Nitzan Pelman is a social entrepreneur at heart and cares deeply about finding solutions to break the cycle of poverty through education.
Prior to founding ReUp Education in 2015, Nitzan founded the New York region of Citizen Schools and served as its first executive director for 6 years. She grew her team to over 100 staff and managed a $5 million budget. Nitzan tripled the organization’s client base and saw students in the program graduate from high school at a 20 percent higher rate than their peers.
Nitzan was highlighted as a leader with The Limited’s “What Leading Looks Like” campaign and was profiled on their website.
Prior to her work at Citizen Schools, Nitzan was an assistant director at the Department of Education in New York City. She also served as the first development director of Teach for America New York. Nitzan holds a master’s in public administration from New York University and a B.A. from Stern College for Women.
Chief Experience Officer
Sarah Horn has spent her entire career in higher education, focused specifically on strategies that drive student success and improve student outcomes. For 14 years, she has created, implemented, and managed student retention solutions at dozens of colleges and universities across the country.
From 2013-2016, Sarah led the Retention Services division at Helix Education, and her team coached thousands of students. They saw up to a 5 percent annual retention improvement at their university partners. At Altius Schools, she managed the retention division for associate degree-seeking students. Under her guidance, students successfully transferred or graduated at a rate of 65 percent – compared to a national benchmark of 28 percent. At the beginning of her career, Sarah was a Success Coach at InsideTrack and eventually led one of the largest teams in the company.
Sarah has been invited to present her work at Educause, APSCU, UPCEA, NSSR, and CampusTech.
Chief Operating Officer
Anne Kubek joined ReUp Education as the Chief Operating Officer, overseeing Product, Marketing, Operations, Analytics and Finance. Anne is an accomplished Senior Executive and non-profit Board Member with more than 25 years of success in the book industry, including technology-based business services for publishers. Leveraging extensive experience in retail operations, human resources, staff development, communications, B2B, B2C, SaaS, and marketing, she is able to provide leadership on strategy, operational improvements and rapid growth.
Anne’s executive career began with Borders Group, Inc. where she helped grow Borders bookstores from a dozen to hundreds of locations. As Executive Vice President of Merchandising and Marketing and SVP of Stores she oversaw annual revenues of $3.9B with 100M customer transactions across 1,000 stores.
Most recently, Anne was Executive Vice President at INscribe Digital where she was recruited to launch the e-books division, to be scaled over five years. In that time, she grew the division from 0 to 300 clients, including Disney, and Scholastic. The company was sold in a successful acquisition transaction in 2016 to the Independent Publishers Group.
Anne holds an MBA from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan. Anne is a seasoned Board Member presently serving as Board Chair for the Book Industry Charitable Foundation and Board President for Bay Area Women in Publishing.
Chief Product Officer
Jesus Ramirez is a mission driven leader and education evangelist.
He's spent the last 12 years in product and operational roles at leading companies in education, healthcare and commerce. Prior to ReUp, Jesus was President and COO at Weave Education, overseeing product, marketing, sales and customer success, and led the company through a major brand and product transformation that led to a 40% increase in revenue in its first year.
Prior to Weave, Jesus served as VP of Product at Tallwave, an innovation studio and VC, where he helped design its business services, source investment opportunities and worked closely with many early-stage teams and founders, such as MatchCo (acquired in 2017) and Shelvspace.
Prior to Tallwave, Jesus was a product manager at DrFirst, where he helped launch Akario, a secure and instant messaging application for healthcare teams. He also held product and operational roles at Zazzle prior to Tallwave.
Jesus has a bachelor of science degree in product design from Stanford University.
Sr. Director of Coaching
For the last 11 years Katy has worked in education setting vision, managing team execution, and coaching and developing others. Her career began as a teacher in St. Louis with Teach For America. After six years of teaching she moved on staff with Teach For America Chicago and Northwest Indiana. As the Managing Director of Teacher Leadership Development she led teams of coaches working to improve educational outcomes for over 2,000 students across the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana landscapes.
Through rigorous data analysis and high expectations, she consistently exceeded student outcome goals by achieving 110% of the target benchmark on average for four consecutive years, and doing so while successfully leading the elementary team of managers through several organizational changes.
Katy is thrilled to continue her career in education with ReUp knowing that many of her first students are graduating high school and soon to be navigating the college process. She knows a college education opens a world of opportunity and every student deserves the chance to pursue and finish this dream.
Katy received her BA in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame, holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from Webster University, and is currently pursuing her MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Director of Operations and Finance
Colton Heward-Mills is an ardent supporter of products, services and organizations that help individuals reach their full potential. He believes that through innovation in education we can create opportunity for all to lead fulfilling and productive lives.
Prior to joining ReUp, Colton worked in a variety of roles in public policy, education and business. Most recently, he was a member of the Finance team at KIPP: New Jersey, a charter school management organization. While at KIPP, Colton was primarily responsible for advising the organization’s ten schools on financial decisions. He also lead the annual planning process for the organization’s $80M operating budget.
Colton earned his M.B.A from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and his B.A. in Public Policy from Princeton University. He also spent a year as a Fulbright Research Fellow at the University of the Ryukyus in Japan.
Senior Manager of Digital Marketing
Sarah Walsh comes to ReUp Education with more than a decade of experience in e-commerce and consumer marketing. With a degree in Computer Science from The Johns Hopkins University, Sarah made the transition from the development side of e-commerce to marketing and quickly found a home in customer lifecycle management. She brings to the team an analytical approach to marketing with a strong focus on testing and optimization.
A Massachusetts native, Sarah now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where, outside of work, she dedicates much of her free time to a local non-profit sports organization.
Director of Product
Zack is passionate about building impactful products that leverage technology for social good, and has done so for over a decade. Before joining ReUp, he led end-to-end development of the LRNG platform from prototype to market to scale within major US cities to transform how youth access learning and connect to career pathways.
Equipped with expertise in consumer web, social enterprise, and platform strategy, he has worked with digital consulting firms Integral Interaction and Quor Studio to help organizations including Participant Media, American Express, Intel, Disney, Maker Media, Hewlett, and PG&E to create more compelling products, programs, and services. Prior, he played a pivotal role in the creation of USA Projects (now HatchFund), an innovative crowdfunding platform for America’s finest artists, resulting in millions raised to date.
Zack also serves as a board member for Music-COMP, as well as an advisor to COVO, Shakespeare Central, and the Artists Rights Coalition. He received his Bachelor's degree in Jazz and Environmental Studies from Ithaca College in New York and currently lives in San Francisco.
John Paul Castiaux
Organizational Development Manager
John Paul Castiaux comes to ReUp Education with over 10 years of experience coaching college students to get the most out of their education and graduate. He knows first-hand the challenges of navigating the higher-education system and the positive impact mentorship and individualized attention can make on the student lifecycle. Passionate about being of service to students from application to graduation, John Paul relies on his experience teaching English in Brazil and his tenure as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia to forge relationships with students of diverse personalities and backgrounds. He is driven to improve student outcomes and college completion rates and believes proactive outreach and engagement from college personnel is instrumental to this vision.
A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, John Paul now lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and tiny-house neighbors and enjoys spending his weekends along the Columbia River Gorge. He holds a B.A. from UC Davis and an MBA from UT Dallas.
Coaching Operations Manager
Destiny brings over 11 years of experience in higher education and coaching to ReUp, as well as a dedication to developing the talents in others and guiding individuals in the discovery of their own potential. Growing up in a working class family in the Pacific Northwest, she experienced first-hand the challenges of navigating the higher-education system, as well as the power it has to change lives and open doors. This experience developed a deep belief in the power of education and the need for individualized support and mentorship. In addition to success coaching, Destiny’s experience includes workforce development, training, and non-profit consulting.
While attending Washington State University and earning her bachelor’s degree in public affairs, Destiny continued to develop her passion for higher education and community development. A native Portlander, she also teaches career readiness and personal resiliency classes at a local non-profit and has worked 1:1 providing career coaching to members of the community.
Coaching Operations Manager
Janelle Viruet joined ReUp Education as a Success Coach because she recognizes the value of a college degree and understands the challenges that come along with balancing multiple priorities as a college student. Her career has focused primarily on working with young adults to provide career and educational coaching, professional skills building, and goal setting. For 8 years, she worked at Year Up, a national non-profit organization, where she focused on cultivating corporate partnerships and generating internship opportunities for young adults, ages 18–24. Janelle also has experience in human resources, benefits administration, case management, and mental health counseling.
Growing up in a working-class family taught Janelle the importance of having a strong work ethic and following her dreams. A native New Yorker, she has an undying passion for helping others find their way and is committed to giving back to her community. Janelle has a B.A. in psychology from Long Island University and a master’s degree in counseling from Pace University. She also holds a certification in professional career coaching, a continuing education certification in career planning and development, and is a certified DISC administrator.
After spending five years in the foster care system, I quickly realized education would be my saving grace if I wanted to live a comfortable life. I met so many people during that time and really grew to appreciate both the challenges and opportunities we all face in life. That experience taught me humility and the importance of resilience. I promised myself, when I had children, I would make every provision possible to ensure they would never have to experience life in the foster care system. With that in mind, I made the decision to stay focused on school and attend college.
Before earning my BS and MBA from Western Governors University (WGU), I attended a traditional university on ground. My class schedule made it difficult to balance school, work, and family. Although obtaining my degrees from WGU still required balance, it made it possible for me to support my family and pursue my educational goals at the same time. WGU afforded me the opportunity to financially and emotionally support my daughters because I was able to complete classes around my work and home schedule. As a result, my daughters have had the luxury of witnessing how hard work and education pays off.
As the first person in her family to earn a college degree, Shannon believes success coaching is much more than a career, it’s her calling. With over 10 years of success coaching experience in higher education, she hopes to continue supporting future college students with their educational goals through compassion, understanding, and an unwavering belief that education will always be worth it.
In addition to working at ReUp, Shannon is a wife and mother who holds a bachelor’s degree from Pacific University and a master’s in English literature from Portland State
University. She values a strong community, and is known for a fierce commitment to the people with whom she works.
Dia L. Liggons
A native of Maryland, Dia has served as an adjunct professor and student success coach for 7 years. An international traveler, Dia has witnessed the negative impacts that plague communities with little to no educational opportunities. It is Dia’s deepest desire to see the day when everyone is afforded the chance to have a college education, no matter their gender, race, or religious beliefs.
Dia lives by her motto, “Education creates opportunity.” She believes that education can take a person to places they never thought they could go and impact lives they never thought they would touch. As one of the first in her family to graduate college, she has benefitted immensely from the positive impacts education has had in her life and the rewards of having the determination not to quit and persevere. A moment she will never forget was at her doctoral graduation when her mom said, “If they (teachers and principals) could see you now ... I’m so proud of you.” That memory will forever reside in Dia’s memory and heart.
Dia currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee where she teaches at Lee University and Volunteer State Community College. She has a B.S. from the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, an MDiv from Howard University, and a DMin from Regent University.
N’Digo Kali owes her passion for transformation and creativity to her Colorado upbringing and childhood fascination with nature, science, art, and mythology. N’Digo’s experience as a professional coach, visual artist, and yogi cultivated an ever-growing desire to empower others to reach their highest potential and to live more authentically. She holds a B.S. in Social Science from Tennessee State University (Psychology & African Studies emphasis) and certifications as a Holistic Lifestyle Coach, Mindfulness Practitioner, and Yoga Instructor.
Coaching is one of many platforms N’Digo uses to inspire individuals to discover who they are, identify what they most need at the moment, and take the appropriate steps to get there.
Erin comes to ReUp with over eight years of experience in higher education as an adjunct professor and success coach. Erin’s passion for education began in a gender studies class while earning her undergraduate degree. The class was transformative, opening her eyes to the revelatory power of education, particularly for those individuals for whom education has not always been possible. Erin received a teaching assistantship at Oregon State University where she received her M.A. in Women Studies. It was during those two years that she realized her love of teaching and mentoring students. After graduating, she continued on to work as an enrollment coach and enrollment manager for Helix Education.
Cody Rapp is a founding member of ReUp Education and one of its inaugural Success Coaches. Cody’s career has been focused on developing the career interests and aspirations of students and alumni, primarily at Clarion University in Western Pennsylvania and Canisius College in Western New York, where he held roles as a career coach and an academic advisor. Prior to entering higher education, he worked in nonprofit community development and event planning and was also the assistant director for the Clarion Area Chamber of Business and Industry.
In addition to his work in higher education, Cody has worked one-on-one with people as a health coach and fitness specialist, and as a facilitator at college retreats and higher-education conferences. He holds a B.S. in liberal studies from Clarion University in Pennsylvania and an M.S. in college student personnel administration from Canisius College.
Inspired by the quote, "Education is the great equalizer," Madison developed an early passion for social justice and helping unlock the potential in those seeking to improve their situation. She brings 6 years of experience in education and coaching to ReUp and is especially excited to help bridge the gap between students taking a break in their education and them earning a diploma. Madison comes to ReUp from InsideTrack where she spearheaded the retention efforts of African-American first-generation college students in Indianapolis—a program so successful that it quickly expanded state-wide.
Madison currently resides in Kansas City, MO with her beloved husband and cat. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Spelman College and is huge advocate for her alma mater. When she isn’t working she enjoys cooking and running operations and fundraising for her Alumnae Association.
Growing up in small town Missouri, getting out was all she wanted to do. After graduating high school, she went out and did not look back. She fought all odds, to become the first to finish and she did it, she graduated from the University of Missouri. The education bug had bit her so she went on to attend Le Cordon Bleu Las Vegas.
Bouncing around after graduation, she ended up back in St Louis and found herself working in hotels, restaurants, and retail but nothing ever seemed to be the right fit. The world of customer service It wasn’t until she uprooted herself for the third time and moved to Portland, Oregon where things finally started to click.
That move is where Stephanie lucked into her first coaching position and fell in love with it. She found her place in the world. Coaching has given her a way to help students help themselves. Helping people has turned into a passion and coaching a way of life.
For Stephanie learning never ends, so when she is not working with ReUp, she is working on her Master’s in Business Administration through Brandman University. When she does take a break, she can be found spending time with her pup Finex and her boyfriend, or in the kitchen trying out a new allergy free concoction.
TaShunda Franklin brings a wealth of experience in relationship building to ReUp, stemming from previous work in sales, customer service, and as an Outreach & Admissions Counselor in higher education. Having graduated from a post-traditional undergraduate program, her passion for serving this unique population is born of her own student experience. TaShunda knows first-hand the challenges adults face as they seek to balance competing priorities while striving for degree completion. As a Success Coach she leverages hands-on experience to identify and understand students’ needs while helping them succeed at achieving their educational goals.
A life long learner committed to personal and professional growth and development, TaShunda holds a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Lipscomb University, a certificate in Leadership Coaching for High Performance from Results Coaching Global (ICF accredited), and she is currently enrolled at the University of Hartford where she will earn a master’s degree in Organizational Psychology.
TaShunda currently resides in Nashville, TN. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the latest findings in emotional intelligence and feeding her passion for plant-based living.