Summer Search

New York City



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Median household income


First-generation college students



90 Broad Street, Suite 701 New York, NY 10004 MAP

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Latest News and Events


         Karina Saltman

Peter Retzlaff, Summer Search New York City Executive Director

Johnathan Pruzan

Jonathan Pruzan, Summer Search New York City Board Chair

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Johnathan Pruzan

The Associate Board

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Raya Abat

Program Associate

Raya comes to Summer Search with a passion for service and youth empowerment. Her experience includes youth development and education work in New York City, Los Angeles, Camden and Philadelphia. As a former Program Manager at iMentor NYC, she provided ongoing, comprehensive support to high school students and college-educated volunteer mentors matched in multi-year, one-to-one mentoring relationships. Raya also served as an academic case manager for high school students in danger of not graduating through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and worked in undergraduate admissions as a diversity chair, educating prospective students and their families about the college application process, the college-student experience, and the importance of diversity in higher education. Born and raised in New York City, Raya is excited to continue empowering young people in her native city as a new mentor.

Raya holds a BA in English and minors in faith-justice studies and philosophy from Saint Joseph’s University. Outside of work, Raya loves exploring her faith and spirituality and volunteering with different social-justice and advocacy-focused initiatives. She’s also an avid explorer of new restaurants and dessert bars, especially bubble tea locations!

Sharielle Applewhite

Senior Program Associate

Sharielle is a community organizer and first-generation American with roots proudly planted in the Caribbean twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Being a product of both forced and voluntary migration cultivated her passion for closing the opportunity gap for people of color in the United States.

She completed her undergraduate degree in Sociology at the University of Connecticut where she was also a student of Student Support Services, a TRIO program. She later received her Masters of Social Work (MSW) from Hunter College.

Prior to Summer Search, she facilitated anti-racist trainings, organized college students and led social cohesion dialogues. What brought Sharielle to Summer Search is her desire to work with the leadership development of students of color. She is driven by the South African philosophy of Ubuntu, “I am because we are.”

Emily Behan

Corporate Relations Manager

Emily works with Summer Search’s corporate partners to build strong relationships that result in more opportunities for Summer Search students. She is thrilled to be part of a team that is focused on helping young adults reach their full potential, and is inspired by the many successes – both big and small – of Summer Search students and alums. 

Prior to joining Summer Search, Emily was the Development Manager at Community Solutions International, where she worked with foundations and corporations to fund systems-level initiatives aimed at improving public health outcomes. She has also held development roles at CCS Fundraising, Freeman Philanthropic Services, and New York Needs You.
Emily graduated from Furman University with a degree in Economics and went on to take classes at Columbia University’s Masters in Fundraising Management program. In her spare time, you might find her updating her list of New York City restaurants to eat at or reading back issues of her favorite magazines.

Nancy Brito

College Access Coordinator

Nancy graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 2013 with a B.A in English Literature. During her college experience, she realized that she had a passion for advocacy and action, particularly with underserved students. As a first generation college student herself, she realized the importance of giving back to her community and ensuring that other students have the opportunity to attend and graduate from college.

Nancy volunteered with Summer Search in 2014 as the College Access Fellow because she wanted to be part of an organization that not only provides college access but life-changing experiences. After volunteering with Summer Search, she assisted ninth grade students with their transition to high school. She is now very excited to be back at Summer Search as a mentor!

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her pre–teen cousin even though her cousin would probably enjoy spending less time with her. 

Jason Choi

Senior Program Director

Motivated by the desire for all people to see their true value, Jason is wholeheartedly committed to Summer Search's mission and vision. 

Jason supports newer mentors and is particularly focused on using data to inform decisions and improve program quality. 

Jason earned his BS in Computer Engineering from the University of Florida and his MA in Mathematics Education from the University of Central Florida. Prior to Summer Search, Jason was a math teacher and spent semester breaks touring the eastern US, singing songs for strangers and sampling local cuisine. 

These days he enjoys quiet mornings of prayer and louder evenings with friends, family, and food. Jason resides in Brooklyn with his lovely wife.

Easton Davis

College Success Coordinator

Easton believes that the opportunity to receive a quality education should not be limited to socio-economic status or life circumstances. His belief that education can not only enrich a person’s life but alter the trajectory of a person’s future is what helped bring him to Summer Search.

Easton holds a B.A. in sociology and minor in Black Studies. In his past role, he worked as an Academic Advisor at Reynolds Community College in Richmond, VA and spent more than five years in various roles of Student Affairs. As a College Success Associate, he will assist students through the massive, sometimes daunting, college process/culture. He knows his advising skills, a broad knowledge base in higher education, and a commitment to social justice will allow him to relate and connect with Summer Search students in a meaningful way.

When he’s not working, he loves to learn, travel and experience new things with family and friends. He currently resides in The Bronx.

Emily FitzGerald

Director College Success & Alumni Relations

Emily believes everyone deserves a chance to thrive. Her commitment to education equality is her constant compass. 

Emily came to Summer Search as a mentor and helped launch the College Success program. She experiences the beauty and power of the longevity of Summer Search as college freshmen become college graduates before her eyes. 

Emily holds a B.A. in Classical Languages from Hamilton College and worked at NYC Audubon as the Development Associate and Membership Director. She served in AmeriCorps as a Literacy Tutor at an elementary school in Oakland, California and taught English along the Amazon River in Peru. 

When she’s not laughing with her hilarious coworkers, she can be found doing crossword puzzles, hiking in the Hudson River Valley, exploring her hometown on her bicycle or birding in the city's parks. She lives in Brooklyn and plays Frisbee with her husband.

Anjelica Garcia 

Donor Relations Manager

Born and raised in Inglewood, California, Anjelica is a proud West Coast native. She is the only child of two young parents who emphasized the value of education and hard work. Anjelica attended an independent, Catholic, all-girls high school in Los Angeles where she was fortunate enough to gain access to the skills she needed to continue her education. At the age of eighteen, Anjelica left her Southern California home to attend New York University. She is the first person in her family to graduate from college. 

Living in New York City has opened Anjelica's eyes to a variety of new experiences. As a teaching fellow with Citizen Schools in East Harlem, Anjelica had her first introduction to working in a public school setting. The school’s culture, the children she met, and the challenges they faced had a lasting effect on her. Since then, Anjelica has made it her mission to help students with limited opportunities gain access to quality education in order to reach their full potential. 

Anjelica is very excited to join the Summer Search team and contribute to an organization that helps low-income and first-generation college students succeed.

Daria Hirsch

Special Projects Consultant

Daria grew up in Texas and received her B.A. from Colgate University. She started her career in journalism at CBS News, where she worked at 48 Hours, 60 Minutes II and the news assignment desk. After nearly a decade at CBS, she decided she wanted to play a role in helping find solutions to the many problems she covered in her stories. She went on to receive her Masters of Public Administration from NYU's Wagner School of Public Service, and served as Chief of Staff for the NYC Department of Small Business Services during the Bloomberg Administration. Most recently, she was the project manager for Education Nation, NBC News' initiative to raise awareness about education issues. Daria joined Summer Search in November 2014 and is excited to be part of such an inspiring organization.

Naima Fine Iles

Program Manager

Driven to change the world for young people of color, Naima comes to Summer Search emboldened to inspire our students to “be the change they wish to see in the world.”

Naima went to the New School, loves to wear her many hats, and is invigorated by direct service in youth work. She led a team of activists to the Dominican Republic where they advocated for children’s rights, an end to machismo, and conducted anti-racist conversations. She is comfortable being sister, friend, Mother, activist, leader, counselor, advisor, challenger, mentor to her students and fights for them every single day.

On a day Naima isn’t working, she is usually laughing, talking emphatically, cozied up with some of her favorite novels, drinking hot chocolate, listening to Sade, playing capoeira, watching bad TV, being lit up with joy by her nieces, and loving hard.

Jill Kantrowitz

Associate Director of Development

Jill is inspired by generosity and courage, and she is grateful to learn from, and be challenged by, Summer Search students. Jill currently manages our foundation relationships, grants and proposals to help ensure that more students can feel appreciated, respected, and at home – while being pushed to reach for big dreams. 

With over 17 years of experience in the non-profit sector, Jill’s previous roles have included teaching and managing sexuality education programs in Boston, as well as working in HIV-prevention and treatment services in Boston, New York City and the North Carolina Department of Corrections. 

Jill holds a BA in Psychology-Sociology from Wesleyan University and a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. When she isn’t typing, Jill prefers to be swimming laps in any kind of pool, dreams about writing a novel that makes people laugh, and chases two overly active small male children.

Ica Morales

Program Associate

Emboldened by the critical strides accomplished by those before her and the possibilities that still lay ahead, Ica seeks to create greater equity and opportunity for marginalized communities. 

In 2014, years after working in nonprofit youth development, Ica went back to school and completed her B.A. through the self-designed Liberal Arts program at The New School for Public Engagement. Her research investigated the intersections of literature, ethnic studies, and social work. Due to the experimental and experiential nature of her program, she was able to return to youth development by transforming her studies into social justice workshops that she facilitated at various high schools in New York and New Jersey. 

Before Summer Search, Ica coached girls' basketball, farmed on Oahu, cooked soda syrups, led college-readiness programs, and made ice cream. Outside of the day-to-day grind, Ica writes creatively and surfs reverently. While Ica’s passions are vast, the crux of her work is always connection.

Bethany Nelson

Director of School and Community Engagement

As a dedicated proponent of educational equity and opportunity, Bethany is passionate about Summer Search’s mission. Her work allows her to engage with students, school partners and youth organizations, while still giving her plenty of time to nerd out with spreadsheets.

Bethany spent several years as the Director of Youth Programs at Hartley House. She has also worked as a research assistant in housing policy issues and interned at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in D.C. She graduated from Pace University with a BA in Applied Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies and received her Masters of Public Administration from Baruch College. Proud of having lived in four out of NYC's five boroughs, she can currently be found in Sunnyside, Queens.


Mat Pryfogle

Summer Program Manager

Harvey Fierstein said “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself.” It is this sentiment of courage and ambition that motivates me to empower our amazing students to make the same decisions for themselves. 

Mat holds a BS degree in French Education from Bowling Green State University and has thirst for knowledge that led him to study and work in France, Burkina Faso, French Canada & China. 

Mat has worked at a summer camp that taught peace, social justice & environmental stewardship, and at buildOn where he engaged high school students in community service and led service trips to developing countries. 

Outside of work, Mat loves to read, hang with friends and run along the Hudson.

Alyssa Reese

Senior Program Associate

Alyssa comes to Summer Search with a deep commitment to helping young people strengthen their positive character and leadership traits through experiential learning. 

After working at a residential summer camp, Alyssa was inspired by the transformation of her campers in only a few short weeks and motivated to work with organizations that focus on long-term investment in young people. 

Alyssa worked in Detroit on youth organizing and empowerment efforts and holds a Bachelors degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!).

After her recent move to New York, Alyssa is enjoying exploring all that the city has to offer.

Samantha Robin

Donor Relations Manager

Sam understands first-hand the importance of having supportive mentors to help inspire, listen and guide you along the right path in life. She believes knowledge is infinite and each person should have access to learning opportunities regardless of their life circumstances. She was deeply inspired to join Summer Search based on her profound commitment to our mission and her desire to serve the community where she was raised in NYC.

After receiving her BA in Theatre and English from the University of Vermont. She moved to Boston to pursue a Master’s of Science in Performing Arts Administration and a Certificate in Fundraising Management from Boston University. While completing these degrees, she began working for BU as an Administrative Assistant at the Office of Technology Development and Grants Administrator for the Institute for Geriatric Social Work. Prior to joining Summer Search, Sam was the Development Officer for Planned Giving at Perkins School for the Blind, where she cultivated individual donors for annual, multi-year and planned gifts. While in Boston, Sam was an active member of the Planned Giving Group of New England and served as a Diversity Fellow for the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

After recently moving back to the Bronx, she’s happy to be home spending time with her beautiful daughter Aurora Leigh, family, friends and cat PepperAnn.  

Glomery Sierra

Program Associate

Glomery has a passion for social justice and through her own personal experiences she values education as a way to escape the cycles of poverty. Glomery is a first generation college student and knows firsthand the benefits that organizations like Summer Search have on disadvantaged youth. Glomery is also a proud Summer Search alumna and she is excited by the opportunity to give back working as a mentor.

Glomery graduated from Binghamton University with a BS/BA in Latin American Caribbean Studies and Human Development. She hopes to have a positive impact and support students to reach their full potential.

Prior to working for Summer Search, Glomery has worked in sectors such as mental health, public education, and homeless prevention. When she is not at work she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her niece and nephew.

Megan Sussman

Development Director

Megan is inspired by the courage and bravery that Summer Search students show in stepping outside of their comfort zone and pushing themselves to make impact in the world. She has the gift of sharing the hard work, joys and challenges of our students with our community of investors in NYC and working closely with volunteer leadership to grow the program to serve more students.

Megan grew up in Colorado and graduated from Cherry Creek High School and the University of Washington (Go Huskies!). After College she stepped out of HER comfort zone and moved to London and worked in event planning.

Megan lives in NYC with her husband and loves everything the city has to offer. She is an aging-but-still avid soccer player and enjoys drinking coffee with too much cream, traveling, adventuring and laughing with family and friends.

Jené Toussaint

Program and Training Director

Dedicated to social change and a commitment to understanding history, culture and the impact that racism and other intersections have on individuals and communities, Jené is continually inspired by authentic conversations and relationship building.

Jené provides mentoring and training support to Program Associates and loves the opportunity to create spaces where people feel supported and heard.

Jené graduated from Brandeis University and holds a MSW from Hunter College School of Social Work.

In her spare time, Jené enjoys laughing, learning from, and supporting her friends and family. She enjoys music, reading fantasy books, cats, swimming in the ocean, and sleeping in. She has spent the last couple of summers travelling to Cuba, and getting involved with community organizing efforts.

She currently lives in Brooklyn, and dreams of spending the winters in the Caribbean.