Our Team

Kriste Dragon
Chief Executive OfficerKristeDragon1 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 family.

Idrissa Simmonds-Nastili
Senior Vice President

Idrissa Simmonds As senior vice president with the Pahara Institute, she leads program design efforts to ensure the organization’s commitment to racial equity and justice lives within all offerings. She leads the design, execution, and moderation of all Affinity-Based Programming. She began her tenure with Pahara as the director and then vice president of the Pahara-NextGen Fellowship, which has supported over 150 education thought leaders of underrepresented backgrounds in building powerful community, amplifying their voices, and shaping a more diverse and equity-minded senior leadership in the education sector. Prior to her time with Pahara, Idrissa served as the founding director of Uncommon Schools’ nationally-recognized Summer Teaching Fellowship, growing the program over five years from 10 fellows in two school sites in Brooklyn to 125 fellows across Uncommon’s five regions. Prior to working in U.S. education she worked in schools across Ghana, West Africa in HIV/AIDS education as part of a locally-driven peer health education program. She is a Council of Urban Professionals fellow, a member of Education Leaders of Color, and serves on Google’s Edu Equity Board. As a facilitator and leadership coach, she partners with organizations and individuals in the United States and Canada who want to center equity, values-centered leadership, and whole human-focused design in their work. As a writer, her work has been published widely, and she is co-editor of the bestselling anthology Black Girl Magic: Breakbeat Poets Volume 2 (Haymarket Books). She completed her undergraduate studies between Montreal’s Concordia University and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and her master’s in Educational Leadership, Politics, and Advocacy from NYU Steinhardt. A Brooklyn native, she grew up in Surrey, BC and lives in Oakland, CA – Ohlone land – with her husband and children.

Traci Dove
Senior Vice PresidentIMG_0591 (1) (2)

Traci Dove is senior vice president at the Pahara Institute. In this role, she leads the Selection Team in a broad range of activities in support of Pahara’s mission, including the selection of outstanding and values-aligned leaders for our programs, moderator selection and development, and the curation of diverse and supportive cohort communities.

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 PresidentLizzie_ACP1A9651

Lizzie Choi (she/hers) is a Pahara Fellow (Octavia and the Six) and senior vice president at the Pahara Institute. Her team leads operations and the convening, connecting and amplifying needed to realize the potential impact of our leaders and network.

Prior to Pahara, Lizzie served as the chief program officer at Summit Public Schools, where she led the Summit Learning Program. Under her leadership, the program grew from the founding cohort of 19 schools across ten states to 380 schools in 40 states serving over 65,000 students. 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 the Summit Learning Program, Lizzie has led sales and customer success for Desmos middle school math curriculum, partnered with Moonshot edVentures, Prepared Parents, Strive, and Swing Education through their seasons of growth and acted as an Advisor for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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 meal and discussing Enneagram.

Joshua Gonzales
Director of Operations, FinanceJG.Square

Joshua Gonzales is the director of operations, finance at the Pahara Institute. Prior to Pahara, Josh spent 19 years in non-profit management, most recently working for 5 years as part of 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 nonprofit 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.

Pricilla Perez-Sujo
Director of Selection

Pricilla PerezPricilla Perez-Sujo is the director of selection at the Pahara Institute. Before joining Pahara, Pricilla was a print account manager for Staples, serving the Napa and Sonoma Valley region. In this role, she was responsible for portfolio management and new business development. 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 is a 2018 alumna of the Education Pioneers Visiting Fellowship. She currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband.

Maggie Scott-Weathers
Director of Operations, Strategy

Maggie Scott-Weathers is the director of operations, strategy at the Pahara Institute. In this role, she drives the planning and monitoring of Pahara’s organizational strategy and leads people operations. 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, she worked to ensure that every eligible voter was able to successfully cast a ballot and have that ballot counted. Maggie graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a bachelor’s degree in English, and spent several years after college working in public libraries. A native of northwestern Pennsylvania, Maggie currently lives in Napa, CA.

Amber Shields
Selection ManagerAmber Shields

Amber is a selection manager 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 taught in the Film Department at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. She grew up in Novato, CA and now lives in Santa Rosa, CA.

Jenny Brooks
Program Manager

Jenny Brooks Jenny Brooks is a program manager 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 with a minor 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 nine years ago, and currently resides in Napa, CA.

Morgan Thrower
Program Manager

Morgan ThrowerMorgan Thrower is a program manager 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
Selection Coordinator

Lauren Rosenberg is a 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 CoordinatorJenny S Pahara

Jenny Sargeant is the program coordinator 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 abroad in Germany. There she served across four U.S. military installations to coordinate 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 for 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. Jenny studied Operations and Information Management along with Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she developed a deeply persistent curiosity for problem-solving from an interdisciplinary perspective. Jenny is originally from the Pacific Northwest, across the Puget Sound from Seattle, and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her partner and two cats.

Annalise Windsor
External Relations Coordinator

Annalise Windsor 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, with a focus on content development for print and online communications. Prior to Neighborhood House, Annalise worked as the development and communications associate at FamilyAid Boston, provide direct support to the Director of Development and Communications Specialist for fundraising and development campaigns efforts. 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 two dogs.