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Meet the committed people behind the movement to remake education and empower the next generation with the skills to invent the future.

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Meet the committed people behind the movement to remake education and empower the next generation with the skills to invent the future.

Leadership Team

Cara Lesser

Founder and Executive Director

Cara Lesser is Founder and Executive Director of KID Museum, the DC region’s pioneering experiential museum and educational makerspace. KID Museum is designed to accelerate and democratize access to transformative maker learning experiences that empower the next generation with the skills to invent the future. Recognized by the Catalogue for Philanthropy as “one of the region’s best nonprofits” and nationally as a leader in maker education, KID Museum has served 300,000 kids, educators, and community members since opening its doors at Davis Library in Bethesda, Maryland in 2014.

Under Cara’s leadership, KID Museum has grown from an idea to become an anchoring regional institution, offering high-impact maker learning through deep, embedded partnerships with schools, weekend and after school programs, camps, and community events. With a focus on K-8 students, their families, and classroom educators, KID Museum builds pathways for sustained student growth and development. Deeply committed to diversity, equity, inclusion and access, the museum consistently prioritizes populations traditionally under-represented in STEM fields.

Prior to founding KID Museum, Cara held a number of leadership positions in the field of health policy and health services research. She received her Masters of Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Bachelors of Arts from Barnard College, Columbia University.

Cara Lesser
Founder & Executive Director

Holly Christensen

Chief Operating Officer

Holly oversees KID Museum’s strategic organizational planning and process development across all staff, programs, and business systems. She previously managed the museum’s financial operations, grants, and CRM systems. Holly brings an extensive background in the education and nonprofit sectors, working at American University and The Carter Center in Atlanta. She holds a master’s degree in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management from American University.

Holly Christensen
Chief Operating Officer

Lisa O'Brien

Chief Advancement Officer

Lisa leads KID Museum's advancement strategy, ensuring our development, marketing, and communications efforts align with the Museum's strategy, vision, and goals. She has spent her career working at the intersection of education, technology, and philanthropy. Entrepreneurial in nature, Lisa thrives in mission-driven organizations that prioritize equity and access to learning for families. Prior to her time at KID Museum, she served as the Executive Director of the Scratch Foundation, where she led efforts to make the Scratch computer programming platform more accessible to young people around the world. Before Scratch, Lisa spent many years focused on new advances in technology in education, primarily with Discovery Education.

Lisa O’Brien
Chief Advancement Officer

Jackie Eyl

Chief Program Officer

As former Director of Youth Education at the International Spy Museum, Jackie brings over 30 years of expertise in developing innovative youth and family programming, exhibitions, interactive and immersive experiences and K-12 curriculum resources. In her new role, she will oversee the design and development of educational programs and advance KID Museum’s partnerships with community-based organizations, researchers/universities, schools and school districts, and national partners.

Jackie Eyl
Chief Program Officer

Monica J. Goodwyn, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Managing Director, People and Culture

Monica leads the efforts to align our people strategy, culture, and human resources functions with our overall organizational strategy, vision, and values. She brings over 25 years of human resources, leadership, and business experience to this role, holding strategic leadership positions at the McGraw-Hill Companies, Aetna US Healthcare, ConvaTec (a Bristol-Myers Squibb Company) and most recently, Bright MLS. Monica holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Fairleigh Dickinson University and has also attained two of the highest certifications in her field, the Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) certification and the SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) designation.

Monica J. Goodwyn, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Managing Director, People and Culture

Nakia Harper

Senior Director, Development

Nakia Harper
Senior Director, Development

Liza Manfred

Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives

Liza supports the strategic direction of the education team and works closely with partner districts, schools, and organizations to develop and implement KID Museum programs. During her time at KID Museum, she has designed and delivered maker learning experiences for a variety of age groups. Prior to joining KID Museum, Liza worked as an educator at the International Spy Museum and the National Building Museum. Liza holds a Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education from George Washington University and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Liza Manfred
Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives

Gabriel Mellan

Senior Director, Exhibits and Experience Design

Gabriel Mellan
Senior Director, Exhibits and Experience Design

Education

Will Ashley

Education Program Manager

Will Ashley
Education Program Manager

Lucia Belivakivi-Clever

Maker Educator

Lucia Belivakivi-Clever
Maker Educator

Hannah Cline

Maker Educator

Hannah is a Maker Educator at KID Museum, where she designs workshops and programs with a focus on engaging students' social-emotional skills. Prior to KID Museum, she was an elementary school teacher and taught in Montgomery County Public Schools for several years. She strives to create supportive learning environments in which students feel comfortable to ask questions, take risks, and try again when things don't work the first time. Hannah holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Hannah Cline
Maker Educator

Gavin Donnelly

Maker Educator

Gavin assists with facilitating school group visits, offsite programs, and weekend activities. He recently completed service with the AmeriCorps City Year program, where he worked as an assistant math teacher. He has experience working with a range of ages in both in-school and out-of-school programs, including mentoring teens with special needs. Gavin's professional experience has reinforced his belief that children need a creative place to try out new ideas and experiment. Gavin holds a bachelor’s degree in History from Washington College.

Gavin Donnelly
Maker Educator

Laurel Harrington

Director of School Engagement

Laurel works with educators, students, and parents, organizing and leading group visits to KID Museum. She has spent her career in the field of education in a variety of roles and with students from preschool age through undergraduate level. After beginning her career in educational research, she became a teacher, working in urban schools. She has also worked with science camps, the education department at a zoo, and in school admissions. Laurel holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a master’s in education from Duquesne University.

Laurel Harrington
Director of School Engagement

Reid Henkel

Education Program Manager

Reid is a Program Manager at KID Museum, where he is involved with developing and facilitating programs. Reid has over 10 years of experience working in youth development often in informal educational spaces. He is passionate about creating a sense of belonging and agency for young people. Prior to joining KID, Reid worked at Beam Center — an educational non-profit based in Brooklyn, NY — where he collaborated with young people, artists, teachers, and schools to create hands-on experiences that put youth at the center of their learning. Reid holds an MA in Psychology from Rice University in Houston and an MFA from Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Reid Henkel
Education Program Manager

Noah Hughes

Program Facilitator

Noah Hughes
Program Facilitator

Sydney Lee

Maker Educator

Sydney facilitates and designs a variety of programs at KID. Sydney is passionate about STEAM education and providing meaningful hands-on experiences to kids and families. In museum and makerspace environments, Sydney enjoys providing dynamic experiences which foster whole-body active learning, creativity, and agency for kids of all ages. Sydney has prior experience in museum education at children’s, science, and art museums, facilitating visual arts and science based educational programs for students and visitors of all ages. She holds a BFA in General Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she focused on interactive and mixed media sculpture, installation art, biofabrication, book arts, and art history.

Sydney Lee
Maker Educator

Kate Loux

Maker Educator

As a Maker Educator with KID Museum, Kate is passionate about helping children develop empathy from a young age through hands-on, shared experiences in which they explore the world around them. Before joining KID Museum, she taught internationally in South Korea and Costa Rica prior to teaching Kindergarten in Arlington, Virginia for several years. She strives to cultivate a positive learning environment where students from diverse backgrounds learn from one another and make meaningful connections. Kate holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.

Kate Loux
Maker Educator

Odalys Lugo-Morales

Senior Manager, Community and Partner Engagement

Odalys is a Puerto Rican cultural agent, educator, and relationship builder. Her work focuses on community belonging through the co-creation of creative, participatory, and culturally responsive programs and experiences that foster intergenerational learning. Her background includes the design, coordination, and facilitation of bilingual programming and cultural events with the Smithsonian and other community-based organizations. Odalys holds a Master of Arts in Cultural Agency and Administration, and a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Fine Arts, both from the Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras. You can ask her about museums, art, food, and opportunities to collaborate!

Odalys Lugo-Morales
Senior Manager, Community and Partner Engagement

Maya Oliver

Education Program Manager

Maya is a Program Manager and Maker Educator at KID Museum, where she is involved in developing new programs, teaching, and coaching other educators. Originally from northeast DC, she strives to bring interdisciplinary experiences in teaching, performing arts, and science into creating programs for students that are creative, innovative, and educational. Prior to KID Museum, she worked as a Physics and Engineering teacher in DCPS and a middle school science teacher at the Inspired Teaching Demonstration school in DC. As a graduate of DCPS, Maya is passionate about providing hands-on STEAM instruction to students in the DMV area. Maya holds a B.S. in Physics from Guilford College in North Carolina.

Maya Oliver
Education Program Manager

Karah Pena

Maker Educator

Maya is a Program Manager and Maker Educator at KID Museum, where she is involved in developing new programs, teaching, and coaching other educators. Originally from northeast DC, she strives to bring interdisciplinary experiences in teaching, performing arts, and science into creating programs for students that are creative, innovative, and educational. Prior to KID Museum, she worked as a Physics and Engineering teacher in DCPS and a middle school science teacher at the Inspired Teaching Demonstration school in DC. As a graduate of DCPS, Maya is passionate about providing hands-on STEAM instruction to students in the DMV area. Maya holds a B.S. in Physics from Guilford College in North Carolina.

Karah Pena
Maker Educator

Kevin Sheehy

Senior Maker Educator

Bio: Coming soon!

Kevin Sheehy
Senior Maker Educator

Barbara Stemler

Senior Education Program Manager

As a Senior Program Manager, Barbara develops new experiences and expands upon existing educational content at KID Museum. She enjoys engaging community partners as co-creators and reducing barriers to participation, especially with respect to people with disabilities. Prior to KID Museum, she led education and accessibility initiatives at National Children's Museum and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Barbara holds a Master of Science in Education from Bank Street College of Education and a certificate in Change Leadership from Cornell University.

Barbara Stemler
Senior Education Program Manager

Dia Stone

Program Manager

Coming soon

Dia Stone
Education Program Manager

Venu A. Toolaram

Program Facilitator

Venu assists the education team by teaching dynamic hands-on educational programs and workshops. She believes in creating an active and safe educational environment that caters to all learners; enabling them to freely express themselves while learning. Venu has completed an Education Internship at the South Street Seaport Museum in New York and has over 3 years teaching and mentoring experiences within formal and informal settings. She joins us with a background in natural sciences, social sciences and the arts. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology with minors in Psychology, and Theater and Dance and is currently completing her Masters of Science in Education at the University of Glasgow.

Venu A. Toolaram
Program Facilitator

Becky Zeisel

Professional Development Manager

Becky works directly with our schools and teachers as well as serving as a Maker Educator, designing and facilitating workshops and programs. Becky began her career at Herbert H. Lehman High School as a science teacher and later served as the Associate Director of Science at Achievement First, where she built the science curriculum across four high schools and six subject areas. Before coming to KID Museum, she worked as the Manager of Professional Development at the Center for Inspired Teaching. Becky holds an M.S. Ed. in Science Education from CUNY Lehman College, as well as a B.A. in Animal Science and Zoology.

Becky Zeisel
Senior Education Program Manager

Development and Operations

Lydia Evans

Visitor Services Associate

Lydia Evans
Visitor Services Associate

Allie Mulrow

Senior Manager, Visitor Services

Allie Mulrow
Senior Manager, Visitor Services

Megan Shpak

Operations Manager

Megan supports the day to day operations of the museum including the front office, facilities, and visitor services. She additionally supports HR with onboarding new staff and is a liaison amongst all museum departments. Megan previously worked on a broad spectrum of development initiatives, organizing and streamlining the grant processes for KID Museum, and supported external partnership engagements. She moved to the DMV area after having worked previously at Hallockville Museum Farm in New York, as their Assistant Director. Megan holds a Masters of Arts in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and received a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology from Stony Brook University.

Megan Shpak
Operations Manager

Joshua Smalls

Visitor Services Associate

Joshua Smalls
Visitor Services Associate

Kendra Woodfolk

Teen Volunteer Coordinator

Kendra oversees our community outreach efforts, as well as volunteer recruitment and management. She is dedicated to serving the community, and ensuring that people of all backgrounds have access to resources that will help them achieve their goals. She has served as a mentor to high school and college youth, and has experience in both curriculum development and lesson facilitation. Kendra holds a bachelors in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a master’s in Performance Studies from New York University.

Kendra Woodfolk
Teen Volunteer Coordinator

Marketing and Communications

Jake Neuman

Senior Manager, Marketing

Jake leads our marketing efforts, providing expertise in email, social media, content creation, and more. His previous work includes marketing and media support for a large health system and an enterprise software company. He holds a bachelor's degree in Communications from Olivet Nazarene University and is currently pursuing a master's degree in communications. When not working, Jake enjoys playing video games, baking, building with LEGO, and exploring the DC area.

Jake Neuman
Senior Manager, Marketing

Emma Sussman Starr

Senior Communications Advisor, Editorial and Storytelling

Having been with KID since early 2013, Emma is responsible for our communications efforts, including messaging, publications, website content, and more. She's worked in publishing and writing for over twenty years, and past positions include Senior Editor at ELLE.com, Communications Director at Planned Parenthood of New York City, and Chief Writer, also at Planned Parenthood of NYC. Emma is also the written voice of Larry the Labrador, a letter-writing, globe-trotting canine. She holds a master's degree in English and creative writing from the University of Texas-Austin and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Emma Sussman Starr
Senior Communications Advisor, Editorial and Storytelling

Board of Directors

Sam Alemayehu

Cambridge Industries Energy

Samuel Z. Alemayehu is the Chair of the Board of Directors of Cambridge Industries Energy, a leading developer of sustainable city parks that incorporate waste management, renewable energy, insect farming, food production, water recycling, metal recycling, and light manufacturing within a circular economy.

Prior to joining Cambridge, Sam was the founder of 4AFRI Media; a venture backed mobile software start up focused on the African Continent. 4AFRI was funded as the Africa version of 4INFO (www.4info.com) the leading SMS services provider in the US. 4AFRI had offices in both Ethiopia and Cameroon developing mobile-based solutions in entertainment, lottery, health, jobs and many other sectors. 4AFRI had reached over 5million customers in less than a year and produced over 100 applications. Sam also lead the creation of 4AFRI’s subsidiary, Lotophone S.A. in West and Central Africa based on exclusive license to run lottery services on the mobile phone

Samuel started his professional career in Silicon Valley as a serial entrepreneur as founder of three successful tech ventures before his 23rd birthday. Sam began creating companies while enrolled as an undergraduate at Stanford University. He was an Associate at Venrock Associates (Rockefeller Family Venture Firm) investing in consumer media and mobile applications. 4AFRI was initially incubated at Venrock but was funded independently by a consortium of investors including SpringHill Equity and leading angel investor Josh Mailman. Sam has worked in various countries in Africa including Cameroon, Gabon, Senegal, Mali, Algeria, DRC, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan and South Africa.

Sam Alemayehu
Cambridge Industries Energy

Robby Brewer

Lerch, Early & Brewer

Robby Brewer is a real estate attorney at Lerch, Early & Brewer Chtd. He represents regional developers, institutional owners, and retailers through the critical phases of expanding, developing, buying, and selling real property in the DC region. Robby has been an active leader in many of the area’s civic, community and cultural organizations, including Strathmore Hall Foundation, Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, Imagination Stage, BCC High School Educational Foundation, and the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce.

Board of Directors, Vice Chair
Executive Committee
Permanent Home Committee, Chair
Finance Committee
Governance Committee

Robby Brewer
Lerch, Early & Brewer

Chris Carpenito

Cooper Construction

Christopher Carpenito is the Chief Executive Officer at Cooper Construction, a Frederick, MD based construction and facilities management organization working primarily with clients in the federal market. Previously he served in senior-level executive positions for HESS Construction & Engineering Services, a builder of education spaces throughout the Mid-Atlantic, and more recently, HESS Foundation, where he advanced access to education through partnerships with Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College, and UMD Shady Grove. He previously served as a board member for Junior Achievement Greater Washington, and as a guest speaker for Identity, a Gaithersburg, MD based support and skill development group for Hispanic immigrant populations.

Board of Directors, Treasurer
Executive Committee
Finance Committee, Chair
Permanent Home Committee

Chris Carpenito
Cooper Construction

Jill Chessen

Ron Sitrin Team at Long and Foster

Jill Chessen is co-founder and serves as Secretary of the Board at KID Museum. Jill is a residential real estate agent with the Ron Sitrin Team at Long and Foster. Their team is consistently ranked in the top 1% of Realtors nationwide. Jill also has over two decades of legal expertise in the field of affordable housing and community development. Jill also serves as a Board Member of the Northwestern University DC Regional Alumni Board. She spends much of her time volunteering for political campaigns, We Are Family in DC and JStreet. Jill aspires to focus more on world issues and to inspire children to focus on the less fortunate and to learn about the world they are inheriting.

Co-Founder, KID Museum
Board of Directors, Secretary
Development Committee, Co-Chair
Governance Committee
Strategic Communications Committee

Jill Chessen
Long and Foster

David Goldberg

Goldner LLC

David Goldberg is a Founding KID Museum Board member. His work has been dedicated to start-up businesses and working for large, public companies virtually all in the area of ecommerce, digital marketing, and new media, with a heavy emphasis on live events and entertainment.

Board of Directors, Chair
Finance Committee
Governance Committee
Strategy Committee
Strategic Communications Committee

David Goldberg
Goldner LLC

Susan Hendrickson

Arnold & Porter

Sue Hendrickson is Executive Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and a Lecturer at Harvard Law School. A techno-optimist and change-maker, her work focuses on digital media, emerging technology, innovation and the implications for democracy, human rights, and societal well-being. Her experience tackling complex legal, commercial, and public policy issues in emerging tech spans three decades and encompasses a wide array of technologies, including social media, digital education, AI, communications technologies, autonomous systems, biotech, fintech, Web 3.0, and AR/VR/XR technologies. Prior to Berkman Klein, Sue was a partner at Arnold & Porter, where she co-headed the Technology and Life Sciences Transactions practices. She is also a long-standing advocate for diversity in science and technology fields.

Susan Hendrickson
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Dr. Shanika Hope

Director, Computer Science Education

As part of the Google Brain Team, Shanika leads a portfolio of equity focused programs, research projects and initiatives to grow equitable access to computing to all end users. As an experienced and recognized thought leader in the fields of educational technology (which is any technology that supports teaching and learning), curriculum and programming tools for computing education, she will bring deep subject matter expertise, industry and/or academic knowledge and strong leadership capabilities to bear, in creating innovative strategies, next-generation, sustainable software solutions and tools to build tomorrow’s technologists, entrepreneurs, and inventors.

Dr. Shanika Hope
Google

Corinna Lathan, Ph.D.

AnthroTronix

Corinna Lathan, Ph.D., is Board Chair and CEO of AnthroTronix, an award-winning engineering research and development company that produces human-centered technology. Her diverse background includes extensive research, teaching, and consulting in the areas of human performance engineering, medical device design, and assistive technology. She is actively involved in STEM educational outreach programs that empower women and minorities in science and technology.

Corporate Leadership Council
Governance Committee
Strategy Committee
Development Committee
Strategic Communications Committee

Corinna Lathan
AnthroTronix

Michael Lin, Ph.D.

Formerly National Institutes of Health

Michael Lin, Ph.D., was a biomedical scientist at the National Institutes of Health for 35 years, and recently retired as a Program Director with the responsibilities of nurturing cutting-edge research in cardiovascular field. He has also served actively in several non-profit organizations nationally and locally, including the Organization of Chinese Americans, and co-founded the Asian American Political Alliance.

Michael Lin, Ph.D.
Formerly National Institutes of Health

Cara Lesser

KID Museum

Cara Lesser is Founder and Executive Director of KID Museum, the DC region’s pioneering experiential museum and educational makerspace. KID Museum is designed to accelerate and democratize access to transformative maker learning experiences that empower the next generation with the skills to invent the future. Recognized by the Catalogue for Philanthropy as “one of the region’s best nonprofits” and nationally as a leader in maker education, KID Museum has served 300,000 kids, educators, and community members since opening its doors at Davis Library in Bethesda, Maryland in 2014.

Under Cara’s leadership, KID Museum has grown from an idea to become an anchoring regional institution, offering high-impact maker learning through deep, embedded partnerships with schools, weekend and after school programs, camps, and community events. With a focus on K-8 students, their families, and classroom educators, KID Museum builds pathways for sustained student growth and development. Deeply committed to diversity, equity, inclusion and access, the museum consistently prioritizes populations traditionally under-represented in STEM fields.

Prior to founding KID Museum, Cara held a number of leadership positions in the field of health policy and health services research. She received her Masters of Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Bachelors of Arts from Barnard College, Columbia University.

Founder and Executive Director, KID Museum

Cara Lesser
KID Museum

Alexandre H. Rene

Ropes & Gray LLP

Alexandre H. Rene is co-chair of the global Litigation and Enforcement practice group at Ropes & Gray LLP. Alex has extensive experience representing corporate entities and their executives in connection with litigation and investigations arising out of white collar criminal prosecutions, grand jury investigations, criminal antitrust investigations, and corporate compliance matters. Prior to entering private practice, Alex was an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and a Trial Attorney in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Criminal Division, Fraud Section. Alex is a native Washingtonian.

Development Committee
Corporate Leadership Council

Alexandre H. Rene
Ropes & Gray LLP

Brian Taff

Streetsense

Brian Taff is the Chief Executive Officer of Streetsense, an integrated real-estate, marketing and placemaking firm located in Bethesda, MD. Previously he served in senior-level executive positions for a variety of organizations and companies, including a domain monetization platform for advertisers, a cutting-edge retail systems internet technology, a restaurant chain, and has been an adviser to numerous online business ventures and venture firms.

Strategy Committee
Finance Committee
Governance Committee
Permanent Home Committee
Strategic Communications Committee

Brian Taff
Streetsense

J. Antonio Tijerino

Hispanic Heritage Foundation

Antonio Tijerino is President and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF), which inspires Latino leaders in the classroom, community and workforce to meet America’s priorities. His innovative, sustainable model for Latino leadership LOFT (Latinos on Fast Track) has been recognized by the White House, Congress, Silicon Valley and Fortune 500 companies for its far reaching impact. He also executive produces the Hispanic Heritage Awards, and serves on several local boards. He has been featured in HBO’s Habla series and the TED talk series, and written articles, blogs, and a white paper about his work with youth.

Strategic Communications Committee, Chair
Development Committee

J. Antonio Tijerino
Hispanic Heritage Foundation

Special thanks to our advisors and corporate supporters:

Strategic Planning Advisors
Shirley Brandman
Bob Buchanan
Alyse Graham
Erik Heyer
Shanika Hope
Scott Joftus
Dorothy Jones-Davis
Lee Manfred
Rudy Ruiz
Alejandro Yepes

Corporate Leadership Council
Sam Alemayehu, Cambridge Industries Energy
Angela Franco, DC Chamber of Commerce
Susan Hendrickson, Arnold & Porter
Shanika Hope, Google
Corinna Lathan, AnthroTronix
Glenn Leon, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Alexandre H. Rene, Ropes & Gray
Christi Swanson, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield

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