Career Spotlight: Educators

Women Rhodes Scholars are represented in almost every profession. They are lawyers, writers, doctors, academics, artists, scientists, consultants, teachers, politicians, and more.  This list is the first in a new series designed to showcase scholars making a difference through their choice of career.

1. Barbara Petzen

2. Lisette Nieves

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3. Dacia Toll

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4. Rachel Mazyck

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5. Genevieve Quist Green

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6. Jessica Hanzlik

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7. Malebogo Ngoepe

8. Deirdre Saunder

9. Theresa Simmonds

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10. Nancy Coiner

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Barbara Petzen is President of the Middle East Outreach Council, a non-profit organisation which seeks to increase public knowledge of the peoples, places and cultures of the Middle East. The Council’s educational website, Teach Mideast, provides innovative resources for teachers on the Middle East, on various subjects ranging from religion and geography to politics and current issues. She has a BA in Oriental Studies from the University of Oxford and a PhD in Middle Eastern History from Harvard University.  






Lisette Nieves is a social entrepreneur working on educational issues in Brooklyn and the wider United States. She was the Founder and Executive Director of Year Up NYC, a non-profit organisation that provides hands-on skill development and work experience for young adults from low-income families. Between 2011 and 2013, she was a Visiting Professor of Public Policy and Administration at Brooklyn College, and she was also appointed by President Obama to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. She was the first Puerto Rican woman to be awarded a Rhodes scholarship, and while at Oxford she studied for a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.  






Dacia Toll is the co-founder and co-CEO of Achievement First, a non-profit organisation which operates 25 Public Charter Schools in Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island. Previously, she led the founding team of the Amistad Academy in New Haven, CT., and served as the school’s first principal; subsequently, Amistad Academy was recognised nationally as an exemplar for closing the achievement gap by the US Department of Education. While at Oxford, she studied for a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, and also holds a JD from Yale Law School.  








Rachel Mazyck is the President of Collegiate Directions, a non-profit organisation committed to closing the education, achievement and opportunity gap for low-income, primarily first-generation-to-college students. Previously, she worked in the Chief Academic Officer’s Team for Baltimore City Public Schools, and was also an elementary school teacher with Teach for America in Mississippi. As a Rhodes Scholar, she studied for a DPhil in Education. 

Read Rachel’s profile interview with the Rhodes Project here.  






Genevieve Quist Green is a Principal Associate at Education Resource Strategies, where she works to improve educational attainment through increased school autonomy over resources. Previously she was the Massachusetts Policy Director at the advocacy organisation Stand for Children, and has also worked as a middle school English teacher in Los Angeles. While at Oxford, she studied for a DPhil in Social Policy, focusing on urban redevelopment and school choice under federal housing programs.

Read Genevieve’s profile with the Rhodes Project here. 






Jessica Hanzlik teaches math, science and social studies to eighth graders at the UNO Soccer Academy campus of the UNO Charter School Network in Chicago. She is a member of the Teach for America Corps, and gained a part time master’s degree in teaching while working at UNO. At Oxford, she was awarded both an MSc in Comparative Social Policy and an MSc in Particle Physics. She also worked as a Graduate Assistant in the University’s Access Office, delivering residential programs for disadvantaged gifted students to increase access to higher education.    

Read Jessica’s profile with the Rhodes Project here







Malebogo Ngoepe is the founder of the South African Science Foundation for Youth, an organisation aimed at attracting high school learners to science-related careers. She was awarded her first degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Cape Town. While at Oxford, she studied for a DPhil in Biomedical Engineering, focusing in cardiovascular fluid mechanics. 







Deirdre Saunder is an art teacher at the Maret School in Washington, D.C., and a workshop leader at the Art League, a non-profit organisation that organises exhibitions, classes and workshops for the local community in Alexandria, VA. She is also a public artist and painter, and was previously a research fellow in painting at Harvard University. While at Oxford, she read for a BA in Fine Art.   







Theresa Simmonds is the Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator for College Access and Career Readiness at the University of Pennsylvania’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships. In this role, she provides counselling for future first-generation college kids. Previously, she worked as a classroom teacher and a post-secondary counsellor in public schools in West Philadelphia public schools. As a Rhodes Scholar, she studied for a MSc in Education. 

Read Theresa’s profile interview with the Rhodes Project here.  





Nancy Coiner is Dean and Chair of the Humanities and English Departments at the John Dewey Academy, a non-traditional, therapeutic boarding school for bright yet troubled adolescents. She has previously taught on the faculty at Stanford University and Middlebury, Smith and Mount Holyoake Colleges. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from Stanford University and gained an MPhil in English Literature while studying in Oxford.