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. (Click on the location to expand the names.)
+ National Staff
Alyssa Jung, Development and Communications Coordinator
Alyssa Jung joined BEAM in August 2018 as Development and Communications Coordinator. She recently obtained a master's in Mathematics from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, where she was involved in several diversity and education initiatives. Before that she got her bachelor's degree in math from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, just a handful of miles down the coast from where she was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawaii. Alyssa is passionate about math and communication, and is excited to learn and share the stories of BEAM.
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.
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 Discovery Uptown.
Melissa Gillis, Communications and Development Manager
Melissa Gillis has worked as a writer, editor, teacher, and activist. Prior to working for BEAM, she consulted with various United Nations programs and nongovernmental organizations, including UNICEF and the U.N. Office for Disarmament Affairs. She has taught literature, expository writing, and gender studies at John Jay College and SUNY-Rockland. She holds an MA in interdisciplinary studies from New York University and a BA in English from DePauw University, where she graduated summa cum laude. Melissa has published books on women's and gender studies, and disarmament policy, as well as numerous articles. She is passionate about issues related to social justice and the intersections of gender, race, class, and sexuality.
Ramya Ramaswamy, Founding Programs Manager
Since beginning her teaching career in 2013, Ramya Ramaswamy has explored her passion for education both inside and outside of the classroom. Originally from North Carolina, Ramya taught elementary school for six years in Washington D.C., where she also worked to recruit and select great teachers for DC Public Schools. In addition, Ramya pursued her passion for diversity, equity and inclusion: she interned with oneTILT, a leadership development organization focused on race equity, and volunteered with the DC Childcare Collective, an organization that provides childcare to social justice activists in the DC community. Ramya is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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.
+ BEAM Los Angeles Staff
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.
Jacob Castaneda, Executive Director, LA Programs
Prior to joining BEAM, Jacob Castaneda 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.
+ 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.
Barbara Ely, Middle School Program Coordinator
Since graduating from Vassar with a BA in mathematics and drama, Barbara Ely has professionally explored math education from multiple perspectives. She helped found the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) in 2012 as Mathematical Communications Coordinator. At MoMath, Barbara managed the museum’s social media presence, supported exhibit content development, administered the Rosenthal Prize for Innovation in Math Teaching, and interacted with members of the public. Her work as Communications Coordinator inspired her to enter the classroom in 2014 as MfA (formerly Math for America) Fellow. Barbara earned an MA with honors in Secondary Mathematics Education from the City College of New York, and was a founding math teacher at a public middle school in Long Island City, Queens. At BEAM, Barbara teaches algebra and manages BEAM’s math team outreach initiative, New York City programs admissions, and BEAM 6 alumni outreach.
Elyse Mitchell, Middle School Program Assistant
Elyse Mitchell was born in Harlem but moved to the D.C. 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 weekend programs and the services provided to 8th grade students.
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.
Quentin Alleyne, Program Assistant
Quentin Alleyne was born and raised in Brooklyn. Quentin is a recent graduate of Ithaca College, where he received a BS in Sports Media. Quentin is a BEAM alum from 2012, and began working as a junior counselor at BEAM in 2016. Since then, Quentin has worked with BEAM for 4 summers, joining the team full time in 2019. At BEAM, Quentin helps coordinate math teams at our partner schools, and follows up with 7th grade BEAM students regarding new math opportunities. During his free time, Quentin loves playing video games, as well as discussing NBA basketball.
Ruthi Hortsch, Senior Program Manager
Ruthi Hortsch has a long history of helping youth develop and nourish their love of mathematics, working 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 manages part of the programs team, in addition to coordinating hiring of summer staff and 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 number theory.
Sarah Hunt, Program Coordinator
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.
Sylvia Ortega, High School Programs Coordinator
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.
Andy Reyes, Office Assistant
Andy Reyes was born and raised in the Bronx. Andy is a recent graduate of The Bronx High School of Science and he now attends Baruch College as a finance major. He attended BEAM back in 2013. Fast forward 3 years and Andy started working for BEAM as a junior counselor in 2016 because he loved the values that BEAM stands for and felt very passionate about education. Recently, he worked as a math team coach at 3 middle schools across New York City helping middle school students prepare for math competitions like MATHCOUNTS. Andy feels that all students should be able to participate in math team just as he did when he was in middle school. When Andy’s not in school he’s a big video game nerd and really enjoys playing League of Legends. His hobbies include playing handball, cooking and trying new restaurants.
Crisleidy Tejada, Office Assistant
Originally from the Dominican Republic, Crisleidy Tejada is a recent graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School, and currently taking a gap year. She hopes to make her mark on the world through education and helping underserved communities thrive. Crisleidy joined the BEAM community in 2013 and discovered a newfound love of math. For the first time, math was actually interesting and something she looked forward to. Five years later, she joined the BEAM staff as a junior counselor. Crisleidy loved working with the kids, as she was able to give them what was once given to her at BEAM. Crisleidy is the proud cat mother of Grayson, who she loves to take out on rides in his stroller. She loves makeup and hopes to one day become a makeup artist. She also enjoys solving Sudoku puzzles in her free time.