Faculty & Staff Directory

Charles E. Carter, Jr., Ph.D., LICSW

CEO/Head of School

Dr. Carter has committed his career to improving social and economic justice for Black and Brown communities and has more than 20 years of experience working with children and families with few resources and limited access to power and privilege. He approaches this work with equal parts curiosity, humility, passion and humor, aiming to positively impact the systems and organizations that work on behalf of vulnerable populations. Before joining Beacon, Dr. Carter was a Founding member of the leadership team for Project Evident, a national organization focused on helping not-for-profit organizations and philanthropic foundations harness the power of evidence to achieve greater impact. He also co-created and led a virtual learning program for practitioners and leaders called a Talent Accelerator. Similarly, Dr. Carter designed and piloted the Data & Evidence Equity Guide, a tool to integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion principles into evidence building. Prior, he served as Deputy Director and Chief Strategy Officer at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, where he created a learning strategy and built the capacity of individuals, organizations, and systems to drive and scale innovation. 

Dr. Carter is currently a Trustee for the Foundation for MetroWest and a member of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Evaluation Advisory Committee. He has been an Adjunct Faculty member at Boston College Graduate School of Social Work and guest lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education and Simmons College Graduate Schools of Management and Social Work. He earned his master’s degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his Ph.D. in Social Work from Boston College. He lives in the MetroWest area with his wife Robyn and their two children. He can be reached at ccarter@beaconacademy.org.

Nicole Baker

Director of Development and Engagement

Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Nicole brings over 15 years of fundraising, events, and volunteer management experience to Beacon Academy. She has extensive knowledge in managing a robust strategic development and engagement plan that fosters a culture of philanthropy and engages all members of the community to propel organizations forward. Nicole has led engagement and fundraising efforts at the Australian Red Cross, Concord Academy, Scope Victoria, and Cancer Council Queensland. Her commitment to the advancement of institutions at home and abroad is matched by an enthusiasm for working with young people and their families. She previously served as an advisor to boarding and day students at Concord Academy and is thrilled to continue this position of mentorship as a student advisor at Beacon Academy, in addition to leading the Development, Engagement, and Communications team. Nicole can be reached at nbaker@beaconacademy.org.

Rob Bruckner

Math Teacher and Co-Curricular Manager

Rob is excited for his second year of teaching at Beacon Academy. Rob is originally from the suburbs of New York City where he was most recently at The Harvey School in Katonah, NY. While there Rob taught mid-level math and was the head coach of the Varsity Girls Basketball team. The majority of his teaching career was spent in Westwood, MA at Xaverian Brothers High School. He spent 13 years at Xaverian, teaching everything from freshmen Algebra to AP Calculus. Rob also continued his coaching career at Xaverian as the head coach for the Varsity Boys Basketball team for 7 years. He coached various other sports and levels, including Varsity Tennis. As the point person for all co-curricular activities, Rob is eager to help teach our students about sports, conditioning, and teamwork. Rob‘s passion for math, problem solving, and compassion fit the Beacon ethos, and he’s excited to be a part of a community with high educational standards. Rob can be reached at rbruckner@beaconacademy.org.

Susan Cheever

Writing, Advocacy, and Facing History Teacher

A Chicago native, Susan graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor’s in English and began her career in education while working with young adults at Jobs for Youth-Chicago. Since obtaining a Master’s in Teaching at the University of Richmond she has taught English in both public and private schools in New Hampshire and Massachusetts and has worked as a writing tutor for middle and high school students. In her experience working with young writers, Susan has learned the importance of a holistic approach to teaching, recognizing that knowing and appreciating the real life experiences of her students is essential to helping them find their true potential and enjoyment in learning. Susan can be reached at scheever@beaconacademy.org.

Rebecca Forrester

College Advisor

Rebecca Forrester pic

Rebecca 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 rforrester@beaconacademy.org.

Cindy Laba

Founder/Special Advisor for Alumni and Community (on sabbatical until January 2022)

For the past 30 years, Cindy Laba has devoted her professional life to the education and development of young people. She started by doing prevention work at Boys Town in Nebraska and then 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 in a residential school for two years leading intensive individual, group,  and family therapy. 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 communications 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. She had the idea for Beacon while at City on a Hill and served as Founder and Head of School for our first ten years. She now focuses on alumni and organizational development. Cindy can be reached at claba@beaconacademy.org.

Katherine McNally

Communications and Marketing Officer

Adopted from China and raised in Natick, Massachusetts, Katherine grew up with a passion for education, art, and writing. Prior to her role at Beacon Academy, Katherine worked in Development at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and Hamilton College. As a Concord Academy graduate, she is excited to combine her skills in communications and design with her interest in education to further Beacon Academy’s mission and make a meaningful impact on the lives of Beacon’s students. Katherine can be reached at kmcnally@beaconacademy.org

Eric Nett

Director of Enrollment and Placement

Before joining Beacon, Eric taught high school English at independent schools. He has experienced multiple facets of school life: teaching a range of classes, coaching several sports, and working as a dorm parent. In his time at Beacon, he has been a classroom teacher and has been a part of work on recruitment, placement, and alumni support. He hails from the Midwest and graduated from the University of Michigan, where he studied English and Creative Writing. He can be reached at enett@beaconacademy.org

Dr. Deborah Offner


Dr. Offner is a clinical psychologist who specializes in adolescent mental health and has worked on the front lines and in leadership roles in independent schools and colleges for more than two decades. She currently serves as Consulting Psychologist to Beacon Academy, Worcester Academy and The Winsor School. Her depth of experience, openness, and sharp intellect combine in nuanced and sophisticated ways to help us figure out how to best navigate the racially diverse, colliding worlds of low- and high-income students.

Myriam Poznar

Alumni Support Coordinator

Myriam Poznar is an Alumni Associate who works with Beacon students who are entering their Junior year in high school to help them navigate all aspects of the college process. Myriam believes this work is critical in ensuring Beacon student’s have the resources to apply and be accepted by colleges with substantial financial aid packages. While Myriam has held multiple positions at Beacon, her most compelling experience has been working with the high school seniors to help close the funding gap for college through scholarships. Myriam’s past volunteer experiences have included work for the American Red Cross and Covenant Preparatory School, an all-boys middle school for under-resourced communities in Hartford, CT.  Myriam holds a Bachelor’s in Public Relations from Quinnipiac University.  Myriam can be reached at mpoznar@beaconacademy.org.


Melody Rosas-Granda

Program and Admissions Coordinator

As the daughter of immigrant parents from Lima, Peru, Melody is a firm believer in educational pursuits that open doors for future generations. She comes to Beacon Academy from East Hartford, CT, where she attended the Kingswood-Oxford School in West Hartford, CT. She went on to Providence College and graduated in 2014, with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a Theatre Arts minor. Before Beacon, she worked as a teacher for students with autism, ages 9-15, at The New England Center for Children in Southborough, MA. Melody is incredibly thrilled and blessed to continue working in Boston with the highly talented and driven team of Beacon Academy. Melody can be reached at mrosas-granda@beaconacademy.org.

Nidhi Shah

Finance Coordinator

Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Nidhi Shah earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Commerce from the University of Mumbai. After moving to the United States, she completed her Certified Public Accountancy (CPA) in 2020. She is currently Pursuing a Master of Science in Financial Analysis from Gordon College located in Wenham, MA. Her hobbies include baking with new recipes and reading. She is very excited to work with the cross-functional team at Beacon Academy. Nidhi can be reached at nshah@beaconacademy.org

Sarah Smith

Director of Student Services

Sarah 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 ssmith@beaconacademy.org.

Scott Steele

Director of Finance and Operations

Scott Steele is the Director of Finance and Operations and has been a member of Beacon Academy’s Finance Committee since 2019.  Prior to joining Beacon, Scott was the Director of Finance and Operations at the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT), a Boston-based minority servicing technical college founded in 1908.  Scott was previously co-founder and Managing Partner of JMH Capital Partners, a private capital investment firm.  Prior to JMH, Scott was a Principal at Parthenon Capital in Boston and a Principal in the New York office of Electra Investment Trust PLC, a London-based private investment firm.  He started his career in the Leveraged Funding Group at Heller Financial in New York.  Scott received his B.B.A. from the University of Michigan and his M.B.A. from the Stern School of Business at New York University.  In addition to his work at Beacon, Scott serves on the board and chairs the finance committee at the Wily Network, a non-profit that serves college students who don’t have academic, emotional or financial support from family.  Scott lives in Newton with his wife Ursula, their three boys, their new rescue dog Zeke, and closely follows all things related to University of Michigan athletics. Scott can be reached at ssteele@beaconacademy.org

Dr. Gretchen Warland

Science Teacher and Board Member

Gretchen Warland began volunteering at Beacon Academy in the summer of 2019. She initially jumped into the Beacon community by assisting with the running program, which quickly led her to coaching her first student. Gretchen introduced and currently teaches the MEDscience STEM program as part of the science curriculum at Beacon. Gretchen received her Master’s in Physical Therapy from the MGH Institute of Health Professions in 1998. She then returned to the MGH Institute of Health Professions completing her Doctorate in 2012. Gretchen has also worked as a personal trainer and yoga instructor, and she has most recently earned her Massachusetts teacher’s license in Biology. Presently, Gretchen teaches science at Beacon as well as teaching the MEDscience program at Harvard Medical School. It is her mission to bring an understanding of science to undereducated students of Boston as a way to open pathways to unique opportunities that can change their life’s trajectory. Gretchen can be reached at gwarland@beaconacademy.org

Anne-Marie Yu-Phelps

Director of Studies and English 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 ayuphelps@beaconacademy.org.