The 826 National Team

Tierra Alston-Johnson

Development & Impact Associate AmeriCorps VISTA

Tierra is a KIPP alumna with a BA in Communication Studies from Elizabeth City State University. Born and raised in rural NC, she spent a semester in the Disney College Program at WDW in Orlando. She’s a self-proclaimed womanist who loves writing, sweet tea, and Paul Laurence-Dunbar.

Maggie Andrews

Director of Development

One of 826 Boston’s earliest after-school tutors, Maggie brings more than a decade of national fundraising experience to 826 National. She is dedicated to supporting organizations that serve youth and contribute to a vibrant, equitable community. A native Pennsylvanian, Maggie now happily resides in Oakland, CA.

Laura Brief

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.

Skylar Burkhardt

Field Operations Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA

Skylar graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and Organizational Studies from the University of Michigan. As a tutor at the Sweetland Peer Writing Center, she grew to see writing as an opportunity for connection, growth, and discovery. Her hobbies include playing the guitar, pick-up basketball, and admiring ocean sunsets.

Maria Potratz

Development & Communications AmeriCorps VISTA

Maria is a recent graduate of the University of South Dakota, where she received her B.A. in Communication Studies and Social Media Marketing. A native of the Midwest, her major loves are animal rescue, world-building, good food, palm trees, and sunshine.

Lauren Broder

Director of Research & Evaluation

Lauren received her Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut where she conducted research on the effects of early childhood experiences on later development. She brings a strong background in statistical analysis, research writing, and data management, as well as five years of teaching at the collegiate level.

Liz Dwyer

Director of Communications

Liz grew up in the Chicagoland area but she’s lived in Los Angeles for 20 years. She previously worked as the managing editor of Shondaland and was also the education editor at GOOD magazine and TakePart. Before her career in journalism, Liz taught third grade in Compton, California. Women’s empowerment, race unity, and educational equity are her life passions.

Anna Griffin

826 Digital Manager

Anna has spent much of her career teaching high school English in New Orleans and Chicago. She brings curriculum development, instructional coaching, and administrative experience to her role as Digital Manager. Prior to this role, Anna served as Program Development and Support Coordinator at 826 National.

Cecilia Juan

Corporate & Foundations Relations Manager

Cecilia earned her MA in Arts Administration from New York University and has over five years of experience fundraising for arts organizations in the Bay Area and New York City. Before becoming a grant writer, Cecilia taught English to toddlers, scientists, and everyone in between, in Japan and the Czech Republic.

Doug Keller

Network Growth Director

Doug is passionate about writing, creativity, youth voice, and community space. He spent eight years combining these elements in founding and growing 826 New Orleans, and he’s thrilled to help other communities do the same as 826 National’s Network Growth Director. He watches a lot of basketball with his wife Heather, their son Grey, and their cat Goag.

Kona Lai

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.

Caroline Moon

Research & Evaluation Associate AmeriCorps VISTA

During her time at UCSB, Caroline developed a passion for student empowerment and college affordability. She obtained her B.A. in Political Science and hopes to earn an Ed.M. Outside of politics and student issues, her other interests include traveling, reading, and getting a full 8 hours of sleep.

Arfi Oktavianti

Field Operations Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA

Prior to this role Arfi was an 826 National intern with a continued passion for service and professional development. She earned a B.A. in Psychology, minoring in Comparative Literature from San Francisco State University. Arfi despises hot weather but actually hails from Jakarta and grew up in Southern California.

Kait Steele

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.

Shida Zamani

Salesforce Administrator

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 President
Managing Partner, Zingerman’s Mail Order

Board Vice President
826 Valencia Representative
Chief Inclusion Officer, Stanford Graduate School of Education

Board Secretary
General Manager, Industry Affairs, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

Board Treasurer
Investment Management, Goldman Sachs

826 Boston Representative
Active Community Volunteer

826LA Representative
Author, Documentary Film Producer & Co-Founder of CODEPINK

Senior Correspondent for Politics, Technology and Society, The Economist

826CHI Representative
Senior Program Officer, Joyce Foundation

Poet, Activist, and Inaugural U.S. Youth Poet Laureate

826 New Orleans Representative
President, Legacy Inventive Solution for Schools

Litigation Associate, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP

Head of Global Policy & Social Impact, Lyft

Vice President – Radio, Corporation for Public Broadcasting

826michigan Representative
Google Ann Arbor

Independent Consultant

Partner, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP

Director, Social Innovation, AT&T

826NYC Representative
Director of Corporate Initiatives at Everytown for Gun Safety

826DC Representative
Literary Agent at the Ross Yoon Agency



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


Join the 826 National Network


Join our team of trusty, dedicated staff members here at the 826 National office, or at one of our chapters.



Interns make our world go ’round at 826 National.

We offer a variety of tracked internships that provide you with practical in-depth experience into the world of nonprofits.


Chapter Application

Bring the 826 model to your community.

Learn what we look for in organizations hoping to join our Chapter Development Process, and find resources to help you get started.