Rebecca Asch

Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations

Rebecca grew up in the Bay Area and earned a B.A. in Political Communications from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She began her career in government and politics and later transitioned to the nonprofit world. Prior to joining Breakthrough in 2016, Rebecca led the Children’s Fund of San Mateo County. In her free time, Rebecca enjoys spending time with her family, including her three young daughters.

Matt Benson

High School Program Assistant

Matt migrated from Columbus, Ohio with his husband, two dogs, and two cats. He graduated from Capital University with a B.A. in Psychology and worked in Child Welfare for 3 years before moving into education. Matt is a graduate student at University of San Francisco with the Higher Education and Student Affairs program. He hopes to use his time working in higher education to make college accessible to underserved populations. When not working or taking classes on campus, Matt enjoys all forms of visual media, streaming and cinema, performing arts, museums, traveling, trying every food, and anything that involves animals.

Liz Brent-Maldonado

Test Prep Instructor

Liz is a multi-disciplinary educator, artist, and writer. At Breakthrough, she specializes in test prep with a holistic approach; her curriculum is grounded in mindfulness, social-emotional learning, and whole-human wellness. Liz is a Colorado native who graduated from CU Boulder with a BFA and Honors Magna Cum Laude in Dance and a Minor in Religious Studies. She lived in Japan and taught for the JET Programme in rural Kyoto before moving to the Bay Area. Her ongoing work and interests include making art, costume design and construction for theatre and dance, yoga training and teaching, and writing poetry and comics for handmade zines. Liz also loves being out in nature and studying both flora and fauna.

Shane Brent-Maldonado

Director of High School Programs

As a child of a military parent, Shane has lived throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Germany. After his family settled in the Monterey Bay Area, Shane was accepted into the Upward Bound program where he began volunteering as a peer tutor, eventually becoming Lead Tutor and Science Learning Manager. Shane later served as a Bilingual Teaching Assistant for first and fifth grades as an Americorps volunteer with the Urban Education League in Denver and taught seventh grade Math Skills for the YMCA of Greater Seattle. Outside of teaching, he is most passionate about college access pathways for urban high school youth, an area he has dedicated over 20 years of his career to through formal and informal roles within a variety of local and national education non-profits. Shane earned his B.A. in European History from the University of California, Santa Cruz and his M.B.A/M.A. in Education Leadership from Mills College in Oakland. In his free time he rides his bike down steep hills, looks for whales along the coast, and dances to disco.


Naomi Burks

Middle School Program Assistant

Naomi was born and raised in Mission Viejo, California. She started her education at San Francisco State University as a pre-nursing major and recently transferred to the University of San Francisco, where she is enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program with a minor in African American Studies. Naomi has always had a passion for children and helping others. She loves to volunteer, especially abroad, and before working at Breakthrough she was a Behavior Specialist. In her free time, Naomi likes to try new foods, go shopping, and spend time with friends and family. She is excited to be a part of and contribute to Breakthrough’s mission. 


Paola Bustos

Middle School Program Assistant

Paola was born in Berkeley, California. Though she spent most of her time growing up in the Bay Area, she also lived in Fort Worth, Texas for a couple of years. She is an undergraduate student at San Francisco State University as a Communications major. Paola is a Breakthrough student who believes deeply in the program and its mission. She has a passion for raising awareness regarding the lack of educational opportunities for our local students. As a first generation college student herself, she sees the value of the resources the program has provided for her and is excited to help other students obtain them as well. She also hopes to continue to use her first language in order to effectively communicate with students and families that struggle to understand the English language in order to provide an equal opportunity to succeed without worrying about any language barriers. She wants to serve as the example that makes students aware that after the 8 year commitment is over, they still have a community to come back to. In her spare time, she enjoys going outdoors, exploring new places to eat, grabbing boba with friends, and spending time with her pets. 

Agnes Choi

Chinese Interpreter

Born and raised in San Francisco, Agnes has been a member of the Breakthrough team for the past four years. Agnes attended Alice Fong Yu, a bilingual immersion school, where she developed her love for learning languages. Her passion continued to develop when she served as an ad hoc interpreter for her parents. In college at the University of California, Berkeley, Agnes served as a translator and interpreter for multiple health care organizations, including San Francisco Hep B Free. Agnes left the Bay Area and attended the University of Rochester School of Nursing and currently works as an RN at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. In her free time, Agnes loves spending quality time with friends and family, running, and traveling.

Michael Duryee-Browner

Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Michael was born and raised in San Francisco and attended SF Day School, where he got his start at Breakthrough (then known as Summerbridge) as an after-school tutor. Michael later served as a Teaching Fellow during the summers of 2010 and 2011, which is when he realized he wanted to be a teacher. After college, Michael spent a year teaching English in Italy. He then returned to San Francisco and taught at SF Day for six years, including two as a fourth grade teacher and four as the sixth grade History teacher. He also worked for Breakthrough as an Instructional Coach during the summers of 2016 and 2017. Michael holds a B.A. in History from Emory University and an M.A. in Teaching from the University of San Francisco. In his spare time, he enjoys Bay Area sports, playing chess, and learning about animals.

Jenee Palmer

College Persistence Coach

A native San Franciscan, Jenee‘s history with Breakthrough started as a student at the SF Day and University High School programs. After returning to Breakthrough as a volunteer, she spent the ensuing decade on staff, leading our transformation into a high-impact eight-year program in her role as Senior Program Director. Jenee is currently the Director of the High Potential Program at Saint Mary’s College of California. In her role, Jenee provides overall leadership and management of the grant-funded TRIO Student Support Services program, which provides comprehensive support to first-generation and/or low-income college students. In addition, Jenee serves as a trustee for The Bay School. Jenee received a BA from UC Berkeley and MA in Education (Equity and Social Justice) from San Francisco State University. Outside of work, Jenee enjoys running, reading, and rooting for Bay Area sports teams.

Ana Payés

Director of Middle School Programs

Born in El Salvador and raised in San Francisco’s Mission District, Ana understood early on the importance of education as well as the disparities in the available options. A first generation college student, Ana graduated from Lowell High School and later earned her B.A. in Speech and Communication from San Francisco State University. Ana is committed to using her education to give back to her community. Over 10 years at KIPP Bay Area Schools, Ana gained diverse perspectives working as Business Manager, 7th grade Spanish teacher, Dean of Students and, most recently, Operations Manager at KIPP SF Bay Academy in the Western Addition. She also completed the KIPP School Leadership Program in 2010-2011. In her free time, Ana enjoys spending time with her family including her dog, Baxter, checking out concerts and craft fairs with friends, or traveling to new places with her sister.

Andy Shin

Executive Director

Originally from New York, Andy was a Teaching Fellow at the Breakthrough sites in Long Island and Cambridge as an undergraduate and was immediately hooked. He subsequently taught sixth grade math and science in Oakland as a Teach For America corps member before returning to Breakthrough as Program Director at the Cambridge site. Andy has done short-term work for The Steppingstone Foundation, Aim High, and Summer Search, where he served as an Education Pioneers Fellow. He holds a B.A. in Public Policy from Brown University and was an Urban Scholars Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, receiving an Ed.M. in School Leadership. He lives in Berkeley with his wife and two daughters.