Skip to main content
Behind the Biography

Behind the Biography

By Envision by WorldStrides

Get to know some of the people who are doing the work you want to do.
Where to listen
Apple Podcasts Logo

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts Logo

Google Podcasts

Pocket Casts Logo

Pocket Casts

RadioPublic Logo

RadioPublic

Spotify Logo

Spotify

Currently playing episode

Behind the Biography: Ryan Valdez

Behind the Biography

1x
Meet the Program Delivery Team with Matt Pollard
Meet the Program Delivery Team with Matt Pollard
Todays episode will be another installment of the "Meet the Team" series, where we introduce you to the influencers within Envision and the greater WorldStrides organization. For this episode we are joined by Matt Pollard. Matt is one of the newest member of the Product Delivery team after moving over from our sales and delivery team in the fall of 2021. He is currently serving in the role of Program Manager of our National Security, Intensive Law & Trial and the Global Young Leaders Conference (Matt made the switch after this episode was recorded). 
42:36
April 20, 2022
Giving Back Through Social Entrepreneurship with Khalique Rogers
Giving Back Through Social Entrepreneurship with Khalique Rogers
This week we are joined by Khalique Rogers. Khalique is the founder of Good Riddance Consulting, where he works on social impact initiatives in the Minnesota area. As a social entrepreneur, Khalique finds success in amplifying the voices of his community through facilitation and storytelling. He specializes in life skill development for students of all ages by focusing on goal setting, self-accountability, and positive health and wellness.
01:01:17
April 07, 2022
The Power in Seizing Opportunity with Marion Gomez
The Power in Seizing Opportunity with Marion Gomez
Today’s episode will be another installment of our “Meet the Team” series, where we introduce you to the influencers within Envision and the greater WorldStrides organization. Today we have the pleasure of being joined by Marion Gomez. Marion joined WorldStrides in 2008 where she is currently Head of Performing and Business Transformation. Since she joined Marion has been transcending her role and as a resource to and for her colleagues. Since the inception of our Employee Resource groups, she has been a positive presence and serves as a Co-Chair for the Fempowerment ERG
47:29
March 23, 2022
Being a Part of Something Larger Than Yourself with Ashley Turnbull
Being a Part of Something Larger Than Yourself with Ashley Turnbull
Ashley Turnbull is a computer scientist for the FBI Cyber Division, where she began her government service in 2019.  Prior to joining the FBI, she worked as a data analyst in the private sector for 5 years.  She received a Bachelor's degree in computer science from Saint Francis University, with minors in mathematics, information systems management, and servant leadership.  She then received a Master's degree in information management and data analytics from the University of Maryland, College Park. Ashley takes pride in using her knowledge and skills to work for the FBI mission, which is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States.
33:36
March 09, 2022
Black History Month with the BOLD Employee Resource Group
Black History Month with the BOLD Employee Resource Group
For this special episode we are joined by all three co-chairs of our BOLD (Black Organization for Leadership and Development) Employee Resource Group; Milani Porter, Jeffery Heard, and our very own Joe Thompson. Enjoy listening to this dynamic group discuss the 2022 theme of Black History Month - Black Health and Wellness.
45:03
February 28, 2022
Bridging the STEM Talent Gap with Dr. Subrina Oliver
Bridging the STEM Talent Gap with Dr. Subrina Oliver
This week we are joined by Dr. Subrina Oliver. Dr. Oliver holds position of Chief Executive Officer of O-High Technologies, LLC where she also Founded the O-High Foundation. Both roles allow her to pursue the mission of improving the talent pool of STEM professionals here in the U.S. Dr. Oliver’s efforts to highlight the lack of diversity and inclusivity in the STEM field truly makes her a pioneer. You can hear Dr. Oliver as a career panelist at our National Youth Leadership Forum: Explore STEM. Here to share with us the many ways she has embodied being a STEMinist and how she’ll continue to be a leader in the fight for those who are underrepresented in the STEM field.
56:10
February 23, 2022
Moving Us Closer to Sustainability with Molly Laycob
Moving Us Closer to Sustainability with Molly Laycob
Today’s episode will be another installment of our “Meet the Team” series, as we have the pleasure of chatting with Molly Laycob. Molly is the second member of our Corporate Social Responsibility Team, where she is the head of Sustainability. She has spent the last year improving WorldStrides efforts to go green both in our office and program cultures. Most notably, Molly has been able to turn her passion for international education and environmental studies into a career opportunity.
37:14
February 09, 2022
Using Adversity to Drive you Forward with Brian Freitag
Using Adversity to Drive you Forward with Brian Freitag
This week we are joined by Brian Freitag. Brian is a Physical Scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, also know as NASA. In his role, Brian has a birds eye view of earth from what feels like light years away. Today we are going to talk about what it takes to live out every little kid’s dream, to work for NASA and some of the memorable experiences he’s had along the way. NASA COVID Dashboard - https://earthdata.nasa.gov/covid19/ NASA Worldview (visualization platform for NASA's Earth science data) - https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/ NASA Earthdata Search (data access platform for NASA's Earth science data) - https://search.earthdata.nasa.gov/search LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/brian-freitag-9a12548a/ Twitter - https://twitter.com/FreitagB
37:60
January 26, 2022
Learning About Yourself Through Travel with Dr. Grace Mukupa
Learning About Yourself Through Travel with Dr. Grace Mukupa
This week we are joined by Dr. Grace Mukupa. Dr. Mukupa holds a PhD in International Development, and is a recognized expert in agriculture, gender, community development and of course international development. She has worked with many organizations such as the United Nations, European Union abroad, and the U.S. Federal and state governments. You can hear Dr. Mukupa as a keynote speaker at our Global Young Leaders Conference, and as a Diplomacy Panelist at our Careers in National Security Conference.
38:36
January 12, 2022
Leadership Through Service with Amanda Whitener
Leadership Through Service with Amanda Whitener
This episode we will continue our “Meet the Team” series where we introduce our listeners to the Envisionaries that make our programs possible. Today we are joined by Amanda Whitener, the new Vice President of Education Experience. She has spent the last few years at Envision, operating as the head of our HS Stem Suite of programs. She has been one of the driving forces in Envisions student centric program improvements during her tenure.
43:53
December 29, 2021
From the Jr National Young Leaders Conference to The White House with Brandon Greene
From the Jr National Young Leaders Conference to The White House with Brandon Greene
This week we are joined by Brandon Greene. Brandon has been a part of the Envision Community since he first attended our Jr National Young Leaders Conference back in 2009. Since that summer he has been celebrated for his community involvement, been a leader in the charge against bullying and has given back to the Envision students that intend on following in his footsteps. His work on Anti-Bullying has even led him all the way to The White House for recognition for President and First Lady Obama. You can hear Brandon as a keynote speaker at our Junior National Young Leaders Alumni Conference in Boston, MA.
33:42
December 15, 2021
The Power in Learning to Love Yourself with Savannah Peterson
The Power in Learning to Love Yourself with Savannah Peterson
Our favorite Chief Unicorn Officer, Savannah Peterson, returns for Season 2. Savannah talks candidly about her struggles during the pandemic, learning to love herself and her path of self discovery that started this summer with her return to travel. There is a lot going on in this episode so maybe listen to it twice. 
49:09
December 01, 2021
The Importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Corporate Space with Yolanda Golden
The Importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Corporate Space with Yolanda Golden
This season on the BTB podcast we plan on continuing to learn more about the speakers who share their stories with our students each summer, but we will also introduce our listeners to the movers and shakers that make our programs worthwhile. This episode we will kick off our “Meet the Team” series where we introduce our listeners to the team members that work tirelessly to create memorable experiences for our customers. Today I am joined by Yolanda Golden, the new head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at WorldStrides. She has spent The last few years at Envision, operating as one of the Vice Presidents of Education Experience before moving into her new role.
33:48
November 17, 2021
Eradicating the Gender Wage Gap, One Bean At a Time - Abhinav Khanal
Eradicating the Gender Wage Gap, One Bean At a Time - Abhinav Khanal
Find out more about Bean Voyage here: https://www.beanvoyage.org/ The documentary "Stronger than Coffee": https://seedandspark.com/fund/mas-que-un-cafe#story For internship opportunities reach out to the team here: hello@beanvoyage.org
43:12
October 27, 2021
Behind the Biography: Malaika Serrano
Behind the Biography: Malaika Serrano
This week we are joined by special guest Malaika Serrano. Malaika is a certified Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) professional who has a burning passion for driving systemic change that benefits historically marginalized communities. She spent her undergraduate days at the University of Southern Cal, before heading east to pursue her Masters at the University of Maryland and obtain her Diversity and Inclusion Certification from Cornell. She has her Ph.D in Environmental Science & Policy from the nearby George Mason University. Malaika is someone who finds joy in connecting with people from all walks of life and loved her experiences living and teaching abroad. 
43:56
August 18, 2021
Behind the Biography: Ryan Valdez
Behind the Biography: Ryan Valdez
This week we are joined by special guest Ryan Valdez. Ryan is a STEM career and academic mentor who advises students on development strategies for their future employment and the university application process. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University, and after graduation pursued his Masters at Yale University and his Ph.D in Environmental Science & Policy from the nearby George Mason University. He has since assumed the title of Director of Conservation Science & Policy at the National Parks Conservation Association. Regularly he engages students in conversations on topics of conservation, science and policy. Envision scholars will be able to share in that experience this summer at our Global Young Leaders Conference in Washington, DC.
52:14
August 04, 2021
Behind the Biography: Bianca Jackson
Behind the Biography: Bianca Jackson
This week we are joined by Bianca Jackson. Bianca is an award-winning technology project manager, career and leadership consultant, and social entrepreneur. As a Philadelphia, PA native she learned resilience and the benefits of team building early on. She spent her undergraduate days at nearby Drexel University where she led or started numerous organizations. Bianca has since received many awards on her journey to becoming a social brand marketing guru and is currently the owner/operator of two Businesses, BrickRose Exchange and Jax Digital LLC. You can hear Bianca as a guest speaker at Envision’s Junior National Young Leaders Alumni Conference in Boston, MA.
50:27
July 21, 2021
Behind the Biography: Meg O'Brien
Behind the Biography: Meg O'Brien
This week we are joined by Meg O’Brien. Ms. O’Brien is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and received her MS in Forensic Science. While working in the field of toxicology she took post graduate classes to learn more about crime scene investigation, which put her on the path to be a crime scene technician. She is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the Mid-Atlantic Association for Forensic Sciences. Meg also sits on the Board of Directors of he American Board of Forensic Document Examination.
40:22
July 07, 2021
Behind the Biography: Machin Norris
Behind the Biography: Machin Norris
This week we are joined by Machin Norris. As a middle and high school science teacher in Northern Colorado she has taught STEAM, Agriculture-Natural and Renewable resources and Gifted Education. Ms. Norris is currently a STEM Integration Specialist and teaches Senior STEM Capstones. She does that, while also working closely with families and community resources to assist students in truancy and behavioral modifications. Ms. Norris has been a part of Envision’s Aerospace & Aviation Academy Team.
44:40
June 23, 2021
Behind the Biography: Amanda Freitag Thomas
Behind the Biography: Amanda Freitag Thomas
This week we are joined by Amanda Freitag Thomas. Amanda currently serves as Head of K12 Individual Education Travel and Experience at WorldStrides. Amanda’s journey to her current role is one admired by all Envisionaries. Once an Alumna of an Envision by WorldStrides career exploration program, she has spent over a decade serving in various program and supervisory roles. Her impact goes far beyond the program experience for our scholars and their families
29:09
June 09, 2021
Behind the Biography: Dr. Sean Aday
Behind the Biography: Dr. Sean Aday
Sean Aday joined the George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs in 2000, after completing his Ph.D. and a post-doctoral fellowship at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. His work focuses on the intersection of the press, politics, and public opinion, especially in relation to war and foreign policy, public diplomacy, and the role of digital media in democracy movements and countering violent extremism. Dr. Aday has published widely on subjects ranging from the effects of watching local television news, to coverage of American politics and media coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been involved in global media and government capacity training projects, including work in Iraq and Afghanistan. For seven years Dr. Aday directed GW’s Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication and its Global Communications M.A. program. As part of a National Science Foundation grant, he, along with two colleagues, conducted a series of surveys about Americans' attitudes about government and media following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Recently he received a grant from the Hewlett Foundation to study media coverage of cyber security issues. Aday was also the principle investigator for DC Student Voices, a curriculum-based project in Washington DC high schools that aimed to get students more involved in politics. He has been a frequent commentator in the press on news coverage of elections, crime, and war.
39:35
May 26, 2021
Behind the Biography: Tokiwa Smith
Behind the Biography: Tokiwa Smith
A native of Miami, Florida and an alumna of Florida A & M University, Ms. Tokiwa T. Smith is a Chemical Engineer, Social Entrepreneur and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Educator. She has over 15 years’ experience in education, government and philanthropy having worked for organizations such as Atlanta Public Schools, California State University East Bay, Georgia State University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Spelman College. Ms. Smith the Founder and Executive Director of Science, Engineering and Mathematics Link Inc., also known as SEM Link, a nonprofit organization that exposes urban youth to STEM and STEM Careers by connecting to the STEM community. She is the CEO and Principal Consultant of Kemet Educational Services, a STEM educational consulting firm that focuses on ensuring that pre-college, community college and undergraduate students are prepared to pursue STEM careers.
46:50
May 12, 2021
Teacher Appreciation Week: Michael Green Jr
Teacher Appreciation Week: Michael Green Jr
Michael Green Jr is the Dean of Culture and Instruction for Uplift Education in Dallas, TX. In his role as Dean he impacts teacher practices and influences the way schools provide culturally sound educational experiences for all students. This upcoming Teacher Appreciation Week we wanted to shine a light on the WHY behind the gratitude so many students and their families will be showing next week. In Michael’s journey from college graduate, to 6th grade teacher, and now Dean, every step of the way there has been someone, even in his most recent school, that he appreciates for being a motivating influence. He now joins us to discuss how he is using all those motivating factors to merge his love for youth development and his dedication to fighting for the inclusion of underrepresented people. It’s the work organizations like Motivational Goals and Black Men For, that Michael has co-founded, and the care put into educators’ well-being and mental health that is at the root of Equity in Education. So, click play and tune in to this Teacher Appreciation Episode of Behind the Biography featuring Michael Green Jr.
46:50
April 28, 2021
Behind the Biography: Dr. Kelly Esch
Behind the Biography: Dr. Kelly Esch
Dr. Kelly Esch is currently a Chief of Staff at Banfield Pet Hospital, Leesburg Village. She is a graduate of Christopher Newport University where she then went onto a Virginia Tech’s Vet School, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Esch has known since she was a young child that she wanted to attend vet school and be a veterinarian. She has always had a passion for animals and even worked in a kennel to get more experience prior to vet school. She has been partnering with the Guide Dog Foundation to help raise puppies who then go on to be service dogs for the blind. Dr. Esch is an animal owner herself and talks about her Green-Cheeked Conure during her episode! So, click play and tune into this episode of Behind the Biography featuring Dr. Kelly Esch.
20:52
April 14, 2021
Behind the Biography: Ben Lafferty
Behind the Biography: Ben Lafferty
Ben Lafferty is an accomplished professor and author. Ben graduated with a BA in Modern History from the University of Oxford, and with an MA and PhD from the University of London. He has been the recipient of multiple awards for writing and scholarship, including the Fulbright Early Career Award, the Guardian Student Critic of the Year, the Kenneth Tynan Prize, the Wylie Prize and the Howell Daniels award. He has taught history and American Studies at colleges in the United Kingdom, and recently published his new book, American Intelligence, an examination of news culture in the early years of the American republic. We had the honor of working with Ben as he designed our new Simulation for the NYLF: National Security program.
45:46
March 31, 2021
Behind the Biography: Dr. Leroy Chaio
Behind the Biography: Dr. Leroy Chaio
Dr. Leroy Chiao, a retired NASA Astronaut, and former International Space Station Commander, is the Co-Founder and CEO of One Orbit. He and the One Orbit team leads corporate keynote and training workshops. However, it is their partnership with Envision’s Explore STEM and Aerospace & Aviation Academies that has led our students to scoring Dr. Chiao the programs’ highest rated speakers. During his time as a distinguished NASA astronaut he has spent over 229 days on missions and space walks while exploring space. Dr. Chiao is one of the most sought out experts in his field and he used this conversation to share his past and current experiences, to educate us on the future of space exploration, and how we can impact the next leaders who will boldly go where no man has gone before. So, click play, sit back, and enjoy deep exploration in this episode of Behind the Biography featuring Dr. Leroy Chiao. This has been another amazing episode of Behind the Biography, Thank you so much for tuning in. You can find this podcast on Itunes, google play, spotify, and wherever you listen your podcasts If you are interested in our programs visit our website at envisionexperience.com Also, we’d love to hear from you! Check us out Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn and tell us what you think! @EnvisionExperience”
38:06
March 17, 2021
Bonus Episode: Envision's Women's History Month Special
Bonus Episode: Envision's Women's History Month Special
Peipei Zhou leads the Career Connections program at Facebook. The focus of her work is to provide upward mobility for underrepresented students by connecting them to meaningful careers in their communities Stephanie Espy founded MathSP Academic and Test Prep Coaching to empower the next generation of STEM leaders by imparting “STEM fluency” – the ability to problem solve, think critically and logically, apply theory and innovate.
53:56
March 10, 2021
Behind the Biography: Dr. Nick Heyne
Behind the Biography: Dr. Nick Heyne
Nick Heyne is triple Board-certified adult and pediatric, addiction, forensic, and sports psychiatrist.  From being an high school scholar of Envision’s Careers in the Medicine Program, to later leading as a Faculty Advisor during his collegiate years, and then as a guest keynote speaker during his fellowships at Envision’s events in North Carolina, Texas, Arizona, and Georgia, Dr. Heyne passionately shares his journey so as to inspire other scholars as to how to rise to the occasion during these tumultuous times.  Dr. Heyne continues to enjoy making connections with his scholars in hopes that they too will find their identity, including in the field of medicine through such programs as Envision’s Careers in the Medicine Program.  By clicking play, you have the opportunity to tune into this episode of Behind the Biography with Dr. Nick Heyne!
40:03
March 03, 2021
Behind the Biography: Alan Nemeth
Behind the Biography: Alan Nemeth
Alan Nemeth is currently a Professor at the American University Washington College of Law and is a graduate of American University Washington College of Law himself. Alan has been teaching Animal Law for about 14 years and what got him interested in this field was making the choice between going to Vet School or Law School, choosing Law School, but wanting to incorporate his passion for animals in some way. Alan became passionate for Animal Law starting in the 1980’s when he realized that this ties both of his two interests together. As a member of the Maryland BAR Association, he wondered if they would like to add Animal Law as a section. After proposing it, his idea was approved and soon came to find out it was the quickest growing section they’ve ever had. Alan shares his journey on how his outlook on animals and eating meat has changed over the years, from first cutting out meat, to seafood, to then becoming strictly vegan. He encourages listeners to think twice about all that goes into the milk they drink, meat they eat, and how it effects these animals. So, click play and tune into this episode of Behind the Biography featuring Alan Nemeth.
43:46
February 17, 2021
Bonus Episode: Envision's Black History Month Special
Bonus Episode: Envision's Black History Month Special
This week we celebrate Black History Month. Join some of our incredible employees as they discuss what it means to be black in America, what does being an ally mean, the events of summer 2020 and the BLM movement, and who are the black change makers that inspire them.
25:34
February 10, 2021
Behind the Biography: Savannah Peterson
Behind the Biography: Savannah Peterson
Savannah Peterson is the Founder of Savvy Millennial and a Forbes 30 Under 30. At Savvy Millennial, she helps brands and startups discover and connect with their highest ROI audience and niche. She also focuses on translating the impact and relevant applications of new technology on business and humanity. She believes innovation should be fun and actionable, versus scary and difficult to digest. She thrives helping the people, products, and brands she loves grow through storytelling. It’s through her storytelling that she can paint a vivid picture of how embracing your true self, the weird unicorn in all of us, can have the greatest impact on your future success. So, click play and tune in to this episode of Behind the Biography featuring Savannah Peterson.
44:55
February 03, 2021
Behind the Biography: Dr. Stella Capoccia
Behind the Biography: Dr. Stella Capoccia
Dr. Stella Capoccia is an individual who has worn many hats throughout her lifetime and has experienced life in different parts of the world such as around the United States and even internationally in East Africa. Her current occupation is a Scientist and an Associate Professor of Biology at Montana Tech. While studying for her PhD in Geography, Stella looked at the way in which animal rights groups shaped conservation and management.  She states to be more selfish. Do what you want to do and do it for yourself. Don’t let other jeopardize what you are most passionate about. Leave every experience being positive and always walk away with having left the people behind you with a positive thought.
33:16
January 20, 2021
Behind the Biography: Jan Sikorsky
Behind the Biography: Jan Sikorsky
Jan Sikorsky, the VP of Innovations at WorldStrides, offers a unique perspective on importance of STEM in the evolution of experiential learning. Our host, Amanda Whitener, asks thought-provoking questions to create a space for Jan to use colorful imagery as he describes what is needed to successfully deliver educational content, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This episode is insight into path he took to become a leader in K-12 product innovation, a path he admittedly did not start his journey on, and then leaves you wanting to learn more about how you can stay innovative while things are rapidly evolving around us.
21:47
January 06, 2021
Behind the Biography Trailer
Behind the Biography Trailer
Join us for full episodes starting January 6th, with new episodes following every other Wednesday. 
00:54
December 31, 2020