Meet the Team

Scholarship Plus was co-founded in 2010
by Soma Golden Behr and Melanie Rosen Brooks.

Kate Fenneman Stokes

Executive Director

Kate Fenneman Stokes is the former Executive Director of the Seinfeld Family Foundation and The Jerry Seinfeld Scholarship Program, where she was responsible for grantmaking as well as sole management of the scholarship program. Kate joined the Scholarship Plus team in 2012 as Program Director. She became Executive Director in 2017, and brings over 15 years of college support experience to the role. Kate received her B.A. from Butler University in her home state of Indiana.


Soma Golden Behr

Co-Founder and Senior Advisor

Soma Golden Behr is a former reporter and editor at The New York Times. Her interests in poverty, income distribution and social policy produced the award-winning projects, "Children in the Shadows, How Race is Lived in America" and "Class Matters".

Ms. Behr came to The Times in 1973 after 11 years at Business Week magazine. She served in many reporting and editing positions at The Times, playing a key role in several Pulitzer Prize projects. She retired as an assistant managing editor in 2005 and spent the next five years as Director of the New York Times College Scholarship Program, on which Scholarship Plus is modeled.

Ms. Behr co-founded Scholarship Plus in 2010 and was the executive director of Scholarship Plus for seven years. She currently serves as Senior Advisor and is active in all areas of the program.

Melanie Rosen Brooks

Co-Founder and Director


Melanie Rosen Brooks, a former New York Times business executive for over two decades, has worked in and around education for years. Beginning in 2005, she was a career counselor for the 80 students in the New York Times College Scholarship Program, helping them find summer jobs and counseling them about their careers. Earlier, Melanie was Production Operations Director and Director of Education and Business Development for The New York Times News Services Group. She created and managed revenue-generating ventures with education partners, including Pearson Education, the Tribune Co., and Scholastic. As General Manager, she led the revitalization of NYT Upfront, a news magazine aimed at high school readers, adding a web version and managing the business for two years after its startup. Melanie received her MBA from Columbia University Business School.


Anna Antoniak

Senior Director 

Anna Antoniak has over a decade of experience in higher education administration, including four years as the Associate Director of New York University's study abroad site in Sydney, Australia. In that role she oversaw the site's finances and operations, as well as program development, including student life.

A native Brooklynite, she has volunteered with many New York City-based organizations, such as Upward Bound, TEAK, and the Brooklyn Public Library in capacities including teacher, curriculum designer, mentor, community organizer and fundraiser. Anna received her master's degree in International Education from NYU, where her research focused on urban education and multicultural curriculum reform. Her bachelor's degree is in English and French from Amherst College, where she was a proud Seinfeld scholar.

Linnette Veloso

Administrator (Part-Time)

Linnette is an advocate for the social progression of underrepresented groups, particularly within higher education. She currently works at Columbia University where she coordinates diversity programs for minority and first-generation college students. She also has prior experience in human resources and has volunteered for nonprofit organizations in different fundraising roles.

 Linnette earned a master’s degree in Public Administration through the National Urban Fellows program at CUNY Baruch College and is pursuing a master’s in Higher and Postsecondary Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. At Scholarship Plus, Linnette works as an Administrator and handles development-related responsibilities.

Ellen Marson

Manager of Group Funding (Volunteer)

Ellen Marson is a former National Executive Director of Hadassah, the largest women's membership organization in the United States. Before that she was a longtime Professor of Spanish at the City University of New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she mentored students, served as faculty director of a number of campus organizations, and directed independent studies. At Scholarship Plus, Ellen helps select scholarship recipients and directs the system of Pods — groups of donors who join together to support individual students over four years.

Michael J. Leahy

Photographer and Website Administrator (Volunteer)

Michael J. Leahy, a former senior New York Times editor, works closely with the directors on many aspects of the program, as he did formerly for many years with the New York Times Scholarship Program.

Judith Watson

Academic Advisor (Volunteer)

Judith Watson is the Associate Dean and Chief Academic Officer for the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, which she helped found in 2006. She had previously served as special projects assistant to then-CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein.  Before her academic career she served as the New York bureau chief of United Press International. In her years at UPI, she worked as a reporter, columnist and print and broadcast editor. She is a past president of the New York State Society of Newspaper Editors.

Fran Lester

Recruitment (Volunteer)

Fran Lester, a former teacher and student advisor at Brooklyn Tech High School, has volunteered countless hours since the program's inception in 2010 in various areas of her expertise.

Karen Blank

Academic Advisor (2009-2013)

Scholarship Plus mourns the loss of Karen Blank, our founding Academic Advisor, whose warmth, kindness and deep knowledge graced our program from its earliest days. Karen drew on her decades of experience as a university dean at Barnard, Columbia and elsewhere in working devotedly with our students.

All of us who were privileged to know her are grateful for the gift of her life and saddened by her death on December 31, 2013.