University Dean for CUNY K16 Initiatives
Andrea Soonachan has served as the University Dean for K16 Initiatives since 2020. In this capacity, Andrea supports the partnership between the CUNY and New York City Public Schools to help ensure that entering undergraduates are prepared for success, starting with early education and assisting them up to and through college. Her career includes service in the Office of Post-Secondary Readiness with New York City Public Schools, most recently as Executive Director of College and Career Planning. At New York City Public Schools, she founded and designed the College Access for All initiative, developing a strategic vision and policy agenda for increasing postsecondary access and success for New York City public school students. Andrea most recently served as Deputy Director of Career Readiness at New Visions for Public Schools, where she led the development of a network-wide strategy to support student success and completion at 80 New Visions schools throughout the City. Andrea holds an Ed.D. in higher education from Teachers College, Columbia University, an M.A. in education from Stanford University, and a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.
Marty Forth, Ph.D., LMSW has served as an Assistant Dean since March 2022 and oversees much of K16’s dual enrollment and pre-college student engagement work including College Now, FutureReady NYC, the STEM Research Academy, CUNY Explorers, and New Paths. Marty has worked for 20+ years in Canada, the USA, and Asia as a social worker, non-profit and higher education manager, and community leader creating & teaching about community programs for children, and teens as well as family formation and maintenance. A community leader with extensive experience in building community programs, developing and managing complex collaborations, and finding funding to support program and service creation, Marty’s professional experience has centered around addressing pressing social issues and community problems through successful program and service creation. After leaving New York City in 2014 to reside in Hong Kong Marty completed his Ph.D. at the University of Hong Kong. His thesis Becoming Fathers: Family Formation by Gay Men in Hong Kong and Taiwan looked at the cultural, social, and political issues impacting gay men’s desire and decision to become a parent. Marty continues as a Lecturer in the Faculty of Social Science at HKU and teaches leadership and non-profit management.
Laura Myers is an Assistant Dean of K16 Initiatives where she oversees a portfolio of near-peer mentor programs, including College & Career Bridge for All, CUNY College & Career Advising Fellows, and CUNY Tutor Corps, as well as the Network for College Success. She joined CUNY K16 Initiatives in 2016 and has developed and launched four near-peer college and career advising programs within the unit. She was the founding director of College & Career Bridge for All and led its growth to become the largest peer counseling program in the country serving 50,000 graduates annually. She stewarded the launch of CUNY College & Career Advising Fellows and has built out a professional pipeline for young professionals in college and career advising. Laura was introduced to the power of near-peer mentorship and the importance of college advising while serving as a peer mentor in college and as a full-time advisor after graduating. Laura has a M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.A. from Carleton College.
Luis Duany-Blanco brings to CUNY varied experience in public and private education focused on creating higher-education pathways for low-income and English-Learner students and communities. Over the course of more than two decades, he has worked as a teacher and administrator in Maryland, in his native Puerto Rico, and in New York; as well as on education-policy issues at the national level in Washington, DC. His experience includes serving as a New York City High School Principal, Principal Coach, and Achievement Manager, and as a Mentor to two Regional Superintendents of the Puerto Rico Department of Education. During his tenure at the Internationals Network for Public Schools, he supervised programs providing structural and instructional support to a network of 15 high schools focused on English Learners, including teacher and school-leader coaching. Most recently, he served as Assistant Superintendent at the Yonkers Public Schools, where he led the development and implementation of all PK-12 performance-appraisal systems for teachers, school leaders, and central office leaders, as well as teacher- and leader-pipeline programs—including leading and facilitating the Yonkers Urban Leadership Academy. Luis remains committed to advancing equitable teaching and learning, fostering educational opportunities, and advocating for structural equity improvements.
Strategic Advisor to the University Dean of K16 Initiatives
Rebecca Beeman brings over eight years of service to CUNY K16, assuming diverse roles that involve collaborating with community-based organizations, New York City Public Schools, and other educational support entities. Currently holding the position of Strategic Advisor to the University Dean of K16 Initiatives, Rebecca is responsible for overseeing unit-wide fundraising and the College Completion Innovation Fund, as well as managing marketing and communications, program evaluation, and planning. With a background in social work and art therapy, Rebecca infuses her work with a creative and holistic perspective. She possesses extensive experience in program development, partnership cultivation, project management, and grant writing. Prior to joining CUNY, Rebecca served as the founding director of a young adult literacy center in East New York Brooklyn, where she supported opportunity youth in obtaining their high school equivalency diplomas. She has also successfully led federally funded runaway and homeless youth drop-in centers and youth mentoring programs. Rebecca holds an MSW from the State University of New York at Albany, an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership from Fordham University, and a B.A. from Russell Sage College.