Square Pizza Podcast

Subscribe on:

Apple Podcasts · Spotify · Stitcher · iHeart

The Square Pizza podcast focuses on the intersection of education, innovation, and diversity. We host and interview leaders doing incredible work around the country to ensure all students have access to an equitable education. The Square Pizza podcast is hosted by SchermCo, a social-impact implementation firm that offers strategic implementation and project management services to schools and education-focused organizations across the country.

Welcome back to another episode of the #squarepizzapod. This week, Greg is in conversation with Irene Shih, CEO, MMBay. Minds Matter Bay Area (MMBay) is an education nonprofit that connects driven and determined students from low-income families with the people, preparation, and possibilities to succeed in college, create their future, and change the world.

In this episode:

  • The story behind launching Minds Matter Bay Area (MMBAY)
  • What MMBAY does
    • Providing educational opportunities to underserved students
  • Current initiatives
    • Mentorship and college readiness programs
  • Recruiting volunteers
    • Ensuring alignment with the organization’s mission and student needs
  • Evolution over the next year
    • Expanding reach and impact through innovative partnerships and initiatives
  • Undermatching, Cross-Class Bridging
    • Focus on social mobility and capital for students
  • Professional background
    • Career from the classroom, a leader of a non-profit, as well as city, state, and policy level work


Irene Shih is CEO of Minds Matter Bay Area (MMBay) based in San Francisco, CA. She joined MMBay as its first full-time CEO in 2019, returning to her hometown roots in the Bay Area. For 18 years, Irene has served students in low-income communities — previously as a middle and high school classroom teacher in Arizona, a strategic advisor to superintendents in large urban school districts like Boston Public Schools, and a thought leader on state-level education policy in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Irene is a corps member alumna of Teach For America, holds an M.P.P. in Social & Urban Policy from Harvard Kennedy School, and completed a B.A. in English Literature and Women’s Studies from U.C. Berkeley.

As CEO of MMBay, Irene leads a 300-student and 300-volunteer strong community to foster a world-class educational environment that nurtures generational impact on high-school students by cultivating transformational relationships between students and an ecosystem of volunteer mentors. Since assuming the position in 2019, Irene has led the chapter through its expansion from San Francisco into San Jose.