Akeem Allen is the College Director. 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.
Dr. Hassan Brown is 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.
William Cardenas is the National Director of Operations. 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 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.
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.
Tariq Draine serves as the Site Director for Morehouse College.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.
Isis Fuller is the SMASH College Manager, Persist. With a decidedly global upbringing, Isis has a passion for reproductive health, education, and building community wherever she finds herself. Isis holds a B.S. in Biology from Howard University and an MPH from Emory University. Ever the scholar, she also intends to further her education and attend medical school with the goal of pursuing a career as an Ob/Gyn. She has a vision for an improved healthcare landscape where all individuals have access to quality healthcare as well as the knowledge to make informed reproductive decisions. Thus, she aims to merge clinical skills with community education and organizing to help achieve this future.
Prior to joining SMASH full-time, she served as a Residential Assistant for SMASH Academy and a College Coach for SMASH Admit. During the summer of 2020, she also served as a STEM Workshop and To + Through Instructor for SMASH Academy. As a former SMASH scholar, Isis pulls from her own experiences to support scholars in realizing their dreams. When she wants to unwind, Isis enjoys watching horror or science fiction films, reading, crafting, and spending quality time with friends.
Rachel Gonzalez is the 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.
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 Vice President of College + Workplace Innovation.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 Site Director of SMASH Berkeley. 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.
Maggie Melone-Echiburú is the Site Director for Stanford. 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.
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 Operations Manager. 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 an 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.
Iyinoluwa Omishope is the Operations Manager. Iyinoluwa comes to SMASH with a deeply rooted knowledge in continuous improvement methodologies. The summer after graduating from Wayne State University with a BS in Industrial and Systems Engineering, Iyinoluwa began working as a quality intern with Shiloh Industries on various process improvements for the die cast facility in Pierceton, Indiana and was later offered a full-time position as the Continuous Improvement Leader and Launch Manager in Canton, MI. She remained at Shiloh and earned her MS in Industrial and Systems Engineering, while working on cost reduction projects, improved safety projects and facilitating launch gate completion.
Iyinoluwa’s passion for education began when she attended a mathematics education camp in the 7th grade and continued to attend and eventually work for through university. The program helped open her eyes to the fact that the educational inequality she faced attending Detroit Public Schools was much more prevalent than she initially realized. Iyinoluwa hopes to use her education to improve educational systems throughout the world. In her spare time, Iyinoluwa works on deepening her understanding of natural skincare and insect repellent research.
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.