Philadelphia Leadership Directory

Choose a menu item below to meet our teams

Jillian Lacey

Jillian Lacey

Program Associate

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers. Jillian is a passionate educator and advocate for...

 
Jillian Lacey

Jillian Lacey

Position: Program Associate
Email: jlacey@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers.

Jillian is a passionate educator and advocate for youth empowerment, having spent most of her adult life connecting with, learning from, and supporting young people in various classroom and community spaces across Boston, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis. Jillian is excited to join the Summer Search Philadelphia team and eager to contribute her skills and passion to serve the Summer Search mission and make a lasting impact on the lives of young people.

 

Proudly born and raised in Southeastern Minnesota, Jillian earned a BFA in Photography from Viterbo University and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Minnesota. Outside of work, she enjoys knitting, cooking, and walking around Philadelphia.

Kristie Loftus

Deputy Director of Development

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers. Kristie believes passionately in providing equal access to...

 

Kristie Loftus

Position: Deputy Director of Development
Email: kloftus@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers.

Kristie believes passionately in providing equal access to educational opportunities.

Prior to joining Summer Search, Kristie led development efforts for Breakthrough Greater Boston, an educational non-profit providing out-of-school time programming, and City on a Hill Charter Public Schools, a charter school network in Boston and New Bedford. It was through City on a Hill students who were involved with Summer Search that she first began her admiration for the organization ten years before joining the team.

Kristie holds a B.A. in Sociology from Villanova University. Outside of the office, she can be found running, snowboarding, and having a blast with her husband and two boys. She and her family live in Milton.

DR. GRETCHEN MIELKE

Post-Secondary Director

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers. Dr. Gretchen Mielke is the post-secondary director for...

 

DR. GRETCHEN MIELKE

Position: Post-Secondary Director

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers.

Dr. Gretchen Mielke is the post-secondary director for Summer Search Philadelphia. Gretchen joins Summer Search with more than 15 years of experience in higher education focused on experiential learning, civic engagement, student development and local-to-global partnerships. Gretchen is passionate about access to education, fostering civic values and career pathways, forging deep partnerships, and training the next generation of change agents and purposeful professionals.

Previously, Gretchen served as the executive director of The Philadelphia Center, a fifty-five-year-old domestic study away center and internship semester. There she worked with faculty, and staff to bring college students from around the country to live, learn and work in Philadelphia. Students explored issues of race, equity and inclusion, urban economics, and gained work experience in 32 hour per week internships in the Greater Philadelphia region. Gretchen oversaw strategic planning, a marketing rebrand, a center build and relocation, and data reporting. Gretchen fostered relationships with key academic partners and external stakeholders including alumni, an advisory board, local employers, higher education institutional partners, and the state of PA.

As the former assistant dean for civic engagement at Widener University, Gretchen led the university’s civic initiatives including cultivating and sustaining meaningful, reciprocal partnerships with community organizations, supporting faculty’s experiential learning efforts including service-learning, community-based research and political engagement, designing and overseeing cohort scholarship students, and leading ongoing civic evaluation efforts.  Gretchen’s additional previous roles included: the manager of general education, academic living learning assessment at American University, the assistant director of academic community engagement and global partnership consultant at Siena College, and program associate at the Bonner Foundation. Gretchen also was a Fulbright grantee in South Korea.

Gretchen holds an Ed.D in higher education leadership from Widener University, a Master’s in international affairs from American University and a Bachelor’s of Arts in American Studies from Dickinson College. Her hobbies include going to the library, reading, watching HGTV and raising two little boys with her husband and dogs. Gretchen is also a lifelong advocate for neurodiverse children and adults.

Tolulope Oladele

Director of Outreach and High School Program

Pronouns: He/Him/His. Tolulope’s passion, obsession, and ambition is to empower...

 

Tolulope Oladele

Position: Director of Outreach and High School Program
Email: toladele@summersearch.org

Pronouns: He/Him/His.

Tolulope’s passion, obsession, and ambition is to empower underserved youth to be the best version of themselves. Ultimately, what drives Tolulope is helping youth be what people said they couldn’t. Tolulope hopes to bring a unique background of engaging youth in various roles: mentor, coach, and advocate to Summer Search.

Before Summer Search, Tolulope served as a Heinz Fellow for the Heinz Endowments in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Heinz Fellowship placed ten recent African American college graduates in high-needs high schools in the Pittsburgh school district to serve as mentors, tutors and role models for high school African American males. Along with working at a school full-time, Tolulope pursued graduate studies and received a Master’s in Organizational Leadership at Robert Morris University in 2015.

Tolulope, a Questbridge Scholar received a B.A. in Religion from Haverford College in 2013. Tolulope likes to spend his free time coaching a middle school track and field team, playing chess, and debating about why every single New York City sports team is the best.

Imani Palmer

Program Associate

(Pronounced E-mah-knee) She/Her/Y’all Imani is a former Summer Searcher and...

 

Imani Palmer

Position: Program Associate
Email: ipalmer@summersearch.org

(Pronounced E-mah-knee)

She/Her/Y’all

Imani is a former Summer Searcher and native Philadelphian who is dedicated to contributing to the growth of the city that made her – starting with its youth. Since high school, she has worked in several roles with students infant aged to adolescents including her work as a private tutor, student liaison, and poetry workshop facilitator. Upon the completion of her B.A. from Albright College, Imani continued to devote her time to Philadelphia’s charter and independent schools as an educator and school leader.

Imani is inspired by and values the power of community and self-expression. She is the product of what a strong and committed village can do for a child. Her goal is to not only to be the change she wishes to see in her community but to also encourage students to develop relationships with their futures and inner selves so they may do the same.

In her free time, she enjoys writing poetry, painting, baking, listening to podcasts, taking road trips, walking and completing DIY home improvement projects.

Imani is proud to return to the program that she believes changed the trajectory of her life and introduced her to international travel and living abroad. She hopes to continue the legacy of inspiring change with the Summer Search community.

Sydney Salley

Program Manager

Sydney believes in the power of mentoring and support systems....

 

Sydney Salley

Position: Program Manager

Sydney believes in the power of mentoring and support systems. She is grounded by the belief that with the help of effective mentoring students can become aware of their potential and take power over their lives and decisions. She is motivated by the philosophy of living well and living intentionally. She understands the impact of giving students a chance to see things outside of their neighborhoods and how that helps students become aware of how limitless this world is. She is a firm believer in pursuing your passion and believes that students do not have to put themselves in a box and can carve out a lane for themselves.

Sydney graduated from Delaware State University with a B.A. in Integrated Studies with focus areas in Education and Psychology. While attending DSU she became a mentor to incoming freshman and completed 2 study abroad trips, these experiences are what fuel her outlook on life today. Sydney worked as support staff for the School District of Philadelphia before landing a job at Summer Search and is currently working towards a M.S. in Instructional Design and Learning Technology at Anderson University.

In her free time she enjoys traveling, planning events and watching documentaries.

Muffy Torres

Senior Program Associate

Pronouns: She/They/Elle. Muffy is inspired by the light within every...

 

Muffy Torres

Position: Senior Program Associate

Pronouns: She/They/Elle.

Muffy is inspired by the light within every individual and allowing it the space to shine at its full potential. She is invested in values of accessibility, expression, and justice. Muffy believes in the power of community and how every person, no matter their background, has something beautiful to offer. Learning and unlearning, they find the principles of Summer Search heavily aligned with their own.

Muffy has a B.A. in Political Science, with minors in economics and communication, from La Salle University. During their time in college, they invested their passion in resistance, service, and mentoring via AmeriCorps. Through an unconventional path, she took a hiatus from school to work on the US-Mexico border in El Paso,TX, where she worked alongside undocumented families and shaped an entirely different perspective. After returning and earning her degree, she has devoted her life to the communities she belongs to.

With a camera or paintbrush in her hand, Muffy is always trying to envision a new world, filled with kindness and lots of color!

Orneno Wright

ORNENO WRIGHT-THREATS

Program Associate

Orneno Wright-Threats (She/Her/Hers). Orneno (pronounced O-nay-no) is passionate about working...

 
Orneno Wright

ORNENO WRIGHT-THREATS

Position: Program Associate
Email: owright@summersearch.org

Orneno Wright-Threats (She/Her/Hers).

Orneno (pronounced O-nay-no) is passionate about working with youth and believes in the power that young people have to transform their world, especially when they have access to life-changing experiences and adults that are invested in their personal development. She has worked in youth development and education for over a decade and has held many roles including after-school program facilitator, mentor, writing workshop instructor, and career coach. In Mbube, a Nigerian language, Orneno’s name means happiness and joy, and that is the energy she strives to bring to all her interactions with students.

Orneno graduated from Grambling State University with her B.A. in Mass Communications and from Rosemont College with her M.A. in Publishing. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, listening to podcasts, visiting museums, and binge watching the latest Netflix show. She is a Chicago native who has lived in the Philadelphia area for over a decade.

Jen Weikert, Philadelphia Executive Director

Jen Weikert

Executive Director, Philadelphia

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers. Jen Weikert is a mission-driven social impact leader,...

 
Jen Weikert, Philadelphia Executive Director

Jen Weikert

Position: Executive Director, Philadelphia
Email: jweikert@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers.

Jen Weikert is a mission-driven social impact leader, fundraiser, and strategic problem solver with more than twenty years of experience leading and advising local, regional, and national nonprofits.

Prior to her role at Summer Search Philadelphia, Jen was the Executive Director of Covenant House Pennsylvania, a $6M non-profit committed to providing shelter and supportive services to young adults who are experiencing homelessness. In this role, Jen steered the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic, scaled and diversified revenue, enhanced the organization’s continuum of housing and services, and kicked off construction of a new 12-unit housing and administrative facility in Philadelphia.

Jen has also served as Executive Director for College Possible Philadelphia and Chief Development Officer for Children’s Literacy Initiative, two organizations that helped students from low-income backgrounds use education as a lever to reduce inequality and open up opportunities. She was an adjunct professor at Temple University.

A first-generation college student, Jen received her MA from the University College Cork Ireland and BA from La Salle University. She resides in Philadelphia with her husband and son.

Ebriel Livingston

Ebriel Livingston

Program Associate

Pronouns: She/Her Ebriel Livingston was raised in West Philadelphia and...

 
Ebriel Livingston

Ebriel Livingston

Position: Program Associate
Email: ELivingston@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/Her

Ebriel Livingston was raised in West Philadelphia and is a graduate of the Philadelphia High School of Creative and Performing Arts. A trained dancer, musical theatre performer, and a self-taught visual artist. Ebriel then graduated from Rosemont College with a B.A. in Communication and Sociology. She is living a life full of creativity, education, and wellness and is passionate about centering those values for those who can benefit from it. She has also spent considerable time employed at the University of Penn planning commencement ceremonies and alumni events.

After College, she spent five years in New York City working in a variety of creative roles from fashion week hair stylist to an inner-city gardener in Brooklyn. She moved back to Philadelphia to ground herself in her passion which she discovered over time is healing community. Ebriel is a doula as well as a licensed cosmetologist as she learned the art of listening and supporting from being behind the hairstylist chair. “The Hairdresser is the therapist of the Community”

Philadelphia Native but a global citizen at heart. She enjoys traveling to the Caribbean and spending time at the seaside. She has been to Haiti, Trinidad, Honduras, Belize, Bahamas, Mexico, the Virgin Islands, and Jamaica. She dreams of visiting Africa one day soon!

Join Our Staff

  • Comprehensive, professional training
  • Paid mentorship and staff positions
  • Dynamic program that grows with students as they progress