Blue graphic with grad caps and headshots of Melissa Fries and Aiyana Mourtos

Leadership Transitions at Making Waves

by Patrick O’Donnell

Making Waves Education Foundation » News Stories » Leadership Transitions at Making Waves

Thanking Melissa Fries and Congratulating Aiyana Mourtos

Dear Making Waves community,

On behalf of Making Waves Foundation, I am excited to celebrate Melissa Fries, former executive director of our CAP college success program, who recently celebrated her last day at Making Waves after 22 years of leadership. I would also like to congratulate Aiyana Mourtos, Making Waves Foundation’s new chief program officer, who is now leading our program team.

Over the past 22 years, Melissa led and transformed our programming and our student impact. Melissa started as a volunteer with Making Waves, founded our after-school program in San Francisco, and ultimately transformed it into Making Waves’ CAP college success program to support hundreds of students each year on their path to college and career success. Today, Making Waves supports over 500 college students and over 600 alumni who have graduated from college. Melissa achieved this while building deep personal relationships with Wave-Makers, families, teammates, board members, donors, and partners. I’m so grateful for Melissa’s leadership and am excited for her next chapter.  

Aiyana joined the Making Waves team just over a year ago as our vice president of Impact, launching our continuous improvement strategy and leading our growth strategy in Contra Costa County. In her short time at Making Waves, she led the work to codify our college success program approach into our new Wave-Maker Success Framework which now guides our college and career support for students.

Aiyana started her career as a teacher in Newark Public Schools, and she brings system-level experience from working in the Oakland Unified School District and District of Columbia Public Schools, including as chief of staff to the chancellor.

Aiyana has demonstrated a deep belief in students and families; an ability to lead and shape high-performing and inclusive teams; a track record of coaching and developing her direct reports to learn and grow in their roles; and an incredible talent for setting a big vision for programmatic strategy and then partnering with teammates to turn it into action so that it produces meaningful outcomes for students. I am thrilled that she’ll be leading Making Waves’ program team in our new chapter.

Patrick O’Donnell

Chief Executive Officer

With a unique focus on college attendance and graduation, Making Waves Foundation supports historically underrepresented and underserved students in pursuing their dreams. Making Waves Academy is a public charter school in Richmond, California, educating early 1,200 students and Making Waves Foundation’s college success program, known as CAP, provides coaching, scholarships, financial literacy, and career support for more than 500 college students as well as a network for more than 600 Wave-Maker alumni.

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