Philadelphia Leadership Directory
Choose a menu item below to meet our teams
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.
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.
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 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-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.
Nicole Mejia – Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Nicole is passionate about encouraging young people to dream big when it comes to their future, and she strives to be a mentor and resource for them as they achieve their goals. Her personal experiences navigating the education system as a first-generation college student and daughter of immigrants showed her the significant impact mentors and culturally relevant resources have on historically underserved students. As a result, Nicole committed herself to giving back the same support and services that allowed her to experience lots of personal, educational, and professional growth. She has always been motivated to explore diversity and social justice as it relates to education, and she is very proud and excited to serve as Summer Search’s Career Navigator and Internship Coordinator.
Nicole graduated from the University of Delaware with an Honors B.S. in Elementary Education and teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), and a Master’s through the university’s 4+1 Program. She is a proud alumnus of the McNair Scholars Program. In her free time, she enjoys working out, eating at her favorite food spots in Delaware, designing graphics, and watching Netflix.
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.
DR. GRETCHEN K. MIELKE
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.
Lorenzo Cannon-Umstead,a Philadelphia native, has been doing meaningful work in the city of Philadelphia, since around his junior year of high school. Lorenzo is a graduate of West Philadelphia Catholic School. He studied abroad in both high school and college. Lorenzo has worked in youth development, voter registration and a few electoral campaigns. Now, he wants help students along a pathway upward mobility. In his spare time, Lorenzo loves to create online content and podcasting pertaining to everything from sports to entertainment to politics. He loves his family, community and city, and will continue to dedicate himself to education.