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The PeerForward Team

Meet Gary Z. Linnen,
CEO of PeerForward

Meet Gary Z. Linnen,
CEO of PeerForward

“The youth we serve are powerful people who deserve all the great benefits life has to offer, regardless of their zip code. Nurturing their college persistence and career aspirations is more than a goal — it’s a movement.”

“The youth we serve are powerful people who deserve all the great benefits life has to offer, regardless of their zip code. Nurturing their college persistence and career aspirations is more than a goal — it’s a movement.”

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.

Meet the Rest of our Leadership Team:

Meet the Rest of our Leadership Team:

Managing Director of Development

Amanda Hale is the Managing Director of Development where she focuses on expanding and strengthening our relationships with foundations, corporate partners, and individuals who are aligned to and supportive of our mission.

She recently retired from Deloitte after 22+ years, where she held leadership roles focused on strategy, operations, and business development. She brings a wealth of experience in leading high-performing teams, driving transformative change, and cultivating strategic partnerships. But most importantly, she brings a passion for guiding and mentoring young people. Her roots in West Texas, along with her 15 years living in NYC, allow her to understand the challenges students face in both rural and urban settings. She’s served as a writing coach volunteer at our summer workshops for the past 13 years and continues to mentor and support students and alumni along their postsecondary and career journeys. As a National Board member for the past three years and Chair of the Leadership Council for eight years before that, she knows PeerForward well and has shown a longstanding commitment to making a difference in students’ lives.

Amanda has a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from Lubbock Christian University and a Master of Business Administration from Texas Christian University. She is working toward an Executive Certification in Nonprofit Leadership from Harvard. She lives in Reno, NV, where she enjoys horseback riding, nature walks, and ballroom dancing with her partner of 17 years (they’re currently focused on the Rumba, Country Two-Step, West Coast Swing, and the Hustle!). She’s also actively involved with the Reno Rodeo and its foundation.


Managing Director of Operations

Reneé Tribbett is the Managing Director of Operations at PeerForward. In this capacity, she oversees the IT support function, day to day partnerships and sales operations as well as the Training Workshops, Volunteer, and Alumni programs. She manages program related projects, including curriculum and 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 where she provided intensive, in-home intervention services to avert at-risk children being placed in foster care.

Reneé holds a Master of Arts Degree in Counseling Psychology from Bowie State University and is a certified Life Coach.

peer leader students get the job done

Managing Director of Marketing

As the Managing Director of Marketing, Julie oversees the creation of collateral, social media outreach, our swag, photo and video production, and our 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’s 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. 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.


Managing Director of Program & Innovation

Raquel’s 21-year career spans experiences in Non-Profit Management, Program Design, and Teaching and Education in both K-12 and college space. Today, as Managing Director of Program and Innovation for PeerForward, Raquel serves on the leadership team that sets the course for the organization to launch over 80,000 students annually to college degree and career attainment. In 2009, she joined PeerForward (then known as College Summit) and has been part of their dynamic program team delivering quality programming to coach and train young leaders and their educators in effective youth development, activation, campaign development, and organizing. Since then, she has led efforts to develop, launch, and secure partners for the PeerForward in College program among other innovations for the organization.

Prior to her work at 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, 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 management. Raquel holds a Master’s Degree in Education from the College of Staten Island and an Educational Specialist Degree from Nova Southeastern University.

peer leaders activate campaigns

Managing Director of Finance

Shyla Ingram is the Managing Director of Finance at PeerForward. Her role is centered on providing strategic oversight and coordination of PeerForward’s financial operations to ensure success today and in the future.

As the first person in her immediate family to earn a college degree, Shyla understands the importance of PeerForward’s mission to unleash the power of positive peer influence to transform the lives of youth living in low-income communities by connecting them to college and careers.

Before college and graduate school, Shyla spent over a decade obtaining a myriad of professional experience that has served as an excellent foundation for her accounting career.

After finishing her graduate degree in accounting, Shyla joined a public accounting firm working in litigation support doing forensic accounting and business valuation. During that time, she discovered her passion for mission-driven work and shifted her focus to management accounting for nonprofits, where she’s worked since 2017. Her nonprofit leadership roles have included serving as the Controller for Planned Parenthood Arizona and Director of Operations and Accounting for National Industries for the Blind.

Shyla holds a B.S. in Accountancy from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and an M.S. in Accounting from Grand Canyon University. She lives in upstate New York with her two adorable rescue cats and enjoys photographing the area’s natural beauty. She also loves cooking and traveling with her girlfriend.


Meet our Staff:

Digital Marketing Manager

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.


Program Coordinator

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.


Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Anna Kessler graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Marketing and a minor in Peace Studies and Social Justice in May of 2022. Previously the Marketing and Communications intern at Global Fund for Children, Anna is now the Marketing Coordinator at PeerForward. She spends her workdays running the organization’s social media accounts and creating fun, educational content. Outside of work you can find her baking, doing yoga, or simply lounging around the house with her cat.


Program Specialist

Andre’Ana Miller affectionally known as “Auntie” is a native of Prince George’s County Maryland. Born and raised in Capitol Heights, MD where her father Darrell Miller held the title of Mayor for 8 consecutive years. She is a graduate of Suitland High School (Visual and Performing Arts) where she began her journey with College Summit, what is now PeerForward and started her professional modern dance career. She obtained a bachelor’s degree from The University of the Arts in Dance Performance. She not only obtained her certification as a massage therapist, but she also finished training and became a Certified PeerForward Coach in June 2021. Currently she is a full time Program Specialist for PeerForward.


Director of Development

Armando Collazo is a seasoned professional with a gift for networking and a deep passion for bridging opportunities with capital. Over the past 15 years, he has worn multiple hats, serving as a creative director, product manager, account manager, and a dedicated fundraiser for new ventures.

His creative expertise has made its mark as a creative director for Enviro Petroleum, where he has consistently crafted compelling narratives and innovative marketing  & tech strategies to drive success for these organizations.

In his capacity as a managing partner and account manager at The App Solutions, Armando applied his diverse skill set to assist health-tech companies in realizing their product development goals. His versatile expertise has been instrumental in guiding these companies towards innovation and growth.

Armando’s passion for positive impact led him to co-found Bueno Health, a healthcare company dedicated to serving the underserved Hispanic community, underscoring his dedication to societal betterment. He is deeply committed to the startup ecosystem, where he excels in creating products that have the potential to benefit a wide audience and in raising the necessary capital to bring these visions to fruition.

Armando’s academic foundation is rooted in International Business and Finance, having studied at the prestigious Universidad InterAmericana de Puerto Rico. Hailing from Ponce, Puerto Rico, he now calls Orlando, Florida, home. Armando Collazo is a dynamic force in the realms of business, innovation, and social impact, consistently making a positive difference in the world around him.


Program Specialist


Director of Curriculum and Program Design

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.


Events Manager

Chrisann Bramwell is the Events Manager for PeerForward. She 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. Life is to be celebrated so be grateful for the highs and learn from the lows.


Program Data Analyst​

Christina serves as the Program Data Analyst at PeerForward.


Director of Strategic Partnerships

Christopher Shires has been serving as the Director of Strategic Partnerships for PeerForward 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 that trains and mobilizes young adults to execute campaigns to support the college-going culture of their schools.

Prior to PeerForward, Christopher has more than 10 years’ experience in financial banking where he specialized in management, client satisfaction and production of unique, tailored business services. Christopher has a B.A. in Business and Marketing from Metropolitan State University


Manager of Corporate and Strategic Partnerships

Cornelius is an alumnus of the program and a certified PeerForward Coach. He graduated from Miami Northwestern 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 served as an AmeriCorps member, assisting youth in developing academically and planning for their futures. Cornelius has a passion for impacting others and has honed his expertise in facilitation over the last 12 years through his work with more than 30 organizations both nationally and internationally.

In 2016, Cornelius joined PeerForward as the first Alumni Fellow and now serves as the Manager of Corporate and Strategic Partnerships. Cornelius is an advocate for creating generational wealth and traveling abroad. He loves his daughter Zoey Christelle, his wife Shani, movies, and cycling through the streets of Miami. Cornelius is a brother of Phi Beta Sigma International Fraternity Inc. who uses his influence, knowledge, and positivity to uplift others. He lives by the motto “Be the drop that creates ripples of change.”


Director of Program, Partnerships, and Training

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.


Staff Accountant


Director of Program Implementation and Partnerships

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.


Program Specialist

Musa is an alumnus of the program and completed his workshop back in 2015. Musa is from The Bronx and is an alumnus of one of our PeerForward schools “47” The American Sign Language and English Secondary School. Musa received his bachelor’s in history at The State University of New York at Albany (SUNY Albany). Musa then went on to receive his master’s at Relay Graduate School of Education all in the meantime being a 6th-grade teacher in a charter school in The South Bronx.

PeerForward holds a special place in Musa’s heart because he is a product of the organization, and he knows the positive change it can have on not just an individual but on a community. Musa is committed to helping others and plans to continue to do that with his work here at PeerForward.


Program Specialist

Nastassja was born and raised in Bowie, Maryland just outside our nation’s capital Washington, D.C. She was a star student and graduate in the class of 2017 from Bowie High School, where she was a founding member of the PeerForward team with whom she continued to do important work throughout her entire collegiate career. Nastassja is a college graduate with a Bachelors of Arts in Business Administration and a concentration in Marketing from Chowan University, where she is now a Masters of Organizational Leadership candidate.  Her passion is to motivate High School youth towards a college education and securing a secondary path. After graduation, she spent two years fighting against education inequality in Philadelphia, PA and has now happily made her way back home to Prince George’s County Maryland as a Program Specialist with PeerForward.


Alumni Affairs and Volunteer Engagement Manager

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. As a PeerForward Alumni himself, he is excited to rebuild our Alumni program into something we can all take pride in. He looks forward to reconnecting our alumni network of 20,000+ with each other, the organization, and the world.


Development Research Associate

Rashad Jabbar, a native from Washington, D.C., graduated from Coolidge SHS where he began his life-changing experience of becoming a Peer Leader with PeerForward (fka College Summit) joining the summer workshops at Trinity University of Washington back in 2011. Rashad later graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from Delaware State University in 2017.

Rashad stuck by his roots and continued his passion for youth development and encouraging students from all over to stay persistent in achieving their postsecondary education. Prior to working at PeerForward, Rashad was a Program Manager for an educational travel program that gives students the opportunity to have a full college experience during their summers including: campus tours, living in dorms, site visits, hands on simulations in the students preferred major field, and speaker events, all while simultaneously living the life as a college student before graduating high school.

During his free time, Rashad loves to travel, discover new foodie places and restaurants, catching up on the latest Bravo Housewives’ franchise shows, and spending time with his family and friends.


Program Associate


Associate Director of Postsecondary Success

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.

peerforward team member in action leading workshop

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