Staff and Team
Amanda Kruger Hill, Executive Director
Amanda is an award-winning educational leader with a deep commitment to the success of New Orleans youth. She co-founded the first youth-initiated high school in the United States and the Reach Institute for School Leadership in California. Additionally, she was a lead design team member of New Harmony High, the award-winning XQ Super School. Amanda is a former principal, master teacher, and college counselor. Prior to leading the Cowen Institute, she was Director of School Reviews with New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO). Amanda holds her Master’s in Educational Leadership, Principal Licensure, and Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Amanda received her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Johns Hopkins University. She has served as an adjunct faculty member with Columbia University, Tulane University, and Relay Graduate School of Education. She also serves on the boards of Bard Early College New Orleans and the Tulane Center for Teacher Preparation and Certification as well as on various task forces for the Department of Education. Amanda is the Cowen Institute’s lead for the Harvard University Strategic Data Project Fellowship. She enjoys living in New Orleans with her husband, Graham, and sons, Benjamin and Louis.
Amy Barad, Deputy Director
Amy launched and now directs the Cowen Institute’s Reconnecting Opportunity Youth initiative, which addresses youth disconnection in New Orleans. Over the past 10 years, she has worked in the for- and nonprofit sectors in program and project management, business development, policy analysis, and systems and operational management. Prior to joining the Cowen Institute, she held managerial positions in systems design, finance, and operations at McMaster-Carr and consulted on development projects in Johannesburg, South Africa. Amy serves on the boards of Tulane Hillel, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Cookbook Project. In her free time, she enjoys teaching group exercise classes at Barre3 New Orleans. Amy holds her Masters in Business Administration from Tulane’s Freeman School of Business and a Bachelor’s from Brown University.
Kate Babineau, Senior Research Fellow
Kate is a Senior Research Fellow with the Cowen Institute and with Harvard University’s Strategic Data Project. Her work focuses on college persistence, early warning systems, accountability, mixed-methods research methodologies, measurement development, and making educational systems more equitable for underrepresented populations. Prior to joining the Cowen Institute, Kate earned her MSc in Applied Social Research and her PhD in Social Policy in 2014 from Trinity College, Dublin. Her academic research focused on diversity and social integration in elementary schools. Prior to that, she earned a Bachelor’s in Philosophy from Loyola University in 2006 and taught elementary school in New Orleans. She’s interested in data visualization, graphic design, multimedia, and finding new and interesting ways to bring data to the people.
Alison Barker, Manager, Earn and Learn Program
Alison started her teaching career in after school programming in Boston whose mission was to empower young people’s self-expression. She has spent the past 20 years in education pursuing that objective in different ways and places: she taught history and English at the middle school level and creative and research writing at the college level. Before coming to the Cowen Institute, she served on the faculties of Delgado Community College and LSU. She holds a BA and Teaching Certification from Wellesley College and an MFA from LSU.
CJ Brumfield, Assistant Director, Upward Bound
CJ is a native New Orleanian. He attended Xavier University of Louisiana, where he received a Bachelor’s of Arts in History and a Master’s in Counseling with a Post-Secondary Education concentration. He was the first recipient of the CASE/Clarence J. Jupiter Fellowship for Institutional Advancement and spent several years working in Development and Alumni Relations at Xavier University of Louisiana. CJ was also the managing partner of a local business for three years before being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Having worked with the Ronald E. McNair TRiO program prior to his time in Development, he decided to return to New Orleans and rejoin the education community. CJ served as Assistant Director of the Upward Bound TRiO program at Loyola University New Orleans before joining the Cowen Institute in the same role. He looks forward to continuing his work with the youth of New Orleans, providing academic support systems, and improved post-secondary opportunities.
Nicole Burse, Manager of Finance and Operations
Prior to coming to the Cowen Institute, Nicole managed operations and finances for Tulane summer school at Newcomb Tulane College. In her nine years at Tulane, she has also worked with the School of Liberal Arts and University Relations. Nicole holds a Master’s in Emergency Management and is pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration from Tulane’s Freeman School of Business. Nicole is passionate about access and equity in our education system and currently serves as the treasurer for Tulane’s First-Generation College Faculty and Staff Council. She also volunteers with Evacuteer in support of city-assisted evacuations and emergency preparedness throughout the year. She is a long-time resident of New Orleans along with her husband, Jon and daughter, Kamryn. She is thrilled to join this dynamic organization and to play a role in advancing education and career opportunities for New Orleans youth.
Christina Carr, Program Officer, Office of Advancement
Christina holds a joint appointment to Tulane University’s Department of Corporate and Foundation Relations and the Cowen Institute. In this role, she is responsible for coordinating the fundraising efforts of the Cowen Institute, including managing the Institute’s annual fund program and the stewardship activities for both corporate and foundation representatives and individual prospects. Before joining the Cowen Institute, Christina served as Grants Manager at the New Orleans Museum of Art; Assistant Director of Development Writing at Tulane; and Director of Development at the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Boston University and a Master’s of Arts in Arts Administration from the University of New Orleans. A long-time New Orleans resident, Christina is an arts advocate and volunteers as a writing coach for Posse Foundation and to help restore Louisiana’s coast.
Eric Cherrie, Manager, Strategy and Impact
Eric’s work focuses on the design, implementation, and growth of strategic initiatives aimed at improving educational and employment outcomes for young people. He previously worked at the Cowen Institute as the EMPLOY Collaborative’s Senior Program Coordinator, where he assisted with strategic development, communications, alignment, logistics, program design, and supported a community of practice. Eric is a native New Orleanian. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Colorado – Denver and is a dual MBA and Global MBA candidate at Tulane University. He served two years with AmeriCorps, working in Austin, Texas and Boulder, Colorado. During that time, he worked with youth on dropout prevention, college access, and career readiness.
David Collier, Trellis Director
David serves as the Trellis Director for the Cowen Institute. Prior to that role, he managed a partnership between Earn and Learn and the Hilton Riverside New Orleans hotel that provides an on ramp for opportunity youth to meaningful careers in the hospitality industry. David spent the previous nine years in public education in New Orleans, holding roles of Assistant Principal, Dean of Students, Math Coach, and 5th Grade Math Teacher with ReNEW Schools. As a school administrator he worked to transform school culture by providing meaningful behavior interventions, decreasing the suspension rate, and recognizing student voice in decision making. David’s students consistently achieved among the highest 5th grade math scores in New Orleans. He grew up in Baltimore, MD and holds an undergraduate degree in Politics Science and Economics from Columbia University.
Renee’ Miller-Dolliole, Recruitment and Enrollment Manager, Trellis
Renee’ is a native New Orleanian. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance from Dillard University, Renee’ began a career in Higher Education at Minnesota State University Mankato as an Admissions Counselor. Upon returning to New Orleans, she taught K-12 choral music at Good Shepherd Catholic School and Joseph S. Clark High School. Having a passion for higher education, Renee’ returned to the collegiate world as a Financial Aid Counselor at University of New Orleans. For the last five years, she has been a part of the Tulane University family as a Financial Aid Counselor and Career Coach, earning a Master’s of Liberal Arts along the way. Outside of the office, Renee’ spends a lot of her time helping those in need of college resources and spending quality time with her husband, Sean, and son, Sean Mackie.
Christina Fontenot, Senior Manager of College and Career Success
Christina Fontenot is a native of South Los Angeles, California. Her love for New Orleans started when she chose to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary & Special Education at her beloved alma mater, Dillard University. Christina then attended California State University Los Angeles, where she earned a Master of Science Degree in Counseling with a focus on Student Development. She then served as the Senior Assistant Director of Student Services for the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California for more than eight years. Christina relocated to New Orleans in 2015 to pursue a career in College Counseling. She has been a key partner of ours in her role as the Director of College Counseling at Abramson Sci Academy, an open-enrollment charterers high school in New Orleans East. Christina was one of the leaders of our citywide FAFSA completion efforts. In 2019, the Kresge Foundation, in partnership with the National College Access Network, profiled Christina’s work with students and families on FAFSA completion. She is dedicated to helping families navigate the college admissions, scholarship, and financial aid processes. Christina is a proud dog and plant mom and loves all things outdoors.
Shakari Fraser, Senior Manager – Earn and Learn
Shakari, a New Orleans native, joined the Earn and Learn Program as the Manager of On-the-Job Training. She is a former high school social studies teacher and former lead of the College and Career Readiness Team at ReNEW Accelerated High School. In that role, she developed, organized and tracked individual college and career plans for nearly 100 over-age and under-credited seniors annually. Shakari attended LSU, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Anthropology, and she also possesses an advanced degree in Computer Information Systems from Southern University at New Orleans. She is responsible for strengthening existing and cultivating new apprenticeship sites along with professionally developing business partners that supports them in effectively hiring, retaining, and advancing opportunity youth.
Keosha Griffiths, College Completion Advisor for the Trellis Program
Keosha is the College Completion Advisor for the Trellis Program. Keosha has a deep knowledge of and passion for higher education. Her experience includes working in student success at the University of New Orleans, college access and college persistence programs, and residential life at SUNY Binghamton. Originally from San Diego, California, Keosha earned her bachelor’s degree in Human Communication focusing in Leadership and Advocacy from Cal State University, Monterey Bay. She earned her Master’s of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Keosha carries a strong passion for supporting student success and increasing equity through high quality education. In her free time, you can find Keosha hanging out with her adorable niece, Chloe, baking for her business, or leading her sorority as their National President.
Porsha Hughes, Success Coach, Earn and Learn
Porsha is the Success Coach for the Earn and Learn Program. In this role, Porsha serves as a persistence coach to current participants and alumni. She uses strong coaching practices to ensure matriculation along a career and post-secondary pathway is met. Prior to joining the Cowen Institute,Porsha worked in the Office of Alumni Engagement at Elon University where she launched the Alumni Milestone Program and provided coaching and guidance to alumni staff. She has experience working with TRiO programs and the North Carolina Health Careers Access Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Originally from Southeastern North Carolina, Porsha earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from Hampton University. She is very passionate and committed to creating equitable opportunities and successfully reconnecting opportunity youth to meaningful career pathways.
Arpi Karapetyan, Senior Research Fellow
Arpi is a Senior Research Fellow with the Cowen Institute at Tulane University and a data fellow with Harvard University’s Strategic Data Project. Prior to coming to the Cowen Institute, Arpi was a Senior Data Analyst at Boston Day and Evening Academy, an alternative high school in Boston Public Schools. Her work consisted of developing a data system for the school and conducting analyses that informed the school’s practice. Before working at Boston Day and Evening Academy, Arpi worked at the Paraclete Academy as a teacher and at Harvard University as a research assistant. She is passionate about helping reform schools to better meet the needs of marginalized students. Arpi earned an Ed.M from Harvard University and a B.A. in psychology from Grinnell College. She is a Posse scholar.
Tania Matos-Lozano, Operations Coordinator
Tania leads the organization’s operations, supporting approximately 90 team members and suitemates. She oversees the organization-wide internship program which recruits from local universities including Xavier, Loyola, Dillard and the University of New Orleans. She also assists on personnel matters including payroll and leads event logistics. She has lead investigations and presentations in D.C. on services received by her hometown Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. Currently enrolled to finish her Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies from Tulane University, she looks forward to pursing a law degree in the near future to aide her commitment to an equitable education and resources.
Dan McGrath, College and Academic Counselor, Upward Bound
Dan is the College and Academic Counselor with Tulane University’s Upward Bound program, where he partners with students from high schools across New Orleans to prepare them for success in college and beyond. He is passionate about guiding students and families through career and college planning that fits them personally, financially, and academically. Dan has taught and advised in middle and high schools across the city for more than a decade, serving as College Counselor for the past seven years at Frederick A. Douglass High School (formerly KIPP Renaissance High School). He grew up in Cincinnati, OH, earned his B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is currently pursuing his Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans. In his spare time, Dan loves to travel, plays baseball, and is a very amateur photographer.
Logan Perkins, Career Counselor for Trellis
Logan is a native of New Orleans. He attended Xavier University where he received both his Bachelor’s (B.S. Psychology) and his Master’s (M.A. Counseling). Over the past 5 years, Logan has worked at the University level helping students identify both academic and career pathways. He has also developed and facilitated career exploration workshops with the aim of aligning students’ interest with career opportunities. He first served as a Career Advisor in the Career Advancement Center at Xavier University, and most recently as an Academic Coach with the TRiO Student Support Services Program located on Southern University at New Orleans’ campus. Prior to working in higher education, Logan served as an instructor at both St. Augustine High School and KIPP Renaissance High School. He also spent his summers helping direct both a teen and youth NORDC camp. Logan currently resides in Central City and enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and friends.
April Rice, Director, Upward Bound
April Rice has spent the past 10 years in education as a teacher, curriculum specialist, and coach. Her experience and passion lie with teaching disadvantaged students in extenuating circumstances. With a background in curriculum and instruction, April has implemented and developed programs and courses to help students transition between high school and college at the high school level. She has developed dropout prevention and credit recovery courses for her district. She has also trained new teachers for the Department of Education at the state level and presented at regional and national conferences on 21st century learning, Career Pathways, and STEM Initiatives. Although she enjoys training teachers, April’s passion is inside the classroom with her students. April received the Teacher of the Year Award in 2008 and 2009 from Rankin County, Mississippi. She received her Bachelor’s in Health Science from Brigham Young University-Idaho and her Master’s in Higher Education Administration at Mississippi College.
Latisha Robertson-Williams, Administrative Program Coordinator, Upward Bound
Latisha has been with Upward Bound since February 2006, as New Orleans began to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. She is instrumental in developing administrative procedures, maintaining student records, and supporting staff and faculty in programming initiatives. Additionally, she handles finances, budgets, reports, communications, field trips/college tours, and recruitment for Upward Bound. Latisha and her husband are proud parents of five children. In her spare time, she enjoys coordinating weddings and events. She looks forward to finishing her business degree in the near future.
Vincent Rossmeier, Director of Policy
Vincent’s work focuses on the areas of post-secondary education, workforce development, and economic development. He most recently worked as chief of staff to District “C” Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer of the New Orleans City Council. Prior to his work with the city, Vincent worked for the Bureau of Government Research and Partnership for Youth Development. He holds a Master’s Degree in Journalism from New York University and has worked both at the New Yorker and Salon.com.
Dionna Stokes, Admissions Coach, Trellis
Dionna Stokes serves as the Admissions Coach for the Trellis Hybrid Program. Prior to joining the Cowen Institute, she was a Project Coordinator at the Akron Urban League where she assisted with launching the agency’s first post-secondary, tech certification program for underserved and underrepresented populations. She also completed an AmeriCorps service year with City Year Cleveland in 2016 and served as a Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) intern with the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan and the U.S. Embassy in Asmara, Eritrea while completing her M.S. in Global Studies and International Relations- Global Student Mobility from Northeastern University. Dionna’s academic background reflects her passion for the community in a global context. Ultimately, she strives to create greater accessibility to higher education for disadvantaged and displaced populations, while eliminating barriers to increase participation in global experiential learning programs. In her free time, Dionna enjoys traveling with her twin sister and participating in local fashion shows.
Materrinan ‘Terri’ Zehyoue, Senior Administrative Program Coordinator, Trellis
Terri serves as the program coordinator for the Trellis Hybrid College. She brings a passion for uplifting her community, which was instilled in her by her parents, natives of the country Liberia in West Africa. Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she attended Loyola University New Orleans, studying criminal justice and sociology. While in school she was a Social Justice Scholar, spending 45 hours each semester engaged in service to the greater New Orleans area. She enjoys reading poetry and cares deeply about the natural landscape of Louisiana. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she returned to work at Loyola, serving as the program coordinator for the FaithActs Youth Theology Institute. In this role, Terri led college mentors and high school students to connect their understanding of Catholic theology with issues of environmental justice in Louisiana. Prior to joining the Cowen Institute, she worked as a site director at Nyansa Classical Community, where children engaged in the classical model of education: studying the basic grammar or concepts of different disciplines; practicing logic through careful reasoning and analysis; and honing rhetorical skills of expression for the cultivation or virtue and wisdom. Beyond providing academic support and structure in this role, Terri also worked with community leaders and parents in Central City New Orleans to ensure that the needs of students and their families were being met. She is excited to continue this work of supporting adult learners and their families as they continue on their educational journey through the Trellis program.