Associate Director of Programming
Zach Bates joined College Mentors for Kids in 2021 after spending several years working in fundraising and community kids’ events, then as a school-based case manager. Zach is a Purdue alumnus and served as a mentor. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Purdue University. Zach lives in Fishers and enjoys spending his time playing volleyball, exploring national parks, and volunteering as a Big for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“From my experiences as a mentor at Purdue, I really enjoyed my time being involved in College Mentors. It ignited a passion within me to work with kids and to see the great need for mentorship in these kids’ lives. I was so excited to have the opportunity to be a part of the organization to share with college students and communities my positive experience as a mentor along with my professional experience working in social work. Mentoring has the opportunity to play such a pivotal role in a child’s life.”
National Director of Programming
Julie Bowman joined College Mentors for Kids as an ADP in 2012. Since graduating from Indiana University, Julie has called Indianapolis home. In her free time, Julie loves to travel, eat at local restaurants, and play strategy board games.
“I love that College Mentors for Kids is a dual-impact program! Little buddies develop a relationship with a caring young adult, and research shows that positive adult relationships are one of the key predictors of a child’s future success. Meanwhile, mentors and chapter leaders develop valuable philanthropic, leadership, and career skills through College Mentors’ chapter model. I’m grateful to work with and for kids and young adults through College Mentors for Kids.”
National Director of Development
Katie Brownlee joined College Mentors for Kids in 2019 after spending several years fundraising in higher education, then the arts and culture sector. Katie is an IU chapter alumna and served as a mentor, then later as chapter president. She obtained a Master of Public Affairs from the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs with a concentration in nonprofit management. Katie and her husband Collin live in Indianapolis and enjoy spending their time exploring nature and cooking.
“I love being a part of such a special organization. On a personal level, College Mentors inspired me to change my career path as an undergraduate student and sparked a lifelong joy of community involvement. It is amazing to watch the program grow and see the impact of the relationships between so many college students and kids.”
National Director of Operations
Passionate about youth and education, Erin joined College Mentors in August 2011 after graduating from Butler University with a dual degree in International Management and International Studies, as well as a minor in Spanish. Growing up, Erin spent her summers picking sweet corn on her families farm. Now, Erin is excited to work with an organization committed to making a difference in the lives of children across the Midwest.
“I initially joined College Mentors for Kids because I believed education was a way for kids living in poverty to rise above their current circumstances and appreciated the way College Mentors activities enhanced kids’ education. I still believe these things are true, but after being here 7 years I have come to experience the power of mentoring on both the kids AND the college students. Both expand their perspectives on the world, learn about new opportunities they may not have otherwise experienced, understand the importance of giving back, and inspire each other to reach their fullest potential.”
Senior Associate Director of Programming
Carly joined the College Mentors team in September 2017 after spending several years in the education field. She graduated from Ball State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Kindergarten/Primary Education. Carly and her husband Austin live in Indianapolis and enjoy spending their time outdoors, watching documentaries, and learning about new and exciting parts of our world!
“I am passionate about making a difference in a community and I am thrilled to be a part of the College Mentors for Kids team! What drew me to College Mentors was their enthusiasm for making difference in a child’s life. By connecting college students and children, they have created a unique program with the ability to change lives. I am so happy to be included in this journey!”
Associate Director of Programming
Lauren Ducoste joined the College Mentors staff in October 2020. She graduated from UNC Charlotte, where she received her B.S. in Biology. During her time at UNC Charlotte, Lauren founded the UNC Charlotte chapter of College Mentors for Kids in 2018 and served as Chapter President. Lauren is passionate about investing in the lives of youth and is thrilled to continue being a part of College Mentors in a new capacity. Lauren resides in Charlotte and loves spending time outdoors and going on road trips with friends!
“It has been an honor to be a part of an organization that provides a space for kids to have new and exciting experiences! I truly enjoyed my time as a chapter leader and am excited for the opportunity to mentor student leaders at their own chapters as they provide an avenue for kids to learn new things about the world and themselves!”
Director of Enhancement and Engagement
Carina Grainey joined College Mentors for Kids in January 2014 after spending several years in South Korea working as a foreign language instructor. She graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a dual degree in communications and journalism and recently received a master’s degree in international development from Yonsei University. Carina is passionate about providing youth with the tools they need to succeed and thrilled to join the College Mentors for Kids team.
“The enthusiasm that everyone connected with College Mentors for Kids exudes is incredibly inspiring. By cultivating a link between college students and kids, this program has created something truly special with enormous potential to transform lives and communities. I am so excited to be a part of the story.”
Shelley joined the College Mentors for Kids family in 2008 first as a board member and later as CEO in 2016. She received her B.A. in English Literature from DePauw University and her M.A. in Philanthropic Studies from the Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. Shelley loves to watch Jeopardy and gets especially excited when the following categories are selected: state capitals, sports, and literature. It was Shelley’s passion for education that drove her to become involved with College Mentors as a volunteer. Now as CEO, she is excited to spearhead development and community engagement efforts to reach our 2020 goal of serving 5,000 kids and 5,000 college students.
“College Mentors is important because it opens the doors to higher education for young people who may not have even considered the possibility of attending college and succeeding.”
Associate Director of Programming
Timea joined College Mentors for Kids in 2021 after spending many years in career coaching and development. Timea graduated from University of Evansville with a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Leadership and is currently pursuing her MSW. Timea and her husband live right outside Indianapolis and love spending quality family time with their six amazing children. Timea is very passionate about fostering professional development and empowering children and young adults to reach their greatest potential.
“Mentoring shapes lives, develops character, creates compassion, instills empathy, and builds lasting relationships with purposeful meaning.”
Development Director of Mid-Atlantic Region
Stephanie was first introduced to the College Mentors program in January 2010 as a mentor to a Bloomington, Indiana fourth grader and has since had the pleasure of serving in many roles with College Mentors as both a volunteer and staff member. Stephanie lives in Washington, DC where she works to build support and awareness for the College Mentors for Kids program in the Mid-Atlantic region.
“College Mentors for Kids provides elementary students a vision for their future and college students leadership experience and the opportunity to connect with their community. I love being involved with an organization that facilitates meaningful mentoring relationships with proven outcomes and working with staff and volunteers dedicated to providing children and college students the resources and experiences to realize a bigger and brighter future!”
Chief Operating Officer
Looking for an opportunity to give back to the community, Amanda Koushyar joined College Mentors as a program director in January 2005 and now serves as Chief Operating Officer. A native of Georgia, Amanda graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology with a degree in management and a focus in finance and operation management. Amanda currently resides in Indiana with her husband and two little girls.
“I am touched on a daily basis with stories from mentors and children and how College Mentors has impacted them. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to be involved in something so special! The passion of our volunteers is contagious and seeing the program in action is so rewarding!”
Emily Meyer joined the College Mentors team after graduating from Indiana University, Bloomington in 2005. As an undergraduate majoring in English, Emily spent three years volunteering for the university’s College Mentors chapter. After having lived it as a college student volunteer for the program at IU, I feel blessed to work in a fun, energizing, and supportive work environment with the best people in the world, doing the best work possible. Natives of Indianapolis, Emily and her husband Jack have known each other since elementary school and have four young kids: John, Thomas, Rose, and Mae. Emily’s oldest and youngest share a birthday, exactly six years apart.
“I love working for College Mentors because of all of the amazing people I get to interact with each day. From our dedicated university and school partners to our inspirational college students and children as well as our hardworking and enthusiastic headquarters staff and board, I continue to be inspired by the work and accomplishments of those involved with College Mentors for Kids.”
Volunteer Support & Stewardship VISTA
Angad joined the College Mentors for Kids team as the Volunteer and Support VISTA in August 2021. He graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Economics and a Business minor. He is passionate about conveying the message on how mentoring transforms lives this year.
“Mentoring has become even more important than ever and I am excited to connect Little Buddies with their Mentors throughout this year.”
Donor Engagement VISTA
Maddie joined the College Mentor for Kids team in August 2021 as the Donor Engagement VISTA. She is an alumna of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis with a Bachelor of Science degree in civic leadership focused in nonprofits. She is passionate about supporting her community through giving back and community service! In her free time, she enjoys playing with her dog, going to Colts’ games, and spending time with friends.
“It was the mentors in my life that encouraged me to take on the role of mentor. The experiences I had as a mentor were what made college such a rewarding experience for me. After seeing the value in those experiences, I wanted to share that with both little buddies and college students alike. I am excited to have the opportunity to work for an organization that has a mission I resonate so closely with!”
Data & Evaluation VISTA
Alyssa joined the College Mentors for Kids team in July 2021 as the Data & Evaluation VISTA. She is an alumna of Bowling Green State University with a dual degree in economics and political science. Alyssa is excited to now live in Indianapolis, and in her free time she loves to explore the city’s local restaurants, shops, parks, and museums. She is passionate about using data to serve the community and create positive change.
“My mentors have had a profound impact on my life, so I’m excited to work for an organization dedicated to serving kids and helping them grow into more confident versions of themselves alongside their mentors.”
Associate Director of Programming
Phillisha Wathen joined the College Mentors staff in August 2021. She graduated from IU Bloomington, where she received her Masters in Arts Administration and Public Affairs. Phillisha is passionate about diversity, inclusion, and the arts. During her time at IU Bloomington, she served as a FASE Peer Mentor and the founding Graduate Co-Convener of Black & BOLD, IU’s first Black LGBTQ+ student organization. She also shared her love of art and community as a featured artist in the City of Bloomington’s Black y Brown Arts Festival. Phillisha currently resides in Indianapolis and has fun drawing and painting in her free time.
“I’m so excited to join the College Mentors for Kids team! As a former first-generation student and 21st Century scholar I remember how important early exposure to college was in expanding my world view. I’m grateful to the mentors I had as a child and can’t wait to support today’s mentors in providing world building opportunities for kids.”
Jenna joined College Mentors for Kids in 2016 as an Operations Associate and enjoys working with a team of individuals who are both fun to be with and passionate about the power of mentoring. Jenna and her husband, Joey, have one daughter, Analie, two cats, and 13 chickens. Jenna attended Iowa State University before graduating from a smaller Bible college in Iowa, where Joey also graduated from. They have lived in Indianapolis since 2010 and love calling this city their home.
“I enjoy supporting the college students as they do the week to week mentoring; it’s rewarding to hear the stories from the Little Buddies. Mentoring is an important part of my growth story, and I love that my work empowers others to continue to pay that forward to kids around the country.”
Senior Associate Director of Programming
Lexi was excited to join the College Mentors for Kids National Office staff in July of 2018! She graduated from Ball State University with a B.S. in Social Work while simultaneously being an active participant in the College Mentors Ball State chapter. When she participated as a mentor she instantly bonded with her little buddy until serving as chapter president her senior year. Post-graduation, Lexi spent some time in the child welfare field where her passion for prevention grew and the need for College Mentors for Kids in the world was extremely apparent. Native to Granger, IN Lexi is an avid Notre Dame fan.
“I have a lot of gratitude for College Mentors for Kids. For connecting me with a wonderful little buddy who is still an important part of my life today. For helping me to call my almamater, my home. And for helping me to find a place within an organization that continues to touch my heart every day.”