Accelerator and Post-Accelerator Fellows
In 2014, Braven launched its founding site in the Bay Area with partners across the region to ensure that all local talent thrives.
Silicon Valley is the world’s number one startup ecosystem. Job growth in the Bay is predicted to be 69% higher than job growth across the state, yet local talent is often not filling these open roles.
The tech sector continues to be one of the biggest job markets in the region, but while 26.5% of Silicon Valley identifies as Latinx, only 6% of employees at the top 75% tech firms identify as such.
Braven is proud to be joining partners across the Bay Area who are working to build a strong, local, diverse workforce to power the local economy.
With shared desire to innovate for student success, San José State University (SJSU) became Braven’s founding university partner in 2014. Together Braven and SJSU have successfully empowered 1,478 SJSU students toward graduation and career success, and in 2021 we signed a 5-year partnership agreement to ensure the work continues. We plan to serve 250+ new Fellows during the 2021-2022 school year.
“Many of our students have spent their time here trying to hide their story because they see it as a liability. After Braven, they realize that their stories — instead of being a detriment — can be an asset. They realize they belong.” – Elaine Collins, Associate Dean, College of Science
The Bay Area is home to the second highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies, many of which are looking for ways to impact their community, build their employees’ leadership skills, and create more diverse and inclusive workplaces.
Braven offers these local companies opportunities to do all three while also gaining access to rising talent. To date, partnerships in various capacities with LinkedIn, Salesforce, Adobe, ServiceNow, NetApp, PwC, and Deloitte have empowered talent of all levels towards strong careers and lives of impact. To learn more about our various partnership opportunities click here.
Pipeline partners are K12 organizations and community colleges that encourage their students and alumni to participate in the UNVS 101 SJSU Braven course, adding an additional layer of support to ensure their students persist, graduate, and secure high-quality career-accelerating outcomes. Some of our existing partners include:
Alpha Public Schools | Breakthrough Silicon Valley | Cristo Rey Academy | KIPP Public Schools Northern California | Latino Education Advancement Foundation | Richmond Promise
To become a pipeline partner, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Fellows, volunteers, employer partners and university partners work together to make this startup hub a region of opportunity for all. In 2019, 88% of our Fellows identified as people of color and 61% as first-generation college students.
Accelerator and Post-Accelerator Fellows
of Braven 2021 graduates at SJSU secured a strong first job or entered graduate school within 6 months
of SJSU Braven Fellows graduate college on-time
Our employer partners encourage their employees to participate in Braven’s professional development and engagement opportunities, sponsor events and learning experiences, provide access to externship, internship and full-time opportunities, and offer critical financial support.
We are incredibly thankful for the generosity of our Bay Area supporters, who sustain and grow the Braven Accelerator in our region. For a complete list of Braven supporters, please go to our national supporters page.
Since 2014, Teach For America-Bay Area has exclusively hired it’s summer interns from Braven. TFA has also provided Leadership Coaches and sponsored several events. Our first Braven Fellow joined the teaching corps in summer 2017.
Briannah oversees the overall student experience of Braven at San José State University. She runs operations and logistics for Learning Labs and Braven events where she supports Fellows, Leadership Coaches, Teacher Assistants, and professors.
External Affairs Manager
San José, CA
Brisdy Carrillo Vega is the External Affairs Manager in the Bay Area. She works closely with our employer partners to represent the Braven Bay Area in a positive light while assisting the Executive Director to build meaningful relationships that contribute to an equitable future for our students. She also helps manage internal and external communications, heavily support fundraising and employer partnership efforts as well as raise brand awareness. She keeps certain values like equality, resilience, and family very close to heart which is reflected in her body of work.
As an alum of SJSU in the class of Fall 2020, Bridy joined Braven’s forces as an Administrative Coordinator intern before joining full time. Her tie to Braven dates back to Spring 2019 when she took Braven. As a first generation DACA student, she realized that she wouldn’t have the same opportunities as other students and struggled to really find her place when she started college but Braven provided her with the community and network she didn’t realize she needed. She now hopes to give back to students that come from underrepresented backgrounds in her work with Braven. She hopes for a future where everyone can reach an equitable education. Brisdy’s work with employer partners has also led her to cross paths with impactful entrepreneurs and she hopes to lead a similar effort in her later years.
Diana Phuong is the Executive Director of Braven in the Bay Area. She joined Braven at San Josè State University as Site Director in January 2020, and in her first year, adapted the core Accelerator Course to an entirely virtual context, to much success. Prior to Braven, Diana engaged counties, districts, and schools in integrated STEAM education by leveraging hands-on learning as a Partnership Director for a local nonprofit RAFT. She launched a RAFT STEAM Summer Program through joint funding as a 4.0 Schools Tiny Fellow. Prior to that, Diana spent a decade in teaching and high school administration. Her teaching began as a Teach For America Fellow in Memphis, TN, where she taught 3rd-5th grade English as a Second Language. Diana earned her Bachelor’s in English from University of California-Irvine and Masters in Education from Christian Brothers University. She is the first in her family to receive her Bachelor’s and Master’s. Born and raised in the East Bay, she is the daughter of refugees who started over in America in the late 70’s.
Program Manager of Recruitment
San José, CA
Guadalupe Emigdio is the Program Manager of Recruitment in the Bay. She joined Braven full-time in March of 2021, a recent graduate for San Jose State University. In her time at SJSU as an undergraduate she participated in the Braven course in Fall 2019. Lupe is a first-generation college student raised by a single mother who immigrated from Mexico in search of a better future. Lupe attributes her personal and professional growth to the experience acquired in connection to Braven. She, like many low-income college students we serve, supported herself financially through higher education. Unable to participate in many career accelerating experiences through the trajectory of her college career UNVS 101, a course offered at SJSU, in partnership with Braven opened a world of opportunities. Lupe interned with Merrill Lynch as a (Client Associate), Katie Couric Media (Media Intern), and Braven (Marketing/Recruitment Intern) through Braven referrals. Lupe’s internships changed her life. They showed her that someone like her who two years ago was a street vendor has a voice. Braven showed her to own her story because it is her biggest asset. She is the first to graduate from her family and land a strong job. Lupe is passionate about replicating her results to increase impact for first-generation and low-income nationwide.
Jasmine is the Program Operations Coordinator for Braven in the Bay Area. She supports all efforts related to the Accelerator Course at San José State University. As a first-generation student, Jasmine works to ensure all Braven Fellows are given the opportunity to embrace their own potential within the Accelerator, and beyond. Jasmine Prior to Braven, Jasmine worked as a Case Manager at Santa Clara University, connecting students to crucial resources in the community related to personal wellness. Based on this experience, Jasmine is dedicated to advocating for mental health resources for all, but especially folx that hold marginalized identities. Jasmine holds a BS in Psychology from Saint Mary’s College of California and a MA in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of Connecticut. On her own time, Jasmine loves to bake, travel with loved ones, and read as many books as possible.
Program Manager, Workforce Development
San José, CA
Priya Balasubramanian is the Program Manager of Workforce Development for Braven in the Bay Area. She manages an ambitious multi-faceted program designed to professionally support over 1600+ Braven Alumni transition from a 4-year university to their first quality opportunity after graduation. As an immigrant and first-generation college student, Priya values the importance of community and building strong relationships in reaching an equitable future. Her work within Braven embodies a lot of her values surrounding economic equity, equal opportunity and widespread cultural education. As a recent alum of San Jose State class of 2020, Priya is extremely grateful for the professional direction Braven provided for her when she took the course in Fall 2019. As a transfer student from Canada and one struggling to find a career that identified with her authentic self, Braven embraced her insecurities and guided her towards her true passion, supporting the growth of initiatives that seek to equalize the playing field for minority populations.
In her spare time, Priya loves to travel, ambitiously building her itinerary for a post-pandemic future, hit the beaches of LA with her sibling, and read endless thought spiraling fictional philosophy books.
San José, CA
Scott Lan is the Site Director for Braven Bay Area. Scott’s passion for education was sparked 15 years ago as a teacher in South LA. Prior to joining Braven, he served as a Career Coach, guiding first-gen, low-income students to and through college. He was also the founder and Executive Director of Achieving Results by Overcoming Obstacles (AROO), a nonprofit that inspires and challenges at-risk youth to reach their full potential and achieve their most ambitious goals through the sport of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR). Prior to founding AROO, Scott was a Broad Resident and served as the Director of Business Strategy at the largest charter management organization in Los Angeles. Before attending business school, he was a human capital consultant first at TNTP and later with Partners in School Innovation, where he focused on talent/performance management and school & district transformation. Scott was also an Education Pioneers Graduate Fellow, where he streamlined front and back office operations for a high-performing LA charter school. His career in education began as a classroom teacher through Teach For America, where he taught 6th grade math and science in South Los Angeles. In his free time, Scott enjoys being outdoors, hiking, OCRs, spending time with his niece and nephews, and trying all the new foodie spots around San Francisco. Scott holds a BA in Business Economics from UC Santa Barbara, an MA in Education from Loyola Marymount University, and an MBA from the University of Southern California.
Founding CEO, KIPP Bay Area Schools
Beth Sutkus Thompson has been the founding CEO of KIPP Bay Area Schools for over a decade, where she is responsible for the organization’s performance, growth and sustainability. KIPP Bay Area Schools currently serves nearly 6,000 students in 15 schools across 6 cities on a path to doubling in size in the coming years; and serves nearly 3,000 alumni on their journey to choice-filled lives. Previously, Beth was the West Coast Trailblazer at the KIPP Foundation, where she created and implemented a strategic growth plan for KIPP schools, including securing charters, start-up funding, facilities, and community support. Prior to her work at KIPP, Beth was on the founding team of NewSchools Venture Fund, a national nonprofit venture philanthropy working to reimagine public education. Beth holds a B.A. in political science, an M.A. in Education, and an MBA with a certificate in nonprofit management, all from Stanford University. She is a graduate of The Broad Academy and the Aspen-Pahara Fellowship. Beth serves on the Board of Cambiar Education, Kids Love Writing, and the Advisory Board of The Broad Center. She resides in Oakland with her husband and two young children.
Executive Director of Arrow Impact
Charlie Wolfson is Executive Director of Arrow Impact, a foundation that supports initiatives that create pathways to economic prosperity for communities that have been under-resourced. Prior to Arrow Impact Charlie served as Director of Data Strategy at Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, a nonprofit charter management organization in Los Angeles, and before that he worked as a Senior Program Officer at Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a nonprofit community development financial institution in New York. Charlie holds a BA in economics and political science from Duke University and an MBA and an MA in education from Stanford University. He is a graduate of the Broad Residency in Urban Education and is an Education Pioneers alum. Charlie lives in Oakland, CA and serves on the boards of Tipping Point Community and NewSchools Venture Fund.
Executive Director, Westly Foundation
Jessica García-Kohl is the Executive Director of the Westly Foundation. For two decades she has dedicated her career to nonprofit, government and philanthropic sectors, serving to strengthen communities and create equitable opportunities for children, youth, and families. Previously, Jessica has held executive roles in non-profit education and affordable housing organizations, and has served as a policy advisor for the cities of San José and San Francisco. Jessica holds masters’ degrees from the University of California, Berkeley in Public Policy and Public Health, and a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University.
Deloitte & Touche
Muna Sheikh is a leader in the Deloitte & Touche Risk & Financial Advisory practice. She brings more than 27 years of professional experience in risk management and internal controls consulting. Muna has experience performing enterprise risk assessments, assisting clients to align strategy and enhance risk response, and partnering with senior corporate management teams to address significant issues. She has been a member of Deloitte’s San Francisco Volunteer Council for many years, participates regularly in Deloitte’s Impact Day of volunteerism and is passionate about education and preparing students for a successful future.
Executive Advisor, General Counsel
Van has more than 30 years of experience in the technology industry. Van was VP, Deputy General Counsel, at Cisco for 18 years. She’s credited for playing a critical role in building a world-class legal department from the ground up and supported the company growth from less than $2B to $50B when she retired from Cisco. Her current activities include working with entrepreneurs and startups. She also mentors people of all ages from high school students to corporate executives. She serves on the board of several non-profits focusing on workforce development and education. Van is the recipient of multiple awards, including Silicon Valley Women of Influence, Silicon Valley Pro Bono’s Lady Justice Innovator, Community Champion, Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund’s Women of Achievement, and Asian American for Community Involvement’s Business Trailblazer. She is an avid reader and enjoys reading anything from history, science, psychology, biography and literary fiction. Van loves to hike, garden, cook, write, plays the piano, and walk her dog twice a day. Van is always happy to drop whatever she’s doing to have coffee with a friend.
Sunita is a leader in Risk Assurance practice of PwC with extensive experience in driving advanced analytics solutions and digital transformations for her clients. She has a couple of decades of consulting experience advising C-suites and boards in multiple domains including product, strategy and regulations. She specializes in creating and taking to market AI/ML & data science-driven products and solutions.
Sunita is a member of the diversity, equity and inclusion council of PwC and Hillbrook school and is passionate about mentoring and coaching students and professionals in their career journey. She has also led pro bono projects at several not-for-profit organizations
SJSU has been a proud partner of Braven since 2014, helping to implement innovative career education into the undergraduate experience.
A Leadership Coach’s impact extends far beyond the Braven program. Joy Dahlen has continued to support her Fellows and helped one land his first internship.
Salesforce.org has announced a new data architecture to support lifelong learning, new capabilities for its Education Cloud, and more.
75 E Santa Clara St
San José, CA 95113
This course prepares students for the increasingly competitive, globalized job marketplace. Through online and peer learning, interactive experiences, and reflection, students will build meaningful networks, discover their innate leadership, and cultivate the “hard” and “soft” skills and habits of mind needed to thrive in twenty-first-century workplaces. This course will require your commitment. Nothing good comes easy, but this course will be equally rewarding as it is challenging.
The Braven Accelerator is a 3 unit elective credit course that meets once a week in the afternoon or evening. Students must add UNVS 101 Leadership and Career Accelerator to their MySJSU.
By the end of the course, students should be able to:
There will be two options for the course. Select the one that best fits your personal preference: 1) Fully virtual 2) Hybrid: virtual AND in-person, on-campus sessions.
We are looking for professionals from all fields who are willing to share their career experience, personal stories, and unique talents with our diverse and driven Fellows.
All volunteer opportunities will be virtual while social distancing orders are in effect. To receive alerts about upcoming volunteer opportunities:
Please contact email@example.com with questions.