Meet the Leadership Team



Amber Scott is Founder and Executive Director of Leap Year. A child of first-generation college students, the importance of higher education and the power that it can have to raise a family out of poverty was instilled in Amber at a young age. She believes that the opportunity for higher education should be open to everyone, regardless of where they are born. After working in the nonprofit sector for ten years, she founded Leap Year to challenge the status quo. Amber is a 2018 Echoing Green Fellow, the 2019 winner of the $100,000  Jaffe Grand Prize, and was recognized by Black Enterprise as one of “25 Black Women Who Are Changing the World.” She holds a BA in neuroscience from Smith College, and an MBA in marketing from The Ohio State University.

Updated professional headshot
Zoe Searles professional photo 2

Brittany Gillis serves as the Leap Year Program Manager. Brittany was born and raised in Ohio where she completed her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Cincinnati with a focus in criminal justice and psychology as a first generation college student. Brittany’s passion for working towards closing the achievement gap influenced her decision to join the AmeriCorps with Teach For America New Mexico. While serving in Albuquerque, NM, Brittany’s elementary scholars scored the highest literacy results in the state of New Mexico for the 2018-2019 school year. Brittany recently relocated to Atlanta and is currently pursuing her MSW at The Ohio State University. Brittany is committed to nonprofit work geared towards improving access in all things education, mental health, housing, etc. Her hope is to become a school therapist someday.

Kierra Lawrence serves as the Literacy and Academic Program Manager at Leap Year. She earned her Bachelor's degree in English Literature from Albany State University (ASU). During her undergraduate career, she found a passion for Hip Hop and Critical Theory, Creative Writing, and Africana Studies. From her studies and creative pursuits, Kierra was introduced to author Toni Morrison, and lives by the quote, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” After graduating from ASU, Kierra taught and tutored students of varying grade levels English Language Arts. She currently is in pursuit of her Master’s degree in Africana Studies at Georgia State University. Kierra looks forward to generating more spaces for creative expression in scholarship and artistic efforts.

Zoe Searles serves as College Readiness Program Manager at Leap Year. Zoe was born and raised in Atlanta. She moved to New York City to earn her Bachelor's Degree at New York University, where she studied psychology and comparative literature. As an undergraduate, Zoe became interested in addressing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, particularly amongst children and adolescents. After graduating with honors from NYU, she returned home to Atlanta. Zoe is passionate about improving access to mental health care in underserved communities and hopes to become a mental health counselor in the future.