Our Mission

Minds Matter transforms the lives of accomplished high school students from low-resource families by broadening their dreams and preparing them for college success.

Who We Are and How We Are Making a Difference

Minds Matter DC is a strong, passionate group of individuals dedicated to providing extra support and resources needed to help highly motivated, low-resource DC students reach their highest potential without additional costs to the school system or students. Our team members have a wide range of experience and skills in the non-profit and private sectors, including a number of DC residents, members who previously volunteered as mentors at other Minds Matter chapters, and one member who has two young children in DC Public Schools.

Minds Matter DC is a chapter of the national Minds Matter organization. Since its founding in New York City in 1991, Minds Matter has grown into a national organization with eleven chapters across the United States in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, the Twin Cities, Washington D.C., and Houston. For 25 years, Minds Matter has been making competitive college admission a reality for underserved students nationwide. Minds Matter transforms the lives of highly-motivated, low-resource students by providing the individualized mentoring, standardized test preparation, and writing and critical thinking instruction that has been proven necessary to achieve college success.

As a result of those efforts, on a nationwide basis, 100% of our graduates have been accepted into a four-year college or university, and more than 95% of our tracked alumni have graduated from or are currently enrolled in college. 89% of Minds Matter students accepted to college are first-generation college students.


College graduates earn a staggering 84% more than high-school graduates.

Only 3% of students at the nation’s top 146 colleges are from low-resource backgrounds. The cycle of poverty is fundamentally hard to break, even for students whose motivation has been demonstrated by high academic achievement.

Why does Minds Matter matter?

Low-resource, high-achieving students are grossly underrepresented at competitive colleges.

  • Only 3% of students at the nation’s top 146 colleges are from low-resource backgrounds.
  • College graduates earn a staggering 84% more than high-school graduates.
  • The cycle of poverty is fundamentally hard to break, even for students whose motivation has been demonstrated by high academic achievement.

The Program

Minds Matter serves nearly 650 motivated students in 12 cities nationwide and pairs them with volunteers committed to helping them achieve their academic and personal goals. The program provides:

  • Academic mentoring
  • SAT/ACT test prep
  • Writing and critical thinking instruction
  • Access to prestigious summer enrichment programs
  • Guidance through the college application and financial aid processes

Minds Matter Helps Students Succeed

In collaboration with our volunteers, Minds Matter’s impact is proven:

  • 100% of Minds Matter students attend a 4-year college or university
  • 70% of students have attended top-tier institutions
  • Participants average a 200 point increase in SAT scores

We Could Not Exist Without Our Volunteers

Minds Matter could not exist without the dedication and commitment of over 1,900 volunteers nationwide. Many of our mentors are working professionals who devote their free time to enriching the lives of our deserving students. Our volunteers are a motivational powerhouse, always available to provide a listening ear and an encouraging word to the students they mentor.

Board & Leadership

Our all volunteer group of board members and leaders, along with all our remarkable volunteers and mentors, make Minds Matter possible.

Board Members

David R. Ford: Board Chairman

David Ford is an advisor to and investor in the healthcare and seniors-housing industries, commercial real-estate ventures and start-up enterprises.  Until 2015, he was the Vice Chairman of Aegis Senior Communities LLC, a leading developer and operator of seniors-housing communities, and remains a principal in the company. David previously served as the COO and General Counsel of a government contracting firm that provided IT consulting services to defense and other federal agencies. For the first two decades of his professional life, he was an attorney in private practice in Washington, D.C., where he specialized in mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare, technology and government-contracting industries. David is a member of the D.C. regional board of Teach for America, and was a founder of Kalorama Village, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to helping seniors “age in place.”

Thayer Surette: President

Thayer Surette is the Director of Alliance Development and Membership at Research America, an advocacy organization based in Arlington, VA. She has also served in development roles at the National 4-H Council and the Boston Symphony Orchestra and is a graduate of Boston College. She believes strongly in Minds Matter’s mission and served as a mentor and in leadership positions with Minds Matter Boston prior to moving to the Mid-Atlantic and joining Minds Matter DC.

Tiffany Hsueh: Vice-President

Tiffany Hsueh has served the Minds Matter DC chapter as a mentor this past academic year. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she majored in Political Economy with a minor in Justice & Peace Studies. During undergrad, she volunteered with after school mentoring and tutoring programs at DC public schools. Currently, she is a consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, where she provides governance oversight, project management, and strategic communication products and services.

Thomas Kramer: Board Member

Thomas Kramer is responsible for financial management, and administrative stewardship at energy efficiency software company Opower (NYSE: OPWR). Previously, he cofounded and served at CFO at Cvent (NYSE: CVT), the largest event-management technology company in the US, where he helped grow the organization from its wee beginnings to profitability and 850 employees. Thomas was recently named CFO of the year in Washington, DC, by Washington Business Journal. A child of public school education, Thomas would like to see everybody have equal opportunities. He earned a Master’s at the Norwegian School of Economics, and an MBA at Harvard Business School. In his spare time he tries desperately to match his 5 and 7 year old boys’ public school math knowledge, but keeps coming up short.

Kris van Riper: Board Member

Kris van Riper is the Practice Leader of the Infrastructure Leadership Council and Roadmap Builder at Gartner.  She has previously worked at the World Bank, AOL/Netscape and the Joint Economic Committee.  She is excited about Minds Matter’s mission as a native Washingtonian and an alumni of DC Public Schools.

Josh Stillman: Board Member

Josh is Director of Financial Planning at Capitol Financial Consultants, Inc. in McLean, Virginia where he helps individuals, families, and businesses manage their financial affairs. In years prior, Josh was an Engagement Manager for Booz & Company in the strategy practice. He led consulting projects with energy companies on their most important strategic issues including financial business cases, operating model design, performance excellence, new technology introduction, market strategy, pricing, and integrated planning processes. Josh received his BSE in Bioengineering from University of Pennsylvania and his MBA from University of Texas at Austin. He enjoys playing guitar, running, cooking, photography, golf, gardening, reading, and spending as much time as possible with his wife (a former DC Public Schools teacher) and two boys. He is extremely excited to join Minds Matter DC and help expand opportunities for motivated high school students and the community.


Team Leaders

Thayer Surette: President
Tiffany Hsueh: Vice President
Thomas Kramer: Treasurer
Rachel Quinn: Marketing & PR Director
Kevin Morris & Becca Chernyha: Senior Program Directors
Danielle Glazer & Lizzy Vogel: Junior Program Directors
Matt Bosch & Josh Stillman: Mentee Recruiting Directors
Amanda Kitanga & Sid Paruchuru: Summer Program Directors
Courtney Skinner: Development Director
Michael Kent: Curriculum Director