Our Team

Kriste Dragon
Chief Executive Officer

KristeDragon1 2 (1)Kriste Dragon is the chief executive officer of the Pahara Institute. In her prior role as Co-founder and CEO of Citizens of the World, a national network of tuition-free schools committed to serving diverse communities across the country, Kriste and her team’s work has been recognized as a model for building understanding and connection.

In addition to her experience as a middle school teacher, instructor at UCLA, and board chair for several charter schools, Kriste’s professional path has also included experience at the systems level. As Vice President of Regional Operations for Teach For America, Board Chair of EdNavigator, Board Member of the National Charter Collaborative, Board Member of Promise54, Advisory Board Member of the National Association for Charter School Authorizers, and Broad Academy Fellow, Kriste has grounded her life and work in the fundamental belief that all children deserve the opportunity to realize their full potential.

Kriste has served as a moderator for numerous fellowships and programs including Pahara-Aspen, Pahara-NextGen, Aspen Action Forum, and Aspen Young Leaders. As a result of these experiences, Kriste is more committed than ever to strengthening and sustaining diverse, high-integrity leadership in order to reimagine public education for all students in America and beyond.

Kriste holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Georgia and a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Alabama. She is based in the Los Angeles Area, where she lives with her three children.

Idrissa Simmonds-Nastili
Senior Vice President, Pahara-NextGen Fellowship

Idrissa Simmonds Idrissa Simmonds-Nastili (she/her/hers) is senior vice president with the Pahara Institute. In this capacity she leads the work of the Pahara-NextGen Fellowship, and leads efforts in designing programs and affinity efforts centered in equity. While at Uncommon Schools, she supported diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy as lead for The Summer Teaching Fellowship and other DEI initiatives. Prior to her work in U.S. Education, Idrissa managed the health education program for the Ghana Cooperative Credit Union’s Association in Accra, Ghana, and taught adult ESL in Vancouver, Canada. Idrissa is a certified professional coach through Leadership That Works’ Coaching for Transformation program, and holds degrees in English Literature from the University of British Columbia; Educational Leadership, Politics, and Advocacy from the NYU Steinhardt School of Education; and an MFA in Fiction from Warren Wilson College. Her facilitator and anti-racist training includes the UBC international student mentor program, Intergroup Dialogue through the NYU Center for Multicultural Education & Programming, the NYU Metro Center, Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute (Oakland 2019), and the Healing Cycles of Harm facilitator training via Reclaiming our own Transcendence.

Traci Dove
Senior Vice President, Selection

Traci Dove is senior vice president of selection at the Pahara Institute. In this role, she leads a broad range of activities in support of Pahara’s mission to identify, strengthen, and sustain outstanding leaders who are reimagining public education. She is particularly focused on the development of diverse and supportive cohort communities and the strategies and systems that enable that work.

A firm believer in the power of great leadership to transform people, organizations, and systems of inequity, Traci has spent over 20 years engaged in identifying, assessing, and connecting bold and creative leaders to executive-level opportunities in nonprofit organizations across the country. Her previous experience includes conducting numerous searches in the education reform community as a member of the Talent Services Team at Bellwether Education Partners. Prior to Bellwether, Traci served as a talent professional in the education practices of A.T. Kearney Executive Search and Storbeck Pimentel and Associates, managing searches for senior administrators at liberal arts colleges and research universities. Earlier in her career, she was employed as an analyst in the Regulatory Advisory Practice at KPMG, LLP.

Traci attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., and currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida, where she can frequently be found enjoying the rhythm and vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.

Lizzie Choi
Senior Vice President, Network Effect

Lizzie is a Pahara Fellow (Octavia and the Six), and brings deep experience in organizational operations and development, and leading during periods of expansive growth and change. Recently, Lizzie served as the chief program officer at Summit Public Schools, where she led the Summit Learning Program, a free program that provides schools customizable curriculum, a range of educational resources and technology tools, professional development for educators, and ongoing coaching and support for schools.

Under her leadership, the program grew from the founding cohort of 19 schools across ten states in 2015 to 380 schools in 40 states serving over 65,000 students by 2018. Partnering with a diverse range of schools and organizations throughout our field has reinforced Lizzie’s commitment to equity and love for collaboration, connection, and culture. In addition to her work with the Summit Learning Program, Lizzie has partnered with Desmos, Moonshot edVentures, Prepared Parents, Strive, and Swing Education through their seasons of growth.

Lizzie received her BA in public policy, with an emphasis on education policy, from Stanford University and her MA from the Stanford Teacher Education Program. In her free time, she enjoys sharing a cup of tea with the people she loves and being outside.

Brandon Malmberg
Director of Network and Community

Malmberg Headshot_swc2011Brandon Malmberg is the director of network and community at the Pahara Institute. He previously served as director of selection at Pahara and joined the organization in 2014. Prior to joining the Pahara Institute Brandon was executive director of the western region for Education Pioneers. In this role he led a team that recruited diverse groups of leaders, placed them into high-impact professional roles within education organizations and provided programming to accelerate their success. Brandon established Education Pioneers’ presence in Los Angeles and rapidly expanded operations by creating new partnerships and programs across the Western US. Brandon began his career working directly with young people with emotional and behavioral challenges and held management roles in school-based, residential and summer programs serving youth. He has also served as an executive coach to leaders from Head Start and Health Care organizations on issues related to strategic planning and general management. Brandon holds an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a bachelor’s degree in Peace Studies from Colgate University. Brandon grew up in Minnesota where he attended his local rural public school. He now lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three sons.

Joshua Gonzales
Director of Operations

Joshua Gonzales is the Director of Operations at the Pahara Institute. Before joining Pahara, Josh spent 18 years in non-profit management, most recently working for 5 years for Teach For America’s national team in information systems, events and operations. Prior to TFA, he was the Executive Director of the Camp Fire council in Walla Walla, WA and spent 10 years with the YMCA of Walla Walla as the Associate Executive Director, leading a variety of departments and closely collaborating with schools in the Walla Walla area. He currently serves on the board of two other non-profit organizations. A lifetime native of the Pacific Northwest, Josh graduated from Portland State University in Portland, OR with a Bachelors of Science degree in Architectural Design. He currently lives in Walla Walla, WA with his wife Carrie (a 3rd grade teacher) and two daughters.

Maggie Scott-Weathers
Associate Director of Program Strategy and Evaluation

Maggie Scott-Weathers is the associate director of program strategy and evaluation at the Pahara Institute. Before joining Pahara, Maggie worked at the Democratic National Committee for two federal election cycles. As a Senior Paralegal and Information Specialist in the Voter Protection Department, Maggie worked to ensure that every eligible voter was able to successfully cast a ballot and have that ballot counted. Her work focused on voter education efforts and tracking laws that impacted voter access. Maggie graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a bachelor’s degree in English, and spent several years after college working in public libraries, first as a young adult librarian and then as a public law librarian, in Richmond, Virginia. A native of northwestern Pennsylvania, Maggie currently lives in Napa, CA.


Amber Shields
Manager of Selection

Amber ShieldsAmber is manager of selection at the Pahara Institute. Prior to joining Pahara, Amber worked as an educator and program coordinator in a diverse range of institutions; she worked as an educator at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York, facilitated the implementation of and taught for a new Masters in Social Entrepreneurship at the Deshpande Foundation in India, and helped develop and teach a Student Skills Support program in the Film Department at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. Amber holds a BA in Latin American Studies from Carleton College and an MPhil in Screen Media and Cultures from the University of Cambridge. She grew up in Novato, CA and now lives in Santa Rosa, CA. Outside of Pahara she enjoys working in her community as a mentor for 10,000 Degrees and as a teacher in the Prison University Project.

Pricilla Perez
Manager of Selection

Pricilla PerezPricilla Perez is manager of selection at the Pahara Institute. Before joining Pahara, Pricilla worked for Staples as an operations manager and later as a print account manager, serving the Napa and Sonoma Valley areas. In this role, she was responsible for portfolio management and new business development, along with maintaining & growing established accounts. Prior to Staples, Pricilla was a sales and marketing coordinator for West-Com Nurse Call Systems, Inc., directly supporting the Director of Sales & Marketing and the Regional Management team. Pricilla attended California State University, Sacramento, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with an emphasis in Human Resources & Organizational Behavior. She currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Jenny Brooks
Program Manager, Pahara-NextGen Fellowship

Jenny Brooks Jenny Brooks is the program manager for the Pahara-NextGen Fellowship at the Pahara Institute. Before joining Pahara, Jenny worked for the County of Napa assisting the County’s Auditor-Controller. Prior to working for the County, Jenny was the Office Manager at Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, a non-profit organization providing one-on-one mentorship opportunities for underprivileged and socio-economic disadvantaged youth in grades k-12. As Office Manager, Jenny directly supported the Executive Director and Program Director with executing fundraising and program events, in addition to being responsible for tracking newly trained mentors, recording all donations, and completing daily clerical and budgeting tasks. Jenny attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Comparative Ethnic Studies and minored in Spanish. During her time in San Luis Obispo, Jenny completed an internship with the local Independent Living Program where she created a Cultural Awareness Training Guide for the program’s employees and consultants. Jenny grew up in Sonoma, CA, returned to the San Francisco Bay Area three years ago, and currently resides in Napa, CA.

Morgan Thrower
Program Manager, Pahara-Aspen Fellowship

Morgan ThrowerMorgan Thrower is the program manager for the Pahara-Aspen Fellowship at the Pahara Institute. Before joining Pahara, Morgan worked at the Pepperdine University School of Law as the director of events and assistant director of alumni affairs. At Pepperdine, she was responsible for the logistical development and execution of events produced by the law school dean, faculty, and programs.  Her work in alumni affairs focused on fostering alumni engagement through events and professional development programs. Morgan is a graduate of Stanford University where she majored in Communication and minored in Creative Writing. Originally from Southern California, Morgan currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Gina Rosellini Moreno
Special Assistant to the CEO

Gina Rosellini Moreno is the Special Assistant to our CEO at Pahara Institute. Before joining Pahara, Gina worked for an architectural design firm in Napa Valley and the greater Bay Area as the assistant to the CEO/Owner and the Chief Strategy Officer. Prior to the design firm, she lived in San Diego, CA. Her prior two roles were at a financial services company and at a for-profit education company. Gina has been in an executive assistant and operational role for the past decade and enjoys the challenges of the role and helping her CEOs stay organized and efficient. In San Diego, she was a Big Sister at Big Brothers, Big Sisters and enjoys giving time to Habitat for Humanity in the Bay Area. Gina attended San Diego State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with an emphasis in Management. She currently resides in Napa, CA with her husband John.

Lauren Rosenberg
Coordinator, Selection

Lauren Rosenberg is the selection coordinator at the Pahara Institute. Before joining Pahara, Lauren worked as a program associate with the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, a family foundation committed to advancing the lives of children, families, and communities, and restoring and protecting the planet. In this role, she supported grantmaking to local nonprofits serving youth and families. Lauren earned her BA in Sociology, with a focus on criminal justice from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and currently resides in Petaluma, CA with her partner.

Jenny Sargeant
Program Coordinator, Pahara-Aspen Fellowship

Jenny Sargeant is the program coordinator for the Pahara-Aspen Fellowship at the Pahara Institute. Before joining Pahara, Jenny worked for the American Red Cross, Service to the Armed Forces division, in partnership with Wounded Warrior Project while living in Germany. There she served across four U.S. military installations, coordinating resiliency and community engagement events for transient wounded, ill and injured service members as well as active duty and civilian medical caregivers. Prior to that role, she managed the non-profit support of aeromedical patient evacuation missions, which sent patients from Germany to the United States to undergo further treatment. She helped facilitate the relocation of mission staging activities between two installations and developed a volunteer leadership program in support of those missions. Before venturing abroad in the non-profit sphere, Jenny interned with an aerospace engine manufacturer in global supply chain and materials management roles. Jenny holds a BBA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Operations & Information Management with a Sociology minor. Native to the Pacific Northwest, Jenny grew up across the Puget Sound from Seattle, WA. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her partner and their cat.

Annalise Windsor
External Relations Coordinator

Annalise is the external relations coordinator at the Pahara Institute. Prior to joining Pahara, Annalise worked as the communications specialist at the Neighborhood House of Milwaukee, a community center in Milwaukee, WI serving urban youth, families, and newly-settled refugees. In this role, she was responsible for the development and implementation of the organization’s communications strategy, focusing on content development for print and online communications. Prior to Neighborhood House, Annalise worked as the development and communications associate at FamilyAid Boston, directly supporting the Director of Development and Communications Specialist on fundraising and development campaigns. Annalise graduated from Georgetown University where she double-majored in Psychology and Linguistics. She was born and raised in Wisconsin, and currently resides in the Denver Area with her husband and dog, Millie.