Asset 1ScholarMatch

Our Team


ScholarMatch is a dynamic team of talented and passionate professionals.

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Staff

Diana Adamson

Executive Director

Diana Adamson

Executive Director

Diana is a native Californian and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. She holds Masters degrees from Saint Peters College and The London School of Economics. Her experiences in Teach For America, classroom teaching, and working abroad drive her passion for increasing access to higher education for under-resourced students. Since joining ScholarMatch in 2011, Diana has led it through gaining 501(c)3 status, significant program expansion, and developed the ScholarMatcher, the first-of-its-kind college search tool built to combat undermatching in low-income students. When she is not analyzing college data or evaluating program outcomes, Diana can be found running around with her three young children.

Veronica Ponce-Navarrete

Director of Program Operations

Veronica Ponce-Navarrete

Director of Program Operations

Veronica was born in Mexico and grew up in the Bay Area. She is a graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois and holds a Master’s in Student Affairs from UCLA. She has nearly 10 years experience in college access and student affairs. As a first generation college graduate from a single-parent immigrant household, she is passionate about supporting the retention and success of first generation, underrepresented students in higher education. While at Wheaton College she founded and directed a college access program for low-income and first-generation college-bound high school students from the Chicago area. In her previous roles within higher education institutions, she has supported campus level diversity initiatives and provided advising and career support to first generation college students. She is motivated by her desire to inspire and empower underrepresented students to be leaders in their communities and institutions of higher education.

Juliana Sloane

Director of People, Culture & Generosity

Juliana Sloane

Director of People, Culture & Generosity

Juliana joined the ScholarMatch team in 2013, and now leads ScholarMatch’s internal people, culture, and wellbeing support, and oversees our development efforts. Over the years, she has championed the work of a variety of organizations working to create empowered, compassionate communities, on staff and as a consultant and coach. She holds a BA from Guilford College, an MA from Central European University, has completed post-graduate work at the Inter-University Centre in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and holds a Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology from San Francisco State University. In her free time, she has a dedicated meditation practice and loves teaching mindfulness to communities in the Bay Area.

Nicholas Watson

Director of Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships

Nicholas Watson

Director of Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships

Nicholas is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and is a first-generation college student. He received his bachelor’s degree in Communication from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana and his Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Nick brings more than 10 years of experience in admissions, college counseling and advising, career counseling and advising and program management to his new role at ScholarMatch. He is passionate about working with students and families and helping them to understand the power of social capital and positive support networks in achieving their goals of higher education. When Nicholas is not reviewing college essays or offering financial aid advice he can usually be found watching the latest Food Network show.

Monica Mendez

Director of College Programs

Monica Mendez

Director of College Programs

Monica is passionate about higher education and helping first-generation students achieve their college and professional goals. As a native to San Diego, she participated in a similar high school program called AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), which led to her admission to Saint Mary’s College of California. Monica has extensive experience in career advising for college students and nonprofit volunteering. Since joining the ScholarMatch team in 2014, she has spearheaded the expansion of our College to Career program—ensuring that all students are given the one-on-one support they need to graduate college and launch a successful career. When Monica is not advising college students, you can find her cheerleading with the CHEER San Francisco nonprofit team or baking some delicious treats!

Jenny Vu

Director of College Programs, LA

Jenny Vu

Director of College Programs, LA

As a former refugee and first generation college graduate, Jenny is passionate about utilizing holistic and strengths-based approaches in creating equitable opportunities for low-income students. Her family’s migration and cultural identity experience, coupled with inherent social justice values and trips to the world’s most impoverished urban centers, locally and abroad, have propelled her relentless commitment to the prosperity and transformation of underserved communities. Jenny has over fifteen years of management experience in the nonprofit sector; she has shaped and led the design, implementation, and management of a breadth of student-centered programs that improve educational equity, and increase college access/higher education, socio-emotional, quality of life, and development outcomes. Jenny is energized by her vision to see all underrepresented students realize their full potential and become empowered change agents in their very communities. She holds a BA in Psychology and Social Behavior and a minor in Education from UCI, and a Master of Social Work from USC. She lives in East Los Angeles with her husband and two energetic children, where they enjoy exploring and finding hidden gems in the city. Jenny loves all things food (consuming, cooking, smelling), DIY projects, and clutter-free organization!

Kate Bueler

Director of Community Engagement

Kate Bueler

Director of Community Engagement

Kate is a native Californian, a first-generation college student, and a graduate of the University of San Francisco. She holds Masters degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University and University of San Francisco. She is a lifelong educator holding multiple roles in the field including teacher, literacy instructor, researcher, school counselor, and policy maker. Kate was inspired by her father who dropped out of college to complete college herself and this motivates her in supporting students as they embark on their own college journey. She is motivated by student stories of strength, resiliency, and enjoys seeing students’ growth overtime. Kate enjoys supporting and learning from volunteers and corporate groups as they support students in exploring college and career paths.

Lisa Lopez

Director of College Access

Lisa Lopez

Director of College Access

Lisa’s parents, of Mexican and Guatemalan heritage, immigrated to the United States. Inspired by their struggles, Lisa has been involved in the fields of education and service since high school. Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, CA, Lisa traveled north to attend the University of California, Berkeley where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies with a concentration in minorities and education. Lisa has over 10 years of college access and college persistence work; she is passionate about empowering students to lead their life with purpose, intention, and action. Prior to joining ScholarMatch, Lisa worked for KIPP Bay Area Public Schools as a Director of College Counseling and a College Persistence Manager. Outside of work, you can find Lisa dancing as part of an Afro-Brazilian dance company or spending time with friends and family.

Rita Bullwinkel

Development Coordinator

Rita Bullwinkel

Development Coordinator

Rita is a Bay Area native that has over six years of education and arts administration experience. She has taught at many academic institutions including Vanderbilt University, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, 826NYC, The Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, The Nashville Public Library and The Slant Literary Project. She is a graduate of Brown University, where she studied creative writing and religious studies. She also holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Vanderbilt University, where she focused on fiction. As both an educator and a product of the California public school system, Rita is dedicated to increasing under-resourced students’ access to higher education.

Nirvana Felix

Communications & Marketing Manager

Nirvana Felix

Communications & Marketing Manager

Nirvana is a first generation college student, community organizer, and ScholarMatch alumna from Eastside San Jose. Nirvana’s passion for education equity stems from her experience matriculating through under-resourced public schools in San Jose and wanting to see other low-income students view college as a possibility. While in college, Nirvana led outreach initiatives to recruit students of color into higher education, spearheaded conversations around campus climate, diversity, and inclusion, and interned for the Oakland School Board, the Marcus Foster Education Institute, and the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights. Nirvana is a proud Golden Bear who graduated from UC Berkeley in 2016 with a BA in Social Welfare. When she is not supporting college students or tweeting about all things higher education, Nirvana can be found listening to Phil Collins or searching for the best milkshake in the Bay Area.

Jonathan Ho

Data Analyst

Jonathan Ho

Data Analyst

Jonathan is originally from Hong Kong, China and is a first-generation college student. He received his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Economics from University of California Los Angeles and his master’s degree in Business Analytics from California State University East Bay. Jonathan brings his expertise in data analytics, data modeling and database management to his new role at ScholarMatch. He is passionate about using his skill-sets to bridge the gaps between students, counselors and ScholarMatch, and is excited to be a part of a team that helps students achieve their goals of obtaining a higher education. When Jonathan is not tinkering around databases, he can usually be found playing volleyball, role-playing with his toddler, or looking for a new recipe to try.

Alma Zaragoza-Petty, Ph.D.

Kayne Scholars Success Manager

Alma Zaragoza-Petty, Ph.D.

Kayne Scholars Success Manager

Alma is a native Californian who was also raised in Acapulco, Mexico. She has worked with students for almost 20 years in various capacities and settings. She started as an enrollment officer at East Los Angeles College, where she began her studies. While at UCLA she tutored and advised students in South Central and Huntington Park, where she grew up. As the first in her family to go to college, she became interested in learning about educational equity, and went on to complete a Masters in Counseling at CSU Northridge and a predoctoral internship at UC Berkeley. She lived in NorCal for three years while working for the EAOP and Cal-SOAP programs assisting students become college-ready. She returned to SoCal for her doctoral studies at UC Irvine where she graduated from in 2016. When she is not working with students, she enjoys spending time with her two daughters and partner, performing artist Propaganda.

Francisco Prado

Senior College Advisor

Francisco Prado

Senior College Advisor

Francisco is a native Californian from Los Angeles, the son of Mexican immigrants, and he is the first male in his family to graduate college. He graduated from California State University, Northridge and holds a Bachelors degree in Sociology. His 12 years experience in working with at-risk youth and families in the non-profit sector have given him the tools to assist those that are in need of increasing access to higher education and social services. He has developed and coordinated programs for low income communities that assist in Life Skills, Counseling, Crisis Intervention, and increased academic enrichment and career planning. He is dedicated to his passion which is to see today’s youth succeed and to make sure they are well prepared for the world of tomorrow.

Oliver Pascua

College Advisor

Oliver Pascua

College Advisor

A first-generation college student originally from the East Bay, Oliver graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While at UCSC, he helped lead A Step Forward (ASF), a student initiated outreach program that aims to promote higher education to students coming from underserved communities throughout California. After college, he worked as a College Adviser at KIPP King Collegiate High School in San Lorenzo, supporting students in preparing for college. Oliver is passionate about supporting youth in navigating their college journeys and pursuing their goals. In his free time you might find Oliver cheering on the Warriors, or walking his dog.

Timothy Huynh

College Advisor

Timothy Huynh

College Advisor

Timothy Huynh grew up in Connecticut as the son of Vietnamese refugees. He is a first generation college student, graduating from Syracuse University with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Asian/Asian American studies. His passion for working with college students grew from experiences in student leadership and advocating for underrepresented populations on campus. While attending the University of Southern California for his Master’s in Student Affairs, he worked with multiple mentoring programs for queer and first generation students. Timothy is excited to contribute his passion for providing access and equity to ScholarMatch. When he’s not meeting with students, you can find Timothy baking up something sweet in the kitchen, playing video games, or hunting for the next great spot to eat with his two dogs Sonny and Otto in tow.

Kimberly Arteaga

College Advisor

Kimberly Arteaga

College Advisor

Kimberly was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She is the daughter of immigrant parents and the only sister out of 5 siblings. Kimberly received her BA in Human Development from the University of California, San Diego and minor in Chicano and Latino Studies. She then became the first in her family to graduate from college. Kimberly has been working with college access and retention programs with the goal of guiding and counseling low-income, first generation students to strive towards academic and personal excellence. She believes that all students have the right to obtain a higher education regardless of the obstacles they may encounter along the way. Some of Kimberly’s obsessions include drinking coffee and eating hot cheetos.

Kenia Tello

Program Associate

Kenia Tello

Program Associate

Kenia is a first-generation college graduate, born in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and raised in Southern California. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara and holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science – International Relations. After graduating, Kenia lived in Rio de Janeiro, studying Brazilian foreign policy and backpacking through South America. She is an innovative and pragmatic team member, with experience providing administrative support in higher education and non-profit organizations that are committed to social justice. She enjoys channeling her energy into work that fosters equity, motivating others to achieve their passion and purpose, playing the drums, and exploring the outdoors.

Marisela Garcia

Program & Office Coordinator

Marisela Garcia

Program & Office Coordinator

Marisela grew up in the Bay Area but is originally from Mexico. She is a first generation college student and graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Chicano Studies. She spent her college years volunteering and advocating for immigrant rights. Marisela is passionate about education and believes every student should have the opportunity to get a college education. She has experience in college advising from her previous role as a college advisor, a position that has motivated her to continue working with college-bound high school students. She knows first-hand that as a low-income and first generation student, you don’t always have the support or financial resources to attend college, which is why she wants to help students receive the support and information to make college possible.
Marisela habla español y está aquí para ayudarle.

Hannah Bardo

Program Manager

Hannah Bardo

Program Manager

Hannah hails from the green mountains of Vermont. After studying International Affairs and Gender Studies at the George Washington University, she pursued her passion for social justice through an Americorps nonprofit leadership fellowship, which fatefully landed her at the doors of ScholarMatch in 2014. She taught our College & Career Readiness curriculum and initiated ScholarMatch’s corporate volunteer program. In 2016, Hannah was granted a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Fellowship at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. During this year she perfected her Portuguese, studied Afro-Brazilian dance, and volunteered with Instituto Promundo, an organization that engages men in exploring positive masculinities and preventing gender-based violence. To culminate this experience, she was able to fulfill her life-long dream of backpacking independently up the western coast of South America for three months. Now Hannah is thrilled to be back at ScholarMatch to continue supporting students in making their own dreams a reality!
Hannah habla español y esta aqui para ayudarle. Ela fala portugues também e sempre tem vontade de bater papo na língua mais linda do mundo!

Cristian King

Program Manager

Cristian King

Program Manager

Originally from San Diego, Cristian is a first-generation college student who graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in English Literature. After graduating, Cristian served as an AmeriCorps member at City Year Seattle/King County mentoring 7th grade students. This life changing experience solidified his passion for equity in education, and he dedicates his work to the incredible students he served. Cristian believes every student deserves access to higher education and is thrilled to be a part of the ScholarMatch family. In his free time, you will find him nose-deep in a novel, lost in thought at an art museum, or watching professional e-sports.

Leo Harrington

Program Associate

Leo Harrington

Program Associate

Leo was born and raised in San Francisco. After graduating from SFUSD schools, he left the Bay to study at Oberlin College and Conservatory, where he earned degrees in History and Music. Leo’s passion for equity in education is rooted in his experiences teaching music and languages, tutoring writing, and administering non-profit programs in SF, Oberlin, Panama, and Austria. In particular, his work with the Ninde Scholars Program in Oberlin sparked his conviction in the value of carefully delivered college access mentoring. Leo is honored to be a part of the ScholarMatch family and to support the Virtual Destination College program. Outside of work, Leo can be found running and cycling around the city, and checking out too many books from the library.

Board of Directors

Randie Bencanann

Retired Social Worker

Tom Conrad

Snapchat

Sheila Doucet

ScholarMatch Volunteer

Dave Eggers

ScholarMatch Founder, Author

Ian Ferry

Jackson Square Partners

Christine Higgins

Christine Higgins College Counseling

Jaime Huling-Delaye

San Francisco Deputy City Attorney

Diana Kapp

Journalist

Miriam Karpilow

University of San Francisco, Career Services

Jon Keehn

Capital International Investors

Ben Steinberg

Tehiyah Day School

Ron Turiello

Lawyer and Film Producer

Mary Williams

Trustee, Fonda Family Foundation