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Meet The Team

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Ms. Small

Director of PrepNext

As the daughter of immigrants who worked hard to provide their child with opportunities, Ms. Small was taught to respect the power of education from an early age. But it wasn't until she interned with PrepNext as a college student in 2010 that she found her passion for supporting young people on their educational journeys. It was at PrepNext that Ms. Small learned the deep connections between education, equity, and social-emotional wellbeing. Ms. Small's experience with PrepNext prompted her to begin a career as a School Counselor, and she worked at high schools in both Maryland and Massachusetts. When Ms. Small and her family returned to the DC area in 2019, she was thrilled to have the opportunity to return to PrepNext, this time as Associate Director of High School Support. In 2021, she stepped into the Director position and feels immensely privileged to be working with PrepNext students and families. She finds their brilliance, strength, drive, and heart to be incredibly inspiring. 

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Ms. Hardy-Wills

Associate Director of Career Success

Ms. Hardy-Wills is a passion-driven educator by trade, an experienced mentor, and youth advisor with a firm belief in the importance of educating the minds and hearts of every life encountered. Prior to joining PrepNext in October 2022, Alexis operated in multiple facets at Urban Alliance, a youth development non-profit. With Urban Alliance, Alexis provided high school seniors industry-specific career advancement opportunities through paid internship experiences. Before joining UA, she served as an AmeriCorps Achievement Fellow and has previous teaching experience with kindergarten, fifth, and sixth-grade students. Years of mentoring, teaching, and community building through youth and young adult empowerment and development is her continual commitment and investment into the next generation’s personal, professional, and educational wellness.

Ms. Hardy-Wills is an alumna of Spelman College with a BA in Sociology and Anthropology. She is also an International Coaching Federation credential candidate, earning hours as an Associate Certified Coach through Inner Glow Circle’s coaching program. 

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Ms. Adams

Associate Director of High School Transition

Ms. Adams is a native Washingtonian and DC Prep alum. It wasn't until she graduated from DC Prep middle school and worked closely with the PrepNext staff as a PrepNext student that she realized how much DC Prep goes above and beyond for their students. She was supported through her time as a high school student at Edmund Burke High School, where she was able to learn and grow. At Burke, Ms. Adams saw the impact that representation has on students: it was her relationship with her Black female science teacher that sparked her interest in the field. Ms. Adams attended college at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, where she further discovered her passion for science and giving back to her community. Upon graduation, she joined the PrepNext team as an Associate of High School Transition, coming full circle in her desire to advocate for Black women in science, serve her community, and promote equitable opportunity. In her capacity as an Associate, Ms. Adams wishes to inspire students and open their eyes to a world of possibilities.

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Ms. Salisbury

Outgoing Director of PrepNext

Ms. Salisbury has always believed in the power, gift, and joy of education. She began her career in education as a sophomore in high school, where tutoring elementary and middle school students taught her about the connection between trusting relationships and educational outcomes.  After working as an ACT/SAT tutor and as a policy analyst focused on increasing access to housing for those returning from jails and prisons, Ms. Salisbury joined the PrepNext team in 2014. She was first the Associate Director of College Counseling, then served as the Director of PrepNext from 2017 to 2021, and is now PrepNext in an operations and capacity-building role, working with Ms. Small to implement our PrepNext2036 Strategic Plan as we prepare to welcome graduates of AMC into PrepNext. Ms. Salisbury is humbled by and grateful for the many students and families who have shared their hopes and fears, their successes and challenges, their brilliance and laughter and joy along the way. Ms. Salisbury knows the power of education is in relationships and community, and she is regularly inspired by the community that is created and nurtured by the students, families, and staff of DC Prep.

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Ms. Igwe

Associate Director of College and Career Access

Ms. Igwe is a native Washingtonian, born and raised in Ward 7. As the daughter of a retired DCPS teacher, she has always seen education as an ultimate equalizer. While a student at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, Ms. Igwe learned how important it was for her to have a village of supporters both in and outside of the school building who was dedicated to her success. As an African American Studies major at Virginia Commonwealth University, Ms. Igwe further studied the immense importance and impact of communal support for students of color, especially students that come from the most underserved communities like her own. After completing her graduate degree at Indiana University-Bloomington, Ms. Igwe sought out professional opportunities that allowed for her to work with populations of students she identified with most based on her own experiences. She was introduced to College Access work in 2016 and immediately realized this is where she belonged, assisting students with creating individualized post-secondary plans. She moved back to DC in 2020 and was thrilled to find a role at PrepNext that allows for her to live out her biggest passions, ensuring that students in the Washington, DC area can actualize their hopes and dreams. She is committed to ensuring that students feel empowered to stand in their own truths.

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Mr. Cooper

Associate of High School Transition

Mr. Cooper is a Silver Spring, MD native who is passionate about diversity and inclusion. He began his Bachelor of Science in Sports Marketing at Duquesne University, a predominantly white institution (PWI), where he worked as a student service-learning tutor and was a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. He then returned home to complete his undergraduate studies at Bowie State University, which not only gave him a sense of belonging but also opened his eyes to the potential impact he could have on his community. Mr. Cooper began mentoring student-athletes shortly after graduating from BSU, following his passion for sports and youth engagement. He is excited to be a part of the PrepNext team and to help educate all students about the endless opportunities that exist outside of the societal norms that have been formed around people of color.

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Ms. Smith

Associate Director of College Success

Ms. Smith joined the team in the summer of 2017 and leads PrepNext’s College Success program, supporting DC Prep graduates enrolled in college. With a holistic approach to supporting students’ academic, financial, and social health and wellbeing, Ms. Smith serves students on their journey to a college degree. Her background includes a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s Degree in Higher Education as well as over ten years of experience supporting students in schools.  Ms. Smith feels privileged to work with the PrepNext students and is grateful to have a strong team of colleagues who are rooting for our students’ success.

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Ms. Blakey

Associate of College and Career Access

Ms. Blakey is a multigenerational native Washingtonian. She graduated from Benjamin Banneker Academic High School and went on to Bates College, where she initially intended to study Biology and pursue a career in cardiology. However, while at Bates, Ms. Blakey while at Bates, Ms. Blakey volunteered for an after-school college prep program at a local middle school through the Bonner Program, an experience which changed her trajectory entirely. She was moved by the passionate and driven students who were eager to learn about college and became committed to wanting to support young people as they pursued their goals. She therefore switched her major from Biology to African American Studies. After graduating, she has sought opportunities that allow her to provide comprehensive support to young people navigating unfamiliar spaces and obstacles in the pursuit of their goals. Ms. Blakey is particularly excited to a part of the PrepNext team because it is an opportunity to do what she loves: Empowering young people in the city and community that molded her into the person she is today.

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