Our Mission: REACH Prep provides access to transformational educational experiences that empower underserved, high-achieving students to graduate from top colleges and emerge as the next generation of leaders.
A Bold Future
Today REACH Prep provides exceptional educational opportunities to 250 students each year in Fairfield and Westchester counties and the Bronx so they will complete college empowered with the skills, confidence and knowledge to have a lasting impact.
“REACH Prep has taught me how to be a leader and has motivated me to do my best in everything I do. Because of REACH Prep I have the opportunity to receive a rigorous education at an independent school, and I am proud to be attending Riverdale Country School.” – Emily P., Cohort 23, Riverdale Country School ’24
REACH Prep Staff
Dr. Candice Clawsoncclawson@reachprep.org
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Candice Clawson has committed her life’s work to educational access and has spent her career both working on college campuses and within the non-profit space to improve college graduation outcomes for minoritized students. She previously served as Managing Director of the Center for Higher Education and Career Support at the Harlem Children’s Zone and the Director of Undergraduate Affairs at Prep for Prep. Candice holds a BS in Management from the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall University. Additionally, she holds a Master’s degree in Higher Education from Teachers College at Columbia University. Her Doctorate in Organizational Change and Leadership was earned from the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. Candice’s research interests center around the environmental factors within schools that can be replicated to ensure Black scholar college readiness, persistence, and graduation.
Director of Administration and Data Management
Jen graduated from Valparaiso University with a Bachelor’s in International Economics. After graduating she worked as an admissions and housing coordinator at an international school in San Diego, California before returning back to school to earn her Master’s in Public Administration. After completing her MPA, she worked overseas in Colombia and India providing support and due diligence for an impact investment firm, seeking to invest in education and healthcare social entrepreneurs. Jen moved to Connecticut in 2013, as an Education Pioneers Analyst Fellow, working on statewide education policy. Since then she has been involved with several nonprofits promoting work to narrow the achievement gap in Connecticut.
Director of 8th, 9th & 10th Grade Programs
Before joining REACH Prep, Rene served as the Administrative Counselor for the Upward Bound Program at Stamford High School, as well as the Academic Mentor for the UConn College Access & Preparation (UCAP) Program. Within these roles, Rene provided support for high school students from low-income families who were the first in their family to attend college. Rene also worked at UConn in the Department of Student Services, where he served as an Academic Advisor. Additionally, Rene worked very closely with UConn’s First-Year Programs & Learning Communities where he mentored students in poor academic standing that were at risk of being dismissed from the university, and helped to connect students to the university’s resources.
Rene, a graduate from the University of Connecticut, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development & Family Studies with a minor in Spanish. Rene joined REACH Prep in 2019.
Director of College Success
Maribel has dedicated her professional career to providing educational access and equity to underserved students. She joined REACH Prep in 2016 as an admissions consultant and has since served as Interim Director of College Guidance, Interim Director of High School Programs, and is currently the Director of College Success. Prior to joining REACH Prep, Maribel worked at The TEAK Fellowship for 10 years and held a several positions including Assistant Director of Post-Placement and Director of Admissions. She also worked in the Education Department at Thirteen/WNET and managed STEM-based literacy programs at various under-resourced Brooklyn, NY schools as Senior Associate Director of Enrichment Programs at the Center for the Urban Environment. Maribel graduated with a B.A. from Rutgers University and earned a Master’s degree in Sociology and Education from Teacher’s College.
Director of Prep Academy and Placement
As a REACH Prep alumnus of the first boy’s graduating class, Cohort 7, David has a long and personal history with REACH Prep. After his Prep Academy experience, David attended Fairfield Country Day School and Avon Old Farms School. As a scholar-athlete, he graduated with a B.S. in Biology from Trinity College (CT) and entered the field of Education. Over the last decade, David has taught science and math, coached, or held leadership positions at New Canaan Country School, his alma mater Fairfield Country Day School, Waterside School and, most recently, Gilman School in Baltimore, Maryland. At Gilman, David served as a middle school science teacher as well as the site director of a youth development nonprofit hosted on the campus, Bridges-Baltimore. During his five years there, David worked with elementary and middle school students from dozens of Baltimore City public schools as he supported their academic and social growth over the program’s 13-year support plan. He is in midst of pursuing his master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit leadership at Villanova University.
David has served as a Prep Academy intern in high school, as a Saturday program science teacher to Cohort 20, and has returned home, on many levels, to the northeast as REACH Prep’s Director of Prep Academy and Placement. In this role, he oversees REACH Prep’s 15-month Prep program beginning at the end of our students’ 4th grade year through the summer before 6th grade. He maintains high academic and community expectations that will prepare the students and their families as they enter the independent schools where they are placed. Having been a Prep Academy scholar himself, David knows the experience well and is passionate in helping our students be their best selves and find success now and in the future.
Brianne is a passionate and motivated development professional committed to supporting communities and families. After receiving her B.A. in Communication with a minor in Educational Studies from Fairfield University, Brianne continued working for Save the Children US where she interned during the second semester of her senior year. She was promoted within the Individual Philanthropy team and later moved into the Humanitarian Fundraising team where she collaborated across the organization to launch campaigns in support of children displaced by disasters and conflict in the US and around the world. Following her four years at Save the Children, Brianne worked on the 5K Program at the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation where she led the execution of 5K Walk/Run events in cities around the country and supported cancer patients and their families with the overall goal of raising money for research for a cure. Brianne joined the REACH Prep team in September 2022 excited to make a positive impact once again in the lives of children and their families, this time in her local community.
Outside of REACH Prep, you might find Brianne reading a mystery book or training for a marathon!
Director of College Guidance
Creating a path to equity and access for underserved students became Samantha’s passion while teaching 5th and 6th grade through Teach for America in Hartford, CT. She left the classroom to pursue her M.S. in Nonprofit Management from Columbia University in 2015. While attending graduate school, Samantha was a Development Associate at The Earth Institute before transitioning into an Assistant Director of Major Gifts and Corporate & Foundation Relations role at Teachers College. She stayed connected to the field of education while working in development by volunteering for Read Ahead; a reading-based mentoring program in Harlem and obtaining a certificate in College Advising. Samantha completed her studies in May 2018 and joined REACH Prep in October 2018. Samantha also holds a B.S. in Business Administration with a minor in Communication Studies from Northeastern University.
Director of Education and Middle School Programs
Becky has held several roles in independent and public schools prior to joining REACH Prep. Most recently, she was the Middle School Director at Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton. Before moving to California, she worked at The Ensworth School in Nashville and Mergenthaler-Vocational Technical School in Baltimore. Becky’s commitment to students began with her work in the Upward Bound Program and as a Corps Member with Teach for America.
Becky holds a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and a MSEd from Johns Hopkins University in Secondary English-Urban Education.
Outside of REACH Prep, Becky reviews books for children and young adults, and she is happy to recommend you a new book to read!
Director of Admission and Enrollment
Marc has held several roles in Admission prior to joining REACH Prep. Most recently, Marc was the Associate Director of Admission and Financial access at the King School in Stamford CT. Marc worked at King for 17 years before joining the REACH Prep team. Marc has worked very closely with REACH prep, enrolling REACH Prep scholars to King year after year and watching those scholars thrive in the independent school environment. Marc has also excelled in coaching at King and for Long Island Express North. Marc has coached Football, Basketball, and is currently coaching lacrosse. Marc is also very passionate about his connection with Harlem Lacrosse, a program that empowers kids who are most at risk for academic decline and dropout to rise above their challenges and reach their full potential. Marc is extremely committed to his work in admission and very excited to be a part of a program like REACH Prep.
Marc holds a B.A. from Iona College and a MSEd from Manhattanville College
Outside of REACH Prep, Marc loves being with his wife and two daughters and playing Golf.
Director of Development
Jill is a dynamic, innovative and creative leader with over 16 years of experience in both profit and nonprofit industries with an expertise in strategy, new business development, corporate partnerships and driving revenue with an entrepreneurial spirit. She is passionate about utilizing her background and skillset to make an impact on children, families and her community. Prior to REACH Prep, Jill was the Director of Development for Circle of Care, a non-profit that serves families of children with cancer, and also worked in development at Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Cystic Fibrosis Foundations. She held positions at Morgan Stanley and Wempe Jewelers in Manhattan prior to transitioning to the nonprofit industry. Jill is a graduate of SUNY Binghamton where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science.
Office Manager and Executive Assistant
Nelsy is the Office Manager and Executive Assistant to the REACH Prep team. With over 25 years of experience in professional office executive assistant positions and a track record of strong performance in high-volume, high-pressure environments, Nelsy skillfully manages administrative duties and ensures the smooth operation of the organization for her colleagues. Prior to joining REACH Prep, Nelsy held positions at various financial institutions including, OneMain Financial, The Royal Bank of Scotland, and Citigroup.
Nelsy is active in the community and volunteers her time as a translator for Spanish speaking only residents of Kings Daughters Senior Housing as well as parents of children with special needs, assisting them in acquiring services and navigating through required documentation.
She studied business administration and hospitality management at LaGuardia Community College.