Elana Mintz is the founder of Urban Adventure Squad and executive director of Urban Learning and Teaching Center, a D.C.-based, nonprofit organization that provides education support to working families on days when schools are closed, and which seeks to integrate community-based, experiential learning programs in the K-12 curriculum. Elana spent over 20 years in editorial and communications positions at CNA, the Brookings Institution, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Congressional Quarterly. Her two older children were founding members of Urban Adventure Squad. Elana is certified in First Aid, CPR, and EpiPen administration, and has completed her DC Mandated Reporter training.
Christy Brock is director of programming for UAS. She researches, develops curricula for, and leads UAS programs. She has been with the Squad from the start and is the best resource for magical, not-to-be-missed, family-friendly places in D.C., but she won't divulge all Squad secrets! Christy graduated from American University in 2008 with a literature degree, and has cared for and taught children since then. Before becoming UAS director of programming, she was a nanny and taught preschool at Washington Hebrew Congregation's Early Childhood Center. Christy is certified in First Aid, CPR, and EpiPen administration. She has completed her DC Mandated Reporter training and Safe Shores Stewards of Children certificate. Christy is a certified Freedom Barre Instructor and loves staying active in her free time. She's looking forward to her sixth summer with the Squad, exploring new places and activities and revisiting some oldies but goodies.
Maia Banayan is so excited to be a new Squad leader beginning in May. She is a senior at American University studying international relations and environmental sustainability. She loves all activities outdoors and spends her time away from the Squad at various community gardens throughout D.C. and is a Grounds Intern at American University, where she is working to revitalize the community garden. Her favorite plants to grow are fruits and vegetables, specifically figs! Maia also worked at organizations helping to bring garden and environmental education to lower income communities in D.C. and Tel Aviv. She just got her group exercise instructor's certification and is excited to bring her high energy, love of the outdoors, and passion for education and learning from all types of people to UAS this summer! Maia is certified in First Aid, CPR, and EpiPen administration.
Brielle Brookins is a Doctoral Candidate in developmental psychology at Howard University. Her research interests include student academic achievement, culturally relevant pedagogy, and school climate and culture. Prior to joining the Squad, Brielle has worked with Capstone Institute, Janney Elementary School, Big Brother Big Sister, For the Love of Children, and the YMCA. Brielle is certified in First Aid, CPR, and EpiPen administration. She has also completed the DC Mandated Reporter training and the Safe Shores Stewards of Children training.
Laurel Clark is a rising senior at American University pursuing degrees in environmental studies and public relations. Prior to UAS, Laurel worked as an environmental educator intern for American University’s Office of Sustainability. Laurel also volunteered as an assistant teacher at Dumbarton Oaks Parks Conservancy, working with students on environmental education. She acted as the Vice President of Recognition for her 1,200-person dormitory through American University’s Residence Hall Association and served as the National Communications Coordinator on the Executive Board for the Residence Hall Association. This year, Laurel will return for a third semester as a Freshman Resident Assistant at American University. Laurel is certified in First Aid, CPR, and EpiPen administration. She has completed the DC Mandated Reporter training and the Safe Shores Stewards of Children training. She loves running by the water and spending time exploring new places in Washington, D.C. with friends. Laurel is very excited for summer with the Squad and can’t wait for all the great adventures we will go on!
Gowri Manohari is currently working at the National Institutes of Health and is hoping to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. She moved to D.C. in 2016 from India with her husband, who is also employed at NIH. Gowri worked with underprivileged children in shelter homes in Bangalore, India, to provide afterschool support and mentoring in their academic pursuits. She has also worked with Avalokitesvara Trust to help set up libraries in remote, unequipped regions of India and conducted workshops and activities to encourage reading habits in children. Gowri is excited about integrating her passion for science with education and outreach to children and to communities.
Ebony McCovery has a heart and passion for people and the world around her. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and her Master of Social Work degree from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA. She has worked as an elementary school teacher and a social work professional prior to relocating to Washington, D.C. in 2017. Ebony is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Social Work at Howard University. She hopes to positively impact and transform the lives of everyone she encounters. She hopes her experience with Urban Adventure Squad allows her to do just that! She’s excited for what will be an amazing and exciting summer with Urban Adventure Squad and its members! Ebony is certified in First Aid, CPR, and EpiPen administration. She has completed her DC Mandated Reporter training and her Safe Shores Stewards of Children certificate.
Ashley Turnbull is a doctoral student at The Howard University, studying Educational Psychology. She earned her Bachelor degrees in Sociology and Human Development & Family Studies from UNC-Greensboro, and her Masters in Education from Lipscomb University. She has a background in teaching, and holds a strong passion for ensuring all students receive quality educational opportunities. Ashley's research is focused on improving K-12 education for African American students by exploring the racial identity development of Black students, and improving teacher training programs. In her free time, she enjoys finding delicious food around the city, listening to music, traveling, and reading. Ashley has completed her DC Mandated Reporter training.
Anjali Wells received her Bachelor's in Fine Arts and Masters of Art Education from the University of Maryland, College Park and has a Post Graduate Certificate in Equity and Excellence in Education from McDaniel College. She has been a Highly Qualified Art Educator for Montgomery County Public Schools since 2013. In 2013, she developed an arts-based mindfulness program for at-risk elementary students which proved to reduce the number of office infractions of participants. Anjali was the site coordinator and lead teaching artist for Explore, Create, Connect at Briggs Chaney Middle School, a program made possible by a Trawick Foundation Grant that collaborated with Arts on the Block, Impact Silver Spring, and Clancyworks Dance company to provide struggling students with arts-based community engagement. The program proved to improve participant’s self-esteem, sense of belonging in the school community, and ultimately their attendance and GPA. In 2018, Anjali contributed to the MCPS art curriculum as a curriculum writer where she focused on Social Justice topics and culturally responsive methods. She has completed her MCPS Mandated Reporter training and is certified in EpiPen administration.