Meet our staff! We're a small and powerful team with many years of combined experience working with and advocating for youth worldwide.
Brett is the CEO of Educate Tomorrow, a Miami-Dade County based 501c3 whose mission is to create independence for disadvantaged and foster youth through education, mentoring and the development of life skills. The White House named Educate Tomorrow a top 25 “Program of Promise” and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce awarded Educate Tomorrow the NOVO Innovation award in 2014 for non-profits. Voices for Children Foundation named Educate Tomorrow the child protector of the year in 2013. In 2014 Brett was selected to the National Urban Fellows Executive Leadership Program and to the Miami Foundation Miami Leaders program where he is sponsored to attend the FIU High Potential Leader Program. Before Educate Tomorrow Brett was an officer of buildOn where he led their International programs from 2005-2012 overseeing the construction of over 1,000 classrooms for more than 40,000 children in rural Haiti, Nicaragua, Senegal, Mali, Malawi, Niger, Nepal and India. Brett served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, West Africa from 2001-2003. He lived in a remote rural village without a road, running water or electricity and learned to speak the local language, Hausa, fluently enough to build a school, run adult literacy programs and institute multiple health and agriculture based projects. Brett has an M.S.Ed in Community and Social Change from the University of Miami. He is currently a board member of buildOn and Learning 1 to 1 Foundation, and was on the board of the Miami Dade County Community Based Care Alliance from 2012-2016. He is co-chair of the Education and Employment committee for the Miami-Dade County Homeless Youth Collective Impact. He is married to Virginia Emmons McNaught, co-founder of Educate Tomorrow and has a 5 year old daughter named Emma and a 4 year old son named Miles. Together Brett and Virginia received the Florida International University PATH award for Well-Being in 2015 for their work at Educate Tomorrow.
Virginia Emmons McNaught
Virginia Emmons McNaught - is co-founder, President and Chief Business Development Officer of Educate Tomorrow. She was CEO of Educate Tomorrow from 2003-2010. She now leads Educate Tomorrow in strategy and growth, forging key strategic partnerships locally and globally, realizing a $2.5M Annual Operating Budget. Virginia lead the groundswell of support as co-founder of the SEED School of Miami, a public, college preparatory boarding school for at-promise 6-12 graders, when at full capacity, and will realize $10M in annual funding. In 2015, Virginia was recognized at the Red Cross Women's Spectrum Awards for her work in Education. She is also the recipient of Florida International University PATH Award for Well-Being, which she received with her husband. She was awarded the Junior League's Women Who Make A Difference Award and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Everyday Freedom Hero Award. She was featured in the book America's Way to Change and was recognized at the White House by President Obama as developing one of twenty-five Programs With Promise. In 2012, Virginia was a finalist for the White House Fellowship. Virginia served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a remote village in Niger, West Africa and continues to support the schools she helped establish. She has represented the Peace Corps as a spokesperson for White House events and was the most recent past President of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of South Florida. Raised as the youngest of eight from humble beginnings in Greendale, Wisconsin, she has traveled to over 50 countries. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville where she was student body President and captain of the soccer team. She is a graduate of the University of Miami with a Master's in Education, specializing in Community & Social Change.
Varzi Jean Baptiste
Resource Center Manager, Educate Tomorrow,
Varzi is Educate Tomorrow's Resource Center Manager. She came to Educate Tomorrow in 2013 as a graduate student at the University of Miami in the Community and Social Change program. Since then she has been assisting Educate Tomorrow youth and team in planning life skills events, activities and college tours. She joined Educate Tomorrow full time in 2015. She has twin boys who are currently in college.
JR Fry is Educate Tomorrow’s Chief Operating Officer. JR has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit operations, development and management. For 19 years, he served as Vice President for one of the fastest growing international nonprofits in the world. Today, he manages operations for Educate Tomorrow. A graduate of Centenary College, JR and his partner, Bob, live in Miami, with their two labs.
Lucinda Kerschensteiner, MBA
Through the generous support of Charity Services Centers (CSC) of Miami, Lucinda leads the Educate Tomorrow expansion team to bring ET’s important and meaningful programs to other communities and institutions around the country. She has over twenty years of experience in entrepreneurship, nonprofit, social enterprise and workforce development. Lucinda has contributed to numerous other unique social ventures, projects and programs including an arts business incubator, earned revenue programs for a government agency, a mentoring program for women in transition, self-employment training program, and a coworking space for social innovators.
In addition to supporting Educate Tomorrow in their expansion, Lucinda acts as a Regional Director for CSC, representing their banking program which includes over 200 nonprofits and banks in their network and as Founding Director for Uhambo USA, a nonprofit organization that works in the disability sector in southern Africa.
Earlier in her career, Lucinda was a prominent professional coach and a contributor to the coaching profession in her region. She has coached hundreds of individuals in career transition around the country.
Lucinda graduated from Bryn Mawr College and received her MBA from Colorado State University’s innovative Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise program. Lucinda is an active member of the Rotary Club of Fort Collins, Colorado and loves living in one of the best small towns in the U.S. with her husband David.
Devin ended up in Miami in 2010. Working for the AmeriCorps VISTA program, he served the Faces of Homelessness Speakers Bureau for two consecutive years. Devin uses his life experience and challenges he faced in order to teach others and guide youth concerning the dangers of falling into "risky" behaviors. Devin is a certified personal trainer and high school basketball coach.
Claudia Gourdet is Educate Tomorrow's IT/App Coordinator. She is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Information Technology at Florida International University. She has been with Educate Tomorrow since 2014 and has been part of the Graduate Fellows Program since 2016. This experience has allowed her to gain valuable nonprofit and youth development experience. Since then she has been assisting Educate Tomorrow with the launch of Educate Tomorrow-The App. Through a unique smart phone application, Educate Tomorrow participants will be supported, encouraged and celebrated through the process of transitioning to adulthood and life skills attainment.
David’s role is Development for expansion of Educate Tomorrow service locations, with current focus on the State of Colorado. His position with Educate Tomorrow is made possible through the generous support of Charity Services Centers (CSC) of Miami. David’s professional experiences spans over 30 years, managing growth initiatives for regional, national and global companies. His areas of expertise include business development, strategic planning, organizational development, capital fundraising and key account management.
Following his management posts in the for-profit sector, David decided to re-direct his career to the non-profit/social impact world. His first position in this sector was as Development Director for a Colorado-based community service organization that provides full-spectrum support to under-represented youth, young adults and families in their progress toward self-sufficiency.
David is a graduate of Colorado State University, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with High Distinction.
Dr. Steve J. Rios
Dr. Steve J. Rios, a long-time mentor and consultant with Educate Tomorrow, he serves as the Senior Director of the Educate Tomorrow Florida Reach initiative, a network of campus and community based advocates for young adults striving to obtain a post-secondary credential. Dr. Rios holds a doctorate in Adult Education and Human Resource Development from Florida International University and a master's degree in Public Administration from Florida Atlantic University. Along with his wife Nohemi, Dr. Rios owns Rios Research & Evaluation, which provides data analysis for charter schools and Broward County Public Schools programs.
Program Assistant, Educate Tomorrow,
Ashley has been with Educate Tomorrow since 2012 and working as a program assistant since 2013. She was selected to the Elite Explorers program with Educate Tomorrow in August 2013 where she joined 4 other Educate Tomorrow students along with 3 generations of the McNaught family on a camping and RV tour of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, an 8 day 1,800 mile journey that changed her life. Ashley completed her Associates Degree from Miami Dade College in May 2015 and is enrolled at Florida International University. Ashley is part of the Honor College at FIU as well as Fostering Panther Pride. She has a daughter, Damaya.
Achaia is currently persueing her Master's degree in Urban Planning at Florida State University and has been accepted to the Peace Corps in Ecuador where she will begin her service in May, 2017. In Tallahassee Achaia works as a College Coach for Educate Tomorrow students attending FAMU, FSU or TCC. Her first role at Educate Tomorrow was as a Graduate Fellow gaining valuable non profit and youth development experience after she completed her bachelors of science degree in Sociology and Anthropology in 2015 from Florida International University. While at FIU Achaia was an active member in the Fostering Panther Pride program which Educate Tomorrow assisted in launching at FIU in 2014. As a former foster youth Achaia understands the population of students we work with every day. Her compassion and energy to alleviate the barriers and stressors for students so they can focus on meaningful improvement in their lives is central to what Achaia wants to contribute to her community.
Calvin Pierre is Educate Tomorrow's Computer IT Technician and Videographer. He came to Educate Tomorrow in 2004 as a Student and started working for Educate Tomorrow in 2015 after receiving his certificate in Computer Technician at Culmer Community Action Center.
Lissette Otalvaro is Educate Tomorrow’s HR/Office Manager. She was born and raised in Queens, New York where she was surrounded by the cultural diversity. Her background experience is in Human Resources Management in hospitality and nonprofit. While raising a family she was co-owner of a successful Small Business in Miami Beach. A graduate of Florida International University, Lissette lives in Miami Beach with her three sons and is a proud member of the Society for Human Resource Management.
Vera Gallamore is a Graduate Fellow and Office Assistant. Born in Tifton, Georgia and raised in Overtown located in the heart of Miami. Vera was a former foster youth who got involved with Educate Tomorrow in 2006. She has been working with Educate Tomorrow since 2015 using her life experiences to help other students in similar situations. She is currently a student at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus working towards obtaining her GED.
Racquell "Racqui" Perry
Racquell "Racqui" Perry is a licensed attorney with the Florida Bar Association and is the Statewide Lead for Keys to Independence at Educate Tomorrow. The Keys to Independence program is a pilot program of the Department of Children and Families managed by Community Based Care of Central Florida. It is designed to help youth in licensed foster care overcome barriers to driving. Racqui (pronounced Rocky) graduated Miami Northwestern Senioir High where she played basketball and excelled academically. She graduated from FAMU with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a then from FAMU law school in 2015 with her Juris Doctorate.
Musical Mentor, Guitars Over Guns,
Antonio teaches music production at Educate Tomorrow as a mentor with the organization Guitars Over Guns. Antonio Shelton was with advertising agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky from 2005-2013 as a Broadcast Engineer. He was responsible for studio recording, sound design and effects, music production, and post-production work. Mr. Shelton received his A.S. degree in Recording Arts from Fullsail University in Orlando, Florida in 2004. Mr. Shelton also has an active artistic career as a hip hop and R&B musician, releasing his first single "Remember" in 2008. Mr. Shelton was a foster youth in Miami-Dade County. The efforts of Melanie Damian and Chris Damian to assist Mr. Shelton further his education provided much of the inspiration for the formation of Educate Tomorrow. Mr. Shelton sends a message to our youth of the possibility of attending college. Since 2015 he has been a mentor and teacher to Educate Tomorrow students interested in music production, recording and expression.
Director of Operations, Educate Tomorrow,
Valerie is Educate Tomorrow's Director of Operations. Valérie was born in Québec, Canada. After completing her degree in Communication Marketing in Montréal, Valérie started her career as an events and services manager in the hospitality industry for several years, both in Canada and the United States. Eager to get involved in the Miami community and to put to great use her qualification in project management, Valérie joined the Team of Educate Tomorrow in the summer of 2015.
Life Coach, Women's Executive Internship Director, Educate Tomorrow,
Alison joined Educate Tomorrow in the fall of 2013 as a life coach for her mentee and for the Educate Tomorrow team. Alison was the CEO of the Belafonte TACOLCY center in Liberty City from 2006-2013, a center the she attended programs at during her childhood. Alison has had an impressive career marked by experiences in international community development work, education, ecotourism, community outreach, project management and marketing. Alison studied Radio and TV broadcasting at Miami Dade College, where she was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 2007. She earned a B.A. in speech communications/public realtions from the University of South Florida, a MS degree in Hospitality Management from FIU, a Certificate from the Harvard Business School in Leadership Development and a M.S. Ed in Community and Social Change from the University of Miami in 2013.