Foundation for Letters Team



Mike Jackson, Founder & Chief Executive Officer. Mike is Chief Financial Officer at Supernova Companies, a financial technology company that offers financial and lending solutions to the wealth management industry. Prior to joining Supernova, Mike was a Director at Brookfield Investment Management in New York, where over a 12-year tenure he focused on trading, research and surveillance of mortgage and asset-backed securities. Mike has held investment banking positions at JP Morgan Chase, Prudential Securities, and WestLB. Mike served 10 years as a Trustee for the Williston-Northampton School, and is currently Chair of its Investment Committee. Mike co-founded the Bronx Academy of Letters, voted one of New York City’s 25 best high schools by the NY Daily News. Mike holds a BA from Yale University, where he lettered in Varsity Track & Field.




Stephen Gandel, Chair. Steve is a senior writer for TIME, covering real estate, economics and Wall Street. He joined TIME from Time Inc. sister publication Money, where he was a senior writer for several years. Prior to that, Gandel was the senior Wall Street reporter for Crain’s New York Business. He has held positions at Individual Investor and theRiverfront Times in St. Louis. Additionally, his work has appeared in Fortune and Esquire. Steve has been a guest market commentator on CBS’s New York affliate, WNYC, MSNBC, WB11’s Morning News, NY1, and Fox Five. In 2003, he was the recipient of the gold award for feature writing from the Association of Area Business Publications. A New Jersey native, Steve graduated cum laude with a B.A. in economics and English from Washington University in St. Louis.


Pooja Pathak, President. Pooja is an Associate Director on the Structured Finance team at MetLife Investments focusing on trading and portfolio management of mortgage-backed securities. Prior to joining MetLife, Pooja was a Senior Director on the Structured Products Investment Team at Brookfield Investment Management and held various other positions at Credit Suisse and Deloitte. Pooja holds BS in Finance and a BA in Economics from Rutgers College, where she graduated Cum Laude as well as graduating from the Rutgers College Honors Program.

MaxMax Fisher, Treasurer. Max is a Strategy Analyst at Aon Inpoint where he helps advise Insurance companies on their domestic and global growth strategies and product offerings. Prior to joining Aon, Max worked at Allstate Insurance in Chicago as a Financial Analyst in the CFO’s department working with internal partners to meet growth and profitability goals. While in Chicago, Max was also involved with SPARK an apprenticeship program where he worked with inner-city middle school students to help them learn about different careers and what steps to take to get there. Max graduated from the University of Michigan in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science.


Arliene Amador, Secretary. Arliene is a sophomore at Brooklyn College, majoring in English, while also on a pre-med track. Prior to enrolling at Brooklyn College, Arliene matriculated to the University of Notre Dame from the Bronx Science High School. Arliene has been a Spanish English tutor for the past 5 years, and has volunteered for numerous organizations. At Bronx Science, Arliene was selected as a scholar in the National Hispanic Recognition Program, and was active in numerous clubs including the Crafts for Charity and the Biology Web Club. After making the Dean’s list at Notre Dame, Arliene transferred to Brooklyn College to be closer to an ailing grandmother, and looks forward to completing her collegiate work in New York. Arliene’s Bachelor’s degree in English is expected in 2016.


JordanJordan Caruso, Co-Chair – Development Committee.. Jordan is a Financial Analyst at Mindspark Intereractive Network, a division of IAC/Interactive Corp, where he prepares financial forecasts and scenario analyses for the business to consumer Search & Applications Business. Prior to joining Mindspark, Jordan worked as an Analyst at a private equity firm focused on growth stage companies, and was a Consultant at a boutique management consulting firm. Jordan holds a BA in Economics from Brandeis University with minors in Film and Italian. While at Brandeis he served as Treasurer and Crew Chief for the Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps and was the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of the Brandeis Economics & Finance Review.

AaliyahAaliyah El-Amin, Chair – Governance Committee. Aaliyah is Founder and Managing Principal of A.L.I. Advisors LLC, a strategy and finance consulting advisory based in the New York City area. Aaliyah advises C-level executives on strategic, financial and operational concerns across industries that range from healthcare to financial services. Prior to A.L.I. Advisors, Aaliyah held consulting and finance positions at Strategy & Morgan Stanley and Accenture. Aaliyah holds a BS of Mathematics from Spelman College, a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

caraCara Kiernan Fallon, Co-Chair – Programming Committee. Cara is a history of science PhD candidate at Harvard University. Prior to beginning her studies at Harvard, Cara worked as both an investment banker in the Financial Institutions Group, and as a private wealth management analyst at Goldman Sachs. Cara completed several writing intensive teaching fellowships during her time at Yale and Harvard, she has tutored high school students on the SAT writing, reading comprehension and math exams, and given essay guidance for college applications. Cara holds a Masters in Public Health and a BA (summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa) from Yale University, where she lettered in Varsity Track & Field, and in Cross Country, where she earned All-America honors in 2004.

ReubenReuben Gottlieb, Chair – Finance Committee. Reuben is a currently a JD candidate at Brooklyn Law school. Prior to pursuing a law degree, Reuben was a Forensics and Investigations Associate at Deloitte & Touche, LLP. Reuben previously held consulting and valuation internships at the University of Albany, WeiserMarz LLP, and Mark S. Gottlieb, CPA CP. Reuben received a Masters Degree in Forensic Accounting and a BS in Accounting from the University of Albany, SUNY.


BrentBrent Herbert, Co-Chair – Development Committee. Brent works at Goldman Sachs in their Investment Management Division. Brent started his Wall Street career on the equity derivatives desk at J.P. Morgan before transitioning to fixed income sales & trading at Both Nomura Securities and Mizuho USA Securities. Brent received his MBA from Columbia Business School with a focus on value investing and a B.S. in economics from Lehigh University where he was captain of the tennis team.


StephanieStephanie Orphan, Co-Chair – Programming Committee. Stephanie is the Director of Publisher Relations at Portico, based in New York City and Princeton, New Jersey. Stephanie is responsible for maintaining and expanding publisher participation in the Portico preservation service to ensure ongoing growth and sustainability of the Portico archive. Prior to joining Portico, Stephanie was editor-in-chief of College & Research Libraries News at the Association of College & Research Libraries and responsible for the ACRL web site and e-learning program; archives director at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago; and assistant director for information services in the University of Chicago’s Career & Placement Services. Stephanie holds an M.S. in library & information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an M.A. in literary studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.



Laura Brennan. Laura is a teacher at Explore Schools where she teaches social studies and small-group literacy intervention to middle schoolers. Prior to joining Explore, Laura worked for Facilities Maintenance Operations at Harvard University as an operations manager in charge of campus event administration, residential facility maintenance and an undergraduate training program focused on workplace and managerial skills. In addition to her experience in education and operations, Laura’s professional interests include the intersection of nonprofits with education and social work, particularly in regard to strategy and logistics. Laura graduated with a B.A. in History from Harvard and is a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Undergraduate Teacher Education Program.

Ryan Carter. Ryan Carter works in sales and trading at Morgan Stanley, where he focuses on mortgage-backed-securities. Ryan hails from Chester, Virginia, and is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, where he served as captain of the baseball team and was named a Truman Scholar. With a passion for people, Ryan has focused his energy on education, founding a local branch of VisibleMen in college. He has continually volunteered as both a tutor and a mentor since coming to New York City.


Robert J. Choi. Rob is Founder and Chief Transformation Officer at RJC and Co Transformation Engineers. Rob began his career at the Central Intelligence Agency working on cultural change in elite military and training organizations around the world. He likes using what he’s learned to help organizations become better and smarter. Rob holds a BA from Columbia University and MA from The Johns Hopkins University, focused on International Affairs..


Olivia M. Croom. Olivia works in the art department at Alfred A. Knopf and is an independent graphic designer with Indigo Editing and Publications. Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, she earned her Master’s in Writing & Book Publishing from Portland State University. Olivia has worked with a number of nonprofits, including Community-Word Project, Literary Arts in Portland, Oregon, and the Foundation for Letters. You can connect with Olivia on Twitter at @OliviaCroom or Instagram at @reddish.ampersand.




Sakib Dadi. Sakib is an analyst with Bessemer Venture Partners, where he finds and invests in early-stage technology companies. Prior to this, Sakib worked in Technology Investment Banking at Morgan Stanley in New York. Originally from Southern California, Sakib graduated in 2015 from the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in Materials Science and Business. While at Penn, Sakib was involved on campus as a case captain for the Marketing Undergraduate Student Association, a teaching assistant for multiple engineering classes, and a tutor for the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project.

LoriLori Haims. Lori is the Training and Certification Manager at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) where she oversees a global network of professional development and certification programs focused on the improvement of teaching and learning of all languages at all levels of instruction. Prior to joining ACTFL, she worked at Sawyer Realty Holdings LLC, as a portfolio manager of residential and commercial properties dealing extensively with subsidized tenant housing, government agencies and property rehabilitation. Lori is a member of the Professional Women of Westchester Organization, and has volunteered as an ESL tutor for children. Lori holds a BS in Business administration from Boston University.

Carson Kessler. Carson is a News Intern at Straus News and a contributing writer at Elite Daily. Prior to joining Straus News, Carson was an Editorial Features Intern at Marie Claire. Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Carson traveled to NYC to attend New York University in 2015, where she is pursuing her passion for journalism as a double major in English and Journalism, minoring in Social and Public Policy. Carson admires and embraces the power of words to give voice to those who want to be heard through doing what she loves most: writing and telling stories.


SaroseSarose Klein, Sarose is the former Executive Director of the Foundation for Letters, where she focused on marketing, development, finance, program design and management, operations administration and Board of Directors support and management. Prior to joining FFL, Sarose held a position as an event coordinator for POGO events, which offers public events all around New York and San Francisco Bay, including customized events for corporate team building, Sarose holds a BA in Psychology from Mt. Holyoke College, where she earned the Mt. Holyoke Leadership Award.

Amy Lowenstein. Amy conducts education research at Fordham University, where she is Project Director on the 4Rs+MTP Study, an evaluation of a social-emotional learning and literacy program, coupled with an intensive teacher coaching model, in 60 New York City public elementary schools. Prior to joining Fordham, Amy worked at MDRC, a nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, as a Research Associate in the Families and Children Policy Area. Amy’s research has focused on understanding the ways in which early educational settings (including universal pre-K, Head Start, and elementary school climate) can level the playing field for children from low-income families. Amy received a B.A. in Psychology from Yale University, with honors, and a Master’s of Public Policy and Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Georgetown University.

Mike Mortensen. Mike is an Associate Partner at IBM iX, where he advises clients on how emerging technologies can enable new business models and create opportunities for growth. Prior to joining IBM iX, Mike held positions as Director of Strategy & Consulting at Wolters Kluwer, and as a Telecom, Media and Technology strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company. Mike is a lifelong dedicated reader and fiction writer, and has attended the Gotham Writers Workshop. Mike holds an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, and a BA from the University of Washington.

Doruk Onvural. Doruk works as a commercial real estate attorney at Skadden Arps in New York City, advising on a range of complex transactions, including large-scale financings and acquisitions. Since 2016, Doruk has been mentoring a high school student, who is set to graduate in 2019, through Legal Outreach. Doruk also participates in community building through the nonprofit organization Community-Word Project. Doruk grew up in North Carolina as a child of Turkish immigrants, and enjoys yoga, reading, writing and playing piano. Doruk earned a BA in philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a JD from Vanderbilt University Law School.

Dhruv SarinDhruv is a financial services professional with a passion for technology start-ups and innovative solutions to solve social issues. Currently an Analyst at NERA Economic Consulting, Dhruv specializes in fixed-income securities litigation cases. Dhruv is the Founder of Know Your Vote, a non-profit focused on alleviating voter apathy in India. Dhruv has also held cross-functional internships across the investment banking, consulting & start-up worlds, co-founded two tech start-ups. His current obsessions include Effective Altruism, the Quantified-Self Movement, FinTech and Space Tourism.

Zachary Sinemus. Zach is an attorney at Allen & Overy LLP, where he focuses on derivatives-centric capital markets. He also has experience doing environmental, international sanctions and general litigation work. Zach grew up in northern New Jersey, and moved to the Philadelphia area for college where he majored in astronomy and philosophy (and played baseball). While in college Zach tutored high school and college students in astronomy and physics, and also taught SAT classes for Kaplan. After college Zach sold cars for two years while applying to law schools. Zach holds a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

Chandni Trivedi. Chandni Trivedi leads the business strategy and operations at GEMS Americas – an international private education company owning and operating 250+ private schools around the globe and providing education thought leadership and consultancy impacting 250,000+ students. Her previous work includes working in the investment banking at JP Morgan Chase and Barclays capital. Chandni has received a Bachelor’s degree in engineering and a Masters in Non Profit Administration from Columbia University.


SethSeth Tutlis. Seth is a director at HCAP Advisors, LLC. His responsibilities include deal origination, underwriting, structuring, and portfolio management. Prior to joining HCAP, Seth held positions at Prospect Capital, Patriot Capital Funding and AllianceBernstein, and has held various board and investment committee positions over the course of his career. Seth holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a BS from Sacred Heart University. He also holds the CFA designation.

CaraCara Weber. Cara teaches a range of courses in literature, composition, and film at Pace University in Manhattan. As a teacher, Cara seeks to equip students with the tools and desire to evaluate and to change the world they encounter. She earned her PhD in Literature from Johns Hopkins University in 2013; her research considers the intersection of literature and philosophy.  Prior to her graduate studies, Cara spent a year teaching in Germany as a fellow of the Robert Bosch Stiftung.  She earned her BA (summa cum laude, phi beta kappa) from Duke University in 2003 with majors in literature and French.  She speaks decent German and fluent French.