OneGoal Massachusetts

Catalyst Innovation Lab

The Problem

Across the country and in Massachusetts, high school and college students are not experiencing education access equitably. These inequities are often rooted in disparities across income level, race, language barriers, levels of ability, and geography. All students are not being given a fair shot. It’s time for the education sector to change, and we won’t get there taking the same approaches that got our education system to this place.

The Vision

At OneGoal, we know the ideas are out there, but we also know there is not always a space to have out-of-the-box, transformational conversations. We believe every student deserves equitable access and support to achieve their greatest postsecondary aspirations. With this in mind, we are excited to convene the inaugural Catalyst Innovation Lab.

The Catalyst Innovation Lab is designed to be an ongoing space of dialogue within our OneGoal community. Our goal is to hold space for provocative, innovative, and continuous dialogue regarding systemic and institutional changes as students transition from high school to college.

The Catalyst Innovation Lab is designed to be a space of creation and reconstruction. In this space, we hope to reimagine an education system that meets the most marginalized and underrepresented students’ needs. We hope that through this collaborative engagement, our participants can network and bring new innovative ideas to and from their respective institutions.

2022 Catalyst Innovation Lab

Cohort Members

Kathryn Bethea-Rivera

Director of the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program | Brandeis University | She/Her

Kathryn has worked for over 20 years in higher education in multiple positions to promote and advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion for our most marginalized and disenfranchised populations. Currently, she serves as the director of the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program (MKTYP) at Brandeis University for the past six years. Kathryn holds a B.A. in psychology and Africana studies from the University of Notre Dame, an Ed.M. in human development and psychology at Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Ph.D. in higher education management from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education. Kathryn’s work and passion directly aligns with the vision of the Catalyst Innovation Lab at OneGoal Massachusetts and she’s really excited about this opportunity to have great dialogue and to be a part of this collaborative engagement!

Laura Biechler

AVP of Student Financial Assistance & Enrollment Management | Bridgewater State University | She\Her

First Generation College Student
What perspectives/ lived experiences will you bring to the Catalyst Innovation Lab ? How do these perspectives shape your passion to reimagine education?

“I can bring the insight of 18 years of being in the field of enrollment management and college as a business in the state of MA. I have worked for Private non-profit and public colleges. I also have a passion for clearly communicating and navigating

Shayna Eddy

Director of Undergraduate Admissions | Framingham State University | She/Her

Shayna Eddy is currently Associate Dean of Admissions/Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Framingham State University. She has 22 years of experience at Framingham State University, with 21 of those in the admissions office. Previously, she worked for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of South Middlesex, Inc. as a case manager. Shayna holds a BA in Sociology with a minor in Psychology and an MA in Public Administration, both from Framingham State University. Shayna joined this lab to continue to build professional relationships and provide higher educational opportunities to all students.

Caitlin Gilligan

Supervisor of Counselors | Lawrence High School | She, Her

First Generation College Student
What perspectives/ lived experiences will you bring to the Catalyst Innovation Lab ? How do these perspectives shape your passion to reimagine education?
“ I am looking to learn from and become re-energized by thinking about how education can be reimagined.”

Ashley Jones

Assistant Director of Postsecondary Placement | Mastery Charter School | She/Her |First Generation Student

What perspectives/ lived experiences will you bring to the Catalyst Innovation Lab ? How do these perspectives shape your passion to reimagine education?
“ My journey into reimagining education began at this point as I grieved the loss of my brother… I had also wondered about the man who took my brother’s life and I learned that his brother had been previously arrested for homicide. I thought about what their relationship was with their school community and whether there was something that could have been done to change their trajectories. I think often about how closely our lived experiences in our communities are directly related to our school experiences. I thought about how all of our experiences connected to our school experiences and what actions schools could take to be more intentional about the messages we send our students.”

Skaidy Mieses

Assistant Director of Multicultural Outreach | University of Massachusetts Lowell | She/ Her
First Generation College Student
What perspectives/ lived experiences will you bring to the Catalyst Innovation Lab ? How do these perspectives shape your passion to reimagine education?

” I am a first generation Latina graduate with roots in Lawrence, MA and Dominican Republic. Growing up, education was not a choice for me- it was mandatory! My first job after college was as a Program coordinator and college advisor for TRIO Upward Bound at Lawrence High School. This experience was the catalyst to my transition into Undergraduate Admissions as Admissions Counselor here at UMass Lowell. My experience on “”both sides of the desk”” has allowed me to create pathways, spaces and support systems for underrepresented student populations. Higher education is not always the goal for many youths and there is a need to reassure ALL students that there are many paths that can lead to college and a career. “

Josh Otlin

Principal | Milford High School | He/Him

What perspectives/ lived experiences will you bring to the Catalyst Innovation Lab ? How do these perspectives shape your passion to reimagine education?
“ Through all of these [professional experiences] experiences (and through my undergraduate and graduate studies), I have come to understand both the strengths and weaknesses of our current system and have an insiders’ perspectives on the practical/legal/political factors that make our schools what they are and that make our schools so hard to change. While I recognize the urgent need to radically overhaul and reimagine our schools, I have chosen to work within the system and to try to be a change-agent from within.”

Tyre Richards

Academic Advisor | Northeastern University | She/Her

First Generation College Student
What perspectives/ lived experiences will you bring to the Catalyst Innovation Lab ? How do these perspectives shape your passion to reimagine education?
“ I have experienced higher education as a student and now as a professional and I am constantly aware of the gap that makes it difficult for students with similar identities to succeed in college. We are academically skilled but lack the cultural capital that is needed for college success. I constantly believe it is up to the institutions to be prepared to not only have initiatives and policies to help students succeed, but also make sure they have a staff that is implementing these initiatives to be equitable and effective. Now that I am a professional, I want to do what I can to make sure students who have similar experiences to me, have the knowledge and resources needed so they can succeed in college and beyond.”

Femi Stoltz

UAspire | Massachusetts Policy Director | She/ Her

Femi Stoltz is the Massachusetts Policy Director for uAspire. Prior to joining uAspire Femi spent several years working in various roles in higher education and in nonprofit organizations that focus on higher education. Femi has seen firsthand the positive impact that postsecondary educational attainment can have on students and families and she is committed to making higher education more accessible to the students who need it most. Femi joined the lab because she believes that making postsecondary education more accessible will undoubtedly help combat some of the other systemic disparities that exist in various areas such as wealth accumulation, home ownership, and various other factors that contribute to an individual’s overall quality of life. Femi looks forward to meeting with peers who are also committed to seeing meaningful progress and change.

Jennifer Lillis

Career Pathways Coordinator | The Burke High School (BPS) | She/Her

What perspectives/ lived experiences will you bring to the Catalyst Innovation Lab ? How do these perspectives shape your passion to reimagine education?

“I’ve been working in the field of college and career readiness for almost 15 years, and much of my work has focused on equitable access to postsecondary success. I don’t identify as a person of color or a first generation college student, and many forms of privilege shaped my own college and career opportunities and decisions. Both my personal and professional experiences shape my commitment to equity in postsecondary education and training. “

2022 Session Descriptions

Session 1: "The Kickoff" Introduction to the Catalyst Innovation Lab

In this session, participants will meet their fellow cohort members, review the program material and get an early taste of what this year’s discussions will bring. The cohort will also create shared norms of engagement, set expectations for the space and begin setting the stage for the projects they would like to work on throughout this year.

Session 2: "Social Justice In Education"

In this session, participants will discuss the benefit, or the lack thereof, of incorporating social justice principles, and discussions of social justice inside and outside the classroom.

Session 3: "What is the Cost of a Degree"

In this session, participants will explore the economic, social, emotional and psychological costs of a degree. As educators, or those working within education, we know the value of a degree all too well, but we will encourage participants to think critically about the tangible and intangible cost of a degree to students and their families.

Session 4: The Massachusetts Early College Initiative

In this session, participants will discuss the Massachusetts Early College initiative.

Session 5: "Take Your Pick"

This session topic will be selected from participant recommendations, the topic will be revealed at the end of session three.
Note: Session five’s topic will be revealed at the end of session three, so be sure to recommend topics between sessions one and two.

Session 6: "The Closeout"

As this inaugural cohort concludes, this session will be dedicated to reflection, coming back to discussions that may still feel unfinished – a chance for cohort members to consider why we started this journey and where we ended.

Session 7: Networking Social Event

This is an optional networking event for all participants; the date (likely June/July 2023), time and location are currently TBD. At this event, we will be joined by OneGoal Staff and other community members.

Applicant Profile

The ideal candidate can commit to six virtual one-hour sessions throughout the course of one year, beginning in September and ending in June. Their professional background includes several years of experience within the education sector, including decision-making, teaching, researching, etc., within the higher education or secondary education sectors. They are ready to engage in conversation, they are enthusiastic about creating change, and they are willing and able to think creatively about solutions that benefit all students.

  • School/District-based stakeholders
  • College staff/faculty/ administrative members
  • Education Policy advocates/ Policy thinker

The Ideal Applicant may…

  • Have ideas for how to improve education for marginalized students but has no place to discuss them
  • Be struggling to identify how to make impactful changes in education across the secondary-postsecondary divide
  • Feel restless and have innovative ideas to share about education reform
  • Feel stuck trying to work within the system

Why Join The Lab?

  • Network with leaders in the education space
  • Hold space for systems oriented dialogue
  • Work through your new ideas with differentiated perspectives
  • Collaborate across sectors- high school, college, career, etc.

Program Description

The Catalyst Innovation Lab is a year-long commitment from September to June that invites fellows from across the education sector to collaborate and innovate. The experience is designed to:

  • Encourage cross-sector collaboration and dialogue,
  • Create space for individual leaders to refine their priorities and approach to influencing organizational change
  • Invite provocative, collaborative, and transformative dialogue needed to break down barriers impacting students in the secondary-postsecondary landscape

The Lab will host six virtual sessions throughout the year for a group of 8-12 members. Each session will be structured to include one hour for discussion and 30 minutes of networking.

In addition to sessions, Catalyst members will gain access to OneGoals networks of education leaders across the state of Massachusetts and opportunities to engage with OneGoal in person or virtually.

This is the place to bring your big ideas, to join a collective dialogue, and along the way, we hope to disrupt the system we are all working to reimagine.


Program Outline:

  • July – September: Application’s Open
  • Early October: First Catalyst Innovation Lab Meeting
  • Early November: Session 2
  • End of January: Session 3
  • End February: Session 4
  • End March: Session 5
  • End April: Session 6
  • May/June: End of Year (optional/ In Person) Social Gathering

The Application for the Catalyst Innovation Lab is currently closed.

If you'd like to join our next cohort add your name to the waitlist!

Contact Us

For general questions about the Catalyst Innovation Lab or if you have any questions as you consider applying or wait to hear back about your application, please reach out to Sara Jean-Francois, Manager of Partnership Engagement, at