Mariohn Michel: Executive Director

Mariohn joined Breakthrough Birmingham in 2018 after working in urban and rural education spaces. She spent four years at a NYC school where she was a data analyst, testing/program coordinator, social studies department chair, and teacher. Dissecting the story assessment data told was a stepping stone for her to find creative solutions to classroom differentiation, curriculum design and execution, and programming efficacy. Prior to that, she was a 2011 Teach for America corps member, where she spent three years as a high school social studies teacher in rural Alabama, which fostered her love of the state and its unique culture. Mariohn graduated magna cum laude from Florida International University with a B.S. in Secondary Social Studies Education. She currently serves on the Teach for America Alabama Alumni Board. In her free time, she can be found hiking, reading, and traveling.

Hattie O’Hara: Development Manager

After Hattie graduated from Birmingham-Southern College with a self-designed degree in Human Rights, she jumped into supporting Birmingham City Schools students through the Birmingham Education Foundation. She moved to Atlanta and joined the team at the Global Village Project, a middle school for recently arrived refugee girls, connecting their students and volunteer programs to virtual platforms during COVID-19. A role with her alma mater brought her back to Birmingham, serving BSC as its Assistant Director of Service-Learning and Community Partnerships, through which she connected the school and its students to Birmingham’s non-profit community. Back in the non-profit space, Hattie is thrilled to be growing Breakthrough Birmingham’s impact through development with a team that does highly innovative work for our area’s students and teachers. When she isn’t working, she is probably on a long walk, updating the spreadsheet of ranked Birmingham restaurants she keeps with her husband, Andrew, or researching for their next trip.

Hattie’s three simple joys include dipping fresh bread in olive oil, watching storms roll in, and basking in the sun like an iguana under a heat lamp. 

Check out her LinkedIn.

Cathy Clark: Coaching Program Manager

Cathy is a retired educator with a passion for empowering others. With decades of experience in the field, she has dedicated her career to inspiring students and nurturing their growth. As a Breakthrough Coaching Manager, Cathy has developed innovative strategies to support educators in reaching their full potential, fostering a culture of continuous improvement. Additionally, she served as the Thrive Teacher Program manager, spearheading initiatives that focus on teacher well-being and work-life balance. Her expertise and unwavering dedication have left a lasting impact on the education community, and her legacy continues to inspire educators to thrive in their profession.

Cathy’s three simple joys include traveling, meeting new animals, and enjoying walks. 

Check out Cathy on LinkedIn

Isabella Cruz: Special Projects Apprentice 

Originally from San Diego, CA, Isabella moved to Birmingham in 2019 to attend Samford University, where she graduated in 2022 with a B.A. in English and Spanish. She began her time with Breakthrough in the summer of 2022 as a Teaching Fellow for our summer program, where she taught 9th-grade math. Now, Isabella is our Special Projects Assistant, who assists our team with all sorts of tasks! She is very passionate about education and has found her calling here in Birmingham.

Isabella’s three simple joys include going climbing, writing, and coffee shop vibing.

Check Isabella out on LinkedIn

Jourdan Elliott: Recruitment Coordinator  

Jourdan Elliott is Breakthrough Birmingham’s Recruitment Coordinator. She is a senior at Samford University studying History and Law. Jourdan will be attending graduate school in the fall to study Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She is an advocate for social justice and enjoys creating a space for all. She enjoys learning and being able to educate the people around her.

Jourdan’s three simple joys include yellow butterflies, cold sheets under a warm blanket, and sitting outside while someone is grilling food.

Check out Jourdan on LinkedIn

Caroline Kendrick: Communications Associate 

Originally from Birmingham, Caroline Kendrick has a passion for exploration and continuous learning. As a proud graduate of Auburn University, Caroline received her BA in Public Relations. She is an ardent explorer of cultures and wants to travel to all seven continents. Her love for traveling fuels her curiosity, inspiring her to embark on thrilling journeys that expand her horizons and deepen their understanding of the world. Caroline’s enthusiasm for writing is reflected in their meticulous research and knack for crafting engaging stories that captivate readers.

Caroline’s three simple joys include a warm coffee drink on a rainy day, hosting friends at home, and cooking beautiful, tasty dishes.

Check out Caroline on LinkedIn

Andrea Johnson: Instructional Coach

Andrea Johnson is a proud graduate of Miles College. She is a retired Science Teacher from Birmingham City Schools. She has been educated in the Birmingham City School District. Additionally, Birmingham, AL, has been my home for her entire life. She has two beautiful grandchildren who are her pride and joy.

Andrea’s three simple joys include being with family, traveling to experience different cultures, and going for hikes.

Samantha Nelms: Program Manager

Born and raised in Homewood, Alabama, Samantha (Sam) has a passion for learning and empowering the leaders of tomorrow. She is a proud two-time Baylor University graduate with a Bachelor’s in Sociology and a Master’s in Social Work. After graduation, Sam landed back in Birmingham to decrease educational inequities in the city. She believes education is the cornerstone of social change and is deeply committed to creating a brighter future for future generations. Combining her passion for education and background, Sam always seeks new ways to spark curiosity and inspire change. When she isn’t advocating for education, Sam is most likely exploring Birmingham with her four-legged best friend in tow!

Sam’s three simple joys include Saturday morning long runs, quality time with my doggo Tunechi, and sunset chats with close friends.


Keep up with Breakthrough Birmingham!