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Forbes' 30 Under 30 Selects 8 Teach For America Alumni

Forbes has named eight Teach For America alums to their prestigious 30 Under 30 list. Read more about this year’s All-Stars, who are leveraging their leadership to innovatively address education’s most systemic problems.
Tuesday, January 5, 2016

ABOVE: Milagros Barsallo (Colorado '09) was among this year's 30 Under 30 honorees.


Forbes named eight Teach For America alumni to their prestigious 30 Under 30 list on Monday.

The members of the list, which Forbes describes as "founders and funders, brand builders and do-gooders [who] aren't waiting for a proper bump up the career ladder," include Milagros Barsallo (Colorado '09), Libby Fischer (Mississippi Delta '10), Eric Lavin (Arkansas '09), Mary Jo Madda (Houston '09), Gabriel Nakashima (Hawai'i '09), Aneesh Sohoni (Twin Cities '09), Alexandria Lafci (D.C. Region '11), and Shruti Shah (Baltimore '11). 

Lafci was selected for the Social Entrepreneurs category and Shah for the Retail and E-Commerce Category, while the other six were chosen for the Education category. These impressive alumni join 22 other former TFA corps members who have received this honor from Forbes over the past several years.

Read more about this year’s All-Stars, who are leveraging their leadership and innovation to address education’s most systemic problems. They have truly embraced our core value of transformational change and are exemplars of impactful action.


Education Category


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Milagros Barsallo (Colorado ’09)
Co-Founder, RISE Colorado

Barsallo, 28, has earned praise from none other than President Obama for her work, most recently with RISE Colorado, a nonprofit focused on closing the opportunity gap for low-income and minority students. The Cornell (B.A.) and University of Colorado at Denver (M.A.) alumna has engaged and empowered families in Colorado, especially through workshops that get parents involved in policy work and other forms of community organizing. Barsallo also shared our 2014 Social Innovation Award (with Veronica Palmer, L.A. '06).


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Libby Fischer (Mississippi Delta ’10)
CEO, Whetstone Education

Organizing teacher development data and feedback has always been an arduous task, but Fischer, 27, has helped facilitate the challenge. A summa cum laude graduate of Saint Louis University, she currently serves as CEO at Whetstone, an online instructional coaching platform that streamlines quantitative and qualitative teacher trends in order for teachers to align resources with their growth needs.


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Eric Lavin (Arkansas ’09)
Founding Manager, Aspen Ventures

At Aspen Ventures, Lavin, 28, connects social entrepreneurs with resources at The Aspen Institute, an international nonprofit dedicated to educational and policy studies. Some of these clients include the Braddock Scholars Program and the DC Urban Innovation Lab. The Tulane University alum came to Aspen after co-founding Whetstone Education just two years ago.


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Mary Jo Madda (Houston ’09)
Senior Editor, EdSurge

As the senior editor of EdSurge, an education technology news website, Madda, 29, has seen monthly views rise from 150,000 to almost 350,000. The Northwestern (B.A.) and Harvard University (M.Ed.) graduate also leads the Digital Innovation in Learning Awards, co-hosts EdSurge’s “On Air” podcast, and completed the “Fifty States” project, which published articles from educators in all 50 states and U.S. territories.


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Gabriel Nakashima (Hawai'i ’09)
Founder, Charter Substitute Teacher Network

Nakashima, 28, has created a system that effectively vets high-quality substitute teachers—most of whom are placed in high-need classrooms in communities nationwide—through meticulous sourcing and analytics. Nakashima, a graduate of the University of San Diego (B.A.), and the University of Hawai'i at Manoa (M.Ed.), has seen the Charter Substitute Teacher Network grow into a 320-employee operation.


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Aneesh Sohoni (Twin Cities ’09)
Project Director, The New Teacher Project

Sohoni, 27, has dedicated himself to effecting change in the classroom—first as Chief of Staff for Teachers and Leaders in the Tennessee Department of Education, and most recently, with TNTP, where as a Project Director of Performance Management, he supports Boston Public Schools and Duval County (which includes Jacksonville) in ensuring students are college and career-ready through standards. Sohoni holds degrees from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (B.A.) and Vanderbilt University (M.P.P.).


Social Entrepreneurs Category


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Alexandria Lafci (D.C. Region ‘11)
Co-Founder, New Story

New Story has been an integral part toward building sustainable communities in developing countries by crowdfunding new houses for homeless families. As co-founder, she has overseen the company raise enough money to erect 151 homes in places as far as Haiti and El Salvador. Lafci, 26, is a graduate of Boston University (B.A.) and George Mason University (M.Ed.).


Retail & E-Commerce Category


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Shruti Shah (Baltimore ‘11)
Co-Founder and COO, Move Loot

Shah, 27, has been at the forefront of changing the way millennials deal with their unwanted goods, especially in scenarios like a moving to a new residence. Move Loot appraises the customer's items (namely furniture), picks them up, and sells them on the market for the customer. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (B.A.) and Johns Hopkins University (M.S.Ed.), she also worked at the NewSchools Venture Fund before her time at Move Loot.



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