Our small and mighty team works hard so our schools don't have to.
FOUNDER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Nicole felt compelled to start Yoga Foster after her experience as a volunteer yoga instructor in schools. Realizing first-hand the lack of accessibility to physical activity, she started training public school teachers tools for effective yoga in the classroom. She’s since left behind a career in tech to bring Yoga Foster to scale, relying on her background in both mobile and web development and yoga training and teaching. She's a 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient, a TEDx speaker, and has been featured in SELF, Paper, and Wanderlust.
Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, researcher, and yoga teacher who helps people create a life they love. Bethany received her Ph.D. in psychology in 2008 from the University of Western Ontario, Canada. Most of her research and teaching focuses on positive psychology, which emphasizes the development of human strength and potential. Bethany has worked in the corporate world and in academia, and has also spent several years as an independent entrepreneur. Most recently, she spent two years as a postdoctoral research fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, where she studied the effects of yoga in school settings. Bethany currently lives in Prague, where she is teaching a positive psychology course and continuing to research yoga and mindfulness for youth. Learn more about Bethany at www.bethanybutzer.com.
When she's not traveling, reading or playing blackjack, Abena Agyemang plays command center for all Families for Excellent Schools' partners, focusing on lifting charter school caps and mobilizing nearly 60,000 people for education rallies over the year. Access to a good education and a healthy lifestyle is personal for her, she once commuted three hours daily to school because of the lack of quality options in her neighborhood. Prior to her current role as National Director of School Partnerships at Families for Excellent Schools, Abena worked at Hyde Leadership Charter School while completing her master’s degree at Teachers College, Columbia University. Before then, she lived in Spain and worked for the Ministry of Education in Madrid.
As a researcher with expertise in emotional intelligence, I value both evidence and emotions. As a yogi, I integrate body and mind through yoga practice. Through consulting, I am better able to integrate my professional and personal learning in the service of others.As an undergraduate, I created a personalized program of study combining psychology, education, and policy at Duke University (BA). I continued with interdisciplinary studies for my doctorate at the University of Virginia (PhD). My Yale postdoctoral fellowship expanded my school-based experience by implementing and studying RULER, an approach to teaching emotional intelligence. As research faculty at NYU and Yale University, I honed my research skills and connected research to practice and policy with an emotional intelligence focus.
Jess is an expert in the development and implementation of physical activity programs in schools. Formerly a middle school health education teacher, she has since worked as a Health Education Curriculum Specialist at the Department of Education, and helped revise and develop the National Health Education Standards in 2007. She's currently Director of Cairn Consulting, a US CDC/DASH trainer for the Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT), School Health Index, MMWRs CDCs School Health Guidelines tool, a Let’s Move Active Schools PAL, and a content expert on a select advisory board for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. On August 31, 2013, Jess completed a life goal of bicycling solo across the United States in 90 days and while doing so raised $23,000 for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to fight childhood obesity.
Sandhya believes that participatory design, cross-sector convergence and digital media are critical elements in the shift towards a market-driven global development paradigm. For over 20 years, Sandhya has advised donor agencies, NGOs and corporations on the design, management and evaluation of global development programs and partnerships. Most recently, as a senior advisor at USAID, she co-founded two global public-private partnerships, the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) and mPowering Frontline Health Workers.Sandhya is the founder of impactXdesign, a strategy consulting firm working with mission-driven organizations.
Lauren is a clinical psychologist, author, yoga instructor and mindfulness coach. Her children’s mindfulness book, Visiting Feelings, won the 2013 Mom’s Choice Gold and 2014 Nautilus Silver Awards. She consults to schools and parents on how mind-body practices can help youth learn to self-regulate, and developed the GAB (Grounded & Balanced) Group for Teen Girls. She is the Haiti Project Coordinator for Go Give Yoga.
Kelli is an educator in the field of children's yoga and mindfulness. She teaches at Girls Prep Bronx Elementary in NYC where yoga and mindfulness are embraced as a school wide content area. She recently made a short film, Aliza and the Mind Jar to show the impact of school wide yoga and mindfulness programming on children and families.
Ben works with corporations to maximize their level of pro bono and skilled volunteerism to support schools and nonprofits across the country, helping them use technology more effectively and inspire the next generation STEM professionals. He enjoys being a volunteer mentor and Young Executive board member at iMentor and serves on the board of The Animation Project. Residing in Brooklyn, NY, Ben is an avid Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner. He graduated with a BA in History and Political Science from the University of Delaware.