Champions of Change

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Extracurricular Enrichment for Marginalized Girls

Shari Benites
Shari Benites, M.Ed., has been an educator for 24 years and is currently the Minority Achievement Coordinator and the Director of the Center for Leadership and Public Service at Yorktown High School in Arlington. In these roles, she has helped develop and implement many programs for students, including the SOAR Cohort, Minority Student Achievement Network, Latinas Leading Tomorrow, Sister Circle, and College Bound. She is also the advisor for National Honor Society and Model General Assembly. As a trained Results Based Facilitator, Shari has worked with staff, students, and parents across the county to engage in conversations about race and equity. Shari has has served on the Board of Directors for the Dream Project for the past four years, whose mission is to empower students whose immigration status creates barriers to education by working with them to access and succeed in college through scholarships, mentoring, family engagement, and advocacy. Shari has also served on the Board of Directors for Volunteer Emergency Families for Children in Alexandria, Virginia.
Annie Delgado
Annie Delgado, M. Ed., JD, serves as an educator for the Merced Union High School District and heads the Lift While You Lead Empowerment Project. Annie has taught high school women’s studies to more than 700 students over the past eight years and was inspired by her pupils’ desire to defy expectations based on gender, ethnicity, and economic status. She also recognized the importance of reaching out to students before they enter high school so she developed the Empowerment Project to target previously marginalized middle school girls. Participants receive ongoing support from Annie and other mentors over the course of five years to improve academics, attendance, and discipline while engaging in at least one extracurricular activity each year and completing 250 hours of community service during their high school years. Through collaboration with stakeholders at the Merced City School District, UC Merced, and the Educational Employees Credit Union, the program has proven successful for the inaugural group of young women who saw a significant rise in grade point averages, improvement in attendance, a remarkable decline in discipline related issues, and an immeasurable boost in self-esteem.
Cynthia Frisina
Cynthia Frisina serves as Executive Director for BlazeSports America, headquartered in Norcross, and is the mother of two teenage daughters. BlazeSports America is the legacy organization of the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games and a member of the United States Olympic Committee Multi-Sport Council with the mission of changing the lives of people with physical disabilities through the transformative power of adaptive sports and recreation. Under Cynthia's direction, BlazeSports has tripled the number of girls with disabilities participating in sports from the recreational to the elite Paralympic level through innovative, afterschool, community-based adaptive sports programs like their "Girls with Bows" archery program, swimming, track and field, rock climbing, summer camp and community collaborations designed to raise self-esteem, improve academic performance and leadership skills, facilitate inclusion and reduce stigmas for girls with disabilities. Previously, Cynthia Frisina founded and served as Executive Director of Reaching for the Stars, the largest parent-led pediatric cerebral palsy education and advocacy foundation in the world and was CEO of her own marketing consulting company.
Lynn Gilkey
Lynn Gilkey, born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, knows well the pain and isolation many young girls face in her community. She founded CLASS – Caring Ladies Assisting Students to Succeed – to mentor and inspire teen girls. Her Motto is "It is better to build strong girls than to restore broken women". With the support of generous sponsors and dedicated volunteers, Lynn and her husband David Gilkey created Rise Up For Youth, Inc., in 2014. The mission is: To inspire and motivate future generations to unlock their full potential through education, mentoring and empowerment. Lynn currently serves as Program Director for CLASS and Executive Director for Rise Up For Youth.
Bridgette King
Bridgette King is a Doctoral of Sports Management student at Northcentral University and serves as Executive Director and Head Coach of the Lady Panthers Girls Basketball Association (LPGBA) in Duncanville. She is a 2016 recipient of the President's Council Community Leadership Award. LPGBA is a USA Basketball Official Youth Development organization whose players have earned certificates and medals under the Presidential Fitness Challenge for the past six years. Bridgette helped to create a fitness and nutrition program for LPGBA athletes to teach lifelong proper nutritional habits, as well as, how to stay physically fit and healthy as lifelong goals. Bridgette's coaching has helped her girls, especially those of color, to see their potential and understand how basketball can teach them important life skills.
Sharon Lin
Sharon Lin is a senior at Stuyvesant High School in New York, NY. She is the Founder and Executive Director of StuyHacks and BitxBit Camp. StuyHacks is a high school hackathon founded in 2015, which currently serves students in the greater NYC area, offering computer science opportunities to middle school students through college-age students. BitxBit Camp is a nonprofit organization that aims to provide opportunities for middle school students in computer science, partnering with companies such as Intel, Sphero, and Microsoft in order to provide in-person training and online mentorship. Sharon is passionate about expanding extracurricular offerings to all girls, especially those from marginalized and underprivileged backgrounds.
Clemmie C. Perry
Clemmie C. Perry serves as the Executive Director and Founder for the not-for-profit organization Women of Color Golf (WOCG) and Girls on the Green Tee (GOTGT) programs in Tampa, Florida. The mission of WOCG and GOTGT are to promote and facilitate the inclusion of minorities, girls and women of color into the game of golf. These programs were founded in 2014 and have already trained over 280 women and girls in the Tampa Bay & St. Petersburg Florida communities on the basic fundamentals of golf. Through golf, girls learn many basic life skills, including respect, teamwork, courtesy, patience and responsibility. WOCG and GOTGT programs provide a pathway for minority girls and women to learn the game of golf and provides girls with greater access to a broader range of personal, professional and business opportunities to expand their life experiences. Clemmie has a Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology & E-Learning. She has previously worked for two Fortune 500 Companies in Aerospace & Defense Technology and Electrical Utility Smart Grid Technology.
Maya Nussbaum
Maya Nussbaum is the Founder and Executive Director of Girls Write Now, a writing and mentoring organization for girls in New York. Over the last 19 years, she has grown the organization from a loose association of women writers into a dynamic, volunteer-powered community that serves teens who are 90% high need and over 95% girls of color. Girls Write Now has received awards and honors from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Nonprofit Excellence Awards, Time Out New York, and Youth INC. Maya was named one of the Top 40 Feminists under 40 by The Feminist Press, one of the Top 20 Philanthropists under 40 by The Observer, a Diane von Furstenberg (DVF) People’s Voice Nominee, a Local Hero by Metro New York, and an Education Hero by The New York Times. She continues to look for ways to expand Girls Write Now in order to reach more women and help them succeed.
Angela Patton
Angela Patton is the Chief Executive Officer of Girls For A Change (GFAC) and the Founder of CAMP DIVA, one of GFAC's flagship programs. A native of Richmond, Angela has been a strong advocate and champion of Black girls for 13 years in the non-profit sector. Girls For A Change seeks to address the unique challenges faced by Black girls and to support and inspire them through after school and summer enrichment and leadership programs focused on creating social change. Patton has established partnerships with five universities, expanded GFAC programs to underserved communities across the country, and overseen the creation of over 200 social change projects conceptualized by girls. One of those projects was the subject of her 2012 TED Women talk. Angela is working to expand GFAC programs to create more spaces where girls can be seen, heard, and celebrated.
Cheryl Ann Wadlington
Cheryl Ann Wadlington is the Founder and Executive Director of The Evoluer House in Philadelphia. Under Wadlington’s leadership, The Evoluer House has delivered award-winning empowerment programs over the past 12 years to more than 1,200 teen girls of color experiencing unique social and emotional challenges and barriers to success. The Evoluer House works to equip the most underserved and hard-to-reach girls in Philadelphia with essential tools to become college-bound and career-ready and break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. As a testament to its success, 100% of Evoluer House graduates finish high school on time and 90% go on to attend a four-year college. Cheryl is also a fashion and beauty journalist, personal growth consultant, author, and motivational speaker.

College Opportunity

Kim Cook
Kim Cook is the Executive Director of the National College Access Network, where she leads its efforts to help states, nonprofit organizations, schools, higher education institutions, philanthropists, and the business community provide better college access and persistence support to low-income and underrepresented students. She has worked in the higher education and college access field for her entire professional career, including experience in undergraduate admissions, administration of a last-dollar scholarship program, and a succession of responsibilities at NCAN. As a Pell Grant recipient herself, she has a passion for the success of students underrepresented in higher education. Kim holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Pace University and a Bachelor’s degree in Communications, Law, Economics and Government from The American University.
Pam Eddinger
Pam Eddinger, PhD, is the president of Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) in Boston. BHCC is an urban 2-year public institution serving 19,000 learners annually. With 95% of entering students testing below college level in math and 45% in English, the College is scaling up reforms in developmental education to ensure retention and on-time completion. Compression and acceleration strategies for math and English take students to college level work in a year. Companion programs such as career-focused early college pathways and intensive Learn and Earn internship programs add to the overall retention/completion strategy. The Massachusetts community colleges educate one out of two undergraduates in the Commonwealth. In light of the workforce development needs in the next decade, the increase in retention and degree completion of BHCC students, and their placement into high-wage, middle-skills jobs will be critical to the growth of the local economy.
Michael T. Holmes
Michael T. Holmes serves as Chief Operating Officer for INROADS Inc., whose mission is to develop and place talented underserved college youth in business and industry and prepare them for corporate and community leadership. Founded in Chicago in 1970, INROADS has positively impacted the lives of over 200,000 culturally diverse high school and college students. Michael previously worked in college admissions, financial aid, campus recruiting and talent development, and has mentored, coached and provided college, career and personal advice to young people in communities throughout the nation. Michael has also held Board of Director roles within the Danbury NAACP, Young Life and Danbury Pathways Mentoring Programs and has also conducted numerous workshops and been a motivational speaker for Junior Achievement, A Better Chance, Urban League, The Hord Foundation and SayYes Danbury.
Dana A. Hubbard
Dana A. Hubbard serves as the Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) Coordinator at West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Virginia. The AVID program works to help students in the middle become college and career ready and provide them with the necessary skills to achieve academic success. In her six years as AVID coordinator she has helped to double the size of the program and has created a program that welcomes all students and motivates them to follow their dreams of going to college. In the last three years, 100% of the graduating AVID seniors have gained admittance to and enrolled in college, and all are on track to graduate on time. Dana also teaches Biology and serves as the Head Field Hockey coach at West Potomac High School.
Nicole Hurd
Nicole Hurd, PhD is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the College Advising Corps (CAC), headquartered in Chapel Hill. Nicole has led CAC from a pilot project in Virginia to the largest college access program in the country, placing hundreds of near peer advisers in high schools from coast-to-coast. In the 2016-2017 school year, CAC's 600 advisers will assist over 180,000 low-income, first generation, and underrepresented students in navigating the path to college. Under her leadership, CAC has launched innovative virtual advising work and has received numerous accolades, including a $10 million investment which was announced at the White House College Opportunity Summit and the 2012 National Service Impact Award from the Corporation for National and Community Service.
A’Dorian Murray-Thomas
A’Dorian Murray-Thomas is a recent college graduate and the Founder and Executive Director of SHE Wins Inc., a Newark-based leadership program for girls ages 10-15 years old who have been affected by violence. Before founding SHE Wins, A'Dorian designed and co-facilitated "SSEP", a free SAT preparation and self-empowerment program that served students from over fifteen different high schools in the Newark area. A'Dorian's organization has provided mentorship, academic, and emotional supports for nearly 50 girls, and has impacted the lives of nearly 1,000 people in the city of Newark through community service projects. The SHE Wins college readiness track also allows scholars to participate in coding programs that increase exposure to STEM fields, attend national leadership conferences, visit college campuses, and enroll in the SHE Wins after-school program. A’Dorian is a 2016 graduate of Swarthmore College and holds a B.A. in Political Science and Educational Studies. She is also an alumna of the KIPP: TEAM Academy in Newark and the Northfield Mount Hermon School.
Eloy Ortiz Oakley
Eloy Ortiz Oakley has served as President of Long Beach City College for nearly 10 years and is the co-founder of the nationally-recognized Long Beach College Promise. He serves as the co-chair of the Education Leadership Committee of the College Promise Campaign. Earlier this year he was selected as Chancellor of the California Community Colleges and will begin the role in December. He has been actively working with leaders in California to establish the California College Promise. In 2014, Eloy was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the University of California Board of Regents. He is a product of a California community college.
Jin Park
Jin Park is the founder and director of HigherDreams and a junior at Harvard University. As a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient applying to college, Jin experienced the daunting challenges that many undocumented students face while applying to and funding their college education. Driven by his experiences, Jin founded HigherDreams, a nonprofit that seeks to help the 65,000 undocumented high school graduates reach their potential. HigherDreams has worked to consolidate resources for applying to college from the perspective of an undocumented student, and is currently doing direct outreach to high schools in Boston and NYC to make higher education more accessible for low-income and undocumented students. At Harvard, Jin is the campus coordinator of the "Define American" movement, which seeks to elevate the conversation surrounding immigration through storytelling, and also directs Harvard's "Chinatown Citizenship," a naturalization assistance program for immigrants in the greater Boston area.
Daniel R. Porterfield
Daniel R. Porterfield, Ph.D. has served as president of Franklin & Marshall College since 2011. Under his leadership, Franklin & Marshall has developed a distinctive student talent strategy built upon a significant increase in their need-based financial aid budget. Through his work, Franklin & Marshall has seen record application numbers and an increase in the academic profile, diversity, and selectivity of incoming classes. In addition, lower-income and first-generation students at F&M consistently achieve the same average GPA as the student body as a whole and maintaining higher retention and graduation rates. Porterfield sits on the boards of the College Board and the Lenfest College Scholarship Foundation. He has received awards for his work from the KIPP and “I Have A Dream” foundations and in 2016 was named one of the “Sixteen Most Innovative People in Higher Education” by Washington Monthly. Prior to leading Franklin & Marshall, Porterfield served as a Senior Vice President at his alma mater, Georgetown University. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities and earned his Ph.D. at The City University of New York Graduate Center.
Juliette Price
Juliette Price serves as the director of The Albany Promise, a cross-sector collective impact partnership in Albany, NY that facilitates the improvement of educational outcomes for the city’s most vulnerable students using a shared vision, collective action, and rigorous continuous improvement. The partnership focuses its efforts on six key outcome areas including kindergarten readiness, third grade reading, eighth grade math, high school graduation, post-secondary enrollment, and post-secondary completion, and is a part of the national StriveTogether network of cities across the nation leading the field of collective impact. The Albany Promise convenes over 100 institutions to engage in systems change to create a new civic infrastructure to best serve children and families, with a special focus on eliminating racial disparities.
Mary Schmidt Campbell
Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D. is the 10th president of Spelman College. Dr. Campbell previously served as the Dean of the Tisch School of Arts at NYU for two decades. As president, Dr. Campbell leads an institution that is a global leader in the education of women of African descent, with more than 2,100 students from 41 states and 15 foreign countries and with a graduation rate of 76%. Over 79% of Spelman students receive financial aid and nearly half of enrolled students receive Pell Grants. Spelman is also leading work examining innovative strategies that may positively impact student learning as a 2015 U.S. Department of Education First in the World grantee.

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