Meet the Asheville Team

Lynne Porter

Lynne Porter

Zaniac Asheville Campus Director & Co-Owner

“Zaniac has a business philosophy that could be my personal mission statement: ‘Let’s give kids the confidence to be curious again.’ I want to empower young children to strengthen their self-esteem and self-confidence through a world of science and discovery.”

Campus Director and Co-Owner Lynne Porter, graduated in business from Yorkshire Coast College in the UK. She has extensive experience in education, banking, and corporate finance. She is fluent in English and Spanish. She has 2 sons, one a senior at college and the other a freshman at college.

After experiencing three vastly different educational systems in three different countries, Lynne constantly heard comments like, “She's not great at English.” “He's more a math guy.” “John's the clumsy one.” Even worse, she heard comments from the kids themselves: “Oh! I'm more art than science.” Lynne thinks kids are labeled far too easily. Kids often internalize that label and become that label. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. A huge personal motivator for Lynne to bring a Zaniac Learning Center to the children of Asheville is to break down those labels and show kids they have the ability to achieve whatever they want. With constant support and empowerment, it is Lynne’s hope that all the children who come through the Zaniac Asheville campus door will leave with the tools they need to explore their future with confidence.

Prior to making Asheville their home 9 years ago, Lynne and her family lived in Barcelona, Spain. It was there Lynne identified a need for good quality English instruction for children, as this was missing in the school curriculum. Lynne went back to school and studied ESL (English as a Second language) with the University of Cambridge’s CELTA program. Once qualified, Lynne taught at an English Academy where she quickly gained a reputation for being an excellent teacher, with an innate ability to tap into each student’s unique personality to find out what motivates them.

Lynne started her own English Academy and Translation Services in Barcelona. Classes were always at maximum capacity with waiting lists for the after-school classes.

Lynne started out in banking as a Team Leader in a Credit Control department responsible for maintaining sub-prime mortgage books of third party lenders. She worked directly with clients through litigation, and spearheaded an overhaul of reporting methods to senior managers.

Lynne is married with two boys. She enjoys an athletic lifestyle with her family in the great outdoors and mountain fresh air of Asheville.


Denise Waycaster

Denise Waycaster

Campus Manager

I’m a native to Asheville, and I come to Zaniac after many years of experience in the retail management space. I believe children should always feel supported through positive reinforcement and feedback. Zaniac provides a challenging, safe environment for children to explore and spark a passion in STEAM that opens doors for their future. I am excited to be part of the Zaniac team and help lead a positive environment where children can learn, grow and experiment. Through STEAM skill development, Zaniac gives children a foundation to becoming confident, young adults. My hope is, that in turn, children at Zaniac will develop a passion for paying forward their experiences to help others. IA little bit about me: My grown daughter Kaylan lives in Pittsburgh, and I recently adopted a new pet, a dachshund named, Brulee. My favorite things include spending time with my family, reading, enjoying the beautiful WNC scenery, watching movies and listening to music. Random fact about me: My favorite food is watermelon.

Dana Harris

Dana Harris

Zaniac Asheville Marketing & Co-Owner

“Zaniac provides me with the opportunity to combine two of my passions—providing children with educational opportunities and fostering community outreach through STEM awareness. I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of Zaniac Asheville and to tell everyone about this fun educational resource.”

Marketing Director and Co-Owner Dana Harris, studied accounting and financial management at the University of North Carolina, Asheville. Dana is a licensed real-estate broker, philanthropist, as well as an expert event planner and fundraiser. She is passionate about advocating for children and their education.

Dana is a real-estate investor and a member of The Women’s Society of The Mission Foundation, an organization that connects the caring community with opportunities to improve the lives of others through better health care.

Dana is a mom to three. Her daughter Avian attends Carolina Day School and her daughter Yasmine attends Valley Spring Middle School. Her son Kealey attends TC Roberson High School. Dana loves to travel and to be able to call the beautiful mountain-town of Asheville her lifelong hometown.


Dr. Stephen L. Page

Dr. Stephen L. Page

Zaniac Asheville Educational Advisor & Co-Owner

“As a superintendent of schools and as a principal, I’ve dedicated my career to educating and mentoring our youth. Zaniac offers an inspiring environment of school outside of school, where kids can develop a thirst for learning and discover how math and technology can be fun, shaping our future for generations.”

Educational Advisor and Co-Owner Dr. Stephen L. Page, has more than 35 years of experience in education as the former superintendent of Henderson County Public Schools and Associate Superintendent of Buncombe County schools. He is a former principal and school teacher. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences and a Master of Arts degree in American History from Western Carolina University, as well as a doctorate degree in education, specifically public school administration.

Stephen has earned numerous accolades, including Principal of the Year several times.

He served as a First Lieutenant and Combat Engineer Platoon Leader in the U.S. Army and earned a Bronze Star Medal.

He currently serves as the chairman on the administrative board of the Central United Methodist Church. Stephen has served as the Council President of the Boy Scouts of America Daniel Boone Council and on the Board of Directors for the United Way of Henderson County. Stephen is married with three children.

He loves to spend time with his family, especially his nine grandchildren. He also loves to golf and backpack.


Judi Donofrio

Judi Donofrio

Outreach Specialist & STEM Educator

After spending her entire career in education, Judi Donofrio is excited to be a member of the Zaniac team. Over the past 35 years, she worked as an educator, an instructional coach and an elementary school administrator. Judi holds both a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Mathematics Education and a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Northern Illinois University. During her tenure, she never lost sight of her goal of focusing on the child. Judi has based her entire career on the belief that every child wants to learn and needs to be an active participant in his or her own learning. She strongly believes that all children are capable of learning, if they have the proper motivation and direction from their teachers. As an elementary principal, she witnessed the positive interactions between college students (who were studying to become teachers) with their younger elementary students. She is thrilled that Zaniac believes in that same peer-to-peer learning environment, where talented high school honor students are role model instructors for the K-8th grade younger students. Judi is passionate about Zaniac’s mission to inspire a love of learning to 1 million children through engaging Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math curriculum and activities. Judi works with schools on Zaniac partnerships for satellite programs, field trips, and in-school STEAM enrichment. She also creates and consults on new curriculum development. Judi retired in Hendersonville, N.C. six years ago. She is married to her husband, Phil and together have a 30 year old son, Alan. They also have 3 border collie and great Pyrenees mixed dogs. They enjoy kayaking, hiking with their dogs and traveling both domestically and overseas.

Sappir Ben-Ami

Sappir Ben-Ami

Instructor

I go to Penn State Altoona and I will be majoring in business. My favorite subject is science because I enjoy experiments or anything that will blow up! In my free time, I enjoy playing video games as well as playing and watching soccer. STEM is cool as it shows unique jobs like battle bots. Battle bots are robots that fight each other until there is a winner and it is very entertaining to do/watch. Zaniac is one of the most accepting, encouraging and caring places I’ve ever been to. Everyone smiles and kids are guaranteed to have fun every day. I want to make a difference in children's lives educationally and emotionally. If anyone has anything going on that they’d like to share with me, they are always welcome to 100% of the time. Random Fact About Me: Ask me about all the cool sounds I can make!

Adam Edge

Adam Edge

Instructor

I go to Nesbitt Discovery Academy and my favorite subject is math. I love to read, play basketball with my neighbor, volunteer at the arboretum, and play video games. I love STEM because it encompasses all of my interests and favorite subjects. I enjoy the challenging problems in math class, the cool experiments in the field of science, and much more. My high school is based around the STEM model and it’s the best school I’ve attended by far. I chose to work at Zaniac because I really enjoy working with kids and passing on my love for STEM learning and the environment to them. I also love the STEM model that Zaniac uses to teach their kids. I would like to make a difference in children's lives by inspiring them to learn more about what they are interested in and help them get ahead in school. Fact About Me: My favorite animal is the blobfish.

Adam Porter

Adam Porter

Instructor

Adam Porter is a senior at TC Roberson who plans to attend East Carolina University for nursing in the fall. Adam loves to travel and play most sports, including swimming, soccer and football. STEM is a crucial component for the jobs I'm interested in, so mastering STEM will greatly benefit my future. I love Zaniac because it runs in my family and I love interacting with people--especially kids. In the past, I've had some incredible teachers who really made me want to learn, so I try and bring that same energy to the classroom. Random fact about me: I was born in England, but American football is my favorite sport.

Brook Barratt

Brook Barratt

Instructor

I go to Martin L. Nesbitt Discovery Academy, and my favorite subject is chemistry. I love doing art and pottery. I have been playing guitar since 8th grade and ukulele since 7th. I love STEM because it helped me figure out my hobbies, and lets me exercise my brain. Involving myself in the STEM field has made me learn so much. I love Zaniac because I can teach younger kids the importance of STEM, and why it matters. I enjoy seeing the looks on kids’ faces when they learn something new. I can tell kids really love being at Zaniac to discover new STEM skills. By working at Zaniac, I am already making a huge difference in students' lives. By connecting kids with STEM on shared activities, I can help them understand what makes them excited and help kickstart their future. Random Fun Fact About Me: I am left-handed. Science shows left-handed people might be more creative than right-handed people!

Chloe Hallman

Chloe Hallman

Instructor

I’m currently studying at Blue Ridge Community College where I’m getting general classes in order to eventually transfer to a four-year university. I love all things art related and this includes theatre big time! I love working in plays, drawing, hanging with friends, helping others, writing, and reading. I work at Zaniac because I love the idea of inspiring more kids to get involved with STEM activities! I also love being a mentor for kids. A fun fact about me: One day I hope to direct and write my own plays and musicals!

Christi Whitworth

Christi Whitworth

Senior Instructor + Library Programs Manager

I’m Christi Whitworth and I graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a degree in Elementary and Early childhood curriculum and instruction. My favorite subject is astronomy and my favorite activity is mountain biking. I love STEM because it helps explain the world I live in! I hope to inspire children to try something different and share it with everyone they know. Random Factabout me: I don’t like bananas.

Duncan Horvath

Duncan Horvath

Instructor

Hi, my name is Duncan Horvath, and I’m a junior at Nesbitt Discovery Academy. I’m planning on eventually getting a doctorate in Computer Science. For extra-curriculars, I’m currently participating in TSA, Science Olympiad, and American Rocketry competitions, along with being a black belt in Taekwondo, and a member of Destination SPACE’s Deep Space CubeSat program. I’m working at Zaniac because I enjoy STEM and want kids to be able to have a positive experience with it as I did.

Edward Kim

Edward Kim

Instructor

I am a senior at T.C Roberson High School. I plan to go to UNC Chapel Hill. My favorite subjects are math and science. I like to play the piano, the violin, run, and play video games. Zaniac doesn't feel like I'm in a traditional workplace environment. I want to show to kids that STEM is more than equations and memorization, but rather about experimenting and learning something new in a fun way. Random Fact About Me: I dislike tomatoes. A lot.

Eli Ingram

Eli Ingram

Instructor

I'm Eli Ingram, I go to TC Roberson and I'm in the 10th grade! My favorite subject in school is either math or science. Some of my favorite hobbies include playing soccer with my friends, playing video games, sleeping, and watching TV. I chose Zaniac because I think it is very cool, especially when I went to Zaniac as a kid, and took a course. It was super fun and I want to spread that enjoyment to other kids as they come into Zaniac. Random Fact About Me: I have a Welsh Terrier named Evie.

Esperanza Lopez Valero

Esperanza Lopez Valero

Senior Instructor

I’m from Spain. I moved to England when I was a student to improve my English and I lived there for 20 years. Now I live here in the states and get to enjoy this wonderful part of the world. I have a BA in business management from Hull University and I love math! After hearing about Zaniac’s top reputation, I’m excited to join the team and help students learn and develop their skills. I love to spend time with my family, explore the local area and travel to different places around the world.

Isabella Stenstrom

Isabella Stenstrom

Instructor

I attend Nesbitt Discovery a STEM high school in West Asheville. I aspire to be a respected Biochemist researcher. I hope to study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when I graduate. I am passionate about my studies, and I enjoy participating in envirothon and math club. I also run hurdles for the track and field team at T.C. Roberson. I enjoy teaching children about technology and science because I want to pass on my knowledge. I aim to be a professor at a university some day. Fun fact about me: I have been in all of the 74 State Parks in Minnesota.

Jason Nguyen

Jason Nguyen

Instructor

I am a student at TC Roberson and want to go to college at UNC Charlotte or Duke for architectural design. I love math, hanging out with my friends, and doing anything outdoors. I also love playing football and basketball. In my free time I love to binge watch movies. STEM is great because it teaches you to be creative and proactive with the way you learn. I chose Zaniac because I like teaching and making a difference for kids. I want to encourage children to be excited about learning. Random fact about me: I really like monkeys, they’re the coolest animal.

Joshua Parra-Lam

Joshua Parra-Lam

Instructor

I’m a senior at TC Roberson and plan to attend Appalachian State University and major in nursing. My favorite subject is science since it’s so complex and constantly being updated. There’s still so many things that we don’t understand and things we keep discovering every day. Some of my favorite activities include watching college wrestling and exploring places in Asheville I’ve never seen. I really like STEM because of how constant and up-to-date it is. Many innovations come from STEM that improve overall lifestyle and help people in ways never thought possible before. Zaniac is a gateway for children to get involved with STEM. I want to make a difference in children’s lives by showing them how cool STEM can be, and maybe spark them to do something amazing with STEM in their future. Random fact about me: I’m super flexible so I can do things like put my foot behind my head.

Kishan Patel

Kishan Patel

Instructor

Hi, I'm Kishan Patel and I go to T.C Roberson High School where I will be a junior next year. I hope to go to UNC Chapel Hill to major in biology or chemistry. My favorite subject is math, and I love to play tennis, swim and go mountain biking. I like STEM because it advances our society in great ways and helps others. I want to help younger kids gain an interest in STEM, learn new things and have fun! Random Fact About Me: I've played tennis since I was 7.

Lisa Ferris

Lisa Ferris

Senior Instructor

My favorite subject is English and I have a secondary education and linguistics degree from State University of New York (SUNY) Oswego. My favorite activities include home redo projects, home decorating, movies and reading. I also love animals! STEM allows children to expand on hidden potential and introduces new opportunities for kids of all ages and skill levels. I enjoy the welcoming atmosphere that Zaniac offers, and I am glad to be a part of it. I'm happy to help keep kids on track with school and make a difference where I can. Random Fact About Me: I've moved seven times and I've lived in seven different states.

Matthew Campbell

Matthew Campbell

Instructor

I currently attend TC Roberson High school. I love history and learning about mistakes we made in the past, and how we can do things better. I like swimming and watching Netflix in my leisure time. STEM has made me more interested in how a computer works and exactly what is happening when you code a computer. I previously went to Zaniac as a camper and enjoyed the environment and learning about computers. STEM can help you understand complicated topics. Random Fact About Me: I have a sister.

Oliver Porter

Oliver Porter

Instructor

Hi everyone, I'm Oli! I'm a Yorkshire lad who just graduated from Queens University of Charlotte with a major in Business Administration. My favorite subject is snack time or nap time, depending on how I'm feeling that day. I love to hike, workout, explore new places, do photography and cheer on my favorite sports teams, the Panthers and Chelsea FC! The reason why I love STEM is because of how impactful it is. STEM can help develop new electric cars, help businesses become more sustainable, and help find ways to protect the environment. I chose Zaniac because I want to teach kids STEM and hopefully inspire them to be in STEM one day in the future. FUN FACT: I was Homecoming King my senior year in college!

Omung Chhina

Omung Chhina

Instructor

Hi, my name is Omung! I go to Nesbitt Discovery Academy and plan on attending a powerhouse college for engineering. I love all things science. I also love running, taking photos and binge-watching the show The Office. I chose to work at Zaniac because STEM has shaped who I am. Inspiring other students with STEM is a dream! Random fact about me: I’m built different.


Song Kim

Song Kim

Instructor

My name is Song Kim and I go to Nesbitt Discovery Academy. My favorite subjects are science and math. I love STEM because it allows me to test my curiosity and see the world from different perspectives. Zaniac gives children this opportunity too. I love to solve all types of Rubik’s Cube and jigsaw puzzles. I would like to show students how they can utilize their creativity in order to change the world. Random Fact About me: I have one Dalmatian and I love to play soccer.

Zach Smith

Zach Smith

Instructor

I enjoy reading, walking with my dog, and playing games with my family. I like learning and understanding how things work and are done. STEM has made a difference in my life by piquing my interest in learning and in math, pushing me to read more and discover what interests me. I enjoy spending time with kids and helping people understand something when they are confused. I wish I had gone to a place like Zaniac when I was a kid. I want all children to learn what they enjoy and help them find what kind of education or path they want to follow. Random Fun Fact About Me: My favorite book series is Stormlight Archives and I have read it 11 times.

Zane Moore

Zane Moore

Instructor

I attend the Martin L. Nesbitt Discovery Academy, and I am planning on pursuing a major in aerospace engineering at a prominent engineering college. My favorite subjects are engineering, math, and chemistry. I also have a love for literature and really enjoy my English classes. While I spend the vast majority of my free time reading, I love being outdoors and enjoy running, playing tennis, and hiking. I also play the piano and am currently branching out from classical music into the wide world of jazz. STEM has played a critical role in my love for education as it has shown me how fun learning can be! This love for STEM has led me to not only pursue a major and possible career in the STEM field, but it has also encouraged me to branch out and explore different STEM related opportunities. Zaniac embodies what I love about STEM and learning in general, as it inspires kids to love learning, think outside of the box, and be future leaders in our society. My main goal is to inspire students and show them the fun in learning something new. I also want to show them that they can absolutely make a difference not only in the world of tomorrow, but in today's world as well. Fun fact about me: I believe that breakfast is undeniably the most superior meal.

Ali Shawamreh

Ali Shawamreh

Instructor

I attend SILSA or School of Inquiry & Life Sciences at Asheville, at Asheville High School and my favorite subject is Physics. I love to play chess, collect stamps, make music, write computer programs, and read great books! I love STEM because it gives everyone the ability to put their problem-solving skills together and make great things. I have been able to make different programs that simulate real-life, and do fast calculations with a little understanding of math and science. Zaniac gives me a wonderful opportunity to work with younger children and learn the different methods which most effectively provide a great learning experience. I want to give children a reason to feel excited about what they are learning. I think it's always a shame to hear kids say that they hate school and I want to be a part of the effort to turn that mindset around.

Reed Bilbray

Reed Bilbray

Chief Executive Officer

“I recently read, ‘when kids look up to great scientists the way they do to great musicians and actors, civilization will jump to the next level.’ I am passionate about connecting parents with Zaniac so they can enrich and influence their children’s lives by awakening their spark for science-based learning.”

Reed Bilbray has served as President since April 2017, having been asked by the Board of Directors to take the helm after his successful launch and growth of the Zaniac Asheville campus. Reed brings 35 years of corporate business experience, 30 years at the executive level in technology, education and publishing and 4 years leading the Zaniac Asheville campus and 2 years leading the Zaniac Parkside campus. Reed has a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree in finance from Louisiana State University.

When Reed discovered Zaniac Learning, he immediately knew he wanted to open a Zaniac Learning Center for the greater Asheville community, where he has been a Co-Owner of the campus since December 2015. Reed and his wife Sandra were actively looking for a business to start and grow in Asheville, and Zaniac Learning met their desires to enrich children’s lives, offer valuable employment opportunities, and serve as a positive model for their young girls as they grow up. In 2019, the opportunity developed that Reed and Sandra acquired the Zaniac Parkside campus in Cary, NC. Reed is committed to the Zaniac being a fun, safe and inspiring learning environment for children.

Reed owns Accelerate Media Partners, LLC, an intellectual property business specializing in book product development, licensing, marketing, and distribution services to executives, authors and publishers. Previously, Reed was Executive Vice President and Publisher of SUCCESS Media, (owner of the national newsstand magazine, SUCCESS) where he led the strategic marketing of the company’s intellectual property and product portfolio. Reed has led and directed the publishing, marketing and sale of more than 500 books, audios, videos and educational CD-ROMs. Along with Zaniac Founder Paul Zane Pilzer, Reed was co-founder and CEO of publicly traded Zane Publishing, an electronic K-12 educational publishing company..

Actively involved in the community, Reed serves as Vice President of Marketing for the Boy Scouts of America Daniel Boone Council to enrich the lives of children. He recently completed a term as as Vice President of the Carolinas Real Estate Investment Association.

Reed is married, has five children and lives in Asheville, NC. Alyssa, Ally and Haley are thriving young adults living in Texas. Sydney and Riley are busy being 7-year old twins. Reed loves the mountains, outdoor adventures and foodie culture of Asheville with his family.


Sandra Bilbray

Sandra Bilbray

Marketing Director

“Zaniac takes the natural curiosity of children and turns it into a world of discovery, play, and confidence-building. I love that Zaniac will shape the future of our youth. It’s exciting to know our own girls will grow-up with Zaniac and STEAM education as an integral part of their lives.”

Sandra Bilbray has served as Marketing Director since January 2017, having been asked by the Company to bring the successful marketing strategies and execution plans from her Zaniac Asheville and Zaniac Parkside campuses. Sandra is a Co-Owner of the Zaniac Asheville and Zaniac Parkside campuses.

Sandra is a nationally-published writer and a social media content expert. She worked as the columns editor for SUCCESS magazine, and some of her high-profile interviews include Good Morning America anchor, Robin Roberts, renowned personal development expert, the late Wayne Dyer, actor Gary Sinise and CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sandra is currently a contributing writer to the national magazine, Live Happy where she has interviewed happiness expert and best-selling author Gretchen Rubin and Parenthood actress and celebrity Monica Potter. Sandra Bilbray has a BA in English Writing Arts from SUNY Oswego

Sandra owns The Media Concierge, a company dedicated to creating professional content for thought leaders, authors, and business executives.

Sandra is married to CEO Reed Bilbray, and together they have twin daughters, Sydney and Riley, and two dog named Biscuit and Oreo. Sandra loves running, planning fun things to do with her family, and traveling.


Noah Hall

Noah Hall

Chief Technology Officer

“Success in technology depends on the belief in your own ability. Zaniac provides children with the opportunity to integrate STEM learning into their childhood so technology becomes a natural part of their growing up experience.”

Noah Hall has served as Chief Technology Officer since May 2018. He leadership has been instrumental enhancing the Company’s Learning Management System and Operating System used by Franchisees.

Noah has deep experience in web design, coding and working in Python and Dijango, our two primary platform systems. He has worked with a number of startups, with a focus on the consumer experience side.

Noah lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two young boys.


Paul Zane Pilzer

Paul Zane Pilzer

Founder

“Zaniac is the answer to the questions kids are always asking, “How does this work?” Life is a frustrating black box for many children today. They know how to use things—like making a letter appear on a monitor when they press a keyboard—but they have no idea why or how things work. This leads to frustration when things break and limits a child’s ability to feel in control of their life. Zaniac opens the black box on how things work for K-8 students, helping children bring knowledge, order and control to their lives—which kids crave.”

In 1975, at the University of Pennsylvania, 20-year-old graduate student Paul Zane Pilzer built one of the first interactive teaching machines on a mainframe computer. Paul had a vision that technology would one day make great education affordable for everyone, the same way movies made the work of great singers and actors affordable for everyone.

Paul Zane Pilzer founded the Zaniac in 2010 when he and his wife had their own children and they realized what was missing from K-8 education: A way to assess what math concepts a child knows, so an individual child can be taught based on what they don’t know—and not blindly by grade level. Paul developed a solution—Zane Math, Zaniac’s signature program. Zaniac then expanded into a full offering of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) programs for kids in grades K-8.

Paul Zane Pilzer is an American economist, New York Times best-selling author, and social entrepreneur. He has written 11 books and is the founder of six companies, and has been profiled in more than 100 publications including on the front page of The Wall Street Journal.

Paul graduated Lehigh University in three years and received his MBA from Wharton Business School in 15 months at age 22. He became Citibank’s youngest officer at age 22 and its youngest vice president at age 25. He was appointed a professor at New York University at age 24 where he taught for 21 years and was five times voted “best teacher.”

He served as an appointed economic advisor in two White House administrations and has been featured on the cover of more than 100 publications, including the front page of The Wall Street Journal. He has a particular fascination with educating students on both sides of the bell curve.

For more on Professor Pilzer, visit Wikipedia or paulzanepilzer.com.