Meet the Team

Learn more about the Equity Center and the team that made the Starr Hills Pathway Program possible

Youth Pipeline Director

Dr Zakiah Pierre

Zakiah N. Pierre serves as the inaugural Youth Pipeline Director at the Equity Center. Until 2021, Zakiah worked as the Director of Student Engagement at the UVA Darden School of Business. Prior to Darden, Zakiah served as the Research Scientist in UVA's Center for Diversity in Engineering; developing programs that helped to both recruit and retain students from traditionally underrepresented groups in engineering. Zakiah’s professional portfolio includes teaching STEM and leadership development courses, conducting K-12 STEM education research and developing out-of-school STEM programs. When not supporting students, Zakiah can be found doing work to improve pregnancy outcomes for women of color. She is a co-founder of Birth Sisters of Charlottesville, a women of color, community-based doula collective, supporting women of color through their birth journey and into motherhood.

Zakiah is employed by the UVA Equity Center, leading programmatic coordination for Starr Hill Pathways.


Environmental Science


Environmental science is an academic field that uses physics, biology, and geography to the study of the environment, and the solution of environmental problems.

Lucy Montalvo is originally from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, living half her life in Puerto Rico and the other half in the United States. She worked in education for 16 years, 13 as an elementary school teacher. As a community activist and educator, she brings expertise in multilingual and culturally relevant curriculum development and implementation. Lucy has a doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction with a concentration in Bilingual Studies from the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley. She is especially interested in oral language development and its effects on biliteracy. She is currently the President for the Virginia Dual Language Educator Network (VADLEN). Lucy has been critical in the past two years providing education services to multilingual students and families.

Lucy is employed by the Equity Center, assisting with program coordination for Starr Hill Pathways.


Youth Pipeline Faculty Director

Dr Joseph Williams

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Joseph Williams is an Associate Professor in the Counselor Education Program at the University of Virginia. He is a faculty affiliate with Youth-Nex and the Center for Race and Public Education in the South. His research focuses on academic resilience among students of Color and those from low-wealth families. His second line of research focuses on anti-racist and social justice training practices for K-12 counselors, educators, and other helping professionals. Besides publishing scholarly articles and book chapters in these areas, he consults with school districts, universities, businesses, communities to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts and engage people in productive dialogue and action.

Joseph is a Faculty Director with the Equity Center and will be guiding the research arm of Starr Hill Pathways.

Educational Data Equity Scientist

Dr Nina Schoonover


Nina Schoonover grew up in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area and completed her bachelor’s degree in English from UVA and a M.A. in Teaching from Mary Baldwin. Nina worked as a high school English teacher before earning her Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences from North Carolina State University. She has taught in Albemarle County Public Schools and served the Charlottesville community through AmeriCorps. Her research has focused on arts-integration, critical literacy, and anti-racist teaching practices in middle and high school classrooms and community-based organizations.

Program Manager

Traci Brooks

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Traci has served the Charlottesville/Albemarle community as a passionate leader in education for over 25 years. As an integral part of the educational and local government systems, she has worked with elementary, middle, and high school students from marginalized and underserved communities. In addition to her experience as a long term substitute teacher and teaching assistant, she has extensive experience working with local school districts to implement HR policies to ensure access to academic services and to support the development of educational programs that resonate with youth. Prior to her role with the Equity Center, Traci worked with the federally funded program Upward Bound at the University of Virginia to assist college-bound first-generation and low-income students to prepare and thrive in their post high careers. She received her B.S. degree in Information Systems Management from the State University of New York, College at Buffalo and her Educational Technology Certification from James Madison University. Currently, she is pursuing her M.Ed. degree in Educational Technology.

Traci is employed by the Equity Center, leading the program mangagement for Starr Hill Pathways.

Starr Hill Pathway Community Partnerships
The STEMpreneurs
Tree Williams
Black Women of
Central VA
Light House Studio
UVA Brain Camp
Project Pipeline
Culinary AB
African American 
Teaching Fellows
Health & Medical 
Sciences Academy