BUILD's Metro D.C. Team

Dr. Bryce Jacobs - Regional Executive Director
Bryce Jacobs is an educational reformer and educator with a particular interest in family engagement and college access/equity. Most recently, Bryce was Director of National Programs at College Summit, an organization whose mission is to help more low income students get to and through college, and previously was a program specialist at the National Parent Teacher Association.  In her role at College Summit, Bryce wrote training materials, curriculum, and innovated new programs that supported 11 regions across the country.  She is a founder and board chair of Sela Public Charter School, a diverse Hebrew language immersion school in Washington DC. Bryce has a BA in International Development from Clark University, an MA from George Washington University in Education and a PhD from the University of Maryland in Education Policy and Leadership.  When not working on behalf of students, Bryce loves to travel, cook and read fiction.

Alia Peera - Site Director
Throughout her career, Alia has demonstrated a commitment to education reform, college access, and youth development. Her passion for youth began in college, where she served as camp counselor and mentor for at-risk youth in East Los Angeles. Alia first joined the BUILD team as the METRO DC Academic and Business Program Manager. Prior to joining BUILD, Alia was an elementary special education teacher in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Before teaching, Alia served as the Senior Program Associate of Education Pioneers DC Metro, where she helped launch the DC office in 2007 and played a key role expanding the program from 2008-2009. Alia has also worked at College Summit as a program coordinator, supporting teachers and counselors in motivating students to create post-secondary plans for college. Alia is a certified Youth Facilitator for College Summit, also known as a “Rap Director,” empowering students to see their gifts and ultimately, self advocate through the college application process and beyond. Originally, from Tucson, Arizona, Alia holds a B.S in Public Policy and a B.A. in International Relations from University of Southern California.

Khalilah Ummah - College Program Manager
Khalilah attended Tufts University and focused on child development and psychology. While at Tufts, she played on the varsity women’s basketball team for four years. Following her undergraduate studies, she went on to received her Ed.M. at Harvard's Graduate School of Education. Khalilah has been advocating for students’ education and college success for the past two years as a financial aid advisor at ACCESS in Boston. The Academic Program Manager role combines her love for youth development and her passion for higher education access.

Alyza Weinberg - Business Program Manager

Alyza graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She majored in International Development and wrote an honor's thesis about utilizing resiliency theory to support the psycho-social development of youth. Throughout college, she coordinated school workshops and summer camps for at-risk youth. After college, she moved to Washington, DC and worked at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School in their Programs department. Most recently, she worked at Tufts University Hillel, managing their service learning and alternative spring break programs. She's thrilled to be back in DC working for BUILD. In her spare time, she loves any outdoor activity whether it's sunny or snowy. She loves to bake and cook and relax with friends.

 Natasha Benitez - Ninth Grade Program Manager
Natasha Coco Benitez graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Government/History degree. Upon graduation, she became a Teach for America corps member and moved to Washington D.C to teach 10th grade World History while also attending American University to complete her Masters of Art in Teaching. Natasha worked at Anacostia High School for six years, both as a teacher and Dean of Students. While at her school in Southeast D.C, she created a campus-wide culture plan, led professional development trainings, implemented morning tutoring programs and started an after school “Scholarly Fit Club.” Natasha traveled with Learn Serve International and students from D.C. to Zambia on a community service trip, spent summers training and coaching new teachers during summer institutes for Teach for America and Teaching Fellows and served as Area Director for Springboard After School. In her spare time, she teaches spin class, enjoys kickboxing, yoga, traveling, shopping, live music and exploring new restaurants. In the words of Nelson Mandela, Natasha believes that "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."  

Kamilla Kovacs - Development ManagerKamilla Kovacs
Kamilla oversees fundraising, grant writing, web design, marketing, and communications activities at BUILD Metro DC. She has a deep passion for improving the way people learn, grow, and become informed and confident adults. Prior to joining BUILD, Kamilla was Legislative Assistant for Pittsburgh Congressman Mike Doyle, who serves on the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology at the U.S. House of Representatives. Before that, she worked as Development and Communications Director for Media Access Project, a respected public interest law firm working to make radio, TV, the Internet, and other media more diverse, responsible, and accessible to everyone. Prior to that, she was a researcher for media policy organization Free Press, and served on the Obama-Biden Presidential Campaign and its Transition Team. Kamilla has an M.A. in Communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Virginia, and is a Rockwood Leadership Institute fellow. She was born in Budapest, Hungary, and loves baking, eating, running, rock climbing, traveling, and trying just about everything, at least once.

Elyse Harris - College Access Coordinator
Elyse Harris, a graduate of Davidson College with a B.A. in Anthropology, has dedicated her life’s work to empowering youth. She recently served 2 years as an Americorps member for Citizen Schools, a national extended-day program working with underserved middle school youth, as a team leader and events coordinator for the Charlotte, NC campus. Elyse has also worked for several other youth organizations including Full Circles Foundation an upstart empowerment organization for girls in North Carolina, a service learning program with the HandsOn network, as well as CDF Freedom Schools. Elyse has a great knowledge about youth programming and curriculum design and execution. She is thrilled to be working with BUILD to continue influencing the academic success of students to help them reach their full potential.

Anna Susko - Ninth Grade Program Coordinator
Anna is a recent graduate from James Madison University were she received a B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a minor in Special Education. While at JMU, Anna was a member of the Varsity Women’s Swimming and Diving team and competed with them all 4 years. Before joining BUILD, Anna was an intern for the Harrisonburg City Schools Superintendent and also worked for Beyond the Bell as a Team Leader for middle school youth. At Beyond the Bell, Anna taught and led groups of students using structured academic support, project enrichment courses and teambuilding.  When she’s not involved with BUILD, Anna loves to cook, take pictures and enjoys all kinds of physical activities including- swimming, hiking, skiing, yoga, kayaking, surfing, and so many more!

Erin Griffard - Business Program Coordinator
Before joining the BUILD team, Erin worked as the Project Director in Ecuador for Amigos de las Americas, an organization that aims  to build young leaders throughout the Americas through community development and intercultural immersion. As the Project Director, Erin piloted a youth entrepreneurship model and oversaw the launch of microenterprises in a rural, Andean region of Ecuador. Growing her passion for youth development and  entrepreneurial education, this experience inspired Erin to join the BUILD team. Erin graduated from Tufts University with a degree in Latin American Studies and Community Health. Outside of BUILD, Erin is an avid skier, passionate coffee drinker, and  loves to cook.


BUILD Headquarters: 2385 Bay Road •  Redwood City, CA 94063

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