Meet the Staff

Executive Director

Maria Dykema Erb, (she/her/hers), 617-353-3424

Make an appointment with Maria

Maria is a natural collaborator and community builder who is passionate about helping first-generation students succeed. She joined the Newbury Center as its inaugural director in December 2020, bringing nearly three decades of experience in diversity and inclusion work, student recruitment and retention, academic and student affairs. Most recently, she was co-director of diversity and student success at the Graduate School of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Maria received her MEd in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Vermont and her bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire. One of five siblings raised on a Vermont dairy farm, Maria is the first person in her family to have gone to college and the only one to have completed a four-year degree. “Having been a first-gen student myself,” she says, “I want to be the person I needed back then.”

Faculty Director

Anthony (Tony) Abraham Jack, (he/him)

Dr. Jack is the Inaugural Faculty Director of the Newbury Center and Associate Professor at Boston University. His research documents the overlooked diversity among lower-income undergraduates: the Doubly Disadvantaged—those who enter college from local, typically distressed public high schools—and the Privileged Poor, or those who do so from boarding, day, and preparatory high schools. He has earned awards from the American Sociological Association, American Educational Studies Association, Association for the Study of Higher Education, Eastern Sociological Society, and the Society for the Study of Social Problems. Dr. Jack has held fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation. In 2020, Muhlenberg College awarded him an honorary doctorate for his work in transforming higher education. The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students is his first book. His second book project, When Campus Closed: How Elite Colleges Are Still Failing Disadvantaged Students, is due out in 2024.

Associate Director

M.C. Damm, (STH ’21) (they/them) 617-353-3401

Make an appointment with M.C.

M.C. is a community-minded educator who strives to make the college experience accessible, hospitable, and inclusive.  Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, M.C. received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and Spanish from Hope College before moving to Boston, where they completed a master’s in global and community engagement at BU’s School of Theology.  Having worked with preschool-aged children, graduate students, and everyone in-between, M.C. uses their training in developmental psychology to create programming that is fun, innovative, and practical.  M.C. joined the Newbury Center as the Assistant Director in January 2022. They say, “as a student, I needed the support of friends and mentors to navigate the highs and lows of higher education. It is an honor to support our first-gen students and to walk alongside them on their educational journeys.”

Program Administrator

Ahnna Reyes, (she/they), 617-353-3422

Ahnna champions the importance of personal, collective history and desires to help connect folks to a rich, supportive community. Ahnna started their career with a bachelor’s degree in history and was a first-generation master’s student at the University College London for museum studies in 2018. Their public history profession and dedication to narrative has taken Ahnna from her hometown of Franklin, TN, to London, and, finally, to Boston. After spending the majority of their life supporting young people, Ahnna is passionate about encouraging the uniqueness of each individual’s story and where their journeys will take them next. As the daughter of a first-generation Latino college grad, she notes: “If I can be the strong hands and supportive care that my dad would have benefited from, then it is my absolute joy to offer that aid to this next generation of students.”

Student Staff

  • Andy Zheng (QST) (he/him/his)
  • Brianna Bourne (CAS) (she/her/hers)
  • Daija Miller (CGS) (she/her/hers)
  • Elizabeth Donahue (CAS) (she/her/hers)
  • Hector Rivera (CFA) (he/him/his)
  • Jairo Zelaya (COM) (he/him/his)
  • Kat Quach (COM) (she/her/hers)
  • Malia Montalvo (COM) (she/her/hers)
  • Rebin Najmalddin (GRS) (he/him/his)
  • Rudy Joseph (SED) (he/him/his)
  • Sydney Boothe (SPH) (they/them/theirs)
  • Valerie Sanchez Covaleda (CAS) (she/her/hers)