Trent Acuff, Co-Director of Finance
Trent Acuff is an MBA candidate at Columbia Business School. Prior to school, Trent worked for Kinetic Partners, a financial services firm focused corporate recovery and restructuring. Trent has been involved with Minds Matter since 2009, as both a student mentor and a member of the NEC. He graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2007, earning a B.A. in Economics and a minor in Managerial Studies.
Patrick Burns, Co-Director of PR & Marketing
Patrick Burns is going into his third year as a mentor with Minds Matter. He works in the New York office of Panjiva Inc., an enterprise software startup that facilitates transparency and efficiency in global trade. Prior, he worked as a journalist covering politics, international relations, and breaking news throughout North and South America. He completed his B.A. with honors at University of Texas at Austin in 2006 and spent the following year teaching English in Japan through the Japanese government’s JET program.
Laura Crum, Co-Director of Sophomore Program
Laura Crum started as a Senior Mentor with Minds Matter in 2008. For the past three years, she has served as Co-Director of the Sophomore and Junior Program (Co-Director of Mentees) in Chicago. She just finished business school at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and started work in July as a Business Builder for Dow Corning in Midland, MI. Though enjoying small-town life so far, she already misses Minds Matter Saturdays. Her hobbies are sports, ice cream tasting, insulation, and amazing jumps. She looks forward to meeting the local management teams soon.
Linh Duong, Co-Director of Fundraising
Linh Duong is entering her third year as a volunteer with Minds Matter, where she previously served as a mentor in the NYC chapter. Linh is experienced in project finance origination and financing, and she began her career in investment banking working in NY and London. Linh graduated from New York University with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and International Business from the Stern School of Business, and a minor in Fine Arts.
Andrew Gurman, Co-Director of Test Prep
Andrew Gurman has been involved with Minds Matter since 2007. He is a legal recruiter with Michael Lord & Company and focuses on the placement of attorneys at law firms and corporations. Before recruiting, Andrew was an employment law associate with Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLC. Andrew earned his B.A. in Psychology, summa cum laude, from Yale University in 1998 and his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2001. Prior to private practice, Andrew served as a law clerk to Judge John C. Lifland, United States District Judge, District of New Jersey.
Kate Hayes, Director of Metrics & Reporting
Kate Hayes currently serves as the Director of Operations and Strategic Initiatives for Minds Matter National, Inc. and Minds Matter of NYC, Inc. This is her third year serving as Director of Metrics & Reporting on the National Executive Committee. She graduated with honors in May 2010 from Northeastern University, where she earned a B.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience. She most recently taught an advanced course in physics at a private boarding school summer program, where she also functioned as a student advisor. She previously served as the chapter director of a not-for-profit mentoring organization, Strong Women, Strong Girls, in Boston, MA, and is now working closely with the organization to establish the first Alumni Chapter, in NYC. She has also volunteered as a high-school health education teacher in the Boston public school system, and as a direct service provider at a Harvard Medical School clinic. She currently serves on the Alumni Council, Young Alumni Committee and Reunion Committee of the Northfield Mount Hermon School.
Akshay Khanna, Co-Director of Alumni
Akshay K. Khanna has been involved with Minds Matter since 2010. He is a Private Equity Associate with Sycamore Partners. Prior to his time at Sycamore, Akshay was an Analyst at Audax Group, a middle market private equity firm in Boston. Akshay earned his A.B. in Economics and a minor in Spanish from Middlebury College in 2009. He has been a mentor for a year in Boston and coming on two years in New York.
Herman Luk, Co-Director of Alumni
Brian McAllester, Director of Web & IT
Brian McAllester works in urban education, helping found Breakthrough Schools, a network of high-performing schools in Cleveland, Ohio. Breakthrough’s goal is to grow from three founding schools to twenty schools, ultimately serving 7,000 students throughout the city. Breakthrough was recently awarded $2M in funding from the Charter School Growth Fund, recognizing it as one of the top urban charter organizations in the United States. Brian serves in three primary areas: network-wide strategy, communications/web, and grant development. Previously, Brian has worked as a management consultant, 7-8th grade teacher, and curriculum coordinator. He also designed the new Minds Matter website.
Nichelle McCall, Director of Senior Program
Nichelle N. McCall is the President of Community Strategies Consulting, LLC (CSC), a consulting firm that partners with nonprofit, school, and college administrators to develop, implement, and assess practices and policies that best support students to attend and graduate from college. Nichelle previously worked as the Special Assistant to the Executive Director of the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education, and Families in Washington D.C., where she worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on a $20 million project to address systemic strategies for postsecondary completion amongst low-income young adults. She has also worked for the Civic Innovation Lab – Cleveland Foundation and Baldwin-Wallace College. Nichelle has been a part of Minds Matter since 2008, serving as a mentor, Vice President of Student Development for the Cleveland chapter, New Chapter Expansion Committee Member for the National Board of Directors, and now the Director of Senior Program on the National Executive Committee. Nichelle also serves on the Board of Directors for the YWCA of Greater Cleveland and Advisory Board for Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s New and Innovative Schools for MC2STEM High School. She received her Master in Public Administration from Bernard M. Baruch College – The City University of New York and a bachelor’s degree from Baldwin-Wallace College.
Laura Minskoff, Director of Writing & Critical Thinking
Laura Minskoff is brand new to Minds Matter but has shown a commitment to education and working with students for years, including most recently teaching a human rights and activism class to high school students in inner city D.C. on a volunteer basis for the last year. Professionally, Laura serves as the Leadership Management Director for AIPAC’s Real Estate Division. Originally from Boise, Idaho—Laura is new to New York and to Minds Matter but is thrilled to be putting her writing background and practical work with students to use in her new role on the National Executive Committee.
Andrew Schembri, Co-Director of Finance
Andrew Schembri has been involved with Minds Matter since 2010. Andrew is a senior associate at DNB Markets, a Norwegian bank focused on energy and shipping within its Corporate Advisory group. He has been in investment banking for 6 years primarily focused on mergers, acquisitions and leveraged buy-outs. Andrew graduated with honors from W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University in Finance and Accounting in 2006.
Kevin Su, Co-Director of School Captain Program
Kevin Su joined Marsh in 2011 as an Assistant Vice President focused on human capital insights. Prior to joining Marsh’s New York office, Kevin was a Manager at Sears Holdings’ Chicago headquarters, where he held various roles in financial services, pricing strategy, and business transformation. He served as a mentor with Minds Matter in Chicago for two years and is currently a mentor with the sophomore program in New York. Kevin received his B.A. in Economics and International Studies from Northwestern University.
Valerie Sun, Co-Director of School Captain Program
Valerie Sun has worked at Ipreo, a leading global provider of market intelligence, deal execution platforms, and investor communication tools to investment banks and corporations around the world, for over 3 years. She has worked in the Research, Sales, and Trading division working as a Product Manager, aiding in the development of their Equity Deals Database and Profile Builder reporting and analysis applications by gathering business requirements and working closely with development. For the past 6 months, she has been working in the firm’s Equity Capital Markets division working on their Retail Bookbuild application, a new-issuance order management software that caters to retail brokers. Prior to this, she worked at DST Global Solutions (formerly, DSTi), working as a consultant for their portfolio accounting software. Valerie holds a B.A in Economics and a minor in Business Administration and Management from Boston University.
Laura Towers Romano, Co-Director of Fundraising
Laura Towers Romano is in her third year of involvement with Minds Matter, previously serving two years as Co-Director of Event Fundraising (Soirée) for the NYC chapter. She has nonprofit management experience as well as more than ten years producing events for clients in the private, nonprofit, and public sectors. Laura currently plans and executes marketing and event campaigns for Accenture as well as private events for clients of Social Haven Events. Mrs. Towers Romano holds two degrees from Arizona State University: BA in Psychology and BS in Family & Human Development. She also has a passion for mentoring and is in her sixth active year with the Junior League.
Charles Williamson, Co-Director of Test Prep
Charles Williamson is currently pursuing his Masters in Operations Research from Columbia University. Prior to this, he spent several years building a successful independent tutoring practice in Greenwich, CT. He has spent many years with standardized tests of all varieties, and is thrilled with the opportunity to bring his expertise to the students of Minds Matter.