Omayra L. Padilla De Jesús, PhD, MBA – Executive Director
Omayra, originally from Puerto Rico, earned her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico (Río Piedras Campus), and her Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley. In 2003 she joined the headquarters of GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, NY to work on Biotech Advanced Technology Programs. As a Senior Scientist, she also acted as a Project Leader for GE Healthcare programs. Driven by her passion for education and at-risk youth, Omayra initiated the Inspire Program at GE Global Research Center in 2009– awarded the GE Global Impact Award in Education in 2010. During her tenure at GE, in 2013, the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility recognized her nationally for her technical achievements and community involvement as 1 out of 33 Young Hispanic Corporate Achievers. Her involvement with the Schenectady youth inspired her to leave her formal career as a scientist to apply her expertise and passion more directly with community-focused efforts. In her transition, she earned an MBA degree from SUNY Albany, while also teaching as an adjunct professor of chemistry at The College of St Rose.
Currently, in addition to her role as Executive Director of Rise High, and as an adjunct professor, she also serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of The Schenectady Foundation, and active member of the Schenectady STEM Alliance, created by The Schenectady Foundation. Omayra is also a Member of the Board of Trustees of City Mission Schenectady, and Member of the Advisory Board of the Department of Education at Clarkson University, Capital District Campus.
Omayra loves brunches and organizing theme parties to celebrate with friends and family. She lives in Clifton Park with her husband, three daughters and her mother, with whom she loves traveling and spending time.
Mark Little, PhD – Board of Directors, President and Treasurer
In his 37 year career at General Electric, Mark Little served in diverse senior leadership roles in operations, research, strategic planning, joint venture development, and product management. From 2005, as GE’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Senior Vice President/Director of GE Global Research, Mark reported to the CEO and developed fundamental technologies to help GE compete and grow in every one of its businesses: energy, oil & gas, aviation, healthcare, transportation, consumer products, and financial services.
A company officer for 21 years, Mark had a two-part senior leadership career at GE managing both major lines of business and global research. Mark became only the ninth director of GE Global Research in the company’s history. Mark’s research team of over 3,600 people was from every major scientific and engineering discipline, working at nine facilities in the USA, India, China, Germany, Brazil, and Israel. As CTO, he led some 50,000 technologists across GE.
Mark has a passion for building teams that “work to win.” Mark has shared this expertise by serving as a leader in the US Council of Competitiveness for 7 years. This non-profit organization brings business, labor, academic, and government leaders together to increase the United States’ economic competitiveness.
Charitable work is central to Mark’s purpose. He and his wife founded and operate the Little Family Foundation, which supports the local community as well as international and veterans organizations.
Since retiring from GE, Mark has become a Venture Partner at the Material Impact Fund, Chairman of the Board of MTPV, a waste-heat recovery company, a member of the Board of Powerphase, a gas tubine power augmentation company, and an advisor to Energy Impact Partners, an investment platform in the energy industry. He is also Chairman of the Schenectady Smart City Commission and a Trustee of Ellis Medicine, a not-for-profit health care organization.
Mark trained as a mechanical engineer, with a bachelor’s degree from Tufts, master’s from Northeastern, and Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of which Mark is a Trustee. Family life is at Mark’s core. He and his wife Terri have two adult children, with their first granddaughter having recently arrived. He is an avid book reader, a self-taught guitarist (rock, blues, jazz), a golfer, and is self-described as “a crazy Boston sports fan.”
Teresa (Terri) Little – Board of Directors, Vice President
Terri is a former teacher who holds a Master of Arts Degree in Special Education. She has been an active community volunteer for over 25 years. She has served on the Boards of Safe Inc of Schenectady, Bethesda House, Jr. League of Schenectady and is currently on the St. Kateri School Board. She is a member of the Board of Directors of The Schenectady Foundation and serves as Secretary of the Distribution Committee and Chair of the Scholarship Committee. Terri enjoys being a volunteer and mentor in Schenectady Schools.
Terri and her husband, Mark, founded and operate the Little Family Foundation, which supports many local community organizations including Boys & Girls Club, Ellis Hospital, Girls Inc. and City Mission, among others.
Julie Little – Board of Directors, Secretary
Julie earned her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Villanova University. She joined General Electric’s Operations Management Leadership Program in 2005, and today she is a regional Sourcing Leader for GE’s HR Services function.
Julie enjoys gardening, cooking, photography, and spending time with her family. She lives with her husband and daughter in Niskayuna.
Leigh Feguer, NBCT – Advisory Board – Curriculum & Education
Leigh Feguer is a Nationally Board Certified 9th grade Living Environment and Chemistry teacher at Schenectady High School. She is also an Adjunct Professor for the Masters of Arts in Teaching Program at Clarkson University, Capital Region Campus. In her 16 years at Schenectady High School, she has enjoyed the opportunity to work with a diverse population both inside and outside of the classroom. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Interdepartmental Biology and Master of Arts in Education from Michigan State University. Leigh’s teaching career developed from her passion for science, her love of scuba diving and the ocean and her experiences coaching.
Joshua Conway – Advisory Board – Curriculum & Education
Joshua Conway is a 9th Grade Living Environment Teacher at Schenectady High School. Mr. Conway holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from Clarkson University Schenectady, a Masters of Science in Environmental Interpretation from S.U.N.Y. College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Bio-Cultural Anthropology from S.U.N.Y. Oswego. He has had many experiences that have afforded him the opportunity to interact with diverse student populations and engage them in meaningful learning. He strives to foster an appreciation of the natural world by using his experiences and sound pedagogy to bridge the gap between science and public understanding in a way that promotes a curiosity to learn more, a conservation ethic, and a desire to become productive world citizens.
Jerry Rosen – Advisory Board – Schenectady City Schools & Student Community
Jerry Rosen retired in 2017 after 34 years in the field of education in the Schenectady City School District, same school system where Jerry grew up as a student himself. Mr. Rosen earned his Bachelors and Master degrees in Science from SUNY Albany, and taught biology for 21 years. His dedication for students was not limited to the classroom, but outside the classroom coaching baseball and basketball. Jerry held multiple positions in administration. He first served as the Dean of Students for 3 years, and as the House Principal for the School of Math, Science, and Technology of Schenectady High School for the past 10 years. As a member of the Schenectady City School District, Jerry has served on many committees, and has been instrumental in many initiatives for Schenectady High, while also serving as the Vice President of the Schenectady Administrators Association.
Jennifer Insull – Advisory Board – Student Community
After Jennifer earned a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts from SUNY, she completed 2 years of national service with AmeriCorps at the National Civilian Community Corps and the Hudson Valley Student Conservation Association. Jennifer realized that teaching and the natural world were her calling, leading to her Masters in Environmental Science and Teaching Certification in Biology for grades 7-12. Jennifer has been working at Schenectady High since 2005. She has taught Environmental Science electives to upper classmen and Regents Living Environment for the 9th grade academy. She has also been a contributor to after school programs, such as GE Global Research Center’s Inspire Program, for which she served as the school coordinator and liaison between Schenectady High and GE from 2009 to 2012. It is no surprise that her love for nature inspired her to travel cross country in a station wagon for 2 months visiting national parks and cities in 1999.
Andrea Schmitz – Advisory Board – Applied Sciences & Technologies
Andrea Schmitz has 28 years of R&D experience, with 25 of them at General Electric’s Global Research Center. She’s currently working on advanced sensors and electronics for medical and industrial applications as a Senior Engineer. Andrea has worked in a variety of research areas with applications in the aviation and industrial industries and systems for healthcare. Andrea earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is a co-inventor on 5 patents and has over 15 publications and several conference presentations to her credit. Andrea has been a volunteer for the GE INSPIRE mentoring program, as well as a Technical Judge for Rensselear’s FIRST Technology Challenge and FIRST Robotics Challenge. She is active and passionate about being involved with STEM mentoring activities.
Robert Carreau – Advisory Board – Non-Profit Sector and Schenectady Community
Robert A. Carreau has worked in the philanthropic sector as a CEO, grant-maker, fundraiser, marketer and strategic consultant, working across the spectrum of the sector from devising global corporate programs to leading on-the-ground community-based initiatives.
Carreau was the Secretary of The Schenectady Foundation since 1992, and was appointed as the Foundation’s first Executive Director in 2010. In this role he has led community initiatives including a long-term flood recovery coalition, an anti-poverty movement, a child mental health project, and the formation of a youth services coalition.
Carreau is also a Trustee of the Carlilian Foundation and serves as Chair of the Foundation’s Grants Committee.
As a strategic consultant Mr. Carreau has worked with foundations, corporations, and other philanthropic organizations to help them achieve results through strategic grant-making and resource investment.
Prior to establishing his consulting firm, Outcomes Work, Carreau served for ten years as CEO of the United Way of Schenectady County, NY where he was at the forefront of the movement to evaluate program and organizational outcomes.
Carreau has served in numerous volunteer and leadership roles, including the Capital Region Community AIDS Partnership which he helped to found, Chair of the Empire State Youth Orchestra, and the Executive Council of the Bigelow Corners Partnership in Schenectady NY, which is developing a cradle to career pathway for impoverished children and their families. Mr. Carreau was appointed to the NYRising Task Force charged with developing flood recovery programs in Schenectady County. Recently, Carreau was part of a community leadership team formed to spearhead a plan to address food insecurity in Schenectady, NY which was funded and supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.