About Us

Our Mission

We partner with educators, students and schools bridging disparities to provide meaningful educational experiences and to demonstrate the power of an integrated peer learning model.

Our Story

Achieve Miami is dedicated to fostering a transformational education ecosystem in Miami. Together with partners from the public and private sector, Achieve Miami designs and manages programs that bring together members from various parts of the community to extend learning opportunities for students, teachers, and community leaders.

In 2015, Achieve Miami launched it’s inaugural program, then called “Baby Bulls,” which brought together elementary and high school students to learn together on Saturdays. This program, now known as Achieve Saturdays, demonstrated the power of connection between students of different ages and backgrounds to accelerate learning for all. Since then, Achieve Miami’s work has evolved to include four major programs – Saturdays, Summer, Music, and High School Clubs – and has engaged thousands of students from diverse backgrounds in meaningful educational and connection experiences at school sites in Little Haiti, Brownsville, Overtown, Liberty City, and Homestead as well as through virtual channels.

Our Team

Meet the Achieve Miami team!

Photo Sarah Emmons

Sarah Emmons

Executive Director

Sarah is Achieve Miami’s Executive Director. In this role, she works with the fabulous Achieve team to implement programs that connect and positively impact students of varying resources. Formerly, Sarah was the Managing Director of Radical Partners, an accelerator for social impact that specialized in capacity-building for social impact leaders. She also has experience managing social science research evaluations through her work as a Research Manager with the University of Chicago Education Lab and Crime Lab, and she started her career as a high school math teacher with Teach For America in Tulsa, OK. Sarah holds a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and a B.A. in Economics from Middlebury College. In her free time, Sarah enjoys traveling, yoga, reading, and cuddling with her French Bulldog, Lucy.

Dr. Carlos Antonio Viera

Deputy Director of Programs and Evaluation

A successful and accomplished scholar-practitioner with more than 30 years of diverse professional experiences, Dr. Carlos Antonio Viera works with the Achieve team to lead the execution and evaluation of high quality programs. Before joining Achieve, Dr. Viera served with Accenture as Manager, Management Consulting, with Miami Dade College as the Director for Planning, Policy Analysis and Grant Program Support, and with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) as the District Director for the Office of Performance Improvement. Dr. Viera has also provided independent consulting services for several private and non-profit organizations including Inside the School, College Summit, CASEL, National Academic Educational Partners (NAEP) and Performance Associates. He also served as the District Chair, Secondary Student Services for MDCPS, as well as serving as classroom teacher, behavior management teacher, crisis counselor, educational specialist, teacher trainer, graduation coach and supported employment coordinator. Dr. Viera earned a PhD from Capella University in the School of Education with a specialization in Training and Performance Improvement. In additon, Dr. Viera earned a graduate level Certificate in Educational Leadership from Florida International University (FIU), a Master of Science in Education from the University of Miami, completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Education from FIU. He is also certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), a credential from the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) through Barry University, as well as a SHRM-SCP (Senior Certified Professional) credential. Dr. Viera currently serves his local community on the Board of Directors for Doctors Charter School, as well as the Steering and Conference Planning Committees for the Community Learning Partnership (CLP) at Barry University. He sees himself as a bridge-builder, aligning high expectations, tools and resources and incentives to help meet the challenges faced by today’s organizations.

Robert Sawyer

Director of High School Programs

Robert Sawyer is a proponent of service. Robert’s 10 years of service has been primarily in the Non-Profit sector, specifically in college readiness. He graduated from Florida Memorial University with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology in 2011, he also served as the President of the Epsilon Mu Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. for two years during his time in college. Robert completed three years of the volunteer organization AmeriCorps. Those programs included City Year Miami, National Civilian Community Corps, and AmeriCorps VISTA. During those three terms, he received the Golden President’s Award for Community Service for logging over 2700 hours. Robert has dedicated his life to helping the younger generation through his prior experiences, understanding of the importance of a college education, and passion for getting things done. Robert currently resides in Davie, Florida where he continues to be a beacon for positive change in the community.

Photo Ingrid Aguiar

Ingrid Aguiar

Director of Achieve Saturdays

Ingrid Aguiar is our Achieve Saturday Program Director. She was born in Miami and raised in Orlando, Florida. She started her journey in Miami when she attended Florida International University to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. In 2013, she joined Teach For America and taught for six years at Jesse J. McCrary, Jr. Elementary School. While in the classroom, Ingrid furthered her education and received a Masters in Reading, while also dedicating her time to being a Saturday Program Manager and a Site Director for our Achieve Summer program. Ingrid’s greatest passion has been and will always be education.

Photo Kelli Valdez

Kelli Valdez

Director of the College Readiness Cohort

Kelli currently serves as the Director of College Readiness Cohort. In her work, she partners with teachers, school leaders, and stakeholders across Miami Dade to improve student outcomes by ensuring that high school students growing up in vulnerable communities are provided with the tools and resources necessary to accomplish their postsecondary dreams. Kelli brings over 12 years of educational leadership, program development, and coaching experience to our team and is constantly innovating to create meaningful learning and leadership experiences for our students. She has a Bachelors in Psychology from the University of Maryland-College Park and a Masters from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, was a 2007 Miami-Dade corps member, and is the proud mama of twin boys, Kai and Jordan.

Photo Rachel Saiontz Geary

Rachel Saiontz Geary

Director of Summer Programs

Rachel serves as Director of Summer Programs, planning, guiding, empowering, and supporting the work of the summer leadership team at our four summer sites. She has a B.A. in Psychology from Princeton University and a Masters in Education and Social Change from the University of Miami. Rachel is a Miami native, a Teach For America Miami-Dade alumnus, and proud mother to baby Bensen.

Photo Trevor Ditzler

Trevor Ditzler

Director of Music

Trevor Ditzler is the Director of the Achieve Music Program and has experience working in the Achieve Summer and Achieve Saturday Programs. He spent 6 years teaching in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, holds a Master’s Degree in Education Leadership from Columbia University and is obsessed with cats.

Lasherry America

Program Associate and Music Educator

Lasherry America Codner is a Program Associate and Music Educator at Achieve Miami. Specializing in Percussive Arts, she has spent 13 years as a teaching artist working with kindergarten through collegiate level students in Florida, Georgia, and New York. Ms. America advocates for children to learn the science of music education as a way of understanding life around them. Her philosophy is that “children learn character from adults that exemplify and teach quality characteristics”. – LAmeriCa

Stephanie Oshinsky

Director of Community Engagement

Coming Soon

Photo Jessica Vocaturo

Jessica Vocaturo

High School Programs Manager

Jessica (Jess) Vocaturo is a passionate voting rights activist with roots across the East Coast. She grew up in New Jersey and has a B.A. in Politics from Bates College. As the Manager of High School Programs at Achieve Miami, Jess implements Achieve’s high school programming, works with the Junior Advisory Board, and supports all of Achieve’s fabulous high school students and volunteers. She is a masters rower, could spend hours in the craft store, and loves to cook delicious meals with her partner, Mitch.

Photo Barbara Perego

Barbara Perego

Operations Associate

Barbara Perego is the Operations Associate at Achieve Miami. Born in Argentina and raised in Miami, Barbara is dedicated to serving her local community. She has a B.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies and Communications from Hamilton College. In her spare time, Barbara enjoys canvassing, yoga, and spending time with loved ones.

Photo of Anezi Bueno

Anezi Bueno

Communications Intern

Anezi Bueno is a Florida native who is currently in her third year at the University of Chicago, majoring in Business Economics and East Asian Languages & Civilizations. As the Communications Intern at Achieve Miami, she assists with the marketing and social media aspects of the organization. In her spare time, she is a Korean-pop dance instructor and enjoys learning foreign languages and giving back to the community.

Board of Directors

Photo Leslie Miller

Leslie Miller Saiontz

Founder and President

Leslie Miller Saiontz is a philanthropist, educational activist, and impact investor. Leslie founded Achieve Miami in 2015 with the goal of launching, scaling, and developing programs that narrow the opportunity gaps facing low-income communities. Into addition to serving as the President of the board at Achieve Miami, Leslie chairs the board of the Miami-Dade chapter of Teach for America, a national organization building a massive network of outstanding leaders who have committed at least two years to teaching in low-income neighborhoods.  Before launching Achieve Miami, Leslie spent decades as a successful entrepreneur in retail and real estate.  Leslie’s proudest accomplishment is seeing her five grown children dedicate their time and resources to strengthening their own communities.

Stephen Bittell

Vice President

Stephen H. Bittell is the Chairman and founder (1980) of Terranova Corporation. As the South Florida real estate has grown, Bittel has stayed connected to South Florida, serving his community for years. A Miami native, he has served on the Boards of the Chapman Partnership, the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, and Jackson Memorial Hospital Foundation. Bittel also has served as a Trustee member for the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Miami-Dade and Temple Beth Am. He has led the Greater Miami Jewish Federation’s Washington Mission in 2009 and 2010 and is an active supporter and currently serves on the Advisory Board of Teach for America Miami (TFA) and Achieve Miami. Bittel graduated magna cum laude from Bowdoin College in 1978 and obtained his law degree from the University of Miami School of Law in 1982.

Evelyn Greer


Coming Soon

Claudia Grillo


Claudia Grillo joined the University of Miami in April 2018 as Associate Vice President for Development and Donor Relations, and is responsible for developing a coordinated team-approach around principal gift efforts division-wide. Claudia has been an active member of the South Florida community through her involvement as a board member of the International Women’s Forum, The Children’s Trust, Achieve Miami, and a mentor at Teach for America.

Rebecca Fishman Lipsey


Rebecca Fishman Lipsey currently serves as the CEO of The Miami Foundation. Before taking on that role, she was the Founder and CEO of Radical Partners, an accelerator for social impact, where she led initiatives including Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, 100 Great Ideas, Leadership Lab, the Music Access Fellowship, and the 10 Days of Connection. From 2013-2017, she served on the Florida State Board of Education.