About Us

WHY WE EXIST

333

average number of students assigned to each high school guidance counselor in NYC

482

average number of students assigned to each high school guidance counselor nationally

33%

college graduation rate for first generation students

Futures Ignite works in New York City’s racially and economically segregated public school system to advance a whole-school model of programming, counseling, and advocacy to equip BIPOC students to direct their college and career futures. We’re committed to supporting all students—regardless of academic performance—to rise into their leadership potential.

Vision

Futures Ignite envisions equitable preK–college and career opportunities that propel all youth to thrive in postsecondary life and strengthen our communities.


Mission

We amplify youth and community power by inspiring, guiding, and advocating for youth to determine their college, career, and leadership futures.

CORE VALUES

Educational Equity

We work to change the educational inequities in the NYC public school system, which is rooted in systemic racial and socioeconomic segregation.

Racial Justice

We aim to dismantle the structural racism that permeates every part of our society in order to build a just and equitable future in which all students can reach their full potential.

Youth Leadership

We encourage young people to step into their leadership potential and ensure their voices are included in the decisions that affect their communities.

Climate Justice

We strive to combat the climate crisis through student-led initiatives to create greener neighborhoods, which directly impact community health and student outcomes. 

Community

We recognize the impact community health and wellness has on student outcomes, and we work to create and sustain mutually beneficial partnerships to ensure both communities and our students thrive. 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Jonathan Vazcones, Board Chair
CRA Officer, Amalgamated Bank

Jennifer Negron, Co-Vice Chair
Program Officer, Pinkerton Foundation

Kristin Ohnstad, Co-Vice Chair
Chief People Officer, Oxeon Partners

Sergio Abramovich
CEO, Scala Learning

Brian Burt
Principal, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

John Chiti
Financial Consultant

Kimani G. Rogers
Managing Director, Global Head of KYC Audit, Wells Fargo Bank

Agnes Mentre
Film Producer

Aravind Mohan
Director, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

Andrew Morris
Partner, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

Joel Perelmuth
Principal, Perelmuth & Associates

Karen Phillips
Executive Vice President, Head of Agency Partnerships, Paramount

Yemisi Yoosuf
Americas Head of Onboarding, Citadel

STAFF

Génesis Abreu

they/them

Sr. Manager, Leadership & Enrichment

Génesis Abreu (they/them) is a nonbinary person with Mayan and Nahuat Indigenous roots and Salvadoran and Dominican ancestry. They are from and still live in Inwood/Washington Heights. As the Sr. Manager, Leadership and Enrichment, Génesis is helping to grow youth enrichment, leadership, and community programming through cross-sectoral partnerships and environmental justice youth education and leadership. They have gained vast experience in community organizing and outreach, environmental justice education and policy, and community participatory research, through their work with WE ACT for Environmental Justice, North Brooklyn Neighbors, The NYS Children’s Environmental Health Centers, and the Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Assessment Initiative. Génesis is a 2015-2016 Fulbright Recipient and holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from Marist College and an M.S. in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management from The New School.

Denisse Alvarez

she/her

Postsecondary Pathways Manager

Denisse Alvarez is a results-oriented professional with a strong background in higher education, K-12 college and career readiness and nonprofit leadership. With over 10 years of experience, she is passionate about using data-driven strategies to enact positive change and drive meaningful outcomes. In her previous roles, she has successfully tackled challenges related to low engagement, creating sustainable systems and increasing inactive participation among at-risk and first to fifth-year college-aged cohorts. By leveraging her expertise and employing innovative approaches they were able to receive remarkable results. Denisse has also worked in the school admissions realm where she was able to serve over 100, K-8 students and their families in the New York City school admissions process. Her ability to advocate, educate and provide resources in 5 different languages for families to apply to schools that are deemed best fit for each student has been an asset to her work.

Janell Bartley

she/her

Sr. Director of People, Culture & Operations

Janell Bartley (she/her) is a first-generation college student and proud Afro-Latina from Panama raised in Brooklyn, New York with over 20 years of non-profit experience in mentoring and after-school enrichment programs. Throughout her career, she has received numerous promotions in recognition of top performance, while playing an integral role in holding organizations accountable to their values and mission. As the Director of Operations, her goal is to always take a holistic approach in dynamic ways to make positive change while promoting creativity, respect, and inclusion as an advocate and resource for all staff. Janell is passionate about helping young adults from underprivileged communities set goals and help them create a plan around any roadblocks so they may realize their dreams. She holds a BA in Psychology and an MBA with a concentration in Nonprofit Leadership from New England College.

Izamar Capellan

she/her

Leadership and Enrichment Coordinator

Izamar “Iza” Capellan (She/her), was born and raised in the Bronx to immigrant Dominican parents and graduated from John Jay with a degree in Criminal Justice. As an Assistant Community School Director at Global Kids, Iza developed curriculum and facilitated workshops for young people on leadership and social justice issues. Her work helps students gain an understanding of their own advocacy and leadership capabilities in addressing issues such as climate change and educational inequalities. Iza recently joined our team as our Leadership and Enrichment Coordinator and will coordinate our leadership and enrichment programs, ensuring that all WHEELS students access meaningful leadership and enrichment programming in and outside of school.

Francisco Cruz

he/him

Senior Director of Programs

Francisco Cruz (he/him) is a first generation immigrant and college graduate from the Dominican Republic who was raised in Washington Heights. Francisco attended CUNY Lehman College for his undergraduate experience, graduating with a double Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Philosophy, followed by Fordham University where he completed his Masters of Science in Teaching. Francisco joins Futures Ignite with over 10 years of youth and youth adult development through various roles, primarily in direct service and education program leadership, all grounded in addressing education inequities, social and emotional learning, and providing opportunities for the most marginalized communities. As the Senior Director of Programs, Francisco plays a pivotal role in codifying, evaluating, and expanding FI’s models of environmental justice advocacy, post-secondary programs, and youth enrichment and leadership program models while working in collaboration with the community that has contributed so much to his personal and professional development.

Molly Delano

she/her

Executive Director

Molly is an educator, youth advocate and nonprofit manager. Molly’s background includes leadership positions at Global Kids, Hostos Community College, and the YMCA of Greater NY. In addition, she has worked as a consultant for a range of youth organizations, developing curriculum and providing training for educators. Molly’s expertise includes creating and leading innovative youth leadership programs, facilitating community partnerships to strengthen college access and persistence with first generation students and facilitating staff professional development and capacity building initiatives. Most recently, Molly was the Director of Government Initiatives and Special Projects at the Youth Development Institute. Molly holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, an MPA, with a concentration in public policy, from the Baruch School of Public Affairs, where she was a United Way Senior Fellow, and nonprofit leadership credentials from the Columbia Business School.

Kimona Dussard

she/her

Development & Communications Manager

Kimona (She/Her) is a proud first generation Jamaican-American. Raised in New Jersey, she fell in love with New York during her time at Fordham University, receiving a bachelors degree in political science and a Masters in Ethics and Society. Kimona joins the Futures Ignite team with years of fundraising and communications experience, and a passion for supporting youth to shape the future they deserve. As Development and Communications Manager, Kimona is eager to deepen community connections and see Futures Ignite grow to support students across northern Manhattan.

Rasna Ekra

she/her

Postsecondary Pathways Counselor

Rasna Zaman Ekra (She/Her/Hers) is a first generation college graduate, born in Bangladesh and raised in the Bronx. Rasna graduated from Lafayette College with a degree in International Affairs and Women & Gender Studies. At Lafayette, she worked at the admissions office where she guided prospective students and families through the college admissions process. With her background as College Affordability at uAspire, she has helped many students navigate the complex world of financial aid applications, ensuring that their education goals are within reach. Additionally, she is committed to youth empowerment and education as she also served as a Dean at Sadie Nash Women’s Leadership Summer Program, where she educated high school students on various social justice issues, encouraging them to make a positive impact in their communities.

Armando Figueroa

he/him

Postsecondary Pathways Manager

Armando Figueroa (He/Him) grew up in Los Angeles and was the first in his family to attend college. He attended UC Davis where he majored in Sociology and Chicano Studies, and was eventually elected student body president. Armando’s commitment to social justice and activism brought him to New York University where he received his Masters in Higher Education and served as an Admissions Counselor on the Diversity Initiatives Team. Prior to joining Futures Ignite, Armando worked as a Senior Program Manager at SEO Scholars where he served New York City’s low-income first generation students in their college pursuits. Armando loves all things film, Hip-Hop, comics, sports, sneakers, the outdoors, and Washington Heights

Frankie Iannuzzi

they/them

Career Counselor

Frankie Iannuzzi (They/Them)graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2022, with a focus in political economy and ecology, global development, and history. Over the years they have lived in Brooklyn, Vermont, Ireland (Dublin), Yonkers, California, and currently lives in Harlem. Outside of work, Frankie loves going to museums, spending time in the park, and finding fun new local restaurants. Frankie is a self-described swimmer, climate activist, and avid reader!

Shareefa Rahim

she/her

Program Coordinator

Shareefa Rahim is a first-generation immigrant from Guyana and was raised in Queens, New York. She embarked on her educational journey at LaGuardia Community College, where she pursued a major in Psychology. Her commitment to higher education led her to continue her studies at Hunter College, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Throughout her career, Shareefa has focused on working with young people, particularly those who come from first-generation and low-income backgrounds, and have faced educational inequities. Her work in Post-Secondary Planning and Outdoor Education reflects her dedication to bridging the gap between these students and the opportunities they deserve. She understands the importance of connecting students with nature and the outdoors, recognizing that many have not had the opportunity to experience these environments. Shareefa’s professional journey has equipped her with extensive knowledge and experience in leadership and facilitation when it comes to working with young individuals. Her passion lies in providing young people with the tools and opportunities they need to grow, develop leadership skills, and build a strong sense of community. In her role as the Program Coordinator, Shareefa is enthusiastic about implementing systems and creating opportunities for young people to discover their passions. She recognizes that a college education may not be the right path for everyone, and she is dedicated to helping students make informed post-secondary plans that align with their individual goals and aspirations. Shareefa is committed to educational equity and empowering young people to chart their own paths to success.

Elizabeth Sumpter

she/her

Director of Development

Elizabeth Sumpter (She/Her/Hers) is a first generation Haitian-American who joined Futures Ignite as a Development Director in Fall 2023. She is a passionate individual that is committed to empowering the youth and advocating that all children should have equitable access and opportunity to thrive. She has a long history in Board management and fundraising for nonprofits over the past several years. Liz is eager to support students across northern Manhattan through strong fiscal support. Elizabeth received her B.A. in Sociology from SUNY Albany and her Masters of Public Administration from Long Island University (Brooklyn). Outside of work, Elizabeth enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Kimberly Torres

she/her

Alumni and Career Manager

Kimberly Torres (She/Her) grew up in Inwood/Washington Heights. She attended SUNY Geneseo where she majored in Sociology. After coming back to NYC, Kimberly began her career with College Access while working with AmeriCorps VISTA. She then decided to continue her interest in sociology and urban spaces, which brought her to her Master’s program in Urban Affairs from Queens College. She continued working in college access and success throughout her studies, until deciding that she wanted to continue working exclusively in the success space. Prior to joining Futures Ignite, Kimberly worked at Uncommon Schools where she served Uncommon Alumni on their college and work journeys throughout New York. Kimberly loves all things music, gym, the outdoors, and Inwood/Washington Heights.

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