One Million Degrees is staffed by a group of talented and passionate professionals, steadfast in their commitment to our mission and relentless in their dedication to the success of our scholars. They are the very heart of our program and the engine of our success.

PAIGE PONDER

Chief Executive Officer

Paige works closely with all stakeholders – Board members, staff, partners, funders, volunteer coaches, and scholars – to ensure One Million Degrees achieves its mission and makes a lasting impact in the lives of the students we support. She joins One Million Degrees after leading Project Exploration, a dynamic youth STEM organization. Prior to Project Exploration, Paige was Officer of Student Support and Engagement at Chicago Public Schools. 

Paige’s private sector experience in education includes work at the Grow Network and McGraw-Hill in product development, professional development, and client services capacities. She began her career as a Princeton Project 55 Fellow at Holy Cross School in the South Bronx, NY. Paige holds a Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She currently serves on the Steering Committee for the Consortium for Chicago School Research and on the Urban Education Institute’s To & Through Project Advisory Council. 

NAVID AFSHAR

Business Manager

Navid works closely with OMD’s Director of Operations to oversee the organization's accounting, finance and benefits administration. Prior to OMD, Navid worked in finance at a social media and digital advertising agency. He also has extensive experience working in the theatre as a stage manager, production manager and managing director. Navid received his Bachelor of Arts in Theatre with a focus in management from The University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, TX.

HELENE BANSLEY

Program Assistant

Helene serves as the Program Assistant at One Million Degrees.  She assists with event planning, scholar development session prep, transfer support, and alumni programming.  She is currently an Americorps volunteer with One Million Degrees through the Amate House program. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Michigan with a minor in Community Action and Social Change. 

KRISHAE BEAMON

Program Coordinator

Krishae serves as a Program Coordinator for students at Kennedy-King College. Her passion in life is to help build the community and be a support system for those who are trying to succeed in life (aspire to inspire before I expire). She served a year with City Year Chicago (2014 - 2015) supporting high school freshman and most recently worked as a family support specialist with head start. She graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelors of Science in Family Child Studies with a minor in Business Innovation & Entrepreneurship and is currently working on my Masters in Public Administration.  

JAMAR BEYONU

Director of College Partnerships

Jamar oversees OMD’s City Colleges of Chicago partnerships, assisting with scaling and design efforts for the organization’s embedded model. Jamar is a proud alumnus of AmeriCorps and has held multiple leadership positions with organizations across Chicago, including DePaul’s Stean Center, Boys and Girls Club of Chicago, and most recently, City Year Chicago where he supported the organization as their Interim Managing Director of Impact. He holds a Bachelors in Sociology from DePaul University.  

ANDREA BUSSEY

Development Manager

Andrea supports One Million Degrees’ fundraising initiatives, driving grants management, event planning and external communications. Prior to joining OMD, Andrea served at a local nonprofit as an Education Pioneers Fellow and previously implemented marketing and communications solutions in various industries. Andrea earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Hampton University and a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University.

CHRISTOPHER COLE

Senior Program Coordinator

Christopher works to ensure that OMD Scholars achieve academic success and persist towards their college degrees by equipping them with strategies necessary to help them reach their full potential in school, in work, and in life. Chris received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and African Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his Master of Higher Education Administration at Florida International University where he served as a Graduate Assistant in the Center for Leadership and Service providing leadership development for FIU students. 

XOCHITL CRUZ

Program Coordinator

Xochitl dedicates her time to her OMD Scholars by supporting them emotionally, academically, and professionally. She also aids the staff in recruitment, event planning, managing the tutoring program. Prior to being a Program Coordinator, she worked as a tutor with OMD Scholars at Kennedy-King College, Harold Washington College, and Truman College. Xochitl was also a corps member with City Year Chicago where she mentored and tutored high school students. She received her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Cornell University.

KATIE DORPINGHAUS

Operations Coordinator

Katie manages OMD academic supports, scholar financial assistance, and provides technical support to the Program Team on data collection, scholar development logistics, and all program events. Prior to her current role, Katie served as an AmeriCorps volunteer with One Million Degrees through the Amate House program. Katie received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the Heider College of Business at Creighton University with a major in Accounting and a minor in History.

PURACARINA GONZALEZ

Scholar Recruitment Manager

PuraCarina comes to the OMD team with a passion for community building and educational equality. Born and bred on the southwest side she finds joy in discovering new things about her hometown and is excited at the opportunity to lead the OMD recruitment efforts amongst schools, community organizations and students across Chicago. PuraCarina is proud Posse Alum and graduated from The University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies and minors in Gender and Women Studies and Chican@/Latin@ Studies. PuraCarina has since committed herself to the non-profit world and is grateful for the exposure and experience in the classroom through her work as a service partner with City  Year Chicago and later with Peer Health Exchange.

HALLIE HEMINGWAY

Director of Operations

Hallie oversees OMD’s research and program evaluation, financial management, and human capital strategies to foster an innovating, creative, and high-performance culture. Prior to OMD, Hallie worked in marketing for a biotech company and as an economic research analyst at a law firm in Washington, DC. Hallie received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, and Master of Business Administration at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

VERONICA HERRERO

Chief Program Officer

Veronica leads OMD’s scholar development program and external partnership strategy. Her focus is on strengthening and evolving OMD’s program model and building partnerships with companies and organizations that will enable OMD to expand its reach and impact. Veronica has held leadership roles in the non-profit, private and public education sectors, including Director of 6to16 with the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute and Deputy Officer of Student Support and Engagement at Chicago Public Schools.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. 

KRIS HOFFINES

Project Director

Kris oversees the implementation of all components of the OMD Scholar Development Program at Harper College.  Her work includes scholar management, coach and scholar recruitment,  as well as management of all program elements on Harper’s campus.  Prior to assuming this role, Kris served as a counselor and social justice educator, supporting at-risk students to succeed academically and personally. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and  Master’s Degree in Counselor Education from Northern Illinois University. 

LIZ JONES

Program Coordinator

Liz works with scholars at Harold Washington College and Wilbur Wright College, providing support to help them reach their academic and professional goals. Before joining the OMD team, Liz served as a "Residency in Social Enterprise" Fellow through New Sector Alliance, an intensive program that cultivates emerging leaders in the social sector. She currently volunteers as a college access mentor for Chicago Scholars and a judge for the Future Problem Solving Program middle and high school story competition. Liz received a Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Science from Yale University.

RANDI LAWRENCE

Communications & Development Coordinator

Randi works closely with both the Development Director and Manager to execute the majority of OMD's marketing and communications projects and provide administrative support to development operations. Randi’s passion to strengthen our communities led her to take a year off from college to work as a Field Organizer on President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and later intern in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Office at The White House. Since then, she has continued to engage the Chicago community by working at State Representative Will Guzzardi’s office, the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, and CCS Fundraising. Randi received her Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from the University of Chicago.

ALLISON LIPSMAN

Director of Development

Allison leads One Million Degrees’ fundraising initiatives, working with foundation, corporate and individual partners to support the organization's expanding reach and impact. Prior to joining the OMD team in July 2015, Allison was the Director of Development at Namaste Charter School and previously served as a Chicago Public Schools elementary school teacher through Teach for America. Allison holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a Master of Arts in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago.

COTRELL LOFTIN

Communications Assistant

Cotrell engages scholars, coaches, volunteers, and donors of OMD through digital communication. She promotes the organization’s mission, accomplishments, and goals in social media, the OMD website, and e-newsletters. She is currently an Americorps volunteer with One Million Degrees through the Public Allies program. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Online Journalism with a minor in Communication Studies from Ohio University.

MEGAN MCCORMICK

Program Coordinator

Megan serves as an advocate for her OMD Scholars by fostering meaningful connections, building intentional relationships, and supporting scholars in setting and meeting their personal and professional goals. Prior to joining the OMD team, Megan served as a mentor and tutor for high school students with City Year Chicago. She comes to One Million Degrees with a passion for educational equity and commitment to working for and alongside Chicago’s students. Megan received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Denison University. 

DANIELLE MCCONNELL

Senior Program Coordinator

Danielle works to provide excellent service, supporting scholars from enrollment to graduation. She collaborates with OMD’s staff to recruit incoming scholars and implement strategies to support their personal, professional, and academic growth. Most recently, she worked with City Year Chicago, a non-profit organization, supporting freshmen on track efforts and providing socio-emotional coaching for high school students in an urban setting. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Developmental Psychology from the University of Michigan with a separate concentration in Gender & Health.

MICHAELA MCGILL

Manager, Volunteer & Alumni Programs

Michaela leads OMD’s volunteer and alumni strategy, working with volunteers, corporate partners, program partners, and scholar alumni. She manages the recruitment, training, and support of volunteers, and develops OMD’s alumni programming. Michaela also volunteered as an OMD Coach at Kennedy-King College in 2014-2015. Prior to OMD, Michaela worked in marketing and communications for a variety of nonprofit organizations and associations. Michaela has a Bachelor of Arts in Public Communications from American University.

JESSICA PAPA

Program Specialist

Jessica works with OMD Scholars at William Rainey Harper College. Before joining OMD, she was an instructor at Harper College. She has a tremendous amount of experience building trusting relationships with her students. Her ability to foster these strong connections with students is what has led her to working with OMD Scholars. Jessica received her Master of Arts in Integrated Studies with an emphasis in Gender and Cultural Studies from the University of Oklahoma. 

SHARITZA RIVERA

Senior Program Coordinator

Sharitza works with OMD Scholars at Olive-Harvey College, supporting them academically and personally to ensure success towards their individual goals. In conjunction with scholar development and support, Sharitza assists in recruitment and creating new partnerships for OMD. She also is member of the local advisory board at Chicago Youth Centers-Fellowship House. Prior to joining OMD, Sharitza worked as a psychotherapist at UCAN, doing individual/family therapy and running trauma-informed therapeutic groups within schools on the Westside of Chicago. She has a License in Social Work and is trained in sexual assault intervention, Anger Coping, and Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of Trauma in Schools. Sharitza received her Bachelor of Art in Psychology from DePaul University and her Master of Social Work from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. 

MARCUS SINGLETON

Senior Program Coordinator

Marcus is committed to partnering, empowering, and journeying with OMD Scholars to assist them in achieving success academically and to obtain their college degree by providing them with encouraging support and resources necessary to accomplish their goals in life. Marcus joins OMD from Metropolitan Family Services where he served as a Case Manager in the Altgeld Gardens Community on the far South Side of Chicago where he provided employment, clinical, youth and senior services for the residents living within the community. Marcus is also very active in the community on the South Side of Chicago conducting various leadership development workshops with urban youth. Marcus received his Bachelors of Science in English Teaching at Metropolitan State University in the Urban Teacher Program.

CHRISTINA SMITH

Program Coordinator

Christina is dedicated to empowering scholars by exposing them to new opportunities and enhancing their own abilities. Prior to joining OMD, Christina worked within the Office of College and Career Success at Chicago Public Schools co-coordinating scholarships. She is an AmeriCorps and Episcopal Service Corps alum and has a Bachelor of Arts in Black World Studies and Classical Civilizations from Loyola University Chicago. 

RODERICK WILSON

Senior Program Coordinator

Roderick commits his time to providing scholars with knowledge, coupled with support, which increases their potential for success inside the classroom and in an ever-growing global workforce. Most recently, he worked at The Posse Foundation, a nonprofit that is dedicated to college access and youth leadership development, where he selected, trained, and supported scholars while they navigated their college journey. He received a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management and Tourism from Northwestern State University and a Master of Science in Higher Education Administration from Florida International University.