OUR TEAM

JEFF ESCABAR

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Jeff leads NGS informed by his first-hand experience of educational equity disparities in our community. He is a respected Bay Area educator and advocate, having served as a teacher and the Director of Admissions for Marin Country Day School over 36 years, and as Head of School for the Spanish Infusion School (formerly Marin Preparatory School) for seven years.

A longtime resident and business owner, Jeff’s community ties are both broad and deep. He has worked as a volunteer at the San Rafael Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Independent School Admission Professionals, Saint Luke’s School in San Francisco, the Marin AIDS Project, and Spectrum, which promotes safety and acceptance for young LGBTQ youth.

“A first-generation student myself, I highly value what NGS offers to students and even more so, appreciate the daily lessons they teach us through their determination to create new futures for themselves.”

NGHIEM BUI

DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COLLEGE & CAREER DESIGN

Nghiem returns to NGS and to his native San Rafael after building a decade of professional experiences across the country and with personal insights gained throughout the world. Born in a Malaysian refugee camp, the son of Vietnamese immigrants, Nghiem was raised in Marin’s low income housing and attended San Rafael public schools (Venetia Valley, Davidson) and then earned a scholarship to The Branson School.

Since he was seven, he has been his family's translator in Vietnamese, and he also speaks Spanish proficiently, having studied and lived in Ecuador. He has implemented educational policies for high school students in Boston and taught kindergarteners in the south-side of Chicago. Most recently, Nghiem worked in admissions at Marin Academy and was the Dean of Student Life at Live Oak School in San Francisco. He returns to Next Generation Scholars as a proud alumni and is committed to launching the next set of scholars into college and into their careers.

“I am the product of a transformative education; I have made it my life's work to ensure students like me have the same access to powerful, uplifting experiences.”
andrew chong

ANDREW CHONG

DIRECTOR OF HIGH SCHOOL COUNSELING

Andrew was born in San Francisco and raised in San Rafael. He went to Sun Valley Elementary School, Davidson Middle School, San Rafael High School, and College of Marin. After a short stint at American University, he earned a BA degree from UCSD in International Studies and Sociology. During his time at UCSD, he studied abroad in Santiago, Chile. Andrew enjoys basketball, studying languages, playing music, cooking, and exploring nature and traveling.

“I see education as the single greatest tool we have as a society to combat injustice and inequality. At NGS, I'm able to work with students to overcome barriers to high quality education so that they are equipped to better their lives and combat inequality in their communities.”
shawn cole

SHAWN COLE

DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION & PROGRAMS

For almost 15 years, Shawn has explored his personal commitment to education through the lenses of higher and secondary education, doctoral studies and research consultation, and identity and equity leadership.  As a first-generation student studying Physics, Mathematics, Molecular Sciences, and Nanotechnology, he experienced inequities in STEM education fairly early in life.  This awareness, paired with Shawn's core educational philosophy of "You just don't know it yet", has led to a passion for developing pedagogical practices intended to address blind spots that inhibit effective learning across all disciplines.

“I know what it's like to be overlooked and underrepresented in my own spaces; the intersections of my identities might not fully mirror that of our [NGS] community... but, everyday, we walk the margins of society together.”

MARIA GRAMAJO

DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL SERVICES

Maria returns to NGS as a proud alumnus and past Summer Academy teacher and Director of the Internship Program. She was born and raised in Marin County and attended San Pedro Elementary School, Davidson Middle School, and San Rafael High School before moving to D.C. to attend American University. She earned her B.A. in American Studies and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies focusing on the queer student of color experience in higher education. Maria's professional goal is to become a college professor. She hopes to teach and focus her research on racial capitalism, wellness, gender, and sexuality in online spaces.

"Next Generation Scholars helped me grow into the person I am today and I am forever thankful to the teachers, staff, parents, and tutors here who pushed me to recognize my greatness. I am happy to be back at NGS, to support our students in this role."

LLESICA HERNANDEZ

DIRECTOR OF MIDDLE SCHOOL PROGRAMS

Llesica is a graduate of UC Merced with a B.A. in Psychology and has been part of the Middle School Program for six years; initially as the 7th Grade Lead Teacher and currently as our Middle School Director. Being a daughter of Guatemalan immigrants and growing up in the community, she knows firsthand the challenges of becoming a first-generation college graduate.

“As a teacher, I get to witness "a-ha" moments in the classroom and build relationships with each student that go beyond the classroom. It's a real joy to witness the growth of each Scholar as they progress through the program, especially those that started in my classroom as middle schoolers.”

ROSE JENNINGS NEWHOUSE

DIRECTOR OF PHILANTHROPY

Rose’s passion for advancing social, economic, and educational equity on behalf of youth fuels her daily work at NGS. Her education includes a B.A in Liberal Studies, and K-12 CA Multiple Subject Teaching credential, C.S.U.Chico, and Certification in Nonprofit Administration from Northwestern University. With four-decades of leadership experience in furthering the missions of several Marin nonprofits, augmented by her background in education, Rose’s expertise focuses on a common-sense, result-oriented approach, along with the importance of maintaining a sense of humor.

“As one of nine in an Irish immigrant household, watching my parents work tirelessly to do whatever was needed, to ensure their children had a brighter future, left a lasting impression on me. I see the same tenacity and commitment level in our NGS parents, and consider it an honor to be working alongside them, supporting their motivated children in achieving their college dreams.”

Board of Directors

ANDY ARENBERG

CHAIRPERSON, BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Marketing & Strategy Consultant

Andy spent over 30 years in the corporate world including roles with Barclays Global Investors (Blackrock), Charles Schwab, and the Boston Consulting Group. In addition, he has served on the Board of Trustees of Marin Montessori School and as an Encore Fellow at SMASH, an Oakland based educational non-profit focused on serving high school students of color interested in STEM. He has a BA from Brown University and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

“As the parent of two teenagers, an Independent School board member, and a Fellow at an educational non-profit, I recognize the inequities that exist in providing students equal access to higher education. I'm proud to be part of NGS given its mission to support motivated students and their families in Marin as they shape their identities and future pathways.”

ZULEIKA GODINEZ

SECRETARY, BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Program Officer, S.H. Cowell Foundation

Zuleika holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Sociology from Pomona College. She has worked in philanthropic and nonprofits organizations for more than 10 years, advancing education, economic equity, and racial justice. Previously the Policy Manager for Ensuring Opportunity Campaign to End Poverty in Contra Costa County, she is now a Program Officer at S.H. Cowell Foundation. Zuleika has also served as Youth Program Associate at the James Irvine Foundation, working to increase the number of low-income youth in California who earn a postsecondary credential; as a Policy Fellow at the Center for Community Change in Washington, D.C.; and as a Program Coordinator at Next Generation Scholars.

“I am inspired by the resilience, passion, and commitment to equity and justice of NGS students. I choose to serve on the board of NGS to support these incredible youth.”

TONY NETHERCUTT

BOARD MEMBER
VP Sales, Yahoo (Retired)

Tony grew up in Watsonville, CA. He is the proud product of an impassioned grade school teaching mother and a strong middle school administrator father. He learned early that certain segments of school-going children had both challenges and opportunities that needed to be addressed. Tony brings the same energy and passion he had during the 30+ years of his television and digital advertising career to NGS and the many philanthropic relationships he has today. Tony is also on the board of Homeward Bound of Marin, Digital Nest (in Watsonville), and Santa Cruz Sunrise Rotary. He lived in San Rafael for 30 years prior to moving to Soquel, CA. His son Zander graduated from Kenyon College in May of 2016, and is now working for Cameo.com in Chicago.

“NGS is near and dear to my heart as we support first generation kids in their quest to improve their opportunities to lead productive lives for themselves and their communities. My mother taught English to native Spanish speaking children in the Pajaro Valley School District for years. I felt first hand how transformative she felt the gift of language was for the kids she taught. I feel the same pride in the additional knowledge and confidence we enable in our students.”

JOANNA PAUN

BOARD MEMBER
College Counseling and Learning Services Assistant, Marin Academy

Joanna grew up in Marin and graduated from Tamalpais High School. With a BA in Psychology, Masters of Counseling, and PPS Credential all from Sonoma State University, Joanna is currently working at Marin Academy in both the College Counseling and Learning Services departments. Outside of work, she is the board president of the Petaluma City Schools Board of Education and lives in Petaluma with her husband and four daughters. Her acknowledgment of the importance of education drives her work in all of these areas.

“After hearing from members of the community regarding the impact and importance Next Generation Scholars has had and continues to have on our youth, I knew this was an organization I wanted to be a part of. In the face of so many challenges a person will face in their lives, their education is something that can never be taken from them.”

ANUAR RAMIREZ-MEDINA, ESQ.

BOARD MEMBER
Immigration Attorney, Seven Hills Law Firm

Anuar grew up in Marin County and now lives in San Francisco where he practices immigration and business law. He believes that helping immigrants realize their immigration and business goals is important to creating a more diverse and vibrant country because diversity breeds innovation, market growth, and an overall more beautiful world. Before studying law, Anuar worked in public service, where he was able to see first-hand how the different societal systems contribute to the endemic problem of inequality. And if education is at the crux of inequality, Anuar is impassioned to help NGS close the equity gap.

“As a first-generation immigrant I received the invaluable gift of a quality education in programs like NGS. I have since reaped the rewards of that gift and I want other future generations of students to share that opportunity.”

MICHAEL SHIPPEY

BOARD MEMBER
Partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP

Mike has spent 30 years at Deloitte in various client leadership roles. His interest in education and underserved youth in the Bay Area is evident in his board roles at Aim High and Summer Search, in addition to his current board role at NGS. He also serves on the Finance Committee of St. Anthony’s Church. He has a BA from Wits University in South Africa, and a CPA accreditation.

“NGS has made a significant impact on the lives of many scholars and fellow Marin residents. I want to help sustain and grow that to serve many more for generations to come.”

MYA SULLIVAN

BOARD MEMBER
Head of School, Welsh Hills School

Having earned a B.S. from Notre Dame College of Ohio and a M.A. from Ashland University, Mya has brought her knowledge and experience to the role of Head of School of Welsh Hills School in Ohio. Throughout her career as a corporate trainer in the banking industry, in the nonprofit sector and as a teacher and administrator in independent schools, she has worked to help individuals and organizations examine and change their behaviors and policies to create more inclusive and equitable environments. When not working, she enjoys participating in shenanigans with her grandchildren.

“One of my favorite quotes is by Maria Montessori from The Absorbent Mind. She writes that, once a child has settled their attention and concentration on something, there is nothing else to do but, ..’prepare an environment which satisfies his needs, and to remove obstacles which may bar his way to perfection’. This is what the work of NGS represents to me.”

CLINT WILKINS

TREASURER, BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Founder & Head of School, Sage Hill School (Retired)

Clint's educational experience is wide-ranging -- from serving as a teacher, coach, college counselor, dean of students, principal and board member to becoming the founding CEO of a thriving independent high school in Southern California. Most recently he has turned his attention to low-income youth, serving as the Interim Executive Director with Next Generation Scholars and as an Encore Fellow in the Mayor's Office in San José, CA. He holds a BA from Williams College and a Masters Degree from Harvard University.

“Spend just forty-five seconds at our Center on any weekday afternoon, and you’ll be blown away by the positive energy of teenagers deeply engaged with each other and their teachers. How so? It’s a safe place - emotionally and academically - allowing them to grow into the persons they are meant to be.”

JEFF ESCABAR

EX OFFICIO
Executive Director, Next Generation Scholars