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Our Team

Angela Stokes

Position: Director of Mentor & Community Engagement
Email: astokes@build.org

Angela Stokes joins BUILD with varied non-profit experience across education, mentoring and corporate engagement. She is also a proponent of National Service, having served two years in AmeriCorps, solidifying her desire to give back to the community. Moving to Boston over a decade ago, Angela hoped to connect better to the community by becoming a mentor and pursued being a Big Sister. This experience has now helped her call Boston home. She is excited to join the BUILD team to continue connecting with students, maximizing their potential and engaging awesome mentors to do so too. In her spare time, Angela enjoys music, cooking and exploring parks with her toddler.

Angela Stokes joins BUILD with varied non-profit experience across education, mentoring and corporate engagement. She is also a proponent of...

Angela Stokes

Director of Mentor & Community Engagement

Anna Dinh

Position: Senior Program Manager, Bay Area
Email: adinh@build.org
Top: 7

Anna is the Senior Program Manager for the Peninsula. 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.

Anna is the Senior Program Manager for the Peninsula. She supports teachers with the implementation of curriculum and leads the...

Anna Dinh

Senior Program Manager, Bay Area

Anthony Walker

Position: Senior Program Manager, Bay Area
Email: awalker@build.org

Anthony Walker is an entrepreneur from San Diego, CA. He is a Licensed Life Insurance Agent based in Oakland, CA and the founder of Finance Friday, a financial literacy platform. Anthony has been an educator, as well as the Founder and Director of National Elite LLC, an organization focused on summer football camps for youth in Oakland and San Diego. Anthony received a bachelor’s degree from Whittier College and a master’s from Saint Mary’s College in Sports Management.

Anthony Walker is an entrepreneur from San Diego, CA. He is a Licensed Life Insurance Agent based in Oakland, CA...

Anthony Walker

Senior Program Manager, Bay Area

Bethany Thomas-Acevedo

Position: Executive Operations Manager

Bethany Thomas is the Executive Operations Manager of BUILD Boston. Before coming to BUILD she worked as the Director of Sales of Taste Buds Kitchen which helped her strengthen the multi-tasking, calendar organizing, and team-leading skills she now brings to BUILD. Although she has over 10+ years of volunteer experience, working for BUILD Boston fulfills her lifelong dream of working professionally in the Nonprofit world. Bethany has a B.A in both Journalism and Philosophy from The University of Massachusetts Amherst. She enjoys spending time with her loved ones, traveling the world, and hiking with her rescue pup, Moose.

“I BUILD because I know firsthand the powerful effect the right help can make for under-resourced youth. I believe in the ability of one single, caring person to help change the course of multiple lives.”

Bethany Thomas is the Executive Operations Manager of BUILD Boston. Before coming to BUILD she worked as the Director of...

Bethany Thomas-Acevedo

Executive Operations Manager

Betsy Neptune

Position: Regional Executive Director, Boston
Email: bneptune@build.org
Top: 1

Betsy Neptune comes to BUILD with over 15 years of experience in community economic development in Latin America and the U.S. She is passionate about creating a world in which everyone can have a job that they love and one through which they can grow and develop in order to have a positive impact. In her most recent role as the Chief of Economic Development for the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, she led economic recovery and resilience efforts for 101 cities and towns in Greater Boston. During her tenure, she expanded the work of the team beyond traditional economic development efforts, to include workforce development, digital access, and other strategies to advance wealth creation with a focus on reducing the racial wealth gap. Over the past year, her team played a key role in COVID response and recovery efforts throughout the Greater Boston region.

Prior to that role, she led the Small Business Technical Assistance program for the City of Boston, after serving as the Executive Director of Egleston Square Main Street, an organization in Jamaica Plain/Roxbury whose mission is to support small businesses. This work was shaped by her experiences working in community economic development for several years in Ecuador, Peru, and Chile.

Betsy has a heart for teaching, coaching, and entrepreneurship, so BUILD is a perfect fit. She has taught high school and graduate-level classes and also coaches existing and emerging entrepreneurs through her coaching business. She is a graduate of Trinity College with a degree in Anthropology and has certificates in Nonprofit Management and Corporate Social Responsibility. She received her MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and lives in Boston.

Betsy Neptune comes to BUILD with over 15 years of experience in community economic development in Latin America and the...

Betsy Neptune

Regional Executive Director, Boston

Chelsey Brown

Position: Program Director, Bay Area
Top: 4
: Cali4

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 the Bay Area, 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!

Chelsey was born and raised in East Palo Alto in a blended working-class family. The first in her family to...

Chelsey Brown

Program Director, Bay Area

Crystal M. Adair

Position: Program Director
Email: cadair@build.org
Top: 2

Crystal is a native Washingtonian and a proud product of District of Columbia Public Schools. She joins the BUILD Metro DC team after 21 hugely successful years as a classroom teacher, academic program manager, curriculum developer, and instructional leader who mentors, coaches, and trains fellow educators. Specializing in English, Public Speaking, Theater Arts, and Workforce Readiness, Crystal has worked in K-12 and adult education programs across the country, including California, Maryland, and our Nation’s Capital. But it’s Crystal’s fervent commitment to social justice, educational equity, and helping children to find their voices that excites her most. Every day, Crystal meets students and colleagues where they are and then supportively and structurally moves them forward. In doing so, she has built countless teams and departments that are driven by efficacy, passion, purpose, and relentlessness. Also a bestselling author, accomplished playwright and director, and empowerment speaker. Crystal holds a B.A. in Mass Media Arts (Radio-Television-Film) from the illustrious Clark Atlanta University. Still, Crystal’s most beloved role of all will ALWAYS be that of mother to her wonderfully witty and uniquely gifted teenage son, Jalen Christopher.

Crystal is a native Washingtonian and a proud product of District of Columbia Public Schools. She joins the BUILD Metro...

Crystal M. Adair

Program Director

Danielle Staggs

Position: Development and Operations Manager

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.

Danielle joined BUILD Metro DC in the Fall of 2020 and serves as the hub of all development operations for...

Danielle Staggs

Development and Operations Manager

Decota Letman

Position: Director of Strategic Partnerships
Email: dletman@build.org

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 joined the BUILD NYC team as its Community Engagement Manager, and is now the Director of Strategic Partnerships, NYC .  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.

A graduate of Howard University with a background in Communications. Decota was born and raised in the Bronx by way...

Decota Letman

Director of Strategic Partnerships

Elia Hernandez

Position: Development and Operations Manager
Top: 18

Elia Hernandez

Development and Operations Manager

Emily Donato

Position: Senior Program Manager
Email: edonato@build.org

Emily joins BUILD with experience as Manager of Career Development Programs at Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania and a former Career Coach serving high school students placed in corporate internships in the greater Pittsburgh area. With expertise in personalized learning, program development, and youth and volunteer recruitment, Emily’s tools workforce development includes Project Based Learning and Human Centered Design. Emily is an AmeriCorps Public Ally Pittsburgh Alum and a yoga instructor. She received her RYT-200 Certification from YogaRoots on Location’s Anti-Racist Yoga Teacher Training in 2018. Emily’s yoga and career-mentorship practices utilize trauma-informed care and restorative practices.

Emily believes that engaging, real-world workforce development training for young people is the key to social, economic, and educational equity. For fun she enjoys travel, food, music, reading, playing with dogs, laughing with friends, and encouraging self-compassion and accountability. Emily holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Theatre Dance from the College of Wooster.

Emily joins BUILD with experience as Manager of Career Development Programs at Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania and...

Emily Donato

Senior Program Manager

Felipe Duran

Position: Community Engagement Manager, LA
Email: forozco@build.org

Felipe Duran is excited to join BUILD Los Angeles as the Community Engagement Manager. Felipe is an experienced non-profit professional having worked with disconnected youth and youth experiencing homelessness in the Los Angeles area. In his prior experience designing and leading holistic youth programs, Felipe has applied research-based mentoring tools and developed various community partnerships to support youth in their personal and professional development.

Having grown up and still currently living in Northeast Los Angeles, it is his mission to support youth in his community. He looks forward to leveraging his experience to support a network of mentors for student entrepreneurs. In his spare time, Felipe enjoys watching professional football, playing golf, and going on walks with his wife and daughter.

Felipe Duran is excited to join BUILD Los Angeles as the Community Engagement Manager. Felipe is an experienced non-profit professional...

Felipe Duran

Community Engagement Manager, LA

Itzel Franco

Position: College Access Coach, Bay Area
Top: 12

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.

Itzel is a first-generation Chicana who recently earned a BA in Sociology from the University of California, Merced. In recent...

Itzel Franco

College Access Coach, Bay Area

Jaren Sorkow

Position: Director of Strategic Partnerships, CA
Email: jsorkow@build.org

A Los Angeles native, Jaren has dedicated his career to community engagement and working with disenfranchised populations. Prior to joining BUILD, Jaren served as the Director of Casa Esperanza, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit focused on gang intervention and prevention activities for Latinx youth and their families. He has also held senior positions at Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles, CASA of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Animal Services, and Union Station Homeless Services.

He earned a BA in English from the University of California, Berkeley, a Master of Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco, and a Master of Public Administration, with a focus on public policy, from California State University, Northridge.

A Los Angeles native, Jaren has dedicated his career to community engagement and working with disenfranchised populations. Prior to joining...

Jaren Sorkow

Director of Strategic Partnerships, CA

Jasmine Ochoa

Position: Senior Program Manager, Bay Area
Top: 9

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 Bay Area Program Manager 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.

Raised in East Oakland, Jasmine graduated high school from Lionel Wilson Prep as a BUILD student. Throughout high school Jasmine...

Jasmine Ochoa

Senior Program Manager, Bay Area

Jazmin Moreno

Position: Entrepreneurship Program Manager

Jazmin Moreno

Entrepreneurship Program Manager

Jenelle Bazil-Charles

Position: Community Engagement Manager
Email: jbazilcharles@build.org

Jenelle joins the BUILD NYC team with years of experience in youth development and non-profit. As a former Community Engagement Coordinator, she facilitated overall volunteer training for mentors in the New York City area, conducted research about the recruitment of individuals in the Central Brooklyn area, this includes community canvassing and digital research, led overall volunteer recruitment events, and served as a liaison to maintain collaborative relations with community partners.

She is excited to join BUILD NYC and transition into volunteer mentor management to build a high-performing volunteer workforce to serve our students. Jenelle is also a career mentor coach to first-generation college students, as well as a community advocate with a strong interest in education and public safety. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and volunteering. Jenelle holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Virginia State University and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Pace University.

Jenelle joins the BUILD NYC team with years of experience in youth development and non-profit. As a former Community Engagement...

Jenelle Bazil-Charles

Community Engagement Manager

Jessica McGill

Position: Director of Philanthropy, California
Top: 4
: Cali5

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.

Jessica, a graduate of Virginia Tech, has fifteen years of fundraising experience having worked for nonprofits in both California and...

Jessica McGill

Director of Philanthropy, California

John Morytko

Position: Donor Engagement Manager
Email: jmorytko@build.org

John Morytko joins BUILD with a diverse background in the nonprofit industry. Previously he has operated in roles that include volunteer management, grant writing, and even program implementation in Ghana for Pencils of Promise. Most recently, John worked with Citizen Schools to raise funds around the country for programs focused on STEM education and increasing the representation of underserved populations in STEM career fields. John has a BSBA in Entrepreneurship from Xavier University, as well as his Masters in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University. John is excited to join BUILD and work to provide students with new educational opportunities and help them find the same passion for entrepreneurship that sparked his career.

In his free time, John is an advocate for educational nonprofit work across the globe. He serves as the UN youth representative for Caring for Cambodia and is always planning his next international trip. When not working or volunteering, he can be found cooking, at a baseball game, or with his family exploring New England.

John Morytko joins BUILD with a diverse background in the nonprofit industry. Previously he has operated in roles that include...

John Morytko

Donor Engagement Manager

Justin Lokossou

Position: STUDENT EXPERIENCE PROGRAM MANAGER (E2)

Residing in Harlem, New York by way of Benin, West Africa. Justin Lokossou has spent the majority of his life in the service to students. As a curriculum designer, educator, academic advisor, and fencing instructor, Justin has worked with students from grades K through 12, and has since focused his passion towards working with high school students. He enjoys long walks on the beach, riding his bicycle, judo, lying about enjoying walks on the beach (he and sand do not get along, the sand knows what it did), and writing amusing biographies about himself. This is amusing bio #8. Justin hopes to bring his love of writing, poetry, fantasy fiction, music and comic culture into designing an engaging curriculum for BUILD that will help students not only see themselves in their lesson, but fulfill and exceed their own expectations of how great they can become. 

Residing in Harlem, New York by way of Benin, West Africa. Justin Lokossou has spent the majority of his life...

Justin Lokossou

STUDENT EXPERIENCE PROGRAM MANAGER (E2)

Karleton Thomas

Position: Regional Executive Director, DC
Top: 1

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.

Karleton Thomas is a social entrepreneur and workforce development practitioner who has spent much of his career developing opportunities for...

Karleton Thomas

Regional Executive Director, DC

Kenya George

Position: Program Director
Email: kgeorge@build.org
Top: 3

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.

Kenya is a dynamic community organizer and youth developer committed to the transformation and upliftment of youth, young adults and...

Kenya George

Program Director

Kira Ross Rey

Position: Director of Philanthropy
Email: kRoss@build.org
Top: 4

Kira Ross Rey

Director of Philanthropy

Lamar Blackwell

Position: Founding Director
Email: lblackwell@build.org

As a former Political candidate, Criminal Justice Reform Program Director & CEO, Educational Administrator, and also an established transformational leader in both the private and public sector, Lamar Blackwell joins BUILD as the Founding Director with a plethora of relevant relationships and invaluable experience. Lamar has had an amazing track record of reforming broken communities through administrative duties. He attended the 9th-ranked dual-degree graduate and law school program in the United States, Georgia State University. Lamar also received his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College in 2016. Lamar has mastered the ability to maximize equity through creating, influencing, and operating policy that justly allocates resources to under-served residents, students, and communities. He is an accomplished professional with extensive experience advocating and campaigning to mitigate injustice for individuals by leading social justice organizations, schools, and social service agencies. The unmatched ability to connect community partners, potential funders, and regular people to a product has helped Lamar Blackwell establish himself as a “widely-recognized” dynamic leader throughout the region.

Mr. Blackwell was born and raised in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the Northeast; at one point he attended one of the lowest-performing schools in Pennsylvania, Peabody High School. He states “of all the friends I grew up around, I’m the only one who is currently walking the streets free. Half are dead, half are incarcerated, but it started from the time we were students.” Lamar realized that being born into an unsatisfactory environment, with little resources would lead many to a life of self-destruction. He noticed that many of the friends he grew up with were struggling due to the fact that they were not connected to the work they were doing and didn’t have a chance to create opportunities for themselves. At that point, Lamar dedicated himself to fighting for equity and opportunity for those who are unable to fight for themselves.

Lamar has served numerous low-income communities and transformed the minds of many speaking professionally to over 900,000 people and raising millions of dollars for low-income residents and nonprofit organizations. Lamar has created strong networks, working alongside diverse groups of people, ranging from troubled minority students to formerly incarcerated individuals. Lamar looks forward to serving BUILD and helping change the trajectory of the lives of students through informal education.

As a former Political candidate, Criminal Justice Reform Program Director & CEO, Educational Administrator, and also an established transformational leader...

Lamar Blackwell

Founding Director

Lenworth A. Williamson

Position: Program Director
Email: lwilliamson@build.org
Top: 2

Len joins the BUILD Boston team with nine years of experience in education and youth development work. He has most recently worked at the Pingree School outside of Boston, as the Dean of Students for six years. In addition to his role overseeing student life, Len has taught social studies and coached basketball at Pingree. He also serves as a workshop presenter and conference facilitator on the topics of social justice in education and student motivation. He offers professional development webinars for educators in school districts across the state through the Massachusetts Partnership for Youth and works alongside a diverse group of educators from around the country to deliver social justice curricula for high schoolers at the annual NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference.

As a volunteer, Len supports nonprofit organizations around Greater Boston, including serving on the board of directors of Aaron’s Presents, a service-learning program for kids in under-resourced communities on the north shore. His joy in working with young people was sparked after college, while playing pro basketball overseas and coaching local youth teams. Whether it’s on the court, in the classroom, or in life, Len is excited by the process of experiential learning and believes wholeheartedly in the power of a growth mindset. He earned a B.A. in Sociology from Amherst College and an M.Ed. in K-12 Learning and Instruction from Northeastern University.

Len joins the BUILD Boston team with nine years of experience in education and youth development work. He has most...

Lenworth A. Williamson

Program Director

Mandy Boose

Position: Senior Program Manager, Bay Area
Email: mBoose@build.org
Top: 11

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.

With a degree in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley, Mandy has dedicated her life to critiquing and challenging systemic inequalities....

Mandy Boose

Senior Program Manager, Bay Area

Maria Raftelis

Position: Grant Writer, NYC/CA

Maria Raftelis has more than a decade of fundraising experience in education. Before joining BUILD, Maria served as Associate Director of Foundation Relations at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. In this role, she oversaw fundraising for the Center of Radiological Research (CRR) and worked with medical faculty across the College to raise funds for research. Prior to Columbia University, Maria served as Grant Writer at the City College Fund, the fundraising organization of the City College of New York (CCNY). During my nine year tenure at the City College Fund, Maria expanded the College’s portfolio of institutional donors to double institutional giving. 

Maria resides in the Bronx with her husband and son. A graduate of the New York City public school system, Maria believed every student should have access to an excellent education that inspires them to dream and achieve their full potential.

Maria holds a Bachelor’s degree in Individualized Studies from New York University and a Master’s degree in Social Science from the University of Chicago.

Maria Raftelis has more than a decade of fundraising experience in education. Before joining BUILD, Maria served as Associate Director...

Maria Raftelis

Grant Writer, NYC/CA

Mariana Lopez-Sutherland

Position: Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator, Bay Area
Email: mlopezsutherland@build.org

Mariana Lopez-Sutherland joins the BUILD Bay Area team with experience working in the education sector, primarily in economically disadvantaged communities. Through her work as a tutor and substitute teacher Mariana has helped several students reach their academic goals. As a first-generation immigrant from Venezuela, she is very passionate about social justice and education equity. She is excited to join BUILD Bay Area to start her career in the nonprofit sector, and to further her work helping the youth thrive. Mariana also loves arts and crafts, being a dog parent to a little Chiweenie called Maya, travelling, and finding new spots to eat. She holds a bachelor’s degree in International Economics from UC San Diego.

Mariana Lopez-Sutherland joins the BUILD Bay Area team with experience working in the education sector, primarily in economically disadvantaged communities....

Mariana Lopez-Sutherland

Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator, Bay Area

Meilani Meleisea

Position: Community Engagement Manager, Bay Area
Email: mmeleisea@build.org

Meilani Meleisea joins the BUILD CA Team with extensive experience surrounding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work within higher education at her alma mater, the University of California, Berkeley. As founder and Executive Director of the university’s only institutionalized Pacific Islander-centered advocacy organizations, she partnered with local organizations in California and international partners in Aotearoa to build pathways for the recruitment of Indigenous Pasifika students and to support retention programs for continuing students. Moreover, Meilani arrives at BUILD with years of experience in Volunteer and Community Engagement at GLIDE sf, where she managed a workforce of approximately 25,000 annual volunteers to further the organization’s mission of creating a radically inclusive, just, and loving community, working to break the cycle of poverty and marginalization.

She is elated to join BUILD CA to continue supporting and empowering the next generation of leaders along their journeys through secondary school and beyond. Meilani is also an active proponent of cultural advocacy organizations, both domestic and international, concerning equitable representation and access for Pacific Islanders worldwide. In her spare time, she enjoys vocal performance, cooking, and strolls through Oakland’s Chinatown with her dog, Beb.

Meilani Meleisea joins the BUILD CA Team with extensive experience surrounding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work within higher education at...

Meilani Meleisea

Community Engagement Manager, Bay Area

Michael Arellano

Position: Program Director, Los Angeles
Top: 19

Michael holds the Senior Program Manager role for the Los Angeles region.  He brings with him over 15 years of experience working for nonprofit organizations dedicated to youth development.  Having grown up in a Boys & Girls Club, he understands the importance of empowering young people through quality programs and engaging mentors.  His personal mission is to support the creation of collaborative communities that generate opportunities for youth to thrive.

Born and raised in Southern California Michael is excited to expand BUILD’s programs in the Los Angeles area and to bring Spark Skills to the area’s diverse student population.

Michael holds the Senior Program Manager role for the Los Angeles region.  He brings with him over 15 years of...

Michael Arellano

Program Director, Los Angeles

Mo Foster

Position: Senior Program Manager, Oakland
Top: 13

Mo Foster

Senior Program Manager, Oakland

Pamela Minetti

Position: DIRECTOR OF PHILANTHROPY
Email: pMinetti@build.org
Top: 2

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.

Pam has spent the majority of her career in the financial services sector where she worked at a range of...

Pamela Minetti

DIRECTOR OF PHILANTHROPY

Racquel Carter

Position: Program Data Associate, Bay Area
Email: rcarter@build.org

Racquel Carter graduated from Dominican University of California, receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology. She volunteered at various outreach youth development programs within the Bay Area then provided mental-health and behavioral health services to children and teens for eight years. Racquel was then led to mentor youth in preparation for college success and provide community-based resources. She joins BUILD Bay Area as a Program Data Associate and is excited to join the team!

Racquel Carter graduated from Dominican University of California, receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology. She volunteered at various...

Racquel Carter

Program Data Associate, Bay Area

Rayna Landa

Position: Program Associate

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. .

Rayna Landa is originally from Springfield, NJ and is a recent graduate of the Pennsylvania State University. She received her...

Rayna Landa

Program Associate

Rodrigo Alfaro

Position: Executive Director, Bay Area
Email: rAlfaro@build.org
Top: 5
: Cali2

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.

Rodrigo Alfaro brings over a decade of experience in community outreach and nonprofit leadership from churches to college access orgs...

Rodrigo Alfaro

Executive Director, Bay Area

Ryan Oliver

Position: Regional Director, California
Email: rOliver@build.org
Top: 1
: Cali1

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.

Ryan Oliver serves as Regional Executive Director for BUILD Bay Area and Los Angeles, holding primary responsibility for leading growth...

Ryan Oliver

Regional Director, California

Sarah Malonda

Position: Program Associate

Sarah Malonda was born and raised in Queens, New York, and was the daughter of Indonesian immigrants. She graduated from CUNY Hunter College with a degree in Political Science. She’s interested in local politics and community organizing  — and has been participating in outreach events like getting people registered to vote, informing folks about upcoming elections, and visiting local businesses to pass out PPE and other resources. She is committed to helping under-resourced communities such as her own and she is a strong advocate of student engagement in school, so she truly believes in the work BUILD NYC is doing.

Sarah Malonda was born and raised in Queens, New York, and was the daughter of Indonesian immigrants. She graduated from...

Sarah Malonda

Program Associate

Shannon Hayes

Position: Senior Program Manager
Email: shayes@build.org

Shannon Hayes joins the BUILD Boston team with years of experience in youth development and K-12 education in Boston. As former Interim Executive Director of Expanded Learning Opportunities & Partnerships and Director of Expanded Learning Opportunities at Boston Public Schools, Shannon worked with community-based organizations and school leaders to plan and execute summer and vacation week programs across the city that offered students academic support and enrichment opportunities. Prior to that, she was the Afterschool & Summer Learning Program Manager at Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA), overseeing the implementation of arts-integrated, experiential learning programs for English Learners in Boston’s South End.

Shannon is excited to join the team at BUILD Boston to support and develop strong school partnerships and high quality teacher and volunteer training for our school partners in Boston. Shannon is a licensed educator and holds a master’s degree in Elementary Education and Creative Arts in Learning from Lesley University and a bachelor’s in Critical Social Thought from Mount Holyoke College. In her spare time, she enjoys travel, yoga and cooking, and is currently learning ASL.

Shannon Hayes joins the BUILD Boston team with years of experience in youth development and K-12 education in Boston. As...

Shannon Hayes

Senior Program Manager

Shawn Berriman

Position: Director of Philanthropy
Top: 2

Shawn worked as a professional chef straight out of high school before landing his first real office job in international development. In that role, Shawn spent several years working with government clients from Bangladesh, Thailand and Vietnam, and came to appreciate just how much need there is for community support initiatives around the world. In 2005, Shawn and his wife, Eva, moved to Washington, DC from New Zealand. After working at both the New Zealand and Canadian Embassies to the U.S., Shawn left government work to join the world of social good. Over the past decade, Shawn has worked with several nonprofits to help connect individuals and companies to the causes they most deeply care about. If Shawn’s fundraising experiences were written up as a novel, he believes that the donors and corporate partners would be the heroes of the story – after all, it is they who through their generosity help make change possible.

Shawn holds a Graduate Diploma in Business Studies form Massey University in New Zealand and is blessed to have two amazing children: Anna (6) and Owen (3).

Shawn worked as a professional chef straight out of high school before landing his first real office job in international...

Shawn Berriman

Director of Philanthropy

Timothy Ruffin

Position: Senior Program Manager
Email: truffin@build.org

Timothy Ruffin joins the BUILD NYC team after years of classroom and curriculum writing experience at the high school, college and non-profit levels. As an entrepreneur and educator himself, Timothy believes that success in the 21st century will be achieved by those students who have learned the essential skills to develop their own businesses, while constantly pursuing academic achievement because they will be able to adapt to life’s challenges regardless of any societal issues. As a person who was able to overcome the many pitfalls of growing up in an underserved community, Timothy is committed to ensuring that every BUILD student has the opportunity to grow, prosper and make systemic changes in their communities. Timothy holds a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University in African American history and two master’s degrees, one in the social sciences and the other in education.

Timothy Ruffin joins the BUILD NYC team after years of classroom and curriculum writing experience at the high school, college...

Timothy Ruffin

Senior Program Manager

Toiell Washington

Position: Program Manager
Email: twashington@build.org

Toiell Washington joins Build with several years of experience in the nonprofit sector. As a Boston native, she has worked with a number of different organizations in the city doing violence prevention work, such as Casa Myrna and Mothers for Justice and Equality. While working with this demographic, she found a love for community building.  In more recent years, she has become involved in education-based organizations centered around mentoring and empowerment, including Strong Women Strong Girls Boston.

Outside of her work as a nonprofit leader, she is the founder and creator of The Master Tools, a game company that starts conversations around systems of oppression. Toiell is committed to exploring and introducing topics in social justice education in a non-traditional way. Both her experience in the nonprofit field and work as a social entrepreneur make her a great fit for BUILD. She believes it is important that we, as a collective, are accommodating all different kinds of learning styles and encouraging the younger generation to be creative.

Toiell also runs a community organization and digital platform called Black Boston to keep young Black people in the city politically engaged. As someone heavily involved in her community, she has been recognized for her leadership in many different capacities. In 2020, she was the recipient of the Boston Celtics Heroes Among Us Award. She was also awarded Best Social Justice Advocate of the year by Boston Magazine in 2021.

Toiell Washington joins Build with several years of experience in the nonprofit sector. As a Boston native, she has worked...

Toiell Washington

Program Manager

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES

WE DREAM BIG & GET THINGS DONE.

VIDEO PREPARATION GUIDELINES

HOW TO RECORD

1. iPhone, iPad, Zoom and Loom are all choices of recording tools for their video presentation 
2. Record with both students and their presentation in view
3. Record horizontally for the best view of the students and their presentation
4. Follow Presentation Diagram to the Right

PRESENTATION TIPS.

- Make eye contact with the camera
- Notecards may be used as cue cards
•Pro Tip: Notecards should avoid having a full script
- Even when you are not speaking, don’t forget the camera is still recording!
•Be aware of your body language while you and your business partners are speaking
- Everyone has an opportunity to speak
- Professional dress is encouraged
- Practice makes perfect
•Practice how you will transition from each speaker
•Project your voice when you speak​

Follow positioning format Above

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