Meet our team
Jesse (he/him) joined College Possible Texas (formerly College Forward) in November of 2021 after serving as the Director of College Persistence at KIPP Texas Public Schools. In Jesse’s role at KIPP, he led the implementation of the post-secondary success strategic plan at one of the largest KIPP public school charter management organizations in the nation serving 28 schools and 14,500 students.
Jesse comes with extensive experience in college access and college success at both secondary and post-secondary institutions. Prior to working at KIPP, Jesse was the Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs and Leadership Rice at Rice University. Prior to his tenure at Rice, Jesse was the Director of Enrichment Services at Columbia University in the City of New York. In both roles Jesse designed and implemented strategies around college retention, academic progress and success, and professional development for undergraduate students. In his downtime, Jesse enjoys spending time with his family and exploring the culinary scene in every city he visits.
Director of Operations
Colleen possesses 20 years of experience leading nonprofits and businesses focused on education, music, entertainment, and sports. She was previously a Director of Operations for School of Rock’s international after school music franchise, a roller derby founder and the President of the nonprofit Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, and most recently a business consultant for nonprofits and small businesses. Colleen received a BA with Distinction from UW-Madison, and completed post-graduate work with Harvard Business School. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Colleen has lived in Austin since 2008 and enjoys long walks with her dog, live music, and exploring the backroads of Texas.
AmeriCorps Recruitment and Operations Manager
Czar is the AmeriCorps Recruitment and Operations Manager. As a first-generation college student, Czar is passionate about College Possible’s mission. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at St. Edward’s University. Czar previously served two AmeriCorps terms as a College Access Coach and enjoys creative and collaborative projects. In her free time, Czar is an avid reader and competitive pickleball player. Her goals are to return to school for a master’s degree in Social Work and to continue meaningful work in striving for education equity.
Associate Director, Place-Based Services
Magda Espinoza is the Associate Director of Place-Based Services and previously worked as an Access Program Manager and College Success Coach at College Forward. She is from Syracuse, NY and studied Psychology at Binghamton University. After graduating, Magda worked as Project Coordinator of the Pain and Addiction Lab at Syracuse University. After one year, she was compelled by College Forward to move to Austin, Texas in order to follow her passion for higher education as well as to escape New York winters. Outside of work, Magda loves to read, watch comedies, dance, and discuss the wizarding world of Harry Potter.
With more than 25 years working in education and non-profits, Rana Emerson joined the College Possible Texas team in October, 2022 after working at the George Gervin Academy Charter School in San Antonio as the Compliance Officer. At Gervin she ensured that the school followed state and federal education rules, and also presided over the launch of a P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) dual-credit academy.
Before returning to San Antonio in the summer of 2019 she spent 14 years as a resident of Brooklyn, New York where she was the Director of Education and College Pathways overseeing an after school literacy program for young women of color at the Lower Eastside Girls Club. Before that she was a College Now dual-credit program coordinator at the City University of New York.
In her spare time Rana writes and talks about race and representation, media, culture and society, especially television, film and music. Her writing has appeared in journals including Gender & Society, the American Journal of Sociology, the websites xoJane.com, Popmatters.com and in The Book of Jezebel. She also enjoys spending time with her family and being engaged with San Antonio community organizations including Lilith Fund, Magik Theatre and the San Antonio African American Community Archive.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager
Seun (pronunciation: shay-oon) is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Manager at College Possible Texas. She is a 1.5 generation Nigerian- American who was born and raised in Greensboro, NC. She graduated with a B.A. in Sociology and Minor in Education from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Go Heels!). She will obtain her Master’s in Urban Education from UNC- Charlotte in May 2023 (Go Niners!) She believes that all students deserve opportunities that allow them to thrive; which is why she is thankful to be part of an organization, like College Possible, that is advocating for these transformative outcomes for students. In her free time, she loves to cook, watch Gordon Ramsey, spend time with family, and do a good cardio sesh at the gym.
Director of Development
Elizabeth Eguía Robinson brings a lifelong dedication to service through best practices in philanthropy, communications, and community engagement. Robinson received her Bachelor of Arts at Our Lady of the Lake University, and Master of Arts at St. Mary’s University. She has served in various capacities in the role of development, public affairs, and community partnerships within the nonprofit sector with leading agencies such as The University of Texas at San Antonio, Alamo Colleges District’s Palo Alto College, Project QUEST, Inc. and presently College Forward, a part of College Possible.
Elí (pronounced ellie) has dedicated her 20+ years of services to agencies working with the underserved, disenfranchised, and marginalized in society and who help them advance their socio-economic human conditions and enable their economic mobility in life. Elí is a graduate of various distinguished leadership programs including the National Hispana Leadership Institute’s Fellowship Program, 2004, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government’s Executive Leadership Program, 2004, the Center for Creative Leadership’s Leadership Program, 2004, and more recently, the Leadership San Antonio, Class #43 (aka LSA300). Elí presently serves as President of the Association of Fundraising Professionals San Antonio and South Texas Chapter Board. She also serves on the Vestry leadership team of her parish St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.
TXST Program Manager
Archarida is a College Success Program Manager for the Place Based Texas State University Team, a partner of College Possible Texas. As a native Austinite, you’ll probably see Archarida repping the Longhorns often even though she may or may not know anything about sports. Although she may be a Longhorn at heart, Archarida is a graduate of Sam Houston State University where she studied Biomedical Sciences and minored in both Health Science and Chemistry (Go Bearkats!). After finishing her degree, Archarida was so inspired by her CoFo friends and former Access Coach that she decided to move back home to serve herself, where she served two terms at both Elgin High School and LBJ ECHS as a College Access Coach. As a Program Manager, Archarida is very excited to follow many of her former students into the College Success Program while also being able to support a team of amazing coaches so that they feel empowered and able to provide the best services to our students.
While Archarida is not reacting to every CoFo slack message with a Drake or corgi slackmoji, you can find her taking photos with a camera from her “camera collection,” romanticizing her cooked meals like she’s Gordan Ramsey, or watching way too many TikTok videos till she falls asleep.
Richard Tagle is the Chief Executive Officer at the Andy Roddick Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, he served as Senior Program Officer for the United States Conference of Mayors, Chief of Staff at Public Education Network, Chief Executive Officer at Higher Achievement, and Founder and Managing Principal at High Think. Richard is eternally curious about how organizations behave, grow, and can change social structures and relationships, and has been at the forefront of health and education work that benefits children. He believes that, in the most powerful country in the world, the institutions that shape and hone the ideas and potential of the next generation of great Americans should be the best institutions we can build. He received his B.A. in Sociology and M.A. in Applied Sociology and Social Policy from American University in Washington, D.C.
Carol McDonald served as president and principal lobbyist for Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, Inc. (ICUT) from the 68th through 83rd Texas Legislative Sessions. Prior to this, she was a policy analyst and legislative aide for Texas Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby and also worked at the National Institute for Public Administration in Kuala Lumpur and the U.S. Office of Education in Washington, D.C. She received Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and American Studies from Austin College, a Master’s degree in American Civilization from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Master’s of Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School at the University of Texas at Austin.
Todd Penner is Portfolio Director for the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation’s College Preparation & Completion portfolio, which empowers more high-need students to graduate from high school college-ready, enroll in college, and obtain a bachelor’s degree. Prior to joining the Foundation in May 2008, Todd spent 13 years at Dell Inc. in various marketing and support positions, his last being Director of Worldwide e-Support. Before Dell, he worked with Exxon Chemical Company and Deloitte Haskins & Sells. Todd has a B.B.A. in accounting from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Michigan.
Daniel Riegel is a Partner at Richards, Rodriguez & Skeith, an Austin-based law firm dedicated to serving residents, businesses, and nonprofits across Central Texas. Prior to joining RRS, Daniel served as a law clerk to the Honorable Colleen Kollar-Kotelly at the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. Daniel holds a J.D. with Highest Honors from the George Washington University School of Law and a B.A. in Mathematics with High Honors from UT-Austin. Prior to becoming an attorney, Daniel served as an AmeriCorps volunteer at College Forward and as a program manager with the organization.
Nirav Shah is the Chief of Staff at Commissioner Ann Howard. Previously, Nirav was the Director on the Social Investment team at Social Finance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing capital to drive social progress. Nirav develops collaborative partnerships with key, multi-sector stakeholders to deliver financial solutions that funnel investment capital into preventative programs that measurably improve the lives of people in need by driving government resources toward better, more effective programs. Prior to joining Social Finance, Nirav worked in the Office of Management and Budget within the Executive Office of the President. Nirav holds a Masters of Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from Boston University.
Stephanie is currently the Market President at First United Bank. Prior, Stephanie served as the Vice President and Senior Commercial Banker at Bank SNB, a financial institution focused on the growth, expansion, and acquisitions of local businesses in and around Austin, Texas. She graduated from The University of Texas in San Antonio with an emphasis in Law and The Courts. For the last fifteen years she has structured and distributed capital to Healthcare and C&I industries within the Texas and California marketplace. Stephanie is a catalyst for her client’s successes, to-date, she has funded over one hundred million dollars to small and mid-size companies in the Central Texas marketplace. In addition to her work, she is involved with several nonprofit organizations that encourage advocacy, networking and work-force development.
Doreen James Wise
Doreen James Wise, a co-founder of College Forward (now College Possible Texas), also founded Medical Research Consultants, a legal services firm in Houston that she owned until selling the company to her employees in 2011. She has since participated as investor and advisor for several start-up companies, including ChartSwap, Slow Dough Bread Co., and Mowdy Boats. In addition to College Forward, Doreen founded another successful nonprofit, the Texas Center for the Missing, in 2001. She holds a B.S.N. from Vanderbilt University, an M.S.N. from California State University, and an Ed.D. from the University of Houston.