Faculty & Staff Directory

Cindy Laba

Founder

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 617-233-3022 and claba@beaconacademy.org.


Marsha Feinberg

Founder

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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 mfeinberg@beaconacademy.org.


Nicole Baker

Director of Engagement

Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Nicole joins Beacon with over 12 years of experience in the stewardship and engagement of volunteers, donors, and trustees. Nicole has led engagement efforts at Concord Academy as well as the Australian Red Cross and Cancer Council Queensland. Her commitment to the advancement of institutions at home and abroad is matched by an enthusiasm for working with students. She previously served as an Advisor to boarding and day students at Concord and is thrilled to continue this position of mentorship as a Student Advisor at Beacon Academy in additional to joining the development team. Nicole can be reached at nbaker@beaconacademy.org.


Rob Bruckner

Math Teacher and Co-Curricular Manager

Rob is excited to start his first 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 Counselor

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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.


Keely Jones

Director of Operations

Keely Jones is returning to her roots by joining the team at Beacon Academy. Born, raised, and educated in the Boston area, Keely first took her communications degree from UMass Amherst to the Boston PR firm McDermott/O’Neill & Associates. Two years later, she moved out west – to the film industry. For almost 15 years she coordinated international publicity and marketing efforts for entertainment companies, predominantly at Sony Pictures, eventually managing the operations of the President of International Marketing. In recent years, she created and managed the Coach Derek Afterschool Program, providing a premier youth sports education, enrichment and child care program to the communities of the LA Unified School District. She is thrilled to combine her professional skills with her passion for improving lives as the Director of Operations at Beacon – and to do it all back in the old hometown. Keely can be reached at kjones@beaconacademy.org.


Eric Nett

Director of Enrollment, Placement, and Alumni Academics

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 enett@beaconacademy.org.


David Nolan

Communications Associate

Born in Ecuador and raised in Vermont, David graduated from Emory University in 2018 with a major in English & Creative Writing. As an undergraduate he gained experience in marketing, storytelling, and journalism, and he tutored in both the Atlanta Public Schools district and in an afterschool program in Ireland while studying abroad. He recently completed a year as a Language and Culture Assistant at a primary and secondary school in northwest Spain, where he focused on language development, global awareness, and social justice with the students in and out of the classroom. He is excited to work closely with the exceptional students, team, and community at Beacon Academy! David can be reached at dnolan@beaconacademy.org.


Dr. Deborah Offner

Psychologist

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

Development Associate

Myriam Poznar is a recent graduate of Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT. Her degree in Public Relations is already proving useful as she manages Beacon’s social media pages, her favorite being Instagram (follow us! @beaconacademy). During her time at college, she was introduced to the development field through an American Red Cross internship. After college, Myriam volunteered in the development office at Covenant Preparatory School in Hartford, CT, a middle school that opened in 2008 in order to meet the educational needs of underserved families. She is a strong proponent of equal education opportunity and social justice. Myriam can be reached at mpoznar@beaconacademy.org.

 


Melody Rosas-Granda

Program Associate

Melody Rosas-Granda is an advocate for adolescent educational advancement. As the daughter of immigrant parents from Lima, Peru, she is a firm believer in actively earning opportunities that will 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. At Kingswood-Oxford, she served as Senior Prefect, Editor for News, Sports, and Investigative Journalism, and on the Executive Committee for Shield & Dragon Tour Ambassadors. She traveled to Tobati, Paraguay with KO’s Team Tobati during her Spring Breaks, where the team helped build brand new schools, provide medical care, and teach English to the local community. She went on to Providence College, where she represented the school as a Friars’ Club Tour Secretary, an administrator for the Board of Multicultural Student Affairs, and as a Resident Assistant for three years. In 2014, she became a first-generation college graduate from Providence with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a Theatre Arts minor. She has worked at The New England Center for Children in Southborough, MA as a teacher for students with autism, ages 9-15. 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.

Sarah Smith

Dean of Students

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 ssmith@beaconacademy.org.

 


Dr. Gretchen Warland

Science Teacher and Trustee

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 to coaching her first student.  Gretchen has introduced and taught the MEDscience STEM program to the science curriculum at Beacon. Gretchen received her Master’s in Physical Therapy from the MGH Institute of Health Professions in 1998. Gretchen 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.