Meet the Team

Zvia Schoenberg, Director

Over a career that spans nearly 20 years, Zvia has worked in the public and private sectors in roles including strategy, business development, legal and operations. Her core focus has been to improve urban education through innovation.

Zvia started her career at Fried Frank, where she managed the firm’s pro bono charter school practice and represented the first charter school to open in New York. She also served as an education lawyer with the New York City Department of Education, EdisonLearning, GEMS Americas and Ascend Learning. In more recent years, she’s worked in strategy, business development and operations for early-stage EdTech companies.

Most recently, Zvia served as Chief Operating Officer for Kinvolved, a social enterprise working to improve student attendance rates and foster parent engagement through web and mobile technology. During her tenure with Kinvolved, the company tripled its revenues.

Zvia currently co-chairs the NYC chapter of EdTechWomen, a networking group for women in EdTech, and serves as an informal advisor to several EdTech companies.

Zvia received her JD from the New York University School of Law, where she was Editor in Chief of the Environment Law Journal, and her BA from Washington University in St. Louis. She served on the Education & Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association, and has been invited to speak as an expert panelist at state and national education conferences.  Zvia is fluent in Spanish and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Tess Gardephe, Program Manager
Tess joined the New York Metro team as a Program Manager in September 2014. Tess joined NFTE after teaching middle school English and Social Studies in New Orleans, Louisiana through Teach for America. While teaching, Tess created an engaging, original curriculum, assisted in implementing new school-wide behavior and tracking systems, and served on her school’s Achievement Network leadership team. Her targeted interventions were met by a dramatic increase in student test scores resulting in a 65% overall improvement from the previous year. Prior to teaching in New Orleans, Tess worked as an organizer and mentor leader for The Future Project and as a Site Director for the college preparedness nonprofit, Let’s Get Ready, in New York City.

Tess received a BA in International Development, Health and Human Rights and a minor in Africana Studies from New York University in 2012. Through Tess’ NYU study abroad experience in Accra, Ghana she became interested in innovative approaches to education and helped create a film about HIV/AIDS. As a NFTE Program Manager, Tess is thrilled to be managing 11 schools across New York, working with a variety of schools, teachers, and students and implementing the exciting student-led Entrepreneurship curriculum.


Robin Altman, Program Manager

Robin was interested in education from an early age. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in education from Stony Brook University and a Master’s degree in Education from C.W. Post College, Long Island University. Additionally, Robin is a certified Montessori educator.

After college, Robin was involved in the launch and growth of a Montessori School where she held the role of lead teacher and taught multi-age, multi-grade classes in Westchester, New York.

Robin transitioned to the business environment and became a director, and eventually vice president, of a B-to-B professional education conference business. Robin’s role expanded to include the management of content, marketing, operations, sales, and administration, as well as responsibility for mutli-million dollar revenue streams.

In 2009, Robin brought her business and education experience together and joined NFTE as a Program Director. Now she has the best of both worlds!


Liliana Pichardo, Lead Program Associate
Liliana joins us after having spent the past two years working with State Farm Insurance Company as a Licensed Insurance Account Representative. Liliana holds a BS in Business Administration from Georgetown University with a major in Marketing and Human Resources Management. She has previous experience working for the DC Schools Project, where she oversaw the recruitment for and planning of tutoring sessions for high school students. She has also managed SAT prep and college readiness programs for over 40 students as a part of the Let’s Get Ready program in Queens. In addition to supporting our schools and teachers as a Program Manager this year, Liliana will also be taking ownership of our volunteer and alumni services. She has a clear passion for entrepreneurial education and we are thrilled to have her on board!


Marah Butler, Lead Program Associate

Marah has worked in the education field for over 5 years, including roles in teaching, coaching, curriculum writing, school operations and program management. Most recently, Marah served as an Education Program Associate for Global Cities, Inc., where she managed an international e-learning program. At Global Cities, she supported 330 international educators through school site visits, virtual professional development sessions and one on one support. Within 12 months, Marah helped grow the Global Scholars program from 6,700 to 11,400 student participants by completing an ambitious outreach campaign.

Marah started her career in education as a Teach For America corps member. She taught middle school science in Denver for three years and in New York City for one year.

Marah received her M.A. degree from the University of Colorado – Denver and her B.S. in Marketing from Indiana State University.