Full-Time Staff

Abby Rovner

Abby Rovner, executive director

Abby Rovner served as San Francisco Friends School's Middle and High School Transition Coordinator from 2011 to 2015. In this role, she led the high school transition process, welcomed and oriented students and families new to the middle school, spearheaded the launch of the new Friends Community Scholars program, and strengthened partnerships with a range of Mission-based education and youth development agencies.

Prior to coming to SFFS, Abby started and ran "I Have a Dream" – San Francisco (IHAD-SF), a nonprofit college and career preparedness program that served a cohort of low-income youth from San Francisco's Mission and Bayview/Hunter's Point neighborhoods.  During her 12 years as Executive Director of IHAD, Abby and her team provided unwavering support to the “Dreamers” and their families as they developed the motivation and skills necessary to grow up healthy, educated, and college-bound.  

Bilingual in Spanish and English, Abby has taught Language Arts, Literature, and ESL to recently immigrated middle school students, worked in the administration of a community charter school, and served as mentor and guide for Waking the Village, a nonprofit that brought eighteen at-risk and homeless youth on a cross-country bicycle trip. She has an M.A. in Educational Policy Analysis and Evaluation from Stanford University.

Abby strongly believes in the mission of Horizons National and in the approach the program takes to strengthening elementary education, leveraging resources, and providing summer enrichment opportunities for underserved children. She feels fortunate to be building the first west coast Horizons program with the collaboration of the Mission and SFFS communities, and with the expertise and dedication of the program's talented and inspiring teachers and staff.

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Ariel Mendez-Peñate, Part-time Academic Program Director

Ariel Mendez-Peñate was born and raised in Marin County.  He received a BS degree from University of Santa Cruz in Geophysics.  Ariel is currently working on his Master's degree in Mathematics Education at San Francisco State University. He has taught both math and science at the middle school and high school levels. In his teaching practice Ariel is passionate about math fluency and fostering a curiosity about science.  He enjoys taking students into the outdoors and exploring new environments. Ariel is excited to join the Horizons at SFFS team and to build a strong connection with the program's community in the neighborhood in which he lives. He spends his free time chasing after his two children, riding mountain bikes, and cooking a variety of different cuisines.  Ariel grew up bilingual (Spanish) and bicultural (Cuban American) and hopes to instill pride in his children for their multi lingual and cultural heritage.

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Liam McCarthy, AmeriCorps VISTA 2019-20

Liam McCarthy was born and raised in San Francisco, California. He graduated from Boston College last May with a BA in English and Secondary Education. While in college, Liam worked on a number of research projects studying youth basketball coaching and emergent bilingual curriculum. Through these projects, Liam developed a passion for positive youth development and social justice through education. He previously worked as a Teaching Fellow for Citizen Schools, an after-school program for middle-schoolers located in Redwood City. With Citizen Schools, Liam helped volunteers teach their passions like coding and yoga. Outside of work, Liam loves music and reading. He is looking forward to working with Horizons to bring quality educational opportunities to children in San Francisco!