Skip to main content
Alumni Resources

Announcing Our 2016 Rising Leaders Fellows

Teach For America - Bay Area is thrilled to introduce its first-ever cohort for the Rising Leaders Fellowship, a seven-month leadership pathway program for recent alumni exploring instructional, school and civic leadership.

By The TFA Editorial Team

December 5, 2016

Rising Leaders Fellows Cohort

Thirty-six alumni in the Bay Area will engage in values-based leadership development, self-driven cohort learning experiences and mentoring opportunities with local alumni leaders to refine their long-term role in fighting for educational equity through the 2016-2017 Rising Leaders Fellowship.


The Rising Leaders Fellowship, created to support alumni collaboration and develop leaders in the Bay Area beyond the two-year corps commitment, received nearly 50 applicants through an initial online application. The selection committee, consisting of alumni leads from Oakland, Richmond, San Jose and San Francisco, ultimately selected 36 Bay Area Fellows to join the inaugural cohort.


In addition to multiple days of professional development, Rising Leaders Fellows may receive a grant to build a personalized learning plan with an experienced mentor in the leadership direction they pursue.


Meet our 2016-2017 Rising Leaders Fellows!

Oakland Rising Leaders Fellows

Pictured from left to right, beginning from top row: Ariel Brown (Bay Area ‘14), Claire Baugher (Bay Area ‘14), Patricia Gomez (San Antonio ‘14), Farihah Hossain (Bay Area ‘14), Gaëlle Belhseine (Metro Atlanta ‘13), Ray Mays (Mississippi ‘13), Christine Parker (Bay Area ‘13)


"I’m hoping to be able to explore opportunities to expand my work as a special educator, critical thinker, and organizer in ways that not only benefit the young people I serve but also the communities in which I work. At the end of the day, my main focus is to uplift and cultivate the voices of young people in order to build self-advocacy and self-determination skills and I’m hoping to create partnerships with educators, mentors, and organizations that will allow for this work to be fulfilled."

- Ariel Brown, Education Specialist at Castlemont High School


"As a Rising Leader fellow focused on civic engagement, I am hoping to delve deeper into the politics and policy that shape our students' educational experience."

- Claire Baugher, First Grade Teacher at Garfield Elementary School


"I look forward to learning about school leadership, and honing the skills it takes to be a masterful school leader. I see every day the amazing things that can be achieved when teachers and school administration work collaboratively, and are propelled by a strong leader with a clear vision. I am excited to learn from fellow teachers throughout the Bay and from leaders who are realizing their visions for transformative schools here in Oakland."


- Farihah Hossain, Founding Transitional Kindergarten Teacher at KIPP Bridge Academy



"From the Rising Leaders fellowship I hope to participate in a space where educators discuss challenges, barriers, and potential solutions to education topics affecting our communities. I look forward to collaborating with other Oakland educators as we reflect around the work that we do and the direction we plan to take in our school leadership careers. Lastly, I hope to bring my unique experiences as a student and educator to actively engage in discussion with other fellows."


- Patricia Gomez, 9th Grade Teacher, Leadership Public School

Richmond Rising Leaders Fellows

Pictured from left to right, beginning from top row: Annancy Wilson (Bay Area ‘12), Bien-Elize Roque-Nido (Bay Area ‘11), Brian Buttacavoli (Bay Area ‘13), Harvey Newland (Bay Area ‘13), Tracy Kimball (Colorado ‘10), Hugo Martinez Bernardino (Bay Area ‘14), Jacob Gran (Bay Area ‘14), Jasmine Johnson (Bay Area ‘13), Johanna (Josie) Innamorato (Bay Area ‘14)


"I am looking forward to having the space to explore my ability to contribute to my school through other leadership roles that still allow me to stay in the classroom. I am also looking forward to having support in identifying my path for education moving forward. Finally, I want to be able to develop my civic leadership skills to continue to have an impact on my students and our surrounding community."

- Annacy Wilson, Resource Teacher at Tamalpais High School


"I am looking forward to develop my current leadership skills, as well as connecting with other rising leaders in the Bay Area. I hope to develop a clear vision of how my leadership can grow in order to maximize the influence I have in my community."

- Bien-Elize Roque-Nido, Director of Programs/Beacon Director at Real Options for City Kids


"As a Rising Leader fellow, I am excited to continuing learning about various educational pathways after TFA.  I am hoping to gain valuable experience and develop a more focused approach in the fight for educational equality.  In addition, I am excited to network with this group of exceptional educators and professionals."

- Brian Buttacavoli, 10th Grade English and 12th Grade Journalism Teacher, 10th Grade Level Lead Teacher at Making Waves Academy


"I am looking forward to joining a community of recent alumni committed to supporting all partners' professional development. I hope to gain clarity and direction with respect to my professional path. I am considering school leadership, Ed.D programs, or management for education nonprofits, with the vision of founding a school or a youth development program. I am also playing with the idea of undertaking a yoga teacher training. I am excited about the opportunity to engage with a mentor and develop a personalized learning plan."

- Hugo Martinez Bernardino, Third Grade TBE/Literacy teacher at Verde Elementary School


"I am most interested in the design of sustainable systems that meet the needs of all students, teachers, and administrators. I'm hoping to expand my network of educators to find out new ways to solve complex problems that affect our most vulnerable populations."

- Jacob Gran, Special Education Teacher/Department Chair at Richmond High School


"Ultimately, I hope my participation in the Rising Leaders Fellowship will lead to a clear vision of what is next for me professionally."

- Jasmine Johnson, 5th Grade Teacher and Team Lead at Richmond College Prep


"I am excited for this fellowship to help me gain clarity on my vision for educational equity, and the roll that I can play in effectively contributing to One Day. I look to this group to be thought partners in idea sharing. I also look to this group to push me in growing my leadership capacity by identifying my strengths and areas for growth. I have many thoughts on how to create systemic change in education, I hope this group can help me narrow my focus!"

- Johanna (Josie) Innamorato, Upper School Math Teacher at Making Waves Academy

San Francisco Rising Leaders Fellows

Pictured from left to right, beginning from top row: Albert (A.T.) McWilliams (New York ‘12), Caitlin Kent (Houston ‘11), Carol Lima (Bay Area ‘14), Christopher Maldonado (Bay Area ‘13), Courtney LaKroix (Bay Area ‘13), Emily Shapiro (GNO ‘13), Emmanuel Padilla (Miami-Dade ‘14), Eric Scarb (Chicago ‘11), Taylor Rankins (Bay Area ‘14)


"Because I play so many roles at school, I am hoping that this fellowship can help me strengthen my leadership muscle and support me in finding a clearer path of what I can do with those leadership skills for the future. I haven't quite figured out what options I have in education besides teaching, and I have been very interested in looking into civic leadership for education, and am hoping to develop that knowledge and skill."

- Carol Lima, Teacher at Everett Middle School


"Through serving as a Rising Leader Fellow, I hope to develop leadership skills for how to create a platform for ideas for my entire school and how to educate other educators about social justice and equity on a larger scale (at my school and beyond)."

- Courtney LaKroix, Teacher at A.P. Giannini Middle School


"Through this fellowship, I hope to gain the knowledge and leaderships skills to allow me to most effectively apply my skills from the classroom and passion for reforming our nation's education system for the rest of my career."

- Emily Shapiro, Program Manager at ScriptEd


"I am looking forward to meeting other educators in San Francisco. I love connecting and talking to everyone, but I hardly meet educators outside of the school. I see this opportunity as a space to share ideas, visions, and stories with others in education."

- Emmanuel Padilla, Junior Seminar and College Counselor at KIPP: SF College Prep

San Jose Rising Leaders Fellows

From top left to right: Ashley Pangelinan (Bay Area ‘13), Berton Mahardja (Bay Area ‘12), Catherine Lopes (Bay Area ‘14), Jonathon Glocknitzer (Bay Area ‘14), Luis Falcon Perez (Bay Area ‘14), Mireya Sandoval (Bay Area ‘14), Nancy Gonzalez-Tena (Bay Area ‘13), Nicole Dyciaco (San Antonio ‘13), Riessa Noriega (Bay Area ‘14)
Not pictured: Stephen Osborne (Bay Area ‘14)


"As a Rising Leader fellow, I am hoping to explore the many possible roles one can take in education. I am looking forward to learning about how others have expanded their impact on our students, either in scale or in effectiveness. Taking the first steps out of the classroom is a daunting task, and I want to make sure that I am leaving the classroom for the right reasons and headed towards the right direction."

- Berton Mahardja, Resource Specialist/RSP at Broadway High School


"I am still pursuing my passion for education as I partner along students still in the bay working for the San Jose Unified School District."

- Catherine Lopes, Teacher at Reed Elementary School


"With this program I am hoping to learn more about different leadership opportunities within education. I am also hoping to gain more leadership skills of my own."

- Jonathon Glocknitzer, 8th Grade ELA Teacher at Alpha Public Schools


"My goals and aspirations are to grow as a leader and be able to spread the knowledge I gain across all of San Jose. As a native of San Jose, I know the potential that my community has. Teaching is not only my job, but it is also my passion. It is a pleasure to see my students grow into young adults that have the potential to do anything."

- Luis Falcon Perez, Lead Social Studies Teacher


"This is my third year working at Ace and I am looking forward to learning about other roles I can take at my school to impact my student's education. I am willing to learn and improve my skills as an educator to continue serving my San Jose community."

- Mireya Sandoval, Mathematics Teacher


"As a Rising Leader fellow, I want to learn how to best direct my skills and goals in a way that benefits my growth and my contribution to a cause that I value wholeheartedly. I look forward to working with other fellows and community leaders from whom I can learn much from regarding the work that is necessary to strengthen educational opportunities. I want to engage in civic leadership or school leadership, and I am confident that this program will help me focus my direction to best serve my passion for education."

- Nancy Gonzalez-Tena, Middle school teacher at Escuela Popular Dual Language Academy



"I am hoping to gain more knowledge of the leadership landscape in the Bay Area, and develop my trajectory in civic engagement leadership. Also, as a Bay Area native who has lived in different states and countries for the past 8 years, I am excited to be back, and look forward to becoming a leader in the region I grew up in!"

- Nicole Dycaico, Teacher Advocate at Edmodo


"I am hoping to gain a better insight of other leadership opportunities within the field of education. I am still wondering if I want to remain in the classroom or challenge myself to grow in other areas. Nevertheless, I will continue having a growth mindset to keep making an impact in students’ education."

- Reissa Noriega, Teacer at AC