BEAM is a program of the Art of Problem Solving Initiative (AoPSI). Read more about the AoPSI staff and its board of directors here.
In addition to 160 summer staff, BEAM employs the following year-round staff.
+ National Staff
Laura Glass-Johnston, Program Assistant
Originally from New York, Laura Glass-Johnston attended Pitzer College, a member of the Claremont Colleges, where she received a BA in Linguistics. During her time at Pitzer, she participated in Circle K (an organization affiliated with Kiwanis), Tutors for a Cause, and worked at Pomona College’s ITS department. Laura lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for a time before participating in CIEE’s Teach Abroad program, spending a year as an English Teaching Assistant in a public elementary school just outside of Madrid, Spain. During the year, Laura manages BEAM's volunteer program and provides administrative support to the NY, LA, and National offices. This summer, she also served as Deputy Site Director at BEAM 6 Uptown.
Rick Iandoli, Director of Finance and Administration
Rick Iandoli joined BEAM in 2018 as the Director of Finance and Administration. Rick is a lifelong New Yorker who earned his undergraduate degree in Accounting at New York University. Most recently, Rick was the Chief Financial Officer at Great Oaks Foundation where he oversaw the finances for the central office and three charter schools. Prior to that, Rick was a department chair and classroom teacher at a Long Island high school for seven years where he taught students in grades 9-12. Rick is excited to be a part of the BEAM team and is looking forward to meeting and working with many of the amazing students we serve. Rick is a Certified Public Accountant and holds an MS in Theology.
Alyssa Jung, Development and Communications Coordinator
Daniel Zaharopol, BEAM Founder and AOPSI Executive Director
Dan Zaharopol started BEAM to help students from all backgrounds find joy in math and achieve at a high level. Under Dan's leadership, BEAM has expanded to serve hundreds of students in both NYC and LA over the summer and during the year, with programming that starts in 6th grade and runs through college. In addition to his work at BEAM, Dan is on the boards of the Mathematics Foundation of America and the New York Math Circle. An award-winning teacher with experience teaching at MIT, the University of Illinois, the Boston Math Circle, and Canada/USA Mathcamp, Dan is himself a product of numerous enrichment math programs. He received an undergraduate degree in math from MIT and master's degrees in both mathematics and teaching mathematics from the University of Illinois.
+ BEAM Los Angeles Staff
Jacob Castaneda, Executive Director, LA Programs
Prior to joining BEAM, Jacob spent five years teaching math in under-served high schools in LA. Jacob is an LA native and is passionate about transforming the mathematics trajectory of students from historically marginalized backgrounds. At BEAM, Jacob leads the expansion of our programs to Los Angeles in all capacities, including hiring new staff and directing the inaugural LA summer program. Jacob has a BS in Mathematics and an MA in Education with an emphasis on urban education, both from UCLA.
Don Laackman, Program Coordinator
Don Laackman joined BEAM after finishing his PhD in Mathematics at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he worked in the area of theoretical algebra. Don has been teaching and organizing extracurricular math programs for over ten years, including at UCLA, Canada/USA Mathcamp, the Los Angeles Math Circle, and the Chicago Young Scholars Program. He has a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Mathematics from the University of Chicago. At BEAM, Don works on hiring, teaching, and curriculum development, and is supporting the expansion of programs to Los Angeles, including site directing the residential program.
+ BEAM New York City Staff
Ayinde Alleyne, College Support Coordinator
Ayinde Alleyne is a New York City native and lover of problem solving. As a child of immigrant parents, Ayinde believes he owes much of his success to the people who guided him through the education systems in this country and is proud to pay this forward in his role at BEAM these last three years. Ayinde uses his undergraduate experience to guide BEAM alumni through the college application process and support college students in developing their own sense of independence and succeed in their endeavors. His goal is to make sure students know how to take advantage of the resources available to them better than he did. Ayinde is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his BS in Mechanical Engineering.
Lynn Cartwright-Punnett, Senior Director of Programs
Lynn Cartwright-Punnett has spent more than a decade navigating educational opportunities with students and families across New York City. After teaching three years of middle school math at a bilingual, new immigrant school in Washington Heights, she transitioned into non-profit education administration at museums around New York City. Lynn has been at BEAM since 2013, where her notable accomplishments include creating and refining BEAM's high school admissions coaching process and codifying BEAM's communication with external stakeholders (including creating and managing BEAM's annual report, quarterly newsletter, and social media). In her current role, Lynn is responsible for ensuring successful operations of program admissions, summer setup and follow through, middle school support, high school admissions, high school support, college admissions, and college support. Lynn has a BA with high honors in history and Spanish from Wesleyan University and an MS in Teaching from Pace University with a focus in teaching middle school math to English Language Learners.
Barbara Ely, Middle School Program Coordinator
Ruthi Hortsch, Program Manager
Ruthi Hortsch has a long history of helping youth develop and nourish their love of mathematics, having worked at math camps each summer since 2008. She traces her enthusiasm for teaching to her first job TAing Hebrew school when she was 14, and has since taught in many forms, including at MIT, Canada/USA Mathcamp, and Michigan Math and Science Scholars. At BEAM, Ruthi coordinates hiring and training of summer staff and supports curriculum development, as well as serving as a site director during the summer. She received her BS in Mathematics and Interdisciplinary Physics and MS in Mathematics from the University of Michigan. Before joining BEAM, Ruthi Hortsch finished her PhD in Mathematics from MIT, where she wrote her dissertation in advanced number theory.
Sarah Hunt, High School Program Assistant
Sarah Hunt joined BEAM after completing her PhD in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. She has a BS in Chemical Engineering from Caltech, where she volunteered tutoring local high school students. During graduate school she coordinated and managed a STEM outreach to local public schools, continued tutoring, and spent the last year before BEAM teaching university sophomores in chemical engineering. At BEAM, Sarah supports and teaches our high school students and coordinates Saturday programming, including BEAM Next.
Elyse Mitchell, Middle School Program Assistant
Elyse Mitchell was born in Harlem but moved to the DC Metro area during her earlier years. She graduated from the Pennsylvania State University where she majored in Community, Environment, and International Development with a specialization in Civic Engagement. During her time in college she was Site Director with the Penn State Alternative Breaks Program, Planning Intern for the Fairfax County Zoning Department and a Research Assistant for MERAssociaties, LLC. In her free-time she loves to read and has a passion for music as a guitarist of 16 years. At BEAM, Elyse coordinates the services provided to 8th grade students.
Sylvia Ortega was born and raised in the Bronx. She attended public high school in East Harlem and attended the University at Albany, where she attained a BA in Sociology and Criminal Justice and a Master of Social Work. Sylvia has worked with children and families for all of her professional life. She has serviced vulnerable and underserved populations in other nonprofit organizations working with individuals in foster care, prison and detention systems and in public schools. Sylvia has a passion for narrowing the achievement gap found between economically disadvantaged urban children and those with more resources. Sylvia worked with BEAM for three summers as site guidance counselor, and then joined the team full-time in 2016! At BEAM, Sylvia works closely with our students and families, specifically 8th graders during high school admissions and 12th graders during college admissions. Most recently, Sylvia has started a new holistic socio-emotional support system for our alumni and their families.
Edson Leyva, Office Assistant
Originally from Atlanta, Edson Leyva is a recent graduate from The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology. Edson will be attending the University of Southern California to major in film/television production. He hopes to one day become a part of the production for a successful film in Hollywood — not only to share stories, but to bring light to social issues that are often overlooked in the media! Edson joined the BEAM community back in 2013 and loved learning about each person’s story of how they came to be who they are, or how they even came to BEAM! Three years later, he joined the BEAM staff as a junior counselor. Along with teaching kids the fundamentals of mathematics and complex concepts, he also made them enjoy learning about cinema and the arts. In his free time, Edson writes his own scripts, produces his own short skits, and plays soccer. He is a total wild card!