Alexis Martin, Ph.D.

Director of Research and Evaluation

Alexis Martin joined LPFI in 2011. Alexis received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Education (Social and Cultural Studies program) at UC Berkeley and her B.A. in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences from the University of Redlands. Prior to LPFI she taught education courses at UC Berkeley & Sonoma State University, and worked with teachers in professional development inquiry groups examining equity in their classrooms. She has also taught high school social studies and has done outreach with students who were the first in their families to attend college.

Catherine Douglas

SMASH: UCLA Site Director

Cathy is the Site Coordinator SMASH: UCLA. Additionally, she works as a the Associate Director, Pre-College Programs for the Center for Excellence in Engineering and Diversity (CEED) in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science (HSSEAS). In this capacity, she is responsible for the academic year coordination of Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) preliminary and regional competitions for middle school and high schools, professional development activities for teachers, and college planning workshops.

Damali Robertson

Institutional Grants Manager

Damali Robertson joined LPFI’s Development Team as a Grantwriter in 2011.  Prior to LPFI, she served as the External Relations Coordinator for the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University since 2007.  In that role, she was responsible for stewarding donors; conducting research on funding opportunities and program outcomes; drafting grant proposals, stewardship and endowment reports.

Dillan Patel

Social Media Intern

Dillan is currently a sophomore attending UC Berkeley majoring in Business Administration and minoring in global poverty and practice. Dillan has co-founded a web-based non-profit called NOVA Mentoring that connects volunteer university student tutors with underprivileged youth in the bay area.

Frieda McAlear

Research Associate

Frieda brings her skills as a social science researcher and her passion for working with and for underserved and indigenous communities to her research associate role at Level Playing Field Institute. She has nearly a decade of experience managing projects, developing evaluation and research methodology and building nonprofit technology capacity with socially progressive organizations in the Bay Area, Europe and Southern Africa.

James Sarria

SMASH: Located at Stanford Site Director

In 2009 James joined the Level Playing Field Institute (LPFI). He started in the residential program, and is currently the Site Director at Stanford University, managing the partnership with the University and running the Summer Math & Science Honors Academy(SMASH). James spends his summer managing SMASH Academy, and the academic year supporting his scholars with events to develop a strong community and continue with STEM exposure programming.

Janessa Harmon

Development Associate

Janessa Harmon joined LPFI in 2015 as the Development Associate. Janessa earned her B.A. in Political Science from the University of San Francisco in 2013. Janessa’s passions include education, art, business development, team building, and fitness. Prior to joining LPFI, Janessa worked at Kaiser Permanente IT in Oakland where she provided logistics support for Kaiser’s partnership with organizational consulting company, The Energy Project. Janessa is excited to be a part of an organization that is committed to the advancement of youth.  

Lisa S. Webb, Ed.D

SMASH: UC Berkeley Site Director

Lisa joined LPFI in 2014 as the site director of SMASH at U.C. Berkeley. Lisa has over 25 years of experience in higher education administration. Her positions include serving as the Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of California at Davis and the Assistant Dean for Multicultural Graduate Student Affairs in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University where she also served as a Residence Dean.

Melissa Grasso

Financial Analyst

Melissa Grasso joined LPFI in 2013 as the Financial Analyst. Melissa was awarded the Dr. James E. Dorsey scholarship from Kean University, where she earned her B.S. in Accounting. During the decade that followed, she concentrated her efforts in helping non-profit organizations grow in NYC. A New York native, Melissa called NJ home for most of her life and now lives in San Francisco.

Milan Drake

Smash: Prep Program Manager

Milan joined LPFI in 2014. As Program Manager for our SMASH: Prep Academy, Milan plays a critical role in providing operational support and program implementation. He has over 15 years of experience as an educational consultant, curriculum designer, mentor, classroom facilitator and program manager with African-American youth and their families. He is currently pursuing a degree in Social Welfare.

Rachel Kram Villarreal, Ph.D.

Director of Development

Rachel joined LPFI as Development Director in 2014. She recently returned to her native Bay Area roots after working in Tucson, Arizona with a variety of community organizations and at the University of Arizona. To the Level Playing Field Institute, she brings years of fundraising and program management experience focusing on youth development, education, and social justice.

Shantina Jackson, M.A. (PhD candidate)

Director of Alumni Relations

Shantina initially joined LPFI as a SMASH instructor in 2006 and, since that time, has worked toward the achievement of LPFI's mission within numerous roles, including Residential Director at SMASH: Berkeley, Operations Director and the 2012 SMASH: USC Site Director.  Shantina was instrumental in launching SMASH programs at UCLA and USC and in implementing the College Success curriculum across all SMASH sites.  Shantina is a native of Richmond, CA.

Sumaiya Talukdar, J.D.

Director of Strategic Growth

Sumaiya works on new program initiatives and scaling the impact of the Level Playing Field Institute with a focus on computer science. 


Harry Bims, Ph.D.

Board Chair

Harry Bims is the founder of Bims Laboratories, a technology consulting firm, and is a recognized technology expert on a wide range of broadband wireless technologies.  He is a Senior Member of the IEEE, and the named inventor on 16 US patents.  Prior to Bims Laboratories, Dr. Bims was the founder and CEO of AirFlow Networks, a venture capital-backed startup building innovative enterprise-class WiFi networks.  He received his PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1993.

Ben Jealous

Board Member

Benjamin Todd Jealous is a Venture Partner at Kapor Capital. He is the former president and CEO of the NAACP. He stepped down from his post at the end of 2013. The youngest president in its history, he began his career at age 18 opening mail at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.  Jealous has been a leader of successful state and local movements to ban the death penalty, outlaw racial profiling, defend voting rights, secure marriage equality, and free multiple wrongfully incarcerated people.

Duane Valz, J.D.

Board Member

Duane is presently a senior member of the Patent Team at Google Inc., overseeing a variety of matters impacting the company's business and strategic corporate development. He has counseled a wide variety of emerging growth, public and privately held companies on intellectual property and technology matters. Duane received both his Bachelor's and Juris Doctor degrees from U.C. Berkeley. He has advised a number of leading non-profit organizations in a director capacity.

Freada Kapor Klein, Ph.D.

Founder, Board Member

Freada, founder of the Level Playing Field Institute (LPFI) and co-founder of the SMASH Academy, is a nationally recognized authority on issues of bias, harassment, and diversity. She co-founded the first organization in the US to focus on sexual harassment in 1976.  She received her Ph.D. in social policy and research in 1984.

Maria Echaveste, J.D.

Board Member

Maria Echaveste is a co-founder and partner of the Nueva Vista Group (NVG), a government relations firm. Ms. Echaveste is also a Researcher and Lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley's Boalt School of Law and Goldman Graduate School of Public Policy. Prior to NVC, she served as Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for President Clinton from May 1998 through January 2001 and as Director of the Office of Public Liaison at the White House from February 1997 to May 1998.

Mitchell Kapor

Board Member

Mitch is, to quote the New York Times, an elder statesman of modern computing. As founder of Lotus Development Corporation and the designer of the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet (the "killer application" for the IBM PC), he helped make the personal computer ubiquitous in the business world.

Tyler Scriven

Board Member

Tyler Scriven is a member of the leadership team at Palantir Technologies, a leading Silicon Valley high-technology company dedicated to providing next-generation software in support of critical missions throughout the world. There he is responsible for leading all people operations, including the company’s global recruitment effort. Additionally, he is responsible for infrastructure development and planning, along with various other operational areas of the company, both domestically and abroad.

Ross Fubini

Board Member

Ross Fubini is a Vice President of Engineering at SuccessFactors (NASDAQ: SFSF). He arrived at SuccessFactors after his venture backed company, CubeTree, was acquired in June of 2010. Ross was the Co-Founder and Board Member of Cubetree, an enterprise collaboration suite that integrates social networking features like profiles and microblogging with tools like wikis, blogs etc. Prior to CubeTree, Ross was Senior Director of Engineering at Symantec.