ViNiceia has a passion for addressing systemic and social disparities in communities and in the education system. Through her work as an outreach worker and intern at various social service and government agencies, she has worked with and witnessed the challenges of those impacted by disparities in some of the country’s largest institutions.
Prior to working at Elevate, ViNiceia worked as an Admissions Recruiter for the MSW program at University of Maryland, Baltimore. There she created new and grew existing internal and external partnerships and strengthened essential recruitment-related relationships. She also worked with prospective students as they explored the MSW program while assisting in the development of a concrete plan for students to actualize their career in the field of Social Work. Before her time as an Admissions Recruiter, ViNiceia spent five years with General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) working as a Project Support Specialist for the Cancer and Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). During her time at GDIT, she provided administrative and logistical support for CPRIT’s proposal development, peer review, and grant funding process and assisted applicants as they navigated the peer review and grant process.
ViNiceia holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from The University of Maryland, Baltimore with a focus in Community Action and Social Policy, and earned her BA from University of Maryland, Baltimore County in Social Work with a minor in Psychology. ViNiceia proudly graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland, Baltimore and was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society until May 2022.
When ViNiceia is not working, you can find her outdoors hiking with her dog, roller skating, or listening to her favorite podcasts.
Pronouns : she / her / hers
Neal Montoya has a childlike curiosity that guides her and a background in facilitating multiple projects while building community. Before Elevate, she served an AmeriCorps VISTA term with Food Recovery Network (FRN). When she began working at FRN, Neal had limited knowledge about the food justice sphere, but her love for learning new things gave her the confidence to take the role. As a result, she learned about food insecurity and food recovery while building robust systems for the FRN Network and fostering relationships with students and alumni across the nation.
Neal attended the University of Maryland, College Park, and received a BA in English Literature with a minor in History. During her undergraduate years, she interned at the Dickinson Electronic Archives, participated in two Alternative Break trips, and served as a production assistant on student films.
When she’s not working, you can find Neal reading a book, playing video games, taking random photographs of her surroundings, or practicing songs and scales on her beloved bass guitar.
Pronouns : she / her / hers
Donna has been passionate about advocating for others by putting pen to paper throughout her career. This led her to a career in Social Work, where she focused on writing to serve individual clients combating disease, injustice, and poverty. As a Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Program Officer at Americares, Donna wrote over a dozen mental health trainings for frontline COVID-19 healthcare workers and helped administer a grant program for Federally Qualified Health Centers and Free and Charitable Clinics.
Donna currently volunteers as a grant writer for a small NGO called “Together We Can Guatemala” and a rescue farm called K-Stone Rescue Ranch. She is also a member of the NYC branch of “Shut Up and Write!” and her local Rotary Club. Donna earned an MS in Social Work from Columbia University and a BS in Social Work from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She has published articles in Grief Digest and First Things.
When she is not writing for causes, Donna enjoys working on her memoir with a hot mocha, architecture walks in Manhattan with her Great Pyrenees (and a hot mocha), and writing in the café at the American Museum of Natural History. She also loves building custom shelves and furniture from used pallets, fueled by, of course, a hot mocha.
Pronouns : she / her / hers
Cheyenne has a strong passion for helping underserved and marginalized populations achieve a better quality of life. Before Elevate, she made her debut in the nonprofit world first as a volunteer at an affordable housing and services provider in Ventura County, CA. She gave hundreds of hours of her time to low-income students and their daily academic needs. When a staff position opened up, she jumped on the opportunity and became a direct youth services provider. Over the course of several years, she developed and refined many impactful programs for her students.
In 2015, she decided to jump on another opportunity at the organization, diving deep into the world of fundraising and grant writing. Tapped for her excellent writing and research skills, she soon became a Grant Manager and was eventually put in charge of the grant program for the entire organization. In this role, she penned hundreds of proposals that helped fund a variety of important causes, including food assistance, case management, after-school programs, housing, summer camps, financial literacy training, and more.
Cheyenne currently volunteers for the Organization for Transformative Works, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of fanworks. She graduated summa cum laude with the highest honors from California Lutheran University. She earned a BS in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies. She also holds a Certificate in Professional Fundraising from Boston University.
Once a California native, Cheyenne is now happily living in North Carolina. She is an expert cat wrangler, a beginning gardener, and a truly subpar violinist in her own time.
Pronouns : he / him / his
Alexander is a lifelong learner with seven years of technical knowledge and a passion for technology. Prior to joining the Elevate Team, Alex worked at Apple Inc as a Technical Expert, and mentor for new technicians. While at Apple, he also led Apple’s summer tech camp as the lead counselor. With over 80 campers ages six -13, the program curated modules and videos to teach children the importance of technology. Alex particularly enjoyed creating lessons, activities, and games with a technical focus to engage the campers. Alex’s passion for technology extends beyond Apple Inc. One of his most exciting projects was collaborating with a middle school in Greensboro, North Carolina where he curated an evidence-based Technology focused curriculum that taught the students coding, problem-solving, and basic IT troubleshooting.
Alex attended Southern Connecticut State University majoring in Computer Science, he later moved to the DMV area to further his education. Alexander is an Apple Certified Macintosh Technician and a Certified IT Support Technician.
Outside of the working world, he enjoys cooking, traveling with his Miniature Poodle, gaming, and hiking.
Pronouns : she / her / hers
Raquel has always felt drawn to public service and charity and spent almost a decade at a free dental clinic, first as the Director of Institutional Advancement before being promoted to Executive Director. She has experience working with nonprofits in public health, education, and libraries. As a Supervising Director at Elevate, she ensures the staff’s alignment to company goals, priorities, and expectations for client services.
Raquel is a long-time volunteer with her local Tots for Tots campaign, donating her time as its social media presence coordinator. Raquel earned an MS in Library & Information Science at Drexel University and a BA in Political Science at East Stroudsburg University.
When unplugging from helping to save the world, Raquel enjoys trying local coffee brewers and shops, walking along the canal towpath with her boyfriend and rescued black lab with a cold brew coffee, and renovating her late 1800’s historic home.
Pronouns: he / him / his
Chris brings his passion for social justice and experience in fundraising to Elevate after coming from the world of higher education. After earning his Ph.D. in US History and Native American Studies from Indiana University in 2016, Chris taught and wrote as a faculty member at Harvard University until 2021. In that time, he published historical writing on race and racism in modern America with an eye to police bias and the development of mass incarceration. He taught courses on Native American history, social movements, race, gender, and sexuality. His teaching duties also included teaching poetry and fiction. Throughout his time in higher education, he earned several competitive grants and fellowships and honed his skills as a grant writer.
Chris has a wealth of volunteer and organizing experience. This has included campus anti-war and pro-democracy organizing as an undergraduate, delivering free breakfast to kids in Bloomington, Indiana, volunteering as a faculty ally with Native American student groups, joining water protectors at Standing Rock, and organizing to protect DACA recipients at Harvard. Before relocating to the midwest for graduate school, Chris earned his BA in History from Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Before relocating to the midwest for graduate school, Chris earned his BA in History from Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Chris loves spending time with his partner, Devon, and his senior dog, Lucy, when he’s off the clock. You’re also likely to find him cooking, playing music, and reading fiction.
Pronouns: she/her/ hers
Lisa has a passion for supporting nonprofits in advancing their mission through her expertise and experience in former roles ranging from development, strategy consulting, program management, and board service.
Lisa has worked for organizations operating in many issue areas to help them gain the resources and operational agility to build strong programs and services. She transitioned her focus to the nonprofit sphere out of a desire to use her skills and expertise from her former career in finance. Lisa was a securities analyst during her finance career, both on the sell-side and in institutional asset management. She was also a banker with several global financial institutions in New York City.
Lisa has served as a volunteer for several organizations, specifically programs that support people with disabilities and limited access to healthcare. She has served on multiple nonprofit boards and is currently a board member of ArtStream, the Brem Foundation, and SEEC.
She is also a project lead for Compass, heading a team of volunteer business professionals conducting pro bono strategic consulting projects for local nonprofits. Lisa holds an MBA with a concentration in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She received her BA from Duke University, where she majored in Economics and was an AB Duke Scholar.
Lisa believes coffee and dark chocolate are critical to getting the day off to a good start. Time with family and friends, walking, and keeping up with her book clubs fill the parts of her days she is not working or volunteering.
Pronouns : he / him / his
Born in Los Angeles but raised in Ontario (California, not Canada), Bryan has traversed the country in pursuit of higher education and nonprofit work. A former academic and university writing instructor, Bryan has collected a complete set of English Lit. degrees, including a B.A. from California State Polytechnic University of Pomona; a M.A. from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte; and a Ph.D. from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He currently lives in Erie, Pennsylvania, not far from the final university at which he used to teach.
Bryan began his nonprofit career in 2008 as an AmeriCorps member in the Inland Empire region of Southern California. A specialist in volunteer recruitment and management, Bryan also utilized his two years in AmeriCorps to develop and hone an array of complementary skills, including grant writing and nonprofit storytelling. He used these skills to support the work of large nonprofits, such as United Way and The Boys and Girls Club, as well as numerous small-but-mighty local organizations. Since leaving AmeriCorps, Bryan has applied these skills in support of diverse nonprofits wherever he has lived: food banks, literacy centers, homeless shelters, libraries, and more.
Outside of work, Bryan enjoys many pastimes that suggest he was born several decades later than he should have been. An enthusiastic consumer of old sci-fi movies and television, Bryan is also a regular attendee of Minor League Baseball games, an obsessive worrier about traffic and the weather, a proud supporter of the 5:00 PM dinner time, and an unapologetic champion for Shakespeare’s comedies.
Pronouns : she / her / hers
Letese has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources. As the VP of Personnel at Elevate, Letese is responsible for leading the Personnel Department and managing organizational development projects that enhance Elevate’s talent and culture management. She has a strong desire to strengthen the Elevate culture by focusing on inclusion, diversity, and equity.
Before joining Elevate, Letese was an HR Manager at UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside, where she managed employee relations for 8500 employees.
Letese has served as a board member of the NAAAHR (National Association of African Americans in HR) and NAHSE (National Association of Health Services Executives). Letese is an active member of the Southwestern PA United Way Women’s Leadership Council. Letese is a Tuskegee University graduate, where she received s BS in Business Administration. She also earned a Master of Business Administration from Trinity University and is SPHR and SHRM – SCP certified.
You can find Letese binging-watching movies, listening to audiobooks, taking a dance class, or being silly with her kids when she is not working.