The 826 National Team

Smiling woman with long dark hair and earrings.

Mary Balingit

Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Mary brings experience in leading DEI teams and a passion for building initiatives that foster a culture of equity, inclusion, and belonging. She’s worked at the intersection of education, public policy, tech, and social justice, with her most recent tenure at UC Berkeley and Fordham University. She enjoys iced coffee (even in the winter!) and loving on her dog, Zoe.

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.

Cynthia Chiong

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.

Anna Griffin

826 Digital Manager

Anna brings teaching, curriculum development, and instructional coaching experience to her role as 826 Digital Manager. Prior to this role, Anna was a high school English teacher in New Orleans and Chicago, where she also served as department chair. She first joined 826 National as Program Development and Support Coordinator. In her free time, Anna loves jumping through East Bay creeks with her daughter.

Abbey Hayward

Director of 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 found cooking on a yoga mat while reading a novel after a bike ride.

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.

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Areesah Mobley

Director of Development

Areesah joins 826 National after nearly seven years as the Director of Advancement at 826DC. She brings a total of 17 years fundraising experience in youth development, human services, and civil rights at DC nonprofit institutions including Martha’s Table, the Marijuana Policy Project, and Kid Power. A Communication graduate from George Mason University, Areesah holds an equal passion for relationship building and organizational strategy.

Gabi Oliveira

Research & Systems Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA

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.

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.

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

HOWARD YOON
Board Vice President, Board Secretary
Literary Agent at the Ross Yoon Agency

JOHN COUCH
Board Treasurer
Investment Management, Goldman Sachs


KRISTEN CONRY
SVP Global Design, Marriott International

DONNA COWAN
826 Boston Representative
Active Community Volunteer

KEVIN JOHNSON
826CHI Representative
Founder & Executive Coach, The Transformance Group

SCOTT A. GINSBURG
826LA Representative
Managing Partner, Boulevard Partners

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

RONICKA HARRISON-BRISCOE 
826 New Orleans Representative
President, Legacy Inventive Solution for Schools

MICHAEL MASSERMAN
Senior Advisor, Albright Stonebridge Group

SANDRO OLIVIERI
Founder & President, Productive, LLC

KATE O’SULLIVAN
General Manager, Industry Affairs, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

ERIKA PULLEY-HAYES 
President and Chief Executive Officer at WMFE | WMFV

TOM RACCIATTI
826 MSP Representative
Director, West Monroe Partners, Minneapolis

LACIE SANDSTROM
826michigan Representative
Google Ann Arbor

ALEXANDRA SUICH BASS 
Senior Correspondent for Politics, Technology and Society, The Economist

MORGAN W. TOVEY
Partner, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP

TOM VIEHE
826DC Representative

Director of Business Development, Systems Engineering Group

ANNE WINTROUB
Founder, UPSIDE + the Augie Fund

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

EMERITUS BOARD MEMBERS

NÍNIVE CALEGARI
826 National Co-Founder
CEO, Enterprise for Youth
President & Founder, Teacher Salary Project

DAVE EGGERS
826 National Co-Founder
Founder of McSweeney’s Publishing & Award-Winning Author

Join the 826 National Network

Careers

Join our team of dedicated staff members at 826 National or at one of our chapters.

            

Internships

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.

            

Collaboration

Through 826 Digital and other initiatives, 826 National works with local communities to adapt the 826 approach.