Sebastian Amar, Executive Director:  Sebastian is a Maryland native and proud father of three. He is the son of first generation immigrants from Argentina and Morocco and received his formal education in the Montgomery County public school system. Sebastian attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science. After college, he attended law school at American University Washington College of Law. Since law school, Sebastian has worked as a civil rights lawyer with Maryland’s largest immigrants’ rights organization, CASA de Maryland, Inc., served as an adjunct professor at his undergraduate alma mater, and served as a commissioner with the City of Rockville Human Rights Commission. Currently, Sebastian is an Attorney Advisor with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, where his work focuses on the enforcement of federal anti-discrimination laws. He is also an adjunct professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center.

On the SELF Scholarship: “Education is the single most valuable gift we can give to our young people. The leadership at SELF understand that while access to advanced education is a right that should be available to all students, the pursuit of higher learning is often reserved for the few. The SELF Scholarship aims to change that reality. It is my absolute privilege to serve as the Executive Director of an organization that has taken on the responsibility of ensuring that the challenges faced by students who find themselves in less than ideal situations are viewed as strengths that position them to succeed in the future, rather than limitations that serve to deny them the opportunity to chase their dreams.”

Guy Johnson, Chief Program Officer: Guy lives in Washington, D.C., and is the son of a Colombian immigrant mom and a dad born and raised in Staten Island, NY. Prior to working at Partners for, Guy spent four years at the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, working to enforce anti-discrimination laws. Previously, he served as the Staff Director for the Equity and Excellence Commission, was a Senior Policy Advisor on education and workforce issues in the Domestic Policy Council of the White House, and served as an attorney for low-income tenants and undocumented immigrants at Casa de Maryland.

Kelsey Amar, Chief Financial Officer: Kelsey is a resident of Montgomery County, MD and mother of three amazing children. She received her primary education in the Frederick County Public School system, and then attended Hood College where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Religious Studies. After college, Kelsey worked as a counselor in a non-profit outpatient program assisting adults with mental illness and developmental disabilities. She went on to work in a clinical research facility, performing clinical trials for psychiatric medications. Currently, Kelsey is Associate Director of Professional Services at StarCompliance where she oversees the implementation of regulatory compliance software for the financial services industry. 

On the SELF Scholarship: “If it were not for scholarship aid, I would not have been able to go to college, and even then I spent years after graduation paying back loans. In today’s world, post-secondary education often represents the dividing line between a student realizing their potential or settling for something less. I am excited to be a part of an organization that provides support to students who have shown a commitment to chasing their goals and giving back to their communities, and who do not necessarily fit neatly into the typical categories we think of when we think of scholarship recipients.” 

Sebastian Driver-Salazar, At-Large Board Member: Sebastian is a lifelong Washingtonian, the son of a first-generation Mexican immigrant mother and a father born and raised in rural Western New York. He attended Montgomery County’s Walter Johnson High School before earning a degree from Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. Sebastian works in sports media, where he serves as a reporter, anchor and host for ESPN. Through the D.C. Scores program, Sebastian also volunteers as a soccer coach helping underserved children in our nation’s capital.

On the SELF Scholarship: “As a D.C. native, I am thrilled to join the SELF Scholarship’s mission to help hard-working, service-oriented local kids fulfill their potential. Having worked with area children for the past fifteen years, I have witnessed incredible talent and character and believe the SELF Scholarship will directly benefit some of our future leaders.”

Erin Louise Palmer, At-Large Board Member: Erin lives in the District with her husband and three young children. She grew up in California and Colorado. Despite her family’s financial hardship, Erin was able to attend the University of Pennsylvania after receiving a need- and merit-based scholarship. While she was in college, Erin studied abroad in Santiago, Chile, where she lived with a host family and learned about the effects of the Pinochet dictatorship. Erin lived in Nicaragua and Ecuador after college, working as a State Department intern and a volunteer for a non-profit organization. When she returned to the United States, Erin went to law school at American University Washington College of Law, where she studied human rights law. Erin currently works as a lawyer for the federal government.

On the SELF Scholarship: “I believe that everyone deserves a college education. Yet, too often, students are finding themselves unable to continue their studies after high school. College has become exponentially cost-prohibitive, which has had a profound effect on many, particularly minority and low-income communities. At the same time, we are facing serious challenges, from global warming, to racial justice, to income inequality. I believe that grassroots efforts to build our communities can begin to meaningfully address these global challenges. It is my hope that the SELF Scholarship will help students with a desire to effect change from the ground up attain the skills to meaningfully contribute to their communities.”

Gloria González, At-Large Board Member: Dr. Gloria González is a sociologist who conducts independent research and consults on health and education issues. She is also an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, Master of Liberal Arts program, where she teaches courses on family in cross-cultural perspectives. Gloria earned her Associate of Arts degree from Mount San Antonio Community College, her Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Masters and doctoral degrees in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

 

On the SELF Scholarship: “SELF’s mission of providing financial assistance to students who have faced—and are facing—significant challenges is critically important. The financial aid, grants, and fellowships I received throughout my undergraduate and graduate education made it possible for me to pursue my educational aspirations and career goals. I am delighted and honored to be part of this effort to advance equity of opportunity.”