Board of Directors

Board Chair:

Ami Patel Hopkins is currently serving as a Teacher Resident through Drexel University’s School of Education and The School District of Philadelphia (SDP).  During the teacher residency year, Mrs. Hopkins will earn her certification to teach middle level science while working in a Philadelphia classroom with a mentor teacher.  Prior to this, she was the Kindergarten Transition Fellow for SDP.  In this role, she worked closely with the early learning team as well as a variety of partner agencies to investigate and create solutions to the infrastructure and operational challenges that hinder successful kindergarten transition. Mrs. Hopkins is also the Founder of Asha Advisors, LLC. Mrs. Hopkins was also the Vice President of Teaching, Learning and Innovation at the Philadelphia Education Fund (Ed Fund).  She spearheaded the Ed Fund’s efforts to ensure excellent teachers in every classroom – driving to enhance the preparation, support, and networking of teachers across the city. Mrs. Hopkins also served as Deputy Education Officer to former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter in the Mayor’s Office of Education. She has worked on education reform issues at the national level through the Alliance for Excellent Education, served as an AmeriCorps member in Maryland, has done college access work in a Baltimore high school, and taught first grade in inner-city Miami.  Mrs. Hopkins currently serves as the Chair of the Board Development Committee for Research for Action, and is on the Executive Committee of the John Hopkins University MPP Alumni Association.  She also is an adjunct professor at Drexel University.  She lives in Northwest Philadelphia with her husband and son and they are involved with local efforts with the neighborhood public schools. She earned her master’s degree in public policy with a concentration in education policy from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from the Pennsylvania State University.


Nicole Oddo Smith is the Attorney Recruitment Manager at Dechert LLP where she hires law students and entry level attorneys for the firm. Nicole is actively involved in the legal recruiting community both locally and nationally. She earned a Master in Human Resource Management from Saint Joseph’s University and a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Pennsylvania. Nicole is an active alumna for UPenn and sits on several boards including the Penn Club of Philadelphia and the Regional Clubs Advisory Board. She lives in Philadelphia’s Mount Airy neighborhood with her husband and daughter.


Matthew Riggan is a Co-Founder of the Workshop School, a project-based high school within the School District of Philadelphia’s Innovation Network. As Executive Director of the school’s nonprofit arm, Matt directs research and development, designs and develops systems to support the school’s instructional model, and advocates locally and nationally for schools bringing project-based learning and authentic assessment to high-need communities. Prior to launching the Workshop, Matt was a Senior Researcher at the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, where his work focused on a variety of topics including organizational development, formative assessment, distributed leadership, and high school reform. He earned his Ph.D. in 2005 from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, where he continues to serve as an Adjunct Assistant Professor. He has taught qualitative and mixed methods research for over a decade, and is a co-author of Reason and Rigor: How Conceptual Frameworks Guide Research, now in its second edition.

Board Members:

Benjamin Brock is an educational psychology doctoral candidate at Temple University, where he also serves as the Research Assistant for Temple’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching; he earned his Master of Social Work from Temple and his Bachelor of Arts from Dickinson College.

Benjamin’s former professional roles include, but are not limited to: Director of Education Policy, City Council – City of Philadelphia, Office of Councilwoman Blackwell; Youth Director, Travelers Aid Society of Philadelphia; and 6th and 7th Grade Teacher, Beth David Reform Congregation.

Benjamin lives in Philadelphia with his wife and his cat. In his free time, Benjamin enjoys the outdoors and cooking.


Michael Sack is a visiting senior fellow at Jobs for the Future (JFF) where he works both locally and nationally on innovative education and career success projects aimed at improving pathways to economic mobility for marginalized populations, including Opportunity Youth.

Mr. Sack is a former classroom teacher with extensive background in the fields of urban education, and workforce and youth development. His career has encompassed a distinctive blend of policy, practice, program design and evaluation; and his perspective has been shaped by years of personal connection to front line staff and the populations they serve. This balanced expertise has made him uniquely suited to support a broad array of national educational reform and workforce preparation initiatives.

At Public/Private Ventures in Philadelphia, he led several national demonstration projects aimed at improving the life chances of at-risk youth and young adults and spearheaded the development of several exemplary work/ learning curricula for practitioners and organizations throughout the country. As a visiting Senior Fellow at MDRC in New York, he helped implement a welfare-to-work demonstration for residents of public housing, and later, helped design and test out numerous innovative work-based learning, pathway-to-college, teacher development and student social support models in schools, districts and communities across the country.

Mr. Sack was the founding education director for Youth Empowerment Services (YESPhilly) in Philadelphia where he guided their innovative “GED –to- College” program and distinctive media arts based accelerated high school. Prior to helping establish YESPhilly, he was founding education director of YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School and coach to numerous YouthBuild programs seeking to enhance their work-based education models and college access and retention programs.

Mr. Sack is a frequent presenter at the national, state and local levels and has trained numerous groups of teachers and other professional staff on best practices in youth development, college access, workforce readiness, and education design, curriculum and assessment. He has served on several boards of director, including, most recently, Soccer Without Borders.

Perhaps most importantly, Mr. Sack is known for his wry wit and his unending pride in his own three now-adult children.


Rory Sullivan is a Financial Services Executive and Managing Associate with MassMutual Greater Philadelphia. He works with many young families, pre-retirees, doctors, and small business owners. His goal is to help these individuals maximize their retirement income with a strong comprehensive focus on both the accumulation and income planning phases of retirement. He is also responsible for the growth and development of his firm as he manages a team of advisors and runs numerous training sessions. Rory is also a part of an organization called The College Funding Coach where he teaches parents how to maximize their ability to pay for college through educational seminars and individual consultations.

Rory has participated in numerous fundraising efforts for charities in recent years and is passionate about making a difference in his community. He resides in Manayunk with his spouse and their Australian Shepherd, Frank. He is a Penn State alumnus and enjoys playing golf in his free time.




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