SAGA Innovations

National Leadership


Alan Safran

President & Co-Founder

Mr. Safran has a 25 year career in public education, which followed 10+ years of other work. In the public education sector, Mr. Safran served for 9 years as a leading official of the Massachusetts Department of Education, including a period as the Deputy Commissioner of Education for the state. He spent 12 years at Match Education, 9 years as the Executive Director of the Match Schools in Boston, MA, and over three years as the leader for the tutor dissemination work at Match Education. In the 1980s, he was a staff member of two United States Senate committees on foreign policy, and an Assistant DA in Queens, NY. He has a BA from Princeton University and a JD from the George Washington University National Law Center, is certified as school superintendent in MA, and is a member of the Bar of NY and MA.


Antonio Gutierrez

Vice President & Co-Founder

Mr. Gutierrez graduated from Union College with a full educational scholarship through the Posse Foundation. After graduating from Union in 2010, he served as a City Year corps member in Boston, MA, then joined Match Education in 2011 to launch the tutor dissemination unit with Alan Safran, where he focused on cultivating and establishing school and district partnerships and supporting the start-up and implementation of the program at all partner locations. Currently, Mr. Gutierrez is pursuing his MBA in Public and Non-profit Management at Boston University Questrom School of Business and is a board member of Summer Search Boston. Connect with Antonio on Twitter @AGutierrezSAGA  


Barbara Algarin

National Executive Director

Ms. Algarin has a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law and a B.S. in science teaching from San Jose State University, and is also on the adjunct faculty of the US Department of Defense Institute for International Legal Studies. Prior to moving to the Chicago area, Ms. Algarin was a member of Match Corps VIII at the Match High School in 2011-2012 and was the Site Director at the International High School in Lawrence, MA in 2012-2013. Ms. Algarin served as the Executive Director of Match Corps: Chicago in 2013-2015. She has the unwavering belief that all students can learn and that relationships matter. She joined SAGA Innovations in 2015 to continue working with Chicago youth.


Glenn Lesniak


Mr. Lesniak is a retired Army Reserve Corps of Engineer Major General with over 25 years of operations experience in the private sector. He has commanded soldiers at every level and his operational experience was further developed as a Construction Project Manager with Exxon and as a Director with Verizon and Frontier Communications. Mr. Lesniak had stood up two large corporate organizations within Verizon and the US Army Reserve. Both new organizations were presented Quality Awards within the first two years of operation. He considers SAGA’s core mission as critical to our nation’s young men and women and is focused on growing the operation. He holds a BS in General Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MS in Engineering Management from the University of Missouri-Rolla.  


Chris Dupuis

Chief Academics Officer

Mr. Dupuis has been working in education for 20 years after earning his degree in biology from the University of Michigan. After teaching high school math and science in New Hampshire for 8 years, he joined the team at the Match School in Boston, MA. There, he taught chemistry, AP Calculus, and AP Physics before transitioning to lead the grades 6-12 math and science teams as the Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. After 7 year at Match, Chris moved to the Netherlands to teach AP and IB Chemistry at the American School of the Hague, where he is about to begin his 5th year. There, he earned his Masters of Arts in Education, which a specialty in instructional strategies.  


Halley Bowman

National Curriculum and Assessment Designer

Mrs. Bowman has a BA in Math and a BA in French from Grinnell College and a Masters of Art in Teaching. She taught English in France before moving to Chicago to teach high school math through Teach For America. During her 5 years teaching in Chicago, she was chair of the math department and spent her summers writing curriculum. She is currently living her dream writing math curriculum for SAGA Innovations.  


Ashlie Tyler

National Director of Recruitment

Ms. Tyler received her Bachelor’s degree from Duke University. She began her career as a finance recruiter, working for Bain Capital and Fidelity investments before that. In 2013, Ms. Tyler decided to follow her personal mission to “empower underprivileged youth to aspire towards higher education and lifelong success” by leaving finance and moving into education. Prior to SAGA, she spent two years with Match Education, first as Director of Operations and then as Director of Recruitment for Match Tutors in Chicago, IL. In addition to her work with SAGA, Ms. Tyler serves on the Board of the Family Defense Center, is the Chairperson of the Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church Scholarship Fund, and is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.  


Allison Hassing

Recruitment Manager

Mrs. Hassing received her Bachelor’s degree in Education from The University of Michigan. While in Ann Arbor she discovered a passion for urban education and after graduating in 2011, she joined Teach for America as a corps member in Minneapolis, MN. During this time she designed and implemented her own curriculum, as well as mentored first year teachers through the program. After her time in the classroom, she moved to Boston to get her Master’s in Counseling Psychology from Boston University. While in Boston, Mrs. Hassing remained on with Teach for America as an interviewer and worked as a Guidance Counselor intern with the Boston Public Schools. Mrs. Hassing strongly believes in the power of building relationships in schools and is excited to be a part of the work happening at SAGA.  


Camille Ehlers

Recruitment Manager

Ms. Ehlers graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Bachelor’s of Science in Marketing with a minor in Spanish. She started her professional journey as a member of the Match Corps: Chicago as a tutoring fellow before continuing as the assistant site director at Chicago Vocational Career Academy and Harlan High School. Prior to moving to Chicago, Ms. Ehlers was living and teaching in Galicia, Spain for two years. She has a strong desire to lead youth to take advantage of their education, embrace obstacles, and travel the World beyond their communities, cities, and countries. She will continue her commitment to Chicago youth with SAGA Innovations.

Elizabeth Mendoza

Recruitment Manager

Ms. Mendoza is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, served in China 2014-2016, as a TEFL instructor at the Chongqing College of Electronic Engineering located in University Town, Chongqing, China.   She graduated from the City College of New York in 2010 with a B.A. in Public Relations and Advertising.  Prior to joining the Peace Corps Ms. Mendoza volunteered abroad in Cartago, Costa Rica through Cross Cultural Solutions, working with underprivileged infants and children.  As well as, studied abroad through the City College of New York in Rabat, Morocco. She worked as a Project Coordinator at the CUNY IT Internship Specialists Program working with students in the Computer Science field.  She is excited to share her passion of service with SAGA Fellows and students.

Brandi ashford

Brandi Ashford

Ms. Ashford graduated from Southern Illinois University in May 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management, and a specialization in Human Resource Management. After graduating, she accepted a position as the HR Intern at the YMCA of the USA corporate office. Once the internship ended, Ms. Ashford was able to land a position as the Human Resources Assistant at Oprah Winfrey’s historic Harpo Studios in Chicago, IL for 2+ years. All of her previous experience helped her decide that she was ready to venture into the non-profit world and give back to the community. SAGA has helped shaped the foundation for Ms. Ashford’s future endeavors. Being able to recruit bright, motivated Fellows has been an amazing experience for her, and she is ready to be a part of SAGA’s growth and success!

Uriel G.

Uriel Guadarrama

Data Analyst

Mr. Guadarrama graduated from Pomona College with a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and a minor in theatre where he attended on a leadership scholarship through the Posse Foundation. Prior to his current position, he worked for SAGA as a Tutor Fellow serving the community he loves on the south side of Chicago, his hometown. Mr. Guadarrama believes strongly that every student deserves a quality education that fully prepares them for college and beyond. He knows firsthand that SAGA’s model works and is excited to continue working to grow the organization for the benefit of our nation’s students.  

Kyra Detone

Kyra DeTone

National HR and Special Projects Manager

Ms. DeTone is a recent graduate of Union College where she double majored in Art History and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. As a Summer Education Intern at the Cloisters Museum at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ms. DeTone discovered her passion for engaging with students through experiential learning. Moving forward, Ms. DeTone’s desire to work with innovative social organizations led her to connecting with Mr. Gutierrez at SAGA Innovations. She feels SAGA’s goals and values will open up new pathways for students and is extremely excited to join the SAGA team as the first step in her professional career.  


Sixto Martinez

Executive Assistant

Mr. Martinez is a recent graduate from the University of Massachusetts Boston where he earned his B.A. in Management with a concentration in finance. Prior to moving to the Chicago area, Mr. Martinez worked several positions in the education field where he was able to illustrate and practice his knowledge of finance. Mr. Martinez, worked for Boston University, Match Education and City on a Hill. He joined SAGA innovations because He wanted to continue his growth in education while being apart of something  that enhances the state of education.

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