Karen Les Pierre, Director of Path to College


Karen currently serves as the Director for the Path to College program at the First Tee of Metropolitan New York, a 501C3 youth organization instilling nine core values, such as responsibility and respect, through the game of golf. With a wealth of experience and expertise, Karen partnered with The First Tee of Metropolitan New York and her business, Ms. Karen’s A+ Tutoring Center, LLC, in order to provide quality tutoring services to participants. The First Tee’s Nine Core Values are what first attracted Karen to the program, and she firmly believes that these values address the holistic principles that are valuable and determine a child’s future.

During her tenure at The First Tee, Karen has helped implement the Path to College program, which includes the STEM, Golf, and Literacy Summer Enrichment Program, as well as, the ACE Scholars Program and Individual Tutoring Program. The Heckscher Foundation for Children has generously funded these initiatives since their inception.

Before Karen started working at The First Tee with the Path to College program, she worked as a teacher at the NYC DOE teaching elementary school,  middle school, and high school.

She was also a TASC/HSE Prep Instructor with the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center (MMCC) for eight years. She helped prepare adults 18-21 in five main subjects areas in order to achieve their High School Equivalency (HSE) Diploma.

In addition, she worked in college-access programs in CBO’s in NYC. At MMCC in Bronx, NY, she was the Program Coordinator of the ISY (In-School Youth Program) where she assisted high school students in their transition to college. At Groundwork Success, a college-access program in East New York, Brooklyn, where the high school dropout rate is 70%, she taught English, Science, and SAT Prep. There, she implemented an action-research project to increase student participation in the subjects of math and science. Most students were surveyed and  expressed a better appreciation for these subjects at the end of the action-research project.

Karen received her B.A. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania and has completed work towards her MsEd in Middle School Science Education from the The City College of New York and MPA in Nonprofit Management from Baruch College. Karen also studied French literature and colonization at the Sorbonne and American University in Paris in France. She is fluent in French.


Mark Cognata, Director of Curriculum and Evaluation

Mark Cognata has been a licensed teacher since 2010, with certifications ranging from Pre-K through 8th grade. He is also a certified special education instructor for grades K-12. He has experience writing and following individualized education plans (IEPs) and regularly creates and modifies curricula targeted towards students’ individual needs. Before becoming a teacher, Mark served for six years in the United States Air Force, and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Mark is the Director of Curriculum & Evaluation at The First Tee of Metropolitan New York.


Joshua M. Sanchez, Youth Development Advisor & Social/Emotional Health Counselor, Path to College

Joshua currently serves as youth development advisor and social/emotional health counselor for the Path to College program and The First Tee of Metropolitan New York. Joshua is an alum of The First Tee at Mosholu Golf Course and one of the original participants to join the program when it first launched in 2001.  Throughout his time with The First Tee he has managed to provide leadership, advice, and guidance to parents and participants in The First Tee program. From 2010-2014 he served as Program Manager and Instructor for The First Tee at The Golf Club of Chelsea Piers.

Joshua is a recognized Posse Scholar and received a B.A. in theatre from Franklin & Marshall College.  He is currently pursuing a M.S.W at Columbia University School of Social Work focusing on Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice.  In addition to his work with The First Tee, he is a College Advisor with The Door – A Center of Alternatives.