Meet the Team

Eli Kennedy

Chief Executive Officer

Eli joined LPFI in 2016. For over a decade, Eli has worked to develop the STEM talent pipeline in underrepresented communities and improve educational systems. He has led a region for Platform Learning, a tutoring company focused on low ­income students and made investments in educational reform initiatives as a director at the Broad Foundation. He has also served as the President and CEO of the Pacific Charter School Development, where he developed over 50 public charter school facilities, raised more than $30M in new philanthropic funding, and scaled the organization as it expanded into three new states. Most recently, he served as Senior Vice President of Redbird Advanced Learning, a leading research-­based EdTech company. 

Danielle Rose

Chief Programs Officer

Danielle’s foray into the education space began in 2010 with Rocket Learning – USA, after working in a diverse set of engineering and business roles in the energy sector for BP America, Inc. over the span of eight years. Danielle joined LPFI in 2015 as Director of Programs where she is responsible for organization wide program development, operations and expansion. Just prior to joining LPFI, Danielle successfully built and managed the operations for Redbird Advanced Learning. Danielle holds a B.S. from Spelman College in Mathematics and a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her own lived experience – academic and professional – has well equipped her to help further fulfill the LPFI mission.

William Cardenas

SMASH Program Director

William is committed to closing the opportunity gap for underserved communities by navigating complex operational challenges, connecting individuals and groups, and driving solutions that result in a significant social impact. His role as the SMASH Program Director with LPFI allows him to fulfill his passion for education and learning while serving students of color on a national scale.

Prior to his current role with LPFI, William worked as the Director of Local Engagement with GreatSchools, the nation’s leading website for parents for K12 school data and parenting resources. William led the planning, implementation, and launch of three GreatSchools programs in Atlanta, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Colorado with the goal of providing socioeconomically diverse families with access to online tools to improve their knowledge of high quality K12 school options.  Prior to his work with GreatSchools, William was the founding Director of Operations for a KIPP charter school in the South Bronx of New York. In this role, he directed and managed an annual operating budget of $8M and created an operational growth system, facilitating yearly expansion from 200 students and 20 staff to 500 students and 60 staff.

William is fluent in Spanish and holds a B.A. in Psychology from UC Berkeley and an M.A. from Columbia University in International Studies. William is a California native and is excited to continue working in Oakland, helping underserved students reach their academic and personal goals in collaboration with an amazing group of leaders in the STEM, edtech, and social justice fields.

Sivan Levaton

Alumni Partnerships & Programs Director

Sivan’s fervent belief in education as a lever for social change led her to work with a variety of organizations dedicated to equity in education.

Formerly, she worked at The Posse Foundation in Chicago, First Graduate in San Francisco, and for an EdTech startup in San Francisco.

Sivan is a first-generation college student and a Posse Alumna. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Educational Policy Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a Master of Arts in Education from California State University – Los Angeles.

Rosalyn Clark, Ph.D.

Site Director | UC Davis

Dr. Clark worked as Site Director for SMASH Pathways at UC Davis in 2015. She received her Ph.D. in School Organization and Educational Policy from UC Davis, and M.A. from San Jose State University in Educational Counseling. Dr. Clark has worked at both CSU and UC campuses to enhance college pipeline programs. She has over 10 years experience in working with college access, gender equity, and STEM related institutional frameworks. She has previously taught K-12 courses and undergraduate courses at UC Davis. Dr. Clark currently serves as the Director of the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) K-12 Schools Program at UC Davis that provides support to over 1200 students in the greater Sacramento Region.

Catherine Douglas

Site Director | UCLA

Cathy joined LPFI in 2012 as the Site Director for SMASH: UCLA. Additionally, she works as a the Associate Director, Pre-College Programs for the Center for Excellence in Engineering and Diversity (CEED) in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science (HSSEAS). In this capacity, she is responsible for the academic year coordination of Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) preliminary and regional competitions for middle school and high schools, professional development activities for teachers, and college planning workshops.

Brian Garrett, Ph.D.

Site Director | Morehouse College

Dr. Garrett is a biochemist from Raleigh, North Carolina. He earned his BS in Chemistry from Morehouse College in 2010 and his doctorate in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015. After completing his doctorate, Dr. Garrett began working as a Research and Development Consultant for HyperLight, a biotech startup company in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. Prior to joining LPFI, Dr. Garrett worked as a Protein Analytical Chemist at Genentech where he earned an excellence award for his development of a quantitative method for analyzing antiviral molecules introduced during the drug development process. Relying on his first hand experience successfully navigating the STEM pipeline and his passion for developing and empowering young people and people of color, Dr. Garrett is determined to leave a lasting impact on the coming generation of diverse STEM professionals.

Alicia Parise

Site Director | Stanford University

Alicia comes to LPFI with an extensive background working in schools and in the non-profit sector. After receiving her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Latin American Studies from UCLA, she moved back home to the Bay Area, where she worked at several schools and non-profits, helping low-income students engage in school and gain access to college. After working as a site director for an after school program for primarily English Language learners in San Rafael, she decided to go back to school to pursue her Master’s at USF in Counseling Psychology with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential so that she would be certified to work as a school counselor. During this time, Alicia was hired to help launch the SEO Scholars program in San Francisco as the first expansion site out of New York City–an intensive academic after school, Saturday and summer program that helps low-income students get into and through competitive four year colleges. She helped the program grow from infancy, from recruiting the very first class with only two full time staff to now having over 100 students involved in the high school and college programs with 7 full time staff and 10-15 part time staff. Alicia is excited to join the LPFI community as the Stanford Site Director for SMASH and continue to create greater impact among youth in the context of STEM. In her free time, she likes to hang out and relax with friends, read, puzzle, cook, and occasionally go out salsa dancing.



John Ray

Site Director | Wayne State University

John is a native Detroiter and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. He comes from an education background and has experience with traditional district and charter schools and in elementary and middle schools as a teacher and administrator. While living in Houston, he attained his M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from the University of St. Thomas. Most recently John worked as a management consultant on the east coast, supporting school districts and not-for-profit organizations with their improvement efforts. John is thrilled to join the LPFI and Kapor family and return to his hometown of Detroit to provide opportunities to students who are often overlooked. 

LaToya Tufts

Site Director | The Wharton School of Business

LaToya was born and raised in Vidalia, GA before moving to Washington DC for college. While in DC, LaToya attended Georgetown University where she double majored in Government and English. She spent time in the classroom as a special education teacher while earning her Master’s in Education Policy and Leadership from American University. Before joining SMASH, LaToya worked as the Vice President of Academic and Career Success for a college access startup in Philadelphia. LaToya is excited to be part of the SMASH family and bring this transformative organization to students in the Greater Philadelphia area. As a first generation college student herself, she understands how transformative SMASH will be for families.

Martín Gonzales

Residential Programs Manager

Martín Gonzales was born and raised in Hollister, CA and a son to immigrant parents from Mexico. His low income and first generation background served as motivation and drive for attaining his higher education; and for going into a profession that allows him to empower others to do the same. Martín received his bachelors in Sociology and masters in Educational Administration and Leadership with an emphasis in Student Affairs, Curriculum and Instruction, and Educational and Organizational Leadership from the University of the Pacific. Prior to his time at LPFI he worked in various roles within the University of the Pacific, both in academic and student affairs. Before that, he served as the Site Coordinator for another non-profit coordinating after school programs for the Hollister School District. He hopes to use his lived and professional experiences to empower other students from disenfranchised populations to fulfill their academic, personal, and professional goals.

Janessa Harmon

Sr. Project Operations Associate

Janessa Harmon joined LPFI in 2015 as the Development Associate. Janessa earned her B.A. in Political Science from the University of San Francisco in 2013. Janessa’s passions include education, art, business development, team building, and fitness. Prior to joining LPFI, Janessa worked at Kaiser Permanente IT in Oakland where she provided logistics support for Kaiser’s partnership with organizational consulting company, The Energy Project. Janessa is excited to be a part of an organization that is committed to the advancement of youth.

Laura Hinton

Program Operations Manager

Laura Hinton grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from Harvard with a Bachelor’s in Sociology and a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Prior to joining LPFI, Laura worked as a college counselor in the Bay Area and as a high school teacher in Detroit, Michigan, where she taught reading and teen leadership. She has also worked and interned for several education nonprofits in the United States and abroad, including Breakthrough Collaborative and the Future Leaders Institute.

Kristina Peralta

Director of Institutional Development

Kristina’s passion for educational equity was instilled as an undergraduate, when she served as the Student Director for BRIDGE: the Filipino/ Filipino American Outreach and Retention Program at UC Davis.  After graduating, she began her career as an elementary special education teacher in Brooklyn through the New York City Teaching Fellows Program. Following the completion of the program, she worked as a Community Advocate for the Asian Law Caucus’ Immigrant Rights Program, where she provided direct services to low-income immigrant communities in the Bay Area and created ASPIRE: Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education, the first Pan-Asian undocumented youth group in the nation. She also worked as a Research Assistant at Stanford examining ways in which financial incentives for states and broad-access institutions can produce higher levels of college persistence and completion. Following that, she served as a Policy Analyst for San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, where she worked on Education and Gang Prevention initiatives for the City of San Jose. Most recently, she served as the Director of Education and Workforce Preparedness for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a public policy trade organization working on behalf of over 400 companies in Silicon Valley to improve the quality of life for people in the region.

Kristina is a proud Bay Area native and received a B.A. in Sociology from UC Davis and an M.A. from Stanford University in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies. Through her work, she hopes to contribute towards creating a more equitable, inclusive, and just society.

Ashleigh Richelle

Communications Manager

Ashleigh Richelle shares a personal history with LPFI as a 2009 alumna of the SMASH Academy. After SMASH, Ashleigh attended the University of Chicago, where she graduated in 2014 with a B.A. in Cinema & Media Studies and a minor in Human Rights. She has interned at CBS Interactive as a social media intern, and worked in University Recruiting at LinkedIn before joining the LPFI team in 2015. Outside of work, Ashleigh is passionate about documentary film and production, ballroom dancing and advancing opportunities for youth of color to succeed.

Jenny Woo

Program Operations Associate

Jenny Woo graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor’s in Sociology. Prior to joining LPFI, Jenny was working in EdTech at a coding bootcamp as a Project Associate. Jenny also has experience working in business operations at an environmental non-profit located in Berkeley. Her passions lie in social justice and equality and she hopes to dedicate her career to these areas. In her free time, Jenny is cooking, listening to jazz, or listening to comedy podcasts.