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2018 Envision Education Experience Team Bios

Leadership Team

Matt Castrina (Vice President, Education Experience) Since 2003, Matt has developed and/or implemented programs for high-achieving middle school, college, university, and continuing education students in Australia, Austria, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, India, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States. For the past few years Matt has overseen Envision’s Career & Leadership Academy programming.  Matt is a graduate of La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Amanda Freitag-Thomas (Vice President, Operations and Education Experience) Since 2004, Amanda has served in various programmatic and supervisory roles with Envision’s elementary, middle school and high school programs.  National Young Leaders Conference, the Global Young Leaders Conference, the National Young Leaders State Conference and the National Young Scholars Program and the Presidential Inaugural Conferences.  Originally from Virginia, Amanda graduated from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. Amanda also spent time conducting research at Columbia University’s Biosphere 2 Center in Oracle. Arizona. Additionally, Amanda is an alumna of an Envision program.

Yolanda Golden (Vice President, Education Experience) Yolanda joined Envision in November 2017 as the Vice President of Education Experience, overseeing Elementary, Middle, and High School STEM programs. Prior to Envision, Yolanda served in various capacities at Loyola University Chicago to include coordinating the School of Social Work’s advising program, teaching at the graduate and undergraduate level, and most recently working as the Associate Dean for Student Success at Arrupe College. She hails from Rockford, IL but lived in the Chicagoland area for the past 13 years before relocating to Virginia in November. She participates in seasonal staff training, and will be offering supportive services at STEM sites throughout the summer.

Amanda Whitener (Director, Education Experience) Amanda has been with Envision since 2013 in Manager and Customer Experience roles, and transitioned into the STEM Education Director Role in November 2017. Her primary focus is supporting the STEM team through program development, preparation, training, and customer support. Prior to Envision, Amanda spent 7 years working with Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio managing all of the visitor, school, and teacher programs. She grew up in Maryland, and holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Biology. You will see her during many parts of training, and at many program sites supporting teams around the country.


Training Team

Jessica Carey (Senior Manager, Training & Delivery) Jessica joined Envision in January 2017 to take on the instructional design, administration, and planning of Envision training events. A graduate of Ashland University in Ohio, Jessica’s career background is very diverse. With a job history spanning acting in Broadway tours, teaching high school theatre and language arts, and leading management and compliance training for non-profits associated with the Liberty Movement, the one unifying factor is a love of studying people, educating others, and always learning. You will interact with Jessica during your training, both online through our LMS and in live training this summer.

Kimberly Pagan (Senior Program Coordinator, Training & Delivery) Kimberly is originally from Michigan and earned her Bachelors of Art in Art and Environmental Studies from Western Michigan University. Kimberly joined Envision in 2011 as an Advisor and has served in multiple roles and programs before joining the Training Team in October of 2017. Kimberly enjoys going to concerts, going on bike rides and meeting sport Mascots.


Career and Leadership Academy

Sean Andrada (Program Coordinator, Intensive Law and Trial/National Security) Sean joined Envision in November 2017 as a Program Coordinator for the both Intensive Law and National Security programs. This is Sean’s first foray into the Education field, having begun his career initially as a Creative Recruiter. Sean is originally from NYC, and holds his Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from SUNY Plattsburgh. Sean’s greatest passions involve both music and athletics, having played soccer at a high competitive level from youth all the way through college and beyond, as well as written, recorded, and released a moderately successful EP at the age 21.

Ha Huynh (Program Manager, Global Young Leaders Conference) Ha joined Envision in January 2018 as the newest Program Manager for Global Young Leaders Conference and Cultural Extension Programs. Ha was born in Vietnam and she is now live in Northern Virginia. She achieved a BA in English Education from the University of Hue, Vietnam, before completing an MBA from the University of Hawaii. Prior to moving to the US, she was the Managing Director of EQuest Academy and the Vice President of Operations for the Institute of American Education (IAE). After relocating to America, Ha has supported multiple international programs internationally and in Washington D.C., New York, and Boston. She is eager to implement her skills with Envision and hope to make the upcoming season a success.

Greg Johnson (Program Manager, Intensive Law and Trial/National Security) Greg joined Envision in August 2012 initially as a Manager of Training and Human Development, before diving into the world of Program Management. Greg oversees both the Advanced Law and National Security Programs, and was just recently awarded the “Accountable” Light-Switch Champion from his peers, due to his program’s stellar performance last summer. Greg was born and raised in Indiana, and holds his Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education.  

Juliana Roe (Program Coordinator, Business Innovation/Media/Law & CSI) Juliana joined Envision in 2016 as an Inside Sales Agent for the Admissions Team. Juliana also worked as a Program Office Assistant for the Junior National Young Leaders Conference and Junior National Young Leaders Alumni Conference during the summer of 2017. In January 2018, Juliana was promoted to Program Coordinator for the NYLF Business Innovation, NYLF Media, and NYLF Law & CSI programs. Juliana was born and raised in Northern Virginia and holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from George Mason University. Juliana has a huge passion for animals, sports, and fitness.

Danielle Thomas (Program Manager, Business Innovation/Media/Law & CSI) Danielle joined Envision in 2013 as a Program Coordinator, before being promoted to the Program Manager position! A California native, Danielle started at Envision in the field before being promoted to the corporate level. She oversees three Envision Programs: NYLF Business Innovation, NYLF Media, and finally, NYLF Law & CSI. Some notable accomplishments of Danielle: she has published two books and is in the process of writing two more; she has climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, surfed in North Shore Hawaii, and bungee jumped in England; she has sang the National Anthem at a LA Clippers basketball game.

Joe Thompson (Senior Program Coordinator, Junior National Young Leaders Conference/Junior National Young Leaders Alumni Conference) Joe joined Envision in 2013 as a Faculty Advisor, before being promoted to corporate as a Program Coordinator! Joe works directly with the JrNYLC and JAB programs, providing support and guidance where required. Joe’s infectious laugh and positive demeanor truly embodies the Envision outlook! While Joe’s greatest passion is inspiring and motivating the youth to reach their full potential, he enjoys comedy and hopes to one day be an entertainer / host. He also owns a clothing line, called Flamingo Customs & Apparel.

Melissa Wadley (Program Manager, International Scholar Laureate Program/Global Young Leaders Conference – China) Melissa is originally from Gary, Indiana and received a B.S. in International Business with a certificate in International Studies. Before joining Envision, Melissa earned her master’s in International Education from The George Washington University.  She has lived, studied, and worked in the education field in several countries including Japan, Costa Rica, Switzerland, and Cuba. Melissa joined Envision in May 2016 initially as a Program Coordinator before being promoted to a Program Manager.  Melissa oversees both our international programs, the International Scholar Laureate Program (ISLP) and GYLC China:  Pre-College Excursion.

Brooke Waggoner (Program Manager, Junior National Young Leaders Conference) Brooke joined Envision in December 2017 as the newest Program Manager for our JrNYLC Program! Having recently received her MBA from William and Mary, Brooke is eager to implement her new skills with Envision. Prior to Envision, Brooke worked as the director of a residential summer camp in Maine. She also has a degree in zoology which gives her some crazy stories about animals: she worked at a salmon hatchery in Alaska, where she helped spawn 36 MILLION salmon and she was bitten by an alligator.

LC China:  Pre-College Excursion.


STEM Academy

Heather Belen (Program Manager, Medicine) Heather is originally from Houston, Texas and received a BSEd in Health Sciences/Pre-Med and a minor in Chemistry from Baylor University. After graduating, she taught English as a foreign language in Bangkok, Thailand. Following travels, she received a Master’s in Medical Nutrition Sciences from Boston University School of Medicine and worked as a researcher for Partners Healthcare at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in the field of cardiovascular disease epidemiology. Heather started as an Advisor with the Global Young Leaders Conference in 2010 and has worked in various roles with many of Envision’s programs before joining NYLF Medicine

Kellee Fitzgerald (Program Manager, Medicine) Kellee joined Envision in 2015 as a Program Manager for the NYLF Medicine program. Before joining Envision, she spent three years supporting youth leadership programs at People to People. She grew up in Pennsylvania, relocated to the DC area for college, and never left! She holds a BA and MS in Justice and Public Policy from American University, and currently lives in Arlington, VA.

Sloane Hayes (Program Manager, Pathways to STEM) Sloane is originally from Burlington, NC and is a proud graduate of North Carolina State University, majoring in Education General Studies.  Sloane spent two years serving as an AmeriCorps member with Playworks North Carolina implementing leadership programs and health initiatives in Durham County Public Schools.  After completing the term of service, Sloane continued to work in Public Education as an instructional assistant and behavior interventionist.   Sloane joined Envision full time in 2017 as a Program Manager for NYLF Pathways to STEM and NYLF Pathways to STEM Alumni after working seasonally for Envision since 2010.  

Angel Mangus (Program Manager, Engineering & Technology/Game & Technology Academy) Angel received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Towson University in Baltimore, MD.  Prior to joining the Envision team in January 2015, Angel worked at a non-profit organization where she designed and taught STEM curriculum to high school students within a mobile laboratory.  This is where she discovered the importance of informal science education and her passion for STEM-based programs evolved.  She is currently the Program Manager for the NYLF Engineering & Technology program and the Game & Technology Academy.

Anna McCarthy (Program Coordinator, Pathways to STEM) Anna joined Envision in the Fall of 2016 as the Program Coordinator for NYLF: Pathways to STEM, and has enjoyed watching the program grow, both in summer sessions and internal team. Before Envision, Anna received her B.S. from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, where she double majored in Human & Organizational Development and Child Studies. Anna has always enjoyed leading young students in educational programming, including programs in her hometown of Chicago, IL, a summer spent in Birmingham, AL, and every year she spent in Nashville, TN. In Anna’s opinion, Envision is the perfect intersection of inspiring young students to achieve their goals and working with other like-minded individuals.

Briana Rudolph (Program Coordinator, Explore STEM) Briana has spent most of her teenage and adult years working within the community service and childcare realm in both academic and recreational environments. Before her time in Northern Virginia, she was shaped by the environment of her hometown in Edison, NJ. A few years after relocating, she graduated from George Mason with a B.S. in Human Factors Psychology and a minor in Data Analysis. She enjoys empowering the youth and thrives off helping others succeed. When Briana is not mentoring, coaching, or educating, she is expanding on her own knowledge in the virtual classroom or out exploring new areas. It was her educational experience that inspired her to pursue the dream of ameliorating technology for users with visual impairments and she hopes to help others discover their passions during her time with Envision.

Odis Scales (Program Manager, Pathways to STEM) Originally from Dayton, OH, Odis has worked an Envision program for every aged student we serve. He graduated from Howard University with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Afro American Studies. He has served as a sponsorship committee member for the Brother-to-Brother Conference and Escape to the Mecca Mentor Coordinator for high school students preparing for their collegiate careers. He currently the Program Manager for Pathways to STEM and Alumni Pathways to STEM. Odis enjoy photography, music, and action flicks. He has always had a passion for the interpersonal development of youth, specifically in disadvantage communities and looks forward to seeing that “light switch moment” from Envision scholars every summer. 

Simone Soso (Program Manager, Engineering & Technology/Game & Technology Academy) - Simone joined Envision in April of 2018. She holds a B.S. degree in Animal Science from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a M.S. degree in Animal Health Science from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Iowa State University. Simone has had a wide range of working experiences that stretch from performing chemosensory analysis of tiger scent-markings in India to educational program management at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park and Iowa State University. She was most recently a STEM and educational grant and policy writer for a variety of organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Christine Tran (Program Manager, Advanced Medicine/Advanced Emergency Medicine – Stanford/Medicine) Christine joined Envision in September 2017 and is the Program Manager for the Advanced Medicine and Advanced Emergency Medicine-Stanford programs.  Christine graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Individualized Studies in Educational Communication and is also certified in personal training and fitness nutrition.  She began her work in education as a Fairfax County Public Schools special education instructional assistant and an area supervisor and director for various Fairfax County summer programs.  

Anthony Varlese (Program Manager, Explore STEM) Anthony received his Bachelor of Science in Physics and Mathematics.  In previous work, Anthony has developed Sustainability initiatives for each of the 17 residence halls of a college campus, monitoring and controlling Energy usage.  Anthony is an Alumni of LeadAmerica (now part of Envision) attending both, Law and Trial, as well as Medicine and Healthcare.  He has been with Envisions programs since 2014, working with Explore STEM, Engineering & Technology, NYLSC, Technology & Innovation, Presidential Inauguration Leadership Summit and National Security.

Yasmeen Warner (Program Coordinator, Explore STEM) Yasmeen joined Envision as a Full Time Program Coordinator in October 2016. She previously worked in a variety of seasonal capacities for Envision since 2014. Yasmeen is originally from Brooklyn, NY but now calls Washington, DC her second home.  Her love for the Nation’s Capital stemmed during her time at Howard University. There she discovered her passion for education and youth development.