Young Education Professionals-Bay Area
Our board is comprised of diverse individuals with experiences across the education sector in the Bay Area: from the classroom to education policy. We are always looking for new ideas, great speakers, and more members. If you would like to connect with any of us or believe you have the willingness and time to contribute to our team and organization, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Diana Phuong (Co-President)
Diana is currently at Braven at San Jose State as the Site Director. She engages counties, districts, and schools in integrated STEAM education by leveraging hands-on learning. She was a 4.0 Schools Tiny Fellow and the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at New Leaders for New Schools. Her most recent teaching experiences were in the Bay Area, where she strengthened relationships with families and students to close the opportunity gap. in undeserved communities with high achievement. She was a Teach for America fellow in Memphis, TN, where she taught 3rd-5th grade English as a Second Language, and when she received her Masters in Education. Diana earned her Bachelor's in English from University of California-Irvine. Her emphasis was in Creative Writing, which she uses as a tool to elevate the voices of communities that are often marginalized, forgotten, or lost in translation.
Describe yourself in a tweet: "Connectedness. Restorative. Includer. Ideation. Woo."
Kathryn Zekus (Co-President)
Kathryn is the Engagement Manager at Legacy Venture, where she oversees the firm's communications strategy and leverages the power of events to advance Legacy Venture's work to tap into the best of venture capital to help our members make a positive impact in the world. Legacy Venture is a venture capital fund-of-funds whose investors (represented by entrepreneurs, corporate executives, select foundations, and philanthropic leaders) intend that all returns, both principal and gains, will be given away to philanthropic organizations of their choice. Prior to her role at Legacy Venture, Kathryn worked in Washington, DC at education non-profits Achieve and Advance CTE, focusing on education policies at the state and federal levels that promote student success in K-12, postsecondary education, career, and life.
Describe yourself in a tweet: "I’m a policy-loving extrovert who brings that DC energy, yet also a yoga-practicing, kind-hearted communicator focused on making change."
Elizabeth Benjamin is the Supervisor of Public Recreation at the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. In her role, she works with San Francisco city agencies, corporations, non-profit organizations, and the general public to best leverage and utilize the City’s public spaces in impactful and creative ways. Prior to joining the SF Rec and Parks Department, Elizabeth spent 8 years working in the New York City public school system, at both the district and charter school level. At the NYC Department of Education, Elizabeth was the Senior Manager of Student Programs and External Partnerships. In this capacity she partnered with cultural institutions, STEM organizations, and service-learning experts to develop and implement enrichment programs for students and professional learning workshops for educators. Before working for the NYC Department of Education, Elizabeth was an instructional recruiter for the Success Academy Charter Schools where she sourced and hired staff for the growing network of schools. Elizabeth received her M.P.A. from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service and her B.S. in Educational Studies and Human & Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University.
Describe yourself in a tweet: "Coffee. Chocolate. Clorox. Repeat."
Erika is a Filipino American from the Bay Area. She always wanted to be a teacher. Being an educator meant to lead future generations, but also, to collaborate with others to bring our unique perspective on how we can change the world together. Transitioning to a career in tech, she sees herself leading with peers to make things even more possible for all students. Engineers build and create. She believes with this perspective, she can marry tech and education to build and optimize education.
Describe yourself in a tweet: "Bay area native. Béy obsessed. A bae. Always makes her bed, skips brunch for football, and believes all things are possible."
Malena Data Ernani
Malena is a first-generation college graduate from Occidental College, holding a BA in Politics, a BA in French Studies, and a minor in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. She has a diverse range of experience and skills related to researching, assisting, leading, and maintaining projects to support inclusion and diversity efforts. Her industrious spirit has been developed in a variety of workplace environments including academia, college admissions offices, local governments, public schools, public affairs firms, political campaign headquarters, classrooms, for-profit, and nonprofit organizations geared toward justice. In her free time, Malena enjoys reading, watching movies, and planning road trips.
Describe yourself in a tweet: "I want to be the girl of my own dreams."
Carla is a passionate STEM special education teacher and student advisor in East Side Union High School District that is dedicated to addressing the opportunity gap in society. Carla began her teaching career with Teach For America in 2015 and has served on her school and district site teams for social emotional learning, school site council, and multi-tiered support systems. Outside of school, Carla has delved into policy and advocacy participating in fellowships such as Urban Leaders Fellowship, New Leaders Council, and Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley’s Latino Board Leadership Academy and working with organizations like Oakland Promise and First5 California. Carla is motivated by building community, learning from others, and her experience as first-generation Latina.
Carla holds a B.A. in cognitive neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania and a M.Ed in Special Education from Loyola Marymount University.
Describe yourself in a tweet: "I'm a loving ball of energy that enjoys to cook, dance, & have long conversations."
Ling is an EdTech & Innovative Specialist in a private school at Santa Clara. While growing up in Hawaii, she started her career as an AmeriCorp Outreach Coordinator for a local non-profit organization (Kids Hurt Too Hawaii) that supported and mentored orphans and at-risk foster youths from ages 4-24. Meanwhile, she found her passion in Education through a philosophy class named p4c (philosophy for children), a philosophical pedagogy that allows educators and students to create an intellectually safe community of inquiry. After a few years of elementary classroom teaching in Hawaii, she moved to Princeton, New Jersey to further her career in STEAM/Technology Education and Curriculum Design. She has taught elementary and middle school computing class and coached robotics and Science Olympiad. Ling was an instructional coach in Hong Kong and has taught in Switzerland. She has also presented at different national and international conference for Design Thinking and STEAM Education.
Describe yourself in a tweet: "I am an outdoor geek who is passionate technology and education integration and also to disconnect for days in the wilderness."
Raffy is currently an Analyst at NewSchools Venture Fund, a venture philanthropy focused on funding innovative entrepreneurs in education. Specifically, he works on the School Redesign team who funds ventures looking to redesign the 100,000+ existing public schools across the United States. Prior to NewSchools, Raffy was a Business Analyst at McKinsey and Company where he worked on a variety of projects, primarily in retail and education. He's excited about the opportunity to build towards more inclusive school systems that work for all students. When he's not at work, Raffy enjoys reading a good book or biking around the city on his trusty steed. He received his B.S.B. in Finance with a minor in Management Information Systems from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.
Describe yourself in a tweet: "In constant pursuit of authentic and trusting relationships, a new city cycling route, and the best quesadillas in the world."
Nicole Medina Do
Nicole is currently the Director of Talent Acquisition at Education for Change Public Schools in East Oakland. She has worked in education for the last 12 years, joining Education for Change in 2012 as a 2nd and 3rd grade loop teacher at ASCEND K-8 School, designing expeditionary learning and arts-integrated units, utilizing technology, and taking on mentor teacher and leadership roles. After earning a coaching certificate through the Reach Institute for School Leadership, she became an Assistant Principal and 2/3 Math Coach for Achieve Academy, launching the strategic plan for significant growth in Math SBAC data (Achieve grew +22 points in ‘17-18!). Today, she is excited to launch initiatives to increase access and diversity in talent acquisition and act on her unyielding belief that Oakland’s most underserved children deserve the highest quality education so that we may close the opportunity gap for ALL students.
Describe yourself in a tweet: "Loves cats. And social justice. The end."
Ta Lynn Mitchell
Ta Lynn began her career in education as a Teach for America corps member in New Orleans and later went on to give students unique study abroad opportunities in places like Thailand through Thrival World
Academies in Oakland. After serving as a Program Manager for Code Nation in New York City for the past two years, to continue supporting youth in realizing their full potential by exposing them to career pathways in technology, she came back to the Bay Area to assume the role of Director of Programs. She holds a Bachelor's degree from American University. Ta Lynn is excited to be back in Oakland and in the culture and community that taught her the value of diversity.
Describe yourself in a tweet: "I love 90s/00s R&B. I’m an adventure seeker. Unapologetic about my love for blackness and faith in God."
Juaquín is an experienced student development, career advising, and college access professional and has worked in multiple non-profit, secondary school, and university settings. Currently, he works as a program director of Cardinal Careers at Stanford University's Haas Center for Public Service. In his role, Juaquín supports students in exploring and jumpstarting impactful careers in public service. Before moving to the Bay Area, Juaquín worked with the New York City Department of Education as a Director of Graduate Support at a Bronx area high school, and with a national college access nonprofit where he helped develop an alumni engagement program. He came to the Bay Area to attend the the University of San Francisco, where he completed his MA in Higher Education and Student Affairs. While at USF, he wore multiple hats with the Office of Community Outreach for the School of Education, the Muscat Scholars Program (a first generation peer mentoring and summer bridge program), Upward Bound Math Science, and USF's Task Force to Support Undocumented Students. He has also collaborated with the Arikara Cultural Center on Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota in developing a college access programming for White Shield School District.
Juaquín is passionate about nurturing students’ desire to be of service. He aims to create a space for students to be engaged, thoughtful and resourceful citizens and to connect students with the tools and support to define and achieve their own measure of success.
Describe yourself in a tweet: "Folks say I'm funny. I take their word for it."
Elizabeth currently works as Credentialing Manager at Summit Public Schools. She holds a BA in Public Policy from the University of North Carolina and an MA in Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies from Stanford's Graduate School of Education. She is excited to work with the YEP board to bring education professionals together and better serve Bay Area students!
Describe yourself in a tweet: "I’m driven to create authentic and meaningful work experiences for education professionals, and love exploring the Bay Area through hiking!"
Jennifer has a background in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, and is passionate about leveraging cross-sector partnerships for impact. Currently she is on the District Success team at Clever, a digital learning platform used by over 60% of schools in the U.S. Previously, she managed growth strategy and development at Teach For Vietnam and led public outreach campaigns at the U.S. Department of Education and the White House under the Obama administration.
As the Director of Development and CEO Support at Instruction Partners, Bonnie manages fundraising efforts and works with the CEO on special projects. Originally hailing from the Windy City, Bonnie was drawn to Nashville for college received both her B.A. in Human and Organizational Development and her M.P.P. in Education Policy from Vanderbilt University. As a research assistant and graduate fellow, Bonnie worked at Metro Nashville Public Schools, New Leaders, and the National Council on Teacher Quality. In 2016, she joined Instruction Partners, and in 2019, she and her husband relocated to the Bay Area. She is excited to be a new board member of YEP! In her spare time, you'll find Bonnie baking up a storm, perfecting her sourdough technique and enjoying a slice of coffee cake with her coffee.
Describe yourself in a tweet: "Lover of all things organized, sorted and crossed off of to-do lists. Find me in the kitchen or nature. Outside my comfort zone = good time."
Daria Zhao leads content and communications at Marshall Street Initiatives (www.marshall.org), a K-12 solutions lab of Summit Public Schools. She also co-founded Learn With Mochi, an interactive hardware experience that empowers children of all ages to create with technology. Previously, Daria worked in investment banking in New York and San Francisco. A former Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education and youth advisor to the College Board, Daria believes education is the most powerful tool we have to create a more equitable world.
Describe yourself in a tweet: "Don't be a commodity in a world with so much capital."