Our Team

The Connecticut RISE Network team includes former school administrators, former teachers and counselors, data specialists, and nonprofit leaders who work hand in hand with educators. As the conveners and facilitators of the RISE Network, RISE staff provide a range of resources and services to our RISE Network partners. We hold ourselves equally accountable for student outcomes, and we learn as much from our partners as we hope they do from our staff.


  • Why Rise?To collaborate with & learn from passionate educators, working together to beat the odds & change the odds for talented, deserving students across CT.

    Emily Pallin

    RISE Director
  • Why Rise?Because every student and educator deserves to know how they can and will be successful.

    Matthew Pilarski

    Director of Network Success

Applied Data

  • Why Rise?I am committed to utilizing data to empower educators to strategically improve educational opportunities for students.

    Phaedrel Bowman

    Applied Data Strategist
  • Why Rise?Access to timely, purposeful, and user-friendly data empowers educators to seek more equitable outcomes for students.

    Stephanie Fakharzadeh

    Applied Data Strategist
  • Why Rise?I love supporting educators to access and make meaning of data that can inform decisions furthering Grade 9 success.

    Ellen Fugate

    Applied Data Manager
  • Why Rise?All students have the right to pursue any future they choose and teachers deserve quality data to help students get there.

    Trisha Irving

    Applied Data Strategist
  • Why Rise?I resonate deeply with RISE's efforts to empower educators, improve student outcomes, and reduce inequality! #RISEby5 #EHPS

    Salman Khan

    Applied Data Strategist
  • Why Rise?It's very rewarding to collaboratively work to improve systems and data so educators can help students who need it the most.

    Nick Stellitano

    Applied Data Strategist

Network Success

  • Why Rise?As a former teacher, I love impacting students by empowering educators with resources that promote student success.

    Rickeena Holloway

    Network Facilitator
  • Why Rise?Focused systems provide an opportunity to make a larger impact—positively impacting student outcomes.

    Kaitlin Levesque

    Network Facilitator
  • Why Rise?Because I have the opportunity to create the professional space for educators to develop innovative solutions!

    Peter Lorinser

    Network Facilitator
  • Why Rise?I believe all students deserve to access and achieve their dreams, guided by educators who are empowered and supported.

    Emily Nguyen

    Network Facilitator
  • Why Rise?Because every student and educator deserves to know how they can and will be successful.

    Matthew Pilarski

    Director of Network Success
  • Why Rise?Promoting collaboration among educators across our state is exciting and endlessly thought-provoking—and it benefits kids.

    Sam Purdy

    Network Learning Manager
  • Why Rise?We commit to a collective responsibility of ensuring ALL students reach their full potential.

    Nichelle Woodson

    Network Success Manager

Student Success

  • Why Rise?Some students will not see “ME” in their classes but if they see me in the hallways, it might make a difference.

    Daemond Benjamin

    On-Track Coordinator, Hartford Public High School
  • Why Rise?Every student deserves to be successful! With RISE I have the tools to support them so that they are on-track to graduation!

    Nikia Bigard

    On-Track Coordinator, Career High School
  • Why Rise?My focus is to help our students, staff, administration and stakeholders to find that spark, drive or motivation to be successful.

    Tyree Hughey

    On-Track Coordinator, Hartford Public High School
  • Why Rise?I do this work through RISE to empower the youth of my community to have a prosperous future.

    Sharina Jimenez

    On-Track Coordinator, Brien McMahon High School
  • Why Rise?Working for RISE, I am surrounded by people who care as much about student success as I do.

    Jamie Meurer

    On-Track Coordinator, Hartford Public High School
  • Why Rise?RISE is truly a collaborative approach to help improve student outcomes for students that need it most.

    Karleka Norman

    Student Success Manager
  • Why Rise?I work for RISE to work with students that can benefit from having a person in their school that can relate to them.

    Avery Washington

    On-Track Coordinator, Brien McMahon High School

Data Systems

  • Why Rise?I believe data-driven strategies and tools can help educators create meaningful change for students and their communities.

    Victoria Barr

    Data Analyst
  • Why Rise?Because it provides the kind of support I wanted for my students when I was a teacher.

    Fred Benton

    Deputy Director of Data Systems
  • Why Rise?The passion to improve student outcomes is embedded in everything RISE does.

    Blake Garfinkle

    Data Systems Manager
  • Why Rise?I spend a lot of time writing code and working with data. It's rewarding to see that work in action helping students succeed.

    Aaron Garris

    Data Specialist
  • Why Rise?I believe in the importance of using data and the stories that it tells to inform and empower our network educators.

    Edie Reimink

    Data Analyst

Organizational Effectiveness

  • Why Rise?Because I’m part of an inspiring and collaborative community that is committed to helping all students achieve their goals.

    Liza Van Gundy

    Deputy Director of Talent and Operations
  • Why Rise?RISE is dedicated to improving the educational experience within my community and I take pride in knowing I’m a part of that.

    Portia Whitted

    Operations Associate