Monthly Archives: July 2012

Founding Executive Director Moving on to New Opportunity

Theresa O. Atta

Theresa O. Atta

After seven years at Collegiate Directions, Inc. (CDI), Vice President Theresa O. Atta is leaving her post, effective August 17, to pursue a doctorate in Clinical Psychology at The George Washington University. Following an exhaustive search to find her successor, CDI has hired Dr. Rachel Mazyck of Baltimore City Public Schools as Executive Vice President, fully effective September 17. A former Rhodes Scholar with a strong track record working with low-income students, Rachel will build upon the tremendous results Theresa achieved during her tenure at CDI.

As the founding Executive Director, Theresa was instrumental in growing CDI into a leader in the field of college counseling for low-income, first-generation-to-college students in Montgomery County. In its first year, CDI served ten students at two high schools. Today, due in large measure to Theresa’s tireless efforts on behalf of Scholars, CDI serves 137 students from six county high schools.

Founded in October 2005 by Nina Marks—an educator with over 30 years experience as a teacher, college counselor, and school administrator—and her husband, Jonathan Marks, a leading corporate and commercial mediator and arbitrator, CDI recognized early that high-achieving children from low-income, first-generation-to college backgrounds are further disadvantaged by not growing up in a college-going culture. Working together to close the educational and opportunity gap, Nina and Theresa built the framework for the program and established the initial key relationships with Montgomery County Public Schools, community supporters, and admissions offices at selective four-year colleges and universities.

Under Theresa’s stewardship, and with the help of CDI’s trained, professional corps of college counselors, 98% of CDI Scholars graduate from selective four-year colleges within six years—and most do it in four—because CDI stays with Scholars from the time they enter the program as rising seniors in high school until they graduate from college. By comparison, only 11% of their peers nationally graduate with a bachelor’s degree, according to a 2008 Pell study. It’s this concentration on to and through college that differentiates CDI.

“CDI was a groundbreaking organization,” Theresa says. “From the very beginning we were focused on college readiness and retention—and we’ve been helping students not only get into selective schools but through them successfully and consistently ever since. I’m proud of our results.”

Although Theresa’s presence will be missed at CDI, Rachel’s transition to Executive Vice President provides leadership stability. After receiving her D.Phil in Education from Oxford University in 2009, she served as a Junior Dean at Harris Manchester College in England before accepting her current position in the Baltimore City Public School system where, among other duties, she supports the strategic planning for principal and teacher professional development across the 204 schools and programs in that district. Rachel also received a Master’s in Education from Harvard (2005), and her B.A. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (2002), where she was a Morehead Scholar.

“During her time at CDI,” Rachel says of her predecessor, “Theresa has helped establish a strong culture in which Scholars know they will be cared for, challenged, and supported from start to finish on their college journeys. I look forward to continuing this work with the CDI team, its wonderful Scholars, and its committed partners.”