Photo: Breakthrough Houston
Community Leaders Advancing our Mission
The Breakthrough Collaborative Board of Trustees brings together leaders from a diverse range of industries to advance our mission, including three Executive Directors representing our national network of affiliates.
Neil Webber, Chair
Chair, Webber Family Foundation
Neil is the former co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Vignette Corporation, which went public in 1999 and was acquired by Open Text Corporation in 2009. In 1999 Neil created the Webber Family Foundation, which has distributed over $18 million in grants to organizations targeting the educational needs of under-resourced youth, including Breakthrough Central Texas and the Breakthrough Collaborative. Neil graduated from MIT in 1983 with a computer science and engineering degree.
Margot McClendon Pinto, Vice Chair
New York, NY and Denver, CO
Margot is a philanthropist, volunteer, and community leader who has served on the board of the Denver Scholarship Foundation and the advisory board of Breakthrough Kent Denver. She has been a National trustee since 2015.
Elaine Weng M.D., M.S., Secretary
Dr. Weng is a board-certified radiation oncologist, award-winning researcher, and former assistant professor and clinical faculty member of Colorado University. She has served on boards for the Bonfils Blood Center and the Children’s Museum of Denver, which she currently chairs. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford and a medical degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is an active member of the Breakthrough Kent Denver advisory board.
Lucy Johns, Treasurer
Associate Director of Fixed Income, Dodge & Cox
Lucy is Associate Director of Fixed Income at Dodge & Cox, where she is a shareholder and sits on the firm’s fixed income investment policy committees. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Williams College and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
Vice President, Human Resources, Levi Strauss & Co. Americas Division
San Francisco, CA
Principal, Allan Dowiak Consulting, Inc.
Allan Dowiak, former Senior Vice President of Human Resources at New York Life, runs a strategic organizational development consultancy serving major corporations. Formerly an HR leader at ADP and Macy’s, he holds a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University.
President, Fredman Family Foundation
Coral Gables, FL
Dr. Fredman, a board-certified psychiatrist, heads the Fredman Family Foundation, which focuses on education, health, and the environment. She has served as a board member and community leader for many organizations, working on behalf of Brown University, Ransom Everglades School, the United Way, the Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade, the University of Miami Center for Ethics and Public Service, Guardian Ad Litem in the 11th Judicial Circuit, as well as Breakthrough Miami. She holds degrees from Brown and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
San Francisco, CA
Executive Director, Breakthrough Central Texas
With 20 years’ experience as an educator and nonprofit leader, Michael has been at the helm of Breakthrough Central Texas – Breakthrough’s largest affiliate – since 2008, first as Director of Programs and since 2014 as Executive Director. Under his watch, the organization has created strategic partnerships with multiple public school districts and expanded program support for students through college graduation. Named an Emerging Leader by Bank of America in 2011, Michael holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and a master’s in education from Texas State University and is a founding member of the Austin College Access Network. Michael also serves as Policy Chair for the Austin College Attainment Network.
Redwood City, CA
Miho Kubagawa, Ed.L.D.
Partner, NewSchools Venture Fund
Miho invests in entrepreneurs who design and launch innovative public schools at NewSchools Venture Fund. She spent eight years at KIPP NYC as the Director of Talent and was the founder and director of the teacher residency Program and 7th grade math teacher at KIPP Infinity Middle School in Harlem. In 2013, she co-founded Breakthrough Birmingham in her hometown and currently sits on the board of New Schools for Alabama. She holds a doctorate in education leadership from Harvard, a BS from Duke, and a master’s in adolescent education from Pace University.
COO, BVF Partners, L.P.
San Francisco, CA
Jason has been COO at BVF Partners, L.P., a biotech focused investment management firm, since 2019. Previously, as Managing Director at Hall Capital Partners LLC, he was a senior member of the research team overseeing investments in absolute return and credit strategies. He graduated cum laude from Northwestern University with a BS in industrial engineering and holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Coral Gables, FL & Park City, UT
After earning her degree in French studies at Stanford and an MBA from INSEAD, a leading global business school in Fontainebleau, France, JuliAnne worked in corporate marketing and advertising for DDB Needham, L’Oreal, and the McDonald’s Corporation. As a board member for Breakthrough Miami, she created unique strategies for community engagement and fundraising, leading to the organization’s growth and recognition by the Miami Foundation in 2017 as one of the city’s leaders in creating opportunities for youth.
Founder and Principal, The Governance Group
Minneapolis–St. Paul, MN
Widely recognized for her work in organizational communication, Chris founded and later sold the national firm known as Writing Consultants, whose clients included Delta Airlines, Wells Fargo, IBM, and Prudential Insurance. She is also the founder and principal of The Governance Group, providing leadership training and counsel to nonprofit boards. Her own board service includes 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, Unity Church Unitarian, and Breakthrough Twin Cities, where she was chair. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in English language studies.
Executive Director, Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano, CA
Alex joined Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano as Program Director in 2014 and became its Executive Director in 2018. He’s a 2017 New Leaders Council Fellow and served on the Millennial Commission on Education, where he supported the development of key policy recommendations in the advancement of education reform. An Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development 2017 Emerging Leader, Alex also serves on the advisory boards for the University of California, Irvine School of Social Ecology and Hispanic Education Endowment Fund. He has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Hill, The Hechinger Report, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, and NACAC’s Journal of College Admission. The first in his family to graduate college, Alex holds a BA from UC Berkeley and a masters in urban education and secondary social studies teaching credential from UCLA.
Executive Director, Breakthrough Atlanta
CEO, Talamantes Strategies
Santa Fe, NM
Pat is a corporate executive with over 30 years of experience in media and finance. He was the President and CEO of McClatchy, a publicly traded publisher of 30 daily newspapers, from 2012 to 2017, and also served as the company’s CFO for 11 years. In his current role, he runs a management consulting practice advising companies on transformational and financial strategies. Pat has served on the advisory board of Breakthrough Sacramento since 2016, helping to deepen its connection to the community and increase its fundraising capabilities. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Elissa Vanaver, Chief Executive Officer
CEO, Breakthrough Collaborative
Coral Gables, FL
Elissa Vanaver became the CEO of the Breakthrough Collaborative in 2017, after more than a decade of leading growth at the Collaborative’s Miami affiliate. At Breakthrough Miami, her roles included volunteer, founding board chair, Director of Strategic Development, and CEO. In spring 2018, Elissa was a judge for the New York Life Foundation’s Excellence in Summer Learning Awards. Before joining Breakthrough, Elissa was an award-winning newspaper editor and media executive, holding a variety of positions, including Managing Editor, Vice President of Human Resources, and Chief of Staff for The Miami Herald, which publishes in English and Spanish. Her 25-year journalism career also included management, editing, and news-writing at the Dallas Times Herald and the San Jose Mercury News.