Our Team

Consultants

Roxana Reid, M.S.W.

Director, Smart City Kids

Roxana Reid is the Founder of Smart City Kids Inc. and Smart City Tutors Inc., an educational consulting firm that helps families in New York City identify public and private school options for their children. Smart City Kids has served the New York City area for longer than any other education advisory company. It is the organization that schools, non-profit organizations, corporations, and agencies that serve children and families go to for in-depth advice on nursery to college admissions. Smart City Kids, under Roxana’s leadership, operates as the sole educational advising firm for  Memorial Sloan Kettering. Smart City Kids advisors have served as former admissions directors, nursery school directors, and placement directors.

Roxana serves on the education division board of Manhattan Media, which highlights great schools in New York City from Nursery school through High School, public and private. She currently serves to support the JCP and York Avenue Preschools through the ex-missions process. In 2016, when the Mandell school moved to close its doors, Roxana led Smart City Kids in supporting the Mandell School through that transition, helping to transition 150 students across nearly 115 private, boarding and public schools. Roxana has served on the Board of Trustees at Friends Seminary, a highly sought after independent school, and served as Chair of the Admissions/Financial Aid Committee, the Executive Committee, and the Diversity Committee of the Board. Roxana served as Director of Placement at the JCC Nursery school where she helped to place scores of students into independent private and public schools in Manhattan. Roxana also served as admissions Counselor to Church of the Epiphany Nursery School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. For 12 years, Roxana led Smart City Kids as the sole admissions consulting group to serve the entire NYU campus providing support to faculty, administrators, recruits and NYU students in search of school placement for their children.  She formerly served as an adjunct professor at NYU’s School of Continuing Education and Professional studies in the Career Education and Life Planning Department, where she taught educational policies. Roxana was also appointed to the task force responding to recommendations outlined by the visiting committee of the New York State Association of Independent Schools.

Beyond her significant expertise in the world of New York City School Admissions, Roxana has a Masters Degree in Social Work from Columbia University, where she majored in School Based Services for Children and Families. She is so committed to the vision of helping students find the most ideal home, it is a significant driver in her daily work. A parent of two children, Roxana is very active in her children’s lives. This lifelong New Yorker has been educated at every level by the NYC school system.

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Erica Papir

Educational Consultant

Erica joined Smart City Kids as an Educational Consultant, specializing in early childhood education. As Smart City Kids Nursery School Advisor, Erica’s warm disposition allows her to guide parents successfully through the nursery school admissions process.  She is dedicated to helping families find the most ideally suited educational environment as she recognizes the significance of your child’s first school experience.  Imparting strategies to help families successfully navigate the complicated admissions process, last season all of Erica’s clients were placed and 94% received acceptances to their first-choice school (the other 6% were accepted to their second choice). Erica thoroughly prepares parents for every step of the process and ensures they are organized and always a step ahead.  In addition to admissions, as a parent herself, Erica often finds herself offering parenting advice and guidance to help her families support their children beyond just getting into a wonderful school.

Erica also works with schools throughout the city on admissions, ex-missions, marketing, and recruiting new administrators.  Erica has recently worked with The Mandell School, York Avenue Preschool, The Caedmon School, The Jewish Community Project, and The Portfolio School.

In addition, Erica develops corporate relationships and helps those institutions provide admissions support to their employees and relocating families. Erica works to increase the scope of offerings at the company through marketing, staff recruitment, and business development initiatives.

For 17 years, Erica was the Director of Admissions at The Caedmon School. She was a member of the school’s senior administrative team, responsible for enrollment management, and the Co-Chair of the Financial Aid Committee.

Erica managed all aspects of the admissions process, from tours to parent interviews and applicant playgroups. She was responsible for admissions decisions for applicants to all levels. She designed a highly personalized admissions process for families and created various programs and events for applicant and current families. Erica also initiated and managed marketing and outreach initiatives.

Erica was invited to speak on multiple occasions on panels for the Parents League of New York, New York Family Magazine, and Early Steps. Erica is an alumna of New York City Independent Schools and received a B.A. in Sociology from Brandeis University. She lives in Manhattan and has an eight-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son currently attending an Independent School. Erica is an active member of the school’s Family Association and chairs numerous events. She served on the junior committee of Friends of Karen, a charity for children with terminal illnesses and participates on Brandeis’ Alumni Admissions Counsel.

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Wendy Federico, M.S.W.

Educational Consultant

Wendy joined Smart City Kids as a Special Needs Advisor and Advocate. In her short period at Smart City kids Wendy has supported families and schools in various parts of the special education process.  She performs evaluations of students currently struggling through mainstream schools to help transition them to more appropriate education settings.  At Smart City Kids, our team developed workshops to support teachers and educators in identifying and navigating the difficult conversations with parents, in order to help their children reach their maximum potential.   Wendy is often involved in multi level strategies for parents pursuing mainstream and special education options from Nursery school through college.   At Smart City Kids through our work with schools, Wendy has also provided referrals and recommendations to Nursery schools looking to identify support services for their students.

For 18 years, Wendy was the Clinical Coordinator/Director of Admissions at The Lowell School. For the more recent 13 years, Wendy was the Director of Admissions at The Churchill School and Center. She was a member of the Leadership Team, responsible for all activities relating to admissions and recruitment.

Wendy managed and supervised all aspects of the admissions process, including the coordination and facilitation of numerous Open House events, parent workshops and weekly admissions committee meetings. Wendy also served as the liaison between the school and the Department of Education and has been a fierce advocate for the educational rights of the special needs student.

Wendy has served on the Executive Board of ISAAGNY as well as the planning committee for numerous NYSAIS conferences. She has co-authored ‘The Right Fit’, a guide for parents navigating the world of Special Education. Wendy has advanced degrees in Early Childhood Education, Social Work and School Administration.

Wendy lives in Manhattan and enjoys spending quality time with her two very delightful grandchildren.

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Estela Diaz

Educational Consultant

Estela joined Smart City Kids as an Educational Consultant, specializing in college advising. Estela approaches the college admissions process with a compassionate and grounded approach. Too often, she witnessed students overwhelmed with the pressures of the process. Estela emphasizes achieving personal fulfillment as a means of maximizing one’s outcomes in the college process and more importantly, prioritizing the student’s happiness. The college admissions process is rather unique because conversations begin as early at 8th grade, while the actual admissions application is not prepared until 12th grade. Estela’s comprehensive approach ensure that regardless of whatever grade students are in, we work together to create a long-term vision while detailing the steps it takes to get there. This includes academic advising on course selection, thinking forward to standardized testing, summer program recommendations, conversations about extracurriculars, and discussing opportunities to conduct research. When it comes time to begin putting together the actual application, she helps students edit their personal essays, keep track of deadlines, prepare for interviews, and weigh early decision versus regular decision options.

Before she joined Smart City Kids, Estela worked as an undergraduate admissions officer at Princeton University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. She was responsible for recruiting, admitting, and yielding a diverse group of students from across the country and the world. Estela was especially involved in recruiting and reading students from Southern California, Texas, and New Jersey, providing her with an extensive knowledge of the college landscape and choices in diverse metropolitan regions like New York City. She made extra efforts to conduct tailored information sessions for community-based organizations focused on college access and success.

With a sincere love of liberal arts institutions and close-knit college campuses, Estela spent an additional year working as a graduate intern in Barnard College’s Admission Office. In this capacity, she continued reading applications from prospective students and conducted information sessions detailing the admissions and financial aid processes. Estela grew up in the suburbs of sunny Los Angeles. When Estela is not at Smart City Kids, she is pursuing her Ph.D. in Sociology at Columbia University.

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Kareem Alston

Educational Director

Kareem is the Educational Director of Smart City Tutors. Before he joined the company, Kareem worked as a course assistant and educational professional at Stanford University, where he received both his B.A. and M.A. Much of his coursework has dealt with culturally relevant pedagogies, integrating arts and activism with educational programing. Originally an engineer, Kareem has developed a tutoring program that favors mathematical and scientific learning as well as the humanities.

Kareem is a native New Yorker, having attended Westside Montessori School, Hunter College Elementary/High School, and The Dalton School. His experience growing up in the city has allowed him to cater our tutoring program to NYC parents and students. Kareem’s educational path gives him personal experience with ISEE/SSAT and SAT/ACT testing, excelling in standardized test taking.

Kareem’s tutoring experience extends from leading college writing seminars and teaching international studies courses to holding personal sessions with special needs students in the NYC public system. His educational philosophy comes from the holistic idea that sees learning preparation as a gateway to professional success. He seeks tutors who have experience in the professional world and have performed well in high level collegiate settings, creating a learning environment that will foster future success beyond the classroom. When Kareem is not at Smart City Tutors, he is developing communications content, both print and digital, for different nonprofit and philanthropic organizations.

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Administrative Team

Jessi Velasco

Executive Assistant

Jessi joined Smart City Kids as an Executive Assistant. He plays a crucial role in coordinating all meetings for clients for each phase of the admissions process. He is also responsible for ensuring that family, corporate, and school clients stay on track with scheduling in order to meet admissions requirements and deadlines. Highly dedicated and focused, Jessi ensures that everything in the office is organized and efficient. Jessi graduated from Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in 2009 and from Swarthmore College in 2013 as an engineering major.

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Amanda Marasch

Project Manager

Amanda joined Smart City Kids as an Executive Assistant and Office Manager. She worked side by side with Roxana to start Smart City Tutors. In 2016, she proudly accepted the role of Smart City Kids Project Manager.   In that role, Amanda developed the company’s database to streamline communication for all members of the Smart City Kids community, including clients, schools, and employees.  Amanda also coordinates and updates all school related communication; from spring tours, application process, updating key changes in the admissions staff, and managing media projects.

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Alvin St. Hilaire

Office Manager

Alvin is the Office Manager for Smart City Kids where he ensures the daily operations run smoothly. He maintains accounts payable, accounts receivable, and monthly billing. Alvin is consistently ensuring that we operate with the latest security measures. At every point, his goal is to provide efficiency and clarity for the customer experience.

Formerly, Alvin worked for the Special Federal Litigation at the New York Law Dept. He attended Hudson Valley College in Troy New York.

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Linda Grippo

Accounts Manager

Linda joined Smart City Kids as an Accounts Manager. In that role, she coordinates with Alvin, our office manager, to maintain accounts payable, accounts receivable, and monthly billing. Linda also serves as the key point of contact for all customer account management matters, including contracts, payment, and all expenses. She prepares expense reports and assists with client requests. Within the office, Linda oversees all administrative staffing transitions and ensures that all employee information is up-to-date.

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Victoria Blazeby

Associate

Victoria is an associate at Smart City Kids. She is in charge of various research projects such as summer opportunity programs for college applicants and general public school information. She graduated from NEST+m High School in 2017 and is currently an aspiring biomedical engineer at the City College of New York.

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Ty Cotton

Associate

Ty is an associate at Smart City Kids. He is in charge of administering assessments for middle and high school students. He attended Blair Academy and is currently a student at New York University.

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Khadia Okai-Koi

Associate

Khadia is an associate at Smart City Kids. She is in charge of social media for Smart City Kids, ensuring that the Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram page have the latest articles in the education and admissions field. She graduated from NEST+m High School in 2017 and is currently at Baruch College, with a strong interest in communications and marketing.

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Angela Zheng

Associate

Angela is an associate at Smart City Kids. She is in charge of data entry in conjunction with various organizational projects, including collecting dates and data from various schools in NYC. She is currently a freshman at Pratt Institute studying architecture.

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