Staff Bios

Alicia Dixon

Executive Director

Alicia Dixon

Joined the Marcus Foster Education Institute in December 2010.  Ms. Dixon has 25 years of California-based, professional experience in non-profit, for-profit, government and foundation settings.  She joins the MFEI following eight years as a Program Officer with The California Endowment (TCE) where she provided leadership in developing comprehensive efforts to maximize opportunities for underrepresented high school students to successfully pursue health careers.  Prior to joining TCE, Ms. Dixon worked in various settings as a consultant  addressing the most pressing policy issues of the  times including environmental and domestic violence issues.  Ms.  Dixon earned a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of California,  Los Angeles and a Bachelor of  Art in Microbiology from the University of  California, San Diego.

Meiko McDonald

Operations Manager

Meiko McDonald

Joined the staff of the Marcus Foster Education Institute in 2007 and served as Interim Executive Director from 2009-10.  Ms. McDonald has 12 years experience in Accounting and Finance. Prior to joining MFEI, Ms. McDonald operated her own consulting firm providing Full Charge bookkeeping services to small businesses and entrepreneurs in the greater Bay Area. She also consulted with nonprofit organizations in organizational and staff development.

Arianna Morales

EBCAN Program Manager


Joined the staff of Marcus Foster Education Institute in 2012. Ms. Morales has 7 years of direct service experience in education in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic, supporting the empowerment of both youth and adult communities in academia, language acquisition and navigation, and career development. Within this experience, Ms. Morales spent the past two years with the Athletic Study Center at UC Berkeley, working not only as  a mentor and academic tutor for college athletes, and but also leading the development of curriculum   and tools for tutors, staff and students at the Center. Ms. Morales holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Vassar College, and completed   her M.A. in Social and Cultural Studies of Education at the University of  California, Berkeley.

Janasha Higgins

Research, Evaluation, and Data Manager


Prior to joining MFEI, Janasha served as an Evaluation Specialist at Starfish Family Services (Inkster, Michigan) where she was able to combine her years of research and community organizing to help inform the development and implementation of a backbone agency in promoting its school readiness initiative. Additionally in her role with the Good Neighborhoods Initiative Technical Assistance Center, she responded to data requests and provided technical assistance to neighborhoods in order to ensure that Detroit children were safe, healthy, well-educated, and prepared for adulthood opportunities. The Good Neighborhoods Initiative is funded by the Skillman Foundation as a 10-year grassroots community change initiative, while the Technical Assistance Center serves as the capacity building support for Detroit residents and stakeholders as they work to strengthen and improve their neighborhoods. As one who has benefited from college readiness supports as an alumna of Summer Search and Students Rising Above, she is passionate about working with multiple stakeholders in order to improve the outcomes of students of color. Additionally, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from San Francisco State University, and also holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work with an emphasis on Community Organizing and Social Policy & Evaluation from the University of Michigan.

Basma Khairy

EBCAN Program Associate


Basma joined the staff of Marcus Foster Education Institute in November 2015 as the East Bay College Access Network Program Associate. She was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt until the age of 9 and has lived in the Bay Area since then. Basma attended Diablo Valley College right out of high school and later transferred to the University of California, Davis where she graduated with a B.A. in Psychology. Her love for serving and empowering underserved communities flourished as a Mental Health Counselor at Seneca Family of Agencies. There, Basma worked alongside emotionally disturbed and underprivileged youth in helping them access a quality education and reaching their full potential. As a first generation immigrant, Basma hopes to support other students with a similar background in navigating through the difficult process of applying, attending, and completing their post-secondary education.

Laura Morris

Communications Manager

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Laura comes to our team with a proven record of 24 years in advocacy marketing, communications and relationship building. She has worked in diverse sectors ranging from non-profits to Fortune 500 companies like Nike, Meridian Health and Disney.