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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, high 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. He participates in seasonal staff training, and will be offering support for leadership and career programs throughout the summer.

Yolanda Golden (Vice President, Education Experience) Yolanda joined Envision in November 2017 as the Vice President of Education Experience, overseeing Elementary and Middle 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 serving as the Associate Dean for Student Success at Arrupe College. She participates in seasonal staff training, and will be offering supportive services at STEM sites throughout the summer.

Amanda Whitener (Vice President, Education Experience) Amanda has been with Envision since 2013 in a variety of leadership roles, before transitioning into the Vice President role in 2019. Her primary focus is supporting high school STEM programming and leading her teams through program planning and development, curriculum preparation, and training. Throughout her career, Amanda has worked in STEM focused education roles, providing exciting programs to teachers and students. She enjoys the real-life connections that come from hands-on learning and is always looking for new ways to enhance what we offer. She holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Biology and loves to spend time outdoors or near the ocean.

Training Team

Jessica Carey (Director, Training & Education Experience) Jessica joined Envision in 2017 to lead training initiatives. Jessica has a background in education, with more than ten years of classroom teaching experience as a theatre arts director and English teacher, as well as serving as the manager of leadership training for a group of DC area non-profits. Jessica holds a BS in Education from Ashland University in Ohio, an Education Administration post-graduate certificate from Lamar University, and an MBA from American University. When not preparing training for Envision’s seasonal staff, Jessica enjoys baseball, the outdoors, and spending time with her husband and son.

Kimberly Pagan (Program Manager, Training & Education Experience) 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

Ha Huynh (Program Manager, Business Innovation/Global Young Leaders Conference/City Adventures, New York City) Ha joined Envision in January 2018 as the Manager of Global Young Leaders Conference and the City Adventures programs. Prior to joining Envision, Ha was the General Manager at Culture as a Second Language, which operates ESL summer programs in Washington, DC, New York, and Boston, and served as Managing Director of EQuest Academy and the Institute of American Education, providers of English language and business skills training in Vietnam. Ha grew up in Vietnam and holds a BA in English Instruction and a MBA from the University of Hawaii.

Greg Johnson (Senior Program Manager, Intensive Law & 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. During the summer he splits his time between Palo Alto, CA and Washington, DC as he supports his bi-coastal programs. In his role as Senior Program Manager, Greg oversees the development of his programs at every stage, as well as supporting other programs within the Careers & Leadership Academy. Greg was born and raised in Indiana, and holds his Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education.  

Melissa McElwee (Program Manager, International Scholar Laureate Program) Melissa has been studying and working with international education programs for over eight years in locations like Japan, Cuba, Switzerland, Mexico, China, and the United States, to name a few. After teaching English in Japan for two years, Melissa earned her master's degree in International Education from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. She thoroughly enjoys working with our international and domestic partners to create transformative experiences for scholars.

Juliana Roe (Program Coordinator, Law & CSI/CSI ExperienceJuliana was born and raised in Northern Virginia and holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from George Mason University. She has a huge passion for animals, sports, and fitness. 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. She is currently the Program Coordinator for Investigate and Explore: The CSI Experience and NYLF Law & CSI programs.

Jessica Smyth (Program Coordinator, National Security/Global Young Leaders Conference/International Scholar Laureate Program) Jessica joined Envision in 2018 as the Program Coordinator for NYLF National Security and Intensive Law & Trial. After working with organizations like Initiatives of Change International and Girls Inc., Jessica has years of experience both in the classroom and behind the scenes providing students with transformational, educational experiences. Jessica holds BA degrees in Geography and Science, Technology, and Society from Virginia Tech University. She received her MA in Global Studies from the University of Freiburg and wrote her thesis on the role of participatory and performative art in the communication of climate science.

Danielle Thomas (Senior Program Manager, Law & CSI/CSI Experience/Honors Performance Series) Danielle joined Envision in 2013 as a Program Coordinator before being promoted to the Program Manager position, primarily working with high school career programs. A California native, Danielle started at Envision in various field staff roles before being promoted to the corporate level. Prior to Envision, Danielle worked in event marketing management in the action sports and fashion industries as well as worked in human resources for an acute care hospital. She also teaches online collegiate business courses. Danielle holds a Master of Business Administration and a BA in Journalism, Marketing and Dance.

Joe Thompson (Program Manager, Junior National Young Leaders Conference/Junior National Young Leaders Alumni Conference) Joe is a Richmond, VA native and a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University with a concentration in Accounting. While attending NCA&T he cofounded and presided over one of the largest university funded organizations on campus, the Junior Aggie Club, also known as “The Aggie Maniacs.” Joe’s passion for working with youth began while working as a leader at his first youth program under the premise of improving students’ academia through afterschool initiatives. He is currently a Program Manager in the Career and Leadership Academy and has served in multiple roles with Envision.

Brooke Waggoner (Program Manager, Junior National Young Leaders Conference) Brooke attended North Carolina State University where she received her BS in Zoology. After spending a few years working with animals, Brooke transitioned careers to pursue another passion - summer camps- which inspired her to go back to school. Brooke earned her MBA from William & Mary then began working for Envision. She couldn't be happier to work in an environment that focuses on providing life changing and career progressing experiences for students. When not with programs, you can find her still enjoying her passion for animals as a weekend volunteer at a carnivore sanctuary.

STEM Academy - Elementary and Middle School

Sloane Hayes (Program Manager, Pathways to STEM/Pathways to STEM Alumni) Sloane started with Envision in 2017, managing NYLF Pathways to STEM and NYLF Pathways to STEM Alumni. Prior to Envision, Sloane worked as a behavior interventionist and teaching assistant at the elementary level. Sloane’s passion for education and youth development was strengthened by her service with AmeriCorps. She served for two years with Playworks, North Carolina where she taught social and emotional learning through play, managed leadership programs and sports leagues, and worked to increase family engagement at an elementary school in Durham, NC. Sloane holds a BS in Education from North Carolina State University.  

Justin La Luz (Program Coordinator, Pathways to STEM/Pathways to STEM Alumni) Justin is an alumnus of NYLF Medicine as well as the Presidential Inaugural Conference. Justin currently works with the NYLF Pathways to STEM team focusing on providing an amazing experience across all aspects for Envision's youngest scholars! Prior to joining Envision in September 2018, he worked in multiple different capacities at a private school for students with traumatic brain injuries, autism spectrum disorder, and neurological/developmental disabilities in Boston, MA. Justin has his BS in Public Health from Syracuse University.

Jeanene McBride (Program Manager, Pathways to STEM/Pathways to STEM Alumni) Jeanene joined Envision in October 2018. In her role as Program Manager, she is responsible for the development and implementation of STEM summer programming at colleges across the nation. Prior to Envision, Jeanene spent 7 years working in public education as a teacher, College Access Program Coordinator, and Career Coach. Jeanene holds a BA in English, and a MBA with a specialization in International Business. She is also a Certified Student Pilot. Jeanene will be facilitating seasonal staff training and supporting NYLF Pathways to STEM programming during the summer.

Briana Rudolph (Manager, Training & Education Experience) Briana (Bri) started with Envision in February of 2018 after graduating from George Mason University in December 2017 with a BS in Psychology with a concentration in Human Factors and Applied Cognition and a minor in Data Analysis. She previously worked as a seasonal Summer Camp Specialist for Loudoun County organizing field trips and camps. At Envision, she supported middle school STEM programs before transitioning to the training team. You will see her sharing her expertise with staff at training and on site as she supports summer programming.

Odis Scales (Senior Program Manager, Pathways to STEM/Pathways to STEM Alumni) Odis started with Envision as a seasonal Advisor in 2011 and transitioned to Program Coordinator in 2013. He has worked a range of programs within Envision's K-12 portfolio and is currently the Senior Program Manager for NYLF Pathways to STEM and NYLF Pathways to STEM Alumni. Odis graduated from Howard University with a BA in Political Science. Prior to Envision, he served as a sponsorship committee member for the Brother-to-Brother Conference and Escape to the Mecca Mentor Coordinator for students preparing for their collegiate careers. He will be supporting all NYLF Pathways to Stem and NYLF Pathways to STEM Alumni tracks this summer. 

Yasmeen Warner (Program Coordinator, Explore STEM/Explore STEM Alumni) Yasmeen joined Envision as a full time Program Coordinator in October 2016 and was promoted to Program Manager in 2018. 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 where she graduated with a BA in Sociology. There she discovered her passion for education and youth development.

STEM Academy - High School

Heather Belen (Senior Program Manager, Medicine/Advanced Emergency 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 the NYLF Medicine and Advanced Emergency Medicine programs. 

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. Originally from Pennsylvania, she 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 where she enjoys hiking and competitive trivia and is excitedly preparing for another Envision summer!

Erica Griffin (Program Coordinator, Medicine) Erica began her journey with Envision in October of 2018, bringing with her a blend of educational programming and event management experience that she’s excited to leverage as a Program Coordinator on the NYLF Medicine team. Erica was born and raised in Virginia, but made the big move across the Potomac to DC and loves exploring everything the city has to offer. She has a Speech Communications degree from Liberty University, and supports many of the teams’ efforts in training, planning, hiring, and staff preparation. 

Sarah Smith (Program Manager, Medicine) Sarah Smith grew up all over the east coast from Connecticut to Alabama, but settled in Virginia. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from James Madison University. Sarah brings with her experience with educational programs and social services working with families and students of all ages and backgrounds. Sarah started with Envision as the Program Coordinator for NYLF Engineering and the Game & Technology Academy.

Anthony Varlese (Program Manager, Engineering/Game & Technology Academy/Aerospace & Aviation Academy) 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, Intensive Law & Trial, as well as NYLF Advanced Medicine & Health Care. He has been with Envision since 2014, working on programs such as NYLF Explore STEM, NYLSC, Technology & Innovation, Presidential Inauguration Leadership Summit, and NYLF National Security.

Sarah Wagner (Program Manager, Medicine/Advanced Medicine & Health Care) Sarah began her STEM education experience by participating in a two-year program with NASA and the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, learning how to promote integrative STEM in the classroom. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Christopher Newport University, and went on to earn her Masters of Education in Technology, Innovation, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is also currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree. Sarah joined Envision in 2018, and has worked with NYLF Engineering, NYLF Medicine, NYLF Advanced Medicine & Health Care, and Advanced Emergency Medicine.