Staff

Director of Development

Juliet Buder

(212) 430-6026

Juliet joined Oliver Scholars in 2016 and brings over nine years of experience in the nonprofit field; she has spent the past five years fundraising in the education sector. Most recently, she served as the Development Officer at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School. Prior to Juliet’s time in New York City, she worked as the Development Manager at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School in Washington, D.C. Juliet is passionate about increasing access to education for all individuals, and she believes that philanthropy can transform an organization and the community served by it. She holds a B.A. from Duke University and an M.S.W. from Catholic University.

Senior Communications & Marketing Strategist

Gail Cooper

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Gail Cooper is a writer, researcher, and visual producer who has worked across a wide variety of nonprofit organizations including the Ford Foundation, International Rescue Committee, Human Rights Watch, and, most recently, Re:Gender. She also has extensive experience developing projects that stimulate new ways of thinking about the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and social equity within the U.S. and abroad.

Scholar Success Dean

Masiel Encarnación

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Masiel Encarnación received her bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has spent her career serving youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. Before coming to Oliver, Masiel was the director of a college access program at Raw Art Works in Lynn, MA. The community she served was one of the most dangerous in the state, with over 30 gangs and nearly half of all violent crime being gang-related. During her time at RAW she effectively created and facilitated programming in a multiple of topic areas relevant to students of color and their families. Masiel is a proud Afro-Latina who’s also passionate about fitness and social justice.

Assistant Director of Admissions & Placement

Alex Fernández ’11

(212) 430-5980 x1131

Alex is an Alumnus of Oliver Scholars. He graduated from Concord Academy in 2011 and Dickinson College in 2015, with a BA in sociology. While in high school and college, he engaged in mentoring and guiding his peers in his roles as a Resident Adviser and a member of Scroll and Key, a group of male seniors brought together in their final year to give back to the community and leave a positive impact. Prior to joining Oliver Scholars in September 2016, Alex worked as a Paralegal Casehandler for The Legal Aid Society. Alex believes that without Oliver, he would not be where he is today and is grateful to have the opportunity to give back and recruit future Scholars.

Assistant Director of Admissions & Placement

Leovanny Fernández ’10

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Leovanny is an Alumnus of Oliver Scholars, graduating from Brooklyn Friends School in 2010 and Bowdoin College in 2014, with a B.A. in Government and Legal Studies. He has demonstrated continuous involvement with Oliver after completing the program, including as a summer counselor and as a member of the Junior Board. His wide breadth of interests is not limited to social justice causes; you might find him rock climbing in the Gunks or at Brooklyn Boulders, building a website in a café, or even visiting Hong Kong. After working for over a year in administration at the Corlears School, Leovanny joined Oliver Scholars in November 2016. He is excited to join the team and is looking forward to giving back to the community that he feels gave so much to him.

Alumni Relations Manager

Heidi Idrovo

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Heidi Idrovo joined the Oliver team in March 2014. A native New Yorker, Heidi attended CUNY Lehman, majoring in English Literature with in a minor in Multimedia Journalism. After receiving her undergraduate degree, Heidi worked as a Visitor Services Representative for the South Street Seaport Museum giving tours, assisting in the maintenance of its collections and spreading the word on the importance of preserving New York’s historic landmarks.

Director of Board Relations & Special Events

Amanda Johnson

(212) 430-6027

Amanda Johnson joined Oliver Scholars in 2013. Originally from the Boston area, Amanda holds a BA in Art History from Drew University and an MA in Applied Linguistics from Teachers College, Columbia University. Amanda taught English and developmental writing at the college level before transitioning into the nonprofit sector. She spent six years at Figure Skating in Harlem, first as Assistant Skating Director and Academic Coordinator, and then as Director of Programming. Amanda’s work with underrepresented students earned her Drew University’s 2014 Young Alumni Achievement Award. In her spare time, Amanda serves as a mentor with Of Home, Family, and Future, an organization that helps students from the foster care system succeed in college. Amanda also works as a coach with Central Park Ice, the largest synchronized skating program in New York City.

Interim Director of Admissions and Placement

Bridget Johnson

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Prior to taking this role, Bridget served as the former Associate Executive Director of Prep for Prep, where she was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the program. Before joining Prep, Bridget served for five years as the Dean of Students at Milton Academy. Prior to Milton, Bridget worked as the Associate Director of Admissions at Episcopal High School in Northern Virginia. Bridget is the Co-Founder of the Deans’ Roundtable, a conference for independent school professionals in its 7th year. A native of Greensboro, N.C., she earned her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University.

Admissions & Placement Counselor

Michael Kiel

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Michael Kiel joined Oliver Scholars in September 2017. He grew up near Houston, Texas and moved to New York State in 2010 to attend Vassar College in Poughkeepsie. Michael graduated with a double major in German and Geography, concentrating on issues of power in urban and international development. After school, he moved to New York City, where he worked as an immigration paralegal and volunteered at an ESL nonprofit. For two years after, Michael was an English teaching assistant through the Fulbright Austria program. In between school years, he taught for a summer in Kyrgyzstan, and has now returned to the U.S. to continue working in education. He is honored to serve the people of New York and to help make education more accessible for all. He enjoys drawing sharks, learning foreign languages, cooking, skiing, and rugby.

Operations & Office Manager

Rey McFarlane

(212) 430-5980 x1133

Rey comes to Oliver Scholars with more than 20 years of experience in operations and office management. A native of Panama, Rey served in the US Armed Services, and attended San Diego State University, where he majored in Business Management. He worked at Michael Kors from 2005 to 2017, the last seven years of that time as Office Service Supervisor and the Corporate Facilities Coordinator.

Database Manager

Elmer Meza

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Elmer joined the team in June 2016. After earning his AB from Dartmouth College in 2010, he spent a year in Shanghai, China learning Mandarin Chinese. Since then he’s picked up a few more languages, including his current favorite, JavaScript. He is excited to leverage his web development and data management skills to assist in welcoming new Scholars.

Development & Special Events Manager

Sabrina Paul

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Sabrina holds a Master of Public Administration from Wichita State University and a B.S. in Biology from the State University of New York at Fredonia. In addition to her MPA, she also earned a graduate certificate in non-profit management. Sabrina enjoys working with kids and non-profit organizations, in particular those that support educational access for underrepresented populations. While working on her graduate degree, she interned for several organizations focused on early-childhood development services and in-school mentorship programs for low-income students. Prior to Oliver, Sabrina served as Program Coordinator for one of three Managed-Care Organizations in Kansas, focused on improving health outcomes and quality of life for at-risk and disadvantaged populations.

Scholar Success Dean

Francisco Peña

(212) 430-5980 x1115

Francisco Peña was born and raised in the Inwood section of New York City. He transferred to Dumont High School when he and his family moved to New Jersey. Francisco went on to receive his BA in 2010 from Rutgers University with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Labor Studies. During his time at Rutgers, Francisco dedicated countless hours volunteering as a tutor for local elementary school students in the city of New Brunswick. After graduation, Francisco joined the Washington Heights-Inwood Coalition as a youth counselor primarily focusing on the development of problem-solving skills in children between the ages of 6 - 11. Francisco is very passionate about education.

Finance & HR Associate

Carmen Pimentel

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Carmen joined Oliver Scholars in May 2016. Prior to that she interned at a mid-size New York City accounting firm, which taught her how to apply accounting concepts to real case scenarios. Carmen also interned at the Office of the New York City Comptroller. Working in the public sector enabled her to work closely with the Comptroller’s representatives investigating and evaluating financial settlements of claims against the city of New York. For the last three years, she has worked for a startup fashion company, which has helped her gain valuable experience in general bookkeeping as well as business operations. Carmen earned a degree in Business Administration from Baruch College, and she is currently enrolled at Hunter College pursuing a degree in Accounting. In her free time, Carmen does community service work. Last winter, she volunteered with VITA, an IRS program that helps low-income New Yorkers to prepare their individual tax returns.

Interim CEO

Chantal Stevens

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With 18 years of experience in education, Chantal N. Stevens has worked with students from kindergarten through college. She joined the Oliver Scholars team in 2017 as Vice President of Programs and Operations. Prior to joining Oliver, Chantal served as the Executive Director of the GO Project, and before that as the National Director of Programs at A Better Chance. For seven years Chantal worked at the City University of New York (CUNY). First, as a Special Project Coordinator on a joint initiative between the University and New York City’s Office for Human Resources Administration, and then as the Assistant Director for Recruitment and Admissions Counseling at The City College of New York.

Chantal holds a BA in Political Science and a MSEd in Higher Education Administration from Bernard M. Baruch College. An active member of her community, Chantal is a former Board Member of St. Mark the Evangelist School where she served for 5 years. Since 2008, Chantal has served as an Advisory Board Member of the National Partnership for Educational Access and is currently a Member of the Vestry of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church.

Director of Administration

Sharon Sturrup

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Sharon has more than 20 years senior HR experience. Prior to joining Oliver, Sharon served as Human Resources Manager for HSBC, Assistant Director of Human Resources for Mitchell Titus LLP (formerly a member firm of Ernst & Young), and Talent Manager for Exchange for International Studies in Washington D.C. Most recently, she was a Human Resources Business Partner at Black Forest Acres in Hamilton, N.J. Sharon holds a B.S. from Lehman College in Management Information Systems and an M.S. in Human Resource Management from The New School. She has served as a guest lecturer at New York University on corporate HR communications. She is also a keen volunteer with other education-related causes, including serving as a College Success Coach for Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF).

Director of Scholar Success

Brook Wolcott

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Prior to joining Oliver Scholars, Brook spent seven years working to support access to higher education. Beginning in 2012, he operated the Los Angeles-based independent college-counseling firm, Decoding Admissions, LLC. Brook and his team worked with students from across the country and around the world to help them gain admission to some of the country’s best colleges. Also, since late 2016, Brook has served as the college guidance consultant for Young Eisner Scholars and their 124 students. He has prior experience as both a financial advisor and an educational fundraiser. A native of upstate New York, Brook is a graduate of Hamilton College and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics.