports Business. Tiffany worked at the Madison Square Garden Company for five years in marketing and corporate partnership management before leaving the company in 2014. For two years, she worked for licensing company Haddad Brands, where she managed global marketing for Levi’s and Converse Kids. Tiffany returned to The Garden in her current role in February 2016.
A native Virginian, Tiffany has lived in New York for ten years and enjoys traveling, writing, and staying active through biking, running, and volleyball. She volunteers for youth development organizations, including Girls on the Run, and serves on the associate board of youth entrepreneurship organization, BUILD NYC. She is also a board member of Manhattan Community Board 10 in central Harlem, where she currently resides with her husband, Duncan (married in 2018).
Tom Doctoroff is a Senior Partner at Prophet, a global consultancy that fuses insights, strategy, creativity, and imagination to help companies find better ways to grow their brands and businesses. Between 2012 and 2016, Tom was the CEO of J. Walter Thompson (“JWT”) Asia Pacific, one of the region’s fast growing and most profitable marketing and communications companies. He is also one of Asia’s most respected advertising professionals. His unique combination of pan‐Asian work, plus almost two decades based in China, has made him an expert in the cross‐border management of brand architecture and brand building, as well as a leading expert in Chinese consumer psychology.
He appears regularly on CNBC, NBC’s The Today Show, Bloomberg and NPR, and is featured in publications ranging from the Financial Times to the Wall Street Journal. He is a sought after keynote speaker for events such as the International Advertising Association’s global symposium, University of Chicago’s Global Management Conference and the JPMorgan Asia Pacific Equities conference. Tom is the Senior Advisor to the President of Asia Society. He is also the recipient of the “Magnolia Government Award,” the highest honor given by the Shanghai municipal government to expatriates. He was an Official Torchbearer for the Beijing 2008 Olympics. Tom is the author of the best‐selling books “Billion: Selling to the New Chinese Consumer” (2006) and “What Chinese Want” (2012). He published his third book, “Twitter Is Not a Strategy: Rediscovering the Art of Brand Marketing,” in November 2014. Tom was also a driving force behind Mainland China’s first Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Tom started his career at Leo Burnett in Chicago but jumped ship to JWT in 1992. In 1994, he moved to Hong Kong as Regional Business Director for clients such as Pepsi, Kraft, and Citibank. In 1998, he landed in China as the Managing Director of JWT Shanghai and in 2002, was appointed Northeast Asia Area Director and Greater China CEO. In 2012, he was appointed the CEO of Asia Pacific for J. Walter Thompson. Through diversification into digital platform design, digital content production, trade marketing, and field marketing, JWT Asia Pacific has emerged as one the most synergistically integrated, creatively dynamic communication networks. During his 22 years based in Asia, Tom managed the strategy and marketing communications for a uniquely broad base of corporations, both multinational and Asian.
Trace Cohen is a serial entrepreneur in NYC and now the Managing Director of NYVP making angel investments in the best startups/founders.
He was the President and Co-Founder of Launch.it, a new self-publishing platform for PR professionals, agencies and brands to launch and socialize everything new.
Prior to that Trace was an SVP at iFluencePR where he “created understanding for a complex world.” He specializes in strategic PR for tech companies looking to develop their communications, branding and outreach strategies to connect with their communities and customers with transparency.
Trace is a graduate of the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University with a double major in Entrepreneurship and Marketing. He is one of the original Co-Founders and former CMO of Brand-Yourself.com, which helped students and young professionals manage their reputation and personal brands online. The best class he has ever taken.
Virginia Duke is proud to be in her sixth year as part of the BUILD family. She currently serves as BUILD’s National Manager of Systems Improvement and Knowledge Management, a role that draws heavily from her previous positions as both a grant writer and program manager, teaching BUILD juniors in Oakland how to run their own businesses and prepare for the college application process.
Prior to BUILD, Virginia taught English in Nepal on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant fellowship and taught eighth grade math in rural Alabama through Teach for America. Born and raised in Montana, she is a 2011 University of Oklahoma graduate (Boomer Sooner!). Virginia lives in Austin, Texas, is an avid reader, and is writing her third novel.
Zach Riedy is a technology investor at TCV, a $15B+ growth equity fund based in Silicon Valley with additional offices in New York and London. Previously, Zach worked in the technology investment banking group at William Blair in Chicago. Zach joined BUILD’s Associate Board in early 2019. Zach received a B.S.B.A. in Finance and Economics with honors from Ohio State University and studied at the London School of Economics.