board of directors
Carmen Fariña, Chair - New York City Schools Chancellor
Jonathan D. Harber - Harber Advisors, LLC
Andy Kaplan - Chief Financial Officer, DonorsChoose.org
Lisa Plepler, Secretary - Chairman of the Board of Directors, ArtsConnection
Len Riggio - Chairman, Barnes & Noble
Jerrold Ross - Dean Emeritus, The School of Education at St. John's University
Steve Strongin, Treasurer - Head of Global Investment Research, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Dennis Williams - Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, HBO
Kathy Wylde - President and CEO, The Partnership for New York City
Sarah Geisenheimer: Executive Director
Prior to joining The Fund for Public Schools as a Senior Advisor, Sarah served as an Associate Director of the Rockefeller Foundation. In this role, Sarah helped lead Digital Jobs Africa, a $100 million youth education and employment initiative, and advised the Rockefeller Foundation's Executive Team on the Foundation's strategy and organizational performance. The daughter of two public school teachers, Sarah's deep commitment to service and education is reflected in her past work on the Livelihoods Advisory Board of the UN High Commission for Refugees, and as an International Rescue Committee Youth Program Mentor for many years. Sarah received an undergraduate degree from New York University and a Masters Degree in International Education Development from Columbia University Teachers College.
Jose Acevedo: Office Manager
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Jose began his career with the NYC Department of Education as a bookkeeper over 15 years ago and plans to pursue a degree in business management from Brooklyn College. Jose is responsible for the day-to-day operations of The Fund for Public Schools including space and facilities management, IT support, and grant management. Additionally, he provides administrative support and acts as a liaison between the office and building management.
- Who inspires you? I am inspired by my wife and son; they’re two of the brightest people I know.
- What is your favorite quote? “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Mahatma Ghandi
- What do you like to do in your spare time? I love to spend time with my family, take day trips, and play fantasy football.
Kate Alcorn: Senior Portfolio Director
Elizabeth Barr: Chief Administrative Officer
Elizabeth has spent the majority of her career in media, where she has held positions ranging from reporter covering fashion to VP overseeing the North American rollout of an international brand. The daughter and granddaughter of educators, she joined The Fund to combine her operational skills with her passion for education. At The Fund for Public Schools, Elizabeth facilitates The Fund's operations, overseeing systems, HR, legal and operating procedures, and communications. She first "worked" for The Fund when serving as a mentor to a high school student nearly 20 years ago.
- What was your favorite grade in school? Fourth grade. The teacher, Mrs. Powers, started every day extemporaneously speaking about whatever was going on in the world, from Watergate to the Amazon.
- What’s your favorite part of your job? Seeing some of the amazing work our students are doing.
- What characteristic do you value the most in others? Empathy.
Joyce Becker: Senior Portfolio Director, School-Based Innovation
A product of the New York City Public School system, Joyce has spent thirty seven years as a teacher and administrator in the New York City schools and in the Massapequa Long Island Schools. In these roles, she has served as an elementary school teacher, a middle school Assistant Principal and a Principal in a variety of city and suburban schools. In her leadership roles, she has mentored many new staff members, and provided them with the tools necessary to succeed. In her role as Principal, she was responsible for the academic, social and emotional development of her students. The schools she led consistently demonstrated significant growth in standardized assessments. As part of a family of educators, the healthy conversations and competition keeps her abreast of current trends and innovations in education. Joyce received an undergraduate degree in Elementary and Special Education from Brooklyn College, and a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from Baruch. Her post Masters concentrated in reading and math were completed at Hofstra and Adelphi Universities. At the Fund for Public Schools, she oversees school based grants and is immersed in projects relating to school based innovations and initiatives.
- Who inspires you? I am inspired by all of the people I was lucky enough to meet along my path, who have allowed me to support them, and in turn, supported me. It is most gratifying.
- What characteristics do you value the most in others? These are honesty and integrity. A person’s word is so important. If there is a disagreement in philosophy or ideology, that is fine. Stand by your convictions and beliefs.
- What is the favorite part of your job? Knowing that I can make a difference in the lives of students and be a part of a work in progress of education is exciting.
Maria Christodoulou: Director of Portfolio Operations
Maria has a passion for raising awareness of and funds for nonprofits that seek to bring positive change in the community. She has worked at Bucknell University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Onassis Foundation (USA), and as a volunteer for a humanitarian aid agency. In 2008, she served as a team leader for AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, where she worked in New Orleans helping rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina. At the Fund, Maria performs database management, prospect research, and prospect management to ensure smooth fundraising operations. Maria earned a Bachelor’s degree in Classics from Bucknell University and a Master’s degree in Library Science from Drexel University.
- Who inspires you? Everyday people who do random acts of kindness.
- What do you like to do in your spare time? I like to read, run in the park, spend time with friends, and cook (and eat) new recipes.
- Favorite quote: Live simple, so that others may simply live.
Jessica Dickson: Director of Portfolio Operations
Arlene Dominguez: Program Director, School-Based Partnerships
A native New Yorker, Arlene earned her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Brooklyn College and Master in Public Administration from New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She has held positions in the nonprofit sector and in the field of higher education. At The Fund for Public Schools, she oversees school-based programs including library enhancements, playground development, and college scholarships. In this capacity, she champions literacy initiatives for low-income students throughout New York City. In 2008, she developed a family reading night program that has engaged hundreds of families in activities to promote reading. She is currently chair of the New York City School Library System Council.
- What was your favorite grade in school? 7th grade was the best; we had ceramics, silk screening, and gymnastics!
- What’s your favorite part of your job? I really enjoy visiting schools and seeing kids in action.
- What is the most surprising thing about you? I love '70s music!
Nadeen Naj-Baldeo: Finance Director
Before joining The Fund for Public Schools, Nadeen graduated from Baruch College with a Bachelor of Science in Human Services Management and worked at nonprofit organizations focused on providing services for individuals with developmental disabilities and helping young pregnant teens become self-reliant. Nadeen’s main responsibilities at The Fund include managing the investment portfolio, overseeing grant management analysis, internal and external financial reporting, assisting in the preparation of audited financial statements and tax returns, and various HR functions.
- Who is a hero of yours? My mother, who has taught me that faith, strength, and belief in one’s self will take you a long way.
- What three words best describe you? Loyal, honest, conscientious.
- What do you like to do in your spare time? I love reading and listening to music.
David Nathanson: Chief Financial Officer
Born in Brooklyn, David grew up in Manalapan, New Jersey, where he and his family moved when he was five. He attended Fairleigh-Dickinson University and graduated with a B.S. in Accounting. He has been working in nonprofit finance, as a vice-president of finance and chief financial officer, for more than twenty years. As CFO at the Fund, he is responsible for fiscal oversight and management.
- What characteristics do you value in others? The executive directors that I have worked with in the past demanded excellence, but gave me the latitude and responsibility to make the positon my own and held me accountable for it. By holding me to this level of accountability, I became a better professional and leader.
- As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be the center-fielder for the New York Mets. In reality... in 8th grade, I took a bookkeeping class and from then, I knew that I wanted to be an accountant, or another line of work where I could work with numbers.
- Favorite quote: “Surround yourself with people that force you to do better.”
Lauren Perkins: Senior Portfolio Director and Senior Advisor
Senyal Walton: Financial Consultant
Anthony Williams: Special Assistant to the Executive Director
A South Bronx native, Anthony is a proud alumnus of the NYC public school system. Shortly after graduating from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School, Anthony joined the U.S. Army, deploying to Iraq twice as a member of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. After his honorable discharge from the Army, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Master of Science in Publishing, both from Pace University. After holding various positions in both the nonprofit sector and the federal government, Anthony joined The Fund for the chance to impact the lives of NYC public school children. In his role, Anthony provides administrative and clerical support to the Executive Director of The Fund for Public Schools.
- As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a writer. I’m still trying to reach this goal. Never give up on your dreams!
- Who inspired you to succeed in school? The various wonderful teachers I had while growing up. When I was in 9th grade I scored very well on a Social Studies exam. The teacher – Ms. Ortiz – handed me my exam with a smile and then her expression turned serious. She said, “Anthony … what do you want to be when you grow up?” The inflection in her voice when she asked me that question – she genuinely believed that I could be whatever I wanted to be. I will never, ever forget that.
- What is your favorite quote? “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” – Farrah Gray
Elaine Wu: Senior Portfolio Director
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Elaine studied international relations at Stanford University and received a master’s degree in comparative education from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. In addition to having managed global entrepreneurship programs for teens in Silicon Valley, Elaine has taught at The American School in London and, most recently, at KIPP South Fulton Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. At The Fund, Elaine inspires others to participate in our students' education by building strategic partnerships and engaging the public across multiple platforms.
- Who inspires you? My mother has always been my source of inspiration in how I approach living life. She taught me to live generously and to always give more than I might receive.
- As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Throughout elementary school, I wanted to be a teacher in whichever grade I happened to be in that year. I've also wanted to be a diplomat and a restaurateur.
- What is the most surprising thing about you? I've studied six languages aside from English. Unfortunately, I can now hold basic conversations in only three and a half of them.