Our Team

Allison Carss

Talent Acquisition Specialist

Allison has spent the last several years of her career in people and recruiting operations at innovative startup companies in Silicon Valley. Previous to that, she worked in development, most notably at the Alzheimer’s Association, where she ranked as one of the top 1 percent of fundraisers in the US. Allison joined Bezos Academy as educational equity is close to her heart as a first-generation college student. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a master’s degree in Educational Administration from San Francisco State University. Allison spends her time blogging about minimalism and making soap for friends and family. She and her husband enjoy traveling to see family in the UK, long road trips and hiking and camping in the National Parks. Allison’s favorite children’s book is The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey and Don Wood.

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Talent Acquisition Specialist

Anita Cassity

Impact Evaluation Leader

Anita has spent the last two decades using data and research to advocate for children. Most recently, she led the data and analytics team at ANet, where she brought together the disciplines of measurement, data science and data engineering to understand key drivers of student outcomes. She has also served at the College Board, the NYC Department of Education, and as a special education teacher and group home counselor for foster children. Anita received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard College, her master’s from Teachers College at Columbia University, and her doctorate from UCLA. In her free time, Anita enjoys learning new things. Over the last couple years, she has learned to solve the Rubik’s cube, roll her R’s, and adopt a near zero-waste lifestyle. One of Anita’s favorite children’s books is Forever Young by Bob Dylan.

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Impact Evaluation Leader

BekkiJo Kahler

Payroll Specialist

BekkiJo has built a career in payroll and human resources for Pacific Northwest companies, developing her skills in such industries as construction, manufacturing, and digital advertising. She earned certifications in payroll from the American Payroll Association and in HR from the HR Certification Institute. BekkiJo loves to travel and enjoys road trips to explore new places with her two teenage children. Her favorite children’s books are Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and But Not the Hippopotamus.

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Payroll Specialist

Blake Herrera

Blake Herrera

Product Manager for School Services

Blake has spent the past 10 years advancing the missions of startup education nonprofits and is passionate about improving educational outcomes in underserved communities. Prior to joining the team at Bezos Academy, Blake led finance and operations at Green Dot Public Schools, where she supported school leaders in opening, operating, and growing some of the first charter schools in Washington state. Prior to Green Dot, she worked in New Orleans at Crescent City Schools as the finance and operations lead at a high-performing, K-8 school. Before transitioning to education, Blake began her career at Goldman Sachs, Inc., where she spent six years in their global operations division. Blake holds a bachelor’s degree from Tulane University, where she was a double major in Finance and Legal Studies in Business. Outside of work, Blake enjoys cooking meals for friends and family, hiking, skiing, and exploring the Pacific Northwest with her husband and son. Her favorite children’s book is Busy, Busy Town.

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Product Management, School Services

Cara Harrison

Cara Harrison

Education Leader

Cara is responsible for outlining, developing, and monitoring the implementation of education-related projects, including the design of critical school policies and systems. Prior to Bezos Academy, Cara served as the early childhood policy advisor to Governor of Rhode Island Gina Raimondo. Earlier in her career, she spent five years in the classroom as an elementary school teacher. Cara received her master’s in Education Policy and Management from Harvard Graduate School of Education and her bachelor’s degree from Brown University. In her free time, Cara is a spin instructor and enjoys exploring Seattle with her golden retriever, Murphy. Her favorite children’s book is Llama Llama Red Pajama.

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Education Leader

Caroline Hult

Caroline Hult

Talent Acquisition Leader

Caroline believes in the potential for committed and diverse groups of people to unite and accomplish what others might deem impossible. After graduating as the valedictorian from the University of Colorado, where she studied comparative literature, English literature, and Continental philosophy, Caroline taught high school classes in English and journalism in Las Vegas through Teach For America (TFA). This experience ignited a lifelong commitment to fight for educational equity and justice for low-income Americans. She was compelled to join Teach For America’s national staff. During 14 years of high growth at TFA, Caroline led teams and initiatives across functions, including recruitment, admissions, financial planning, and strategy. Caroline is an animal rights advocate, skier, trail runner, and baker. In recent years, she and her husband have moved with their cats and 30-year-old turtle across the country six times, residing in every continental U.S. time zone at least once. They now live in Boulder, Colorado with their four-year old son; she enjoys reading Magic Beach and Wolf in the Snow with him.

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Talent Acquisition Leader

Dana Neiswander

Talent Acquisition Partner

Dana has been happily engaged in recruiting and hiring since 2006. She first cut her HR teeth on the staffing side, then worked as a corporate recruiter, later became a consultant, and most recently developed talent acquisition teams for a national law firm and a national healthcare non-profit. She loves having the ability to help shape lives, communities and organizations via job opportunities and stellar hires. Dana joined Bezos Academy because she is fascinated by early childhood development and the amazing imagination and ingenuity going into this visionary network of schools. She has two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Michigan and way too many books. She and her spouse enjoy exploring the world and learning to sail. Her favorite children’s book is Miss Rumphius, but The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree might be a close second.

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Talent Acquisition Partner

Gerard Massey

Systems Engineer

Gerard is responsible for the Bezos Academy’s IT systems and infrastructure. A tinkerer at heart, he’s always at work optimizing and scaling technology resources to help educators focus on what they do best — teaching. Prior to Bezos Academy, Gerard served as a systems engineer and manager in several sectors: financial-tech, federal government, law, and advertising. He received his bachelor’s degree in Information Communication Technology from Florida State University. (Go Noles!) When he’s out of the office, Gerard can be found hosting trivia in the Washington, D.C. metro area, streaming on Twitch, or riding his Boosted Board down Pennsylvania Avenue. His favorite children’s book is James and the Giant Peach. 

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Systems Engineer

Grace Wilcox

Grace Wilcox

Executive Assistant to the President

Grace has dedicated her career to the mission of achieving educational equity for all children, regardless of their circumstances. Before joining Bezos Academy, Grace taught middle and high school math and was an assistant principal in underserved areas of the United Kingdom for eight years. A graduate of the University of Oxford, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, Grace earned a master’s in Educational Leadership from the University of Warwick in England. She applies her understanding of the education landscape in support of improving access to a high-quality, preschool education. In her free time, Grace explores the country she now calls home by hiking, cycling, and road-tripping around the Pacific Northwest. Her favorite children’s book is The Elephant and the Bad Baby.

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Executive Assistant to the President

Heather Myers

People Operations Leader

Heather has spent the past decade creating and implementing People strategies through team and cross departmental collaboration. She has worked in a variety of companies during that time, with the majority of it spent at fast growing technology companies including: Spotify, Paxos and Squarespace. She is passionate about building processes to scale and making the employee experience better with each one. She joined Bezos Academy to continue this pursuit but is eager to do so for educators, knowing that a better day to day experience for them helps centralize their focus and energy towards the children. Heather earned her undergraduate degree in Marketing from Manhattan College. Heather was born and raised in Jefferson City, Missouri but now considers herself a New Yorker after spending the past fifteen years there. In her free time Heather enjoys cooking, trying new restaurants and walking through her favorite neighborhoods in Brooklyn. She enjoys traveling and is continuously planning where her next adventure will be. Her favorite children’s book is If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. 

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People Operations Leader

Jamie Hammel-James

Jamie James

Head of People

Jamie is passionate about developing teams and organizations where people thrive. Jamie joined Bezos Academy because of her fundamental belief that every child deserves access to a high-quality education. She has spent her career in the human resources field, taking on new challenges in a variety of roles at Target, Amazon, and, most recently, Juno Therapeutics. Jamie earned her undergraduate degree, with dual majors in Marketing and Psychology, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and executive coaching certification from the Hudson Institute. She is a Midwesterner at heart but loves living in Seattle with her husband and two Maine Coon cats. Jamie enjoys cooking, yoga, traveling to new places, and exploring the great outdoors. One of her favorite childhood books was The Giving Tree.  

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Head of People

Jeff Bezos

Founder

Jeff is the founder of Amazon.com and the aerospace company Blue Origin, and the owner of The Washington Post. In 2018, he founded the Bezos Day One Fund, which focuses on funding nonprofits that help homeless families, and on creating a network of tier-one preschools in low-income communities. Jeff graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Princeton University, and he was named TIME’s 1999 Person of the Year. Jeff’s favorite children’s book is Mr. Pine’s Purple House.

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Founder

Jen Dine

Partnership Development Specialist

Jen is responsible for identifying and qualifying prospective school host partners, in addition to  coordinating partnership communications on behalf of Bezos Academy. Early in her career, while at J.P. Morgan, Jen built a foundation in partnership and relationship management work while handling a portfolio of financial institution clients. Her recent work at ParentMap includes serving as the manager of advertising and partnerships. Jen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, and she is chipping away at her hobby degree at The School of Health, based in the United Kingdom. When Jen is not in the office, she can be found hiking mountains or paddle boarding on the water — she will try any outdoor activity that keeps her two teenagers enjoying nature. Jen’s favorite children’s book is The Happiest Tree. 

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Partnership Development Specialist

Katie Ford

Katie Ford

Head of Communications

Katie’s communications career was sparked over 20 years ago by her belief in the role communications plays in increasing educational access for low-income communities and students of color. She has worked for education advocacy organizations, political campaigns, state government agencies, technology companies, and foundations. Katie holds a bachelor’s degree in French from Duke University and a Master of Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Acting in a volunteer capacity, she has advised and raised money for her local school district, where her two children have attended the public schools since preschool. Katie also volunteers with her neighborhood swim team and her church. Whether running, hiking, biking, swimming, or camping, Katie always feels grateful for the Seattle area’s natural beauty. With her children now older, Katie misses nights filled with bedtime stories and when Llama, Llama Red Pajama spoke to her.

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Head of Communications

Lela Mazzo

Lela Mazzo

Senior Accounting Manager

Lela is a mission-driven professional responsible for the design and implementation of end-to-end accounting processes at Bezos Academy. She started her career in public accounting, and, after realizing her calling for public service, she transitioned into higher education, followed by the nonprofit sector. Lela earned her Master of Business Administration from Oregon State University and her bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Franklin Pierce College. In her free time, Lela enjoys the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband, son, and two dogs. Lela’s favorite children’s book is The Amazing Bone.

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Senior Accounting Manager

Liz Swanby

Liz Swanby

Senior Operations

Liz thrives on big challenges. As an Operations leader, Liz is responsible for managing resources and developing and implementing operational plans. Prior to Bezos Academy, she spent seven years with Amazon, putting her scrappiness to good use by leading Operations teams. Before Amazon, she spent 13 years in the U.S. military as a logistics officer. Liz graduated from Eastern Oregon University. When she is not busy wrangling her two toddlers, she pursues such passions as Ducati motorcycles and championing social causes. Liz’s favorite children’s book is Where the Wild Things Are.

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Senior Operations

Martina Kozar

Martina Kozar

Product Management, Customer Journey

Martina works across Bezos Academy to build world-class customer experiences for students, parents, and teachers. Martina brings 15 years of experience obsessing over customers as a product manager at Amazon and Starbucks Coffee Company. She moved to Bezos Academy because of her desire to expand access to early childhood education. Martina earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics and a certificate in African Studies from Princeton University and received her Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. Martina is an outdoor enthusiast, loving to bike, hike, kayak, and ski with her family and friends. She shares her passion for the outdoors and protection of our natural places by serving on the board of The Mountaineers. Martina’s favorite children’s books to read to her two young kids are Little Blue Truck and the Moonbear series.

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Product Management, Customer Journey

Michael Abello

Dr. Michael Abello

Head of Education

Michael has spent his career striving towards educational equity for all children, working as a preschool teacher, instructional coach, and school principal. Before joining Bezos Academy, Michael served as the Chief of Early Childhood Education for Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest school district in the country. Michael holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance, a master’s in Early Childhood Education, and a doctorate in Urban Educational Leadership. Michael is excited to continue the work of expanding access to high-quality, early childhood education at Bezos Academy. He recently moved to Seattle from Chicago with his family. Michael’s favorite children’s books include Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Little Engine That Could, and Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

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Head of Education

Miguel Roque

Head of Operations

Miguel is a creator with a track record of imagining, building, operating, and scaling products and businesses. Prior to Bezos Academy, Miguel spent nine years at Amazon, where he launched and operated several successful products. Prior to Amazon, Miguel worked in the video game industry for four years as a product and tech leader. Miguel started his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he worked on PwC’s management consulting team for 11 years. When he is not building schools or spending time with his family, Miguel coaches youth sports, plays guitar, and mountaineers across the Pacific Northwest. His favorite children’s book is Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

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Head of Operations

Mike George

Mike George

President

Mike has spent his career building and leading innovative businesses and services that change how we shop, live, and work. Mike spent more than 20 years at Amazon, where he led customer-loved businesses, including the Echo, Alexa, and Appstore. Earlier in his career, Mike spent over a decade in the newspaper business, including at USA Today and The Baltimore Sun Company. Mike is passionate about the mission of Bezos Academy and excited to apply his skills to help expand access to early childhood education. Mike’s favorite children’s book is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

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President

Rossana Caballero

EHS Leader

Rossana has spent the past 10 years creating and implementing EHS strategies in Mining and Construction companies in South America (Peru and Chile) and the US. Prior to joining the team at Bezos Academy, Rossana worked in multiple commercial construction projects in the Seattle Metro Area for a couple of General Contractors (Balfour Beatty Construction and BNBuilders). Rossana holds a bachelor’s degree in Safety and Environmental Engineering from Universidad Tecnologica de Chile and a PM certification from the University of Washington. She is excited to continue developing Health and Safety policies to ensure everyone is safe in the schools, and at the same time, provide learning opportunities to the risk-aware next generation. When she’s out of the office, Rossana enjoys cooking meals from Peru, her home country, trying new restaurants, boating on Lake Washington, and traveling the world with her husband and daughter. Her favorite children’s book is Maria Had a Little Llama.  

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EHS Leader

Saben Emmons

Saben Emmons

IT Leader

Saben is responsible for all aspects of Information Technology at Bezos Academy. He helps ensure that our staff, educators, and students have what they need to deliver their own personal best. Saben has spent his career leading IT teams across multiple industries, with a focus on building elegant, equitable, and creative IT solutions. Most recently, he was a senior technology leader at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and before that, a senior manager of Amazon’s corporate IT. A graduate of Ivy Tech College in Indiana, Saben focused his studies on Computer Science and People Leadership. When not at the office, he can be found fly-fishing the rivers of Washington, at a local music venue, or out adventuring with his wife and two dogs. Saben’s favorite book from his childhood is Sticky Stanley.

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IT Leader

Scott Edison

Scott Edison

Partnerships Leader

Scott is responsible for establishing effective partnerships in our communities. Before joining the Bezos Academy team, Scott led business development activities and teams at both large and small technology companies. Scott’s (formal) education consisted of K-12 public schooling in the Seattle metro area, followed by the unusual combination of Washington State University, for his undergraduate degree, and University of Washington, where he earned a Master of Business Administration. (Go Cougs!) Scott lives outside Seattle with his wife of 19 years and two young children. When he is not establishing new partnerships or spending time with his family, Scott can be found on a mountain, lake, or river in Cascadia. His favorite children’s book is The Bike Lesson.

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Partnerships Leader

Stepha Krynytzky

Teacher Training Leader

Stepha, a lifelong early childhood educator, works on the education team and is responsible for developing and evolving the new teacher preparation program for Bezos Academy. Stepha comes to Bezos Academy with a passion for inclusive school communities and spent the last several years leading teaching initiatives within the New York City’s Department of Education through the expansion of Pre-K for All. Stepha holds a master’s degree in Special Education from Bank Street College of Education and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Adelphi University. Stepha enjoys traveling and hiking with friends and family around the US and the globe. Her current favorite children’s book is The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds.

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Teacher Training Leader

Will Weiner

Will Weiner

General Counsel

Will is passionate about serving organizations that consciously, systematically, and sustainably serve communities in need. As General Counsel, Will develops and oversees all legal, regulatory, risk-management, and compliance work for the organization. Prior to joining Bezos Academy, Will was a partner at Lane Powell, a prominent Seattle-based law firm. In this role, he successfully built and led teams that solved complex legal problems for early childhood education, non-profit, and technology businesses. Will graduated Phi Beta Kappa in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley and summa cum laude from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. In his free time, Will enjoys trail running with his Australian Shepherd and cooking plant-based meals with his partner. Will’s favorite children’s book is Wacky Wednesday.

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General Counsel

Zoë Burke

Program Manager, School Launch Team

Prior to joining Bezos Academy, Zoë spent eight years with Starbucks Coffee Company, where she most recently managed the construction of new stores and major renovations across Western Canada. Zoë has always been surrounded by early childhood educators, and they have influenced her lifelong belief in the importance of access to high-quality childcare. Her focus is on bringing her commitment to excellence to support Bezos Academy’s high-impact mission for generations of children. Following the birth of her son, Zoë and her family moved from Vancouver, British Columbia to a small island outside of Seattle. Zoë holds a bachelor’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys growing fruit and vegetables in her garden, woodworking projects, and watching football on Sundays, all while wrangling a busy and curious toddler. Zoë’s favorite children’s book is The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and THE BIG HUNGRY BEAR.

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Program Manager, School Launch Team

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