Staff


Sarah Hemminger, Ph.D. - Chief Executive Officer and Founder

Sarah Hemminger co-founded the Incentive Mentoring Program with her husband Ryan Hemminger in 2004. She has nine years of experience in nonprofit management and expertise in the development, expansion, and replication of innovative, paradigm-shifting models of mentoring. Sarah has a deep understanding of the challenges that face students in successfully completing high school and accessing higher education, as well as the potential for students and volunteers to change not only their own lives but also create a positive and lasting impact on those around them. Sarah was awarded fellowships from Ashoka, Echoing Green Foundation, Open Society Institute, and Albert Schweitzer Fellows Program, which support social entrepreneurs with innovative ideas. In 2010, Sarah received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University for her work on the role of the cerebellum and the primary motor cortex on the time scales of consolidation of motor memory. She received the prestigious Siebel Scholars Award for outstanding work in the field of technology and engineering. Her research was published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neurophysiology, and Cerebral Cortex and she has lectured internationally on her work. She received her undergraduate degree from the Johns Hopkins University in 2002 and prior to pursuing her PhD, she worked as an engineer for Medtronic XOMED. Sarah enjoys ice skating and teaching aerobics.


Tong Zhang, Ph.D. - Chief Operating Officer

Tong Zhang’s role in IMP has evolved over the years from Family member in House Porodica to the founding Director of the Technology Service to member of the Board of Directors. In 2011, Tong joined IMP as staff. As the Chief Innovations Officer, Tong recruited, trained and supported Directors to provide programs, services, and infrastructure development for the organization. As the leader of this “IMP think tank”, Tong developed innovative resources that have not only benefited IMP, but have also created a positive ripple effect in the Baltimore community. In her role as the Chief Operating Officer, Tong is working to codify the IMP model to enable further scaling and replication of the program at future sites. In recognition of her work, Tong received the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award, Johns Hopkins University Diversity Recognition Awards and was invited to speak at Ignite for a Better Baltimore. She received her Ph.D. in Immunology from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for her work in creating novel vaccines against gynecologic cancers with recent research being published in the scientific journal Vaccine. She is also a contributing writer to the Association of Women in Science Magazine. Tong’s teaching experience extends to English immersion classes for adults and biology for high school students. She received her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from the University of Washington. Tong enjoys swimming, hiking, and rock-climbing.



Jessica Wyatt - Site Director of ACCE-JHU Homewood IMP Site

During her time in Senegal serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer, Jessica developed a deep understanding of the importance of utilizing family roles to create and maintain successful partnerships and programming within a rural village community. Upon returning to the states, Jessica participated in the MFA in Community Arts program at the Maryland Institute College of Art, with an AmeriCorps component during the first year where she worked at the Refugee Youth Project in addition to being a full time graduate student. She developed workshops focused on community initiated projects and programming, grant writing, and developing logic models and evaluation plans, while continuing her practice as an artist. Jessica developed strong relationships with the refugee students and their families utilizing language skills developed during her time in the Peace Corps. She most recently served as Coordinator for the Montgomery College/Montgomery County Public Schools Collaborative program, engaging underserved ESOL students in service-learning activities. Jessica also developed a curriculum to engage these students in college readiness activities, including workshops navigating the financial aid and admissions processes. Jessica and her husband are working on ukulele covers of popular songs that they someday hope to perform for someone other than their cat.



Aaryn McCutchan - Site Director of Dunbar-JHU East Baltimore IMP Site

Aaryn McCutchan's interest in working with urban youth began while growing up in San Francisco. There she saw both the stratification of youth and the need for a holistic approach to increasing opportunity for those who often lacked conventional support systems. Since moving to Baltimore to attend Johns Hopkins University, where she received her BA in Romance Languages and International Studies and a minor in Entrepreneurship and Management, she has worked with a number of programs that emphasize support both within and beyond the classroom. These organizations include Mi Espacio, an organization that helps the Hispanic student population attain academic goals and increase accessibility to health services, and Operation HOPE, which teaches financial literacy in the city’s schools. She has been heavily involved in the university’s chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi, a professional business fraternity, as President of the chapter. During her tenure, she championed the process of vast reorganization and restructuring to improve the chapters capacity and engagement. Aaryn continues to serve on the AKPsi Regional Management Team. She received her MA in Teaching from the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University and went on to teach Spanish at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. Her time at Dunbar has provided her with a strong relationship with the students, teachers and administration and an understanding of the school itself and the larger school system. In her free time, Aaryn enjoys DIY home improvement, traveling and learning new languages.



Sean Foley - High School Program Director

Sean Foley began his post-graduate working career with a focus on becoming an educator. In the fall of 2009, he returned to his high school at St. Paul’s School where he acted as a full-time substitute in their middle school. While at St. Paul’s, Sean was introduced with The Bridges Program, an outreach program that connects St. Paul’s students and Baltimore City youth. In the spring of 2010, Sean became the 2nd recipient of the Bridges Public Service Fellowship and began his career working with Baltimore City youth. During that time he was responsible for directing after school tutoring programs for 4th and 5th graders and managing weekend mentoring programs for middle and high school students. In addition, Sean helped create and facilitate a tutoring partnership with Loyola University for high school students needing extra academic support. From 2010-2012, Sean was also a member of Public Allies – Maryland, an AmeriCorps sponsored program that provided leadership experiences and professional training to young professionals with a focus on building their capacities to help serve their communities. Sean earned a BA in English Literature from Franklin & Marshall College, along with extensive coursework in Sociology and Religious Studies. When not working, Sean can be found watching (and singing along to) Disney movies, learning to play his banjo, or supporting the Baltimore Ravens.



Kelly Donovan - Post High School Program Director

Kelly graduated from Villanova University with a BA in Sociology and a concentration in Peace and Justice Studies. Her coursework, coupled with her involvement in several community service organizations, led to her interest in issues of education. After graduating from college, Kelly joined Teach For America and spent two years teaching high school history and government at Camelot Academy, an alternative school in North Philadelphia. While at Camelot, Kelly noticed there were few support systems in place to get her students to and through college, so she created a partnership between Camelot and an honors fraternity at Villanova to create mentoring relationships, build awareness of college, and provide support to students throughout the college application process. Kelly was also very involved in the TFA community, serving on the Corps Member Advisory Council while in the corps and workings as a Corps Member Advisor at TFA's summer institute. During this time, Kelly also earned an M.S.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania. Kelly will be supporting students as they transition out of high school in her hometown of Baltimore, MD. In her free time, Kelly enjoys cycling, camping, traveling, and going to brunch.


Amber Earl - Engagement Services Director

After graduating with her Bachelors in Health Science and completing her initial teaching certification in 2009, Amber spent a year with AmeriCorps, finishing her term of service with the nonprofit organization Family Service Society in upstate New York. During her time with FSS, Amber worked with the local Advantage After School Program, Youth Center and Big Brothers Big Sisters Program. This experience fostered a desire to further develop her knowledge, skills and connections to the world of nonprofit organizations, ultimately contributing to her decision to attend graduate school for Community Health Education. While completing her Masters, Amber worked to evaluate and implement a state-wide sustainable health and educational systems change initiative. She found her contributions to this project both incredibly interesting and genuinely rewarding, prompting her to accept a research position with the University of Maryland, School of Medicine in 2012. She spent two years at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center coordinating a clinical trial for women with Schizophrenia, during which time she became a volunteer with IMP. Amber served as a Head of Household and immediately became a dedicated advocate of IMP. Witnessing IMP's ability to foster dramatic and sustainable change in a child's life encouraged her decision to join the IMP staff in 2014. In her free time, Amber enjoys outdoor activities with her family, cooking, and trying new local restaurants.


Brian Nelson - Data Analyst

Brian studied Chemical Engineering and Economics as an undergraduate at Case Western Reserve University, but he has since found that his true passion is for the educational and leadership development of young men and women. In 2011, Brian moved to Baltimore as a new Teach for America corps member and taught science for three years in the City Schools. In his time as a teacher, Brian completed his M.S.Ed from the Johns Hopkins University, founded a robotics program at the school he taught at, served as an assistant coach of the basketball team, and worked on a committee of teachers and parent volunteers to develop stronger relationships between teachers and parents through improved communications. Most importantly, he developed a much greater understanding of the extra challenges to college and career opportunities that exist for students in the City Schools. In the summer of 2013, Brian worked for Teach For America's Summer Institute in Philadelphia as the Director of Data Management and got a glimpse into how he could combine his passion for education with his analytical background. Now Brian is putting that combination back into action at IMP by using data to improve IMP's ability to help students achieve their goals. In his free time, Brian enjoys to both watch and play sports of all kinds, hanging out with the youth group at his church, and discussing his favorite TV shows.


Varun Patel - Executive Team Coordinator

Varun started his undergraduate degree at the Arizona State University and transferred to the Johns Hopkins University as a sophomore to pursue his interest in neuroscience and his passion for medicinal research. He has worked on various projects in the field of neuroimmunology, viral oncology, and biomedical engineering. His research has been published in the Journal of Virology and Immunology and Cell Biology and he has presented his work at various conferences, including twice at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Along with his research, Varun has been immersed in community service throughout his undergraduate career. At ASU, he volunteered at a hospital and was a founding member of the Talent Match, where he tutored middle school students and taught them how to play chess. After coming to Hopkins he quickly became involved with student organizations dedicated to community service, such as Hopkins Association for Stroke Awareness and IMP. He also serves on American Heart Association’s Baltimore 2020 Impact Goal Mission Committee tasked with improving heart health of Baltimore residents by 20% by 2020. Varun joined IMP as a family member in Hoop House and simultaneously started volunteering with IMP’s development team. Later, he took on the Development Officer role for IMP. Varun is graduating with a BA in Neuroscience from the Johns Hopkins University and eventually hopes to pursue a degree in medicine. However, his enriching experience with IMP and his passion for community service convinced him to take few years off from academics to work in the non-profit sector. Varun will be joining IMP staff as Executive Team Coordinator in June.