- Dream Directors
- National Staff
- Board of Directors
- Support Team
For the past decade, Andrew has devoted himself to a two-word mission that inspires him every day: waging possibility.
In 2009, he was speechwriting at the White House when he began to mentor a student in a D.C. and asked him a simple question: what’s your dream? When the student said he had never been asked that question before, Andrew realized that the education crisis he had been studying for so many years—whether up close as a city reporter in New Haven or as a student at Yale—might be a lot simpler at heart than we’ve led ourselves to believe.
As he poured through research and spoke with dozens of teachers, principals, and students, a theme emerged: students (and teachers) on average were not being inspired by schools to learn, let alone to lead extraordinary lives. In too many cases in the toughest environments, schools became places of despair and apathy. Teachers, too, were checking out amid schools reforms that factor in their voice. Students weren’t learning how to be powerful, and they rarely found what brought them alive. And without these ingredients, he realized, not even great reforms could ever work. With Kanya, he got to work.
Prior to The Future Project, Andrew—a Forbes "30 Under 30" Social Entrepreneur and Ashoka Fellow—wrote speeches for Attorney General Eric Holder and Vice President Joe Biden, and he soaked up everything he could about social entrepreneurship while working as a senior entrepreneur at Ashoka. A Marshall Scholar, the 130th Editor in Chief of the Yale Daily News, and a magna cum laude graduate of Yale with political science major that focused on education, Andrew is passionate not only about education, but also about Oldies Music, theme songs, American history, oratory, and, above all, the magical power of passionate teams to change the world.
After seeing so much of the world and attending nearly 10 schools growing up—she was born in South Korea, moved to Japan, and spent the second half of her childhood in both southern California and Tennessee—Kanya believes there is no more urgent challenge we must join together to meet than transforming the way young people grow up.
For the past 13 years, Kanya has been teaching, mentoring, and supporting young people in learning how to transcend expectations and dare dreams others say are impossible. The oldest daughter of nationally recognized educators, Kanya—who was recently named a Glamour Magazine leading social entrepreneur and one of the top young female activists in America by Generation Progress—has always been happiest empowering those around her to succeed on their own terms.
However, at Yale, where she led a campus mentorship initiative and a 200-person volunteer staff as the managing editor of the Yale Daily News, she realized something startling about New Haven’s youth: that most young people never realize this fact, and while educators always go into the field to develop and inspire others to be great, the system often does not give them space to focus on that.
She went onto study anthropology to grasp what it would take to take a listening- and understanding-first approach to making change, and she interviewed dozens of change makers in the world devoted to transforming systems. Ultimately, Kanya saw that the most important ingredients in changing the world were listening, imagination, family, and purpose. And it was with these values in mind that she co-founded The Future Project in 2011, determined to unite her generation in a movement that felt like a family more than a fight—and focused on people, not policy, first.
Prior to The Future Project, Kanya—a Presidential Scholar, Intel semi-finalist, and 2009 gradate of Yale—conducted HIV/AIDS research for a global-health NGO in Pune, India and served as the chief speechwriter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. As the toddler-aged founder of the Three Sister’s Club, Kanya is also passionate about her family, Scandal, the New York Times Modern Love column, and the one idea that keeps her up at night and drives everything she does: that there is a fearless humanitarian within us all, waiting to be let out.
After three years as a lead designer for the gaming company Wizards of the Coast, where he managed many product teams, Zac made the journey from Seattle to New York City. At The Future Project, he oversees operations, marketing, fundraising and finances, making sure that all of those functions work together seamlessly.
Katherine is a senior at Marymount Manhattan College, studying Communication Arts and Environmental Studies. She has produced a number of documentary shorts about New York, from stories of teenagers’ lives to pieces about skateboarding.
As part of our DC Team, Emily works in our schools and across the city, building a network of partners and supporters for events, as well as conducting local outreach through social media.
Andy’s spent his life building and crafting creative projects, obsessing over every little detail. That craftsman’s attention to the little things carries over into his work at The Future Project, where he’s in charge of the look, feel, and design of the visuals and brand. He makes sure that the creative work the team puts out into the world communicates our values and vision.
A dancer, and artist, and all-around entrepreneur, Natalie is a Project Specialist with The Future Project in Newark, where she works with the Dream Director in the school and out in the community to identify partners and gather resources for students.
Our resident filmmaker, Alex travels from city to city, school to school, filming our Dream Directors and students in action. The videos that he edits allow the world to understand our work on the ground, and give the students in them a chance to see themselves for what they are—the foundation of The Future Project’s work and vision.
Chris is an investor, philanthropist and inventor who builds crazy stealth vehicles and other never-before-dreamed-of products. He moonlights as a martial artist who fights crime outside the bounds of the law, dressed completely in black to blend seamlessly into the night. Although his penchant for vigilante justice has earned him the ire of the police, they still send up a signal into the sky every time he’s desperately needed.
He also codes websites, and has built this one. A true master of all trades.
Writer and Newark native Brittany Harley has always seen the beauty in her city, and she cherishes the oral history tof Brick City that she learned from her grandparents. She’s continuing her commitment to the city and the young people who call it home through her work with the Newark team of The Future Project.
When I met Dan in college, he wasn’t at all embarrassed to tell me that he threw his 9th birthday party at the IKEA in Elizabeth, NJ. Was it the Swedish meatballs that drew him in? Nope. Was it the furniture? Guess again. Was it the fact that IKEA was right across the highway from Newark International Airport? Bingo. He spent the party with his face pressed to the glass, mesmerized at the thought of flying, the people in the planes, where they were going, what they were leaving.
But after reading a lot of books and writing a lot of papers as an English major, and spending two years working at the film and global campaign 10x10: Educate Girls, Change the World, Dan likes to lose himself in the stories of all the weird, maddening, and inspiring people he meets. It’s his gift to the rest of us to share that world through his eyes–still pressed against the glass.
– by Andy Ogden
Ali comes to The Future Project from Massachusetts, by way of Brooklyn, with quick stops in New Hampshire and at campsites across the world. She works closely with our CEO and the Leadership Team to keep everything organized, and to research new cities and schools for potential growth.
A longtime development and fundraising whiz, Erin has spent the last eight years developing partnerships and fundraising for initiatives from Harlem to Nepal. Here at The Future Project, she manages our fundraising systems and donor engagement, making sure that all of our supporters know what’s going on in our schools. She also reaches out to new donors, foundations and corporate partners.
Anina, who comes to us all the way from LA, is in her final year at The New School, where she’s studying Education and Music. Here at The Future Project, she works with the film team to produce shoots, prep for interviews, and do all kinds of research and fact-finding for the stories we create.
Ndeye is a social media whiz, who has a passion for compact, powerful stories that can be told in small, digestible bits. She spends much of her time as an advocate for patients of lupus and for access to healthcare, as well as for community engagement for the African Diaspora, especially in her native Bronx.
Before joining the team, Gab spent time at the Harvard School of Education researching the psychology of creativity and innovation. Here at TFP, she handles our measurement and evaluation, and brings in fresh perspectives on the latest academic thinking to inform how we measure our work.
Kelly discovered her passion for youth development and the arts when she was part of a youth group in Camden, NJ. She is our Dream Relations Specialist in Newark, where she works mostly at Malcolm X. Shabazz High School, linking students with opportunities and resources both in the school and in the city at large.
Kathleen is the Executive Assistant to the co-founders, and she’s a whole lot more. A freelance web designer, a mother, and a brilliant get-things-doner who somehow manages to keep us all on track while working remotely from suburban Maryland. If we didn’t know any better, we’d assume she was too good to be true. Lucky for us, she’s both.
Paul came to us after a four-year stint working in corporate accounting, and yes–he keeps a tight ship at The Future Project. A crazy creative at heart, Paul maintains the team’s culture and keeps everyone up to date with his highly acclaimed daily radio broadcast.
Before she joined The Future Project team, Franchesca co-founded Harlem Peace Partners, a grant-making organization supporting anti-violence and entrepreneurship in Harlem. Born in Ecuador and raised in Jersey City, Franchesca is our Community Outreach Specialist in Newark, NJ, building partnerships with companies, community and local political organizations.
Before joining The Future Project, Sarah was building classrooms out of Eco-Bottles and trash as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala. That kind of brilliance and resourcefulness comes in handy as she manages our communication and engagement with the broad TFP community, gathering information and keeping them updated and informed about the latest happenings in our schools and on our team. Based in New Haven, CT, she also works on the partnerships with community organizations and with the city.
Dekunle is a freelance filmmaker and writer. As our Production Assistant, he keeps all of the film team’s never-ending stream of footage logged, organized, and ready to be turned into beautiful visual stories.
John-Michael has been with The Future Project from the beginning, and spent two years as a Dream Director in New York City. Now, he’s taken that experience and leads the team of Dream Directors, giving them support, coaching, and insight into the design and execution of the work in their schools.
For years, Sallomé dreamed of giving every high school student in America a life coach. She never dreamed that she’d actually find a job that allowed her to do that. Sallomé co-founded Plan It Brooklyn, a brain trust for entrepreneurs and emerging leaders, and produced A Great Day in Brooklyn, a visual blueprint she created of Brooklyn residents merging the worlds of art, activism and entrepreneurship. At The Future Project, Sallomé designs and creates trainings for our Dream Directors, and runs our Dream Director recruitment.
As Dream Director at the NYC Lab School, Tim uses his knack for organizing groups of people into small movements, works closely with the principal and draws on his experience as co-founder of the national campaign Spread the Word to End the Word, in order to give the students in the school a sense of ownership over the school and its values.
As the Dream Director at High School in the Community in New Haven, CT, Christian has used his passion for the arts to transform the halls of the school into a community art gallery, and brought scores of alumni back to the school to support current students. In these and many other ways, he’s been working with students, teachers and alumni to find ways they can reimagine, recreate, and completely own the identity of their school.
Divine’s been a social entrepreneur ever since he was seventeen, when he turned his parents’ house in Brooklyn into a community center for other young people in the neighborhood. Ever since, he’s been dedicated to creating a new generation of leaders, a charge he’s taken to Malcolm X. Shabazz High School and the entire City of Newark.
Eve is a visual artist and an athlete, who knows both the importance of expression and the power of grit and hard work. As the Dream Director at Hill Regional Career High School in New Haven, Eve is taking her passion for art, working with her Dream Team to transform the way the school looks and build connections between Career and the other high schools in the city.
A long-time fixture of New Haven’s arts and performance scene, Frank is a spoken-word poet who actually found The Future Project when he performed at an event organized by one of our students. As the Dream Director at Wilbur Cross High School, one of the two biggest high schools in New Haven, Frank and his team have taken their vision for the school and scaled it up with school-wide events, giving students a renewed sense of Wilbur Cross pride.
When George was growing up in New Haven, he never imagined that he’d be devoting a big part of his life to the city that raised him. In fact, he was convinced at one point that he needed to move away, only to be drawn back. A skilled storyteller, George is giving the students at The Riverside Academy in New Haven, where he’s the Dream Director, an opportunity to tell a new story about their school and city.
Joyce’s approach to Dream Directing draws heavily on her experience as a kid who decided that she didn’t have a learning disability, but just a unique and different set of talents. It’s led her to see the gifts that all young people possess, and made her passionate about bringing those gifts out. That belief led her first to working with incarcerated youth at Rikers Island, and now to to her ultimate dream job, at the Richard R. Green High School of Teaching in NYC.
Raised in The Bronx, Kleaver is proud to be the first Dream Director in his home borough, at the Leadership Institute High School. At Leadership, Kleaver has been working with the principal and students to strengthen the school’s roots of leadership, community action and social justice. He and his Dream Team are reminding the world that the Bronx has a lot to offer.
A proud son of Omaha, Nebraska, Lamarr brings his experience as a motivational speaker to work, instilling in his students a passion for leadership. He’s built his life around listening, inspiring, and sharing with young people around the country the things he’s learned. And he’s taken that passion into The College Academy, in the Washington Heights neighborhood of NYC, as its Dream Director.
A New Haven native, and a resident all her life (save a detour to Ann Arbor for college), Laura has been with The Future Project since the beginning, and was the first Dream Director in the city. At New Haven Academy, she leads a strong Dream Team of students who have come to own their school’s identity through senior projects, integration with the curriculum, and school-wide campaigns.
A proud native of Brooklyn, Maritza is the Dream Director at the Henry Street School for International Studies in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. She’s worked in marketing for the Boston Red Sox, directed programming at the Boys and Girls Club of Brooklyn, and won a Starting Bloc Fellowship. Maritza has been using her experiences to bring a spirit of entrepreneurship to Henry Street, and to equip the young people there with the tools and confidence to create.
Before joining The Future Project as the Dream Director at Metropolitan Business Academy in New Haven, Nataliya was a high school teacher in Philadelphia, where she learned firsthand the importance of guiding students as they develop courage, confidence, and belief in their own possibility, both in and out of the classroom. At Metro, she is bringing her passion for social justice and artistic expression to the students as they confront difficult issues and turn them into creative projects.
As the Dream Director at Cardozo Senior High School in Washington, DC, Shantae is making sure she knows every face and every name in the school. That’s because she knows that in order to build a new sense of community, you have to understand all of the individuals in it. She and her team are using social media campaigns, storytelling, and a lot more to reveal the great things that no one knew before about Cardozo and the people who go there.
Voncia spent years as a history teacher in Miami, where she was also a Teach for America corps member. The granddaughter of a civil rights activist, Voncia always had a desire to work with young people as they discover their voices, create and own who they are, and build a world of equality and respect. It’s what she did as a teacher, and what she is continuing as Dream Director at Eastern Senior High School in Washington, DC.
Carlos has spent years doing extensive work within NYC’s school system and various communities throughout America. He’s run an organization that focuses on college prep for young people in Brooklyn, and another that gives support to middle school and high school boys. Carlos is at West Side High School in Newark, NJ.
Zaki has a reputation for giving no-holds-barred advice and intervention to young people battling with a wide range of social or emotional issues, skills which, along with a deep sense of compassion, he honed over years working with Dream Director Divine Bradley on a youth-led project called Team Revolution. Now, Zaki is taking his skills to West Side High School in Newark, NJ.