Tag Archives: The Volunteer Newsletter

Volunteer Spotlight


To say we as Directors of Volunteers owe a BIG thank you to the Volunteer Recruitment Team (“VRT”) is a very BIG understatement. Life without them is like saying “Yabba” without “Daba-Doo” or a detective without a clue. Volunteers are the very life blood of our organization. To put things into perspective, Minds Matter of NYC consists of over 500 volunteers—yet only has four full-time staff members. In short, we would cease to exist as an organization without you all. And, for that, we are thankful.

Where and how do we find top talent such as yourselves? Everywhere, to be precise. The VRT has spent the past four months going out to all corners of the five boroughs in search of talented volunteers. From PwC to Citi, from Palantir Technologies to BetterCloud, from Columbia Business School to NYU Cardozo, among many other firms, organizations, and graduate schools, the VRT has done a extraordinary job of finding an exceptional group of mentors, writing and critical thinking advisors, and test prep instructors. In all, the VRT recruited 300 new volunteers! And they did more than just find you—they spent countless hours reviewing applications and interviewing candidates.

Without further ado, to the following individuals, we extend our deepest thanks for all they have done to continue to make Minds Matter great: Akiko Takahashi, Alex Hartman, Alice Griffiths, Allison McCarty, Andrew Ettinger, Ankit Chadha, April Daley, Casey Woo, Courtney McNamara, Davin Strouse, Divya Talla, Joanna Moreira, John Goedert, Kelly Vaughan, Lisa Khanna, Manav Khurana, Mary Liu, Melissa Cheng, Neel Bhargava, Nick Briody, Peter Goldberg, Sourav Bhowmick, Tiffany Choi, Tom Betts, Tony Deng, Tori Notarangelo, and Vijay Gogia.

 In order to get to know the VRT a little better, we’ve compiled some fun bios. Enjoy reading about your fellow Minds Matter super volunteers!

And last, email us at volunteer@mindsmatter.org to nominate a fellow volunteer who you think is doing a great job and should be highlighted next month, and what makes this volunteer so great!


Becca & Andrew

Akiko Takahashi

Akiko grew up on Long Island and moved into New York City after graduating from Tufts University in 2004.  She is currently the Director of Operations at HG Vora Capital Management, LLC, an event driven hedge fund located in New York City.  Akiko joined Minds Matter in 2013 after hearing about the program through friends and wanted to work with students to give them the opportunity to have just as wonderful college experience as she had.  In her free time, Akiko enjoys travelling and eating cookies.

Alice Griffiths

Alice Griffiths has lived in Silver Spring, Maryland; in Managua, Nicaragua; in Shelbyville, Tennessee; in Richmond, Surrey; and on 14th Street, although Brooklyn is now definitely “home.” She is a freelance business ghostwriter (yes, that’s a thing!) who joined Minds Matter because just helping businesses get more business is somehow not enough. In her spare time, Alice studies French, reads sci fi novels, and recently learned to do a yogi headstand.

Casey Woo

Casey is from Seoul, South Korea. She went to a boarding school called NMH and went on to NYU for college. She now works in the credit risk department of a bank covering TMT and consumer retail. Casey joined Minds Matter because education is very important to her and she loved the thought of helping a smart, motivated student reach his/ her potential for college. A fun fact about Casey is that most of her high school/early college life she thought she would be going into journalism, but ended up majoring in Finance and Accounting instead – you never know where life may lead you!

Davin Strouse

Davin was born and raised in Tampa, Florida and graduated with a degree in Accounting from Pennsylvania State University in 2011 where he was a Bunton-Waller Fellow.  Davin is currently an Associate Consultant in the Financial Advisory Services group at AlixPartners where he provides advice to companies in bankruptcy, litigation and other distressed situations.  Davin joined Minds Matter last fall after hearing about the program from a friend and current Minds Matter mentor. Davin’s goal in the program is to leverage his educational and professional experiences in order to pay forward the advice he was fortunate enough to receive throughout his college application process.  Davin is an avid sports fan and would like to focus his professional career in strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship.

John Goedert

John is from Chicago, Illinois; after attending Notre Dame, he now works in private equity at KKR. John joined Minds Matter because of his passion for working with young people. Fun fact: John was a bit of a late bloomer, not learning how to tie his shoes until 4th grade.

Mary Liu

Mary is from the suburbs of Chicago, and currently works as a consultant at PwC in Financial Services Advisory. She joined Minds Matter because she was looking for a way to make a tangential difference in someone’s life. Fun fact: Mary has lived on 3 continents and visited over 20 countries.

Melissa Cheng

Melissa grew up in Brooklyn and has lived in NYC for practically all her life. She currently works at a Japanese bank called Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. Growing up, she could always turn to my two older brothers for help. She joined Minds Matter in hope of passing on some of the useful knowledge she has learned. During her free time, you can often find her baking and forcing family and friends to be her guinea pigs.

Neel Bhargava

Neel is from Chicago and works as a capital raising and venture development consultant to start-ups and later stage companies. He joined Minds Matter after looking for a good way to get involved with NYC youth and get to know new people in the city. A Michigan alum and diehard fan, he was at the devastating MSU game earlier this year.

Nick Briody

Nick Briody, hailing originally from Montclair, NJ, currently works in private equity at multinational investment firm The Olayan Group. Nick, who has been a mentor with Minds Matter since 2013, was motivated to join because of the organization’s emphasis on mentor/mentee relationship building over a multi-year period. Fun fact: Nick played tennis in college and is always looking for his next playing partner!

Peter Goldberg

Peter is from the suburbs of Chicago and studied at George Washington University and the University of Michigan. He just started a new job as a Public Affairs Manager at Con Edison and joined Minds Matter because he enjoys working with teenagers, believes strongly in education, and was impressed with the results that Minds Matter achieves. Fun fact? He once recited poetry in Spanish while juggling in front of 50+ people because his friends volunteered him when he skipped a planning meeting for a talent show (Never skip a planning meeting for a talent show…).

Sourav Bhowmick

Sourav Bhowmick, originally from East Lyme, Connecticut, is a graduate of Northwestern University and currently a corporate communications consultant at Brunswick Group. For Sourav, Minds Matter is a way to get to build meaningful relationships with promising local high schoolers as well as like-minded mentors. Fun fact: Sourav once made Seth Meyers laugh, which means he must be really funny.

Tiffany Choi

Tiffany is from Queens, NY. Tiffany is a nurse at NYPH-Cornell, where she has worked on the cardiovascular step-down unit for 6.5 years. She joined MM b/c I was looking for a fun way to get involved, and had heard great things about the organization and its volunteers. A fun fact about Tiffany is that in about 6 weeks, her life will change forever when her baby is born!

Tony Deng

Tony was born in Guangzhou, China and grew up in Queens and Long Island. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 2011, and currently works as an investment analyst at Suvretta Capital Management, a long/short hedge fund. He joined Minds Matter on a recommendation from one of his career mentors, and was sold when he saw how Minds Matter focused on long-term mentee development – for example, the volunteer interviewing him was a former mentee herself. Fun fact: started learning to play the harmonica.

Tori Notarangelo

Originally from Maryland, Tori moved to New York after graduating to pursue a career in media & advertising. She joined Minds Matter because she wanted to give back in an impactful way. Tori would be making a big difference in one person’s life, rather than participate in a series of disconnected efforts, as the experience is with other volunteer organizations. A fun fact about Tori is that she is a podcast and audiobook geek!

Vijay Gogia

Vijay is from Roslyn, NY. He’s a second year at Cardozo Law School. It’s his third year as a mentor and his mentee is now gearing up to go to college. He joined Minds Matter to give back and help someone because he’s had a lot of help to get to where he is today. He’s traveled to 20 countries.

Meet Your Fearless Leaders!

We’re a few months into the year, and we’re so excited to make Minds Matter even better for our volunteers! Here are a few things we have planned for the year:

  • Improved and ongoing orientation and training opportunities, beginning with the Sophomore and Junior Orientation on October 3, and an upcoming make-up orientation on November 21.
  • Partnering with the Volunteer Engagement Team to promote great social and networking events.
  • We’ll be around and visible at session, so you can bring any issues to our attention. Of course, you can always ask your TL or PD, but if there’s something we can do to improve the experience, please let us know!
  • The Volunteer, a brand new, monthly volunteer-only newsletter to highlight great things you’ve done, and help you become better volunteers! Each month, we’ll include a Q&A section with common questions and concerns. Please send us questions via email. We will read and answer any question you send, and we’ll highlight a few for the newsletter. Send your questions to volunteer@mindsmatter.org, becca.cadoff@mindsmatter.org, and/or andrew.spano@mindsmatter.org.

Meet Becca:

This is my sixth year with Minds Matter. I started as a Writing and Critical Thinking Advisor, then was Director of Junior WCT. I still keep in touch with some of my students from the first group I mentored! I grew up in New Jersey, went to Northwestern for undergrad (Go ‘Cats!) and NYU for grad school, and am now a data analyst at the ACLU. In my free time, I run, hike, do yoga, play tennis, and sew. And I’m completely obsessed with Brooklyn Nine Nine.

Meet Andrew:

I’ve been involved with Minds Matter for four+ years. Prior to being named Co-Director of Volunteers, I served as a member of the fundraising committee and as a mentor. I grew up in Boca Raton, FL, went to Colgate for undergrad, and currently attend Columbia Business School. Fun fact or two: I recently shark cage dived in South Africa and have served as a rodeo clown in Montana.

Becca and Andrew

Who’s got it better than us?


Welcome to The Volunteer! Each month, you’ll find great resources to help you be the best volunteer you can be. But first, here’s a little about Minds Matter:

We serve over 180 students,

who end up attending over 50 different colleges and universities,

come from all 5 NYC boroughs and

over 20 different high schools,

speak over 15 different languages, and

are usually the first in their families to attend college.

And a little about you:

Minds Matter is made up of 500 volunteers, representing

12 industries, from marketing to healthcare to law to publishing to nonprofit management,

over 40 companies,

60 colleges and universities, and

25 languages.

We hope you’re excited for a great year!