Vanessa Douyon


After graduating from the University of Florida, Vanessa worked in Senegal, West Africa as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar building a school library and launching photography exhibitions for high school girls. Upon returning to the U.S., she taught 5th grade math as a 2010 Teach For America Corps member. She has worked as a Recruitment Manager for both Teach For America and the New Orleans College Preparatory Charter network. Currently, Vanessa is studying Entrepreneurship at Booth and is the Founder/CEO of the MLA Leadership Academy, a lab based leadership program for high potential girls in low-income communities, a not-for-profit led by a team of Booth and Columbia graduate students.

Christina Douyon

Co-Founder/VP of Curriculum

After graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in psychology, Christina joined Teach for America as a 2010 corps member in New Orleans, Louisiana. There she taught 6th grade reading at KIPP Believe College Prep. for two years. It was during her time in the classroom that she met Vanessa Douyon and helped conceive the idea for MLA. Following her tenure at KIPP, Christina went on to pursue her master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at Columbia University’s Teachers College where she continues to work with MLA.

Brain Trust

Dr. Stephanie Evans: Author of Black Passports: Travel Memoirs as a Tool for Youth Empowerment, a curriculum aimed at increasing self-efficacy in at-risk students.

Dr. Venus Evans-Winters: Author of Teaching Black Girls: Resiliency in Urban Classrooms and a current professor of education at Illinois State University.

Christina Hachikian: Christina is the Director of the Social Enterprise Initiative and a professor at the University of Chicago.

Malajah Lopez: Malajah is a 7th grade student at Cohen College Prep Middle and our current middle school girl advisor.