Charles (Buddy) C. Miller III, Chair

Retired Vice Chairman of the Board, Level 3 Communications

Atlanta, GA

Charles (Buddy) C. Miller III was an executive in the telecommunications industry from 1988 to 2014. In June 2013, he retired from his executive position at Level 3 Communications, a global provider of high-capacity communications services to businesses. Buddy had been vice chairman since 2000 with duties including corporate strategy, M&A, business development, marketing and information services. He retired from Level 3’s Board of Directors in 2014. Before Level 3 Buddy was an executive officer at BellSouth Corporation from 1987-2000, his roles included senior vice president, corporate strategy and development, as well as president-BellSouth International. Buddy received A.B. and J.D. degrees from Harvard. Before his telecommunications career he practiced law at Ropes & Gray in Boston and King & Spalding in Atlanta. He and his wife Pinney Allen reside in Atlanta and are also active supporters of Breakthrough Atlanta.


Thomas G. Beischer, Vice Chair

Architectural History and Theory Lecturer, Stanford University

San Francisco, CA

Thomas Beischer is a lecturer in architectural history and theory at Stanford University. He received a B.A. in art history from Stanford University, a M.A. in art history from Williams College, and a Ph.D. in history, theory, and criticism of architecture from MIT. Thomas has been involved with many community and national art and education groups including serving on the Board of Trustees for San Francisco Performances and on the National Board for the modern architecture preservation group, Docomomo. Thomas grew up in North Carolina and currently lives in San Francisco with his wife, Lily, and their two children.


Jason McCune, Treasurer

Principal, Hall Capital Partners LLC

San Francisco, CA

Jason McCune is a principal at Hall Capital Partners LLC in the Absolute Return/Credit and Cross Asset Research & Strategy groups, where he is responsible for research, identification, due diligence, and monitoring of various credit and distressed strategies. Jason joined the firm in 2005 as a generalist in the Research Group. He previously worked in the Corporate Strategy group at Citadel Investment Group in Chicago, where he evaluated opportunities for the firm to expand into new investment strategies. Before Citadel, he was a consultant with Booz Allen & Hamilton. Mr. McCune graduated cum laude from Northwestern University with a B.S. in industrial engineering. He earned an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.


Chris Porter, Secretary

Governance Consultant, The Governance Group

Minneapolis–St. Paul, MN

Chris Porter has been widely recognized for her communications work and facilitation skills. In 1976, she founded Writing Consultants, a national firm focused on improving organizational communications and facilitating communications training. There, her clients included Delta Airlines, Wells Fargo, IBM, and Prudential Insurance, among many others. After selling the firm in 2002, Chris founded The Governance Group to assist nonprofit boards in successfully leading their organizations. She has received excellence awards for her facilitation skills, and has served on many boards, including those of Breakthrough Twin Cities, the American Society for Training and Development, Gillette Children’s Hospital, Mounds Park Academy, Children’s Home Society of Minnesota, the Waldorf School of Minneapolis, and Unity Church Unitarian. Her background includes undergraduate and graduate degrees in English language studies.


Rick Ackerly

Educational Consultant

Chicago, IL/San Francisco, CA

Rick Ackerly is a nationally-recognized educator and speaker with 45 years of experience working in and for schools and the author of “The Genius in Every Child: Encouraging Character, Curiosity, and Creativity in Children.” With a master’s degree in education from Harvard University, Rick has devoted his career to building thriving learning communities. He has served as headmaster of four independent schools and has been a consultant and coach to teachers, school leaders and parents for many years. Rick speaks to parent and school groups across the country and presents at numerous education conferences. His articles about education and diversity have appeared in several newspapers and magazines and he publishes a new essay each week on his blog


Jennifer Ciresi

Deputy General Counsel, Hall Capital Partners LLC

San Francisco, CA

Jennifer Ciresi is Deputy General Counsel at Hall Capital Partners LLC. In this role, she advises the firm on legal and regulatory matters in coordination with the General Counsel. Prior to joining the firm in 2015, Jennifer served as Deputy General Counsel and Compliance OfficerAsia in the Hong Kong office of Pine River Capital Management L.P., managing the legal and compliance programs for an SECregistered investment adviser. She previously practiced law in Minneapolis as an Associate at Robins Kaplan LLP for five years. Her practice focused on corporate finance and securities, transactional, and business litigation matters. Before attending law school, Jennifer worked on mergers, acquisitions and other transactions at Lazard Middle Market. She is a member of the Board of Advisors of the University of Minnesota Law School. She also served as a member of the AIMA Hong Kong Regulatory SubCommittee for two years. Jennifer graduated with highest distinction from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor with a B.A. in Economics and Spanish and earned a J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Minnesota Law School.She lives in San Francisco with her husband and three children and enjoys spending time outdoors with her family.


Lucy Johns

Vice President, Portfolio Manager, Dodge & Cox

Larkspur, CA

Lucy Johns is a Vice President and Portfolio Manager at Dodge & Cox, an investment manager. She received her B.A. degree (magna cum laude) from Williams College in 1996 and her M.B.A. degree from the UCLA Anderson School of Management in 2004.  Prior to graduate school, she worked for approximately two years each at Merrill Lynch as a financial analyst, Dodge & Cox as a research assistant, and NBC Internet as a Senior Product Manager. Lucy rejoined Dodge & Cox in 2004.  Lucy is a shareholder of Dodge & Cox and sits on the firm’s two fixed income investment policy committees.  She grew up in Oregon and currently lives in Marin County with her husband, Todd, and their two children  


Margot McClendon Pinto
Denver, CO

Margot McClendon Pinto has served on the Breakthrough national board of trustees since 2015.


Greg Morrow

Divisional Vice President and General Manager, Coronary Division, Abbott Vascular

San Jose, CA

Greg Morrow is the vice president and general manager for Abbott’s Silicon Valley-based Vascular business. He joined Abbott in January from nearby Invisalign, where he led its consumer-focused clear braces business. Before that, he spent many years in marketing and general management leadership roles at Johnson & Johnson, Coca Cola, Novartis Consumer Health, and Procter & Gamble. He has worked on an impressive array of brands during his career including Folgers Coffee, Hawaiian Punch, Pringles, Powerade, and Acuvue. Greg started his corporate career at KPMG as a CPA after completing his military service in the U.S. Navy. He is a veteran of Operation Desert Shield in the Persian Gulf. Greg graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and has an MBA from the University of Maryland. He enjoys traveling with his two grown daughters and his wife of 26 years.


Bilal Musharraf

Director of Strategic Partnerships, Edmodo

Palo Alto, CA

Bilal is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for Edmodo, a global education network that connects all learners with people and resources needed to reach their full potential.  He has experience in both education and financial sectors.  Previously he was the Dean of Translations at Khan Academy and the VP of Development for an international network of private schools. His financial background includes working in venture capital and hedge fund management for firms including One Market Capital, ePlanet Ventures and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.  Bilal began his career as an actuary.  Bilal has an MBA and MA in Education from Stanford University and a BS in Actuarial Science from the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign. He currently serves on the board of Learning Equality, a nonprofit that builds and supports opensource educational software designed to increase learning opportunities for communities with limited or no access to the Internet.  Bilal lives in Palo Alto with his wife and two children.


Natalie Owens-Pike

Natalie Owens-Pike is the Executive Director of LearningWorks at Blake: A Breakthrough Program, where she is in her fourth year of leadership. Natalie is the incoming chair of the Affiliate Committee of the Board of Trustees, and serves on the Strategic Planning Team as well as the Development Committee. At LearningWorks, she previously served as the Director of Alumni and Community Outreach, a social studies Instructional Coach, and even as a social studies teaching fellow while in college. After graduating from Macalester College, she was a Teach For America corps member in the Mississippi Delta, where she taught Spanish in a rural public high school. Natalie is an active community board member in the Twin Cities, serving on the YMCA Camp Menogyn board since 2014, where she is co-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She is also a founding board member for the Boys and Girls in Outdoor Leadership Development (BOLD/GOLD) program of the YMCA, which expands access to wilderness camps through programming and scholarships for students of color or students with economic need.

Andy Shin

Executive Director, Breakthrough San Francisco at SF Day School

Berkeley, CA

Originally from New York, Andy taught at the Breakthrough sites in Long Island and Cambridge as an undergraduate and was immediately hooked. He subsequently taught sixth grade math and science in Oakland as a Teach For America corps member before returning to Breakthrough as Program Director at the Cambridge site. Andy has done short-term work for The Steppingstone Foundation, Aim High, and Summer Search, where he served as an Education Pioneers Fellow. He holds a B.A. in Public Policy from Brown University and was an Urban Scholars Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, receiving an Ed.M. in School Leadership. He lives in Berkeley with his wife and two daughters.

Van Sapp

Southeast Management Advisory Group, LLC.

Chicago, IL

Van Sapp is an owner, advisor and consultant at Southeast Management Advisory Group, LLC. In addition, Van is working to create the next generation of marketers as an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at Concordia University Chicago.  Van’s career began in the MBA development program at Kraft which led to several executive roles at PepsiCo.  After retiring from PepsiCo, he focused on launching and growing smaller entities when he joined TCC Global to lead their North and South American units as President. Van has participated in many organizations over the years, particularly those that benefit youngsters and students. He has served on several boards: the Greater Chicago Junior Achievement, educating students on financial literacy; the Illinois MakeAWish Foundation for children with lifethreatening medical conditions; and of course, the Breakthrough Collaborative where he served from 2010 to 2016.  A graduate of Tuskegee University, Van went on to earn his MBA in Marketing from ClarkAtlanta University. As a lifelong learner, he is currently a PhD candidate at Concordia University Chicago in the field of Organizational Leadership. Van lives with his wife of 26 years, Donata; they reside in Oak Park, Illinois. They have 2 sons and a daughter, all currently attending college.


Nisha Somani
Hillsborough, CA

Nisha Somani was most recently the chief of staff to the chief marketing officer at Visa Inc. where she worked on global projects for the marketing function across multiple businesses, products, and geographies. During her eleven year career at Visa, Nisha worked in a variety of roles across marketing, strategy and product, building a strong background in technology, and product innovation. Prior to joining Visa, Nisha worked in the private-equity industry at General Atlantic and Swiss Re Capital Partners. She also serves on the board of early-education focused nonprofit Family Connections. Nisha earned a B.A. in economics from Stanford and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. She lives in Hillsborough with her husband and two young boys.


Lisa Webb

Interim Dean of Student Affairs, College of Marin

Marin, CA

Lisa Webb is the interim dean of student success at the College of Marin. In addition to serving as the associate vice president for student affairs and dean of student life at Southern Methodist University, Dr. Webb’s previous positions include dean of student affairs at Menlo College, associate dean of students and director of multicultural affairs at Lewis & Clark College, and assistant dean of graduate studies at the University of California at Davis. Dr. Webb also worked at Stanford University, where she first served as an undergraduate residence dean and then as assistant dean of multicultural graduate student affairs in the School of Humanities and Sciences. Originally from Chicago, Lisa received her Bachelor of Arts from Wheaton College in Massachusetts with a major in sociology. She received her Masters of Education degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and a Doctorate of Education with an emphasis in international and multicultural education from the University of San Francisco. Dr. Webb was also a Fulbright Scholar Award recipient where she studied higher education in Germany. Her nonprofit experience includes working at the Level Playing Field Institute (LPFI) and serving as a board member at the Interstate Fire House Cultural Center in Portland, Oregon.


Neil Webber

Chair, Webber Family Foundation

Board Chair, Breakthrough Austin

Austin, TX

Neil Webber is chair of the Webber Family Foundation which was formed in 1999 and has distributed over $11 million in grants to organizations targeting the educational needs of under-resourced youth. Neil has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering from MIT and has worked at a number of technology startup companies throughout his career, culminating with Vignette Corporation where he was the co-founder and chief technology officer. He is the current board chair of Breakthrough Austin.


Talia Winokur

Executive Director, Breakthrough Santa Fe

Santa Fe, NM

Talia Winokur received a Bachelor of Science in Spanish from Georgetown University and holds a Master in Education with a bilingual certificate from Loyola Marymount University. She first worked with Breakthrough at Kent Denver School in the late nineties, and co-founded and continues to be involved with a preschool in La Paz, Bolivia. Talia is the co-director of Breakthrough Santa Fe where she has been a part of the director team since 2009.


Elissa Vanaver, National Executive Director

Executive Director, Breakthrough Collaborative

Miami, FL

An award-winning newspaper editor and media executive, Elissa Vanaver was vice president of human resources and assistant to the publisher for the Miami Herald Media Co (MHMC). MHMC publishes both print and online editions of The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, in addition to websites such as and, and an array of niche publications. Her 25-year journalism career also has included management and editing stints at the Dallas Times Herald and the San Jose Mercury News. Elissa is the founding chair of the Board of Directors for Breakthrough Miami and former CEO of Breakthrough Miami. She has recently joined the national office as executive director.