Meet The PeerForward Team

Gary Z. Linnen
Chief Executive Officer

Gary Z. Linnen is the CEO of PeerForward, following its original co-founders. Mr. Linnen has steered PeerForward’s programs for more than a decade, cultivating deep experience in youth development, program innovation, and organizational leadership. He has contributed to virtually every function of the organization, from designing and facilitating workshops for educators and students to fostering school, community, and funder partnerships and engaging program alumni. Mr. Linnen shaped PeerForward’s current model, which elevates PeerForward’s unique method of structuring and leveraging peer influence to achieve meaningful school-wide outcomes. Independent research has found that the model results in up to 26% higher financial aid application rates in partner schools than in similar schools without the program. His lifetime commitment to creating pathways to higher education for students in under-resourced communities also drives his participation as a member of the governing board of the New York City Public Schools. Before PeerForward, Mr. Linnen served as a director of tutoring and K-12 operations for The Princeton Review. Mr. Linnen has a bachelor’s degree in Government from Cornell University and is the first in his family to graduate from a higher education institution.

Raquel Figueroa
Managing Director of Program & Innovation
More About Raquel

Raquel is a product of the New York City Teaching Fellows Program and taught in New York City Public schools before moving to Miami, Florida in 2004. Prior to working with PeerForward, she held several roles at Miami Dade College. As an Adjunct Professor for the School of Education Baccalaureate Program she taught pre-service teacher courses with a focus in urban education and cultural diversity and sensitivity. In addition, she has managed the Florida State Teachers Certificate Program and coordinated and chaired college access programs that equip high school and college students as well as new teachers with curriculum development, test preparation (SAT/ACT), and nonprofit organizing. In 2009, she joined College Summit as part of their dynamic program team delivering quality programming to coach and train young leaders and their educators in effective youth development and activation as well as campaign development and organizing. Today, as Managing Director of Program and Innovation for PeerForward, Raquel guides a team of coaches and curriculum design experts who train student-led teams across the country as they develop and execute campaigns that support college access, postsecondary planning and college persistence at our partner high schools and colleges. Raquel holds a Master’s Degree in Education from the College of Staten Island and an Educational Specialist Degree from Nova Southeastern University.

Reneé Tribbett
Director of Operations
More About Reneé

Reneé oversees the Training Workshops, Volunteer, and Alumni programs at PeerForward, as well as the IT support function and day-to-day partnerships and sales operations. She manages program related projects, including process design, system and tool development, procurement, publication, evaluations, and communications.

Prior to PeerForward, Reneé worked with the Air National Guard, administering programs and events that support the development of spiritually and mentally fit Airmen for homeland and global operations. These programs included Suicide Prevention and Resiliency training. Reneé was also a Family Counselor/Interventionist through which she provided intensive, in-home intervention services to avert at-risk children’s being placed in foster care.

Reneé holds a Master of Arts Degree in Counseling Psychology from Bowie State University. She is the Secretary of the Board of Directors of The Tekau’s Heart Memorial Foundation, Inc., and a certified Life Coach.

Julie Cipriani
Director of Marketing & Creative Services
More About Julie

As the Director of Marketing and Creative Services at PeerForward, Julie oversees the creation of collateral, social media outreach, our swag, and website. Julie has also provided service to multiple regional offices across the country in her formal role at College Summit, now PeerForward.

As the Director of Marketing and Creative Services at PeerForward, Julie oversees the creation of collateral, social media outreach, our swag, and website. Julie has also provided service to multiple regional offices across the country in her formal role at College Summit, now PeerForward.

With a Bachelor degree in Graphic Design and Advertising Art, and over 18 years’ combined experience in graphic design and creative direction, she has worked with nonprofit clientele such as KaBOOM!, MdBio Foundation, Reading is Fundamental, The Education Trust, MHJohnson and Associates, and LexMundi Probono Fdn. Julie is a detail-oriented designer with an artistic sensibility. Her expertise is in developing and managing a range of print and digital media. She provides cost effective and creative solutions in branding, environmental, print, social, and web design. While working with a playground manufacture, she designed and helped to develop a program called Custom Graphics that encourages themed imaginary play on the playground. Her proudest accomplishment is her raising her son.

Aloysia Jean
Community Engagement Specialist
More About Aloysia

Driven by her lifelong love of education, Aloysia joined PeerForward in 2016.
Aloysia became a Peer Leader in 2011 and her alumni experience with PeerForward and other youth-led programs and service organizations inspired her undergraduate education at Georgetown University where she received her B.A in Sociology with a minor in Justice and Peace Studies.

During her time with PeerForward, Aloysia implemented First Year Forward, a pilot program funded by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and researched by Dr. Ben Castleman as an intervention for first-year students transitioning to college. As a Digital Marketer, Aloysia leads PeerForward’s content strategy across social media and email marketing.

Outside of PeerForward, Aloysia enjoys exploring new opportunities to serve her local community. She’s volunteered with Reading Partners, the Humane Rescue Alliance of DC, Cultivate the City, Fuel the People, and led a clothing drive to benefit Casa Ruby.

Alivia Graham
Program Coordinator
More About Alivia

Alivia is an alumna of PeerForward having completed her Workshop at UMBC in 2016 while attending Oxon Hill High School in Prince George’s County, MD. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications from Towson University in May 2021 and is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Higher Education.

Alivia was an Alumni Support Team member at the Towson University Workshop in 2018, and was hired as a Program Operations intern in Summer 2019, and is now our Program Coordinator.

Loubert Senatus​
Director​
More About Loubert

Loubert “Lou” Senatus is the Director at PeerForward. His responsibility is to coach, train, and lead teams of peer influencers in high schools across the country to conduct campaigns to promote and foster a college-going atmosphere. Lou has been involved with nonprofit organizations since 2007.

He holds an ACC credential from the International Coaching Federation and is a certified Leadership coach via Phi Theta Kappa Leadership (PTK) studies since 2014. He also serves as an adjunct faculty at Miami Dade College. Lou is on the Executive Board committee with his home chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, where he serves as co-chair of the Scholarship Committee, working on issues affecting Miami-Dade County residents.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida, where he majored in Education and minored in Nonprofit Management. His mission as a social change agent is to provide positive experiences and knowledge to build youth and adult social impact capacity with the hope that they will create positive social change.

Caitlin Annand-Baechtel
Associate Director of Curriculum and Program Design
More About Caitlin

Caitlin uses her considerable design expertise to develop and refine the PeerForward curriculum using tenets of student development theory and social-emotional learning competencies. Prior to PeerForward, she earned an M.A. in Education at Stanford University. Caitlin brings her familiarity with the vast educational landscape, developed through years of teaching and advising seniors in high school, and managing organizational accounts for an online technology company. Familiar with both the student experience and operational decision-making that contributes to the learning environment, she strives to ensure that students are effectively engaged, challenged, and represented in schools and post-secondary programs nationwide.

Chrisann​ Bramwell
Executive Assistant to the CEO
More About Chrisann

Chrisann joined the team in the summer of 2020. At PeerForward, she practices what she loves most to do: supporting our youth. She is a graduate of Pine Forge Academy in Pine Forge, PA.. She earned her BA in Marketing from American Intercontinental University (UIA) in Atlanta, GA. Chrisann loves spending time with her daughters, family and friends. She believes that life is to be celebrated, so be grateful for the highs and learn from the lows.

Christina Murray​​
Program Data Analyst​
More About Christina

Christina serves as the Program Data Analyst at PeerForward.

Christie Mitchell
Development Director
More About Christie

Christie serves as the Development Director at PeerForward.

Christopher Shires
Director of Strategic Partnerships
More About Christopher

Christopher has been serving in this role since 2015. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Christopher has always connected with the importance of making an impact on youth and families from low-income communities. Because of this, he has been able to set up partnerships with several school communities through the Midwest and West Coast. Christopher also serves as a PeerForward Coach, training and mobilizing young adults to execute campaigns to support the college-going culture of their schools.

Cornelius Williams​​
Program Manager
More About Cornelius

Cornelius is an alumnus of the program and a native of Miami, Florida. He graduated from Miami Northwestern Senior, a PeerForward High School, and received his Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a concentration in Public Advocacy from the University of South Florida. Upon graduating, Cornelius went on to serve over 2,500 hours with City Year Miami and the AmeriCorps Vista program, assisting youth in developing academically and planning for the future. He has developed his craft and honed his expertise in youth facilitation by working with organizations such as Deloitte, AT&T, Miami-Dade College, TGR Tiger Woods Charity, Campus Labs, Community Youth Advance, Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), University of Maryland College Park and the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Building on his skillset, he is now a Sr. Program Manager at PeerForward. In this role he works closely with high school student leaders, educators, and serves as the staff liaison for the College and Career Readiness Center in Prince George’s County as well as district personnel in the DMV and Florida region.
Cornelius uses his influence and knowledge to positively uplift others and lives by the motto “be the drop that creates ripples of change.”

David (DC) Howard
Director of Program, Partnerships, and Training
More About David

David is responsible for coaching, managing, and supporting implementation and key contributors in program design and implementation for 6 sites across the Mid-Atlantic (Maryland). He supports fellow coaches in the implementation of 30+ sites in the Mid-Atlantic (District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia), and supports partnership conversations on our core program in these sites as well as in the New York City area. DC leads the CORE high school program model of PeerForward and serves as the lead program implementation representative in a PeerForward pilot program model entitled “PeerForward Affiliates.” DC is also the director and lead trainer of PeerForward’s professional development ventures and leads PeerForward’s Youth Facilitation Professional Development Training Program, known as “PeerForward-Coaches-in-Training.”

DC is a native of Sumter, SC, and is based in the Columbia, SC area. An alumnus of PeerForward (formerly College Summit), DC has worked professionally for the organization since 2008 in various roles, from Operations Associate to Program Manager. He is a certified youth facilitator with PeerForward and a Certified Professional Life Coach from the Certified Life Coach Institute of Orange County. In 2020, he obtained further credentials as a Master Certified Professional Coach/Master Certified Life Coach by the Certified Life Coach Institute. DC is a dedicated servant/volunteer at Right Direction Church International, a non-denominational church of 2000+ members across three locations in South Carolina.

DC earned his Bachelor of Arts in History with minors in Biology and Chemistry from Florida State University. He is currently pursuing his Master of Education degree in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning at the University of Arkansas. His mission as a social purpose leader is to build capacity and unity in families and youth (especially in rural and/or underserved areas) in the hope of creating more social synergy and transferable prosperity.

Isabel Griffith-Gorgati
Princeton Project 55 Fellow and Development Coordinator
More About Christopher

A Brazilian-American and Boston native, Isabel joined PeerForward after graduating from Princeton University in 2021, where she majored in English and minored in Spanish. At PeerForward Isabel brings together her passion for writing and commitment to education equity. She primarily supports Development and Communications by gathering student stories and writing grant and marketing materials. She currently lives and works in Washington, D.C. In her free time, Isabel enjoys reading novels, visiting D.C.’s art museums, and watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on repeat.

Mike Ferron
Senior Program Manager
More About Mike

As an East Flatbush, Brooklyn native, growing up with Jamaican roots, Michael Ferron is passionate about serving the needs of underrepresented communities. Michael graduated from Daemen College with a B.A. in Social Work. Over the last nine years, he has worked with the NYC D.O.E, The Posse Foundation and other educational leadership organizations to focus on providing resources and support to underserved populations. In these settings he has worked on college success, diversity and equity, workforce readiness, and youth development. He has also created new systems for maximizing direct college-to-career opportunities. Mike’s work focuses on curriculum development, professional coaching, program innovation and workshop facilitation.

He is committed to enhancing the socio-emotional development of young adults and plans to continue building redemptive and restorative spaces that relieve generational burdens for others.

Prince Taylor
Development Coordinator
More About Prince

Prior to working at PeerForward, Prince was the Director of Development for a nonpartisan political information company called Politicking, where he developed a plan to reach over 1 million voters in mayoral elections across the United States in 2021. Prince graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Syracuse University, where he also had the privilege to study abroad in Madrid, Spain for four months. In his free time he likes to travel, read, and play basketball.

Reagan Walker
Director of Development Operations & Senior Writer
More About Reagan

Reagan has served the organization for nearly 10 years, supporting development, marketing, and communications. Each summer, she enjoys working with PeerForward Peer Leaders as a College Coach. Before becoming a nonprofit fundraiser and communicator, Reagan worked more than two decades as a journalist, including many years producing award-winning education stories in the South for The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi), The Tennessean (Nashville), and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Education at Austin Peay State University and a Master’s in Journalism at the University of Missouri. She currently resides in Washington, D.C. and Tybee Island, Ga. Her dog, Freddie Prince, is PeerForward’s Chief Happiness Officer.

Timothy Spicer Jr.
Senior Program Manager
More About Timothy

Tim is the first certified PeerFoward Coach, as well as a facilitator, entrepreneur, and international expert with over a decade of post-secondary experience. His expertise ranges from youth development to community partnerships and program evaluation. As a Senior Program Specialist at PeerForward, he leads core model implementation for high schools and manages college partnerships across the nation. Additionally, Tim is revered in his community for his introduction of President Barack Obama in his Address to Students. Since earning his undergraduate degree in Political Science from Morehouse College, he has supported students and families, through servant leadership, financial aid workshops and college attainment seminars. While managing over 2,500 graduating seniors annually, Tim has fine-tuned his niche by earning his Master’s in Curriculum & Instruction from the Graduate School of Education & Human Development at George Washington University. Nestled outside of Atlanta, Georgia with his wife, Jasmine, and two boys, Carter and Cooper, Tim is committed to enhancing the market of college housing through his own business, Uhomes.

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