The YES2020 team is made up of committed educators from a range of organizations, and includes the YES Coordinating Committee, the Hive YES Ecosystem team, and the YES Research and Documentation team.

Team Members

Candace Brazier Thurman

Affiliations: ExpandEd Schools
Roles: YES Coordinating Committee

Candace is the founding Director of ExpandED Options at ExpandED Schools. She is motivated by how out of school learning can broaden youth’s sense of possibility. She has coordinated multiple high school, intergenerational and professional development programs. Her work has included coordination of ExpandED Options, After-School Apprenticeship Program (ASAP), New York Times Summer Jobs and RampUp, a site-based mentoring program that connected professionals to students. Candace has a BA from Columbia University and an MPA from Baruch College. During off hours, Candace enjoys creating, sewing, and crafting.


Brian Cohen

Affiliations: Beam Center, Hive NYC Learning Network
Roles: YES Coordinating Committee, Hive YES Ecosystem team

Brian Cohen is the Executive Director of Beam Center, a NYC-based non-profit that aims to crystallize self-directed growth in youth through ambitious, collaborative project-making. Beam Center serves 7,000+ students annually through its summer camp in New Hampshire, partnerships with 30 NYC public schools, and apprenticeship and work-based learning programs. Prior to sharing a tent with Beam Center co-founder Danny Kahn, Brian spent 18 years in the music industry, exiting as a Senior Vice President of Marketing for Elektra Records.


Lucy Herz

Affiliations: Student Success Network
Roles: YES Research and Documentation Team

Lucy co-founded Student Success Network in 2013.  For the past seven years, Lucy has led the design, development and implementation of SSN’s program, including building systems to help organizations collect and use data to drive improvement and creating and facilitating spaces for organizations to develop solutions to shared challenges. She also leads organizational strategy and growth.  Outside of work, Lucy enjoys chasing her toddler and spending as much time outdoors as possible.  She holds a Master of Public Administration from New York University and a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University.


Alexandra Lotero

Affiliations: Student Success Network
Roles: YES Research and Documentation Team

Alexandra’s mission at Student Success Network is to co-create research knowledge with practitioners and youth so that it is relevant, accessible, and applied to improve practice in youth programs and classrooms. She co-facilitates a research-practice-youth partnership focused on measuring and improving youth social-emotional learning. She has interviewed over 60 youth workers to document how they foster young people’s social and emotional development. She has presented her work at national conferences, including the CASEL Social and Emotional Learning Exchange. Alexandra grew up in Queens, and is the daughter of Latin American immigrants.


Ofelia Mangen, PhD

Affiliations: Hive NYC Learning Network, Columbia University
Roles: Hive YES Ecosystem team

Ofelia is an educator, producer and project manager with 10+ years of experience in community, post-secondary, and online learning environments. Her passion is in leveraging educational design to catalyze positive social action, particularly as relates to issues of sustainability + resilience. She has extensive experience within the field of Open Educational Resources, in addition community-based work with informal education institutions as a researcher, designer, and facilitator.


David Phelps, PhD

Affiliations: Telos Learning
Roles: YES Research and Documentation Team

David Phelps is a researcher committed to serving youth and educators by designing, facilitating and studying innovative learning environments. This passion grew from his experiences working in a Reggio-Emilia preschool in Vermont, a community school in Peru, a care farm in the Netherlands, and philosophy for children programs in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Over the past 10 years he has had the privilege to professionally co-design and co-facilitate a wide range of learning environments that engage youth in collective interest-driven inquiry. This strand of research champions the incredible inquiry competencies of young learners. Simultaneously, he studies how issues of power and equity are navigated at a system-wide level as educators attempt to implement and scale innovative learning environments. He received his PhD in Learning Sciences and Human Development from the University of Washington.


Rafi Santo, PhD

Affiliations: Telos Learning, Hive NYC Learning Network
Roles: YES Research and Documentation Team, Hive YES Ecosystem team

Rafi Santo, principal researcher at Telos Learning, is a learning scientist focused on the intersection of digital culture, education, and institutional change. Centering his work within research-practice partnerships, he has studied, collaborated with, and facilitated a range of organizational networks related to digital learning, computing, and technology in education. Within informal education, he has focused on the design of innovation networks as co-founder of Hive Research Lab, a partnership with the Hive NYC Learning Network collective of over 70 informal learning organizations. In K12 schooling, he’s partnered with CSforALL to support and study school districts as they develop equitable and sustainable computing education initiatives. His scholarship spans multiple levels of activity—from understanding youth learning pathways across settings to investigating policy implementation and organizational network design—in order to develop practical insights that come from a holistic perspective. His work has been supported by the Spencer Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Mozilla Foundation, the Susan Crown Exchange, and Google. He is the current co-chair of the Hive NYC Learning Network, a senior fellow at the Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, and a senior research fellow at CSforALL. Rafi holds a PhD in Learning and Developmental Sciences from Indiana University.


Saskia Trail, PhD

Affiliations: ExpandED Schools
Roles: YES Coordinating Committee

Prior to leading policy and research efforts at ExpandED Schools, Saskia worked to build state systems for early care and education. She has authored and co-authored articles for peer-reviewed journals, policy briefs, reports on a range of issues, and an essay on voter registration in a book about civic service (which included being recorded on a CD with Al Gore). Saskia earned a BA from Columbia University and a PhD in research psychology from Stanford University, and credits winning the Baltimore Science Fair in middle school with bolstering her love of science. She currently enjoys passing along that love of science to her twins.

Sara Vogel, PhD

Affiliations: Hive NYC Learning Network, CUNY Graduate Center, New York University
Roles: Hive YES Ecosystem team

Sara completed her PhD in Urban Education from the CUNY Graduate Center, where her research has focused on computer science education, bilingualism, and social justice pedagogy. Her dissertation focused on how bilingual middle schoolers use language in the course of computer science education activities. She is a co-founder and a lead research assistant on Participating in Literacies and Computer Science (PiLaCS), a research-practice partnership focusing on integrating computer science into classes serving emergent bilinguals. She previously worked as a bilingual middle school teacher, a research assistant for the CUNY NYS Initiative on Emergent Bilinguals, and as a computing educator in informal settings with the nonprofit Global Kids Inc. She is also a long time Hive NYC member. She holds a Master’s degree in bilingual education from CUNY – Hunter College, and a BA in Urban Studies from Columbia University.

Partner Organizations