Marc Spencer

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Marc Spencer has devoted his 25-year career to organizations that promote educational and economic opportunities to young people and communities. For the past decade, he served as Chief Executive Officer of Juma Ventures, a national organization that strives to break the cycle of poverty by paving the way to work, education, and financial capability for youth. Under Marc’s leadership, the organization scaled nationwide, significantly growing its social enterprise portfolio, fund development, and programmatic impact. He is particularly adept at leading organizations through growth and change.


Marc’s leadership is defined by a commitment to social justice and equity, paired with an entrepreneurial spirit and drive. His achievements include the development of a San Francisco African American independent school, the design and directorship of the nation’s first Upward Bound Visual and Performing Arts program, the creation of CollegeSet.org, a national matched college savings platform for students, and the creation of YouthMade, a manufacturing internship program. He has been an adviser for the Aspen Institute and served on the boards of the National Youth Employment Coalition, Social Enterprise Alliance, Evergreen Lodge, City of San Francisco Youth Council, Oakland Workforce Investment Board, and the Museum of the African Diaspora. He holds an Ed.D. and an MA in Education from USF, and a BA in Anthropology from UCLA.

Summer Search Annual Gala

Emily Edwards

VP Development

Motivated by a deep commitment to social justice, Emily has devoted her entire career (thus far) to Summer Search and the young people we serve. Her leadership in our development and fundraising is informed by her experience as a student at Philadelphia’s renowned Central High School, where she watched her classmates break through barriers to become the first in their families to graduate high school and go on to college. Her contribution at Summer Search has been informed by their grit and courage, and the access to enhanced public education that fueled it.


Emily began her tenure in 1999 as a Program Associate in Boston, moved into the role of Executive Director there in 2002 and was named one of Boston’s Outstanding Young Leaders in 2004. Under her leadership, our Boston team grew to partner with every public high school in the city and tripled the number of students they served.

Emily holds a B.A. in African-American Studies from Wesleyan University. When she isn’t using her significant innovative energy at work, she and her husband can be found keeping up with their three boys, seeking out new playgrounds to explore and walking in the local arboretum. She and her family make their home in Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts.

Dana Hagenbuch

Senior Director of Talent Acquisition

While growing up, Dana’s experiences attending and working at summer programs greatly shaped her education and career choices. In her role at Summer Search, she brings a commitment to helping youth access these kinds of life-changing opportunities themselves, as well as a passion for building teams of extraordinary talent to support their journeys.


Prior to joining Summer Search, Dana served as Vice President at Commongood Careers, a mission-driven search firm for the nonprofit sector. During her nine year tenure, Dana had the opportunity to support the hiring needs of nonprofits nationwide such as Tipping Point Community, College Track, Net Impact, Center for Effective Philanthropy, JVS, Capital Impact Partners, as well as more than a dozen searches with Summer Search. In addition to her search responsibilities, she was involved in a number of sector-building efforts, including managing a national survey report on nonprofit diversity entitled "The Voice of Nonprofit Talent: Perceptions of Diversity in the Workplace" and an event series for nonprofit leaders culminating in the report "Making Smart Investments in Human Capital."

Previously, Dana was the marketing manager for TechSoup Global, a technology resource and product philanthropy program for nonprofits worldwide. She began her career in recruiting, first at Camp Counselors USA, where she placed over 1,000 young adults in seasonal jobs annually, and then at A.T. Kearney, where she recruited talent from top business schools to join the firm. Dana holds a BA in Psychology from Stanford University. She is co-founder of the Yud, a young sisterhood movement within the local Jewish community, a volunteer at her children’s school, an avid coffee drinker, and a budding yoga devotee.

Liz Hurst

VP Marketing

Liz has pulled off the dream of thousands: finding a way to turn work she loves into work that serves.

After a wake-up call in the form of a seriously ill family member, Liz left a twenty-year communications career with some of the leading advertising agencies in San Francisco. Her aim was to align her values with her work life, give back and right-size family. To our delight and great benefit, Liz chose to join Summer Search. She helps us tell our story to the world with flair, clarity and heart.


Liz graduated magna cum laude with a BA in business economics from the University of California, Los Angeles. (Go Bruins!) When she isn’t spreading the good word for Summer Search, she loves to hang out with her large extended family, devour good books and eavesdrop on her two little girls when they are playing, especially when one of them is appropriating the role of “mom”. 

Liz and her family live in Marin County, California, in an old-fashioned neighborhood where kids walk to school and people routinely borrow cups of sugar from their neighbors.

Melanie Lyons

Melanie Lyons

Executive Director, Seattle

Melanie began mentoring and investing in the power of young people when she was in her teens and has never looked back. Over the last 14 years Melanie has been working in nonprofit organizations that support young people to use their power, potential and talent in personal, local and global leadership.


Melanie received her BA and subsequently, a Masters in Social Work and Masters in Public Administration – all at the University of Washington.

She craves outdoor adventures and can often be seen on her light green bicycle named Sweet Pea. She has made a fun-filled and friend-filled home with her partner Tina and her beloved puggle Theo. She will forever be a double Husky – go UCONN and UW!

Summer Search Annual Gala

Sylvia Watts McKinney

executive director, PHILADELPHIA

Sylvia is motivated by the belief that all youth should have access to college regardless of their zip code, and is excited to serve this mission as the Executive Director of the Summer Search Philadelphia office. 


Prior to joining Summer Search, Sylvia built an exemplary career in education and entrepreneurship. Sylvia started her real estate career with a start-up company, Taylor Properties, where she successfully negotiated and finalized construction, permanent and equity loans with private banks and government agencies to build and sell affordable, fee simple housing as well as commercial properties.

As Executive Director of the Museum of Afro American History in Boston and the Philadelphia chapter of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, she provided leadership on key strategic plans and implemented fundraising programs with staff and stakeholders, collaborated with the members of the media to promote the missions of these organizations, resulting in various articles, live television coverage and the creation of videos/films.

While as the director of the MAAH, the late Senator Edward Kennedy introduced her to First Lady Hilary Clinton.  Senator Kennedy also invited her to witness the late President Nelson Mandela be presented with a Congressional Gold Medal from President Bill Clinton.  These profound experiences re-ignited her passion to work for organizations to alleviate poverty in this country.

Sylvia holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of South Carolina and Masters of City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Her hobbies include travel, biking, golfing, and reading tons of comic books, especially the Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur series!

Maureen Middleton


Maureen is motivated by the belief that education is one of the key factors and pathways out of poverty. As an elementary school teacher in San Francisco she saw first hand how turning kids on to learning can have a powerful impact.


In her role, Maureen is committed to partnering with staff at all levels of the organization to support them in all aspects of human resources. She brings over 10 years of experience honed at both for profit and nonprofit organizations. Most recently, was the HR Manager at the Low Income Investment Fund, a nonprofit focused on poverty alleviation.

A Bay Area native, Maureen received her BA from UC San Diego. When she is not working, she enjoys gardening, traveling and spending time with friends. She lives with her husband in San Francisco.

Summer Search Annual Gala

Peter Retzlaff

Executive Director, New York City

Following a number of years running his own business, Peter began his journey in the nonprofit sector after deciding he wanted to do work with a more permanent impact on the world around him. Now, more than a decade into his career in youth development, Peter is motivated by the trajectory shift that can occur in a young person’s life as a result of intentional, high quality programming. The belief that the most profound impact of this work is that the benefits will continue to reveal themselves over years, lifetimes and even generations of families is a critical driver to what we get to do in this field.


Prior to Summer Search Peter led Community for Youth, a life-skills and mentoring program in Seattle where he lived for many years. In Seattle Peter also did extensive work with Youth Development Executives of King County, The Weikert Center’s Youth Program Quality Assessment tool, and Washington State Mentors Quality Mentoring Assessment Pathway Taskforce all of which worked to elevate the impact of mentoring young people. That work, seeing the incredible results that uncommonly intentional and professionalized mentoring yield, elevated the type of program that he wanted to work with. A move back home to the east coast brought him eagerly to Summer Search NYC.

Peter’s commitment to social justice extends beyond the workplace to a number of Boards and other volunteer opportunities including Fremont Community Therapy Project, Providence Hospitality House and work in King County Jail and Monroe State Prison. Now in NJ/NY after more than 20 years out west, Peter is looking forward to getting re-engaged in the local community. And in the days between there is always more live music to check out, more books to read, and more movies to see.

Amanda Sayre

Senior Director of Development 

Amanda Sayre is committed to addressing the inequalities within our communities and world. In college, she participated in global fieldwork and cultural exchanges in several countries such as Brazil, South Africa, Kenya and China. Amanda assisted local communities address challenges including hunger prevention, family planning and wildlife preservation. These experiences bolstered Amanda’s interest in a career to help others.


Amanda joined Summer Search in 2007 to support organization-wide development efforts. Amanda was our first dedicated development staff member and is the glue of our development teams. Today Amanda is responsible for the behind the scenes fundraising work that advances Summer Search’s long-term development work and overall strategy.

Amanda graduated from The George Washington University in Washington, DC with a BA in Business with a concentration in Marketing. When Amanda isn’t working, you can find her hiking or camping in Southern California, enjoying a meal with family, or reading a book quietly on her balcony.

Kait Schroeder

VP Program

For Kait, the best parts of the day are the moments of connection she shares with a student, a colleague or a supporter of Summer Search. She believes her work to help students step into their most full potential is best served by challenging herself to do the same.


As Managing Director of Sites, Kait oversees the high-quality management and performance of Summer Search’s national network of program sites. Her leadership is informed by her previous roles with Summer Search North Bay, where she served as Executive Director, and Summer Search Boston, where she managed programming and oversaw our mentor training program.  She honed her skills in supporting young people to become leaders of integrity during her tenure at the Millbrook School in New York, where she taught chemistry, coached field hockey and led community service initiatives. Kait was selected to serve on a conservation research team with the Earthwatch Institute in Kenya where she developed her belief in the power of experiential education – a belief that was furthered by her own Outward Bound expedition.

Kait graduated magna cum laude from Haverford College with a BA in chemistry. Her previous habit of copious novel reading on airplanes to visit family all over the country has been replaced by welcoming a slew of enthusiastic visitors since moving to Sonoma County in California, where she makes her home with her husband and young son. 

Lisa Strade

National Director of development

Lisa is motivated by the belief that every individual deserves equitable access to educational opportunities.  In her role leading our national development efforts at Summer Search, Lisa is energized by partnering with our generous supporters to create opportunities for our students and alumni.


Prior to joining Summer Search, Lisa served as the Associate Development Director for North America at Room to Read, a global literacy organization. She has also held development positions at Stanford University and the University of Virginia Law School Foundation.

In her free time, Lisa can be found indulging her passion of world travel, exploring new restaurants, hiking the incredible trails around the Bay Area, and cheering on the Golden State Warriors.

A native of New Jersey, Lisa holds an MA in education policy analysis from the Stanford University Graduate School of Education and a BA in Psychology from the University of Virginia. She lives with her husband in San Francisco.

Summer Search Annual Gala

Hermese Velasquez

Executive Director, boston

A native of Belize, Central America and a first-generation college graduate, Hermese has firsthand experience with the game changing power of education. Hermese’s long-standing commitment to Summer Search spans multiple roles, including participant during her high school years, Alumni Board Chair, and member of the Summer Search Boston Board of Directors.  It is Hermese’s delight and Summer Search’s great fortune to have her add staff member to that list, stepping into the role of Boston Executive Director in December 2016. 


Before joining the Summer Search staff, Hermese was a results-oriented Project Manager in the travel industry. She has provided project management over several top priority initiatives and enterprise wide implementations, cultivating her skills in data analysis, risk assessment, communication, relationship building, and change management, vital talents for a non-profit leader. While her professional experience is heavy in the project management capacity, her volunteer experience has been dominated by Summer Search! Though Hermese’s after work haven is now her full-time gig, she continues to volunteer as a coach for adults reentering college.

During the warmer months, Hermese enjoys daily 5Ks while listening to Beyoncé and Whitney Houston’s Greatest Hits! She also loves to travel and has visited at least 1 new country a year for the past 5 years; with 5 continents, down and 2 more to go! Hermese and her family live in Boston.

Summer Search Annual Gala

Janice Yang

senior director of program

Janice believes in the power of our students to dream big, and is committed to helping build an organization that allows them to do just that. A key player at Summer Search since 2003, she cut her teeth on our mission as a Mentor, moved on to become a Program Director and then led our New York chapter as Executive Director. Today, Janice works to develop and implement exceptional programming for our young people.


Her creative and insightful approach was honed in previous roles in the curatorial department of the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the East Bay Community Foundation in Oakland, California.

Janice holds a BA in art history from Cornell University and a MA from NYU. When she isn’t helping our students step into their greatest ambitions, Janice finds her bliss via classical piano music. She makes her home in Portland, Oregon.