At DBG, we work hard every day to provide the tools, resources, individualized programming, proprietary mentorship methodology and measured impact needed to help our students succeed and achieve their dreams. It takes a dedicated team to help make that happen. We are proud to announce six DBG team members have taken on new roles from director of academics and director of culture to associate director of enrichment, student operations manager, data and impact manager, and apprentice to our founder and CEO Khali Sweeney.
“I am super proud of all the growth we’ve had and the fact that we are ready to level up so many team members in support of our program and students,” said Katie Solomon, DBG’s programs director and COO. “The leadership team has shown tremendous growth and we are doubling down on professional development. These staffing changes will enable us to focus even more deeply on mentorship, intervention, and enrichment programs, ensuring there is a leader in place directing each individual team.”
Nicolle Johnson is DBG’s new director of culture and student experience. A team member since 2019, Nicolle previously served as associate director of academics, STEAM, elementary and middle school. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Eastern Michigan University. Nicolle has been an educator since 2004, teaching everything from math to biology.
“In my new role, I will be focusing on ensuring that all staff are aligned with DBG’s philosophy and methodology by revamping our hiring, onboarding and continued coaching of staff and leadership,” she said. “My role includes working with coaches and leadership to ensure that current DBG pedagogy is being followed for the best student outcomes. My focus will be to ensure that all staff receive professional development and support.”
Laura Amtower joined DBG in 2022 as associate director of high school, college and career readiness, and alumni. She is now DBG’s director of academics, working with all students enrolled at the gym. She is a graduate of West Virginia University with a bachelor’s degree in Art Education and Visual Art & Design, and the University of Michigan where she earned a master’s degree in Engaged Pedagogy, Social Work, and Community Art & Design. Laura has worked in out-of-school-time programming and higher education for more than 10 years.
“I now oversee the academic health and trajectory of students in grades 3-12, while supervising a team of over 15 individuals dedicating their talents to ensure student success,” she said. “Through our academic programs, we expose students to the world around us. This exposure entails career talks, university visits, current event exploration, project-based learning, and so much more. Watching students grasp particular topics and discover fields if interest and helping grow those curiosities into a meaningful career is the most rewarding experience for me here at DBG.”
DBG alum Asiyah Williamson is our associate director of enrichment programming and continues her role as apprentice to DBG’s founder and CEO Khali Sweeney. She previously also served as associate director of athletics and has been with DBG since 2020.
“I will be overseeing and assisting with the curriculum in the media lab, STEAM Lab, and health and wellness department,” Asiyah explained. “This involves directing educational programs, developing curriculum content, teaching, and providing support for student enrichment. Overseeing health and wellness, media lab, and STEAM Lab is crucial for our students’ overall growth. It aligns with DBG’s mission by offering a well-rounded educational experience, promoting physical and mental well-being, fostering creativity and media literacy, and encouraging innovation and critical thinking in our STEAM Lab.”
“What I love most about DBG is our commitment to providing impactful experiences for our students,” she added. “I love the relationships we build and the opportunity to watch our students blossom throughout their years with us.”
Tia Talton, previously our programs team and executive administrator, is now a second apprentice to our founder and CEO. She is transitioning from the front desk and administrative work to having more direct interaction with our students and gaining a deeper understanding of DBG’s mission and the inner workings of running a nationally recognized and growing nonprofit organization directly from Khali.
“The thing I love most about DBG is our students,” she said. “It’s great being able to support their ideas and interests and cultivate an environment where they are excited to learn and experience new things.”
Asiya El, a DBG parent who previously served as our transportation and enrollment coordinator and has worked with DBG in a volunteer and staff capacity for the last 10 years, is our new student operations manager. In this new role, she will focus on transportation, enrollment, student and parent relationships with DBG, and student behavior modification training.
“My responsibilities with transportation and enrollment will continue, overseeing our fleet of vans and drivers, our waiting list, and maintaining connections with new and prior students,” she said. “As the organization continues to grow, my role has extended to training new and current staff members on best practices for modifying student behavior which will help build student/coach relationships and maintain a positive and respectful environment.”
“DBG is an organization the community needs,” she added. “Our students thrive because of the dedication of staff members who work tirelessly to create a place where they can succeed in all areas of their lives.”
Finally, Skylar Burkhardt, previously our data and literacy coordinator, takes on the new role of data and impact manager for DBG. She will focus on driving the research-based approach we take from data collection to leveraging data to inform programming changes and incorporating data into the storytelling of DBG’s impact.
“After three years of facilitating our collaboration with DBG’s literacy partner Center for Success, I’m shifting to manage a fabulous new team member, Amy, as she facilitates this 1:1 mentoring program at DBG,” Burkhardt explained. “I’m also diving deeper into each of our research projects, developing further staff Salesforce training, tending to data updates as we expand our programming, and building new features which allow us to best serve our students.”
“DBG is all about having an impact,” she added. “Data collection is essential to ensuring we’re having our desired impact. One thing I love about my new role is it allows me to tap into both my creativity and analytical side. With my background in data science and passion for helping individuals tell their story, I’m able to find innovative ways to collect data that centers student voices.”
Please join us in congratulating all six of these dedicated DBG team members. Thank you for all you do for our team, students and families.