Associate Board

The Breakthrough Greater Boston Associate Board (AB) is comprised of young professionals in the greater Boston area who are dedicated to Breakthrough’s work to create educational equity. Members of the AB play an integral role in achieving Breakthrough’s mission by serving as important ambassadors in the community. The AB is a volunteer group that works closely with the Executive Director, Board of Directors’ Governance Committee and Breakthrough staff.  

Alita Edelman (Associate Board Member-at-Large)

Alita currently works in Customer Success at mParticle, a mobile data management platform provider based in NYC. Previously, she led Account Management at Skyhook Wireless, and earlier worked at companies including Fiksu and Fidelity. Alita earned her BA from Smith College, and her MSc from the London School of Economics.

Alita has always been passionate about education and equal access, particularly for underserved populations. She has been a Fellow at the Bronx Lab School in New York, as well as a Widening Participation Mentor in London. Alita is delighted to serve as Co-Chair of the Associate Board and looks forward to furthering and broadening Breakthrough’s critical work and mission.

Heather Jankins

Heather currently works at Kyruus, a Boston-based, physician-led tech company committed to matching patients to the provider that is best suited to their needs. Prior to Kyruus, Heather worked for a number of hospital systems in the Boston area. Heather earned her B.A. from Dartmouth College.

While at Dartmouth, Heather came to realize how a background that encourages learning and academic success is critical to college acceptance and long term success. Heather became interested in Breakthrough after attending a number of community events - the enthusiasm the students showed for academics convinced Heather that BTGB is a unique and incredibly powerful program.

Jessye Smith (Associate Board Member-at-Large)

Jessye Smith graduated from the University of Vermont with a B.Sc. double major in Chemistry and Sociology. While attending the university he was heavily involved with the on-campus volunteer organization, Volunteers in Action (VIA). Here, Jessye served as both coordinator of the Prison Project, which among educational and outreach services also created the first inmate produced and published newsletter, The Insider, which was recognized with an innovation in publishing award, and the Vermont Children's Magazine, teaching 2nd and 3rd graders creative writing and art while publishing quarterly magazines of their chosen works.

Upon graduation Jessye began his career as an analytical chemist working for one of the world’s leading biotech companies. Transitioning to management, Jessye oversaw the testing and release of life saving therapies for patients afflicted with rare diseases. Most recently, Jessye accepted the position of Manager of the Bio-Analytical Chemistry department at Biogen Idec, leading a team developing potentially groundbreaking new treatments in the areas of MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Jessye became interested in getting involved with Breakthrough upon learning about their mission to challenge and prepare students to attend college. Being the beneficiary of an esteemed full academic scholarship, Jessye has always been an advocate of comprehensive access to higher education. In his leisure, Jessye enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and playing softball.

Jon Wu (Associate Board Member-at-Large)

Jon is a second year MBA at Harvard Business School who wishes he were a first year MBA at Harvard Business School. Once upon a time he was a strategy intern for Denver Public Schools which ignited his passion for education. He then worked on behalf of Fortune 500 companies as a consultant in Greenwich, CT but realized he could do the same job but work with CEO’s instead of middle managers. That realization led him to Bain Capital in Boston and it was a hop skip and a jump from there before getting introduced to Breakthrough Greater Boston on a summer program visit. Jon is as passionate about educational equity as he is about private equity, and he enjoys cycling, rock climbing and skiing in his free time.

Kolleen Burbank, Co-Chair

Kolleen came to be a part of the Breakthrough community in the summer of 2008, when she taught 7th grade math with the program. She returned in 2009 as an 8th grade environmental service learning teacher and member of the leadership team. Since graduating from Dartmouth in 2009, Kolleen has found her niche in working with students. She spent a year running an AmeriCorps academic program for middle school students in rural New Hampshire, a year researching ADHD at Tufts Medical Center, and finally decided her true passion was in the classroom.

She received a Master's from Harvard School of Education in 2012. Throughout the past three years Kolleen has remained connected with Breakthrough in a number of ways, from recruiter to test proctor. The community she first felt at Breakthrough Greater Boston deeply influenced her values on education and Kolleen is now thrilled to be teaching 8th grade English Language Arts teacher in the Cambridge Public Schools.

Melanie Cannon

Melanie currently works at MassChallenge, the world's largest startup accelerator and competition, as the Startup Services Manager. Melanie builds relationships and fosters a collaborative community with entrepreneurs, staff, interns, and community partners every day. Her fascination with the growing startup ecosystem in Boston and passion to help others succeed is what drew her to MassChallenge, and eventually Breakthrough.

Melanie was first introduced to Breakthrough through a current Associate Board member at the 2015 Spring Gala. Hearing the student testimonials and learning more about what the organization does is what inspired her to become involved with BTGB.​

Melanie graduated from Fairfield University with a B.A. in Professional Writing in 2012. Outside of work, Melanie enjoys traveling the world and spending time with friends.

Michael O’Leary (Associate Board Member-at-Large)

Michael O’Leary joined Breakthrough in the spring of 2009, when he taught literature and science in Cambridge. Having spent 11 summers as a camper and counselor at Camp Dudley on Lake Champlain, he was excited to bring his energy to the classroom. Since working with Breakthrough, he’s continued to be involved in nonprofit education. Most recently, he’s tutored SAT math and critical reading with Let’s Get Ready!, a non-profit SAT and college prep program based in Boston.

Michael currently works as a Senior Associate at Bain Capital Double Impact, the social impact investment arm of Bain Capital. He graduated from Harvard College in 2012 with a concentration in Philosophy.

Michael Protasewich

Mike is currently on the founding team of a Boston-based tech startup. He was previously a Manager in the Advisory Services practice of Ernst & Young LLP.

Mike studied at Boston College and received a B.S. in Finance and Corporate Reporting. While at BC Mike was involved in volunteer initiatives including Youth Opportunity Boston through the PULSE program, Habitat for Humanity and the Appalachia Service Project. He continued to serve the Boston community while at EY through his involvement in Junior Achievement.

Mike’s involvement with Breakthrough Greater Boston began in 2014 when he became interested and inspired by the student testimonials at the Spring Gala.

Realizing Breakthrough’s mission was in line with similar programs Mike had been involved with and passionate about at BC and his time at EY, he sought to get formally involved to further the cause and applied to join the associate board.

Outside work, Mike enjoys spending time with family and friends and traveling.

Mike Burnes

Mike Burnes currently works as a finance and operations analyst at the Great Lakes Group, where he and his team oversee shipyard and marine logistics operations. Prior to joining the Great Lakes Group, Mike worked at Ernst & Young as an Advisory and Audit manager.

Mike grew up in Milton, MA and attended Washington and Lee University, where he majored in philosophy and business and accounting. While at Washington and Lee, Mike served as the philanthropy chair of his fraternity and became involved with numerous volunteer organizations including the Ability Experience (Formerly PUSH America).

Mike’s involvement with Breakthrough began following a presentation at Ernst and Young and grew overtime through numerous Breakthrough events at EY. Mike has always felt very fortunate to have had a number of teachers who have gone above and beyond and acted as mentors throughout high school, college, and beyond. He was especially moved by the energy and excitement displayed by Breakthrough’s students and faculty while touring the Cambridge campus during the summer program during the summer of 2015. He is excited to join the Associate Board and help further Breakthrough’s mission.

Molly O'Donnell

MPP and MBA Candidate, Brandeis University Heller School for Social Policy and Management Molly is currently a Master's of Public Policy and Masters of Business Administration candidate at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, with a concentration in children, youth, and family policy. She also works as a Graduate Resident at Root Cause in the Research and Assessments department.

Before attending Heller, Molly was the Lead Advocate and facilitator for the Step Up program in Portland, Oregon, a program supporting young people in high school to develop leadership and academic skills. While at Step Up, she was also a member of the Equity Team, a group of committed educators working on personal development and organizational strategies to close the racial achievement gap. Her hope is to continue working with youth services organizations to develop more equitable policies. Molly is a two-time AmeriCorps alum, serving both in Oregon and New Orleans. She graduated from Lewis & Clark College in 2010 with a B.A. in International Relations, but being born in raised in Vermont, she will always call the Green Mountain State home.

Molly learned of Breakthrough Greater Boston through fellow associate board member William Chrysanthos. Molly and Will are both Eli J. Segal Citizen Leadership Fellows and Will introduced Molly to the organization due to her interest in working to close the racial achievement gap in education. Molly is excited to pursue this work with BTGB.

Nora Frias, Co-Chair

Nora Frias is currently the Director of Graduate Support at Nativity Preparatory School, a tuition-free, Jesuit middle school serving boys from low-income families in Boston. She oversees the high school placement process for the graduating 8th graders and continues to provide academic, social and financial support to graduates through high school. The Graduate Support program then supports students and families through the college application, matriculation, persistence, and completion process.

Educational access and equality have always been passions for Nora and she is committed to continuously serving underrepresented students to and through college. She has fostered this passion and commitment through prior experiences with the KIPP Charter school network, City Year, The Posse Foundation, and Options Through Education, a summer bridge program at Boston College.

Nora is a double Eagle with a B.A in Psychology and an M.A in Higher Education Administration from Boston College. It was through her work in the non-profit sector and through a friend and current board member that she was introduced to Breakthrough Greater Boston.

Presceia Cooper (Associate Board Member-at-Large)

Presceia currently serves as a Search Consultant at Commongood Careers where she has played a number of roles. She manages a portfolio of dynamic nonprofit organizations all across the country to support them with their recruiting and hiring needs. Previously, she was a member of the recruitment team, where she led diversity recruitment efforts with affinity groups and fellowship programs such as the National Urban League and Associated Grant Makers. Presceia also created candidate pipelines through social media channels which resulted in growing our networks on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to many thousands of members.

In addition to her experience at Commongood Careers, Presceia earned a Certificate in Culinary Arts from Boston University and has worked as a professional chef and restaurant manager. Leveraging this training, Presceia created a cooking and nutrition program to teach elementary school students healthy cooking techniques, as well as volunteers with Future Chefs, a nonprofit organization that prepares urban teens for work in the restaurant industry. Presceia is a native Bostonian and attended Dover-Sherborn Regional schools as a METCO student; one of the country’s oldest desegregation programs. She holds a BA in Communications from Boston College.

Robbie Greenglass (Associate Board Member-at-Large)

In 2014, Robbie founded Waterline Ventures, a Healthcare technology and technology enabled services venture capital. Robbie also spends time as the Director of Business Development at Shields Pharmacy Services, a healthcare services company in the specialty pharmacy space.

Prior to founding Waterline, Robbie was an investor at Highland Capital Partners. At Highland, Robbie worked with several early and late-stage healthcare companies. Robbie is a mentor at Blueprint Health in NYC, a healthcare accelerator for early stage healthcare IT companies.

Prior to joining Highland, Robbie was an Associate in the Healthcare Group at Oppenheimer & Co. where he focused on M&A, public equity and private equity transactions for healthcare services and IT, biotechnology and specialty pharmaceuticals companies. Prior to Oppenheimer, Robbie was an Analyst in the healthcare group at CIBC World Markets.

Robbie earned his B.A. from Brown University where he currently serves on the Brown Alumni Association Board of Governors. He is the co-chairman of the Social Networking and New Media committee. At Brown, Robbie was a member of the Brown Men’s Crew team. Robbie earned his MBA from Harvard Business School.

Ryan Sweeney

Ryan is currently the Multimedia Specialist at Major League Lacrosse, the premiere professional outdoor lacrosse league, where he produces a weekly magazine-style show for CBS Sports Network. He also produces video and graphic elements for creative television & web advertisements and league special events. Prior to working for MLL he was a Production Assistant with the local NBC Affiliate WHDH-TV Boston.

Ryan studied at Ithaca College and received a B.S. in Television Video Production and a Minor in Business Administration in May of 2009.

Ryan became interested in working with Breakthrough Greater Boston after attending the 2014 Spring Gala with a current board member. He was quickly inspired by BTGB's mission for educational equity after experiencing the passion and excitement of both the students and staff first hand. He is extremely excited to join the Associate Board and help Breakthrough attain and exceed all of its goals.

Sai Nanduri (Associate Board Member-at-Large)

Bio coming soon

Sean Crowley (Associate Board Member-at-Large)

Sean Crowley currently works in the Investment Office at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he and his team oversee investing of the Endowment in support of the Hospital’s mission.   Prior to joining Children’s, he worked at Cambridge Associates, an investment advisor geared toward nonprofit institutions.

Sean grew up in Scituate, MA and attended Cornell University, where he earned a B.A. in Government and Economics. When he came back to Boston after school, he became involved with the Mayflower Foundation, a group that raises money and awareness for local children’s charities. It was through his work here that he found out about Breakthrough and the mission really resonated with him.

Sean has always felt fortunate enough to have had a strong school and community supporting him while on his own path through middle school and high school, and believes that Breakthrough’s approach really can bring the needed support to those who haven’t always been as fortunate. He’s very excited to join the Associate Board and help make Breakthrough’s goals a reality.

Will Chrysanthos (Associate Board Member-at-Large)

Following his junior year of high school in 1998, Will served for the first time with BTGB as an anatomy teacher. He went on to contribute over the following six years in a variety of other capacities, including as forensics teacher, service learning teacher, mentor teacher, and assistant director. He went on to teach special education with Teach for America in St. Louis, and continues to work with them part-time as an alumni interviewer.

Will has completed four years of service with AmeriCorps in the areas of education and disaster management, and in recognition was named the 2011 Eli Segal Fellow. This allowed him to serve as special assistant to the National Director of AmeriCorps with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in Washington DC. Following Hurricane Sandy, he was named the Section Chief for the state of New York over all AmeriCorps operations. Twice during his time at CNCS he was nominated for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal in Homeland Security and once made it to the finalist round for his service during the Joplin tornado.

Will fully credits BTGB in molding his career in service and volunteerism and is excited to be a new member of their Associate Board.

Winnie Huang

Winnie became a part of the Breakthrough family in the summer of 2012, when she taught 9th grade Biology with Breakthrough New York. Since then, she has continued to pursue her passion in education through her work at a college-mentoring program, ReadySetLaunch, and with the Policy department at Recovery School District in New Orleans.

Winnie received her B.A. from Yale University in Psychology. Currently, Winnie works at Education Resource Strategies, a non-profit consulting organization that analyzes how resource use- people, time and money- can improve student achievement. She joined the Breakthrough Associate Board in 2015 to stay connected with the Breakthrough family, and to find ways to continue to support the incredible learning that happens for Breakthrough teachers and students.


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