New Jersey SEEDS Welcomes Facebook and Dropbox Designer and Newark Academy Head of School to Board of Trustees

Newark, NJ—December 14, 2015— New Jersey SEEDS, an educational nonprofit that has been transforming the lives of high-achieving, low-income students for more than two decades, announced the appointment of Soleio Cuervo and Donald M. Austin to its Board of Trustees.

Soleio Cuervo is a 1995 graduate of New Jersey SEEDS’ Scholars Program. After his SEEDS experience, Soleio went on to attend St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, Delaware. In 2003, he received his bachelor’s degree from Duke University in music composition and multimedia design.

From 2005 to 2011, Soleio was one of Facebook’s earliest designers. At Facebook, he was responsible for designing several of the company’s seminal products and features, including the Like button. He later served as head of design at Dropbox, where he helped build an organization of over 40 top designers, researchers and creatives. Today, Soleio is an investor and advisor to Dropbox, Earnest and other early stage technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“Soleio Cuervo is one of today’s most influential designers,” says President Ronni Denes, “and he credits SEEDS with putting him on the path to all that he’s achieved. I’m enormously excited to welcome him back as a Trustee and tap his knowledge and vision for the next generation of SEEDS scholars.”

Donald M. Austin is the Head of School for Newark Academy, a position he was appointed to in 2007. In this role, Don implemented the Academy’s Immersion Program, Capstone Experiences, June Term and the Newark Scholars Program. He reorganized and invigorated the community service program, launched the STEM initiative and led the Rise & Flourish Campaign to success, resulting in the construction of the Upper School Academic Center and expanded athletic facilities. Don served as President of the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools from 2012-2014 and was elected a member of the national Country Day Schools Headmasters’ Association.

Prior to joining Newark Academy, Don served as Resident Director of the School Year Abroad in Rennes, France, an academic, cultural and linguistic immersion program, and held a variety of teaching and administrative posts at the Collegiate School in New York.

Don earned an undergraduate degree in English and French from Georgetown University, and two master’s degrees from New York University.

“Newark Academy has been a tremendous partner of SEEDS for many years,” continues Denes. “There are currently 11 Scholars and Young Scholars enrolled, and 10 additional students have graduated from Newark Academy under Don’s tenure. His commitment to economic diversity in the independent school environment and his experience within the academic community is a wonderfully valuable resource to our Board and staff.”

At the same September meeting that seated two new members, SEEDS Trustees elected Nasdaq Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Lee Shavel to Chair the New Jersey SEEDS’ Board of Trustees. Theo Lubke, Managing Director, Chief Regulatory Reform Officer at Goldman Sachs, was elected Vice Chair. Outgoing Chair Susan B. Present was named an Honorary Vice Chair.

About New Jersey SEEDS
Since its inception in 1992, New Jersey SEEDS has provided educational access for highly motivated, low-income students and created a viable path for them to achieve their full potential. SEEDS strives for a world in which young people’s initiative, creativity and intellect can flourish without regard to socioeconomic status. To date, more than 2,100 scholars have benefited from its programs. For more information, visit