Thrival World Academies is a network of study abroad public high schools providing students from underserved communities access to personalized and culturally immersive education abroad.


Global education is central to what it means to be an educated person in the 21st century and we are making it accessible to all students, regardless of race or socioeconomic background.

Our Values

We are committed to equity. We are committed, in words and in actions, to equity across all levels of our organization – from our students and families to our staff.

  • We celebrate diversity. We approach difference with open minds and a recognition that we learn more about the world and ourselves by celebrating diversity.
  • We love to learn. We open our eyes to the world with curiosity, wonder, and a sense of adventure.
  • We are a community. We foster a sense of belonging through compassion, solidarity, and appreciation.
  • We fail forward. We fearlessly embrace taking risks because we know we learn most deeply through challenge.

  • We are introspective. We are mindful and reflective about ourselves and others.
  • We are real. We evoke trust by always being authentic and transparent.
  • We joyfully push boundaries. We see possibility everywhere. We push the boundaries and shake up the world all while filled with a sense of humor and joy.
  • We work in partnership with the public. We are dedicated partners with our districts. We work collaboratively to design and execute a shared vision.

Our Team

member image
Emma Hiza, MEd, MPH
Executive Director

Emma is a passionate educator, curriculum designer, and program director who has worked extensively in the fields of education and public health both domestically and overseas. Her work includes classroom instruction, curriculum design and teacher training across various contexts in the U.S, Bangladesh, Rwanda, and Kenya. She has worked in public education in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC and internationally with Partners In Health, the Asian University for Women, and the McKinsey Social Initiative. She is a deeply committed educator who believes profoundly in education as the most fundamental mechanism for community-driven social change.

member image
India K Hui, MSEd
School Leader, Thrival Academy: Indy

India Hui is a devoted educator who has lived the majority of her life in Indianapolis, Indiana. Because of her father's service in the US Army she lived her early years in Germany. Although she was very young, her experience shaped much of her world view. India graduated from Warren Central High School and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Education from Indiana University in Bloomington. After several years of teaching, India joined IUPUI's Urban Principalship Program, where she also earned a Master of Science in Educational Leadership. She then attended Harvard's School Turnaround Leaders Institute. Serving students and families outside of the classroom brings joy to India; she has been a coach, organizer of school and community events, trusted mentor, and community advocate. Her passion for education coupled with her love of travel and learning from different cultures are what attracted her to Thrival. She looks forward to leading the Indy school, as they embark on an exciting educational journey.

member image
Bobby Nweke
School Leader, Thrival Academy: Oakland

Passionate, Creative, Authentic, Connector - these are some of the words that describe Bobby as both a person and an educator. Born in Washington, DC and raised in Prince George’s Country Maryland. His upbringing in the public school system developed his fire and fury with the issues of inequity in education today. It is why he works to rethink schooling in every position he has held. Bobby graduated from High Point High School and went to Gonzaga University where he obtained a BA in English (Creative Writing) and minor in Sociology. During schooling at Gonzaga, Bobby taught incarcerated youth in the DC Metropolitan Area. He later moved to the Bay Area and joined Teach for America as a teacher in San Pablo, CA. After his time in the classroom, he transitioned onto TFA staff coaching teachers on equitable teaching practices in the classroom. He now joins our team bringing his creativity, love for people, perspective of varied forms of education, and passion for educational equity to his new role as the Thrival Academy: Oakland School Leader.

member image
Sunny Yang, MAT
Teacher, Thrival Academy: Indy

Sunny is an educator, language enthusiast, and backpacker who is passionate about an education that teaches students how to think critically and fosters their inquisitive spirit. Her life has been shaped by multiple fantastic study abroad experiences, including Brazil, France, and the US, and she firmly believes in the huge amount of reflection and growth that comes with stepping outside of your comfort zone. She attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she was inspired to dive into the field of education. For the past two years, she taught secondary mathematics as a Teach for America corps member in Indianapolis. She has also worked for Open Meadow Alternative Schools and Teach for Taiwan, and she hopes someday to bring the exciting and innovative model of Thrival back to her home, Taiwan.

member image
Aquillia Mikel
Teacher, Thrival Academy: Oakland

Aquillia Mikel is a creative soul and educator all the way from Chicago, Illinois. She spent her childhood in Palmdale, CA and is extremely excited about her return to the Golden State. Aquillia graduated from Whitney Young High School (Michelle Obama's alma mater) and went on to earn her Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education from DePaul University in Chicago. Through out her seven years of teaching, Aquillia has developed meaningful relationships with students in Cambridge, MA, Chicago, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Tanzania. She believes that global citizenship allows you to make a true impact within yourself and, ultimately, your community. The Thrival mission mirrors the vision for her life and the one she carries for her students and she is incredibly excited for all of the beautiful outcomes of this new model for school.

member image
Natasha Esteves
Teacher, Thrival Academy: Indy

Natasha is a passionate educator who believes innovation that puts students at the forefront of decision-making in education is the way to go. She is proud to be a Geography and Social Studies teacher but has also worked as a Museum Educator and as a Workshop Leader for anti-bullying efforts led by Futures Without Violence. She is excited to bring her background in helping design and lead service-learning experiences for both the International Baccalaureate program and Northwestern’s Civic Education Project to the wonderful students at Thrival Academies: Indy. Natasha’s origins are in Brazil and Portugal but she was born and raised in Miami, Florida. Her parents instilled a love of multiculturalism and global awareness in her early on and she discovered a passion for traveling that became a life-defining vice she cannot let go of! She wants all children and teens to benefit from these experiences! This passion led her to take her New Orleans students to Europe in 2014. Now she is very excited to join a team of people who will provide a year-long, rigorous, and innovative study abroad program for students in Indianapolis.

member image
Becky Goncharoff, MA
Thailand Program Coordinator

Becky is our Thailand Program Coordinator, supporting Thrival during the portion of the year that takes place in Thailand. Becky loves finding ways for local community members in Thailand and students from the United States to learn from each other and work together. She has spent over three years developing experiential learning opportunities for study abroad students in Northeast Thailand working with the Council on International Educational Exchange. Becky holds a BA in Political Science from Transylvania University and an MA in International Relations from the University of Chicago.

member image
Ta Lynn Mitchell
Teacher, Thrival Academy: Oakland

Our Board & Advisors

member image
Michele Sutton, MEd, MPP
Board Chair
Senior Consultant, UPD Consulting

Michele is a Senior Consultant at UPC Consulting, where she focuses on issues of organizational transformation, programmatic innovation, and performance management. Prior to UPD, Michele was the Vice President of Teacher Leadership Development for Teach For America-Bay Area and Executive Director of Teach For America-Kansas City. Previously, she worked as the interim principal for KIPP, a policy analyst for the Education Trust-West, and a teacher in both Phoenix and Oakland. Michele has a BA from Duke University, a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University, and a Master of Public Policy from the Goldman School at UC-Berkeley.

member image
Daniela Lewy, MPH, EdLD
Co-Founder, Board Member
Executive Director, Virginia Governor’s Children’s Cabinet

Daniela is the Executive Director of the Virginia Governor’s Children's Cabinet, working to improve wraparound support services in high-need school districts. She also serves as faculty at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, working and teaching at the intersection of health and education in the US and abroad. She has 15 years of experience as an experiential educator with a focus on programs serving diverse students from low-income communities, including the Baraka School in Kenya for Baltimore City boys. She holds a BA from Wesleyan University, an MPH from Johns Hopkins University, and an EdLD from Harvard University.

member image
Tyron Young, MEd
Board Member
Director of Teaching Fellows, Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys

Tyron Young is currently the Director of Teaching Fellows at Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys, where he supports teaching fellows as they deliver math instruction to elementary and middle school boys. His work experience includes teaching in both formal and informal K-12 settings in public and private schools in Atlanta, New York, and Chicago. He has also served as an instructor of classroom management and science instruction at Temple University. Finally, he is an alumnus of the Baraka School in Kenya for Baltimore City boys where he spent his 7th and 8th grade years studying and living in rural Kenya through a program supported by Baltimore City Public Schools and a local foundation. Tyron brings a wealth of expertise to Thrival from the perspective of a student and an educator. Tyron holds a BA from Morehouse College and an MSEd from Temple University.

member image
Chris Stakich
Board Member
CEO, Rustic Pathways

Since graduating from Harvard University in 2001, Chris has worked at the intersection of education, community service and student travel. Chris currently serves as the chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Rustic Pathways. In addition to his position with Rustic Pathways, Chris also serves as the chairman of the board of Thinking Beyond Borders. Chris is passionate about scaling programs to create future leaders who embody compassion and global understanding.

member image
Daryl Peagler, MBA
Board Member
Independent Education Consultant

Daryl currently works as an independent consultant, specializing in finance, operations and fundraising strategy for education organizations. Most recently, he oversaw the external affairs and operations team at Teach For America Bay Area. Daryl also spent two years with TFA’s national office focused on regional growth strategy and development, and served as the interim direct manager for development and corps member placement in the Atlanta region. Prior to joining TFA, Daryl was a corporate development director and management associate at Thomson Reuters. During this time, he drove analysis, negotiation, and execution of acquisitions for Thomson Reuters Markets Division, and consulted on a range of projects in corporate strategy, financial planning and analysis, and product strategy. Earlier in his career, Daryl worked in investment banking, executing mergers and acquisitions, as well as public offerings for media and technology businesses. He holds an MBA from New York University Stern School of Business and an AB in Psychology from Harvard College.

member image
Andrew Frishman, MAT, EdLD
Co-Executive Director, Big Picture Learning

In the spring of 2002 Andrew heard a student describe his unique transformational learning experiences at The Met High School in Providence, RI, the “mother ship” of the Big Picture Learning Network. That fall, Andrew joined the Met as an Advisor (Teacher), working with a 9th grade advisory group through to their graduation in 2006. He then moved to CA to support the development of the Met Sacramento High School, worked with its first graduating class, and became the school’s first “Learning Through Internship Coordinator.” Andrew has assisted with the expansion of the Big Picture Network in a variety of capacities, including supporting the launch of innovative schools across the US and internationally. Along the way he has melded experiences from an MAT, an administrative credential focused on urban schools, and a Health Leadership Program, into a belief that student-centered education is a crucial determinant of both individual life outcomes as well as community well-being. He completed the Education Leadership Program (EdLD) at Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Harvard Kennedy School, and Harvard Business School and joined the leadership team of Big Picture Learning in 2013.

member image
Brent Watkins, MAT
Vice President Of Programs, Rustic Pathways

Brent currently serves as Vice President of Program Operations at Rustic Pathways, where he manages Rustic Pathways' global portfolio of programs. In addition to his work with Rustic Pathways, Brent is an adjunct instructor and graduate advisor at the Johns Hopkins University Graduate School of Education. Prior to joining Rustic Pathways, Brent managed teacher professional development and training for Teach For America - Baltimore. Brent is excited about offering transformational travel experiences to students with a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences.

member image
Erin Murphy, MEd
Rustic Pathways Partnership Manager
Director Of Student Impact, Rustic Pathways

Erin has a passion for travel as a model for education and spends her time thinking about student impact at Rustic Pathways. She designs the curricular resources that support Rustic Pathways itineraries across divisions, oversees Rustic Pathways’ student impact evaluation, and supports the implementation of Thrival World Academies’ overseas school model. Before beginning at Rustic Pathways, Erin studied International Education Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has lived in Thailand off and on since 2009.

Thrival Academy: Indy Board

member image
Doneisha Posey, JD
Board Member
Deputy Director & General Counsel, Indiana Civil Rights Commission

Doneisha is the Deputy Director & General Counsel for the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, where she presides over cases of discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, public accommodation, education and credit. After studying abroad in college, Doneisha returned to the States to form a nonprofit organization and helped to build a school in the Dominican Republic. She is passionate about education and leaving a positive impact on the world. Doneisha holds a BA from Marian University and a JD from Indiana University McKinney School of Law.

member image
Nick Reich
Board Member
Founder & Managing Principal, Social Insight, LLC

Nick Reich is the Founder and Managing Principal of Social Insight, LLC, a strategic advising firm that seeks to positively affect the world by maximizing social impact and minimizing risk of philanthropic and investment dollars through innovation and social entrepreneurship. He brings over 13 years of experience in innovation, strategy, program development, and collaboration to help nonprofits and social entrepreneurs across a variety of sectors tackle some of society’s biggest opportunities. Reich has designed and led organizations working in education, poverty, juvenile justice and economic and workforce development, including design of new charter school models, scaleable public-private partnerships, and new divisions of private Foundations. Nick has an undergraduate degree from Indiana University – Indianapolis, Graduate Certificates in Non-Profit Management and Executive Non-Profit Leadership from IU School of Public & Environmental Affairs and IU School of Philanthropy, and a Diploma in Social Innovation from the United Nations sanctioned University for Peace in Costa Rica. Nick is passionate about education and poverty issues around the globe; traveling to Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and Haiti, as well as championing education and health related projects in Zimbabwe, Kenya and El Salvador.

member image
Meagan Burton-Krieger, EdD
Board Chair
Director of Donor Relations, Butler University

Meagan believes in the transformational power of education. Her work over the last 10 years within institutions of higher education has explored how experiences, policy, and philanthropy can be combined to create personalized and holistic growth for students. She has dedicated special attention to the role of leadership and personal philanthropy in fostering student success. Meagan holds a doctorate in education with a concentration of higher education leadership and policy from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. She brings to Thrival Academy: Indy a broad knowledge of higher education and a deep understanding of how immersion experiences can prepare high school students for college. She believes that higher education is the most effective tool in our society to equip global citizens to work in an increasingly interconnected world. Meagan is committed to helping ensure Thrival graduates have access to higher education and continued transformational experiences that will equip them to become leaders in our Indianapolis community and beyond. Meagan is currently the Director of Donor Relations at Butler University and holds additional degrees from Albion College and the University of Vermont. She is married to the Rev. Eric Burton-Krieger who is the Pastor of Adult Discipleship at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis.

member image
Sean Cosgrove
Board Member
Vice President of Development, Project Lead The Way

Sean Cosgrove is the Vice President of Development for Project Lead The Way (PLTW), a national non-profit organization that provides transformative learning experiences for K-12 students and teachers through pathways in Engineering, Computer Science, and Biomedical science. He is responsible for advancing PLTW initiatives in strategic partnerships and fundraising and works across the U.S. with corporations, foundations, state governments, and economic development organizations to expand access to PLTW programs. Before joining PLTW, Sean worked in higher education in several different capacities including student affairs, alumni relations, annual giving, and major gifts. Prior to that, he held several technical and finance roles in the energy industry. Sean received an Executive Certificate in Business Leadership Studies from the University of Richmond and a BS in Finance from the University of Cincinnati.

Our Partners

We are proud to be partnered with the following leading organizations in education, student travel, and entrepreneurship.

Big Picture Learning We are proud to be a part of the Big Picture Learning (BPL) network as a BPL affiliate school. As our incubation partner BPL provides expertise in instructional design and student-centered pedagogy. For over 20 years, BPL has been a leader in personalized learning where students work in tandem with the real world. BPL currently supports a network of 60 schools across the US and has received national acclaim for their innovative model and student outcomes.

Rustic PathwaysRustic Pathways is our operations and travel abroad partner, providing us with high quality facilities, travel logistics, and safety & risk management processes. The organization brings three decades of expertise in the education and travel industry and today runs over 100 programs in 19 countries serving 10,000 students from over 2,000 schools annually.

Oakland Unified School DistrictOur flagship school site, Thrival Academy: Oakland, opened in fall 2016 in partnership with Oakland Unified School District. We have 11 juniors from Oakland currently enrolled in our pilot program for the 2016-2017 school year and look forward to expanding to 100 students at full capacity. To learn more about our current work in Oakland and follow our blog, check out our Thrival Academy: Oakland page.

Summit BasecampThrival Academy: Oakland is a part of the Summit Basecamp 2016-2017 cohort. Summit Basecamp provides teachers and schools across the US with the resources they need to bring personalized learning into the classroom. Developed by Summit Public Schools in collaboration with Facebook, Summit Basecamp has built a Personalized Learning Platform that empowers teachers to customize instruction to meet students’ individual needs and interests, while putting students in charge of their own learning.