Team / Staff




Nancy Cesena

Data & Technology Associate

grace-choNancy received her BA in Statistics with a minor in Demography from the University of California, Berkeley. (Go Bears!) While in college, she had the opportunity to serve as a research assistant studying how neighborhood contexts contribute to the social mobility of young Latino/as in East Los Angeles and, for a different study, analyzing the impact of Mexican immigration on race relations in South Carolina through the use of different media outlets. Growing up in Los Angeles, Nancy witnessed firsthand the disparity within the educational system. This exposure, along with her research experience, motivated her to pursue a career where she could help make higher education more accessible for low-income students. When she's not geeking out behind a computer, Nancy enjoys running, biking, snowboarding, and eating Chipotle! She is very excited to be a part of the Quest family! 

 
Grace Cho

Director, Data & Technology

grace-choGrace worked mainly in science and technology firms before she was inspired to join the vibrant QuestBridge team in the summer of 2008.  Having grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Grace returned to live in the Bay Area with her husband and two children.  Grace continues to use her technical skills to manage the data and web applications for the organization.  Grace received her B.S. in Materials Science & Engineering from MIT and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University. 

 
Ziyan Chu

Senior Program Associate, Student Relations

ziyan-chuZiyan was born in China and grew up in the US, where she has lived in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, and New York City. She received a B.S. in Biology from MIT and, upon graduation, worked as a Microbiologist/Virologist at a consumer products company. A few years into the job, she found education to be her passion and has since then worked in Americorps as a Mentor/Tutor and in an EdTech start-up as a Sales Consultant. As a Program Associate in the Quest Scholars Network, she develops the social media content and builds relationships with the talented students of this program. In her free time, she enjoys long distance running, international travel, reading, photography, rock climbing, and being a "foodie" (she loves swapping restaurant recommendations - especially hole-in-the-wall taquerias and ramen spots!).

 
Alana Early

Office Coordinator & Special Projects Associate

alana earlyAlana received her BA from the University of California, Berkeley where she also advised students struggling with financial aid, enrollment and discrimination issues. This hands-on experience opened her eyes to the barriers standing between bright, low-income students and the education they deserve. At Quest, Alana is excited to combine her passion for college access with her experience in community service. Before joining the Quest team, Alana worked with the U.S. Federal Government and several nonprofits on economic development, trade and human rights projects. 

 
Tara Filer

Director, Student Relations

tara-filerTara grew up in the Seattle area and earned her BA in Spanish Language and Literature and an English as a Second language teaching certificate from the University of Montana. Tara’s love for teaching and language led her to Southern Italy where she completed her MA in Italian Studies and taught students of all ages (and enjoyed the fantastic food!). Back stateside, she taught at and managed various English Language schools in California. During this time, she further developed her love of educating youth and helping them realize their dreams. She had the opportunity to travel with and teach many talented young leaders of the world through the English Access Microscholarship Program and decided it was time to start making more of a difference. And then she found QuestBridge. She is excited to be a member of the team, helping us grow our educational resources and community among Quest Scholars.

 
Rachel Fishbein

Program Manager, Quest for Excellence New York City Award

rachel-fishbeinRachel grew up in Manhattan and received her BA in Psychology from Cornell University.  Through research and volunteering, she became very interested in education, and upon graduation returned to New York City where she taught in the public and charter school system through Teach For America.  During that time she earned an MS from Pace University in Childhood education, and decided to move her focus from academics to student support and college access.  She attended the Stanford Graduate School of Education where she earned an MA in Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies, and was first introduced to QuestBridge as an application reader.  After graduation she spent time working at the Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, IL, and then ultimately made her way back to New York City where she lives with her husband and their dog Lily.  Rachel has seen firsthand the wonderful work that Quest does, and is so excited to further those benefits through the Quest for Excellence NYC Award!

 
Lisa Gordon

Communications Manager, Student Relations

imgOriginally from the Boston area, Lisa received her BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked in publishing for four years before moving to San Francisco. While pursuing her MFA in Writing at California College of the Arts, Lisa found a way to combine her passion for community service and the arts by volunteering at literary outreach organizations like 826 Valencia and working as a writing teacher and mentor to students of all ages and backgrounds. This ultimately inspired her to commit to educational non-profit work, and she is thrilled to be a member of the QuestBridge team.

 
Marcia Kilcrease

Human Resources & Office Manager

marcia-kilcreaseMarcia is passionate about supporting the people side of business. She received her BS in Business Administration from the University of Colorado and brings over 20 years of Human Resources experience to her role on the Quest Team. While Marcia began her career in nonprofit, she has worked at various software and Internet companies, from a small start-up to global corporations, since moving to the Bay Area. She is excited to now have the opportunity to support the Quest staff in achieving our mission by making a real difference in the lives of individuals and in the future of our communities.

 
Maureen Kim

Program Manager, Student Relations

maureen_kimMaureen grew up in Northern New Jersey and attended the University of Michigan, receiving her BA in Communication Studies.  After working at a corporate law firm in New York City for a few years, she found her passion for urban education reform by joining Teach for America.  After teaching in Newark, New Jersey, she made the cross country move to the Bay Area with her husband and taught for another year in East San Jose.  Through her experiences in the classroom, Maureen saw firsthand the impact that equal access to education and opportunities can have on students of low-income communities.  She is thrilled to join the QuestBridge team, where she can continue her work in education on a greater scale.

 
Miriam Lee

Director, Partner Relations

miriam-leeOriginally from a small town in Northern New Jersey, Miriam attended Boston College and graduated with a BA in Human Development and Sociology. She worked for over three years as an Assistant Buyer for a department store before deciding to turn her growing interest in education and student development into a full-time career. It was at Teachers College at Columbia University that Miriam discovered her passion for educational access. She graduated with an MA in Higher Education and went on to be an Assistant Director of Admissions at Boston University. She is excited to be in the Bay Area and working at QuestBridge, where she is able to combine her passion and experiences into helping students reach their academic potential.

 
Mursil Makhani

Data & Technology Project Manager

mursil_makhaniMursil received his dual degrees in Industrial Engineering and Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley. While in college, he had the opportunity to serve as a counselor, coordinator, and chair of Camp Kesem Berkeley, a nonprofit organization that puts on a camp for kids whose parents have or have had cancer. After college, Mursil worked with a small company to build highly accurate mapping databases for public safety agencies around the country, leading several large and high profile projects. Mursil is a big fan of many sports, particularly the NFL. He also enjoys being a nerd on Code Academy or taking other professional development coursework. Mursil is very excited to be a part of the Quest family!

 
Kim Marar

Associate Director, Partner Relations

kim-mararOriginally from the Bay Area, Kim attended UCLA where she earned bachelor’s degrees in History/Art History and French.  After working in the museum industry for several years, she went back to school to earn her Ed.M at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  While in Boston, Kim worked with college-bound low-income students and became focused on access to higher education.  She came back to California where she worked on higher education access for low-income students for 10,000 Degrees and then in the scholarships division and as an admissions reader for the University of California, Irvine.  Kim is thrilled to be a part of the QuestBridge team.

 
Ana Rowena McCullough, J.D.

Founder and CEO

ana-mcculloughAna co-founded the Quest Scholars Program with Michael McCullough while an undergraduate at Stanford. For this, she received the Dinkelspiel Award for outstanding contributions to education at Stanford. Ana is Co-Founder and former VP, Content at Shmoop.com, and is a former management consultant at McKinsey & Company. In addition, she worked for five years as a consulting scientist to the Environmental Defense Fund, a national non-profit environmental organization, and served as a research associate for Stanford President Emeritus Donald Kennedy. Ana holds a J.D. degree from Stanford Law School where she focused on environmental and youth law. Together with her husband Michael, Ana serves as Co-Founder of the Quest Scholars Program and QuestBridge.

 
Michael McCullough, M.D., M.Sc.

Founder and President

michael-mcculloughMichael co-founded the Quest Scholars Program with Ana Rowena McCullough following his successful co-founding, direction and institutionalization of the Stanford Medical Youth Science Program from 1987-1989. After attending medical school at the University of California San Francisco, Michael trained in emergency medicine at the Stanford University Hospital. In his early years, Michael became the first undergraduate to teach at the Stanford Medical School. Michael attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, served as the student advisor to the Oregon State Board of Education, and has successfully founded several local, regional and overseas health related public service projects. Michael, together with his wife Ana, serves as Co-Founder and Co-President of the Quest Scholars Program, and QuestBridge.

 
Chris Moradi

Data & Technology Engineer

chris-moradiChris grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After graduation, he left the Midwest for the San Francisco Bay Area and worked for several years as an engineer. A growing desire to transition to a career in education led Chris to return to school at San Francisco State where he received a high school teaching credential and master's degree in mathematics. Before coming to QuestBridge, he taught students with disabilities at City College of San Francisco for several years. As a member of the QuestBridge data and technology team, Chris has been able to unite his technical background with his strong desire to improve access to educational opportunities.

 
Holly Paulsen

Program Associate, Student Relations

holly-paulsen

Holly is originally from Colorado, just outside of Denver, and still considers herself a Coloradan at heart. She received a BA in English from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. After graduation, she moved to the Bay Area where she spent many years in higher education publishing as a production editor for textbooks in the humanities and social sciences. She first came to QuestBridge in 2012 to assist during the College Match application process, and enjoyed it so much she returned early in 2013 during the College Prep Scholarship application process. She is excited to now be a permanent member of the team, and looks forward to continue helping outstanding students realize their dreams of attending a top college.

 

 
Eric Sansone

Program Associate, Student Relations

eric-sansoneEric, a New Hampshirite, initially attended Ithaca College in New York where he studied Spanish, French & Dance but eventually transferred to earn his B.S. in Mathematics-Physics at Keene State College. In the summer of 2011 he held a research internship in Astronomy at the University of Hawaii-Manoa in Honolulu. For three months he researched planetary dynamics in Binary star systems while gallivanting amongst the Hawaiian Islands. After graduating, Eric taught Math, Astronomy, and Mythology at KSC Upward Bound where he met the most talented, resilient, and inspiring population of students he had ever come across after ten years in the classroom. While graduate school in Physics & Astronomy lured him to the Bay Area originally, it was the love of those students that inspired him to remain and join the QuestBridge team.

 
Jennifer Stein

Director, External Relations

jennifer-steinJennifer grew up moving between Japan and the United States, going to school in Tokyo and Durham, NC before attending high school in Newton, MA. Her interest in working in education comes from her experiences going to many different schools as a child. She graduated from Harvard University with a BA in Social Studies, and later completed her Master's in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. Prior to joining QuestBridge, she worked for several different education-focused organizations, including time at the New York City Department of Education and as an Education Pioneers fellow at Foundation for a College Education in East Palo Alto.

 
Leslie Sullivan

Director, Student Relations

leslie-sullivanLeslie grew up in rural Northern Wisconsin, with lots of trees, lakes, and wild animals. She then moved out to the East Coast, where she not only earned her BA in Economics at Harvard University, but also began working to help low-income students gain access to higher education by working in financial aid at the university. Besides working in financial aid for over eight years, Leslie also spent time doing education research in Washington DC and working as a project manager for an education technology company before joining QuestBridge in 2011.

 
Grace Sun

Manager, Communications & External Relations

grace sunGrace has experience in higher education administration and non-profit communications. Shortly after graduating from Stanford University, she served as a college counselor at an education start-up in the Bay Area. She received an Ed.M. at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and then served as the school's Assistant Director of Admissions, and as the communications manager at an educational non-profit in the Boston area. Relocating again to northern California, she returned to her interest in undergraduate admissions by reading applications for Stanford University, and is happy to now contribute to the work of QuestBridge. Grace is originally from Southern California, and spends her free time running after 3 young kids, including a set of twins.

 
Daniel Wilson

Data & Technology Associate

daniel-wilsonDaniel grew up in Florida and Alabama before becoming a Quest Scholar and receiving an incredible opportunity to attend Oxford University in the UK on a full scholarship. At Oxford, Daniel completed his BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and became involved in working with the under-represented groups of students at the university and low income students in the area. After his own experiences growing up in a low-income family and using Quest's resources as a student, Daniel is now thrilled to be helping high-achieving, low–income students succeed as a member of the Quest team.

 


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