Speakers

We are excited and humbled to welcome the following speakers for QB Convene who will be joining us on Saturday, May 8. We will continue to add more speakers as the event gets closer.

Angela Duckworth Founder and CEO, Character Lab

Angela Duckworth is the founder and CEO of Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance scientific insights that help children thrive. She is also the Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, faculty co-director of the Penn-Wharton Behavior Change for Good Initiative, and faculty co-director of Wharton People Analytics.

A 2013 MacArthur Fellow, Angela has advised the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs.

Prior to her career in research, Angela founded a summer school for underserved children that was profiled as a Harvard Kennedy School case study and, in 2018, celebrated its 25th anniversary. She has also been a McKinsey management consultant and a math and science teacher at public schools in New York City, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.

Angela completed her undergraduate degree in Advanced Studies Neurobiology at Harvard, graduating magna cum laude. With the support of a Marshall Scholarship, she completed an MSc with Distinction in Neuroscience from Oxford University. She completed her PhD in Psychology as a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.

Angela’s TED talk is among the most-viewed of all time. Her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance is a #1 New York Times best seller. Angela is also co-host, with Stephen Dubner, of the podcast No Stupid Questions.

Beverly Watson Principal, Watson Strategic Consultants

Beverly is the Director of the Scholars Program at King Philanthropies, where she is responsible for leadership development and community building for all Scholars in the King Scholars programs. She brings over 20 years of leadership experience working in a combination of fields, including international development, education, law and business. As Principal at Watson Strategic Consultants, Beverly also advises entrepreneurial leaders in education, business and non-profit sectors to operationalize strategic initiatives.

Previously, she held leadership positions in educational organizations including: Chief Operating Officer of XQ Institute, a foundation dedicated to transforming high school in the U.S; and VP of Relationship Management of Laureate Education, an international network of universities with over 1 million students across 28 countries. Previously, Beverly was the Founder and CEO of Global Imprints LLC, a company designed to empower communities and individuals to address pressing global issues through meaningful interactions and strategic international exchanges. Beverly’s other career highlights include: Associate Country Director for Mozambique for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a United States corporation founded in 2004, whose mission is to reduce global poverty through the promotion of sustainable economic growth; Project Development and Finance Associate at the law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP in NY; Director of Schools Division for Achieva.com, an internet start-up that helped high school students in the college application process.

Beverly graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. She was a three-time exchange student to Brazil during high school, college and law school. She is fluent in Portuguese.

Carlos Watson Co-Founder and CEO, OZY

Entrepreneur and multi-Emmy-winning journalist and TV show host Carlos Watson is the co-
founder and CEO of OZY, a multi-platform media company that aims to help curious people see
a broader and bolder world.

As an interviewer, Watson has earned praise for his ability to get high-profile guests to open up
about a wide range of topics on camera. Throughout his career he has interviewed everyone
from world leaders (such as George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Tony Blair) and leading
politicos (such as Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton) to business leaders (such as Bill Gates
and Mark Cuban), public intellectuals (Ta-Nehisi Coates and Malcolm Gladwell) and figures
from sports and popular culture (including Alex Rodriguez, Naomi Campbell and John Legend).
Watson is the host of The Carlos Watson Show, hailed as the fastest-growing talk show in
YouTube history, which has featured guests such as Padma Lakshmi, Tomi Lahren, Pete
Buttigieg, Baker Mayfield, Gabrielle Union and Caitlyn Jenner.

A son and grandson of teachers, Watson brings a unique perspective given his journey from
growing up as one of four Black kids in a humble household on the outskirts of Miami to
becoming one of the most prominent leaders of color in the US media industry. Following the
murder of George Floyd, Watson penned a letter to OZY subscribers announcing his desire to
help “Reset America”, which subsequently went viral and led to the launch of the Carlos Watson
Show, a talk show that has been hailed as having one of the most diverse roster of guests in TV
history.

Ana Rowena McCullough Co-Founder and CEO, QuestBridge

Ana Rowena McCullough is Co-Founder and Board Chair of QuestBridge. While an undergraduate at Stanford, she co-founded Quest with Michael McCullough. For this, she received the Dinkelspiel Award for outstanding contributions to education at Stanford. She is Co-Founder and former VP, Content of Shmoop.com, a leading provider of digital curriculum for middle school, high school, and college students. McCullough has also worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, a consulting scientist to the Environmental Defense Fund, and a research associate for Stanford President emeritus Donald Kennedy (also a QuestBridge Board Member). McCullough holds a B.A. from Stanford in Human Biology and a J.D. from Stanford Law School where she focused on environmental and youth law.

Aleyna Bedir QuestBridge Alum, UVA '20 Staff Engineer, Bohler

Born in Turkey, and raised in Virginia, Aleyna attended the University of Virginia and graduated in 2020 with a civil engineering degree. She is currently working as a design engineer for a land development consulting and design firm in northern Virginia and is very excited to further connect with Questies!

Anjalique Knight QuestBridge Alum, Tufts '19 Latin Fellow, Charlotte Latin School

Anjalique is a proud North Carolina native who graduated from Tufts University in 2019 with a B.A in Africana Studies. For the past two years, she has been a teaching fellow at Charlotte Latin School, where she teaches 9th grade World History and a Human Rights Honors elective and will be moving into a full-time faculty role with the school in the fall. Anjalique’s professional interests include history, DEI work, classroom community building, and leveraging diverse (and seemingly unrelated) experiences and interests.

Caroline C. Lee, PhD Clinical Psychologist

Caroline C. Lee, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Newport Beach, California. Dr. Lee is a former elementary school teacher who works with children, teens, and adults, and specializes in treating anxiety disorders. She enjoys giving community mental health presentations and is currently working on a children’s book about mental well-being.

Cherrial Odell QuestBridge Scholar, Stanford '25 Intern, Inspiring Children Foundation

Cherrial Odell is a two-time suicide attempt survivor and incoming freshman at Stanford University. She
currently interns for the Inspiring Children Foundation which she accredits to helping save her life as a
teenager struggling with severe depression, anxiety, anger and suicidal thoughts through tools such as
mindfulness and meditation. Now, Cherrial has found a deep love for her life and is extremely passionate
about sharing it with others. She leads a twitch channel where she, along with a group of other young
people, share daily live and archived fitness, yoga and meditation sessions along with conversations
about mental health.

Dan Tzuang M.D. Clinical Psychiatrist

Dan Tzuang M.D. is a ABPN double board certified child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist currently in private practice. In the past, he has worked as a staff psychiatrist at the UCI Student Health Center and also as an Associate Dean of Students at Pomona College. He is a proud Pomona College alum and is a graduate of the Keck School of Medicine at USC, and completed his adult residency at San Mateo Medical Center and his child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at Stanford.

Demetrius Colvin Director, Wesleyan Student Resource Center

While working as an administrator, educator, facilitator, and freelance consultant, Demetrius has advised and trained students, faculty, and staff on topics of identity development, counseling students in crisis situations, initiating and managing organizational change, and facilitating intercultural dialogue and understanding in higher education settings for the past 11 years. Motivated by a sincere passion to promote effective educational environments that are just and humane for all, he has sought out collaborations and strategic partnerships which allow him to advocate for practices that ensure that student needs and administrative actions are aligned. Demetrius earned his BA in International Studies with a minor in Russian from Case Western Reserve University, and his M.Ed. in counseling from the University of Maryland, College Park. Currently, Demetrius serves as the inaugural director of The Resource Center, Wesleyan University’s first multicultural center, and as an affiliate faculty member in the College of Education Studies at Wesleyan. His role is to maintain a centralized location on campus that recognizes and celebrates diverse and underrepresented identities and create meaningful avenues for both privileged and marginalized individuals and groups to learn together about privilege and intersectionality, and actively contribute to equity on campus.

Elizabeth Denhup QuestBridge Alum, UChicago '14 Software Engineer, Hinge Health

Elizabeth graduated from the University of Chicago in 2014 with a degree in Sociology. After graduating, she continued on to a Ph.D. program in Sociology at UW-Madison before dropping out to pursue a career in technology. Elizabeth currently works as a software engineer at a healthcare startup in San Francisco.

Fernando Rios, M.D. QuestBridge Alum, Columbia '12 Department Head, US Navy

Fernando Rios was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and moved to the California Central Valley when he was 10 years old. He is a graduate of Columbia University with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. He worked at a technology company in Silicon Valley prior to transitioning to medical school. He attended University of California, Davis School of Medicine after being awarded the Health Professionals Scholarship Program by the United States Navy. He is currently the department head for Marine Helicopter Light Attack Squadron 469 in Camp Pendleton, California.

Karissa Justice QuestBridge Alum, Penn '13 Founder, Work Can Be Better

Karissa Justice is the founder of Work Can Be Better, where she is a job search coach and content creator, as well as a talent acquisition consultant for values-driven companies. She received a B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania as a QuestBridge Scholar, and has worked in IT, event planning, higher education, and HR. Previously, she was the Vice President of Finance & Administration at Azavea, a geospatial tech company in Philadelphia, where she oversaw People Operations for 6 years.

Oscar Wong QuestBridge Alum, Stanford '15 MBA Student, The Wharton School

A proud native of Los Angeles, Oscar is currently a second-year MBA student at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania double majoring in Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management. He is Co-President of the Wharton Tennis and Volleyball Clubs in addition to serving as an Admissions Fellow and Alumni Fellow. Last summer, he led growth and business operations as employee #10 at Vowel, an early stage software company. Before business school, he worked at Google/YouTube in the U.S. and Asia where he helped launch multiple products and programs including Grow with Google, the company’s largest economic impact initiative to date. Oscar was a first-generation college student at Stanford University where he studied Economics and Industrial Engineering.

Shawon Jackson QuestBridge Alum, Princeton '15 MPP/MBA Student, Harvard University and Stanford University

Shawon Jackson is an MPP/MBA student at Harvard Kennedy School and Stanford Graduate School of Business. Before graduate school, Shawon lived in DC and worked with Deloitte, doing consulting for the federal government. He also spent a year in the Dominican Republic with an education non-profit. At Princeton, Shawon was Student Body President and a Quest Liaison.

Sebastian Tilson QuestBridge Alum, Haverford '13 Consultant, IQVIA

Sebastian is a Consultant at IQVIA, a top healthcare strategy consultancy. Along with managing client relationships with senior sales and marketing leaders, he manages project teams of data scientists and clinical experts to deliver AI at scale in healthcare. Sebastian graduated from Haverford College in 2013 with a BA in Mathematics, and he lives in the greater Philadelphia area with his wife, Suyin, and their two children, Andrew and James.

Shellby Fabian QuestBridge Alum, Amherst '14 Member Experience Lead, Chief

Shellby leads a Member Experience team at Chief, an exclusive membership for women business leaders. She originally learned the value of networking when she found her first job out of college through Amhert’s Alumni Database. Since then, she’s navigated her career through building connections – from Design Consulting to Venture Capital.

Viet Nguyen QuestBridge Alum, Brown '17 MBA/MPA Graduate Student, Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Kennedy School

Viet Nguyen is the executive director and co-founder of EdMobilizer, a national advocacy organization for first-generation, low-income students. He is currently pursuing a joint MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business as a Knight Hennessy Scholar and an MPA at Harvard Kennedy School. He graduated from Brown, where he was student body president and a trustee.

Yakira Mirabito QuestBridge Alum, Northwestern '18 Mechanical Engineering PhD Student, UC Berkeley

Yakira is a PhD student at UC Berkeley in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She is passionate about using design theory and methods to reduce unintended biases in engineering products and education. She holds a B.S. (2018) in Materials Science and Engineering from Northwestern University.

She is a founder and current leader for the first-generation and low-income graduate student group at UC Berkeley (FGLI Grads), which is focused on building community and supporting these invisible identities. In her free time, she’s on-snow training for freeskiing events or playing with her German Shepherd rescue named Tina Fey.

David Simas Chief Executive Officer, Obama Foundation

David Simas is the Chief Executive Officer of the Obama Foundation. A native of Taunton, Massachusetts, he was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick in 2007. Simas then joined President Obama’s administration in 2009 as a Deputy Assistant to the President, working with senior advisors David Axelrod and David Plouffe. In 2012, he served as Director of Opinion Research for President Obama’s reelection campaign. Following the reelection, Simas returned to the White House as Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach. Simas holds a B.A. in political science from Stonehill College and a J.D. from Boston College Law School. He serves on the national board of directors of OneGoal and lives in Chicago with his wife, Shauna, and their two daughters.

Nico Slate Quest Leadership Alum Professor of History, Carnegie Mellon University

Nico Slate loves smoothies, basketball, and mountaintops. He is Professor and Department Head in the Department of History at Carnegie Mellon University. He believes that education is a form of social change, that children are often wiser than adults, and that the world is full of really good people doing amazing things all the time. He is the author of four books: Colored Cosmopolitanism: The Shared Struggle for Freedom in the United States and India (Harvard University Press, 2012), The Prism of Race: W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson and the Colored World of Cedric Dover (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), Gandhi’s Search for the Perfect Diet: Eating with the World in Mind (University of Washington Press, 2019), and Lord Cornwallis Is Dead: The Struggle for Democracy in the United States and India (Harvard University Press, 2019). He is also the editor of Black Power Beyond Borders (Palgrave MacMillan, 2013). He participated in Quest in the summer of 1996 and has remained a proud supporter ever since.

Nicholas Casey Quest Leadership Alum National Politics Reporter, New York Times

Nicholas Casey is a staff writer for The New York Times whose wanderings have taken him from Easter Island to the Gaza Strip. This year he is working as a political correspondent for the newspaper writing long narratives about the difficult decisions Americans face under President Trump and Covid-19. Before 2020, Nicholas worked as a foreign correspondent in Mexico, Israel, Venezuela and Colombia, spending eight years at The Wall Street Journal. He attended the Quest Scholars Program in 2000. He graduated from Stanford in 2005 with a degree in anthropology – a field whose adventures abroad would eventually lead him to become a foreign correspondent.

Ashanti Branch Founder & Executive Director, The Ever Forward Club

Ashanti Branch, raised by a single mother on welfare in Oakland, went on to study engineering at California Polytechnic – San Luis Obispo. A Civil Engineer in his first career, Ashanti found his passion for teaching while tutoring struggling students. In 2004, as a first-year teacher, Ashanti started The Ever Forward Club to provide a support group for African American and Latino males, who were not achieving to the level of their potential. The Ever Forward Club has helped 100% of its members graduate high school. Branch is on a mission to change the way that students interact with their education and the way schools interact with students.

After being featured in The Mask You Live In the documentary, and Fellowships at the Stanford d.school, Campaign for Black Male Achievement, and The Gratitude Network, Ashanti and The Ever Forward Club has launched the #MillionMaskMovement to collect 1 Million masks from people all over the world in a self-reflective experience that helps people visualize and realize, “I am not alone.”

Amy Elizabeth Paulson Co-Founder & CEO, Gratitude Alliance

Amy Elizabeth Paulson is a mental health advocate, writer, speaker, facilitator, trauma survivor, and the co-founder and CEO of Gratitude Alliance, a non-profit that works at the intersection of healing and social justice – helping to break generational cycles of trauma and harm, build individual and collective resilience, and democratize access to mental health resources in the Bay Area, Asia, and Africa. As an orphan and survivor of gender-based child abandonment, Amy is passionate about de-stigmatizing and de-pathologizing trauma as a mental health issue, and advocates for survivor-centered, community-led approaches to trauma-informed, healing-centered
care.

Based in Oakland, California, Amy left a corporate finance career in 2011 to co-found Gratitude Alliance after working for over a decade in the U.S. and Europe for Deloitte, SAP, and eBay. She holds a MS in Nonprofit Management with a concentration in Global Studies from Northeastern University, certifications in Trauma-Informed Interventions (UC Berkeley) and Global Mental Health (Harvard Medical School), and is a facilitator for Stanford GSB’s legendary Interpersonal Dynamics Course.

Amy’s #MeToo story was published in The Anatomy of Silence: 26 Stories About All The Sh*t That Gets In The Way Of Speaking About Sexual Violence. Her memoir, The Wound Myth (working title) chronicles her journey as a survivor of generational, gender based violence, child sexual abuse, and transnational adoption – through the lens of trauma – and explores what it means to embrace gratitude as a powerful catalyst for transformation, from the inside out.

Isabel Cesanto Safie QuestBridge Board of Directors, Quest Leadership Alum Partner, Best Best & Krieger LLP

Isabel Safie is an attorney and equity partner in the Employee Benefits Practice Group of Best Best & Krieger LLP. She works with public and private sector clients on the design, interpretation and operation of employee benefit programs and issues related to those programs, including pension and health benefits. Isabel graduated from UCLA School of Law in 2005 and received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Human Biology from Stanford University in 2002. She is an alumna of Stanford Youth Environmental Science Program, the predecessor to Quest Scholars, Inc. Isabel has been involved with Quest Scholars, Inc. in various forms over more than two decades, including as a member of the Board of Directors. She’s married to her high school sweetheart (Omar) and has three children: Mateo Ali (12), Gabriel Esmael (10) and Olivia Nazanin (4). She enjoys cooking, running/cycling and hiking.

Omar Safie Director of Evaluation & Assessment, University of California, Riverside

Omar Safie, Ph.D. is the Director of Evaluation and Assessment at the University of California, Riverside where he guides programs on using the assessment process for continuous improvement. His approach is based on nearly 15 years of experience in assessment and evaluation in K-12 and higher education where he utilized mixed-methods, including observational methodology to evaluate schools and school programs. He strongly believes that such a triangulated approach allows for more voices to be heard, leading to a fuller picture of a program’s strengths and areas for growth. Omar Safie received his B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of California, Riverside, his M.A. from California State University, San Bernardino, and his Ph.D. from the Claremont Graduate University. His dissertation focused on identifying the factors that contribute to effective schools in high crime, high poverty, and high minority communities.

Mike Murillo Quest Leadership Alum Principal Mechanical Engineer, Carbon

Mike is a QuestLeadership scholar from 1996 (back when it was called SYESP). It was the major catalyst to his attendance at Stanford University, from where he graduated in 2001 with a degree in Product Design. Mike has worked over a dozen different jobs since then but settled on a career in Mechanical Engineering. He now leads the mechanical engineering team at Carbon, a company specializing in 3D printing in Redwood City. 

Erin Schutte Wadzinski QuestBridge Alum, Yale '12 Attorney, Kivu Immigration Law PLLC

Erin is an immigration attorney and a 2007 QuestBridge College Prep Scholar. In 2019, Erin won the Initiators Fellowship to launch Kivu Immigration Law as a social enterprise to provide immigrants access to legal resources. Erin previously worked as a staff attorney at Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota and as the Director of the Yale Young Global Scholars Program. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Yale University and her JD from the University of Connecticut School of Law.

Linnea Paseiro QuestBridge Alum, Princeton '14 Alumni Relations Manager, Girls Who Invest

Originally from Northern Arizona, Linnea has worn a number of hats since graduating from Princeton with a degree in Slavic Languages and Literatures in 2014. She has taught writing to business students at a university in Kazakhstan, recruited students for State Department scholarships in Ukraine, engaged in public health advocacy in Vietnam, and worked in Talent Development at a quantitative hedge fund in New York City. Currently, Linnea works as the Alumni Relations Manager at Girls Who Invest, where she gets to support and encourage young women as they strive towards their career goals and gender parity in the finance industry. Outside of work, Linnea is an avid traveler, especially if there are foreign weddings involved. She is also actively engaged with the Princeton Alumni Schools Committee, the QuestBridge Alumni Association, and the Princeton in Asia Alumni Network.

Natalia Delery QuestBridge Alum, UChicago '17 Admissions Ambassador, Columbia University School of Social Work

Natalia Delery (she/her/hers) is a Licensed Master Social Worker and Queens native, currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. She is a proud first-generation college graduate and QuestBridge alum, and was a member of the UChicago QSN board for all 4 years. You may have seen or attended her “Designing Your Life” workshop or QSN Leaders affinity group at QB25! 

After receiving her B.A. in Human Development from the University of Chicago in 2017, Natalia served as a College Advising Corps Member and Postsecondary Coach on the Southside of Chicago, helping students apply to their dream schools. To further build on her passions for social impact and innovation, she later pursued her M.S. in Social Work with a specialization in Social Enterprise Administration at Columbia University, and recently graduated during the pandemic. She has a diverse range of work experience, from doing school social work for the NYC Department of Education’s Pathways to Graduation program, to shaping programming for the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and most recently was a Public-Private Partnerships Fellow at NYC Service, a division of the Mayor’s Office. In both her professional and personal life, Natalia is committed to uplifting individual voices and stories, advocating for marginalized communities, promoting educational opportunities for youth of color, and fighting for racial and economic justice. In her free time, she dances, writes poetry, and practices her guitar. 

Maria Taha QuestBridge Alum, Wellesley '12 Assistant Program Manager, The Diverse Future

Maria is a QB alumni with roots in Ethiopia and Minnesota. She attended Wellesley College and majored in Peace & Justice Studies. After graduating college in 2014, Maria went on to become a Princeton in Asia fellow where she taught at a university on a tropical island in Malaysia. She then moved from the tropics back to the Northeast to pursue a master’s degree in International Education Development at Teachers College, Columbia University. Maria has worked in international development, improving education accessibility and gender parity in Asia and Africa, and most recently at a mentoring program designed to help professionals of color break through the glass ceiling and help shape American national news through a more multicultural lens.