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Steppingstone Scholars Staff
The Steppingstone Scholars staff is a dedicated group of professionals who are committed to carrying out the organization’s mission.
Sean Vereen, Ed.D., is the new President of Steppingstone Scholars, Inc. A former Board member, Dr. Vereen was most recently Associate Dean of Opportunity and Access at the University of Pennsylvania. In his 13 years at Penn, he worked for the Office of Student Affairs, New Student Orientation, Makuu Black Student Cultural Center, Greenfield Intercultural Center, and the Center for Africana Studies. From 2008 to 2012, he worked on the Undergraduate Admissions team and became Associate Dean of Opportunity and Access, overseeing initiatives focused on the cultural and socioeconomic diversification of the University’s undergraduate student body. Dr. Vereen also served as mentor and campus liaison for the Posse Foundation, a leadership and scholars program for urban high school students. He was also instrumental in designing and coordinating Penn’s new partnership with The KIPP Foundation. Penn is the first Ivy League member to join in partnership with both organizations. He holds a B.A. from the University of Rochester and an MS.Ed. and Ed.D. from Penn’s Graduate School of Education in Higher Education Administration, where his research focused on diversity.
Sarah Gallagher, Director of Development and Communications, is originally from Wilmington, Del., and is a graduate of Wheaton College where she was a political science major. After graduation she worked for then-Senator Joe Biden as Legislative Correspondent in Washington D.C., focusing on issues including education, foreign relations and veteran affairs. She then spent time in his district office as his Constituent Advocate and Projects Assistant, providing direct assistance to matters between constituents and federal agencies and to worthy projects throughout the state in obtaining federal grant money. The next two years were spent on state and national political campaigns, helping to elect Delaware’s current Attorney General and experience the excitement of a presidential campaign. Following her campaign experience, she spent three years working on programming at The National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL). During her years at NCTL the program grew from a state focused organization (Massachusetts) to a national one. NCTL worked with districts and schools across the country to rethink the school day. Her work assisted schools in offering more educational opportunities to low-income children and more time for teachers to understand and address the unique challenges that their students faced. Sarah left NCTL to pursue an MBA in nonprofit management from the Simmons School of Management in Boston which she recently completed. Sarah comes to us with extensive experience and training in client relations, volunteer organizing and educational nonprofits.
Tu-Quyen Nguyen, Director of Operations, was born and raised in Adelaide, Australia and moved to Philadelphia with her family in 2000. She developed an interest in working with diverse students when she served as a peer mentor to first-year students from at-risk backgrounds in college. After earning a BA in Government and Religious Studies from Colby College, and a MS.Ed. in Education, Culture and Society from the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, Tu-Quyen became a Regional Director of Admissions and Associate Director of Opportunity and Access for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at Penn. In this work she helped develop recruitment and yield strategies for underrepresented populations in higher education. Her most recent work is as the Registrar for the Graduate School of Education at Penn where she worked closely and extensively with student records and school policies and procedures. 215-508-5150 ext. 12 firstname.lastname@example.org
Elaine Leigh, Director of Support Services, started her career in education by teaching middle school science in the School District of Philadelphia through Teach For America. She later served as an Educational Advisor for ASPIRA, providing college counseling to first generation college students. Her work and experiences have led to a deep commitment to improving educational outcomes for students. Additionally, Elaine is a founding board member and current Co-President of PhilaSoup, an organization that funds classroom projects and builds teacher networks. She is also a board member for SEAMAAC, an immigrant and refugee social services organization, a committee member for the Asian Mosaic Fund Giving Circle, and an active member of PhillyCORE Leaders. Previously, she has served on the board of The Spruce Foundation and participated in leadership programs through Young Involved Philadelphia and the Center for Progressive Leadership. A native of Seattle, WA, Elaine holds a B.A. in Psychology, magna cum laude with College Honors, from the University of Washington and a M.S.Ed. in Urban Education from the University of Pennsylvania. 215-508-5150 ext. 16 email@example.com
Saroya M. Royster, Associate Director of Support Services, is a graduate of Bloomsburg University where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications. Upon graduating she worked as a Program Director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia. While in her position there, she obtained a Master of Public Administration degree in Nonprofit Administration. She also founded her own organization, My Sisters’ Keeper, which empowers young women and offers them a positive outlet to connect with other like-minded women. Saroya has a passion for working with youth, and believes that with the proper guidance and support, they can reach their full potential. She has experience with program planning and evaluations, mentor programs, and event planning. 215-508-5150 ext. 13 firstname.lastname@example.org
Caryn Rivers, Director of Family Services, is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a Master’s in Urban Policy Analysis and Management from the New School for Social Research. Caryn has admitted promising students to the Scholars’ Program since 2005. Her personal and professional experiences have led her through various private, public and nonprofit sector settings giving her excellent preparation for a commitment to educational access and excellence.
215-508-5150 ext. 17
Sonnia Brown-Burgess, Associate Director of Family Services, graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Development and a minor in African American Studies. Sonnia was a member of the first Steppingstone Scholars class. She graduated from the Agnes Irwin School where she demonstrated her leadership skills by serving as president of student government. She was also involved in the Black Student Union, the peer mentoring group, and Dance Motion. 215-508-5150 ext. 24 email@example.com
Emmalee Eckstein, Development Associate, graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Humanities. Emmalee worked in the film industry in New York for a short while before delving into development work at a small nonprofit youth theatre in the Lehigh Valley. While she was there, she managed grant writing, fundraising, and event planning. 215-508-5150 ext. 23