Staff and Advisory Board

A few board members at the 2018 Conference. Photo taken by Linka Odom Photography

NPEA Staff:

Karin Elliott, Executive Director: Karin has been with the National Partnership for Educational Access (NPEA) for ten years. Prior to this, she was the Executive Director of Breakthrough Cambridge, now Breakthrough Greater Boston. Prior to Breakthrough, Karin was the Director of Training and Technical Assistance at Horizons for Homeless Children, where she traveled across the country speaking about child and family homelessness. She has an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an M.S.W. from Boston College.
Contact: (617) 423-6300 x 284,


Carrie Tate, Associate Director: Carrie Tate first joined NPEA in 2011 as the Member Services Associate. Prior to joining the NPEA team, Carrie worked as a career developer in the employment and social services center of a Connecticut community action agency, where she assisted clients in securing employment and training opportunities. She also completed a year of service with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps and currently serves as a Children’s Bereavement Group Facilitator at The Children’s Room in Arlington, Massachusetts, where she also serves on the Sustainable Funding Committee. Carrie earned a B.A. in American Studies from Dickinson College and recently completed a certificate course in management from HBX – Harvard Business School.
Contact: (857) 315-5021,


Alex Newell, Member Services Associate: Alex joined NPEA in the fall of 2018. Before this, he worked as a high school Latin teacher, dorm head, and rowing coach. During his time as a teacher, Alex served on committees focused on inclusivity and diversity awareness amongst both staff and students, working to raise awareness of issues of social justice on an institutional level. Alex has a B.A. in Classics from Harvard College and an M.A. in Latin Literature from Columbia University.
Contact: (857) 315-5048,

NPEA Consultant:

Linda Borden, Consultant and Advisory Board Member (NPEA) (MA)
Linda Borden has worked in many capacities in the areas of student access, success strategies, and support at several schools and non-profits, including Boston Arts Academy, City Connects, and the National Partnership for Educational Access (NPEA). Linda sits on the Board of Ambassadors of The Steppingstone Foundation. She is currently working as a Consultant for NPEA. Most recently, she worked with the MIT Office of Engineering Outreach Programs. Linda is a graduate of Fordham University and the Boston College School of Social Work.


NPEA Advisory Board:

Rhonda Auguste, Executive Director, The Wight Foundation (NJ), Leadership Committee
Rhonda Auguste has served as the first Executive Director of the Wight Foundation, Inc. since June 1987. Like the students she serves, Rhonda earned a scholarship from a public school in Harlem to attend The Spence School, a private school in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. After Spence, she attended Harvard University, where she majored in Sociology and Afro-American Studies. Rhonda also earned a master’s degree in General Professions in Education from Seton Hall University. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Enrollment Management Association. Prior to The Wight Foundation, Rhonda directed the student of color recruitment program at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire and was a corporate giving officer at the Equitable Foundation in New York City.

Bryan Baldwin, Principal, COCUITY (NM)
Bryan Baldwin founded COCUITY in 2015 on the heels of more than 20 years of service to public higher education, international organizations, and policy think tanks. From 2002 to 2015, he held a variety of senior administrative positions at Bridgewater State University (MA) including: Chief Strategy Officer, Vice President for University Advancement, and Chief of Staff to the president. Earlier in his career, his professional homes included Global Affairs Canada and the Massachusetts Institute for Social and Economic Research. As COCUITY’s Principal, his work focuses on guiding leaders and senior teams – hailing from business, government, academia, international institutions, and the non-profit community – along the path of becoming more purposeful and strategic. Bryan holds a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is also a graduate of Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management (IEM).

Linda Borden, Consultant and Advisory Board Member, National Partnership for Educational Access (NPEA) (MA)
Linda Borden has worked in many capacities in the areas of student access, success strategies, and support at several schools and non-profits, including Boston Arts Academy, City Connects, and the National Partnership for Educational Access (NPEA). Linda sits on the Board of Ambassadors of The Steppingstone Foundation. She is currently working as a Consultant for NPEA. Most recently, she worked with the MIT Office of Engineering Outreach Programs. Linda is a graduate of Fordham University and the Boston College School of Social Work.

Charlotte Brownlee, Assistant Head of School for External Affairs, Cate School (CA)
A Cate alumna, Charlotte Brownlee has been the Assistant Head for External Affairs at Cate since 2017. Prior to this role, she served as the Director of Admissions for ten years after managing the school’s annual giving program for three years. She made the transition to boarding school after serving as the Executive Director for Alumni Relations and Annual Giving at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Her previous experience includes serving as a manager with Deloitte Consulting, where she focused on change management and reengineering projects for high-tech and consumer-products companies. Charlotte holds an AB from Harvard College and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Charlotte particularly enjoys heading up the Cate Student Historical Society and serving as a student advisor.  She lives on the Cate School campus with her husband, Alex, and their two sons.

Rob Evans, Executive Director, Independent School Alliance for Minority Affairs (CA)
Rob Evans has been a teacher and administrator in public and private schools for nearly 20 years. Currently, Rob serves as the Executive Director of the Independent School Alliance. In this role, he works to ensure educational access for underrepresented racial groups and advance the organization’s long-term viability. Rob also serves on the boards of the Southern California People of Color in Independent Schools (SoCalPOCIS) and The Drinking Gourd, which provides resources to college-bound students. A staunch advocate for the ideals of equity and inclusion, Rob has played key roles throughout his career in teaching, diversity training, leadership, and as a presenter at local and national conferences. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Lane College and a Master of Arts in International Relations from Webster University.

Steve Filosa, Founding and Executive Director, Prep@Pingree (MA), Leadership Committee
Steve Filosa has been a teacher and administrator in independent schools for nearly 20 years. He currently is the Director of Prep@Pingree, an academic enrichment program for middle school students from Lawrence and Lynn, and he teaches Advanced Placement Statistics at Pingree School. Steve has extensive experience with educational programs designed for inner city students through his work with Prep@Pingree, Project RISE, Project DEEP and Squashbusters. He received his B.S. in mathematics from Tufts University and his J.D. from Suffolk University Law School. He is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association.

Rachael Flores, Director of Diversity and Multicultural Education, National Cathedral School (DC)
In her role as Director, Rachael Flores oversees the school’s strategic initiatives related to diversity, inclusion and multicultural pedagogy. As a member of the Senior Administrative Team, Ms. Flores serves as a critical resource for students, faculty, and other administrators, providing both diversity training and opportunities for community discourse on the role of institutional diversity and multicultural engagement. In addition to her work at National Cathedral School, Ms. Flores has been trained by the National SEED Project and leads seminars throughout the year. Since 2013, she has served on the faculty for the National Association of Independent School’s Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) where she presents on a wide range of topics related to diversity and inclusion in independent schools. There she served as a member of SDLC’s Executive Committee (2013 – 2015), and in 2015 she chaired the Task Force on Supporting Transgender faculty. She holds degrees from Princeton University (BA, History), George Washington University (M.A., History), and is a doctoral student in the Executive Leadership Program on Human and Organizational Learning at George Washington University.

Kate Gilbane, Board of Directors, The Steppingstone Foundation (MA)
The oldest of five children, Kate Gilbane has always loved being a teacher and a student. She started babysitting when she was 10 and hosted her own “day camp” when she was 12. Kate attended Brown University, graduating Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a double major in English and French Literature. After graduation, she worked as an editor at Conde Nast Publications in New York City for three years before pursuing her true passion as an early childhood educator. Kate taught pre-kindergarten and kindergarten in New York and then in Boston for five years. Most recently, Kate has been raising three children, getting certified as a kids’ yoga instructor with Little Flower Yoga, and learning a lot about ADHD, Dyslexia, and the benefits of mindfulness in schools. Kate joined Steppingstone’s Board of Directors in 2016 and recently began teaching yoga to Steppingstone Scholars at Saturday study hall (SMASH). She is extremely honored to join the NPEA Advisory Board.

Andy Hoge, Vice President, Placement and Analytics, New Jersey SEEDS (NJ), Leadership Committee
Andy Hoge started at New Jersey SEEDS in the fall of 2001 after spending four years teaching high school math at the Stratton Mountain School in Vermont. A 1994 graduate of Colgate University, Andy spent two years after college as a US Peace Corps volunteer teaching math in Swaziland.



Heather Jenkins, Chief of Staff and Equity, uAspire (MA)
Heather is the Chief Impact and Equity Officer at uAspire. Prior to this position, she was the managing director of Service Impact and Evaluation at City Year Boston. Prior to this, she was the director of high school prep and the director of academics and program evaluation for Buffalo Prep. Heather has 17 years of experience working for equity and access in education including: teacher and administrator at the K-12 level; diversity education and research consultant for secondary and postsecondary institutions; public and private school college readiness education consultant; mentor to students of color and economically marginalized youth; and an adjunct instructor for several teacher education programs in Western New York. Heather has published several articles on education and co-authored a book titled, “Class Warfare: Class and Race in Affluent and Elite Secondary Schools.” Heather has a B.A. in Psychology, an M.S. in Education, a Ph.D. in Sociology of Education, and is also New York State certified in school and district leadership.

Eric Jones, Head of School, Community Partnership School (PA)
Since 2007, Eric Jones has served as Head of School at Community Partnership School (CPS), a PreK-5th grade independent school serving underrepresented children and families in Philadelphia, PA. Eric started his career in 1996, first as a teacher, coach, and administrator at Northfield Mount Hermon School in Northfield, MA, and later as an administrator at the Bullis School in Potomac, MD and the Episcopal Academy just outside Philadelphia, PA. He completed his undergraduate and master’s studies at Georgetown University and Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Additionally, Eric serves on the Board of Directors with the Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools (ADVIS) and Presbyterian Children’s Village in Philadelphia.

Dennis Lacewell, Chief Academic Officer, Urban Prep Academies (IL)
Dennis Lacewell was the founding Principal of Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men – Englewood Campus, the nation’s first and only public charter school for young men. He currently serves there as Senior Director of Institutional Effectiveness. Prior to Urban Prep, Dennis has worked in Chicago at Hales Franciscan High School, an all African-American male Catholic High School, and North Lawndale College Prep High School for five years, where he was a history teacher, history department chairperson, basketball coach and assistant athletic director, and co-founded Minority Men Exceeding the Norm (M2EN), a school-wide organization focused on closing the gap between male and female achievement. Dennis earned his master of education in supervision and administration from National Louis University in 2009 and graduated from North Carolina State University in spring of 1999 with a master’s in curriculum and instruction. Prior to this, he graduated Cum Laude from Winston-Salem State University a Historically Black University located in North Carolina.

Nicole Maloy, Associate Dean of Equity & Access, Office of Undergraduate Admissions, University of Pennsylvania (PA)
As Associate Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Pennsylvania, Nicole Maloy focuses on outreach to prospective students from historically underrepresented, low-income, or first-generation college backgrounds, encouraging them and their families to consider an Ivy League education with an interconnected community of support systems to help ensure student success. In her prior role as Director of Multicultural Outreach in Penn Alumni Relations, she oversaw programming for alumni with an interest in celebrating cultural identity, and organized the university’s inaugural Penn Spectrum alumni diversity conference. Nicole is a proud double Penn alumna who earned a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in Marketing from the Wharton School (Minor in French), and a Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership from the Penn School of Social Policy & Practice.

Mark Mitchell, Vice President, National Association for Independent Schools (DC)
As a vice president of NAIS, Mark oversees knowledge creation initiatives supporting K-12 schools and other organizations in the effective administration of financial aid programs. Mark has authored dozens of articles, book chapters, and blogs and is a frequent presenter at local, state, regional, national, and international conferences on the topics of tuition pricing, affordability, demographic and income trends, and school financial aid policy and practices. Prior to joining NAIS, Mark worked as assistant director of financial aid at Northwestern University, coordinator of new student financial aid at Lake Forest College, and as an account executive for Access Group, Inc., a firm specializing in graduate student education financing. An alumnus and past trustee of Moorestown Friends School (New Jersey), he currently serves on the board of trustees at the Enrollment Management Association. Mark earned his BS in communication studies from Northwestern University.

Marcia O’Neil-White, President, Board of Directors, Education Collaborative of Western New York (NY), Leadership Committee
Marcia O’Neil-White recently retired as Director of Strategic Initiatives at Buffalo Prep after having been the Executive Director for 15 years. She currently serves as President of the Board of Directors of the Education Collaborative of Western New York, a consortium of the area’s private and independent secondary schools. She is also Board President for Read to Succeed Buffalo. Prior to Buffalo Prep, she has held many other administrator and head of school positions in public, private, and independent schools as well as teaching experience at the elementary, high school, and college levels.

Olufemi “Femi” Ogundele, Assistant Vice Chancellor & Director of Undergraduate Admission, University of California, Berkeley (CA)
In his role as Assistant Vice Chancellor & Director of Undergraduate Admission, Femi provides vision, strategy, and leadership in the recruitment and evaluation of California’s public flagship. He brings a breadth of experience in higher education admissions, including both domestic and international admissions, through his work at Stanford University, Cornell University’s College of Engineering, the University of Delaware, and Ithaca College. Throughout his career, Femi found success developing strategies and initiatives to recruit and yield underrepresented students. Since joining Berkeley, Femi has become a campus leader in the efforts to revitalize the new student experience and has helped the campus toward meeting new enrollment goals, including becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution over the next 10 years as well as increasing the number of African American and Native American students.

Rebeca Gomez Palacio, College Access Adviser (FL)
Most recently, Rebeca Palacio worked as a college counselor at Friends Seminary. Prior to Friends, she was the director of multicultural recruitment at Barnard College of Columbia University. Rebeca also has worked with the Early College Initiative, funded by The Gates Foundation, in the development of early college schools. She has a Masters in Public Policy from Columbia University and a B.A. from Smith College. She also sits on the advisory board of The Opportunity Network and College Board’s AP Higher Education Committee.

Christopher Parris, Chief Program Officer, The Steppingstone Foundation (MA) Leadership Committee

Chris is an experienced educator with a demonstrated history of leading start-up initiatives in the field of education. Skilled in program development, Chris’ expertise lies in the development and management of innovation within ​the social sector. Prior to joining Steppingstone, Chris served as Academic Dean for Trinity Boston Connects’ TEEP program, as well as band and orchestra director at the Boston Arts Academy. Chris received his B.M. in Music Education from the Berklee College of Music and M.S. Ed. in Education Entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania.​ Chris sits on the Board of Directors of Trinity Boston Connects and is a member of the Advisory Team of Neverbore.​

Asabe Poloma, Assistant Provost, Office of Global Engagement, and Director, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, Brown University (RI)
Asabe Poloma is the Assistant Dean for International Students in the Office of the Dean of the College at Brown University. She also serves as Associate Director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, a pipeline program with the goal of increasing the number of students from historically underrepresented groups who pursue careers in the professoriate. Previously, Asabe served as executive director of the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers (IRT), a selective national teacher diversity pipeline program, and also served as program staff at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Asabe received her Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Massachusetts Boston; she earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Hampton University, a master’s degree in International Relations with a concentration in International Political Economy at Old Dominion University, and a master’s degree in Management at Columbia University.

Annie Reznik, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Communication, Education Finance Institute (NY)
Annie Reznik serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives and Communication for the Education Finance Institute. Formerly, Annie served as the inaugural leader of the Coalition for College, advancing the Coalition from start-up to nationally relevant agent of change comprised of 150 colleges and universities and supporting over 850,000 students. Prior to the Coalition, Annie worked as a school counselor, English teacher, and in admissions at the University of Maryland.

Lisa Reynolds Smoots, Director of Admission, Church Farm School (PA)

Lisa has been working in independent schools for 20 years, and is currently the Director of Admission at Church Farm School. Prior to this, she worked at The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine (NY), Princeton Day School (NJ), and George School (PA).  Admission is a second career for Lisa, and she entered into the field because she loved introducing students to the educational opportunities available to them through independent schools.  Lisa focused on outreach and accessibility during her entire career in admission, and working at Church Farm School, whose mission is to make a college preparatory education financially accessible to young men and where over 80% of the students are from underrepresented groups, is her professional dream. Lisa received a M.S. Ed. in School Leadership from The University of Pennsylvania (PA), and a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University (IL).