Our Team

AdoptAClassroom.org Leadership Team

Ann Ruhr Pifer

Executive Director

Ann joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2013, bringing experience in nonprofit management, education, finance and the arts. She spent 15 years as a corporate banker in New York and Minneapolis with Wells Fargo and Banque Paribas, among others. She is the founder and former owner of The Grand Hand Gallery in St. Paul. Ann received her BA from Smith College; her MA from John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Humphrey School of Public Policy at the University of Minnesota. She serves on the boards of The Minnesota Museum of American Art and Craft in America and previously served on the boards of St. Paul Academy and Summit School, and Craft Retailers and Artists for Tomorrow.

Ryan Jordan

Associate Director

Ryan joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2013 and has worked with AAC’s program and technology teams in various roles. In addition to his time at AAC, Ryan has worked at an education startup and helped build programs and operations capacity at two other nonprofit organizations. Ryan received an MA in Media Studies from The New School in N.Y.

Carolyn Aberman

Chief Corporate Partnerships Officer

Carolyn joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2013 to establish the non-profit’s corporate sponsorship discipline and oversee its brand marketing. She is a respected veteran of corporate retail and consumer brand marketing and is credited with some of the most differentiated campaigns during her tenures at Target and Best Buy. Carolyn spearheaded Target’s first-ever cause marketing campaign, Kids for Saving Earth, which helped set the standard for innovative and impactful corporate cause marketing. As the director of public relations at Target, Carolyn was a key member of the marketing leadership team responsible for strategic partnerships and developing retail industry firsts, e.g., the democratization of design and pop-up shops. Carolyn graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, Advertising Sequence.

Austin Hagle

Vice President of Information Technology

Austin (he/him) joined the AdoptAClassroom.org team in 2018 to continue his work in supporting the K-12 teacher profession. He graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Masters in Education and began a career teaching high school mathematics in the Vail Unified School District for six years. During this time he served as a teaching coach, generated mathematics curriculum utilized in multiple districts, and led various professional development workshops. He was recognized as a teacher of the year within the district in 2017.

Melissa Hruza

Vice President of Marketing & Development

Melissa (she/her) has more than ten years of experience in digital marketing, communication strategy, and managing partnerships. As a first-generation college student, Melissa knows the lasting impact teachers make for their students and was inspired to join AdoptAClassroom.org in 2015. Previously, she worked in communications technology and fundraising development for the business and nonprofit sectors. Melissa holds a BA from Hamline University and a MAS in Information and Communications Technology from the University of Denver.

AdoptAClassroom.org Staff

Alex Aberman

Corporate Partnerships Director

As corporate partnerships director, Alex works closely with corporate partners to bring their partnerships to life in ways that will achieve their objectives and equip more teachers and students with the tools they need to be successful in school.

Alex resides in Salt Lake City, Utah. When she isn’t working it is likely you will find Alex in the mountains; camping, skiing, hiking, and mountain biking alongside her partner Hennie, and their dogs, Barry and Lilo. Alex is a professional photographer and owner of Aberman Photo where she focuses on shooting active and adventure photographs.

Kathryn Atchley

Senior Director of Corporate Partnerships

Kathryn (Kat, she/her) has twelve years of experience in the nonprofit sector, including managing global partnerships at an international education-focused nonprofit and leading an organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and adults affected by a rare neurodegenerative disorder. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies with a minor in Asian Studies from Missouri State University.

Outside of work, Kat enjoys exploring accessible parks and trails in the Kansas City metro area with her husband and special needs son.

Shannon Baker

Vice President of of Operations

Shannon joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2021. He spent eight years in wireless retail, overseeing multiple regions and retail locations as the Director of Sales and Operations. Shannon’s passion for students and teachers was ignited during his time in retail, in which he was able to connect employees to their local schools. He left the corporate world and moved back to Tucson, Ariz. to be close to family, as well as starting his own. In Tucson, Shannon was the Director of Marketing and Operations for a local multi-practice dental company. With the desire to help serve students and teachers, Shannon left the practice to join AdoptAClassroom.org to help fulfill their mission.

Sarah Beam

Teacher Services Coordinator

Before joining the AdoptAClassroom.org team, Sarah (she/her) taught English Language Development to middle schoolers, high schoolers, university students, and adults in Mass., Minn., and Perú. She also has experience as a teacher trainer and workshop facilitator, and is energized by opportunities to support and collaborate with educators. She studied Spanish, ESL Education, and Race and Ethnic Studies at St. Olaf College.

Katherine Castillo

Teacher Services Manager

Katherine (Kat) joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2022 after a 16-year career in education. She taught all levels of high school English, including Advanced Placement. She piloted the University of Texas at Austin OnRamps Rhetoric program on her high school campus building the program for the past four years. She also serves as an adjunct professor at her local community college. Kat earned her Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, TX. She received her Master’s degree in English from Southern New Hampshire University in 2016. Kat is a proud mama to seven adorable kids who love to play sports. Most of her spare time is spent toting around a camping chair to several games/practices next to her hubby cheering wildly for her kiddos…and she LOVES it!

Cristina Easton

Program Strategy Manager

Cristina joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2021. Cristina’s career in education includes 15 years in urban public schools in New York City and Baltimore, Md. as a Special Education teacher, Assistant Principal, and Principal. She has presented at National and International Education conferences on Special Education, Math, and Single-Sex Public School Education, and served on the planning committee to open a school in New York City. In addition to her work with AdoptAClassroom.org, Cristina is an educational consultant supporting schools in the area of Equity and Inclusion, fostering Student Voice and Leadership, and Coaching. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for The Bryn Mawr School for Girls in Baltimore, Md. Her passion areas are supporting girls of color in schools, early career teacher support, and strategic planning, and she is thrilled to be able to support AdoptAClassroom.org teachers and schools. Cristina graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Mass., with a BA in Sociology, earned her Masters in Teaching and license in Special Education as a New York City Teaching Fellow, and her Masters in Urban Education Leadership at Bank Street College in New York City.

Kirsten Fedorowicz

Senior Marketing Coordinator

Kirsten (she/her) joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2021. Prior to joining AdoptAClassroom.org, she worked at Bridging, a local furniture bank, through her service year with Quaker Voluntary Service. She graduated from Aquinas College with a BA in English, Writing Emphasis. Kirsten lives in Grand Rapids, MI. When offline, she spends as much time as she can in the woods or on Lake Michigan.

Sarah Fowler

Corporate Partnerships Manager

Sarah (she/her) joined the corporate partnerships team at AdoptAClassroom.org in 2018. She has more than 10 years of experience in the nonprofit sector across several areas, including marketing, finance, sales and event planning. Sarah serves on the board of Print the Love and previously served on the young professionals board at the Minnesota Opera. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Cecilia Gutierrez

Outreach Specialist

Cecilia joined the Outreach Team at AdoptAClassroom.org in 2024. She graduated from Tecnológico de Monterrey with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations. Before joining the organization, Cecilia worked at the Community Development Undersecretary of the State of Nuevo León in Mexico, collaborating with multiple non-profits implementing development programs in Community Centers. She has volunteered with nonprofits dedicated to a variety of causes, including migration, civic responsibility, children with cancer, and sustainable development. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, reading a good book, and spending time with her dog, Lula.

Angie Harris

Development Director

Angie joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2023, bringing experience in fundraising, education, and nonprofit management. She is an alumna of Peabody College/Vanderbilt University where she received her M.Ed. in community development. Angie spent eight years living and working abroad, first as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Papua New Guinea, then in Seoul, South Korea, and Katmandu, Nepal. Since then she has lived in her home state of Tennessee (TN) where she has worked in various development roles with the TN Language Center, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, Maryville College, and the TN Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. She serves on the board of Keep Blount Beautiful and is the Vice-President of board of the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience. Angie and her family live in East TN on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where they spend their free time outdoors enjoying amateur photography, hiking, and foraging for edible mushrooms and native plants. 

Ezra Horton

Marketing and Development Data Manager

Ezra (they/them) joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2018 and brings their writing expertise and strategic mind to donor communications (if you get our emails, hello!). Ezra received their BA in English and Queer Studies from Kalamazoo College. When they’re offline they enjoy chasing cars on their bike and homemaking as much as a renter can.

Devon Karbowski

Director of Growth & Partnership Marketing

Devon (he/him) joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2016 to help highlight teachers and their stories to show why there is a great need to provide classrooms with donations for school supplies. He graduated from the University of Minnesota, Duluth with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Writing Studies, Professional Writing.

Jen Keene

Teacher Community Manager

Although she only spent one year as a classroom teacher, Jen remembers all too well how much of her own money she spent on supplies and is thrilled to help teachers through AdoptAClassroom.org. Jen brings over 8 years of experience doing communications, PR, outreach, event planning, content creation, donor relations, volunteer coordination, program management, and more for a municipal animal shelter in the Portland, OR metro area. She co-founded and was the Director of Communications for a 501c3 nonprofit Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby league. Jen joined AdoptAClassroom in February of 2022 and holds a BA from Portland State University in English and Professional Writing and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Pacific University. Jen is a writer currently working on a novel and several freelance projects.

Whitney Miller

Teacher Services Specialist

Whitney joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2023, bringing with her years of experience as a middle and high school Special Education teacher.  She has a particular passion for literacy, having worked as the Director of Programs for a literacy-focused nonprofit organization. Whitney also fondly remembers her time working with women artisans from around the world as a Sales and New Business Associate for The Little Market.
 Whitney is a proud mom to two little girls and a smushy-faced cat.

Ashley Palin

Teacher Communications Specialist

Ashley (she/her) joined the marketing team at AdoptAClassroom.org in November of 2022. She holds a Master’s in Public Service Administration from Marquette University and has worked with a variety of nonprofits over the past ten years, including the Boys & Girls Clubs and Girl Scouts. In her spare time, Ashley enjoys cross-stitching, reading and spending time with her partner and their rescue cat, Waddles.

Zach Stoebner

Creative Director

Zach Stoebner (he/him) joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2021. Having a love of art, he first took an interest in graphic design at the Minneapolis College of Art + Design. Working in the educational field previously and growing up with a teacher for a mother, AdoptAClassroom.org was a natural fit for him.

Neil Taylor

Executive Admin Coordinator

Neil joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2022 after a 13-year operations career in management consulting. Neil earned his Bachelor’s degree in Geography from the University of Minnesota, with a special interest in Urban Studies, African-American History, and Gender & Women’s Studies. Intersectionality is key to understanding! Neil is a proud dad to two creative and outgoing daughters who love gaming, baking, making music, and annoying each other (in the most loving ways!). Most of his spare time is spent connecting with the local and national hip-hop scenes through his custom hip-hop clothing brand and work as Fashion Director with the National Hip-Hop Museum in Washington, DC. If you speak to him, no – he’s not Australian! Born and raised in England, he has been settled in Minneapolis since 2006. Just don’t expect the accent to go away…

Kari Wilder

Outreach Specialist

Kari joined AdoptAClassroom.org in 2023. She spent the last six years in the field of education supporting teachers and students through various roles. Kari received a Bachelor’s degree in Intercultural Studies from the University of Northwestern – St. Paul. In her spare time, she loves finding new parks to explore with her husband and son, playing board games, and traveling any chance she gets.

Jessica Woodard

Outreach Manager

Before joining AdoptAClassroom in 2022, Jessica worked for over nine years in the field of education teaching German, ESL, and Spanish literacy. She spent two years serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic, where her main project was working to improve Spanish literacy in a local primary school as well as developing the school’s first sustainable library program. She received a BA in Foreign Languages and Linguistics from New Mexico State University and an MA in German Studies from the University of New Mexico. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time hiking around the various green spaces in Austin, TX with her partner, reading, cooking, doing puzzles, and being a cat mom.

AdoptAClassroom.org Board

Board Officers

Rahoul Ghose, Chair

Chief Information Officer, ECMC Group

Rahoul is the Chief Information Officer for the ECMC Group, an education and student financial services company based in Minneapolis, Minn. Rahoul serves on several non-profit Boards and on the Business Analytics Advisory Board at Hamline University. He has been a guest and adjunct faculty member at several Minnesota universities. Rahoul holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, and a MBA from the University of Minnesota.

Dale Robinson Anglin, Vice Chair

Vice President, Grantmaking & Community Impact, Cleveland Foundation

Dale is the Vice President for Programs at the Cleveland Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to her position at the Cleveland Foundation, Dale worked as the associate director of programs for the Victoria Foundation, and the Development Director for New Community Corporation, both in Newark N.J., and as the executive director of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, and a social analyst for the Congressional Research Service, both in Washington D.C.

Jeff Gray, Treasurer

Partner, PwC

Jeff has 28 years of experience serving a variety of multinational financial services and publicly registered organizations, principally in the capital markets, asset and wealth management industries. His experiences include assisting clients with their public registration, compliance obligations, and controls reviews. Jeff is currently an Assurance Partner in PwC’s financial services practice.

Martha Phelps, Secretary

Partner, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Martha Phelps is a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. After starting her career in content development in traditional print publishing, Martha transitioned to a legal practice with internet-based businesses on the cutting edge of new technology. She brings her expertise in creative and practical risk management and tech strategy to AdoptAClassroom.org’s tech-based nonprofit model. Martha is based in Seattle, WA.

Board Members

Annie Alcott

Lecturer, UC Berkeley School of Education, Former Teacher

Annie Alcott (she/her) retired in June 2021 after 30 years of teaching. She began her career teaching first and second grade in Berkeley Unified School District. She taught at U.C. Berkeley in the Developmental Teacher Education Program as a Lecturer and a Supervisor of Teacher Education. Annie returned to teach at the elementary school level 15 years ago. She worked for two years as an English Language Development Specialist and then taught in grades K-3, most recently in Kindergarten Throughout her career, Annie has mentored dozens of new teachers as both a supervisor and a cooperating teacher. In addition, Annie has been a contributing writer for several curriculum programs published by the Developmental Studies Center and has contributed articles to their website’s blog. Annie received her BA from Bryn Mawr College and her MA in Education from the Developmental Teacher Education (DTE) Program at U.C. Berkeley. Annie has fostered an interest in second language acquisition throughout her career and acquired her CLAD (Crosscultural, Language, Academic Development) certification. During the last several years, Annie has also served on her school’s Social Justice Committee. She is continually working to become a more anti-racist teacher and person.

‘Lola Eneh

Vice President Control, Governance, JPMorgan

‘Lola is an accountant with a flair for product strategy. She worked in EMEA in the Wealth Management space for a decade where she gained experience in finance, risk,  operations, and controls. In NAMR, Lola currently works at JPMorgan where she has supported middle market companies with loan operations, control management, product control, and most recently payment control governance. She is an active skilled volunteer where she consults for nonprofits and small businesses. She is a Chartered Accountant, Certified Treasury Professional, and a Product Strategy Alumni of Northwestern University – Kellogg School Of Management. Lola is a Chicagoan and joined the board of AdoptAClassroom.org in 2022. 

Ashley Gobert

Director of Operations, Vynamic

Ashley currently resides in Philadelphia, Pa., working as a Healthcare Consulting Manager at Vynamic. After earning her undergraduate degree from Spelman College, she spent two years as a teaching fellow at a middle school in Durham, N.C. After her years as a teaching fellow, Ashley earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Virginia.

Erik Huckle

Senior Product Manager, AI Platform, Sailpoint

Erik has spent his time in the tech world building startups, both his own and inside corporations. He spent 6.5 years in the Marine Corps Infantry before transitioning to the tech/startup world through an MBA at the University of Texas. Erik brings his love of applying technology to interesting problems, as well as his interest in supporting teachers like his mother Lori, to AdoptAClassroom.org.

Matt Johnson

Senior Partner and Leader, West Monroe Partners

Matt is based in Minneapolis, Minn. He is currently the Managing Director of the Product and Experience Lab at West Monroe Partners. Along with his success building digital experiences for start-ups, Matt is an accomplished singer-songwriter under his independent label, Rowdy Records. Matt has been a member of our board since 2015.

Jordan McGowan

Corporate Partnerships Account Manager, Genesys Works Twin Cities

Jordan McGowan is an Account Manager with Genesys Works Twin Cities, a national nonprofit that provides pathways to career success for high school students in underserved communities through skills training, meaningful work experiences, and impactful relationships. As an executive coach and fractional sales leader, he works with business leaders to achieve disciplined and sustainable sales growth. As an award-winning individual contributor and enterprise leader, Jordan has engaged with C-Suite leaders at hundreds of businesses with revenues from $20MM to over $500MM in a collaborative, consultative manner to address sales, operational, financial, and technical topics. He developed his acumen, relationship skills, and leadership for over two decades in business development roles.

Aishwarya Nagarajan

Senior Product Manager, Search AI Products and Platforms, Google

Aishwarya Nagarajan is a Senior Product Manager at Google. During her career, she’s had stints in chip design, software development, data science, venture capital, entrepreneurship, and product management. Her passion for education and teachers comes from her mother, who was the first woman in her family to attend college, and who is now the CFO of one of the largest automotive conglomerates in India. She strongly believes that access and opportunity are key barriers to unlocking human potential.

Dr. Sonal Patel

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, San Leandro Unified School District and Continuing Lecturer, UC Berkeley School of Education

Dr. Sonal Patel brings more than two decades of experience in K-12 education to her position as the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services for the San Leandro Unified School District. She also shares her passion for humanizing, culturally sustaining, and antiracist pedagogy by serving as a continuing lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. Demonstrating her commitment to social justice, Dr. Patel has also served on advisory boards for Teaching Tolerance (now Learning for Justice) and other education advocacy groups. 

Kenneth Peak

Vice President, US Marketing & Distribution Compliance, BlackRock

Kenneth leads Blackrock’s US Marketing & Distribution Compliance team’s engagement with US Wealth Advisory SMA institutional and retail business, as well as BlackRock’s Multi-Asset Strategy and Solutions business. Ken has 25 years of experience serving in various compliance and risk roles with multinational financial services and asset management organizations. He graduated from Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania. 

Spencer Smith

VP, Strategic Growth, Bold Orange

Spencer is a dynamic marketing and digital experience leader with expertise across marketing technology, digital media, loyalty, CRM, and brand marketing. He has spent over a decade driving high-profile marketing strategies for clients like Target, Anytime Fitness, and Lens Crafters. He also served as the Vice Chair on the board of directors for the Voyageurs Conservancy, a not-for-profit partner of Voyageurs National Park.

Kurts Strelnieks

Business Banker, Union Bank (Retired)

A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Minn., Kurts is proud to represent Union Bank and Trust, a community bank in the heart of the Twin Cities, as a business banker. He is a member of the Secured Finance Network and Eden Prairie Rotary, as well as a board member of Tree Trust. Kurts has been on AdoptAClassroom.org’s Board of Directors since 2016.

Jen Swanson

CEO/Principal Advisor, Tuckpoint Advisory Group

Jen’s career spans over 20 years of roles in customer advocacy, marketing technology, and service channel operations in higher education and healthcare organizations including the University of Minnesota, Capella University, Children’s Minnesota, and UnitedHealth Group. As AdoptAClasssroom.org’s former Board Chair, she brings her insatiable curiosity for technology and a drive to use it to find innovative solutions to support educators and students.

Kayla Wesser

Chief Financial Officer & Co-Founder, Distill

Kayla is currently the Chief Financial Officer at Distill, a relationship-based management consultancy organization. She has a BS in Business, Finance, and Marketing from the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management. Kayla has been a member of the AdoptAClassroom.org board since 2021.

AdoptAClassroom.org Advisory Council

Dr. Hines and COMMON

Dr. Hines shares AdoptAClassroom.org’s commitment to teachers and children, particularly in under-served schools. She currently serves as President of the COMMON Ground Foundation and a member of both the Chicago Board of Education and the Obama Foundation. As a retired teacher and principal, Dr. Hines uses her 35 years of experience working in urban areas throughout the country to develop effective school leaders who will guide others to provide the best possible education for children least likely to receive it.

Sheryl Crow

AdoptAClassroom.org National Spokesperson and Partner

As a former teacher, Sheryl knows firsthand how hard it can be to get the supplies needed to help your students. Sheryl is passionate about education and a huge advocate for our teachers. She believes being a teacher is one of the most important jobs there is and they should be treated as professionals and given the respect, support and supplies they need to educate our nation’s children.


Teacher Advisory Board

Annie Alcott

Retired Teacher

Annie Alcott (she/her) retired in June 2021 after 30 years of teaching. She began her career teaching first and second grade in Berkeley Unified School District. She taught at U.C. Berkeley in the Developmental Teacher Education Program as a Lecturer and a Supervisor of Teacher Education.

Annie returned to teach at the elementary school level 15 years ago. She worked for two years as an English Language Development Specialist and then taught in grades K-3, most recently in Kindergarten.

Throughout her career, Annie has mentored dozens of new teachers as both a supervisor and a cooperating teacher. In addition, Annie has been a contributing writer for several curriculum programs published by the Developmental Studies Center and has contributed articles to their website’s blog.

Annie received her BA from Bryn Mawr College and her MA in Education from the Developmental Teacher Education (DTE) Program at U.C. Berkeley. Annie has fostered an interest in second language acquisition throughout her career and acquired her CLAD (Crosscultural, Language, Academic Development) certification. During the last several years, Annie has also served on her school’s Social Justice Committee. She is continually working to become a more anti-racist teacher and person.

Elisabeth Anderson

Middle and High School Educator

Ellie (she/her) joined the AdoptAClassroom.org team in 2023. She graduated from St. Olaf College with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Gender Studies. After college, she sought out her teaching degree as well as a Masters in Urban Educational Leadership and has been working in Chicago Public Schools for the past 12 years.

She has served in a variety of roles within CPS including high school history teacher, middle school social studies teacher, IB Programme Coordinator, grade level lead, and social studies school lead. She is currently in the process of procuring her National Board Certification in History for Early Adolescents. Ellie is passionate about creating social studies curriculum and has served on teams that developed a citywide Civics curriculum for CPS students.

Classroom Page

Haskel Black

Former Middle School Vocal Music Teacher, Former Education Policy Grassroots Organizer, Current Law Student at Howard School of Law

Haskel (he/him) is currently a law student at Howard University School of Law. Previously, he was a vocal music teacher in the Minneapolis metro area where he was active in his local union and passionate about providing artistic outlets for all students. Prior to law school, he worked as a grassroots organizer for an education non-profit. There, he served as a link between teachers and lawmakers as they developed policies that affect Minnesota educators and students. In his free time, he enjoys singing, experiencing nature, and traveling. Haskel believes that a quality education is foundational and is excited to partner with AdoptAClassroom.org to provide valuable support to teachers and their students.

Jill Byrd

Elementary STEAM Lab Teacher

Jill Byrd is an Elementary STEAM Lab teacher in Louisville, Kentucky where she works with K-5th grade classes. She is a University of Kentucky and Indiana University Southeast graduate where she completed both her B.A. and M.A. in Elementary Education and her Rank 1 in K-12 Instructional Technology. Jill began her teaching career in Christchurch, New Zealand where she completed her student teaching. Upon returning to the States, she accepted a job with the Jefferson County Public School system, where she has taught at the same school for over 27 years.

Within the various roles she has taken on at her school, she has written numerous academic grants, been a state finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) award, and been active on various district and school committees among other things. Her passion for Engineering and Technology led her to start a STEAM Lab at her school over four years ago. She thoroughly enjoys the creativity that comes to life in developing lessons that meet the needs of her students. When she is not at school, she enjoys spending time with her family, exercising, and getting outside in nature.

Classroom Page

Alejandro De La Pena

Middle School Special Education Teacher

Alejandro is a middle school special education teacher in El Paso, Texas but started his teaching career in Houston, Texas. Born in El Paso but raised on both sides of the El Paso/Juarez border, he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s in special education at the University of Texas at El Paso. He’s been nominated for Teacher of the Year every one of his 10 years as a teacher and was chosen as his campus Teacher of the Year in 2018 in Houston. He was awarded the National Life Changer of the Year Spirit Award for 2022 and was named Top 5 Finalist for HEB’s Excellence in Education Awards in the Secondary Rising Star category 2023 in Texas. He was awarded the Todd H. Bol Award in 2022 for his work as a Little Free Library steward for his ability to change the world through acts of kindness. In 2020, he was also named to the Inspirational Honor Roll for the George H. W. Bush Points of Light Awards for his service to the community.

He also leads his city in writing and receiving small grants with over 150 grants funded for over $210,000 in donations for every single department and team at his schools plus several dozen more he’s helped other teachers write for several tens of thousands of dollars in additional donations. He teaches his students valuable life skills and future employability skills through maintaining the Little Free Library and giving out almost 10,000 books and has an after-school program where he has given out 1,000s of rewards and snacks to help build and spread the love of reading.

He has helped 1,000s of female students fight Period Poverty by creating emergency feminine hygiene stations in every restroom where they can get free pads. He’s helped the school’s homeless population, their Special Olympians, military families, at-risk students, and literally every student at his campus through grants and activities that focus on solving his community’s problems and recognizing its outstanding community members.

Anything he sees that his school community needs, he tries to fulfill it through applying, advocating for, and assisting others to apply for grants and donations through organizations like AdoptAClassroom.org.

Classroom Page

Michael Fabiano

High School Social Science Teacher

Michael is a high school social science teacher in Miami, Florida. A Miami-Dade College and Florida International University alumni, Michael got his start in teaching in Homestead, Florida near an area surrounded by homeless shelters and a military base. There, he was awarded Rookie Teacher of the Year at his school, finalist for the district Middle School Social Science Teacher of the Year, and awarded the Dr. Larry Feldman Caught Doin’ Something Good Award. He focused on test areas by helping struggling readers find a passion to read and enjoy social sciences. Today, Michael switched over to high school in the suburban Miami area teaching US History to struggling readers. He has found ways like escape rooms, music, and foldables that have helped students succeed with reading and testing.

Classroom Page

Liza Fournier Córdova

English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher

Liza (she/her) joined AdoptAClassroom.org several years ago to show there is a great need to supply classrooms with donations for schools to provide the education students deserve, especially in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. She had worked in a small school in Manatí, Puerto Rico for over 25 years. She graduated from the American University of Puerto Rico, with a bachelor’s degree in English as a Second Language. She enhances her curriculum by teaching conversational English and writing workshops. She is the current president of UNETE (Unión Nacional de Educadores y Trabajadores de la Educación), a teachers union in Puerto Rico. For her, teachers give purpose to their students and schools play an essential role in the social, economic, and cultural life of the community.

Classroom Page

Lisa Hardy

Elementary School Teacher

Lisa has been in education for the past 21 years. She has taught kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and third grade. Currently, she is teaching second grade at Evers Park Elementary in Denton, Texas. She has a BS in journalism from the University of North Texas, a Masters in reading from Grand Canyon State University, and she is working on obtaining her school library certification from the University of North Texas.

Lisa has been involved in fundraising since becoming an educator. For the past year, she has been a DonorsChoose teacher ambassador and has worked to ensure her fellow teachers’ projects get funded. In addition, she has been promoting the use of AdoptaClassroom.org to her fellow educators. She is also a member of the McGraw-Hill Literacy Advisory Board.

When she is not championing AdoptaClassroom.org, Lisa enjoys spending time with her fiance, Jeramie, as well as her son Benjamin, daughter-in-law Tara, and niece Veronica, plus son-in-law William and her grandbaby Cassian Elijah.

Classroom Page

Felicia Henderson

Teacher and Social Justice Coordinator

Felicia (she/her) is a teacher and Social Justice Coordinator at The Learning Community Charter School. She holds an M.A. in Elementary Education and a B.A. in Philosophy and Applied Ethics. Felicia was recently acknowledged by The New Jersey Public Charter School Association’s Teachers of Diverse Background Initiative. At her current school, she is launching the BIPOC Leadership Society to create a space for those who have not historically been able to have a seat at the table. Her goal is to foster a sense of community and provide support for BIPOC teachers and students.

Classroom Page

Dr. Philip Kudish

Middle and High School Teacher

Dr. Philip Kudish comes to teaching after a decade working in research and development for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, as well as a decade in higher education. Nowadays, he enjoys teaching middle and high school students full-time.

Classroom Page

Jenny Siegfried

Middle School Special Educator

When Jenny (she/her) is not working as a middle school special educator, her love of hiking and illustration keeps her on the trail and making art in the outdoors. She’s partnered with New York City-based outdoor organizations to organize art-making experiences on local trails, was the Artist in Residence for the National Park Service in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2018, and has lectured on the importance and value of creative experiences from city to trail at a variety of venues, including the REI “Force of Nature” Women’s Speaker series, for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and at Harvard University. This summer, she’ll be heading to Pickens, South Carolina as the Artist in Residence for the Rensing Center, and to Gould Farm in Monterey, Massachusetts as their Visiting Artist.

Classroom Page

Karen Zaccaria

Elementary and Middle School Educator

Karen is a Catholic school teacher who teaches 6th-8th grade reading and ELA teacher at St. William School in Chicago, Illinois. She is an Illinois Technology Specialist and earned two M.Ed’s, one at St. Xavier University and the other at Dominican University. Karen has taught full-day kindergarten and 1st grade, as well as computer classes for Kindergarten to 8th grade. For the past several years, she has taught 5th grade and 6th grade. Using technology with a purpose is a key learning tool that is used throughout the school week.

Being a mentor for new teachers is something Karen really enjoys doing since it’s a way for her to give back to those teachers who helped her when she was a new teacher. Karen has been nominated for the Golden Apple two times during her career. When she isn’t teaching she loves spending time with her family, especially her two grandsons.

Classroom Page