Elana Mintz Elana 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.
Christy Brock is director of programming for UAS. She researches, develops curricula for, and leads all UAS programs. She is the Squad’s 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 and CPR, and is a certified Freedom Barre Instructor.
Brielle Brookins is working on her Ph.D. in developmental psychology at Howard University, where she earned her undergraduate degrees in psychology and sociology. She has been a counselor in the aftercare program at Janney Elementary, a mentor with Big Brother Big Sister, a tutor at For the Love of Children, and a summer camp counselor for the YMCA. Brielle is certified in First Aid and CPR.
Laurel Clark is a sophomore at American University pursuing degrees in environmental studies and public relations. Prior to UAS, Laurel volunteered as an assistant teacher at Dumbarton Oaks Parks Conservancy, working with students on environmental education. She also worked as the Vice President of Recognition for her 1,200 person dormitory through American University’s Residence Hall Association. Laurel was also involved with on-campus literary publications, working as the assistant poetry editor for AMLIT and a writer for AWOL. This year, she works as the National Communications Coordinator on the Executive Board for the Residence Hall Association. Through her love of writing and environmental education, she hopes to find small ways to strengthen both her direct and indirect communities.
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, a new team member, is joining Urban Adventure Squad this year as a Squad Leader. Ebony 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!
Heather Minneman has been a stay-at-home mom to her adorable daughter, Hope, for the past four years. She has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Washington & Lee University (with concentrations in technical theater and physics), a master's of education in college counseling and student development from North Carolina State University, and is a Nationally Certified Counselor. She is pursuing a certification in American Sign Language. Heather has worked as the assistant director of a math/science camp in Cary, NC, in the IT Industry, at Build-a-Bear Workshop, at Wake Tech Community College, and at American University. She loves teaching Squad members about physics and Rube Goldberg contraptions. Heather is certified in First Aid and CPR/AED.
Pooja Tilvawala is a senior at American University pursuing degrees in International Studies and Economics. She spent the last year studying abroad at the London School of Economics. In addition to her studies, she has worked for AmeriCorps, where she served in the Jumpstart Program, an after-school mentoring program for preschoolers. She spent a summer in Madrid as an Au Pair for a family, and she served as a counselor at the YWCA for seven years. Pooja loves to dance, particularly to hip-hop and bhangra, and is certified in First Aid and CPR/AED.