Cindy Laba


For the past 25 years, Cindy Laba has devoted her professional life to the education and development of young people. She started by doing prevention work with middle and high school age students from the D Street Public Housing Development and the Boys & Girls Club in South Boston. Upon completing a Master’s Degree in Social Work, she worked with emotionally disturbed adolescents who lived at Harbor Schools in Newburyport. Cindy spent most of her career at City Year, one of America’s leading national service programs, where she developed and implemented enterprise-wide recruitment, fundraising, and intranet systems. When she was named a Vice President, she turned her focus to development and producing major national events both in the US and South Africa. In 2004–2005 she served as Vice President of City on a Hill Charter School in Boston and is now Founder and Chief Program Officer of Beacon Academy, after ten years as its first Head of School. Cindy can be reached at 617-233-3022 and

Marsha Feinberg


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Marsha Feinberg is a leading social entrepreneur and consultant with more than 35 years of experience. Marsha played major roles in launching many new non-profits by providing strategic planning, fundraising, and community-building expertise. Her first start-up was with the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation where she founded and directed the JFK Library Corps, an after-school service program for students from South Boston, Roxbury, and Dorchester. For two years Marsha was the Director of Recruitment for Mayor Koch’s City Volunteer Corps, one of the first service corps in the country. After receiving her MBA from Columbia Business School she returned to Boston and worked at City Year during its early years, and helped launch the Clinton Democracy Fellows Program in South Africa. Marsha was the Founding Chair of the Board of Directors of Citizen Schools and served 10 years in that role, growing the organization from a Boston-based program to a national network of after-school programs. She also provides coaching and strategic advice as part of the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University. Marsha serves on a number of non-profit boards, including Temple Israel, the New England Advisory Board of Facing History and Ourselves, and the Corporation of Belmont Hill School. Marsha can be reached at 617-797-2343 and

Mervan Osborne

Head of School, Honorary Founder

Screenshot 2014-10-18 12.06.24Born and raised in London, England, Mervan Osborne moved to New York City with his family as a teen. After graduating from St. George’s School, he studied Studio Arts at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, Secondary Education at the University of California and earned his MFA in Film Production at Boston University. Mervan spent two years working for Miramax Films in New York, and taught English in Los Angeles as a member of the Teach for America founding corps. After spending 12 years teaching English and Drama and working in the admissions office at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Mervan participated in the founding of Beacon Academy. He currently serves as Beacon Academy’s Head of School where he focuses on recruitment of future classes, placement of Beacon’s graduates and broadening the school’s impact. Mervan teaches both the Facing History and Ourselves course at Beacon and Visual Thinking Strategies at the Museum of Fine Arts. Currently a trustee at Concord Academy, Mervan has served two terms as the Governor’s appointee to the Mass Humanities Board and was twice elected to serve as a member of the Cambridge School Committee. Mervan can be reached  at

Rebecca Forrester

College Advisor

Rebecca Forrester picRebecca Forrester has been an enthusiastic advocate and tireless volunteer for different educational and literary organizations since moving to Boston in 2000.  She has served on Boards of the Associates of the Boston Public Library, Julie’s Fund, Westwood Land Trust and, for the past 7 years, as a Trustee at Beacon Academy.  Since 2006 Rebecca has coached a student every year through his or her application process to independent high school and then been a tremendous support to the students and their families through high school and on to college.  For the past two years Rebecca has worked to broaden Beacon’s support of our alumni by guiding every Beacon alum through the college application process.  She has initiated an important collaboration with our partner schools to help Beacon alumni and their families learn to navigate the complex financial aid process and to be able to afford their college experience.  Rebecca is leading this work with a team of experts in hopes that our learning may be shared to support other low-income students in independent schools.  Rebecca can be reached at

Viviana Hanley

Writing Instructor

Viviana Hanley PicViviana joined Beacon Academy after spending a year teaching English in Barranquilla, Colombia through the U.S. Fulbright Program. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College where she studied philosophy of the mind and sociology. While at Harvard, Viviana competed for the university’s cross country and track and field teams, and helped to develop the nation’s first student-run youth homeless shelter as a steering committee member of Y2Y Harvard Square. During her undergraduate summers, Viviana interned as a resource advocate for LIFT Cambridge, studied the intersection of neurobiology and art in Italy, and taught an intensive college preparatory course for the Education and Social Empowerment Program in Kenya. Viviana is enamored with words as tools for art, empathy, clarity, and collaboration and is thrilled to be sharing this passion with Beacon students. Viviana can be reached at

 Jennifer Mauer

Program Associate and Assistant to the Head of School

Jennifer joined Beacon Academy after seven years in program management and student services at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. She developed a growing passion for educational equity while completing her Master of Arts in Teaching degree at North Carolina State University. Jennifer is a proud Tar Heel who graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Jennifer can be reached at

Eric Nett

English Teacher

Before joining Beacon, Eric taught high school English at independent schools for seven years. In that time, he watched how the process of learning to write awakens students intellectually, inspiring them to think deeply and use language precisely. Four years ago, Eric moved to Boston and began teaching writing at Beacon. He has found it incredibly inspiring to work with Beacon students as they develop into confident writers who can capture their experience in a personal essay or advocate persuasively for a timely cause in a research paper. Excited to be teaching English this year, Eric looks forward to preparing this class to thrive at top-notch high schools. Eric hails from the Midwest, and he graduated from the University of Michigan, where he studied English and Creative Writing. He can be reached at

Julian Serrao

Math Teacher and Co-Curricular Coordinator

Julian Serrao PicJulian grew up in Queens, New York, where through the Run to Daylight program, he had the opportunity to attend Phillips Exeter Academy. He graduated from Exeter in 2008 with Honors, and as a Proctor and a board member of the Afro/Latino Exonian Society. Subsequently, Julian attended Yale University, where he earned a B.A. in Anthropology. While studying at Yale, he learned Mandarin and Portuguese and studied abroad in Singapore. Julian also competed on the varsity lightweight rowing team for two head seasons and one sprint season. After Yale, Julian taught math as a Teach For America corps member in Hartford, CT, at Achievement First Hartford Academy. After three years there, Julian moved to Boston to become a math teacher and grade-level chair with Uncommon Schools at Roxbury Prep Lucy Stone. In one year with the network, Julian’s 5th-grade students achieved the highest math scores in Uncommon Massachusetts on the end-of-year Interim Assessment. Julian is passionate about educational access for underserved, inner-city students and lives Exeter’s core value of non-sibi, not for oneself. Julian can be reached at

Sarah Smith

Program Director

Sarah Smith picSarah White Smith comes to Beacon Academy with 13 years of experience as an urban school counselor. Most recently, Sarah served for the past 11 years as the founding school counselor at the Orchard Gardens Pilot School, a former Level IV school located in Roxbury, Massachusetts.  Prior to beginning her career in school counseling, Sarah worked as an after-school program director for the YMCA of Middle Tennessee’s Urban Services division, providing place-based extended day programming for middle school students residing in various public housing communities in the Metropolitan Nashville area.  Sarah holds both a B.S. in Human and Organizational Development (Organizational Leadership and Effectiveness Concentration) and an M.Ed. in school counseling from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.  Sarah can be reached at

Tess Stevens

Communications Associate

Stevens_headshotTess came to Beacon after spending a year working as an AmeriCorps fellow at Match Community Day School in Hyde Park, where she worked as a full-time tutor for English Language Learning students. She grew up in Maine and Colorado and graduated from Northwestern University in 2015 with a major in English and minors in History and Spanish.  At Northwestern, Tess volunteered as a tutor at a local community center and served on the fundraising committee for Northwestern’s Dance Marathon, one of the largest student-run philanthropies in the country.  Tess studied abroad in Spain where she taught English to both children and adults.  She is excited to be working with the inspiring students, faculty and staff at Beacon. Tess can be reached at

Anne-Marie Yu-Phelps

Director of Studies and Writing Teacher

Anne-Marie Yu-Phelps is a strong believer in the value of education, especially for those trying to break out of a cycle of poverty into which they may have been born. She came to Beacon Academy from João Pessoa, a small city in northeastern Brazil, where she worked for three years in a women’s holistic health and education center as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner. Before working in Brazil, Anne-Marie taught for ten years at Newton Country Day School. In addition to these experiences, Anne-Marie has taught English in a school for orphaned and abandoned children in Honduras and to refugees in Hong Kong and El Paso, Texas. Anne-Marie graduated with honors in English and Spanish from Amherst College and earned her Master’s Degree in Education from Harvard with a focus on teaching and curriculum for secondary school English. Anne-Marie can be reached at