Meet Our Team

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. Email: Sean@nycfirst.org

Lisa Cai

FLL Jr. & FLL Program Manager

Lisa Cai

FLL Jr. & FLL Program Manager
Lisa joined NYC FIRST in 2017 and serves as the Program Manager for FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League Jr. 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.

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.

Yoav Friedlander

STEM Center Teacher

Yoav Friedlander

STEM Center Teacher
Yoav is an instructor 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. He is a faculty member at the BFA department of Photography & Video at the School of Visual Arts, New York. Yoav is represented by Carrie Able Gallery, Brooklyn, New York and has exhibited his work in international venues and exhibitions.

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.

Francesca Rodriguez Sawaya

STEM Center Teacher

Francesca Rodriguez Sawaya

STEM Center Teacher
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. 

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.

Talya Stein

STEM Center Program Manager

Talya Stein

STEM Center Program Manager
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.

Anne Goodfriend

STEM Center Program Manager

Anne Goodfriend

STEM Center Program Manager
Anne is the Co Program Manager for NYC FIRST STEM Center at CT. She is coaching 5 teams this season. 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.

Priyanka Jaisinghani

Development and Communication Coordinator

Priyanka Jaisinghani

Development and Communication Coordinator

Jesse Donaldson

STEM Center Teacher

Jesse Donaldson

STEM Center Teacher
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.
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