staff

Karina Saltman, Executive Director
Bethany Nelson, Outreach Coordinator
Megan Sussman , Development Director
Mary Ryan, Development Manager
Whitney Childs, Development Associate
Jason Choi, Program Manager
Jené Toussaint, Program Manager
Kathleen Clancy, Associate Director
Emily FitzGerald, Director of College Success & Alumni Relations
Sonia Gonzalez, College Access Coordinator
Ann Jankie, Program Associate
Jill Kunkel, Grants Specialist
Naima Fine Iles, Program Associate
Gizzel Edmund, Program Associate
Richard Robinson, Program Associate
Carmen Melillo, Program Associate
Breeana Moore, Operations Assistant

Karina Saltman, Executive Director
ksaltman@summersearch.org
Karina Saltman was born in New York City to a Brazilian mother and Jewish-American father, and grew up outside the city in Teaneck, New Jersey. Motivated by the lack of educational access she saw while spending summers in Brazil with her mother’s large family, Karina developed an early commitment to leveling the playing field for young people in the American education system. Karina speaks fluent Portuguese, and received a B.A. in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies from Brown University, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. After graduation, Karina was accepted into the New York City Teaching Fellows Program where she taught 3rd and 4th grade in the South Bronx at PS 62 for two years. The school had an extremely high turnover rate for teachers, and she was driven to find new ways to address the challenges in the New York City public education system. While teaching, Karina received an M.A. in Early Childhood Education from Lehman College. After completing the Fellows program, Karina joined the Summer Search team as a Program Associate in 2004. She became Program Director in 2006 and stepped into the role of Executive Director in May 2008. During her tenure she has tripled staff size, doubled the size of the board and overseen a nearly 200% increase in program size (revenue and student numbers). The Summer Search New York City program now serves nearly 400 promising young adults on an annual basis.

Bethany Nelson, Outreach Coordinator
bnelson@summersearch.org
Bethany grew up in rural Upstate New York before moving to NYC. She graduated summa cum laude from Pace University in 2005 with double majors in Applied Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies. After college, she served for several years as the Director of After School and Summer Camp Programs at Hartley House – a settlement house in Hell’s Kitchen. In 2013, she received a Masters in Public Administration from Baruch College. Prior to graduating, she had the opportunity to work as a research assistant in housing policy, intern at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington, D.C. and teach environmental education classes in Wuhan, China.  As a strong proponent of educational equity and opportunity, Bethany is passionate about Summer Search’s mission and excited to be a part of such a dynamic community of staff and students.

Megan Sussman, Development Manager
megan@summersearch.org
Megan was born and raised in Colorado. She then moved to Seattle where she attended the University of Washington and earned degrees in Speech Communications and Communication Media Studies. During college, Megan participated on the University’s women’s soccer team which led to many opportunities to work with kids as a soccer coach. She also worked for a radio station doing promotions and marketing. Following graduation, Megan moved to London where she worked as an Event Organizer for a marine based non-profit organization, the IMarEST. Living abroad gave her the great opportunity to travel and explore other cultures. Megan joined Summer Search in February 2008 and is excited to be part of such an inspiring organization.

Mary Ryan,Development Manager
mryan@summersearch.org
Mary joined Summer Search in November 2010 with a background in youth and family services.  Following graduation from Georgetown University, where she studied English and Government, Mary completed two years of volunteer service through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest, first in Hillsboro, OR and later in Bethel, AK.  Moving from rural Alaska to New York City in 2005, Mary worked in homeless services before obtaining an MSW at Hunter College School of Social Work.  Most recently Mary worked at a systems-focused family center in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, supporting families to identify and utilize strengths to increase family stability and to progress toward goals. 

Whitney Childs, Development Associate
wchilds@summersearch.org
Whitney received her B.A. in Africana Studies from New York University in 2011. While working on her degree, her love of travel resulted in semesters abroad in London and Ghana, where she interned as a Peer Education Program Coordinator at the West Africa AIDS Foundation and led after school programs focusing on HIV/AIDS prevention and education among local youth. In New York, she was actively involved in a youth development organization focused on community engagement and creative expression, Art for Global Justice, working in Washington Heights and traveling to Guatemala as the Director of Youth Programs. Her exposure to development began with an internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After graduating, Whitney sought to combine her passion for working with youth-focused nonprofits with her desire to better understand the fundraising aspect of such organizations. Whitney joined the Summer Search team in March 2012 and is thrilled to be working with such an inspiring organization.

Jason Choi, Program Manager
jchoi@summersearch.org
Jason received a BS in Computer Engineering from the University of Florida in 2003. Acting on the desire to help people directly, he switched gears to become a Math teacher at a junior high and high school in central Florida. After obtaining his MA in Math Education, Jason went on to teach at Valencia College in Orlando for three years. Getting a better understanding of these students' lives inspired him to seek an opportunity to work with individuals outside of the classroom. Jason moved to New York and joined the Summer Search team in November 2011, where he is thrilled to be working with this incredible group of students and staff.

Jené Toussaint, Program Manager
jtoussaint@summersearch.org
Jené joined Summer Search June 2010 with a background in community organizing and a commitment to understanding history, culture and the impact of racism on individuals and communities. Born in New York City and raised in upstate New York, Jené graduated from Brandeis University with a double major in Politics and Philosophy. After working as a trainer at Partnership for the Homeless, she attended Hunter College School of Social Work where she received an MSW concentrating in Community Organization and Planning. Her time at Hunter College was highlighted by her organizing work around popular education and anti-racist principles, which increased her commitment to social justice. More recently Jené educated and empowered youth throughout New York City to lower their tolerance for all forms of violence and discrimination on their school campuses and in their communities through her work with Day One and the Healthy Teen Relationships Coalition.

Kathleen Clancy, Associate Director
kclancy@summersearch.org
Kathleen received a B.A. in Early Childhood Education with a focus on Family Studies from Miami University. While working on her degree, she helped create a program that mentored low-income junior high and high school youth in the area. She also worked part-time as a low and high ropes course facilitator for Miami University’s Outdoor Pursuit Center. After graduation, Kathleen worked part-time as a mentor and a director of mentorship for the same program while teaching pre-school. Following her time in Ohio, Kathleen worked for two years as a Classroom Facilitator for Project SUCCESS, a youth development non-profit organization based in Minneapolis. Kathleen’s love of exploring other cultures and the outdoors has taken her to multiple European countries, Mexico, the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and Canada, and an Outward Bound trip to Colorado. Through her multiple experiences with a diverse population of youth, Kathleen has realized her passion for working with young people. Kathleen joined the Summer Search team in June, 2007 and is excited to be a part of such an amazing organization.

Emily FitzGerald, Director of College Success & Alumni Relations
efitzgerald@summersearch.org
Emily received a B.A. in Classical Languages from Hamilton College in 2000. After graduating, she served in AmeriCorps as a Literacy Tutor at an elementary school in Oakland, CA. During her year of service, she taught environmental education and helped start an after-school program. Her love of languages and curiosity led her to the jungle town of Iquitos, Peru, where she taught English in two schools along the Amazon River. Prior to joining Summer Search in 2007, Emily spent five years with NYC Audubon as the Membership Director and Development Associate. In her spare time, she volunteers as a trip leader for the Sierra Club's Inner City Outings. As a native New Yorker, Emily is excited to be working with students in her hometown.

Sonia Gonzalez, College Access Coordinator
sonia@summersearch.org
In 2002, Sonia graduated from SUNY Purchase, with a BA in sociology and a minor in political science. Throughout high school and college, she was fortunate to have a great support system that helped her in every way imaginable. Coming from a very similar background to that of most Summer Search students, she knew from the beginning that she wanted to become a pillar in her community. For the past ten years, she has been that pillar in a TRIO Upward Bound Program. During her tenure in Upward Bound, she helped countless at-risk youth graduate from high school and enter college. She is very passionate about the work she does and is excited to be able to share her passion and college-readiness skills with the students and team at Summer Search.

Ann Jankie, Program Associate
ajankie@summersearch.org
Ann received a B.A. in Child Development and Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies from Tufts University. While at Tufts, she worked as a research assistant for the Urban and Environmental Planning Department.She was also part of an on-campus organization, Emerging Black Leaders, which mentored high school students in the surrounding neighborhood to help prepare them for college. Ann later gained the opportunity to work on a clinical research study exploring the effects of neurofeedback treatment on adolescent depression. Ann joined the Summer Search team in January 2013 and is excited to work with such inspiring students and staff.

Jill Kunkel, Grants Specialist
jkantrowitz@summersearch.org
Jill received a B.A. in Psychology-Sociology from Wesleyan University in 1998 and a M.A. in Public Health in Health Behavior from The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill in 2005. Following Wesleyan, Jill worked as a Health Educator, and then the Director of Education and Training both at the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. In graduate school, Jill worked in the North Carolina Department of Correction providing medication adherence counseling to prisoners living with HIV/AIDS. Jill joined Summer Search as a Program Associate in 2006, and became the Grants Specialist in 2009, helping the development team more than double foundation revenue over the last five years. Jill completed a NOLS semester course in Mexico in 1994.

Naima Fine Iles, Program Associate
Naima@summersearch.org

Naima is a San Francisco native and received her B.A in Creative Writing and Education from the New School. During her studies, Naima travelled to Costa Rica and Brazil where she studied Black Consciousness movements in Latin America and worked in the only classroom in the Favela that served forty students from the ages of 6 to 13 years old. After graduating from the New School, Naima worked at Global Kids where she led eight students to the Dominican Republic to advocate for children’s rights and the end to racism and machismo in the Bateys. Naima then moved on to become a College Counselor and Advisor at Brooklyn Bridge Academy for three years before joining Summer Search.

Gizzel Edmund, Program Associate
gedmund@summersearch.org
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Gizzel received a Bachelors in Sociology in 2009 and Master’s Degree in Community Mental Health Counseling in May of 2012 from St. Bonaventure University. Gizzel was a HEOP student during undergrad and moved on to be the HEOP Graduate Assistant. Gizzel believes that the opportunities given through HEOP is the reason she is who she is today. Gizzel played Club Rugby all 4 years at St. Bonaventure and during graduate school became the advisor and volunteer coach. Gizzel regrets not taking the opportunities to study abroad but spent a lot of time involved in the diversity initiative on campus as a member of and speaker for the Black Student Union, Spectrum (gay-straight alliance) and the Diversity Committee. Before joining the Summer Search team, Gizzel was the Senior Counselor/Recruiter for the Upward Bound Program housed at the University of Massachusetts – Boston. Gizzel joined the team in November 2013 and continues to be excited about joining Summer Search.

Rich Robinson, Program Associate
rrobinson@summersearch.org 
In 2008, Richard graduated from Dickinson College with a B.A. in American Studies. Soon after Richard returned to his native Harlem leading an after-school program for Special Needs Students before joining Harlem Children Zone as a Student Advocate. Continuing to seek new ways to engage young people and expand horizons Richard moved to join the Posse Foundation working as a Trainer for the Posse Los Angeles office. With a passion for competing in and performing Spoken Word, Richard has consistently worked and volunteered throughout his various professional tenures as a Teaching Artist leading scores of young people and adults in writing/performance poetry exercises. Richard joined the Summer Search team in November 2013 and is incredibly thrilled to be working with such awe-inspiring students. 

Carmen Melillo, Program Associate
cmelillo@summersearch.org 
Carmen is a 2009 graduate of Wesleyan University holding a BA in Middle Eastern History and Theatre Studies. He has been working with youth in education and the arts since he was 18. He holds particular interests in the subjects of education policy, income/social inequality, and students with learning differences. He believes strongly in the value of creating and supporting intersections between community, education, government and non-profits in the pursuit of equal opportunity and social justice. In his spare time he enjoys food, fitness activities, theatre, and nerdy RPGs.



Breeana Moore, Operations Assistant
bmoore@summersearch.org
Breeana is a proud Summer Search NYC alumna from the class of 2006. She graduated from Brown University in 2010 with a double major in Political Science and Ethnic Studies. After college, she attended graduate school in China through Johns Hopkins SAIS at the Hopkins Nanjing Center where she took law, political and economic courses taught completely in Mandarin by Chinese professors. After receiving a graduate certificate in Chinese and American Studies from SAIS, she worked in Beijing for a summer and attended Korean-language courses taught in Mandarin. Upon returning to the US, Breeana held several political and educational internships, and enthusiastically joined the Summer Search New York City team in April 2013. She is excited to offer operational support to the team, speak with students as a staff member and fellow Summer Searcher, reconnect with alumni and give back to an organization she loves in a new way. Her hobbies include travel, shopping at health food stores and spending time with family and peers at church.

 

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