Eli Kennedy is the Chief Executive Officer. Eli has focused on growing SMASH’s impact by piloting new innovations and is on track to more than double the number of SMASH programs across the nation since joining in 2016. Prior to SMASH, Eli served as the senior vice president of Redbird Advanced Learning, a research-based EdTech company, and as the president and CEO of the Pacific Charter School Development, where he developed over 50 public charter school facilities, raised more than $30M in new philanthropic funding, and scaled the organization as it expanded into three new states. Eli has served as a director at the Broad Foundation and led a region for Platform Learning, a tutoring company focused on low income students. Prior to focusing on education, Eli worked in a strategic management capacity for a technology startup and as a strategy consultant for Andersen Consulting and USWEB/CKS.
Eli serves on the board of directors of Capital Impact Partners and Pacific Charter School Development as well as the Diversity Council for code.org. He earned his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a BBA from Howard University.
Danielle Rose is the Chief Programs Officer. Danielle’s foray into the education space began in 2010 with Rocket Learning – USA, after working in a diverse set of engineering and business roles in the energy sector for BP America, Inc. over the span of eight years. Danielle joined SMASH in 2015 as the Director of Programs where she was responsible for organization-wide program development, operations and expansion. Just prior to joining SMASH, Danielle successfully built and managed the operations for Redbird Advanced Learning.
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. Her own lived experience – academic and professional – has well equipped her to help further fulfill SMASH’s mission.
William Cardenas is the SMASH Program 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.
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.
Brian Garrett, Ph.D is the Site Director at SMASH Morehouse. 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.
Martín Gonzáles is the Residential Programs Manager. Martín was born and raised in Hollister, CA and a son to immigrant parents from Mexico. His low income and first generation background served as motivation and drive for attaining his higher education; and for going into a profession that allows him to empower others to do the same. Martín received his bachelors in Sociology and masters in Educational Administration and Leadership with an emphasis in Student Affairs, Curriculum and Instruction, and Educational and Organizational Leadership from the University of the Pacific. Prior to SMASH, he worked in various roles within the University of the Pacific, both in academic and student affairs. Before that, he served as the Site Coordinator for another non-profit coordinating after school programs for the Hollister School District. He hopes to use his lived and professional experiences to empower other students from disenfranchised populations to fulfill their academic, personal, and professional goals.
Janessa Harmon is the Senior Development Operations Associate. Janessa joined SMASH in 2015 as the Development Associate. Janessa earned her B.A. in Political Science from the University of San Francisco in 2013. Janessa’s passions include education, art, business development, team building, and fitness. Prior to joining SMASH, Janessa worked at Kaiser Permanente IT in Oakland where she provided logistics support for Kaiser’s partnership with organizational consulting company, The Energy Project. Janessa is excited to be a part of an organization that is committed to the advancement of youth.
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.
Alicia Parise is the Site Director at SMASH Stanford. 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 Institutional 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.
John Ray is the Site Director at SMASH Wayne State. John is a native Detroiter and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. He comes from an education background and has experience with traditional district and charter schools and in elementary and middle schools as a teacher and administrator. While living in Houston, he attained his M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from the University of St. Thomas. Most recently John worked as a management consultant on the east coast, supporting school districts and not-for-profit organizations with their improvement efforts. John is thrilled to join the SMASH and Kapor family and return to his hometown of Detroit to provide opportunities to students who are often overlooked.
Ashleigh Richelle is the Communications Manager. Ashleigh shares a personal history with the organization as a SMASH Berkeley 2010 alumna of the SMASH Academy. At SMASH is where she first discovered her passion for using technology to tell stories. Ashleigh attended the University of Chicago, where she graduated in 2014 with a B.A. in Cinema & Media Studies and a minor in Human Rights, focusing on documentary film production. While in college, Ashleigh served as the chapter president of her sorority, Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc. Prior to joining SMASH in 2015, she interned at CBS Interactive as a fellow of the Emma Bowen Foundation for Minority Interests in Media and worked on the university recruiting team at LinkedIn. She’s currently involved with the Diversity & Inclusion Committee of the local Bay Area chapter of PRSA. Outside of work, Ashleigh loves movies, salsa dancing, travel, advocating for her local community and being a role model for young women of color and Latinx.
Anne Sawiris is the Site Director at SMASH Berkeley. She is Egyptian, but was born and partially raised in Abu Dhabi. She immigrated to the United States in fourth grade and learned English by myself. In the US, Anne grew up in Hayward, California, where she developed a passion for advancing educational opportunities for first-generation students of color. She studied Political Science and Black Studies at UC Santa Barbara and received he Master’s in Education Policy from Stanford University. Anne has worked as a Residential Director, including at SMASH Stanford. Seeing more students from our communities go to and graduate from college with the purpose of returning to better their homes and communities is why she does this work. In her free time, she loves to read, write, watch Netflix, run, explore new places, and spend time with her loved ones.
LaToya Tufts is the Site Director at SMASH Wharton. LaToya was born and raised in Vidalia, GA before moving to Washington DC for college. While in DC, LaToya attended Georgetown University where she double majored in Government and English. She spent time in the classroom as a special education teacher while earning her Master’s in Education Policy and Leadership from American University. Before joining SMASH, LaToya worked as the Vice President of Academic and Career Success for a college access startup in Philadelphia. LaToya is excited to be part of the SMASH family and bring this transformative organization to students in the Greater Philadelphia area. As a first generation college student herself, she understands how transformative SMASH will be for families.
Jenny Woo is the Program Operations Associate. Jenny graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor’s in Sociology. Prior to joining SMASH, Jenny was working in EdTech at a coding bootcamp as a Project Associate. Jenny also has experience working in business operations at an environmental non-profit located in Berkeley. Her passions lie in social justice and equality and she hopes to dedicate her career to these areas. In her free time, Jenny is cooking, listening to jazz, or listening to comedy podcasts.
Zorel Zambrano is the Curriculum & Instruction Director. Zorel’s dedication to education and social justice has landed her in a variety of roles reflective of the diverse educational landscape. She spent the last 13 years in Chicago, Oakland, and San Diego teaching young people, leading a Chicago Public School as a resident principal, and coaching teachers and administrators. She also has experience consulting on micro-finance reform projects at an EdTech startup in San Francisco. Her approach is centered around equitable and inclusive practices for historically marginalized or nondominant groups. Most recently, Zorel has developed programming and curriculum to incorporate Restorative Justice Practices into schools in the San Diego Unified School District.
Zorel is a first-generation college student and a native Spanish speaker. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Education. Zorel was born in Venezuela, grew up in Chicago, and has lived in California for 5 years.