Meet the Staff

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Director of Programs
Kunthary Thai-Johnson

Kunthary Thai-Johnson brings significant experience from her 13 years in pre-collegiate programs at UMass Boston, including over two years at Upward Bound, to her role as director. Previous to coming back to UMass Boston, she was the Students Support Services Coordinator at one of the program's partner high schools, Dorchester Academy, where she has developed key relationships with administrators, guidance counselors, and teachers. A Dorchester resident, she also has strong ties to the community and relationships with community organizations. An alumna of the Urban Scholars program (an educational opportunity project at UMass Boston similar to Upward Bound) and a graduate of one of the program’s target schools, Kunthary understands firsthand the needs and challenges of the Upward Bound student population. She is bilingual (English-Khmer, Cambodian language) and has strong cross-cultural experience and competence. She has spoken on many occasions in undergraduate and graduate Asian American Studies courses as well as in high school classes. Kunthary holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Simmons College as well as a master’s degree in education from UMass Boston.

Associate Director
Suamy Ventura

Suamy Ventura joined the Upward Bound Program in October of 2016. She worked with the program as a tutor, tutor supervisor, and a summer counselor while in college. Suamy graduated from UMass Boston with a BA in Psychology and is currently completing her master's degree in School Counseling. She is dedicated to serving talented and gifted students of low socioeconomic backgrounds from several Boston Public Schools in the area. Her love for helping underprivileged students has given her the desire to continue working in the field of education. As a first-generation college bound student, she understands what it takes to be on the right track for a successful college career.

Program Coordinator/Recruiter
Jean Dao

Jean joined the UMass Boston Upward Bound family in February 2017 after spending time in Boston Public Schools and the local food service industry. A first-generation college student, she graduated from Clark University in Worcester, MA with a Bachelor's in Diaspora Studies and Master's in Teaching and brings with her a passion for working with and mentoring young people, a drive to provide all students with equitable access to education, and a lot of baked goods. Jean serves as the staff liaison between the program and our target schools and, as such, spends much of her time cultivating relationships with students and staff in those buildings. Outside of work, she cooks, tries to be a good plant parent, and avoids folding her laundry at all costs.

College Counselor
Frantzy Suffrard

Having served as an interim student recruiter for the past six months, Frantzy Suffrard is already a familiar face at our target high schools, where he has been developing relationships with teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators. He is a former participant and graduate of the UMass Boston Upward Bound Program, so he understands firsthand the mission of the program and the commitment it requires from participants. Frantzy has an excellent rapport with our program participants and serves as a mentor for many of them. As a first-generation college graduate, he has a clear understanding of the challenges that many students encounter with the college-application process. Frantzy received his BA in Psychology at Saint Michael’s College in Vt. In his spare time, Frantzy enjoys basketball, music, and playing the piano.