Danielle Rose is the Chief Executive Officer. After spending nearly two decades pursuing her education and early professional career in Georgia, Texas, and Illinois, Danielle’s return to her native Bay Area community in 2013, was more than welcomed. While much has changed since she last lived in Oakland, her love and appreciation for the cultural and social justice fabric that clothes “The Town” remains untouched.
As an experienced operations and education leader, Danielle joined SMASH in 2015 with the aim of leveraging her skills within an organization positioned to sustainably improve the educational experience of our nation’s underserved youth of color. Prior to joining SMASH, Danielle built and managed the operations for Redbird Advanced Learning, an EdTech startup recently acquired by McGraw-Hill. Her transition into education was preceded by eight years in the energy sector, where Danielle held a diverse set of engineering and business roles for BP America, Inc. in Houston and Chicago.
Danielle holds a B.S. from Spelman College in Mathematics and a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Staying true to her Bay Area roots, Danielle enjoys staying active outdoors, eating clean and living green.
Akeem Allen is the Alumni Program Manager. It’s his passion to spark joy in Black and Brown people by equipping them with the entrepreneurial and financial resources they need to thrive. Prior to joining SMASH full-time, he pursued opportunities to realize his passion — he launched Nile Studio, a brand and experience design company for Black-Owned businesses, and project managed 8 SMASH alumni at IDEO CoLab during SMASH Rising 2019. In addition, his desire to use design to create a more equitable world has led him to collaborate with purpose-driven organizations like Free Range, Inneract Project, and Amnesty International.
Akeem was born in Jamaica, and raised in Hartford, Connecticut. He earned his Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Babson College, where he focused on the intersection of entrepreneurship, engineering, UX design, and social impact. Outside of work he loves to travel, take photos and produce music.
Joseph Browne is the Founding Site Director of SMASH Northeastern. Education and specifically equity in education is a passion of Jo’s instilled in him by his late mother who volunteered in the public schools Jo attended for as long as he can remember. Through a program Jo ran at Brown University to support students of color in STEM and a program at MIT Sloan to advance and deliver “Action Learning” to business school students, Jo has learned much about asking the right questions, aligning intent and impact, and honoring “the value of one and power of all” to make a difference.
When not working, Jo enjoys doing dramatic improv (like comedic improv, but with more crying and gnashing of teeth), processing life with his wife, and trying to interpret what his (not-quite) two-year-old son is saying.
William Cardenas is the Program Operations Director. Prior to SMASH, William worked as the Director of Local Engagement with GreatSchools, the nation’s leading website for parents for K12 school data and parenting resources. William led the planning, implementation, and launch of three GreatSchools programs in Atlanta, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Colorado with the goal of providing socioeconomically diverse families with access to online tools to improve their knowledge of high quality K12 school options. William was also the founding Director of Operations for a KIPP charter school in the South Bronx of New York. He directed and managed an annual operating budget of $8M and created an operational growth system, facilitating yearly expansion from 200 students and 20 staff to 500 students and 60 staff.
William holds a B.A. in Psychology from UC Berkeley and an M.A. from Columbia University in International Studies. William is a California native and is excited to continue working in Oakland.
Cameron Clay is the National Curriculum + Training Manager. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Cam has a passion for youth-centered social justice work, education, art, and design. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Ethnic Studies from California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo. Prior to his time with SMASH, Cam served as Creative Director and Research Assistant with DMG Consulting, a social justice think tank and advocacy group. During this time, Cam created custom diversity, equity, and inclusion curriculum and designed and facilitated workshops for clients.
He’s a lifelong artist and received some formal training from California College of the Arts, but most of what he knows has been learned from workshops or self-taught. Cam also has over 20 years of experience working with his family business training dogs of all breeds. He’s excited to contribute to the development of the next generation of the tech workforce with SMASH. When Cam isn’t working, you can find him reading, making art, traveling, or hanging out with dogs.
Alejandra Diaz is the Rising Portfolio Manager. She has focused her career on inspiring and supporting young people to, through, and beyond college. She has served predominantly first-generation students of color through her positions in college access programs such as the College Advising Corps at UC Berkeley and Upward Bound at UC Merced. Prior to joining SMASH full-time, she served scholars as a To + Through Instructor at SMASH Stanford and then as a College Coach through Admit – SMASH’s senior college prep program. In the summer of 2020, she supported a pod of 5 scholar-interns as their Project Manager with SMASH Rising. Alejandra describes herself as a lifelong learner and is dedicated to creating equitable spaces for students.
Alejandra was born and raised in Mexico and enjoys traveling. As a first-generation student, she attended the University of California, Merced and graduated with a B.A. in Psychology. Outside of work, she continues to learn new things like improving her multilingual skills and playing the guitar.
Cathy Douglas is the Site Director at SMASH UCLA. She joined SMASH in 2012 as the founding Site Director for SMASH: UCLA. Additionally, she works as a the Associate Director, Pre-College Programs for the Center for Excellence in Engineering and Diversity (CEED) in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science (HSSEAS). In this capacity, she is responsible for the academic year coordination of Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) preliminary and regional competitions for middle school and high schools, professional development activities for teachers, and college planning workshops.
Faith Fells is the Site Director for Wayne State. Before joining SMASH full-time, Faith helped launch SMASH’s first site in the Midwest while serving as Program Coordinator at SMASH Wayne State. Faith holds a B.A. in Political Science from Wellesley College and an M.Ed. in Secondary Education from Boston College. After completing her master’s coursework, Faith began her career as a high school teacher in Boston and then in her hometown of Detroit. Faith is passionate about educational access, social justice, and equity and is excited to continue contributing to creating a better society for all through her work at SMASH.
Brian Garrett, Ph.D is the Regional Program Director, East. Dr. Garrett is a biochemist from Raleigh, North Carolina. He earned his BS in Chemistry from Morehouse College in 2010 and his doctorate in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015. After completing his doctorate, Dr. Garrett began working as a Research and Development Consultant for HyperLight, a biotech startup company in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. Prior to joining SMASH, Dr. Garrett worked as a Protein Analytical Chemist at Genentech where he earned an excellence award for his development of a quantitative method for analyzing antiviral molecules introduced during the drug development process. Relying on his first hand experience successfully navigating the STEM pipeline and his passion for developing and empowering young people and people of color, Dr. Garrett is determined to leave a lasting impact on the coming generation of diverse STEM professionals.
Rachel Gonzalez is the Alumni Operations Manager. Rachel earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Psychology from San Francisco State University and has spent the majority of her career working in mental health research. She has contributed to research on schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance use disorders, including a research study at the San Francisco Veterans Administration to determine the impact of long-term substance use on the brain. As the first person in her family to earn a graduate degree, she is passionate about access to education; she often helps friends and peers with graduate school applications and seeks to be a helpful resource for anyone looking to pursue higher education. An ever-curious Bay Area native, Rachel is always looking to learn something new — most recently, she completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training program and began teaching classes for friends and family. She hopes to make a positive impact on the Bay Area community through her work with SMASH.
Zareen Khan is the Director of Development at SMASH. A fundraising professional with over 13 years in the field, Zareen has experience in telefundraising, individual giving at the leadership and major gift levels, volunteer management, and campaigns. She has held progressive roles in her career at both her alma mater UC Berkeley, and most recently at UCSF. She is delighted to be utilizing her development skills to help enhance SMASH’s efforts in empowering underrepresented youth to pursue careers in tech.
Zareen is a proud Bay Area native, and a product of the local public school system. She graduated from Richmond High and received her B.A. in Religious Studies from UC Berkeley.
Norman La is the Donor Relations Manager. Born and raised in Oakland, Norman brings to us over 15 years of fundraising experience in the Bay Area, most at UC Berkeley. Norman is experienced in donor research, annual fund direct/electronic mail campaigns, telefundraising, stewardship, and database maintenance.
Norman is an Oakland Tech alumnus and holds a B.A. in Communications from UC Davis. He is a big fan of the Oakland A’s and you can find him in the right field bleachers. He is an avid marathon runner and is a member of a few East Bay running clubs.
Breanna LeCompte is the Interim Site Director for SMASH Wharton. Breanna holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and in Women and Gender Studies from the University of Delaware, as well as a Master’s degree in Post-secondary Education from Syracuse University. Prior to joining SMASH full-time in the Interim Site Director role, Breanna has served SMASH Wharton in a seasonal staff capacity since the site’s launch.
At Syracuse University, Breanna worked in the Office of First-Year and Transfer Programs where she had the opportunity to develop and implement programming targeting first-generation and low-income students. Here she also engaged in research regarding help-seeking behaviors among college-aged men, the student-athlete experience, and educational opportunity programs. Following her graduation, Breanna has spent her time working for a nationwide non-profit organization which identifies, recruits, and trains diverse scholars to tackle the challenges often faced at predominantly white institutions.
Breanna’s passions include equity and access in secondary and post-secondary educational spaces, environmental and social justice, the representation of Black women in STEM, and, of course, her dog Robbie.
Sivan Levaton is the Alumni Partnerships and Programs Director. Sivan’s fervent belief in education as a lever for social change led her to work with a variety of organizations dedicated to equity in education. Formerly, she worked at The Posse Foundation in Chicago, First Graduate in San Francisco, and for an EdTech startup in San Francisco.
Sivan is a first-generation college student and a Posse Alumna. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Educational Policy Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a Master of Arts in Education from California State University – Los Angeles.
Cindy Lora is the Program Operations Associate for the West Coast. Prior to joining SMASH full-time, Cindy had worked on the Residential team for SMASH Berkeley before helping launch NAF Future Ready Scholars Berkeley during the summer of 2019. She has done work for Undocumented Student Rights throughout California since 2011, and continues to be a point of contact for those in her community. Cindy’s background is in English Composition and Rhetoric, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Sociology.
Cindy is originally from Nayarit, Mexico and has lived in the Central Valley for the past 20 years. Cindy is passionate about social justice, building community, and empowering students. In her free time, Cindy can be found with her toddler Joaquín, either at a park or in a library.
Paige Minett is the Site Director for SMASH Illinois. Paige’s professional career started in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic where she taught High School Biology and Chemistry. It was from there, she discovered her true passion to work with teens in STEM Education. Paige has spent the last few years as the Educational Advisor for the Upward Bound Math-Science Program in Tacoma, Washington. Her enthusiasm for hands-on activities in STEM has allowed her to lead two winning Robotics teams for the NASA Apollo challenge along with being a part of the FIRST robotics organization. Throughout her professional career, she has also had the opportunity of working alongside a multitude of Surgeons in varying specialties as a Medical Scribe.
Paige received her Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign. She is expected to receive her Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Arkansas – Little Rock in Spring 2021. In her free time, she enjoys golfing, performing spoken word, reading, exploring new cultures, exercising, and spending time with friends and family. As a first-generation college student and STEM enthusiast, Paige appreciates the mission and vision of SMASH and is excited to be a part of the team. She hopes to continue the work revolving around STEM, equity, and inclusion specifically as it relates to our BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities!
Chantal Mpezo is the East Coast Programs Operations Associate. Before joining SMASH full-time, Chantal helped launch the first SMASH site outside of California, serving as Program Coordinator at SMASH Morehouse. Chantal holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of West Georgia and a M.S in International Policy and Management from Kennesaw State University. After completing her master’s coursework, Chantal began her career as an English teacher in South Korea and then Programming Director for after school programming in underserved communities in Atlanta. Chantal is passionate about educational equity and social justice and is excited to continue contributing to creating a better society for all through her work at SMASH.
Alicia Parise is the Regional Program Director, West. Alicia comes to SMASH with an extensive background working in schools and in the non-profit sector. After receiving her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Latin American Studies from UCLA, she moved back home to the Bay Area, where she worked at several schools and non-profits, helping low-income students engage in school and gain access to college. After working as a site director for an after school program for primarily English Language learners in San Rafael, she decided to go back to school to pursue her Master’s at USF in Counseling Psychology with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential so that she would be certified to work as a school counselor. During this time, Alicia was hired to help launch the SEO Scholars program in San Francisco as the first expansion site out of New York City–an intensive academic after school, Saturday and summer program that helps low-income students get into and through competitive four year colleges. She helped the program grow from infancy, from recruiting the very first class with only two full time staff to now having over 100 students involved in the high school and college programs with 7 full time staff and 10-15 part time staff. In her free time, she likes to hang out and relax with friends, read, puzzle, cook, and occasionally go out salsa dancing.
Kristina Peralta is the Director of Development. Kristina’s passion for educational equity was instilled as an undergrad, when she served as the Student Director for BRIDGE: the Filipino/ Filipino American Outreach and Retention Program at UC Davis. After graduating, she began her career as an elementary special education teacher in Brooklyn through the New York City Teaching Fellows Program. She’s worked as a Community Advocate for the Asian Law Caucus’ Immigrant Rights Program, where she provided direct services to low-income immigrant communities in the Bay Area and created ASPIRE: Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education, the first Pan-Asian undocumented youth group in the nation. She’s also worked as a Research Assistant at Stanford; a Policy Analyst for San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, where she worked on Education and Gang Prevention initiatives and as the Director of Education and Workforce Preparedness for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Kristina is a proud Bay Area native and received a B.A. in Sociology from UC Davis and an M.A. from Stanford University in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies. Through her work, she hopes to contribute towards creating a more equitable, inclusive, and just society.
Damian Perez is the Data Analytics Manager. Before joining SMASH, Damian worked for a charter network located in underserved communities. During his time, the network opened two additional high schools. Through the management of data and information systems, he supported the growth by always bringing student needs to the forefront of decision making. Damian is proud to have been part of the efforts that led to additional opportunities for students in East Side San Jose, CA!
Damian’s devotion to serving students with diverse backgrounds is an extension of his educational journey. The youngest of first-generation Mexican American siblings, Damian was the first to graduate high school and attend college. Having experienced first-hand the socio-economic challenges students still face today, Damian strides to “pay it forward” by serving the next generation of leaders. Damian holds a B.S. in Business Administration, Management of Information Systems from San Jose State University and a M.S. in Instructional Science and Technology from California State University Monterey Bay.
During his off-screen time, Damian can be found working on various DIY projects with his wife Elena, encouraging his daughter Vida’s comic book obsession, and trying to keep up with his son Tizoc’s endless energy!
Felicia Phillips is the Site Director at SMASH UC Davis. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Felicia participated in a university-based STEM outreach program in high school, and because of that experience she decided to study engineering in college. Felicia worked for a Fortune 500 telecommunications company in Atlanta for more than a decade, designing data networks for business customers and for events such as the Olympic Games. She eventually decided to become a math teacher so that she could encourage students to pursue STEM careers. She taught middle school math in Boston and Atlanta, and then returned home to the Bay Area where she served as a school leader at elementary, middle, and high schools. She is passionate about expanding access to opportunity and economic mobility for students of color.
Felicia has a Bachelor’s degree in engineering and a Master’s degree in education, both from Harvard University.
Lisa Prioleau is the National Curriculum and Training Manager. She is an educator by trade. After graduating from The University of Chicago with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Comparative Human Development, she spent a year teaching English in Spain. Upon returning to the States, Lisa went back to school to pursue her Master’s of Arts in Teaching, also from The University of Chicago. She has spent the past decade working as an educator with Chicago Public Schools. During her years in the classroom, she specialized in literacy and social sciences and encouraged students to view learning as a constant cycle. As a Certified Yoga Teacher, Lisa also worked to incorporate mindfulness and restorative practices as normal elements of everyday school life.
Prior to accepting a full time position with SMASH, Lisa had the honor to be a part of the site launch for SMASH x Illinois as their College Success Facilitator. She worked closely with SMASH’s team to pilot the new To + Through curriculum. She has supported Illinois scholar’s as both a STEM Workshop and To + Through Facilitator. Lisa lives in Chicago with her husband and dog. In her spare time, she reads, exercises, and gardens.
Wells Lucas Santo is the National Director of Curriculum and Training. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Wells has spent the last 8 years dedicated to supporting underrepresented students in STEM. Prior to joining SMASH, he was the first Education Manager at AI4ALL, where he developed an inclusive, accessible, and culturally responsive Artificial Intelligence curriculum for high school girls of color, with ethics and the societal implications of tech at its foundations. He has taught hundreds in classrooms across the country, anywhere from Brooklyn to Oakland at the middle school, high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels, with an emphasis on creating equitable, inclusive, and joyful classroom environments focused on co-generative pedagogy, centering the lived experiences of his students.
Wells received a B.S. in Computer Engineering and a M.S. in Computer Science from New York University, with an interdisciplinary focus on Artificial Intelligence and Science and Society studies. He has spoken at venues such as the United Nations Youth Assembly, the SAFE Lab at Columbia University, and the Annual oSTEM Conference on AI bias and justice and the disparate impact that technology has on marginalized communities. Wells also cares deeply about abolition, transformative justice, critical race and digital studies, US boba history, anime, and how he can better support his fellow QTPOC community as a queer, non-binary first-generation Asian American.
Anne Sawiris is the Site Director of SMASH Berkeley. Growing up in underserved Hayward, CA schools as a first-generation, immigrant student, Anne knows the added pressures of navigating the education system with little support. She passionately believes in fighting for educational equity as a means to advance communities. Anne works to provide SMASH scholars excellent learning opportunities, mentors who inspire, and communities that transform lives. Before joining SMASH full-time, Anne served as the Residential Director at SMASH Stanford for two summers. Seeing more students from underserved communities graduate from college with the purpose of returning to better their communities is why she does this work.
Anne earned her BA in Political Science and Black Studies from UC Santa Barbara and her MA in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership from Stanford University. In her free time, she loves to adventure outdoors, explore new places, and spend time with family and friends!
Terrance Scott is the founding Site Director for SMASH at the University of Michigan. Terrance is an educator by trade where he served as a classroom teacher in Nashville and most recently as an Assistant Principal in Detroit. He has also worked as a consultant for school districts across the country in an effort to help build teachers’ capacity for culturally relevant teaching, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Terrance attained his Doctorate in Leadership and Professional Practice from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville and his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan.
Terrance lives by Dr. King’s quote “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that” and is excited to have an impact on the SMASH community here in Michigan as we remove barriers that hinder children of color from opportunity. He enjoys reading and writing poetry, binge-watching a good show with his wife, and turning his two-year-old son into a gamer and avid book-lover.