Meet Our Team

Anne Goodfriend

Program Manager, Education and Technology

Anne Goodfriend

Program Manager, Education and Technology
Anne serves as a Program Manager for NYC FIRST STEM Center at Cornell Tech. Anne is a Designer, Technologist, and Educator who is skilled at rapid ideation, prototyping, visual design, programming, and physical computing. She has felt empowered through her own journey learning to code, craft, and engineer. Anne is passionate about sharing these skills with others, inspiring them to engage more deeply with new technology and have fun in the process.

Francesca Rodriguez Sawaya

Program Manager, Education and Technology

Francesca Rodriguez Sawaya

Program Manager, Education and Technology
Francesca is a Peruvian multimedia designer and educator. Her work sits at the intersection of storytelling and technology, crafting compelling narratives about socio-cultural realities and creating projects that could turn into tools for empowerment. She has been exploring the linkages between weaving and computational thinking, creating pieces that translate oral stories into physical weavings. In line with her filmmaking background, she is passionate about finding a more human approach to the way we share stories in today’s digital world. 

Gabriella Guimaraes

FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA

Gabriella Guimaraes

FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA
Gabriella has joined NYC FIRST as an AmeriCorps VISTA. She was born and raised in New York but also spent a portion of her childhood in Brazil, where she was first introduced to robotics. She brings a background in Advertising to NYC FIRST as she explores a new path in STEM Education and nonprofits. In her spare time, Gabriella enjoys playing board games and running a small soap-making business.

Jeff Paules

Community Engagement Manager

Jeff Paules

Community Engagement Manager
Jeff has been NYC FIRST’s Community Engagement Manager since October 2019. He has spent the last 13 years as a STEM educator and connector in Oregon, Illinois, and now New York. Prior to joining NYC FIRST, Jeff was the Director of Transfer and Pre-College Programs for the Armour College of Engineering at Illinois Tech, in Chicago. He has been working with FIRST in various roles since 2012, serving as an FRC and FTC Mentor in Oregon and FIRST Senior Mentor in Chicago as well as a member of the FRC Regional Planning Committees in Chicago and New York.

Jesse Donaldson

Program Manager, Education and Technology

Jesse Donaldson

Program Manager, Education and Technology
Jesse is a fabricator, artist, technologist and educator. He is passionate about the process of translating ideas from concept to the physical world. He enjoys sharing a mindful approach to design and fabrication through teaching these subjects as an art, rather than as a science. In addition to his work as an educator, Jesse runs a small studio focused on creating furniture, sculpture work as well as motorcycles.

Lianza Yap

FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA

Lianza Yap

FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA
Lianza has joined NYC FIRST as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Lianza has worked in organizations that focus on solving real-world problems through a creative interdisciplinary approach with an emphasis on sustainability. She enjoys being outdoors, film photography, and creating art through different media.

Lisa Cai

Director of FIRST Programs

Lisa Cai

Director of FIRST Programs
Lisa joined NYC FIRST in 2017 and serves as the Director for FIRST Programs. She started her nonprofit career in the after-school space and moved on to manage partnerships at a CTE high school. As a lifelong New Yorker, Lisa is passionate about making robotics accessible to all students in the city. In her free time, she enjoys roads trips, trying new foods, and helping the local esports and indie game development community.

Meghan Groome

Vice President of Programs

Meghan Groome

Vice President of Programs
Dr. Meghan Groome joined FIRST NYC as the VP of Programs. Previously she was the Director of Pre College Programs for the School of the New York Times. Dr. Groome has also worked at the New York Academy of Sciences, American Museum of Natural History, and the National Governors Association where she developed expertise in educational innovations in STEM education. Dr. Groome completed her Ph.D. at Teachers College Columbia University in Science Education and was a 2005 (NYC) and 2012 (China) Education Policy Fellow for the Institute for Educational Leadership. 

Michael Zigman

Chief Executive Officer

Michael Zigman

Chief Executive Officer
Michael Zigman has spent over 25 years operating, scaling, advising and financing education and technology companies. As CEO of NYC FIRST, Michael has set and executed on the organization’s strategic vision; ensured the quality of its programs; expanded its traditional core programs while launching new ones, including the STEM Centers and the Corporate Challenge; and grown the NYC FIRST team and board.

Priyanka Jaisinghani

Development and Communications Coordinator

Priyanka Jaisinghani

Development and Communications Coordinator

Rudiana Bunbury

FRC & FTC Program Manager

Rudiana Bunbury

FRC & FTC Program Manager
Rudiana recently joined NYC FIRST this year and oversees the FIRST Robotics Competition and the FIRST Tech Challenge programs. She has a strong commitment to youth development and has served in school based organizations for a number of years managing internship programs. Originally from Guyana, Rudiana has a desire to provide youths with the tools necessary to enrich their lives and become leaders and innovators of the future. Outside of her career, she enjoys spending time with her family, event planning and traveling.

Sanaya Kaufman

Vice President of Advancement

Sanaya Kaufman

Vice President of Advancement
Sanaya B. Kaufman is the Vice President of Advancement at NYC FIRST and oversees all aspects of fundraising and communications. Previously, Sanaya was a member of the leadership team of Friends of the High Line, where she spent over a decade working to transform, build, operate, and maintain the High Line park in Manhattan, most recently in the role of Vice President of Development and Principal Gifts Officer. Sanaya was born and raised in New York City and is a proud alumna and parent of the New York City public school community.

Sean Sallee

Operations Manager

Sean Sallee

Operations Manager
Sean joined NYC FIRST in 2018 and serves as NYC FIRST's Operations Manager. Sean began his career in legal services but has remained in the nonprofit industry for over a decade. He is responsible for much of the back end operations at NYC FIRST as helps to get all of our events and competitions set up for success. Sean grew up in Staten Island, NY and is an avid traveler and soccer fan. He's passionate about NYC culture and history and is a constant advocate for growth in the outer boroughs.

Srikar Gudimella

FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA

Srikar Gudimella

FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA

Talya Stein

Program Manager, Education and Technology

Talya Stein

Program Manager, Education and Technology
Talya is the Co Program Manager for NYC FIRST STEM Center at CT. She is coaching 5 teams this season. She is an Educator, Designer, Fabricator, and Artist. She believes good design should be simple, clear, intuitive and as much as possible - interactive. Her strong background in graphic design, and her experience in the physical computing world allow Talya to cross the border between the screen and the physical. She is a proud member of the maker movement and has been inspired by everything from Maker Faire, to ITP, to Vidcode, Hack it Back, TedX.

Yoav Friedlander

Program Manager, STEM Programs

Yoav Friedlander

Program Manager, STEM Programs
Yoav is an Program Manager (Special STEM Projects) for NYC FIRST STEM Center at CT. He is a lead mentor for 5 teams this season. Yoav received his MFA from the department of Photography Video and Related Media at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Yoav is a photographer and a scale model artist, an editor, curator designer and educator.
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