Our Team

Amee Naik, Senior Director of High School Programs

B.A. in Psychology, Washington University in St. LouisM.A. in Child and Adolescent Development, Tufts UniversityAmee joined Breakthrough Greater Boston in 2009. As the Senior Director of High School Programs, Amee oversees all aspects of BTGB’s 9th-12th grade work at our Cambridge and Dorchester campuses to ensure that all students receive the support and resources needed to help them apply for — and be ready for — college. Prior to joining Breakthrough, Amee was an Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Washington University in St. Louis.Amee has amassed quite a few favorite memories during her time at Breakthrough — everything from seeing student alums return to Breakthrough as Teaching Fellows to indulging her love for trivia by playing Jeopardy after school with Breakthrough high school students (and staff).Email: anaik@btgbmail.org

Connor Dalton, Operations Associate

B.A. in Sociology, Boston College

Connor joined the BTGB team in 2018 after previously working as a college intern beginning in 2017.  He is excited to help Breakthrough continue to grow with its first two-person Operations team.  As the Operations Associate, Connor supports the organization through managing day-to-day operations, most specifically finance, human resources, and technology.
Outside of Breakthrough, Connor enjoys playing tennis, watching movies, and exploring restaurants and activities in the Boston area.

Email: cdalton@btgbmail.org

Emma Samler, Director of Development and Partnerships

Bio to come!Email: esamler@btgbmail.org

Jennifer Stange, Director of Operations

B.S. in Business Administration: Finance, Northeastern University

M.Ed. in Education Policy and Management, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Jennifer joined Breakthrough Greater Boston in 2016. As the Director of Operations, Jennifer supports BTGB programs by managing the day-to-day operations including human resources, informational technology, finance, and other administrative duties. Prior to joining Breakthrough, Jennifer was the founding Director of Operations at Brooke Charter School East Boston.

Jennifer’s favorite subject in school was math because she loved the way numbers could be manipulated to tell a story and to solve real problems. Her fascination with numbers has continued throughout her career, and she can often be found working in an Excel spreadsheet.

Email: jstange@btgbmail.org

Lyndsea Arikian, Director of Curriculum and Instruction (Boston)

B.A. in American Studies: Education and International Studies, American University

M.A.T. in Secondary Education, University of North Carolina Charlotte

Lyndsea joined Breakthrough Greater Boston team in 2016. As Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Lyndsea oversees all aspects of teaching and learning for our middle school summer and school-year programs at the Boston campus. Lyndsea is responsible for hiring, training, and supervising Teaching Fellows and Instructional Coaches; ensuring high-quality curriculum and classroom instruction; and evaluating student learning and teacher performance.

Prior to joining Breakthrough, Lyndsea taught middle school English in India on a yearlong Fulbright grant, and was a high school Social Studies teacher for four years in Charlotte, North Carolina. Lyndsea’s hobbies include yoga, movie trivia, escape rooms, and her cat Doodlebug.

Email: larikian@btgbmail.org

Angela O'Donnell, Development Manager

B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies, Boston University and M.S.W., University of Denver

Angela joined Breakthrough Greater Boston in 2019. As Development Manager, Angela manages and writes grants to generate critical funding for the organization and to deepen relationships with a wide variety of partners. Angela is a nonprofit professional with experience that includes mental health counseling, youth development, program development, community outreach, and fundraising. As a daughter of Chinese immigrants, she is passionate about social issues and dedicated to serving disadvantaged populations.

Angela is a fan of crime documentaries, young adult fiction, board game nights, yoga, the Patriots, and the Cleveland Browns.

Email: aodonnell@btgbmail.org

Evan Soken, Director of College Access Programs

B.A. in History, Macalester College

Evan joined Breakthrough Greater Boston in 2017.  As Director of College Access Programs, Evan oversees all supports and programming for 11th and 12th grade students and families in Boston and Cambridge. Through workshops, individual meetings, and connections to academic and test preparation resources, he ensures that Breakthrough students reach their goal of attending college. Prior to joining Breakthrough, he worked as a Senior Access Counselor at Bottom Line, coaching high school seniors through the college application and financial aid processes. Outside of the office, you can find Evan exploring Massachusetts on his bike, hunting for new music, or cooking.

Email: esoken@btgbmail.org

Jennie McDonald-Brown, Somerville Site Director

B.A.in African-American Studies and English, Rollins CollegeM.S.W., Boston College Graduate School of Social WorkM.Ed., Harvard Graduate School of EducationJennie originally joined Breakthrough Greater Boston in 2007 as a Program Intern. She spent four years at Breakthrough before leaving for graduate school. After completing the School Leadership Program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, she became the Founding Assistant Principal at the Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School in Roxbury. After four years at Dudley Street, Jennie transitioned to the Taylor Elementary School in Mattapan where she continued in the role of Assistant Principal. She rejoined the BTGB team in 2017 to lead the expansion into Somerville. As the Somerville Site Director, Jennie oversees all aspects of Breakthrough’s third campus. One of Jennie’s favorite Breakthrough memories is watching the 6th graders her team recruited back in 2008 and 2009 stand in front of the classroom as Teaching Fellows in 2017.Outside of Breakthrough, Jennie spends time cooking and mastering nuanced character voices during story time with her son.Email: jmcdonaldbrown@btgbmail.org

Michael Vallejo, Manager of Student Services (Boston)

B.A in Anthropology, Union College

Michael first became involved with Breakthrough as a Teaching Fellow in the summer of 2015. As Manager of Student Services, Michael oversees all aspects of student and family support services as well as program management for our seventh and eighth-grade school-year and summer programs in Boston. Prior to joining Breakthrough, Michael was a Program Advisor for the College Success Academy with The Steppingstone Foundation.

In his free time, Michael enjoys running, working out, reading, and exploring restaurants in the Boston area.

Email: mvallejo@btgbmail.org

Shoko Fox, Director of Teaching, Learning and Evaluation

B.A. in Political Science and International Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Shoko first became involved with the Breakthrough Collaborative as a teacher at Breakthrough Manchester in the summers of 2006 and 2007. Her experience there led her to pursue a career in education, first at the Teacher Residency program at the MATCH School in Boston, and later as a 7th grade teacher at KIPP DC, a public charter school in Washington DC, where she taught math and science for four years. She is thrilled to be a part of the Breakthrough family again as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction. In this role, Shoko oversees academic programming for our 7th-9th grade students and our Teacher Training Program. She ensures that all students benefit from rigorous, engaging curriculum and effective, differentiated instruction while our teachers are provided the best possible introduction to the field of education.

Outside of Breakthrough, Shoko enjoys cooking, traveling, and taking long walks to explore Boston with her husband and dog.

Email: sfox@btgbmail.org

David Robinson, Director of Curriculum and Instruction

B.A. in Elementary Education and Moderate Special Education from Fitchburg State University

David joined the Breakthrough Greater Boston team in 2019 as Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Cambridge campus. In this role, David oversees all aspects of teaching and learning for our middle school students over the summer and throughout the school year. David works closely with Teaching Fellows and Instructional Coaches to ensure that students receive high-quality curriculum and classroom instruction.

Prior to joining Breakthrough, David taught 5th grade math and science in Cleveland, Ohio with Teach for America. After a few years in Cleveland, David taught 6th and 4th grade math and science at Brooke Charter Schools and Boston Public Schools.

In David’s free time, he enjoys playing basketball, running outside, and playing board games with friends.

Email: drobinson@btgbmail.org

Elissa Spelman, Executive Director

B.S. in Elementary and Special Education, Boston CollegeM.Ed., Harvard Graduate School of Education

Elissa first joined Breakthrough Greater Boston as a Board Member, working actively on the Strategic Planning and Program Committees. She became the Executive Director in 2009 and has since set the vision and guided Breakthrough’s strategic growth into Boston and Somerville (summer 2018). Prior to joining Breakthrough, Elissa was the first Director of the Wellington Management Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting education programs for low-income youth, including some of the affiliate sites of the Breakthrough Collaborative. Elissa has broad experience in the field of education and has also worked with nonprofits focused on foster care, adoption and domestic violence. Elissa began her career as a third grade teacher at the Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester, MA and has taught in a variety of settings.

When not busy at Breakthrough, Elissa spends time with family and friends, enjoys food of all kinds, and volunteers regularly. Her favorite Breakthrough memory is watching our inaugural class of students in Boston fall in love with the Breakthrough traditions, culture, and spirit.

Email: espelman@btgbmail.org

Lauren Hurley, FAO Schwarz Fellow

B.A. in Psychology, Grinnell College

Lauren first became involved with Breakthrough Collaborative as a Teaching Fellow at Breakthrough Norfolk Academy in the summer of 2017. She joined Breakthrough Greater Boston in 2018 as a FAO Schwarz Fellow. Lauren divides her time between providing individualized support for 9th and 10th graders during after-school programming and playing a lead role in launching a new alumni engagement program to engage student and teacher alumni.

In her free time, Lauren enjoys playing soccer and biking around the Somerville area.

Email: lhurley@btgbmail.org

Noelani Gabriel, Director of Student Services (Cambridge)

B.A. in Africana Studies, Cornell University

Noelani first became involved with Breakthrough as a Teaching Fellow in the summers of 2013 and 2014. As Manager of Student Services, Noelani oversees all aspects of student and family support services as well as program management for our seventh and eighth-grade school-year and summer programs in Cambridge. Prior to joining Breakthrough, Noelani was a ninth-grade English Language Arts teacher at Roxbury Prep High School.

In her free time, Noelani enjoys reading, writing, and exploring new restaurants in Boston and Cambridge.

Email: ngabriel@btgbmail.org

Paulina Murton, Senior Director of Middle School Programs

B.A. in American Literature, Middlebury College

M.A.T., Brown University

Paulina joined Breakthrough Greater Boston in 2014. As Senior Director of Middle School Programs, Paulina oversees Breakthrough’s academic programming for 7th and 8th grade students at our Cambridge and Dorchester campuses, ensuring that students develop a love for learning as well as the skills necessary to be successful in college and beyond. She also supports Breakthrough’s Teacher Training program, working to ensure our young teachers are prepared and inspired to enter the field of education. Prior to joining the Breakthrough Greater Boston team, Paulina worked as a director at Breakthrough Austin as well as a high school English teacher.

Paulina’s favorite Breakthrough memories often center around the amazing end of summer celebration event — the student work showcase, the testimonials, the cheers, the proud families and the clear bond between students and Teaching Fellows make it an unforgettable night each summer!

Email: pmurton@btgbmail.org