Catalyst Network Foundation

Former Leadership Team Members

Emilee Christopher

Emilee Christopher

Director of Program Development

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Always intrigued by the institution of education, I seek to motivate and intellectually stimulate youth to achieve their full potential. Not only am I interested in education, I am inspired by the prospect of instilling strong character traits and the “soft” or “21st Century” skills that youth need to be successful in school and future careers. With a masters in Education Policy & Management and undergraduate degree in Child Development & Family Studies, I have positioned myself to examine the institution of education from the critical lens of policy and mandates in action. Currently, I am a school leader at a charter school in Manhattan while working on a professional certificate of Leadership and Organization Development from New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. It is my intent to become knowledgeable in leadership and human capital development in an effort to use what I have learned blend education, business, leadership, microeconomics and character development to “pay it forward” to future generations.

Why CNF?

Access. Youth of color from all socio-economic backgrounds do not need chances, they need access. To the structures of influence and power that will allow them to make their own decisions as it pertains to their future. CNF helps provide that access.

Stefanie Thomas

Stefanie Thomas

Director of Strategic Engagement

Born and raised in Washington, DC, I have always had a fondness for small urban living. However, with an unrelenting desire to explore a world outside of my own, I immediately moved North after high school to pursue an undergraduate degree in business at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Upon graduation, I then moved to New York to begin a career in export finance. Today, I remain a resident of the Big Apple, currently working as a Citigroup Associate within Asset Distribution & Syndication.

When I am not involved with activities related to CNF, I spend time serving as a mentor and life coach to high school students within the Posse Foundation and the Step Up Network. Among many of my various interests and pursuits, I thoroughly enjoy music, cinema, spoken word, African dance, and international travel. On weekends, despite the New York address, many often find me hanging out in DC for a quick dose of missed loved ones and the only place I call home!

Why CNF?

We often fear what we do not know, even our own greatness. Belonging to a community of people who have been socialized to underestimate our own potential, I aspire to do work that perpetuates the notion that we have the right to dream big and the power to make those dreams happen.


Ashleigh Coaxum

Ashleigh Coaxum

Director of Communications

As a native of the Washington D.C. area, Ashleigh graduated from Spelman College (2008) with a degree in Economics. She currently resides in New York City and works in the Legal, Risk and Capital Department at Deutsche Bank. She has a passion for traveling, football, cooking and running. Ashleigh hopes to impact the world by fostering a positive sense of “community” among minorities by rebuilding homes and commercial property in neglected urban areas.

Why CNF?

I am passionate and excited about CNF because I can envision how the initiative will expose young people to opportunities they never know existed; all while inspiring them to use the foundation’s tools to link their dream with their reality.

Whitney Terrill

Whitney Terrill

Director of Operations

I also cannot be shy about my commitment to minimizing human suffering. The environment is my paradigm of choice. When I need a break from these very serious issues, I am aspiring chef, closet academic, and world traveler. Of all my priorities, my family and friends must know that I adore simple moments and meals with them.

Why CNF?

The Catalyst Network Foundation reflects the potential of realistic optimism. I am happy to be a part of such a giving and committed group. We are all change agents.


The Catalyst Network Foundation Inc.(CNF).

Is a non-profit education initiative 501(c)(3) organization based in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Founded in 2011, CNF is focused on life enrichment and professional development, with a mission to engage high-potential youth (ages 14-25) and veterans (ages 21-30) with successful projects by providing the proper tools, network, and development opportunities.

The social enterprise is fundamentally grassroots, steered by a volunteer leadership team in New York City and Washington, D.C. In July of 2012, Ranking Congressman Ed Towns awarded a proclamation to the Foundation, in recognition of the organization’s achievements.

CNF holds a Summer Intensive Program for rising high school juniors and seniors in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Successful applicants are enrolled at a CNF partnership high school. Over 200 students have been admitted to the Fellowship Program and are CNF Fellows (99% have graduated High school, and more than 90% of them have enrolled in college or a trade school).

The fellowship scholars are trained from day one: they tour corporate offices, pitch business ideas, and develop professional skills. CNF personnel assess the Fellows career aspirations, expose them to various opportunities, and foster intrapersonal growth. Each student receives individualized attention and internships in preparation for higher education and community service.

Through CNF’s Mentorship Program, Fellowship scholars are paired with a mentor that is a trailblazer in the profession or career field the fellows aspire to pursue.

The CNF Internship Program secures CNF Fellows with internships at top startups, corporations, and medical institutions.

Since 2011, the Fellows have participated in corporate tours and create or pitched presentations about inner-city school challenges to several corporations, including: Google, Goldman Sachs, NIKE, LinkedIn, Morgan Stanley, HBO, Microsoft, Covington & Burling LLP, GAP, BET, Essence Magazine, NPR, Kaye Scholer LLP, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Hughes Hubbard Reed LLP, Bloomberg, Peebles Corporation, Infor, Deloitte, FOX News, and NBC Studios.

The youth initiative also holds career and college preparatory workshops throughout the school year, educating over 800 high school students in the aforementioned metropolitan areas.

The organization works with American veterans (ages 21-30), connecting them with resources and information to assist them with their career and academic ambitions.

CNF host a professional mixer and panel discussion called The Meeting of the Minds (MOTM) a gathering that is held quarterly it uniquely combines networking and thoughtful policy discussion on topics affecting minority communities. The goal is to provide a forum for critical conversation on issues often ignored by mainstream media outlets. After the general discussion, the event transforms into an in-person social component allowing attendees to build on ideas.

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