Our Staff

Kathy Heinzerling, Executive Director

Kathy came to Breakthrough Houston in 2009 after 31 years as co-director at Chinquapin Preparatory School. Her background working with economically disadvantaged students, as well as her experience with education and administration, makes Kathy uniquely qualified for her role. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Barat College and a Masters of Science in Biology from the University of St. Louis. A tireless volunteer for various civic organizations, she has won numerous honors and recognitions, including the keys to the City of Houston in recognition of her educational leadership. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling to spend time with her four sons and five grandchildren.

Kurchi Basu, College Bound Program Director

Kurchi joined Breakthrough Houston in 2018 as the College Bound Program Director. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, she earned a B.A. in sociology/anthropology/Latin American Studies from Carleton College, as well as an M.Ed from University of St. Thomas. Kurchi is a former Teach for America corps member, with 7 years of experience working with first generation college bound students in HISD, most recently as the college advisor at Waltrip High School in Garden Oaks.

JoAnna Duncan, Program Director (HISD-Gregory Lincoln)

JoAnna joins Breakthrough Houston as the Program Director at Gregory-Lincoln Education Center. JoAnna is a proud graduate of the University of Florida, where she earned a B.S. in Public Relations. JoAnna moved to Houston through Teach for America and taught elementary education in HISD. She then spent six years developing instructional leaders at YES Prep Public Schools. Most recently, she served as a School Director for Teach for America during their five-week summer Institute training for corps members. In her free time, JoAnna loves to travel, try new restaurants, and spend time with her fur baby, Diggy.

Melinda Guthrie, Development Director

While Melinda comes to Breakthrough Houston from another Houston nonprofit organization, she has worked in both the nonprofit and business sectors here in the U.S. and abroad, in fields as diverse as oil and gas, finance and leadership training. She has a natural ability to develop strong, long-term relationships and a deep and genuine passion for providing equitable educational opportunities for all students. 

Morris Nwogwugwu, Program Director (St. John’s / Episcopal)

Morris joined Breakthrough Houston in 2010 after his second summer as a Breakthrough teacher at LearningWorks at Blake: A Breakthrough Program. An ardent and adamant supporter of equitable educational experiences for all students, Morris received his B.A in American Studies in 2010 from Carleton College and his M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction in 2015 from Houston Baptist University. Morris’s interest in the nonprofit sector stems from his own high school education at Chinquapin Preparatory School, as well as his time spent earning his Nonprofit Management Certification from Texas A&M University. In his spare time, he enjoys playing and coaching basketball.

Mira K. Shah, Program Director (Connect)

Mira is the Program Director of Breakthrough Houston at KIPP Connect, bringing the Breakthrough mission to the students of Sharpstown and Gulfton. Prior to this role, Mira was the founding Assistant Principal at KIPP CONNECT Houston Middle School, where she served as a teacher and instructional coach before moving into leadership. She has spent her entire career serving students in the Sharpstown and Gulfton neighborhoods, beginning as a high school mathematics teacher at Sharpstown High School. Mira is an alumnus of Education Pioneers and Teach for America; she holds a Masters of Education in Teacher Leadership from the University of St. Thomas and a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from Northeastern University.

Diane Swan, Finance and Operations Manager

Diane joined Breakthrough Houston in 2019. She began her career at Ernst and Young and has worked as a practicing CPA in public accounting and industry.  She also spent several years working as a grant writer/manager for Spring Branch ISD and in operations for another educational nonprofit. Diane is an advocate for education and is passionate about every child finding their path to college and/or a career after high school. She has been an active volunteer in Spring Branch ISD at the campus and district level for 20 years. Diane graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BBA in Accounting. She is a proud graduate of the 2018 class of West Houston Leadership Institute. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, watching sports and TV shows with her husband, and spending time with friends and family.  She has two children working in Dallas and two crazy rescue dogs.

Stephanie Wilkinson, Development Associate

Stephanie joined Breakthrough Houston in 2018 after six years of teaching English in charter and private schools. She is excited to transfer her passion for students and education reform to the nonprofit space and support our highly motivated and deserving students at Breakthrough Houston. Stephanie holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Rhodes College and a Master of Arts in English from University of Houston. Outside of work, Stephanie enjoys walking her dogs, spending time with her family, and volunteering through the Junior League.