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. 

AMANDA ABRAHAM

Scholar Recruitment Coordinator

Amanda is serving as the Scholar Recruitment Coordinator at One Million Degrees through the New Alliance Fellowship program. She assists with recruitment and outreach efforts amongst schools, community organizations and students across Chicago. She recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a undergraduate degree in Psychology and a minor in Communication.

KRISHAE BEAMON

Program Coordinator

Krishae serves as Program Coordinator for OMD’s Kennedy-King College Scholars. Her passion in life is to strengthen communities and be a support system for those who are trying to succeed. She worked closely with high school youth as a City Year Chicago Corps Member and most recently served as a family support specialist with Head Start. Krishae received her Bachelor of Science in Family & Child Studies from Northern Illinois University with a minor in Business Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and is currently pursuing her Master 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.

OLIVIA CRUZ

Program Assistant, Volunteer & Alumni Programs

Olivia serves as the Program Assistant for OMD’s Volunteer and Alumni Programs. She is currently an AmeriCorps volunteer with One Million Degrees through Public Allies Chicago. She is a proud OMD Alum and received her Associates of Science from Olive Harvey College. Olivia is very passionate about education and enjoys creating engaged communities of OMD Scholars and coaches.

XOCHITL CRUZ

Program Manager

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

Manager, Program Operations

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.

KARINA ESPARZA

Operations Assistant

Karina serves as the Operations Intern for OMD.  She assists with event planning, scholar development sessions, recruitment, and office management. Karina is a proud OMD alum and received her Associates in Art from Richard Daley Community College.  Karina is currently pursuing her Bachelors in Psychology with a concentration in Community at DePaul University.  Her passion is to support college students to achieve their goals, just like OMD has done for her.

LUIS GONZALES

Program Coordinator

Luis serves as Program Coordinator at Wilbur Wright College. He passionately believes that every scholar has unique gifts and talents, as well as unlimited potential that can be leveraged to achieve their academic and professional goals. Most recently he has dedicated his time to boost college readiness initiatives and engaged in youth advocacy as a Graduate Support Advisor with UNO Charter School Network.  Before that he worked as a Financial Coach specializing in wealth building and development in Belmont Cragin at the Northwest Side Housing Center. Luis has a Bachelor of Arts in History from Furman University. 

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.

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 HOFFHINES

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 supports scholars at Harold Washington College and manages OMD's partnership with the Aon Apprenticeship Program, which provides full-time employment at Aon for current community college students. Outside of work, Liz serves in the Avodah Justice Fellowship for Chicago-area professionals working to address economic and social disparities, and she volunteers as a college access mentor for Chicago Scholars. Before joining OMD, Liz participated in the New Sector Alliance RISE Fellowship, an intensive yearlong program that cultivates emerging leaders in the social sector. 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.

DANIELLE MCCONNELL

Program Manager

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.

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.

MICHAELA MCGILL

Senior 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.

NOUFO NABINE

Program Assistant

 Noufo serves as the Program Assistant at One Million Degrees. She assists with event planning, scholar development session prep, and the tutoring program. She is currently an Americorps volunteer with One Million Degrees through the Public Allies Chicago program. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Women's Studies and French from Colgate University.

AMY ONAN

Program Manager

Amy Onan is the Program Manager for the College of Lake County. Her previous work experience covers a broad range of areas, including youth advocacy, adult higher education, local government and social services, and youth-oriented community outreach. She is a native of Lake County and earned her Associates from CLC, continuing her education and receiving her Bachelors from Columbia College of Missouri.

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. 

LAILA SADAT

Program Coordinator

Laila serves as Program Coordinator for OMD’s Wilbur Wright College Scholars. As a human rights advocate, civil rights activist, and columnist for the Chicago Monitor, she strives to be a channel of hope and an agent of change for those silenced. In addition to her B.A. in Communications from Columbia College Chicago and her involvement with local politics, she has a deep appreciation for education and a genuine love for serving others. Thus she has dedicated herself to various nonprofit organizations including Erie Neighborhood House, Pan-African Association (PAA), and Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), where she is able to support, mentor, and tutor immigrants, refugees, and minorities. Like many here at OMD, she works to make small differences in a world that needs major reform. 

MARCUS SINGLETON

Program Manager

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.

KATE SOMERFIELD

Program Operations Coordinator

Kate brings both a passion for academia and holistic support to her work at OMD. She most recently comes to OMD from an educational curriculum development and management position, but has also worked as a school social worker with Chicago Public Schools among other service roles. Kate holds her Bachelor of Science from Dominican University in both mathematics and criminology, received her Master of Social Work from University of Illinois at Chicago, and served as a full-time volunteer with Catholic Volunteer Network partner Dominican Volunteers in San Francisco, CA. 

MERIDEL TRIMBLE

Director of Operations

Meridel oversees OMD's program evaluation and research, financial management, and human capital development. Prior to OMD, she was a Project Team Leader in City Colleges of Chicago's strategy department. Meridel previously served as a Presidential Management Fellow with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and as a Fellow in the City of Chicago's Mayor's Office. She began her career with development roles at the University of Chicago and Northwestern. Meridel received her Bachelor of Arts in Japanese and International Relations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Master of Public Administration at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

YUSEF WATSON

Program Coordinator

For the past two years, Yusef has organized and developed critical youth advocacy and leadership development work with the Illinois Department of Children Family Services Statewide Youth Advisory Board. He supported a driven cohort of young adults involved with the Child Welfare System. Before that, Yusef spent a year as a City Year Chicago AmericCorps Member in 2013, delivering academic, attendance, and behavioral interventions at Tilden Career Community Academy High School. As an Englewood resident, Yusef is excited to advance efforts for leadership development in his community. Yusef is an alumnus of the University of Connecticut where he studied Psychology and Economics.