Board of Directors

The ten 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.

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.

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.


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.