Introducing New RISE Team Members

Network Collaboration and Learning

We continue to enhance our amazing RISE team with wonderful individuals who bring diverse experiences, incredible knowledge and skills, and strong alignment to our strategy for organizational effectiveness and talent development. I’m pleased to announce the newest members of the RISE family!

Gretchen Philbrick joins our team as our new Freshman Success Associate. Gretchen spent nearly a decade as a Grade 9 English teacher at Norwich Free Academy. While at NFA, Gretchen took on many leadership roles, including by mentoring new teachers, organizing the school spelling bee, and strengthening the Honors Program curriculum.  Prior to NFA, Gretchen was a Student Support Specialist at the Connecticut River Academy in East Hartford. Gretchen holds an M.A. in Teaching & Education from Sacred Heart University and a B.A in English from Vassar College.   Gretchen brings a wonderful passion for all things Grade 9 to our team, and her expertise will undoubtedly advance our work and school partnerships. 

Kevin Williams joins our team as our new Junior Data Engineer. Kevin recently earned a B.A. in Computer Science from Eastern Connecticut State University. As a student, Kevin completed several data research projects in collaboration with ECSU professors, including the development of a Python-based cancer publication portal and PubMed acronym detector. Kevin also stayed busy as a student by serving as a tutor for Computer Science students. Kevin is also an Eagle Scout and graduate of Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk, and we are so fortunate to have him sharing his talents with us in such a mission-driven way.  

Sandy Fryer joins our team as Executive Assistant. Sandy brings a great depth and breadth of experiences to the role. For nearly 20 years, Sandy worked at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals (most recently as Associate Director, Internal & External Communications), supporting staff communication strategies, internal tools and channels for collaboration, international and multi-site staff retreats, executive leadership, and more.  Sandy is a skilled communicator and project manager, and these technical skills are matched by her proactive and upbeat approach to collaboration. Sandy has a B.A. in English from Western Connecticut State University.  

Will Minter joins our team as our new Software Developer. Will brings diverse and relevant experiences as a video producer, software developer, and educator. Most recently, Will co-founded and ran Wheel to Sea video production company, pursuing projects for mission-driven organizations (including RISE!).  In the software development space, Will developed the Beadographer web app and the Dragons Teaching Learning Management System for learning Chinese online. Will began his career as an English teacher in China and went on to teach Mandarin in the UK and at Choate Rosemary Hall, during which time he also served as a College Counselor. Will holds a BA in Chinese and Korean from the University of Oxford and an M.A. in East Asian Studies from Yale University.  

Evan Kelley joins our team as an On-Track Coordinator at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk. For the past three years, Evan has served as Girls Basketball Coach at Norwalk High School and a substitute teacher with Norwalk Public Schools. Prior to pursuing a career in education, Evan played professional basketball overseas. Evan has his B.S. in Criminal Justice from Sacred Heart University. Evan is also a proud graduate of Norwalk High School, though I’m sure he’s ready to transition to some McMahon Senators gear!  

Sojin Park joins our team as a Postsecondary Success Coach on our Postsecondary Success Team. Over the past three years, Sojin has worked for the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education, serving as both a College and Career Advisor and Program Coordinator for the Junior Apprentice Program. We had the privilege of working with Sojin at Hartford Public High School. Sojin has her BA in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Connecticut. Sojin is also fluent in Korean and she is a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE).

Abby Marcantonio joins our team as a Postsecondary Success Coach on our Postsecondary Success Team. Abby spent nearly a decade serving as the College and Career Coordinator at Platt High School in Meriden. Abby has been an instrumental RISE school partner as we’ve built our postsecondary programming over the past five years. Abby also spent several years working in higher education in alumni outreach and admissions.  She earned her BA in Sociology from Western New England University. 

Kaitlyn Kennedy joins our team as a Freshman Success Coach. Kaitlyn founded the role of On-Track Coordinator at Manchester High School and has been working in the district for the past five years after first serving as an English teacher. Kaitlyn has also staffed the high school’s Jumpstart Summer Program, co-created the DAPS Credit Recovery Program, and piloted the Saturday Academic Support Program this past year during the pandemic. Kaitlyn previously served as Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach at East Connecticut State University from 2014-19. She has her BA in English and MA in Secondary Education from Eastern Connecticut State University.  Kaitlyn is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Bridgeport.  

Get to know the full RISE team here!