Board of Directors
Nicole started volunteering with Minds Matter in fall 2014 as a mentor and served as Director of Sophomore Mentoring (2015-2016) and VP of Academics (2016-2018). She joined the Board of Directors in 2018. Aside from Minds Matter, Nicole has worked with students in many capacities, including undergraduate teaching at Bellevue College and lecturing through the University Beyond Bars (UBB) program. Nicole graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2012 with a B.S. in molecular bioscience and biotechnology and completed her Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Washington in 2019. Currently, she is an adjunct instructor in the biology department at Tacoma Community College and a volunteer instructor with the Freedom Education Project Puget Sound (FEPPS). Nicole is passionate about educational equity gaps and promotes the use of inclusive teaching methods to benefit all students.
Ruchi first became involved with Minds Matter in 2011, when she was a mentor in the New York City chapter. As a recipient of education philanthropy, Ruchi is a firm believer that education access should not be based on a child's zip code. Over the years, Ruchi has advised education based non-profits in New York and Seattle on mission-driven strategy, fundraising and community partnerships.
At Minds Matter, she is focused on developing a scalable strategy for the organization's community and corporate partnership efforts. Ruchi is currently a Senior Consultant within the Strategy & Analytics practice at Deloitte Consulting in Seattle. Prior to this role, she spent seven years building a career in revenue strategy in the institutional finance industry in New York. Ruchi holds a BA (Hons) from Middlebury College and an MBA from the Foster School of Business at University of Washington. She currently lives in Seattle with her husband and 3-year old goldendoodle, Simba. Outside of work, Ruchi enjoys traveling, boxing, interior design and baking - she hopes to open her own bakery someday!
Sonali is a Data Scientist in the Advanced Analytics department at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. She has also worked as a Senior Clinical Data Scientist at Virginia Mason Medical Center. Healthcare Data Science is a field that uses quantitative and analytical techniques to impact human lives very directly. This is the perfect nexus where Sonali likes to be. She has a Ph.D. in Physics, a Masters in Mathematics, and a silver medal from the Indian Institute of Technology. Prior to her transition into healthcare, Sonali worked in the academic sector, conducting research in Particle Physics and teaching at Hamline University, St. Paul, and at Seattle University.
Sonali has always enjoyed volunteering, including at Japanese and botanical gardens, as a judge at Science fairs, and as an Executive Board member at the Association for India's Development. Sonali believes that volunteering enriches a person as much as a volunteer contributes to an organization, and is excited to begin her journey with Minds Matter. On the personal side, Sonali loves to travel, paint, and best of all, share both silly and profound moments with her son.
Ken Bugayong, CFA, CTP
Ken is the current Chief Financial Officer of Rockstable Token, Inc. In this role, he oversees financial modernization initiatives, implementing Blockchain. Ken was previously the Treasury Manager at Expedia Group, overseeing ~$4B in assets, and Treasury officer at the Central Bank of the Philippines, implementing the country's monetary policy and reserves management mandate. In 2019, he was honored with the prestigious Adam Smith Award and AFP Pinnacle Award, for advancement of the industry and impactful financial innovations. Prior to joining the foundation, Ken served as mentor and facilitator at Pathways to Higher Education, an educational nonprofit organization geared toward identifying talented but financially underprivileged public high school students and equips them with the necessary academic and soft skills to nurture them to become transformative leaders. Ken holds an MBA degree from MIT Sloan School of Management, a B.S. degree in Management Engineering (cum laude) from Ateneo de Manila University, a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Charter, and a CTP (Certified Treasury Professional) designation.
Sara began her career in education as an elementary student, marching alongside her mother for education reform. Trained as a family therapist and later supporting youth and family empowerment through college and career access programs, Sara excitedly accepted the invitation to join the Minds Matter Seattle team. With a lens toward equity-driven, culturally relevant practice, Sara hopes to bring her dynamic personal and professional experiences to support our dedicated volunteers, scholars and families. Sara currently serves as Director of Human Resources for a local school district, and holds a BA from Washington State University, and Masters from Lewis & Clark College.
Forrest has been a mentor with Minds Matter since 2014, and is currently acting as the Board Liaison. Forrest was born and raised in Franconia, a small town in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Forrest has an undergraduate degree in Physics from Princeton University, and a Phd. in Neuroscience and Molecular Biology also from Princeton. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University before moving to Seattle to work at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, where he is currently an Assistant Investigator. His research presently focuses on the patterns of how different neuronal cell types in the brain connect with one another.
Steven E. Kern, PhD is Deputy Director of Quantitative Sciences at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Quantitative Sciences group is focused on quantitative analysis to support program strategies for therapeutic projects that the foundation funds.
Prior to this, he was Global Head of Pharmacology Modeling at Novartis Pharma AG based in Basel Switzerland where he lead a team focused on providing model based drug development support to therapeutics in many disease conditions across all stages of drug development. He joined Novartis in 2010 from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah where he was Associate Professor of Pharmaceutics, Anesthesiology, and Bioengineering, and served as co-investigator for their NIH funded Pediatric Pharmacology Research Unit. He is married to Jennifer Hughes Kern and has two daughters, Emily (in the picture above) and Jane. When he is not traveling the world working on tropical diseases, he loves to hike, ride his bike, ski, and in a former time play ice hockey. Reading and NY Times Sunday crossword puzzles are also favorite less-active passions.