Dr. Hassan Brown is the Chief Innovation Officer, and developing our new upcoming SMASH STEM career exploration digital platform for underrepresented students of color as its Chief Executive Officer. A native of Brooklyn, NY, Hassan became a teacher in his community after serving several years as a child protective investigator. Hassan has since worked in various capacities across the country addressing systemic resource, workforce, and education inequities in municipal, school district, and nonprofit spaces. His most recent work focuses on cultivating and sustaining participatory principles and practices in venture philanthropy.
Brown currently serves on the boards of the Boston Children’s Museum, and Education Through Music-Massachusetts. Additionally, he serves as a startup advisor for SecondMuse’s Headstream Accelerator which focuses on the development of technologies that promote youth wellbeing and creativity. Hassan is the co-founder of VRsatility, a simulation lab harnessing the power of virtual reality to close decision-making skills gaps for both education practitioners and students. Hassan is actively working to bridge the gap between social justice, education, and emerging technologies.
Hassan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Morehouse College, a Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a Master’s degree in Education from Hunter College, and a Doctor of Education Leadership degree from Harvard University. Hassan is passionate about improving social outcomes and educational achievement for youth in underserved communities through social innovation and activism. Hassan lives in Boston with his wife, Crystal, and their two dogs, Ziggy and Brooklyn. He loves traveling abroad and has lived all across the country. He is a foodie and an avid hip-hop aficionado with a playlist for every mood and moment.
Cameron Clay is the National Director of Curriculum and Training. 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.
Moneese de Lara is our Development Consultant, with more than 20 years experience in professional fundraising. She has held senior level development positions in arts and culture, health and civil rights organizations. She has extensive experience building and managing development funds and campaigns ranging from $10 to $42 million in operating, capital and program support. Most recently, Moneese lead the fundraising program for the national office of the NAACP as the Senior Vice President of Development. She led and managed the growth of the development program, which more than doubled in revenue during her five year leadership. She was the recipient of the NAACP Medgar W. Evers Award for Excellence, the highest honor bestowed upon a national professional staff member of the NAACP for outstanding service.
As a senior development officer, Moneese manages a team of fundraising professionals and the strategic direction and operation of all development funds, including foundations, individuals and corporations. Her personal interest and portfolio is focused on corporate fund development including corporate philanthropy and corporate sponsorship. Her interest in corporate fund development is informed by her work in corporate responsibility and public relations with several fortune 500 companies prior to joining the nonprofit sector, including RJR Nabisco, Lockheed Martin and PepsiCo, where she was part of the start-up and operations of what was then the largest minority franchise in the PepsiCo system, setting up human resources, financial and sales systems to achieve regional product distribution.
A graduate of Rutgers University in Business Management, Moneese is involved in several professional and civic organizations, including, Association of Fund Raising Professionals; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority; Links Incorporated; Jack and Jill of America. She and her husband have two daughters.
Tariq Draine serves as the Program Director, Southeast Region.Tariq is a first generation college student and 2-time alumnus of The University of Alabama where he earned his B.S. in Marketing and M.A. in Higher Education Administration. His commitment to serving first generation college students and underrepresented communities is broadly displayed in areas of his previous work and daily interactions.
At the University of Alabama , Tariq served as a Program Manager and Career Advisor to Arts and Science collegiate majors aiding them in their personal and professional development as it relates to the workforce. During his tenure there he also worked with the First Year Experience and Retention Initiative Office to establish a program geared to easing the transition to a predominantly white institution for African American and Hispanic males.
Tariq is passionate about social justice and reversing the negative pipelines working against the pure work being done in the education system. Outside of his servant leadership, Tariq enjoys putting forth time into agriculture, music, and fellowshipping with family and friends.
Cindy Lora is the Head of Operations. Before 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.
Maggie Melone-Echiburú is the Program Director, Bay Area Region. Most recently she served as Implementation Lead for the NASA Engineering Design Challenge, a U.S Department of Education/NASA interagency effort focused on delivering STEM educational enrichment programs to underserved students nationally. In this position she was part of a cross-functional team that developed and delivered professional development training for K12 teachers. She was also responsible for recruiting and coordinating NASA engineers and scientists to provide mentorship to classes across the nation.
Prior to that position, Maggie was the founding K12 STEM Director at Hartnell College, where she led the development of a suite of youth/STEM focused college pathway programs, which included: Coder Dojo HC; Girls Who Code; Saturday STEM Academy, and a state-of-the-art Maker Space.
Throughout her career she has demonstrated a passion for serving the community around her. Maggie was born in Chile, spent her formative years in Scotland, and settled in the US more than 20 years ago. She and her husband have three children and live with several dogs and cats in beautiful and quiet Prunedale, CA.
Domonique Weston is the Program Director, Midwest Region. Before joining SMASH, Domonique was the Assistant Director at Wolverine Pathways, a University of Michigan pipeline program. There she committed over six years to supporting underrepresented middle and high school students in exploring their interests and creating a path to college and their future careers. Domonique’s professional interests include diversity and inclusion work,academic and college readiness programming, and student affairs. She leverages her skills in these areas to lead programming that focuses on the holistic development of students.
Domonique was raised in Detroit, MI. She received her B.A. in secondary education from the University of Michigan, and M.A. in Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University. She enjoys traveling, exploring and enjoying various cuisines, and expressing her creativity through hair styling.
Ahna Zackery is the Program Director, Southeast Region. She is originally from Newnan, Georgia, and graduated from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia with a BS in Health Science and an MA in Professional Communication and Leadership.
Ahna began her career as a college and career advisor at Windsor Forest High School with the Savannah Graduates program and then transitioned to Clark Atlanta University as a Program Specialist with their TRiO Upward Bound program. Ahna strives to level the playing field for BIPOC and their access to postsecondary education. Her mantra is “be who you needed when you were younger.” In her free time, Ahna enjoys reading, fitness, playing the piano, brunch, and traveling.
Zorel Zambrano is the Chief Program Officer. Zorel’s dedication to education and equity has landed her in a variety of roles reflective of the diverse educational landscape. She spent 13 years in school districts as a teacher, coach, and administrator in Chicago, Oakland, and San Diego. 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 populations through systemic change. Most recently, Zorel was part of the Curriculum Team at SMASH.
Zorel is a first-generation college student and a native Spanish speaker. She holds a BA in Psychology and a MA in Education. Zorel was born in Venezuela, grew up in Chicago, and now calls Oakland home.
Ludnie Deneus (she/her) is the Program Director, Northeast Region. Prior to her time at SMASH, Ludnie was the Associate Director of Financial Advising at Brown University where she bridged the intersectionality between financial aid and academic advising. Ludnie advised many students from underrepresented backgrounds who experienced gaps during their college tenure. She believes every student should have the same access to resources at any education level.
Ludnie is a first generation student. She was born in Haiti, immigrated to Boston and has lived in Boston for most of her life. She received her BA in Legal Studies with a minor in French from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She also received her MA in International Higher Education and Intercultural Studies from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Ludnie enjoys dancing, traveling, eating an array of food, learning new languages and watching American football and fútbol.
Jonathan Durfield is the Chief Development Officer and is responsible for designing, leading, and implementing SMASH’s philanthropic development program through corporate, individual, and foundation partnerships. Jonathan believes that education is the greatest lever for change, especially for those furthest from opportunity, and has over 20 years of impact-driven outcomes within K-16 education.
Prior to joining SMASH, Jonathan founded VEER Ventures in 2020 to support disruptive educational technologies that benefit communities of color, served as vice president of development for the National Math + Science Initiative ($45 million annual budget), successfully launched Nord Anglia Education’s $100 million flagship campus, worked as an associate vice chancellor of Texas’ second largest higher education system, and was the founding director at the Inland Empire Economic Partnership. He obtained a master’s in public administration from Harvard University and a bachelor’s in political science from Pepperdine University.
Jonathan currently lives in Houston, Texas with his wife and two teenage sons. Having studied abroad in Europe and Africa while in college, he is passionate about traveling and experiencing new communities, cuisines, and cultures from all around the world.