Who We Are

Our Team

Leadership Team National Team Board of Directors Advisory Board

Leadership Team

  • Elissa SalasChief Executive Officer

    Elissa Salas

    Chief Executive Officer

    Elissa Salas currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of College Track, an organization dedicated to supporting first-generation college students through college completion. In her tenure at College Track, Elissa has led the organization’s expansion to Colorado, Sacramento and Watts, and will double the number of students the organization serves by 2020.

    Before coming to College Track, Elissa served as the Chief Academic Officer of the Girls Athletic Leadership School. There, she led a team of educators to rank among the top 25% for academic growth in Denver Public Schools. She has also served as a Senior Policy Analyst for DC Public Schools, where she managed a pilot initiative focused on the use of “response-to-intervention,” as a strategy for school reform.

    Elissa began her career in education as a Teach for America corps member at Locke High School in Los Angeles. As the first in her family to earn a college degree, Elissa holds a B.A in Political Science from the University of La Verne and a M.Ed from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

  • Julia ChihChief Finance & Operating Officer

    Julia Chih

    Chief Finance & Operating Officer

    Julia joined College Track in 2014 as the Vice President of Finance. Prior to College Track, she served as the Vice President of Finance and Administration for CollegeSpring. Julia has dedicated her career to improving educational equity with over ten years of broad financial management experience across city, state, and federal government as well as not-for profits. During her tenure at the National Equity Project, she provided financial and strategic leadership as the organization expanded into ten states and transitioned from a grant-funded to a fee-for-service revenue model. While working at the California Governor’s Office of Education, she worked to increase access to challenging coursework for public high school students. Julia earned her B.A. in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley and holds a dual master’s degree in Public Affairs and Urban and Regional Planning from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

  • Leela de Souza BranstenChief Development & Marketing Officer

    Leela de Souza Bransten

    Chief Development & Marketing Officer

    Leela joined College Track in 2013 as a consultant in Investor Relations, leading individual giving and major gifts in the Bay Area. In 2014, she became Interim Vice President of Development & Marketing and assumed the permanent role in 2015. Prior to College Track, Leela held several positions in the private sector in marketing and sales. Most recently she worked at Genentech for almost a decade. Leela also worked for McKinsey & Company as a management consultant and following that was appointed to serve as a White House Fellow in the Clinton Administration. In her first career, Leela was a professional ballet dancer, performing internationally and throughout the country with Hubbard Street Dance Company. Leela graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Chicago with an A.B. in Biopsychology. She went on to earn her M.B.A. and a certificate in Public Management from Stanford Graduate School of Business. While at Stanford, Leela was an academic tutor and mentor for middle school students in the I Have a Dream program in East Palo Alto. This work led to a 20-year relationship with four siblings, three of whom are now first-generation college graduates.

  • Angie PeluseChief of Regions

    Angie Peluse

    Chief of Regions

    Angie joined College Track in 2018 as the organization’s first Chief of Regions. Angie comes to us from Teach for America (TFA), where she most recently spearheaded a multi-million dollar system implementation focused on supporting the fundraising efforts of 53 regions. During her time at TFA, Angie also led teams devoted to regional fundraising support and local partnerships. Prior to TFA, Angie managed program and innovation at Peer Health Exchange, served as strategy consultant in the Educational Practice of the Parthenon Group, and was also a Division I swim coach and high school teacher. Angie is passionate about supporting young people on their college and career pathways, and excited about helping College Track scale to new regions. Angie received her B.A. in Women’s Studies and History from Harvard University, magna cum laude, and went on to obtain an Ed.M. from Harvard, where she received a scholarship for those committed to public service.

  • Jeannie JohnsonVice President of Programs

    Jeannie Johnson

    Vice President of Programs

    Jeannie Johnson joined College Track in 2012 as Vice President of Programs. In this role, she leads a program team to manage and refine student programming. Her personal experience of transitioning from the foster care system to college inspired her commitment to improve educational outcomes for underserved youth. She began her career as a teacher and counselor of adjudicated youth, and later became the Principal at Benjamin Holt College Prep Academy in Stockton, California, where 100% of seniors were accepted to a 4-year college. Prior to joining College Track, Jeannie served as Director of the College and Career Readiness Office for Oakland Unified School District, where she managed the District’s efforts to ensure more students graduated college-ready. Jeannie earned her B.A. in English and M.Ed. from CSU, Stanislaus.

  • Vishal ShahVice President of Organizational Performance

  • Jonathan ThorntonVice President of Development

  • Omar ButlerRegional Executive Director, Northern California

    Omar Butler

    Regional Executive Director, Northern California

    Omar returns to College Track as Regional Executive Director for Northern California. Most recently, he served as the Chief of Programs for the Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF) in New York City. In that role, Omar oversaw college access and success programming for middle school, high school, and college students. He also redesigned the expansion strategy leading to the successful relaunch of HEAF’s Brooklyn site. Omar first joined College Track in 2005 as the Student Life Director for College Track Oakland and was subsequently promoted to Site Director. In 2007, Omar was charged with leading College Track’s expansion to San Francisco where he led the site from 2007 through 2014. Under his leadership, College Track San Francisco became the largest College Track site while achieving the organization’s highest retention and college eligibility rates. In 2013, Omar received the KQED Local Hero Award for his commitment to the San Francisco community. Omar holds a B.A. in Black Studies from California State University, Long Beach.

  • Vanecia KerrRegional Executive Director, Colorado

    Vanecia Kerr

    Regional Executive Director, Colorado

    Vanecia Kerr is the Regional Executive Director of College Track Colorado. Prior to joining College Track in 2016, she was the Managing Director of City Year Denver, where she was responsible for overseeing marketing, communications and development. Vanecia spent over 20 years in the corporate sector before entering the nonprofit sector six years ago. Her experience includes serving as the Regional Director of Community Affairs for TIAA-CREF. In this role, she was responsible for developing and overseeing the strategy and implementation of the community outreach activities for over 20 offices.

    Vanecia received her BA in Political Science from Hampton University (VA) and a Masters in Public Administration from Baruch College (CUNY). She has also received several certificates in Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Social Responsibility from Boston College. Vanecia is the recipient of numerous certificates and honors throughout her career including being recognized as one of the Top 25 Most Powerful Women by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Goodwill Industries, and the Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado.

  • Saskia PallaisRegional Executive Director, Los Angeles

    Saskia Pallais

    Regional Executive Director, Los Angeles

    Saskia joined College Track in 2014 as the founding Regional Executive Director of Los Angeles. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts. Prior to College Track, Saskia was the Family & Community Engagement Director for the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Before joining the Partnership, Saskia served as the Director of Development with Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools in Washington, D.C. There, she helped the school expand from a single high school serving 250 students in temporary facilities to three permanent campuses serving 1,300 students. In 2007, Saskia left D.C. to work for Hillary Clinton in her bid to become the first female President. Earlier in her career, she worked with a private foundation on a program called Women Waging Peace Network, where she conducted research, training, and consultations for women leaders nationally and internationally. Saskia holds a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a B.A. in Theology and Women’s Studies from the University of Florida. Born in Nicaragua and raised in Miami, Saskia brings a bi-cultural experience to her work.

  • Susan StevensonRegional Executive Director, D.C. Metro Area

    Susan Stevenson

    Regional Executive Director, D.C. Metro Area

    Susan Stevenson is the founding Regional Executive Director of College Track in the D.C. Metro Area. Prior to joining College Track in 2018, she was the founding Executive Director of Flamboyan Foundation in D.C. At Flamboyan, she built the 25-person team and strategic partnerships who together transformed parent/teacher engagement in D.C. public and public charter schools.

    Prior to joining Flamboyan, Susan worked in the nonprofit sector for more than 20 years. Her roles included COO of United Way America’s Success by 6, Vice President of Latin America and Vice President of International Programs at Ashoka, and Program Assistant for Save the Children in Bolivia. Susan also worked as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company in New York and Argentina.

    Susan received her B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from Indiana University and an M.B.A from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She was the 2016 recipient of the Jocelyn Graves National Award for Distinguished Service to Public Education. Susan currently serves on the Board of Directors of Amigos and is a member of Leadership Greater Washington.

  • Mike WoodwardRegional Executive Director, New Orleans

    Mike Woodward

    Regional Executive Director, New Orleans

    Mike joined College Track in 2015 as Site Director in New Orleans. Before coming to College Track, Mike taught high school mathematics at Lake Area New Tech Early College High School where he served as both the Mathematics Department Chair and a Louisiana Teacher Leader. Originally from Virginia, Mike began his career in education at the age of sixteen. While in high school, he developed a countywide tutoring program called Helping Others Help Themselves. Mike also serves as an advisor to First-generation, Low-Income Partnership (FLIP), a student organization he founded at Stanford University in 2007. Upon realizing that his most intense passion is working with youth, Mike joined Teach for America (TFA) as a corps member in 2013. Mike currently serves as the New Orleans Regional Delegate for the Ron Brown Scholar Alumni Association and is a member of the Global Shapers Community of New Orleans, the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, the Young Leadership Council, and the TFA Greater New Orleans Collective. As the first in his family to earn a college degree, Mike holds a B.S. in Bioengineering from Stanford University and an M.P.H from Tulane University.

  • Fernando BranchSite Director, Aurora

    Fernando Branch

    Site Director, Aurora

    Fernando joined College Track in 2018 to serve as Site Director of Aurora. He comes to this role with over 14 years of experience in education, starting his career as a Geography teacher in Memphis and transitioning to administrative leadership as Assistant Principal. In each position, Fernando has focused his efforts on establishing a college-going culture, creating sustainable systems of management, and instituting effective recruitment tactics.

    Fernando has received several awards for his commitment to education and communities of color, including the Educational Leader of the Year Award and My Brother’s Keeper, MBK25 Honoree. His expertise in social emotional intelligence, education reform, and community building has also been featured in several articles, conferences and events such as Chalkbeat Colorado and SAM’s National Conference. He holds a B.A. in History from the University of Arkansas and a M.Ed. from Union University. He is currently pursuing an Ed.D. from the University of Denver.

  • Paul FieldsSite Director, Oakland

    Paul Fields

    Site Director, Oakland

    Paul joined College Track in 2014 as the Director of College Partnerships. In this role, he was responsible for developing college partnerships to reduce financial aid gaps, increase freshman persistence and improve 4-year college graduation rates. In 2017, Paul was promoted to Site Director. Prior to College Track, Paul was the Director of College Success for Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ). He worked at HCZ for 5.5 years and played a critical role in creating the College Success department. Under his leadership, 74.5% of HCZ students were on track to graduate from a 2-year or 4-year college. Paul also serves as Vice President of IMPACT—Intelligent Men-of-color Purposefully Accomplishing College Together. He co-founded IMPACT as a student organization at Franklin and Marshall College in 2004. Paul graduated with a B.A. in Africana Studies from Franklin & Marshall College.

  • Lindsay JonesSite Director, Denver

  • Tina KimSite Director, Boyle Heights

  • Thomas MuñozSite Director, Sacramento

    Thomas Muñoz

    Site Director, Sacramento

    Thomas joined College Track in 2014 as the founding Site Director in Sacramento. Most recently, he taught math and science at PS7 in the Oak Park community which College Track serves. Thomas began his career in education as a Teach For America corps member at Tafolla Middle School on the Westside of San Antonio, Texas. During his tenure, Tafolla’s math department received distinction from the state of Texas based on the academic achievements of their students, including the number of students exceeding expected annual academic progress. Thomas’ fellow teachers recognized his work by honoring him with an Excellence in Teaching award. Thomas graduated with honors from University of California Davis with a B.A. in Political Science and Psychology and holds a J.D. from the University of San Francisco.

  • Marisa RamirezSite Director, Watts

    Marisa Ramirez

    Site Director, Watts

    Marisa joined College Track in 2014 as the founding Student Life Director for i.am College Track Boyle Heights. In 2015, she became the Site Director for College Track Watts. Before joining College Track, Marisa was a founding member of the KIPP Through College team for KIPP LA Schools where she was instrumental in shaping the vision of the program to ensure KIPP alumni were successful in getting to and through college. Her passion for service and social justice was inspired by her Jesuit education at Boston College where she studied Sociology and Latin American Studies. It was through tutoring and mentoring Boston area high school students, and reflecting on her personal educational experience that led to her interest in working to eradicate inequity in historically marginalized communities. After graduating, Marisa joined Teach for America where she spent two years teaching seventh and eighth grade Language Arts in Phoenix, AZ while pursuing a master’s degree in Secondary Education from Arizona State University.

  • Neils Ribeiro-YemofioLaunch Director, D.C. Metro Area

  • Jane SpenceFounding Site Director, D.C. Metro Area

National Team

  • Marie AlessiRecruiter

  • Jonas AquinoIT Manager

  • Alfonso AyalaRecruiter

  • Richard BoebelData Analyst

  • Joan CurtisBoard & Communications Manager

  • Elizabeth DukovichGrants Manager

  • John EllsworthMarketing & Events Manager

  • Benjamin FelsingDatabase Administrator

  • Jessica ForsythExecutive Assistant

  • Gabriela Garay-AshAccounting Manager

  • Stella GlodekHuman Resources Manager

  • Atziry GutierrezDirector of Marketing & Alumni Strategy

  • Katie HooperCommunications Manager

  • Nadja JepsenFinancial Programs Manager

  • Katie KantorQuality & Learning Program Manager

  • Joshua KimDirector of Finance

  • Melody KimDevelopment Manager

  • Katy KondoData Analyst

  • Brian KramerGrant Writer

  • Deena MangrumTalent Acquisition Director

  • Nicol McGoughStudent Life & Wellness Quality & Learning Director

  • Miccaela MontagueCollege Completion Quality & Learning Director

  • Robel NegussieController

  • Kurstin NelmsCollege Advising Manager

  • Paul RodriguezNational Operations Manager

  • Maya SimpsonTalent Development Manager

  • Catie SteinmanHuman Resources Generalist

  • Shria TomlinsonDirector of Quality & Learning

  • Chris ValenzuelaDonor Stewardship Manager

  • Darwin VelasquezNational Dreamer Coordinator

  • Jonny VolanData Analyst

  • Shasta WeissDevelopment Operations Manager

  • Margaret WinnenDirector of Human Resources

Board of Directors

College Track is governed by a board of directors that bring together a wealth of experience in philanthropy, educational and operational management, and development of non-profit organizations.

Laurene Powell Jobs Chair and Co-founder
David Singer Vice Chair
Charles King Vice Chair
Nancy Lue Secretary
John Doyle
Andy Dreyfus
Lynn Feintech
Cynthia Keely
Debbra Lindo
Leo Martinez
Marc Mazur
Jonathan Mildenhall
Tony Prophet
will.i.am
Timothy C. Wu
Roger Zamora

Local Advisory Board Members

Working closely with our board and staff, Local Advisory Board Members help build awareness, strengthen our donor base, and provide strategic support across College Track regions. Membership is by personal invitation from College Track.

COLORADO

Barbara Grogan, Founder and CEO, Western Industrial Contractors (Board Chair)
Alires Almon, Orchestrator of Engagement, 100 Year Starship
Kim DeLashmit, Principal, Orange Marketing
Curtis Esquibel, Associate Director, Latino Leadership Institute
Erika Hollis, Vice President and General Counsel, Regis University
Teresa Kostenbauer, Senior Manager, University Relations and
Recruitment, Arrow Electronics
Ivan London, Attorney, Bryan Cave LLP
Abel Medrano, Broker Associate, High Rock Real Estate
Karen McNeil-Miller, President & CEO,The Colorado Health Foundation
Tameeka Smith, President & COO, Smile Health Dental Plans
Jennifer Sobanet, Vice Chancellor - Administration and Finance, University of Colorado, Denver
Adam Silver, Vice President, Denver Test Prep
Shannon Solomon, Assistant Director-Operations, Aurora Public Schools

NEW ORLEANS

Anne Milling, Civic Leader and Founder, Women of the Storm
Ayneka Bruno, Agent, State Farm
Sherdren Burnside, Founding Site Director (2008-2015)
Storey Charbonnet, Partner, Johnson & Rice, LLC
Bill Hines, Partner, Jones Walker
Malcolm Jenkins, Athlete, National Football League
Barbara Jo Pease, Retired Shell Executive & Founder, Louisiana Youth Seminar
Adria Kimbrough, Counsel, Dillard University
Madeline West, Managing Member, West Law Firm
Andrew “Andy” Wisdom, President, Crescent Capital Consulting, LLC
Matt Wisdom, CEO, Turbosquid

SACRAMENTO

Kathy McKim, Vice President External Affairs, AT&T (Board Chair)
Jennifer Ablog, Community & Government Relations Manager, Kaiser Permanente
Jon Coss, Chief Executive Officer & Founder, Pondera Solutions
Brian Dean, Vice President & Senior Relationship Manager, U.S. Bank
Kari Dohn Decker, Managing Director, Corporate Responsibility, JPMorgan Chase
Yen Marshall, Area Director – AT&T External Affair, AT&T
Jake Mossawir, President/CEO, St. HOPE
Akosia Robinson, College Track Parent
Jay Thomas, Principal, Thomas/Ferrous
Nathan Torinus, Chief Operating Officer, Genovese Burford & Brothers
Angelo Williams, Legislative Director, CA Student Aid Commission

LOS ANGELES

Laura Wasserman (Board Chair)
Tamara Houston, Founder & CEO, ICON MANN and Roundtable Entertainment
Tracey Monroe, Executive Director, UBS Asset Management
Chris Paul, Professional Basketball Player, National Basketball Association
Antonio Villaraigosa, Former Mayor of Los Angeles
Prophet Walker,
CEO and Co-founder, Treehouse Co-living