Winter-Spring 2011 Cohort

Ratna Amin
Ratna Amin is an urban planning, public policy and strategy professional, experienced in the areas of education, community development, sustainability, and local politics. She is interested in using technology to build resilient communities and effective institutions that can embrace the future. She is currently Policy Director with Great Oakland Public Schools and served as a Chief of Staff to Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente. She is an alumnus of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and Teach for America. Ratna has a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and Masters Degrees in City and Regional Planning and Transportation Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in Oakland with her husband and son.
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David Blake
A product of the ailing American public school system, I found myself disappointed and ready to see it change. My hope for reform has led me to a life of entrepreneurship where, currently, I enjoy building Along the way I also picked up passions for efficient markets, disruptive technologies, media design, economics, statistics, business strategy, and the internet at large. I can be found blogging at
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Samir Bolar
Samir Bolar is currently a senior consultant with Deloitte Consulting LLP.  He specializes in the delivery of people, change, and learning strategies to clients undergoing multi-million dollar technology transformations. He earned his M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business in 2009 with a focus in social sector strategy and marketing. Samir started his professional journey as a chemical engineer before joining Teach for America in 2002 to teach 8th grade math in Compton, CA. In 2005, he rejoined TFA as a Program Director, observing over 400 hours of classroom instruction, analyzing trends in teacher effectiveness, and providing professional development to a cohort of 50 math and science teachers.
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Brittany Erickson
Brittany Erickson is originally from North Dakota and attended the University of Pennsylvania. She graduated in 2008 with a major in Political Science as well as a Master’s degree in Public Policy. Upon graduation, Brittany joined Teach For America and moved to the Bay Area where she spent two years teaching sixth grade English and Social Studies. During that time, Brittany founded and led her school’s first Global Affairs team. Through that experience, she and her students competed against top middle and high schools from across the Bay Area and participated in a service learning trip to Leon, Nicaragua. Brittany is currently a management consultant with Oliver Wyman, and has worked primarily in technology and global health sectors.
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David Feinberg
David Feinberg is currently the director of real estate at Launchpad Development Company, a non-profit charter school and community developer.  David started his career as a 3rd grade teacher in the Teach For America Phoenix Corps after graduating from Hampshire College with a degree in creative writing. After starting an after school enrichment and tutoring program for disadvantaged youth in Phoenix, he obtained a master’s degree in urban planning and urban design from USC with a sustainable cities certificate. David has a passion for education and community development and has worked broadly as a teacher in both classroom and non-traditional settings. He attributes his love of urban planning and design to growing up just 15 miles away from the best skyline in the country, the windy city.   Personally, he enjoys traveling, running, surfing, and spending time with family.
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Omar Garriott
Omar is passionate about education and a firm believer in the power of technology to catalyze much-needed reforms. He started his career as a third grade teacher in the nation’s capital through Teach for America, and was a Finalist for DCPS’ new teacher of the year award. He spent the ensuing three years with a national social enterprise increasing college-going rates of low-income students, College Summit, where he worked in development, marketing, and public policy. As a side project, he founded and ran a program placing undergraduate business majors into social sector organizations. Omar then joined PR firm Porter Novelli’s social marketing practice before heading west to earn an MBA (certificate in Entrepreneurship) at UC-Berkeley. Since graduating from Haas’ full-time program in 2009, he has worked as an Education Marketing Manager for software maker Adobe, where he has seen the power of technology in engaging students in learning, and in easing administrators’ burden in running their schools and systems. Omar enjoys writing (he has blogged for the Skoll Foundation, written Op-Eds in The Washington Post, and worked as a part-time reporter for Major League Soccer), politics, and spending quality time with his amazing wife.
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Kim Jacobson
Kim Jacobson is a senior business executive with 15 years’ experience designing Internet and communications software, mobile devices and education technology for industry innovators such as Excite@Home, Palm, and Macromedia. An avid entrepreneur, she has also been a founding member of several startups, including Oodle (running Facebook’s Marketplace), Mailfrontier (sold to SonicWall), and Epocrates (IPO Feb 2011). Kim has a long-standing passion for revitalizing education by using the power of technology to spread excellence, access and equity. She was an early Corps member of Teach For America and taught elementary school for 5 years in Compton and Redwood City, California. She is a member of the Full Circle Fund, investing in Bay Area entrepreneurs to improve teaching and learning in public schools. She holds an M.B.A. and M.Ed. with a specialization in Learning, Design, Technology from Stanford University and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.
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Melissa Jones
Melissa Jones is an educator and information specialist with over ten years of service in high-needs schools and communities. As an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, Melissa developed her commitment to educational equity through tutoring work at a local prison and alternative high school. After graduation, Melissa served as a 2000 Teach for America Corps Member in the South Bronx. From 2003-2008, she helped build the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School in Brooklyn, a new small school aimed at connecting high-needs students with the maritime resources of New York City. At Harbor, Melissa served as an English teacher, a Literacy Coach, Professional Development Coordinator and a College Summit Advisor. She pursued a Masters of Science in Education from Pace University and a Masters of Science in Library and Information Studies from Pratt Institute to help round out her practical expertise. Melissa joined the staff of College Summit in 2008 as a consultant, helping to develop the 9-11th grade Launch curriculum. As a full-time staff member in 2009, Melissa joined the Education team and developed a new edition of the College Summit Navigator curriculum. Currently, she serves as the Director of Educational Design, where she is charged with designing and developing the next generation of innovative educational tools for the organization.
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Lal Jones-Bey
Lal is a first year MBA candidate at the Stanford Graduate School of Business with a passion for technology and education reform. Before arriving at Stanford, Lal worked in charter school management with KIPP Bay Area Schools. He also spent several years as a strategy consultant with Bain and Company working with clients across industries on various strategic and operational issues. Lal currently lives in Palo Alto with his wife, Tiana and son, Khalil.
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Kai Kung
Kai Kung is a Team Lead at Intel with extensive experience in financial management, strategic planning, and business development.  While at Intel, he supported the incubation and growth of a number of technology initiatives including Intel Wireless Display and Intel Anti-Theft Technology.  Kai holds a BA in Business from the University of Michigan, where his interest and commitment to education reform were sparked by a college thesis that examined the charter school movement.  In his spare time, Kai serves on the Board of Directors for Exploring New Horizons, a Bay-Area environmental education non-profit. 
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Nithya Krishnamoorthy
Growing up in India, I saw how a majority of the people whom I came across every day did not have access to a lot that I had – parents who care and a great school that provided a multitude of opportunities to explore. Now having finally grown up, I see how these early differences magnify through adulthood and that this is the case in every part of the world. I have been instrumental in starting and running an after-school program in an economically backward community in India for five years, during which I experienced problems with scaling quality resources and recreating experiences. Currently, I work with some of the best innovators in the technology industry, having just completed my Master’s in Computer Science. And now, I am here, where I can clearly see the combination of technology and education as an idea whose time has come.
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Keith McDaniel
Keith McDaniel works as a Media and Technology Designer for the Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP) Institute. He is a recent graduate of the Stanford University Learning, Design and Technology program, specializing in interactive media for experiential and social learning, web-based learning environments and technology-mediated professional learning. His thesis work concentrated on nutritional efficacy through technology. Keith interned with the Stanford University School of Medicine facilitating a major shift to HD imaging technologies for teaching, and with Synaptics Inc. developing video and web-based interfaces to train engineers in Silicon Valley and Taiwan. Before attending graduate school, Keith spent five years working for Apple Inc. as a trainer, developing and delivering employee training in California, New England, and the state of Washington. Keith holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington and an M.A. in Learning Technologies from Stanford University. His interests include casual learning mechanisms, super-nerdy technology, cooking, nutrition, and swimming.
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Samir Mehta
Samir Mehta has 10 years of experience in the product management of Internet products and services at companies such as Yahoo! and PayPal. He spent the last five years at Yahoo! as a senior product manager focused on Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! Messenger. He led various initiatives to deliver contextual and integrated real-time communications experiences on the Web. In addition to his deep interest in consumer-focused Internet applications, Samir is passionate about improving the public education system. His passion stems from his previous experiences serving at-risk youth as a summer instructor for Breakthrough Collaborative and as a volunteer tutor and head soccer coach for a charter school in East Palo Alto, CA. He holds an M.B.A. and a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley.
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Jess Morgan
I am currently studying a joint MBA and Masters of Education at Stanford University. Before arriving in the Bay Area I was a management consultant at McKinsey and Company in Sydney, Australia. At McKinsey I worked with a number of education organizations across the non – profit and for-profit sphere and also helped government organizations with their education strategy. I also spent some time working at the United Nations,both in a telecommunications organization and in microfinance in outback Australia. My undergraduate degree at the University of New South Wales in Australia was in Business, focusing on accounting and finance.
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Percilla Ortega
Having experienced the achievement gap in East San Jose, Percilla wholeheartedly understands the urgency and values the result of relentlessly pursuing educational equity. Upon graduating from Loyola University Chicago with a double major in 2008, Percilla joined Teach For America and started teaching 8th graders in East Palo Alto and became Department Chair in her second year of teaching while  earning her Masters Degree in Education. Invested in education reform, Percilla shares her experiences and solutions regarding the achievement gap as a panelist at Stanford University on her spare time. In addition, Percilla serves as the Social/Cultural Chair for Teach For America’s Bay Area Latino Association and facilitates Diversity and Inclusiveness sessions for current Corp Members. Being very familiar with the challenges students and schools face in low-income communities, Percilla is passionately driven to incubate innovative, game-changing solutions that impact systematic large-scale reform targeting educational inequity with the goal of closing the achievement gap for millions of under-served students.
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Vipul Redey
My day is divided between managing a line of education products at Cisco and pursuing graduate studies in the Learning, Design & Technology program at the Stanford School of Education. Previous professional stints have included consulting, kicking off a startup, and writing a dog food commercial for which I was paid in dog food – Literally. Big extra-hairy audacious lifetime goal: Teach a million kids how to be better students (but that might change by next week).
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Seth Saavedra
Originally from New Mexico, my meandering mind demanded I major in Econ, English & Philosophy. I joined the TFA—Connecticut corps in 2007 & taught middle school English for two years before switching up coasts & coming to the Bay to join Teach For America’s program team. Last summer I joined our Human Assets team as an internal recruiter working primarily with corps members & alums. I have an entrepreneurial itch I have yet to scratch & I’m thrilled at the opportunity to fully explore & leverage my innovative tendencies as a BayEdTech cohort member.
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Holly Shelton
Holly Shelton is currently a Product Marketing Manager with Apple. She earned her M.B.A from the Haas School of Business in 2009 with a focus in marketing, strategy, and social entrepreneurship. Holly started her career as a mechanical engineer working at Sun Microsystems and ATA Engineering as a design consultant. While receiving her masters in Mechanical Engineering, she worked as a National Science Foundation Fellow where she published and disseminated curriculum and hands-on labs for, a web-based curricula library to be used by K-12 teaching to make applied science and math come alive. She is interested in leveraging technology to enable more personalized learning in the classroom.
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Alyson Sudow
Alyson Sudow is an Academic Numeracy teacher and a 9th grade advisor at Impact Academy in Hayward, CA. Before working at Impact, Alyson was a member of the Teach for America Nashville Charter Corps where she worked at Whites Creek Comprehensive High School, teaching Algebra 2 and Geometry as well as coaching girls tennis. Before joining TFA, Alyson worked in Sales and Operations at Google in Mountain View, CA and was a photo editor in New York City. Aly has a BA in History from Yale University and a Masters in Educational Administration and Supervision from Lipscomb University. She wants to combine her passion for education reform with her experience in technology to create lifelong, 21st century learners.
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Robert Strain
Originally from Maryland, I attended the University of Pennsylvania to study Political Science with a focus on human rights. During my college years, I bounced around various organizations, from NASA to the Ombudsman’s Office of Botswana, conducting research and tackling policy-level questions.  Eager to get hands-on experience with issues of inequity, I joined Teach For America, taking the helm of a first grade classroom in the Bayview community of San Francisco. During my commitment, I developed a deep passion for education reform and ensuring that all children are provided with a high-level, door-opening education. This year, I have shifted roles to work on staff for TFA as a program director, fostering the leadership of 35 corps members in San Francisco and the South Bay.
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James Truong
James has worked in the education vertical for over 15 years as a student, teacher, technologist, information architect, businessman, entrepreneur, and software designer.  Most recently, he was the Executive Director of Business Solutions at New Leaders for New Schools where he led the design, development, implementation, and envisioning of the company’s cloud computing, platform and technology.  James has an EdM from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an MBA from the Vanderbilt Owen School of Management.  He is a proud Teach For America alum and has come out of the program inspired to re-imagine the student learning experience.
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Jenny Tsai
Jenny hails from New York City. She majored in social studies at Harvard. Post college she taught math and science to middle school students with special needs through Teach for America. Currently she works as an account manager at Google in their online sales group. She works with nonprofit institutions of higher education on online marketing with the Google advertising platform. She is the co-chair of Google’s volunteer group in Google’s San Francisco office. Her experience teaching and working at Google inspires in her the possibilities that technology can bring to the classroom. In her spare time, she plays chamber music at Classical Revolution, volunteers at 826 Valencia, and reads.
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Anna Utgoff
Anna Utgoff is a Product Manager in Aspire Public Schools’ technology innovation team, where she works on knowledge management, teacher evaluation, and professional development.  Prior to joining Aspire Public Schools, Anna worked at the consulting firm Bain & Company.  She is an alum of Princeton, the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley (Go Bears!), and Teach for America.
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Melissa Wagasky
Melissa is a graduate from the Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon where she studied Human Physiology and Chemistry. Following university, Melissa taught physical science to a cohort of 8th graders at Lovonya DeJean middle school in Richmond, California as Teach for America Corps Member. Currently, she is working on projects that drive innovation in health care, school based health centers, and STEM education.
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Cameron White
Cameron White joined NewSchools Venture Fund’s West Coast office as a Fellow beginning in summer 2010. Previously, he worked in the Year Round Programs department at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington D.C. Cameron graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Princeton University in 2009. He wrote his undergraduate thesis on the intersection between child psychology and environmental design.
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One Response to Participants

  1. Pingback: Building 550, Studio 2: “Design Thinking” Within Reach… | The EdTech Entrepreneurs Lab

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