Team

Yamilee Toussaint, Founder & CEO

Echoing Green

Yamilée has personally experienced the extraordinary benefits of a STEM education and dance. After studying mechanical engineering at MIT and being an avid dancer for 21 years, she switched gears to teach high school algebra in an under-served community in East New York, Brooklyn through Teach For America. As a teacher, her eyes were opened to the multitude of opportunities her students didn’t have access to; there was an abundance of potential that would never be unleashed. Therefore, she set out to provide students with something greater than what the school system could provide. She started STEM From Dance with the hope that a strong dance and STEM supplemental education would help to increase the number of under-represented minority high school girls across the nation who pursue a STEM undergraduate education.

Bryan Ballegeer, Board Chair

Bryan is a graduate of Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, majoring in Public and Non Profit Administration. For the past 5 years Bryan has worked for Success Academy Charter Schools in their operations department and is currently overseeing the networks 9 middle schools’ operations teams and budgets. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys anything and everything to do with music whether that be playing guitar, attending concerts, or writing his own songs.

Heather Barash, Board Member

Heather Barash is a young professional who studied Business, Psychology, and Economics at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. After graduation, she moved to New York City to start her career in the insurance industry at AIG. Through coursework and work experience, she’s developed an avid curiosity for STEM and took on an additional role to connect employees with technology within her company. Heather’s other passions include spending time with family and friends, traveling, hiking, reading, and dancing. Heather began dancing when she was four years old and it remains an important staple in her life. She’s excited to help underserved and minority youth build confidence and reach their potentials by intertwining STEM and dance.

Nia Beckley, Founding Board Member

Nia (4 of 1) (1)

Nia is the epitome of what SFD students can become. With a chemical engineering B.S. and a biological engineering M.Eng from MIT, she is a research scientist at Genentech helping to develop the next generation of oncology and immunology therapies. She attributes much her success through high school and college to the combination of a dance and STEM education, which taught her the skills necessary to become a confident and creative leader. She values the importance of education, particularly increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in STEM fields, and through numerous programs, has tutored and taught students from this target demographic in math, chemistry, and reading.

 

 

 

 

Jacobe Bell, Founding Board Member

IMG_2010Jacobe is a graduate of Stanford University and holds a Masters in Urban Education from Mercy College. Having worked in education for over a decade, Jacobe is passionate about closing the achievement gap. As an Educational Consultant, she currently works directly with teachers, teacher leaders, and principals to improve school effectiveness. Her professional interests lie in curriculum design, instructional strategies, leadership development, and student engagement in urban schools. Also as an avid dancer herself for over 20 years, Jacobe is excited to be a part of the STEM From Dance community.

Chris Jones, Board Member

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 5.08.11 PMChris realizes the value of promoting STEM education in under-served communities, especially given his role as the founder and CEO of Promethean IT, an IT consultancy and managed services provider based in Manhattan. Chris was a distinguished honor graduate of the U.S. Army Information Science School and also holds a degree in philosophy from The New School.

Maryann Li, Board Member

IMG_20150809_163958Maryann studied Finance at the University of Virginia and started her career in interest rates trading before working in education. A lover of dance, and an even bigger lover of the STEM sciences, Maryann is passionate about providing a strong STEM foundation to under-served students and increasing the number of minorities who graduate with STEM degrees from college. Maryann is currently a director of strategy at Teach for America’s national office.

Terriann Nohilly, Board Member

Terriann is a Southern California native that moved to NYC in 2013. Both her parents were born in Ireland and so in order to keep their daughters connected to Irish culture, Terriann and her sister were enrolled in Irish dancing. Terriann danced competitively for 13 years, travelling numerous times to Ireland for competitions. While no longer competitively Irish dancing, Terriann continues to explore other dance forms including hip-hop, street jazz, and swing. She graduated for UC San Diego with a BS in Chemical Engineering and subsequently started working in field of construction management. She has since then transitioned to working in tech, employed now by Bluebeam Inc. a software company that designs tools for PDF workflow. Both math and dance have been played a crucial role in her’s life – she believes that through the dance & STEM fusion that SFD so cleverly weaves, we can build a brighter future for women and communities.

Devika Thapar, Board Member

A global professional with a career spanning Delhi, London, New York and Amsterdam, Devika’s belief in a world without borders arises from a cosmopolitan curiosity driven by human interaction. Impelled by ideas but rooted in execution, Devika is a product strategy and management executive in the emerging technology sector. Her experience and interest in artificial intelligence, education and financial services technology and product design reflects her disposition to engage with people spanning visionary disciplines. She is a traveler and hiker through countries and concepts with a passion for curation (playlists, interiors or rare coffee beans). Her background in classical and jazz dance echoes her love for movement; both individual and global. Learn more here.

Brandon Walker, Board Member

Brandon Walker studied Engineering Science at the University of Virginia where he quickly found Engineering as a way of thinking and not a major. A past student and teacher for a summer enrichment program catering to underprivileged students, he is excited to play a role in helping minority students realize their potential to excel in the STEM subjects while also enjoying their passion of dance. Brandon is currently the Chief of Staff of New York Network Management at UnitedHealthcare.

Mikala Streeter, Computer Science Consultant

Mikala is a teacher, coder and entrepreneur. As a graduate of MIT (B.S. Computer Science & Engineering) and Stanford University (M.A. Education – Learning, Design, and Technology) and as a former high school Computer Science instructor, she loves nothing more than getting students excited about expressing themselves through code. Mikala finds designing curriculum for STEM From Dance particularly exciting because the program adds a purposeful element of movement to an otherwise sedentary endeavor. When she’s not coding or teaching someone to code, Mikala enjoys reading, binging on Netflix, and spending time with family and friends.