Our Talent Acquisition Specialists

Experienced Educators:

Our team of Talent Acquistion Specalists are all former educational professionals who understand the qualities and attributes you look for when hiring staff members. They work to find the best and most experienced candidates to meet your employment needs. 

Gwen Nolt

Talent Acquistion Manager

Gwen has been working with SmartStart for almost two years. She started at the company in 2021 as a small group math tutor for both in-person and online instruction at Baltimore City Schools.  This past year, she worked as a talent acquisition manager for the company and has since been promoted to the role of manager for the department.  Prior to coming to work for the company, she spent 18 years working as a public school teacher.

Gwen’s primary objective for her team is to find dedicated and talented teachers to work with the students SmartStart Education serves. The company has helped thousands of students in many urban districts across the country, thus  making her department’s focus on finding quality and knowledgeable teachers of upmost importance. In addition, her role entails hiring talent acquisition specialists for the company who are experienced educators dedicated to providing schools and students their best.

Abigial Henne
Talent Acquistion Specialist

Abigail has been working in the education field for 22 years. She holds a BA in Early Childhood Education and an associate’s degree in Elementary Education Her professional experience ranges from working as a substitute teacher for elementary, middle and high schools to her current position as a director of two early learning centers located in Maryland.

She believes children need a very strong foundation in both academic and social/emotional skills. Abigail thinks educators, are partly responsible for providing this to children as a means to helping shape them as future citizens.

Her nine years working as a director have provided her with the opportunity to hire quality, hard-working educators that will serve both our children and communities in the most productive way possible. 

Steve Hurd
Talent Acquistion Specialist

Steve has been an educator for the past 15 years. He taught a range of grade levels from first through middle school in both California and Wyoming. Currently he teaches virtually to a variety of students all over the world.

Steve began his career with SmartStart as a virtual tutor, where he worked with students in the Bronx, New York while living in California. He moved into his Talent Acquisition Specialist role at SmartStart a year ago and enjoys sharing his passion for education with the team.

During candidate interviews, Steve looks for passionate educators who express an interest in growth opportunties and a desire to learn and improve upon their skills. He also looks for people  experienced in handling challenging behaviors who can provide a safe classroom environment where students can thrive both academically and socially.

Sharmeen Dossani
Talent Acquistion Specialist

Sharmeen joined SmartStart in 2017 as an Academic Intervention Services teacher for a school in the Bronx, NY. For the next 3 years, she served as an AIS teacher in several New York schools teaching both math and ELA to elementary and middle school students.  

In 2021, Sharmeen joined SmartStart’s talent acquisition team, working to help find and hire dedicated teachers and administrators.She strives to hire educators looking to make a difference in the lives of children. Candidates must also be skilled in working effectively with students of different needs, abilities and backgrounds. 

Sharmeen completed a Master’s in Education from New York University and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia. Prior to working for SmartStart Education, Sharmeen was a full-time teacher in urban schools in both New York and Philadelphia.  

Max Pingus
Talent Acquistion Specialist

Max is an Illinois native who has lived in Baltimore, Maryland for the past four years. Prior to joining SmartStart Education in August, he taught language arts and social studies for two years in the Baltimore City Public Schools through a program called Teach for America.

His educational background includes a master’s degree in educational studies from John Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Arts and English degree from Humboldt State University. He began his career in education working as a site coordinator for Reading Partners in Baltimore and as a teacher corps member with Teach for America located in Philadelphia.

Max has a passion for the education of students in Baltimore City and says he looks for candidates who share his enthusiasm and drive for the importance of teaching.


Zakia Naveed
Talent Acquistion Specialist

Zakia Naveed began her career at SmartStart Education in January 2022 working as a math intervention teacher for grades 2-5 at Cornerstone Academy for Social Action PS 189 in New York. She plans to return to the school this year while also working as a talent acquisition specialist for SmartStart.

Her educational background includes working as a tutor/interventionist as well as volunteering as a teaching assistant in Bronx, New York.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in speech language pathology with a minor in early childhood education from Lehman College.

Zakia looks for candidates who are dedicated, motivated, reliable and nurturing. She said she looks for teachers who are skilled in their subject matter and express a passion for

Humberto Martinez
Talent Acquistion Specialist

Humberto got his start in education in April 2022, after being placed by SmartStart Education as a dean for the Collegiate Institute for Math and Science located in Bronx, New York. He will continue working as a dean this year for The Marie Curie School for Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions while also employed as a talent acquisition specialist for SmartStart.

He began his career in fiancé after graduating with a bachelor of business administration degree from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Humberto’s background includes working with large financial firms including The Bank of New York Mellon, JP Morgan and Lone Pine Capital, LLC.  His transition into public education came after he took time off during the Covid pandemic to reassess his life goals.

Humberto said he is thankful for opportunity to explore his purpose of developing and mentoring young students through their high school years. He uses his work ethic, shaped by corporate America, as an asset to inspire students to work hard and be accountable.

When hiring candidates for education positions, he looks for enthusiasm and a level of commitment, because he believes those traits are important when working with students, parents and other staff members.