Board of Directors

The twelve members of Blue Engine’s Board of Directors together hold fiduciary responsibility and governing authority over the organization. The Board of Directors is a distinguished group of leaders whose expertise helps guide and grow Blue Engine’s impact as an organization. The team meets quarterly in New York City.

Paul Appelbaum

Early Stage Investor and Advisor

Paul Appelbaum is an early stage investor and advisor, primarily in technology-focused start-ups. Paul enjoys start-ups, both for-profit and not-for-profit. Paul was a founder and the President of the nation’s largest online food ordering company Seamless (now a public company as Grub Hub). Paul then moved to the education not-for-profit world as the founding Chief Operating Officer and senior advisor of Teacher U (now the Relay Graduate School of Education), an innovative master’s degree program focused on training highly effective teachers. Paul is currently the founding board chair of Families for Excellent Schools, a not-for-profit that harnesses the power of families to advance policy and political changes that create and sustain excellent schools. Paul earned his BA from Binghamton University and his JD from New York University School of Law. He lives in New York City.

Sonia Kapadia

Founder and CEO, Taste Savant

Sonia Kapadia is Founder and CEO of Taste Savant, a restaurant discovery site based in NYC. Taste Savant aggregates and curates content from sources users trust including their friends, critics, bloggers, and other users to help the discerning diner decide where to eat. Prior to launching Taste Savant, Sonia worked at numerous consumer facing companies and has deep experience in Brand Management, Marketing, and General Management. She spent 5 years at PepsiCo in the US and the UK. She had the entrepreneurial itch and left Pepsi to become CMO of a consumer products startup in the UK called Gu Chocolate Desserts ( which was sold in 2010 to another private company. Beyond consumer products, she also has spent time in fashion and retail. She was a Strategy Manager at Henri Bendel and was a Marketing Director at Rent the Runway, managing Business Development and Partnerships. She has a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Jessica Kearns

Head of the J.P. Morgan TMT Syndicated and Leveraged Finance Group

Jessica Kearns joined J.P. Morgan in 1997 and has over 20 years of Investment Banking experience. She has been exclusively focused on the Technology, Media & Telecommunications sector and debt product during her investment banking career. Jessica holds a BA in Economics from Connecticut College and an MBA from Columbia University. Prior to joining J.P. Morgan, Jessica worked as a Vice President for TD Securities in the Communications Finance Group. Jessica also spent two years as an Economic Research Analyst for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Brett Kimmel

Principal, Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School

Brett Kimmel is the founding Principal of Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS), a public school that opened in the fall of 2006 in New York City that currently enrolls six hundred and fifty students in 6th – 12th grade. He was rated as the Most Competent High School Principal in Manhattan, according to the 2010-2011 New York City Department of Education Learning Environment Survey and is a 2012 America Achieves Education Champion Fellow. From 2002-2006, Brett was Assistant Principal at Intermediate School 143 in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. Prior to becoming Assistant Principal in 2002, he was the Project Director for Extended Learning Opportunities at New York University’s Metropolitan Center for Urban Education. At N.Y.U. Brett was responsible for the oversight of six after-school programs that served approximately 1,350 students and had a $1.5 million operating budget. Brett is a Teach for America alumnus and taught 5th grade in Houston, Texas. He holds a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan and a Master’s Degree in Education Administration from New York University. Brett was a 2010 Cahn Fellow for Distinguished New York City Principals at Teachers College, Columbia University, was featured in Wendy Kopp’s book A Chance to Make History. He and WHEELS have been profiled on NBC’s Today Show and in The New York Times.

Mike O’Brien

CEO of iMentor

Since joining iMentor in 2003, Mike has worked across many functions of the organization, supporting mentor-mentee pairs, developing curriculum, and establishing strategic partnerships. Mike has helped grow the organization from six employees serving 400 New York City high school students to more than 70 employees who serve 1,800 local students. Under his leadership, the organization launched iMentor Interactive, which has formed partnerships with 30 non-profits across the country to help them implement effective mentoring programs in the iMentor model. Mike began his career as a teacher in East New York, Brooklyn, where he also coached the boys’ basketball team and launched an after-school writing program. Mike is a graduate of Bucknell University.

Andrew Rafal

Director of Research/Partner, Tiger Consumer Management

Andrew Rafal is the Director of Research and a partner at Tiger Consumer Management, a New York based hedge fund. He joined Tiger Consumer in 2003 upon graduation from law school. Andrew holds a B.A. in Psychology from Cornell University (2000) and a J.D. from NYU School of Law (2003). He serves as a Trustee of the Tiger Foundation, which has since 1989 provided financial support to the top nonprofit organizations serving New York’s neediest families. Andrew sits on the education committee for the foundation.

Len Rubin

Chief Information Officer, Achievement Network

Len Rubin is the CIO of Achievement Network. Len provided IT consulting for the Chief Information Officers of Kipp NY and Achievement First. In the education technology sphere, Len worked with the Newark, New Jersey school system as well as the Rice University REEP program on a survey of the K-12 Ed Tech landscape. Before becoming an independent consultant, Len was the Vice President Human Resources/Corporate Services Business Technology at Pfizer Worldwide Technology. Over twelve years, Len held a number of different IT positions across Pfizer. He was most recently responsible for the business technology support for Global Human Resources, the Legal Division, Worldwide Policy and Planning, Global Operations and the Executive Leadership Team. Previously, he was responsible for managing all the global Human Resources Information System activity for the Pfizer Pharmaceutical Group (PGP) and for organizational development within the PGP Global Business Technology group. For the five prior years , he was responsible for overseeing business technology activity for Japan, Asia, Africa, and Latin America (JAALA) region. Trained as a sociologist, Len began his career as a professor and researcher at Montclair State College and the National Academy of Science for ten years. While researching how scientists perceive failure and success, he developed an unexpected passion for computing. This passion led him to take a leap from academia into the world of business, where he pursued this evolving interest. Len moved on to work as an IT Manager at American Express and then the New York County District Attorney’s office, where he worked as IT director to develop an IT infrastructure that enabled the office to become the leader in investigating and prosecuting white collar criminal activity. Len received a B.S. from Cornell University and a PhD in Sociology from SUNY at Stony Brook.

Lauren Salem

Independent Consultant

Lauren Salem is an independent consultant dedicated to serving non-profits and education-related organizations. She has worked with organizations such as Education Through Music, Manhattan Country School, Let’s Get Ready and Sponsors for Educational Opportunity. Prior to focusing on education, Lauren worked in marketing strategy and analysis at Digitas, private equity investing at Goldman Sachs and investment banking at Morgan Stanley. Currently, she actively invests and manages a portfolio of private real estate and early-stage investments in companies across various industries. Lauren has also served as a member of the steering committee of the Young Patrons of Lincoln Center since 2008 and is a founding family and member of the steering committee of Lincoln Center Kids. Lauren graduated summa cum laude in economics from Princeton University and has an MBA from Harvard Business School. She lives in New York City with her husband and three young children.

Daniel Senft

Senior Analyst and Partner, Coatue Management

Daniel Senft is a Senior Analyst and Partner at Coatue Management, a technology-focused hedge fund with offices in New York and Menlo Park, CA. He is responsible for the firm’s internet and media investments. Prior to joining Coatue, Daniel was a Private Equity Associate at The Blackstone Group in New York and Hong Kong, and a Business Analyst and Engagement Manager with McKinsey & Co. where he spent time consulting pro bono for various nonprofits in New York City. Daniel graduated Summa Com Laude from Yale where he majored in Economics & Mathematics. Daniel is a former elite fencer and an active triathlete.

Colleen Tompkins

Lawyer and Non-profit/pro-bono Consultant

Colleen Tompkins consults with non-profit education and social service organizations including The Foundling and TEAK on public policy and legal matters. She also serves on the Board of Directors for The Foundling. Prior to working with non-profit organizations, she practiced law as an Assistant District Attorney for New York County with a focus on domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. Colleen also taught fourth grade in the Bay Area and in Compton through Teach for America. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in history from the University of California, Berkeley, has a J.D. from Georgetown Law Center, and a M.P.P. from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Dominic Wilson

Chief Markets Economist, Goldman Sachs & Co

Dominic Wilson is the Chief Markets Economist and co-Head of Global Economic Research at Goldman Sachs in New York. He and his team are responsible for translating the firm’s economic views into the major asset markets and for producing global thematic research, including much of the research into the emergence of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, Dominic worked as a consultant on Asia Pacific economic policy issues. Dominic earned a first class honors degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Merton College, Oxford, a master’s degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a PhD in Economics from the Australian National University. He is proud to have three daughters in the New York public school system.

Nick Ehrmann

CEO and Founder, Blue Engine

Nick has served as CEO & Founder of Blue Engine since 2009. Ehrmann began his career in education as a Teach for America corps member in Washington D.C., joining forces with local philanthropists in 2002 to launch the nonprofit “I Have a Dream”—Project 312. The partnership secured over $1M in commitments for a ten year, comprehensive youth development program for his fourth-grade students, many of whom are struggling to make it in the world of higher education. In 2003 he began graduate work at Princeton University as a William G. Bowen fellow and completed his PhD in sociology in 2010. His dissertation—Yellow Brick Road—explored the negative effects of academic underperformance on the transition from high school to college. Nick was selected as a finalist for the Washington D.C. First-Year Teacher of the Year award and the national Teach For America Sue Lehmann Award and was named an Echoing Green Fellow in 2010. He currently lives in New York City.