Michelle Palmer, Executive Director

Michelle Palmer has recently been named Executive Director of Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia.  A devoted leader in the Germantown Friends School (GFS) community, Michelle has served as a teacher, administrator, and practitioner for over 14 years at GFS and for several years at other Independent schools.  She has worked closely with students, families, faculty, staff, and neighbors on various strategic initiatives, particularly in the area of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Michelle is a certified facilitator for the Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) staff development project, currently teaches a Social Justice course at GFS and formerly managed the GFS Alumni of Color program.  She has presented on engaging diverse communities at the 2018 CASE Conference in Philadelphia, the 2019 MCRC ADVIS conference, the 2019 People of Color Conference in Seattle and the 2020 New York State of Independent Schools.
Michelle has a Master of Science in Education in Instructional Technology from Arcadia University, a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management from New School University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Temple University.  Michelle has been married to Conrad Waldron for ten years and is the mother to Jaden, Dean, and Paige.


Why I Love Breakthrough — I love Breakthrough because it fills a gap for so many children and provides them with an opportunity to learn and surround themselves with like-minded individuals. Growing up in a single-parent household, my mom would have loved to have a program like Breakthrough for me to help me with my academics. I always loved learning but having peers and teachers to support me would have been an extraordinary boost to my confidence.

Fun Fact — I love to Roller Skate and have a pair of white skates with pink wheels!



Sakina Parks, Program Manager

Sakina currently serves as Program Manager for Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia at Germantown Friends School. Sakina has worked in the field of education since in 2001. Her roles have included classroom teacher for grades K-6 for various independent schools in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. In 2012, Sakina was named Teacher of the Year at The Lotus Academy where she served as an elementary classroom instructor.  In addition, Sakina has been named Program Director for Out of School Programming within the non-profit sector as well as Program Director for a local community service children’s organization.  Most recently, she has worked as a Special Instructor for children with developmental delays providing intervention to assist in their educational abilities. Sakina has dedicated her career to ensuring that all children have access to quality education and that they have the tools needed to succeed.  She is a true advocate for all students.

Sakina is a proud graduate of Spelman College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and a minor in Education.  She is the mother of three and married to Drew Parks.

Why I love Breakthrough — I love Breakthrough because of its dual mission.  Training future teachers while educating youth is a mission that will have a huge impact on our communities for years to come.

Fun Fact — I enjoy traveling to Martha’s Vineyard every summer with my family.




Debra Stevens, Recruitment Manager

Debra Stevens is the Recruitment Coordinator at Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia. In joining Breakthrough she was excited to be a part of a program that provides academic enrichment to the students of Philadelphia.  Debra is a native of Philadelphia and attended Community College of Philadelphia, where she received an Associate’s degree in Information Technology and then attended Saint Joseph’s University, where she received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Healthcare Administration.  Prior to joining Breakthrough Debra was a practice manager of a primary care office and also a software analyst and training consultant for ten years at a large company.

Why I love working at Breakthrough — Middle School students at Breakthrough are amazing and funny. I enjoy being a part of an organization that provides academic enrichment to students. The tools that Breakthrough provides students will help them to be the very best version of themselves.

Fun Fact – I am an avid gardener and extremely fond of polar bears.

Michelle Reyes Aleti, Communications & Development Manager

Michelle Reyes Aleti recently joined Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia to focus on Communications and Development. Michelle brings two decades of experience in both Marketing and Education. She was a Brand Manager for a number of businesses at Procter & Gamble (Gillette, Venus, P&G Beauty), serving both as business manager and marketer developing and implementing Operations and MarCom strategies to help grow several businesses in North America and globally. She has also served as a marketing consultant and advisor to a number of US-based consumer brands and area Independent Schools.

Michelle is passionate about education and leadership, particularly the importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in shaping students’ educational experiences and in providing access to inspiration and opportunity. Throughout her career, Michelle has served as a mentor in several capacities, from helping Middle/High School students find and cultivate their passions, career interests and leadership styles, to teaching MBAs and Undergraduates as an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at Drexel University.

Michelle earned her MBA in Strategy and Marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She is also a graduate of New York University (Bachelor of Science in Finance and minor in Psychology). Michelle is married to Sasank Aleti and is the Mom of three children.

Why I love working at Breakthrough — I love the passion, dedication and energy that surrounds Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia, from Middle School Students and their families to the Teaching Fellows and Staff.  Preparedness, opportunity, inspiration and exposure can make a meaningful difference in students’ lives and educational journeys.  I enjoy being part of an organization that provides these collective experiences for our Students and Teaching Fellows, helping them build confidence and reach their educational and life goals.
Fun Fact – I have 42 first cousins.

Breakthrough Collaborative

180 Grand Ave #1225, Oakland, CA 94612, USA