President & CEO. Sponsors for Educational Opportunity
Since joining SEO as President & CEO in 2001, William and the SEO team have focused on steadily enhancing SEO’s programs targeting young people underserved and/or underrepresented at top colleges and in coveted industries.
SEO serves 3,500+ participants nationally each year and is widely recognized for developing best-in-class programs with exceptional results. SEO’s major programs include:
– SEO Scholars – an eight-year program in New York City and San Francisco that academically prepares underserved high school students for college admissions and success—with a 90% college graduation rate.
– SEO Career, SEO Law, and SEO Alternative Investments (AI): national programs that prepare college students or young professionals to enter leading industries via summer internships or fellowships. Approximately 80% of eligible SEO Career Interns and 90% of eligible SEO Law and AI Fellows earn full-time positions in their chosen fields.
SEO’s success during William’s tenure has led to a 700% increase in young people served each year and the annual budget has grown by $20 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 Inner-City Scholarship Fund, which supports NYC Catholic schools serving children from low-income families. Under his leadership, student scholarships and school capital repairs increased dramatically through more than $100 million raised in annual and endowment funds.
William began his career in advertising and sales management, including positions with Procter & Gamble and Corning Inc.
William is a trustee of the Altman Foundation and Partnership Schools. In addition, he serves on advisory boards for Columbia University and the Federal Reserve Bank of NY. He has also been appointed to a citywide commission and an educational task force by NYC Mayors Bloomberg and de Blasio, respectively.
William is former board President of the NYC Association of Fundraising Professionals.
William received his M.B.A. from Columbia Business School and B.S. from American University.
Chief Operating Officer
Chief Operating Officer
Hugo Faria joined SEO in 2017 and became Chief Operating Officer in 2019. Hugo is responsible for SEO’s Operations Team, including Human Resources, Finance, Information Technology, Communications, Real Estate, and Administration. The focus of the role is strengthening and driving innovation within our day-to-day operational functions, being a strategic partner in continuing to build a positive culture, and positioning SEO’s programs for growth in line with SEO’s vision and objectives.
From 2017 to 2019, Hugo was Vice President of SEO Scholars, College. He managed a 25-strong team of College Persistence professionals working with over 850 College Scholars attending more than 190 colleges around the nation, and continuing to achieve a 90% college completion rate.
Hugo brought to SEO a wide range of managerial experience. His professional experience spans nearly three decades, building, or turning around, exposure management and trading businesses for six major international banks. By fully understanding client needs and delivering appropriate, innovative, and cost-effective solutions, Hugo became a trusted advisor to banks, governments, and corporations across four continents. In parallel to his banking career, he has been committed to and involved with educational initiatives targeted at high school and higher education students. Hugo has volunteered at leading nonprofit organizations in the NY area, working on financial literacy and college preparedness for more than 15 years. From 2009 to 2010, Hugo was a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University’s Institute of Latin American Studies, lecturing and advising students on financial markets and Latin America.
In addition to a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Yale, Hugo holds a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia 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.
Vice President - Development
Vice President – Development
Steve joined SEO in January 2020 and is responsible for raising philanthropic capital to support all aspects of SEO’s work, particularly our SEO Scholars program in New York City.
Steve came to SEO from NYU, where he was a major and principal gift fundraiser for almost 15 years, working for its public policy, education, and engineering schools. At NYU, Steve and his teams helped raise over $120M in gifts and grants from individuals, families, foundations, and corporations for scholarships and fellowships, faculty chairs and research, capital projects and equipment, and a range of public programs.
Steve was also chief national fundraiser for six years for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the country’s largest community development investment intermediary; worked for eight years for Good Shepherd Services, a renowned NYC youth development agency, where he ran a state-funded college prep program at John Jay High School in Brooklyn; and built his own consulting practice.
He has a BA in English from Columbia and an MPA in public finance from NYU Wagner, and he is an alumnus of Coro Leadership NY. He lives in White Plains with his wife Jennifer and daughters Denali, a college sophomore, and Sarah, a high school sophomore. Steve is from Baltimore and thus is a lifelong Orioles fan – and he has lived in New York for the past 35 years and has learned to love the Mets as well.
Vice President - Finance, Administration, & Real Estate
Vice President – Finance, Administration, & Real Estate
Michelle DeFossett is SEO’s Vice President of Finance, Administration, and Real Estate. Michelle was previously a senior finance professional for the following nonprofits: the Center for Reproductive Rights, Habitat for Humanity-New York City, and the Maple Street School. She has led long-term fiscal planning and growth for organizations with annual budgets of up to $23 million and oversaw HR and IT needs for entities with up to 110 professionals. She has also managed various aspects of domestic and international real estate transactions.
Prior to her career in the nonprofit sector, Michelle spent over 20 years in financial services. She began her career with a five-year stint at Chase Manhattan Bank, where she held roles of increasing responsibility within the Global Derivatives, Eurocurrency, and Latin American Debt divisions. After business school, Michelle moved into the asset management sector, working at JP Morgan Asset Management, Pareto Partners, and Stanfield Capital Partners. In her various roles, Michelle led teams that were responsible for new product development/distribution, business development, and process re-engineering initiatives for domestic and international products and markets.
Michelle earned a B.A. in Economics from Vassar College and an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School, where she was awarded the Robert F. Toigo Fellowship. Michelle is a native New Yorker and resides in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.
Vice President - SEO Scholars, High School
Vice President – SEO Scholars, High School
Millie Hau is Vice President, SEO Scholars, High School. She oversees the first four years of the SEO Scholars program, from 9th student recruitment through admission to college. Under her leadership, the program has expanded from serving 260 NYC high school students to 1000 students in New York and 80 students in San Francisco.
Prior to joining SEO in 2009, Millie held consulting and product management positions at educational publishing and software companies including Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt, and Kaplan. She visited hundreds of classrooms around the country, developing new tools for teachers and supporting their efforts to improve student outcomes. She began her career as a teacher through the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program followed by a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship in Korea. She was also a teacher at Public School 124 in New York City.
Millie holds a B.A. from Bucknell University and an M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Executive Director - SEO Scholars, San Francisco
Executive Director – SEO Scholars, San Francisco
Rachel Bordoli joined SEO in 2016 and is Executive Director, SEO Scholars San Francisco. As Executive Director, Rachel oversees all areas, including program, operations, and development. She manages a team of six full-time staff and works with the San Francisco Advisory Board to ensure the organization is delivering on its mission with excellence and conviction every day. Prior to joining SEO, Rachel worked at Teach For America in national management roles including strategy, recruitment, data/analytics, and technology.
Rachel holds an M.B.A. and Masters of Education from Stanford University and a B.A. and M.A. in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University, England. She also spent two years as a Mellon Fellow at Yale University.
Vice President - College Scholars
Vice President – College Scholars
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, College Scholars works with 927 students attending more than 188 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.
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.
Van Ann Bui
Director - SEO Law
Van Ann Bui
Van Ann Bui
Director – SEO Law
Van Ann Bui is the Director of the SEO Law Fellowship program with responsibility for overseeing program implementation in order to strengthen their Fellows’ preparation and success in law school, expanding law firm partner relationships, increasing contact and communications with underrepresented students interested in attending law school, and supporting their current SEO Law alumni in their academic and professional endeavors.
Van Ann is a former corporate attorney at Proskauer Rose LLP, where she specialized in leveraged finance. During her time at Proskauer, she served as a Chair of the Asian Lawyers Affinity Group and a member of Proskauer’s Diverse Lawyers Network. In those capacities, she was actively involved with Proskauer’s diversity recruiting, mentoring and professional development initiatives. Van Ann also serves as the Chair of the Diversity Pipeline Initiatives Committee of the New York City Bar Association.
Van Ann has a JD from Columbia Law School and a BBA from Southern Methodist University.
SEO Alternative Investments
Director - SEO Alternative Investments
Director, SEO Alternative Investments
Raina Singh is the Director of SEO’s Alternative Investments (A.I.) 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 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.