William is President & CEO of SEO, which has a mission of creating a more equitable society. SEO is widely known for developing and delivering programs that close the opportunity gap for young people who are underrepresented at top colleges and in coveted industries.
Each year, SEO serves 5,000+ high school students, college students, and young professionals nationwide, through a variety of high-impact programs. SEO’s success during William’s tenure has led to a 900% growth in young people served each year, along with SEO’s annual revenues increasing by over $35 million.
William also guided The Campaign for SEO, which fully funded the purchase of a new headquarters.
From 1996 through 2001, William was Executive Director of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, which supports NYC Catholic schools serving children from low-income families. William led dramatic increases in student scholarships, school capital repairs, and funding for schools, with more than $100 million raised in annual and endowment funds.
William began his career in advertising and sales management, including roles with Procter & Gamble and Corning Inc.
William is a trustee of the Altman Foundation and Partnership Schools. He serves on advisory boards for Columbia University and the Federal Reserve Bank of NY. William has received several recognition awards and has been appointed by NYC Mayors to a citywide commission and an education task force.
William is former board President of the NYC Association of Fundraising Professionals and is an active member of Black Agency Executives.
William received his MBA from Columbia Business School and B.S. from American University.
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
As Executive Vice President, Julian Johnson oversees all program activities for SEO Scholars, SEO Career, SEO Law, and SEO Alternative Investments, in addition to SEO’s alumni programming. Julian joined SEO in 2002, bringing over twenty years of experience in development and executive leadership to the organization.
Shortly after joining SEO, Julian led the restructuring of all intern recruitment and training activities for SEO Career, resulting in a 40% increase in the rate of full-time job offers made to summer interns. In the early 2000’s, Julian also led the development of a corporate leadership internship track which provided opportunities for underrepresented students to intern at Fortune companies. He restructured the law internship track and the development of an intensive Law Institute to enhance the academic performance of SEO Law Fellows in their first year of law school.
In 2006, Julian assumed oversight of SEO Scholars and led the organization’s effort to re-think how out-of-school time could be used more effectively to close the academic achievement gap for low-income students. This led to the creation of the current SEO Scholars model, which uses the equivalent of a sixth day of school per week to help low-income public high school students gain the needed academic skills for college readiness and success. The new model also provides comprehensive support for Scholars throughout college, until graduation. Since then, SEO Scholars has tripled the number of students served to more than 1,000 in the 2014-15 academic year. The program has also been replicated in San Francisco.
In 2009, Julian oversaw the development of SEO Alternative Investments (AI), which includes a fellowship program and an annual SEO Alternative Investments Conference (AICON).
Previously, Julian was Director of Development and Corporate Partnerships at the Institute of International Education (IIE) where he helped to develop the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund. He has also held senior development and executive positions at Teach for America, Associated Black Charities of New York, A Better Chance and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. He holds Master’s Degrees in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University and in Non-Profit Management from the New School. Julian presently serves on the board of trustees of the Institute of International Education and on several scholarship and fellowship review committees.
Senior Vice President
Executive Vice President
Andrew Fairbairn is the Senior Vice President of SEO, overseeing SEO’s five professional programs: Career, Tech Developer, Alternative Investments, Law, and Leadership Institute.
Andrew has been involved with SEO for almost three decades, beginning in 1995 as an SEO Career intern for Lehman Brothers, which launched his career in finance, consulting, and executive leadership. In 2000, Andrew co-founded SEO London while on assignment with Deutsche Bank, and after many years on the board of directors, he became the CEO in 2016. Under his tenure at SEO, Andrew oversaw the growth of all SEO London programming. Andrew knows firsthand the power and impact of SEO and believes that SEO is a “powerful vector for hope in our society.”
Andrew’s upbringing has been influential throughout his life and has solidified his focus on racial equity and social justice. Although he was born in Massachusetts, Andrew spent his first 10 years in Jamaica, West Indies, in his mother’s hometown. He moved back to the Boston area for middle school and high school. Being mixed race, Andrew is simultaneously an insider and an outsider in many of the conversations on race and differences in our society. Throughout his formative experiences, he saw how systemic factors can be limiting for so many individuals and communities, which solidified his commitment to ensuring opportunity is available to all.
Andrew brings an entrepreneurial and cross-industry perspective to his role and is passionate about seeing young people succeed.
Vice President - People & Culture
Vice President - Information Technology
Vice President – Information Technology
Rene has over 20 years of experience transforming global networks, service delivery, and technology strategy for corporate, legal, media, and non-profit organizations with an eye on business solutions for the mission. She most recently worked for Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the ACLU, where she spent the last six years managing a large IT organization and driving technology vision. Rene previously worked over a decade for international Am Law 100 law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP.
Rene grew up around technology in Silicon Valley and learned from a young age that educational opportunities are not equal. She stays focused on mentoring, confidence building, and equity in and out of the workplace, while establishing partnerships with non-profit vendors doing good through technology and education.
She has a B.A. from San Jose State University in Visual Arts and an Executive Master of Science in Technology Management from Columbia University.
Vice President - Finance
Vice President – Finance
Vijay is an accomplished and versatile leader with experience driving success through the strategic management and support of complex financial operations.
Vijay has worked in non-profit, retail, healthcare, food & beverage, and publishing. He most recently worked for a large healthcare organization where he managed the end-to-end budgeting and forecasting cycle and implemented finance technology tools.
Emigrating to the United States as a teenager, Vijay soon realized that even with talent, access to opportunity is not equal for all. He strives to create a level playing field for others by leveraging his professional position. Vijay is looking forward to bringing his finance and strategic leadership experience to SEO and continuing his pursuit of equitable opportunities for all.
Vijay graduated from Northeastern University with a BS/BA in Finance & Insurance and International Business. He moved from Boston to the New York/New Jersey area 8 years ago and lives in Union City, NJ with his wife Tetiana and daughter Sophia.
Director - Marketing and Communications
Director – Marketing and Communications
Carolyn leads the marketing and communication team at SEO by creating alignment between mission, messaging, brand identity, marketing strategy, and communications tactics. She works cross-functionally with program team leaders and administration to guide meaningful engagements with SEO’s community including participants, funders, employees, and alumni as well as the public. She leads her team to implement marketing plans, provide creative guidance on campaigns, and set performance benchmarks and goals.
Carolyn has dedicated her career to advancing the work of nonprofit organizations who serve to create a more equitable society. Prior to joining SEO, she served in leadership roles for the United Methodists of Greater New Jersey, A Future With Hope Inc, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and New York University. As a consultant, she worked on campaigns for Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee, Amnesty International, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Her work has been recognized by the Religious Communicators Council and United Methodist Association of Communicators. In 2017 she was named the UM Communicator of the Year for her work with A Future With Hope and in 2020, she was recognized with the Epikoinonía Award for excellence in communications from UM Communications.
Director - Executive Office & Board Relations
Director – Executive Office & Board Relations
Thaína González is currently Director of Executive Offices & Board Relations at SEO, an organization that provides superior educational and career programs to young people from underserved and underrepresented communities to maximize their opportunities for college and career success. She has not only worked at SEO for 20+ years, but she’s also an alumna of the organization.
Thaína currently serves on the Board of Directors of the SUNY Oswego Alumni Association. She is also a member of the Sheldon Legacy Society –a donor society that recognizes SUNY Oswego’s closet friends who have arranged for a gift to the college through their will or other estate plans. She’s a co-founder of Return to Oz, Oswego’s Alumni of Color reunion which happens every five years since its foundation in 1997. Thaina is also one of five founding sisters of the Zeta Chapter at Oswego of Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Señoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority, Inc.
Thaína has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Literature, which she obtained from Oswego
Director - Executive Initiatives/Projects
Director – Executive Initiatives/Projects
Colin Shay currently serves as Director of Executive Initiatives/Projects, a role in which he advises SEO’s senior leadership in identifying and prioritizing initiatives to strategically address organization-wide opportunities and challenges. His work includes the planning, management, and coordination of high-impact cross-functional projects, and he also oversees SEO’s marketing and communications function. Colin serves as a key adviser, researcher, and thought partner to SEO’s President & CEO, as well as to the entire Executive Leadership Team.
Colin joined SEO in 2010 as Program Manager for the High School Scholars program in New York, a position in which he advised the cohort of 125 10th grade Scholars and taught math classes for Saturday and Summer Academy. As the program grew in the subsequent years, Colin assumed progressive responsibility for multiple areas of the SEO Scholars (including academic program management, operations, data, and recruitment), ultimately serving as Program Director before stepping into his current role in 2018.
Prior to joining SEO, Colin taught 8th grade science at M.S. 118 in the Bronx (initially as a Teach For America corps member). He also spent several years coaching and mentoring first-year teachers as a TFA Content Specialist. Colin holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, an MST in Adolescent Education from Pace University, and an MBA from the Stern School of Business at New York University.
Director - Development
Director – Development
Alison Soler has spent her career fundraising and advocating for social justice for economically disadvantaged youth and families, programs for at-risk youth, and specialized educational programs. She believes the key to a successful development program is to build honest and trusting relationships with both individual supporters and institutional funders to create long-term partnerships.
She joined SEO in 2020 as Director of Individual Philanthropy and currently serves as SEO’s Director of Development overseeing all aspects of fundraising. Prior to SEO she led development for 11 years at Domus Kids in Stamford, CT a multiservice organization serving at-risk youth through a dozen school, after-school, and juvenile justice programs, she headed up and completed a $25M capital campaign for building and endowment for scholarship at Convent of the Sacred Heart School in Greenwich, CT, and before that for 15 years she grew and led the development team for most of those years including through two successful capital campaigns at the King School in Stamford, CT, an independent school with a focus at the time on serving children with learning differences.
Alison has served on the Friends of the Cos Cob Library Board and The Children’s Center of Cos Cob Board. She was elected to the Town of Greenwich, CT Representative Town Meeting (RTM/Town Council) in District 8 in 2017, 2019, and 2021, and currently serves as the Chair of the Health & Human Services Committee for the RTM, which oversees six town department budgets. Alison received a B.A. in the History of Art from The University of Michigan.
Vice President - SEO Scholars, College
Vice President – SEO Scholars, College
Catherine Finneran joined SEO in 2019. She is responsible for managing the college support, retention, and success components of SEO Scholars, including all college programming and advising. With a 25-person team of College Persistence professionals, the SEO Scholars, College team works with 1038 students attending more than 195 colleges around the nation and achieves a 90% college completion rate.
Prior to joining SEO, she most recently served as the Program Manager of UBS NextGen Leaders, UBS’s multi-year, $10 million initiative focused on expanding college and career success for students who are the first in their families to go to college. The cornerstone of this initiative is UBS’s partnership with SEO, where Catherine worked with the team in shepherding the 125 UBS NextGen Leaders students toward college graduation over the last four years.
Throughout her 13-year career, Catherine has worked to unlock opportunity for underrepresented students through multiple sectors including corporate philanthropy, nonprofit leadership, and teaching. Prior to taking on her role at UBS, she was the Program Director of The Posse Foundation’s New York office. Catherine began her professional career teaching high school history in the South Bronx through Teach For America. She holds a B.A. from the University of Southern California where she graduated summa cum laude.
Catherine lives in Jersey City with her husband, Stephen, and rescue puppy, Hudson.
Vice President - Clinical Coaching, Training, & Development - SEO Scholars, College
Vice President – Clinical Coaching, Training, & Development
– SEO Scholars, College
Ays Necioglu built from the ground up the highly-successful college support, retention, and success components of SEO Scholars, including all college programming and advising. Ays led the college portion of SEO Scholars from the time she joined SEO in 2006 until 2017. Since 2018, she has worked as Vice President – Clinical Coaching, Training, & Development, where Ays oversees the clinical advisory curriculum and training of our College Persistence Advisors (CPAs).
Ays is a New York State Licensed Master Social Worker and a Field Instructor for graduate students from Columbia University School of Social Work and Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service. Prior to joining SEO, she spent a year at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) headquarters researching post-crisis development indicators, held a one-year graduate internship at Planned Parenthood, and worked as a program development consultant at LearnServeEthopia.
Ays holds an MS in Social Enterprise Administration from Columbia University, an Advanced Certificate in Clinical Practice with Adolescents from New York University Silver School of Social Work, and a BA from Vassar College. She is a member of National Association of Social Workers, National Network for Social Work Management, and the International Association for Youth Mental Health.
Executive Director - SEO Scholars, San Francisco
Executive Director – SEO Scholars, San Francisco
Omar Wandera joined our #SEOFamily in September 2020 ready to embark on the challenge of changing the lives of thousands as the Executive Director of SEO Scholars San Francisco! Omar was born and raised in Oakland, CA, and is the product of college access programs that forever changed the course of his life. He grew up in a single-parent household, strapped with traditional inner-city struggles, but made it to Norfolk State University because of the love, support, and guidance given by programs much like SEO. Omar’s life’s journey through education was cemented by the idea that he had to give back all that was given to him. He has spent the last 20+ years doing just that.
Prior to joining SEO, Omar taught middle and high school students for Norfolk Public Schools, was an Academic Coordinator at the Holy Names Upward Bound Program, supervisor of a clinical mentoring program in the Mission, administrator at KIPP SF Bay Academy, and spent 15 years as the founder of Leadership Public Schools Hayward. At LPS, he scaled a school with no students, no parents, no culture, and no identity, into one of the top-performing high schools in the state of California and recognized as one of the best high schools in the country by US News and World Reports. In addition, the school sent over 80% of its students to four-year colleges and universities, had multiple Gates Millennium scholars, and became the premier destination for families of low-income, first-generation students that wanted to pave the way for generations to come.
Omar has also served as the Director of African American Student Achievement for West Contra Costa Unified School District and Director of the National Summer School Initiative for the Oakland REACH.
Nicole Kimberly McCauley
Senior Director - SEO Scholars, New York City
Nicole Kimberly McCauley
Nicole Kimberly McCauley
Senior Director – SEO Scholars, New York City
Nicole Kimberly McCauley is a native New Yorker who has spent the past 22 years working on behalf of young people in New York City. She started her career as an Admissions Officer at Pace University and then served as the Assistant Director of Recruitment at Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO). She transformed the Scholars’ Program recruitment and admissions process into a strategic and comprehensive operation in this role. Hoping to make a more significant impact, Nicole joined the Harlem Village Academies (HVA) team. Her primary responsibilities in this nationally recognized charter school network included hiring teachers and staff for five schools.
In 2015, Nicole joined the Office of Teacher Recruitment and Quality, serving as the Director of Recruitment for the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE). She was responsible for building a pipeline of over 20,000 traditional and alternative certification candidates for the city’s 1,800 public schools. Nicole returned to SEO to serve as the Director of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives.
She currently serves as the Senior Director of the High School Scholars program, managing 45 young professionals who support over 2,000 students through a rigorous eight-year academic program focused on preparing students for the top colleges and universities in the nation. Closing the academic achievement gap continues to be a passion and inspiration for her work with young people. She chooses to direct her skills towards helping disenfranchised students gain access to higher education and become first-generation college graduates.
Nicole received her Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Law from Binghamton University and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management from St. John’s University.
Managing Director - SEO Career
Managing Director – SEO Career
Mindy Davis serves as the Managing Director of SEO Career. Mindy is a senior leader with extensive experience in marketing and client services. She has built and mentored large teams at early-stage and traditional consumer companies. Mindy has held senior-level marketing positions at Kraft, Bertelsmann Music Group, and TimeWarner, where she developed strategic marketing programs and drove new product development efforts.
In the past nine years, Mindy has held senior-level client services roles at marketing technology start-ups. Most recently, she was the Senior Vice President of Professional Services at Crowdtap where she was recruited to build and significantly scale the team/service model for the business. She overhauled and standardized critical client program deliverables and project processes to drive renewal rates. She led all strategic relationships with client partners including Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, and Pepperidge Farm.
Mindy holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the State University of New York at Albany and an M.B.A. from Columbia University.
Vice President - SEO Career
Vice President – SEO Career
Nicole oversees the Investment Banking, Asset Management, Sales & Trading, and Investment Research programs. In this capacity, she is responsible for intern selection, matching, training, and mentoring, as well as partner communication, planning, and strategy. Nicole also manages SEO Edge, SEO Career’s talent development program. In addition, Nicole is responsible for data management, internal operations, and provides strategic direction on a number of projects.
Her relationship with SEO began as an intern in the summer of 2000. After an internship in Equity Research at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ), she joined Merrill Lynch. She spent five years at Merrill where she worked in Equity Capital Markets and as an associate in Equity Research. She joined the SEO staff in May 2006 and serves on the executive leadership team. She seeks to share her professional experience and business acumen with other students seeking careers in corporate America and in public service.
Nicole graduated from Emory University in 2001 with a B.A. in Sociology and Spanish. She received her M.B.A. (Executive Program) from Columbia University in 2013.
SEO Alternative Investments
Vice President - SEO Alternative Investments
Vice President – SEO Alternative Investments
Raina Singh is the Director of SEO’s Alternative Investments (Alt. Invests) program. Her responsibilities include managing the highly competitive Alternative Investments Fellowship Program (AIFP), the annual Alternatives Investment Conference (AICON), and various other programming, with the goal of increasing the success of underrepresented populations in the alternative investments space.
Prior to the role on the Alternative Investments team, Raina was part of the SEO Scholars, College team, where she was critical in helping streamline tasks and address the challenges brought on by the rapidly increasing number of college students served. Before SEO, she worked in a number of other education nonprofits, with a focus on using technology to bridge the learning gap. Raina also has over five years of consulting experience at both Accenture Consulting and Monitor Group. She has worked extensively not just in the US, but also in India, and has had exposure to working in Africa through her consulting engagements.
Jennifer De Jesus
Director - SEO Law
Jennifer De Jesus
Jennifer De Jesus
Director – SEO Law
Jennifer De Jesus is the Director of SEO Law with responsibility for overseeing the SEO Law Fellowship program and Catalyst Scholars program. She focuses on increasing contact and communications with underrepresented students interested in attending law school, preparing and strengthening students to maximize success before and during law school, expanding law firm partner relationships, and supporting current SEO Law alumni in their academic and professional endeavors.
Jennifer most recently worked as a staff attorney at the Robin Hood Project of Advocates for Children of New York, where she provided direct representation at special education hearings, advocacy and technical assistance on a variety of education issues to low-income families and community-based organizations. She is also a former banking and finance attorney at Clifford Chance US LLP and former corporate associate at Stroock, Stroock & Lavan LLP, where she worked on an array of transactional matters. During her time at Stroock, Jennifer led the firm’s Legal Outreach summer programming and served as a Board Member of the Attorneys of Color Affinity Group, where she actively worked on diversity recruiting, mentoring and professional development initiatives.
Jennifer has a JD from NYU School of Law and a BA from Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College (CUNY).
SEO Leadership Institute
Director - SEO Leadership Institute
Director – SEO Leadership Institute
Daree Lewis is the Director of the SEO Leadership Institute. For over 50 years, SEO has been an innovator in education, mentorship, and increasing social capital to help talented young people of color attend college and launch their careers. In her role, she leads a team responsible for helping SEO alumni continue to achieve so that they become the leaders to create the more equitable society that SEO envisions.
As an alumna of New York City’s public schools, Daree is passionate about quality public education. Prior to her role at SEO, she was a senior program officer of school-age programs at Robin Hood, a foundation focused on finding, funding, and creating programs and schools that generate meaningful results for families in New York’s poorest neighborhoods. She joined the Robin Hood programs staff with ample experience in the nonprofit sector that includes partnering with the financial services and philanthropy sectors with the goal of increasing equity and access for all. Her other previous roles include charter school oversight and accountability at the New York City Department of Education, program management and development at SEO, and leading the education team at Junior Achievement New York.
Daree earned a Masters in Public Administration from the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College. She also earned a BA in Sociology at Queens College.