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Magnolia Staff

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Riley Petersen

Administrative Assistant

Riley Petersen was born and raised in Sonoma County, and was in the first class of high school students to complete Magnolia Project’s Apprenticeship Program, as a 12th grade student at Geyserville New Tech Academy (GNTA)  in Geyserville. Riley graduated from GNTA as the class Salutatorian, while concurrently enrolled at the Santa Rosa Junior College.

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Josh Warner

Industry Partnerships Associate

Josh Warner grew up in Petaluma, where he graduated high school. He is attending the Santa Rosa Junior College, where he is studying to get his BA in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. Aside from the Magnolia Project's missions, Josh's life mission is to build community and create an environment that fosters culture.

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Grismel Alonso Soto

Industry Partnerships Manager

Grismel Alonso Soto is a dedicated community advocate with a fervent passion for fostering connections and growth opportunities. As a small business owner (Empower Dance & Fitness Studio, Cloverdale Ca.) and mentor for the Magnolia Project, Grismel introduces youth to the realms of fitness and entrepreneurship, igniting their potential. Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, Grismel immigrated to the USA at the age of five, carrying with her a profound appreciation for resilience and cultural diversity. Currently a mother of three – Sophia, Samantha, and Panchito – Grismel, alongside her husband Francisco, has spent over a decade promoting wellness through sports, fitness, and wellness initiatives. With a strong commitment to equity and inclusion, they've worked tirelessly to ensure everyone has access to these initiatives.

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Monica Conners

Director of Schools and Students

At Magnolia Project, Monica implements educational programs that integrate career-focused learning into the school day. She develops curricula, manages program logistics, and ensures the success of both students and educators.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in Latin American and Latino Studies from UC Santa Cruz and pursued her Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. With 16 years in education, Monica has fostered learning and literacy across multiple disciplines with students in middle school, high school, and college, as well as with adults. Inspired by the transformative impact of supportive educators during her own schooling, Monica champions initiatives that equip students to discover and pursue their passions beyond high school.

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Gianna Biaggi

Executive Director

Gianna Biaggi founded Magnolia Project through a High Tech High New School Creation Fellowship in 2021. She is a social entrepreneur, former teacher and administrator. Gianna has previously held roles at Abaarso School of Science and Technology and High Tech High. She has a B.A. in International Studies from Kenyon College, an M.Ed. from the High Tech High Graduate School of Education, and a CTE Credential. Gianna has had professional fellowships from Future Founders and the Watson Institute, and is the 2017 winner of the Samuel Huntington Award for Public Service.

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