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.
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.
Veronica oberholzer, development and communications coordinator
Veronica Oberholzer was born and raised in Oakland, California. She received her BA from Smith College, where she studied economics and philosophy. Volunteer work, especially in the fields of food justice and education, has always been Veronica’s passion, and she enjoyed serving on the Student Executive Board of the Community Service Office at Smith. She has volunteered with children on both coasts and is excited to have a job in which she can continue helping students realize their dreams. Outside of her work at Horizons, Veronica volunteers at Oakland Elizabeth House, plays violin in the Holy Names University Orchestra, and serves on the board of the East Bay Smith Club.
blackberrie eddins, americorps vista
Blackberrie Eddins is a native Californian who graduated from Johns Hopkins University in May with a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering. Outside of her academic pursuits, she was an active community member in Baltimore. Blackberrie previously served as the Operations and Projects Manager of Ready, Set, Design, an on-campus organization that hosts engineering events to get girls interested in STEM. She also coordinated with Baltimore community centers POWER House and UA House to provide arts programming as President of Art Brigade. In her free time Blackberrie enjoys reading or doing art projects. She is currently applying to medical school, and excited to spend her gap year working at Horizons in San Francisco!