GSN VISTA Fellows
AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) is a capacity-building effort with the Corporation for National and Community Service to address poverty in local communities in the United States through partnership with nonprofits, schools, and public service agencies. For more information, click here.
Jeff Davis, AmeriCorps VISTA Leader
Jeff Davis is a lifelong educator and former teacher at Montessori and Higher Education Environments. He has been a VISTA leader for over a year and he brings that experience to GSN as our new VISTA leader. Jeff has also served as a College Dean and Professor in Communications and Life Skills, during which time he not only taught college courses, but also helped to develop new course content and train new instructors. As an Early Childhood Teacher, he engaged students in diverse hands-on activities and ensured their success. Jeff holds a B.S. in Education from Indiana University and an M.Ed. in Distance Learning, Curriculum Design and Development from the University of Phoenix. He is an avid hiker and looks forward to his time at GSN!
Brianna Gaines, Grants Specialist
Brianna joins GSN this year as the Grants Specialist and is excited to continue her fundraising experience. Throughout her college career, Brianna mentored underserved high school students to prepare them for college applications and assisted them in finding scholarships. She hosted campus tours and overnights at her school, allowing them to experience real college life. Brianna graduated from Santa Clara University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Political Science. Prior to joining AmeriCorps, she worked at two large corporate law firms in the attorney recruiting department working to bring in top talent and run their summer programs for law school students. She also assisted in office-wide fundraising efforts to raise money for their local foodbank. After her VISTA service, she hopes to go to law school and eventually work in public interest law.
Yael Holzman Castellands, Communications Specialist
Yael brings many meaningful experiences and skills to GSN. She has previously volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters in Connecticut where she worked with elementary students in the after school reading programs. She was also an intern at the Middle East Media Research Institute, where she worked on press releases and donor research. Yael is a recent graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she double majored in Communications and Political Science. Yael is an AmeriCorps Vista member who joined GSN in August of 2017. She is the Communications Specialist, working to help improve and expand Generation Schools Network’s impact through marketing and social media. She is in charge of the management of all GSN social media accounts. She will be working with other members of the organization to re-design the GNS website and promotional materials to create more accessible platforms in order to reach broader audiences.
Maggie Mather, Content Development Specialist
Maggie is a recent graduate of Occidental College, where she received a degree in Critical Theory and Social Justice. During her time at Occidental, she served as a member of Peer Health Exchange, a national program that trains college students to master a comprehensive health curriculum, which they then teach to first year students in schools in the surrounding area. Maggie brought this experience to inner city Los Angeles and impacted her students’ health and wellness initiatives. She is joining the GSN VISTA team as a Curriculum Development Specialist by supporting the development of our Social Emotional Learning curriculum.
Akilah Moore, Communications Specialist
Akilah graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in May 2012 with her Bachelor’s degree in Deviant Behavior and Social Control. From there she went on to work with a non-profit for a year, coordinating family programs at one of their homeless shelters in midtown Manhattan. She completed her Masters in Higher Education Administration from Stony Brook University in ‘16. She has a passion for helping others in various capacities and often volunteers with a local NYC volunteer organization. She is currently the Communications Specialist for the Brooklyn office of Generation Schools Network.
Ava Nadel, Community Engagement Specialist
Ava is joining the GSN team as a Communications Specialist. She has been the photographer for collegiate athletics programs and began her work with youth in her high school’s Best Buddies program, which continued when she served as a summer camp counselor in New York City. As the child of immigrants, she knows first-hand the importance of a strong education and she is excited to bring her passion for service work to spreading GSN’s message! Ava holds a BA in Sociology from Guilford College.
Serena Whitaker, College and Career Engagement Specialist
Serena is GSN’s Career and College Engagement Specialist. She brings many valuable experiences and skills to GSN. Throughout her college career, Serena tutored and mentored underserved middle school students. While tutoring, Serena also spent volunteering over 200 hours for multiple causes with her sorority, Alpha Sigma Chi. She also served as her chapter president where she gained her valuable event planning experience. Serena is a graduate of State University of New York at Oswego, where she majored in adolescent education with a minor in history. At the end of her college career, Serena earned her initial New York State teaching license and is working diligently to obtain her Colorado teaching license.
For more information on our VISTA Program, contact Leslie Tjajadi.