Chief Executive Officer
Prior to 826 National, Laura held leadership positions at high achieving youth organizations including Build, First Graduate, Juma Ventures, and The Posse Foundation, where she developed the organization’s first national career, corporate engagement, and alumni programs. She holds a Master’s in Education and a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from Columbia University, and is the Chair of the Board of Directors at Youth Speaks.
Director of Research
Cynthia brings expertise in data storytelling and in conducting research to help develop and measure impact of educational programs. She’s worked with the Exploratorium, Apple Education, Sesame Workshop and other organizations to bring research-based content across learning platforms to diverse communities. Her background is in developmental psychology, conducting research on the design of educational media. Cynthia holds a BA in psychology and sociology from Northwestern University and a PhD in developmental psychology from the University of Virginia.
Megan was introduced to 826 National while working as a graphic designer at an advertising firm in Kansas City, as they were a client of hers. After beginning the creative writing program at the University of Kansas, she discovered her love of visual storytelling, which led her to find her passion for graphic design. The opportunity to design for 826 National’s mission was an easy choice for her. In her free time, she teaches yoga, is probably on her third coffee of the day, and could spend endless amounts of time perusing an independent bookshop’s cookbook section.
Director of Content & Partnerships, 826 Digital
Anna first joined 826 National as Program Development and Support Coordinator and helped build 826 Digital’s library of curricular resources prior to its launch. Before 826, Anna served as a high school English teacher for eight years in New Orleans and in her home city of Chicago. Now a fanatic El Cerritan, Anna loves jumping through East Bay creeks with her daughter.
Director of Finance & Operations
Abbey joins 826 by way of the private sector, having spent the last 15 years building businesses in technology, start-ups, art, and hospitality. Charged with developing scalable systems and processes designed to help 826 flourish, Abbey hopes to bring her passion for the arts and analytical skills to bear. When not working, Abbey can be found cooking on a yoga mat while reading a novel after a bike ride.
A proud New Jersey native, Zaneta is a storyteller and editor with a passion for community building and fostering creativity. Prior to joining 826, she worked in book publishing as a children’s book editor and food & lifestyle editor, and in the tech industry as a content strategist. The quickest way to her heart is a personalized playlist, endless snacks, and a fuzzy animal.
Network Support Manager
Kona began her 826 journey as a volunteer with the 826 Valencia Tenderloin Center, then later led its Podcasting Field Trip program. She attended Wellesley College and NYU, and has taught English in France, China, and Ghana. She adores travel and dreams of visiting Antarctica someday.
Kai is excited to be part of the 826 team. She partnered with 826CHI when she worked at Communities in Schools of Chicago (CISC) and fell in love with the 826 programs. Her background is in teaching and non-profit education. Besides teaching for six years, Kai worked for CISC and Technovation before joining 826 National. Kai enjoys reading, writing, movies, and eating popcorn and M&Ms.
826 Digital Curriculum Designer
Meghan is a youth worker at heart and is deeply passionate about 826’s approach to teaching writing. Meghan holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Grand Valley State University and an M.Ed in Youth Development Leadership from the University of Minnesota. She loves cooking Korean food, while chasing her cats out of the kitchen, in a sweater she knit herself.
Gabriela graduated from University of California Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Sociology and Literature. Writing has always been one of her passions, and she is excited to help spread a love for writing to students all across the country. Science fiction novels, long road trips, and the California coast are just a few of her favorite things.
Chief Development Officer
Amira has an extensive background in fundraising and philanthropic development spanning over 20 years with organizations like the Y and the American Red Cross. Her professional history is complimented by her studies in Human Service and Communications at Springfield College and the University of Southern California, respectively. Amira is driven by connecting people and organizations to highly impactful programs that make meaningful change in the lives of the people in our shared communities and providing mutually beneficial opportunities for generous investments in those programs.
Director of Field Operations
A founding member of 826CHI, Kait played a key role in program/curriculum development, serving as the organization’s first Programs Coordinator and later as its Director of Education. Prior to joining 826, Kait taught creative writing in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas. She holds a B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Northwestern University.
826 Digital Content Engagement Manager
After 7+ years of supporting non-profits and community-focused marketing, NaBeela is thrilled to join 826 National. A former 826CHI staff member, she has a B.A. in Visual Advertising from The University of Alabama at Birmingham and M.A. in English & Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. When not counting characters, you can find her managing Lucky Jefferson, sewing, or polishing her green thumb.
Brianca Wright is a Masters student at George Washington University. A native of Pensacola, Florida, Brianca Wright is a graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelors in Psychology and Criminology. She served as an AmeriCorps member with City Year Jacksonville and worked with Sons of Sophistication, Inc., a mentoring program for young men of color. She’s excited to spend her time at 826 National researching the therapeutic influences of writing and how this can impact student literacy.
Shida earned her B.S. in Psychology at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and believes in the importance of investing in youth and education. As a certified Salesforce administrator, Shida values clean organized data. She also loves traveling, Giants baseball, and searching for the best east coast style pizza in the Bay Area.
Board of Directors
Co-Founder & CEO, Project FoundED
Investment Management, Goldman Sachs
Founder, Partner, Studiotobe
CEO, 826 National
Executive Director, PBS Newshour Student Reporting Labs
826 Boston Representative
Fellow, Volunteer Lawyers Project
SVP Global Design, Marriott International
VP, Content Advocacy-Literacy, NWEA
SCOTT A. GINSBURG
Managing Partner, Boulevard Partners
MAYA VALENCIA GOODALL
Senior Director, Emergent Bilingual Curriculum Lexia Learning
Poet, Activist, and Inaugural U.S. Youth Poet Laureate
COO, Beyond the Brand
826 New Orleans Representative
President, Legacy Inventive Solution for Schools
Senior Advisor at Albright Stonebridge Group
General Manager, Industry Affairs, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft
General Manager, WAMU
Senior Partner, Office Lead, West Monroe, Minneapolis
826 MSP Representative
Scientific Computing Consultant, Minnesota Supercomputing Institute
ALEXANDRA SUICH BASS
Senior Correspondent, The Economist
MORGAN W. TOVEY
Partner, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
826 Valencia Representative
Growth Tech Alliance Lead, Boston Consulting Group
Managing Director, Envisioning Equity Work
Senior Director, Microsoft
EMERITUS BOARD MEMBERS
826 National Co-Founder
CEO, Enterprise for Youth
President & Founder, Teacher Salary Project
826 National Co-Founder
Founder of McSweeney’s Publishing & Award-Winning Author
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