Just released: Addressing Unfinished Learning toolkit

Meet the Team

Co-founders and Executive Leadership

Malika Anderson previously served as Superintendent of the TN Achievement School District (ASD). Prior to joining the ASD, Ms. Anderson led school turnaround and principal leadership development for DC Public Schools and helped organizations improve their management and operational systems with A.T. Kearney Management Consulting and WrightWay Consulting. She is an alumna of the Broad Academy for school system leaders, earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from Spelman College and a master’s degree in business administration from UCLA. Ms. Anderson serves as Board Chair for Valor Collegiate Academies in south Nashville, where she lives with her husband and two sons.

Before joining Instruction Partners, Erika served as the Bureau Chief for Leading, Teaching, Learning Services at the Iowa Department of Education. In that role, her team emphasized making grade-level standards accessible and relevant to all students. Prior to that, Erika was a district and building administrator in Iowa and Illinois, and a manager for the College Board. As a leader, she empowered educators and leveraged her responsibilities to increase student achievement. She loved her many years of teaching and will forever adore her social studies and world language students. Fueling her passion for international understanding, she has been a Fulbright, Aramco, Goethe, and Freeman grantee. In addition, she enjoys volunteering on the Fulbright Board and Sister Cities Commission.

Ben began his career in education as the co-founder of New Leaders, a non-profit that trains school leaders for high-poverty schools. He managed all operations, local program implementation, and district partnerships as New Leaders grew from a startup to a $20 million organization. He later led the organization’s research and consulting teams, serving as the lead author of Breakthrough Principals (Jossey Bass, 2016), and advising states and districts on principal quality policies. More recently, Ben served as a Senior Advisor to Turnaround for Children, as a founding board member for TeachPlus, and as a board member for Instruction Partners, seeing first-hand the dedication to educator partnership and instructional improvement that inspired him to join the organization as the Chief of Growth and Delivery.

Before cofounding Instruction Partners (formerly District to District), Emily was the Assistant Commissioner of Curriculum and Instruction for the Tennessee Department of Education. In this capacity, she oversaw K-12 core academics including standards, assessment design, instructional materials and educator training and support. She led a collaborative effort to train more than 65,000 teachers and leaders during this time in a peer-led, content-based approach and Tennessee saw increases in student achievement on both NAEP and state tests.  At the department, she also managed the implementation of educator evaluation and served as Chief of Staff, supporting the development of the strategic plan. For five years before coming to Tennessee, Emily managed Teach For America’s D.C. and Connecticut Regions. She fell in love with education teaching seventh-grade math in a rural community in Louisiana.

Luke started his career at D.C. Public Schools working primarily on community engagement and communications. After his time at DCPS, he joined Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman’s transition team (and met his wife on his first day, thanks, Kevin!) and ultimately stayed on at the Tennessee Department of Education. During his time at the TDOE, he worked on educator effectiveness through managing the Teacher Incentive Fund, worked as Chief of Staff for the Assistant Commissioner of Teachers and Leaders, and lead the state’s work on teacher evaluation. In late 2015, he co-founded Instruction Partners (formerly District to District) with Emily.

Donique Nobles Muhammad brings 15 years of experience in education and non-profit education work. Upon completion of her two-year commitment with Teach For America, Donique joined the founding team at Freedom Preparatory Academy Charter School. After spending five years as Special Education Director and Dean of Students at Freedom Prep, Donique was asked to lead Freedom Prep’s expansion into elementary education. She became the Founding Head of School for Freedom Prep Charter School- Westwood Campus. Donique also spent time in Busan, South Korea at Busan Foreign School to aid in building a special education department and worked for Teach For America on their School and Systems Leadership team. Donique is an alumna of the University of Mississippi where she earned a degree in physics and a master’s degree from the University of Memphis. Donique is married to a Naval aviator and currently lives in San Diego, CA with him, their son, daughter, niece, and dog.

Elizabeth has spent her educational career focused on developing and supporting people and programs. Before joining Instruction Partners, Elizabeth worked at TNTP, where she led a teacher training and certification program as well as supported the development of teacher coaching models. She also worked closely with school districts in implementing large scale academic change, largely centered on academic strategy, curriculum adoption and implementation, and leadership development. She takes her passion for coaching and curriculum into the spin room, where you’re sure to find a tightly planned class and playlist along with lots of personality and encouragement.

Jessica started her finance career in oil and gas and quickly realized corporate finance was not her thing. Jessica pivoted to help establish a community nonprofit, FamilyPoint Resources in Houston, TX, while also becoming a certified teacher. Jessica taught 7th and 8th grade math for 5 years until she received her MBA and decided to seek opportunities that combined her passion for both education and finance. Jessica has worked in finance leadership roles for the University of Houston Alumni Association, YES Prep Public Schools and most recently as the founding Executive Director of the Luminary Learning Network, the first Innovation Zone within Denver Public Schools. Jessica also serves as the Board Chair of Compass Academy in Denver, CO and My Child, My Voice in Houston, TX. When she is not working, you can find Jessica exploring the Rocky Mountains on bikes, skis, or by foot!

A Louisiana native, Sims started his career as a TFA corps member in Houston, Texas. He eventually moved to New York City, where he taught, served in several education and school leadership positions, and was a founding principal at an elementary school in Brooklyn. Jabari previously served as founding dean of Relay Graduate School: Dallas-Fort Worth, where he oversaw the Metroplex’s growing teacher preparation programs. Jabari earned his M.Ed. in Education Administration from National Louis University, as well as a B.A. in English from Dillard University. He is currently a doctoral student at Vanderbilt University, where he is pursuing an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Learning in Organizations.

Justin is an education professional with over 20 years of experience creating high-quality education opportunities for at-risk youth. Most recently he helped co-found Project Renaissance, a nonprofit focused on doubling the number of Nashville children in high-quality schools where he supported the creation and launch of Nashville Teacher Residency. Testerman also served as the COO of the Tennessee Charter School Center where he led school incubation efforts, resulting in the development of 16 high performing charter schools in Nashville and Memphis. Justin began his career as a middle school teacher in Newark, New Jersey through Teach for America.

Our Team

Erica Arras is a Math Content Lead at Instruction Partners. She is originally from El Paso, Texas but has spent the last ten years living in Houston, Texas where she found a passion in math education and advancing equitable learning experiences for children. Erica joins instruction Partners with experience in teaching math and computer science. In addition to her experience in the classroom, she served as a content chair and has supported campuses with the adoption of a variety of new initiatives through coaching and providing teacher support. She received her bachelor’s from the University of Houston and is currently pursuing her master’s at The University of Texas at El Paso. In her free time, Erica loves listening to music, watching football, baking cakes, and spending time with her family and dog.

Deme joined Instruction Partners in July 2018 and is currently the Data Analyst Lead. Prior to Instruction Partners, Deme was the school operations leader for a primary school in New Orleans where she began her journey for equitable quality education for all students. She is a native of St. Bernard, Louisiana, and graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana. She currently resides in New Orleans. Deme enjoys cooking, gardening, watching sports, and spending time with her husband, Dale, and their two children, Dillon and Dakota.

Alexandra is passionate about dedicating her career in education to bringing positive change for underserved populations. Through innovation and a growth mindset, she has supported turn around campuses and successfully increased student achievement and campus culture. Alexandra received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Houston and her Masters in Educational Leadership from Lamar University. Alexandra joins Instruction Partners in her 16th year in education after serving most recently as an elementary school principal at Frank Moates Elementary. Previously, Alexandra served in the Spring Branch ISD community in Houston, as a teacher, interventionist, coach and assistant principal. Alexandra has five children Mari, Antonio, Karolina, Edmar and Elena and is married to an educator, Jacob.

After graduating from Louisiana State University in 2006 with a degree in Kinesiology, Jenna Bartkiewicz began her work in education teaching 2nd grade in the Bronx. She also began working towards her Master’s of Elementary Education from Pace University, which she completed in the spring of 2008. She returned to her hometown of Memphis in 2008 to work as a Kindergarten and fourth-grade teacher with Promise Academy before moving to KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools to serve as a Miles Family Fellow, 5th grade ELA teacher, Grade Level Chair, and Fisher Fellow. In the fall of 2013, Jenna founded KIPP Memphis Academy Elementary, serving as principal for six years. During her six-year tenure, KMAE consistently outperformed the district on state testing and scored in the top quartile on a national survey measuring staff satisfaction. She is excited to join Instruction Partners to continue serving the hard-working and committed students and families in Memphis.

Meka has fourteen years of experience in education. She began her career as an elementary teacher in East Tennessee. Later, she became a teacher trainer for the Tennessee Department of Education. During that time, she also was a Curriculum/Content Writer for LearnZillion. After serving in those roles, she became a Demonstration Site Teacher for the Kentucky Department of Education.  Meka has also worked as an education consultant supporting private schools in Louisville, Kentucky. Before becoming a full-time ELA Content lead with Instruction Partners, she supported the work as a part-time contractor supporting both content areas of Mathematics & ELA.

Melissa is incredibly passionate about providing students with meaningful learning opportunities so that they develop a deep appreciation for – and a humble confidence in – their brilliant young minds. She has over 10 years of experience in education, beginning her career as a high school math teacher and going on to co-found a charter school in the Bay Area, where she served as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Most recently, Melissa was the Director of Professional Learning at the Louisiana Department of Education, where she worked toward excellent teacher support and development at the state level. When she’s not supporting educators, you can find Melissa cooking or listening to live music in the great city of New Orleans!

Melodie is a degreed Mechanical Engineer with multi-disciplinary experience in education, project management and consulting. Prior to transitioning to the classroom, she started her career in learning consulting with IBM. Since her transition, she has served as a math teacher, SPED co-teacher, online instructor for K12, and Director of Childcare. She has several education certifications and training including her most recent completion of Texas Tech’s Personalized Learning Certification, Relay GSE’s Coaching Collaborative and Harvard’s Art of Leadership. She is a wife, mother of 3 and when she is not working alongside our partners, she enjoys self-care.

Brooke joined Instruction Partners in July 2021 as a Senior Data Analyst through the Strategic Data Project Fellowship. Prior to Instruction Partners, Brooke taught middle school science with Teach for America and received her Masters of Education from Harvard where she focused on policy and statistical methods for applied research. She also spent five years at Google as an analyst in strategy and operations. She is a native of Los Angeles, California and graduated from Santa Clara University in the Bay Area. She currently lives in Chicago and loves to read, hike, and take road trips with her partner and their dog.

A native Tennessean, Chandra’s education career began as a high school math teacher in her hometown of Gallatin. Since that time, she has supported students, teachers, and leaders with planning and implementing effective instruction in the states of Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas.  Prior to this role, Chandra served as the Founding Director of Secondary Mathematics for the Arkansas Academy for Educational Equity with the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Chandra holds a M.ED in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Texas at Arlington and a B.S in Physics from Lane College.

Whether it was working at an after school daycare or a children’s museum, Jordan has always loved being around students. She formally began her career in education as a first grade teacher in Chicago Public Schools. After completing her Masters in Education, she returned to Chicago to support the district to implement an instructional coaching model. Jordan later joined New Teacher Center to support deepening the impact and shepherding the growth of NTC’s programs by helping to secure critical funding (contracts, federal grants, philanthropy).

Originally hailing from Northern California, Jordan makes her home in Durham, NC with her husband, step-kids, and dogs.

Melissa is a New York native who studied Mathematics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In her time at UMass, Melissa developed a love for math education and the development and unpacking of math standards. Melissa was able to put her love of math to work for many years as an 8th-grade math teacher and math department chair at a school in Boston, MA. Melissa’s understanding and love for math content support her in working with teachers and students to deepen their content knowledge and love for the subject.

Michael comes to Instruction Partners with 5+ years of experience leading math instruction and curriculum development for Pasco County Schools in Florida. Michael’s experience has centered on K – 12 mathematics, and he has notably supported Pasco County School Board through leading professional development for all secondary mathematics teachers and instructional coaches for the district. Michael also led the development of curricula for Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry. Michael has taught courses in Algebra I, Algebra II, and college preparatory mathematics. Michael looks forward to bring this wealth of experience and knowledge to his new role at Instruction Partners! Michael holds a Master of Education degree from Grand Valley State University and a Bachelor’s degree from Cornerstone University.

After spending 12 years as a teacher and Assistant Principal, Brittany joined the team as an ELA Content Lead. She taught both middle and high school ELA in Memphis, TN. In 2016, she was accepted into the Aspiring Principals Program with New Leaders. Her leadership journey has included time in Shelby County Schools, the Achievement School District, and Aspire Public Schools- Memphis region. She is committed to work to ensure that an equitable and high-quality education is provided to all students regardless of their zip code. Brittany and her husband Chad reside in Memphis, TN with their two children, Carter and Cayleigh.

Jennifer began her career in education as a middle school math teacher in Houston, TX. There she developed a love for math and a passion for conceptual understanding. Jennifer has spent the last eight years engaging math teachers in the importance of deep content internalization and implementation of high-quality math curriculum as both an instructional coach and Assistant Principal. She spends her free time exploring new TV shows and restaurants with her husband and dogs.

Dr. Jessica Costa has worked for nearly two decades either teaching students a love of language, learning, and themselves or providing professional development for teachers and educational leaders nationally and internationally to do the same. She brings a wealth of knowledge from her experiences with the National Board Certification in English as a New Language process; state, district, and school-wide leadership roles, professional learning design and delivery, data-coaching for school improvement, and research focused on socially just school leadership preparation. Her passion for mutlilingual learners derives from listening to her father’s stories of his experience as a multilingual immigrant starting school in the United States as a teenager. Jessica gets excited for each training, meeting, or even the smallest of opportunities to connect and partner with educators to support quality instruction within responsive and affirming learning environments for multilingual learners.

After majoring in Elementary Education and Middle School Mathematics Timeka started working as a middle school math teacher in her hometown of Chicago. During that time, she earned a Master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction as well as Adult Leadership.  She moved to Texas where she continued to teach middle school math before becoming a Math Instructional Coach.  She served as an Elementary and Middle School Assistant Principal just prior to joining Instruction Partners. Timeka is committed to ensuring students across Texas and our nation have access to equitable instruction; the same instruction she would want for her own children.

Currently residing in Memphis, TN, Denzel has been a designer for ten years providing design and marketing solutions for brands like BET, Steve Madden, KIPP, and other organizations over the course of his career. His wheelhouse is filled with all things centered around brand development: strategy, visual communication/design, photography, videography, and web design/development. When Denzel isn’t working, you can find him traveling with his husband and cuddled under his two pups, Dakota and Mason.

Laken is a teacher, instructional coach, research nerd, and antiracist ally. She joins the Instruction Partners team with a wide range of experience in literacy, curriculum development, adult learning, and coaching K-12 teachers and leaders around the standards and equitable instructional practices. She most recently served as the Blueprint Literacy Coordinator for Baltimore City Public Schools, where she developed and led a literacy coaching initiative that supported ELA HQIM implementation across the district. Outside of work, Laken can be found reading a book (or three), hanging out on the porch with friends (Baltimore tradition), or out on a hike with her dog!

Julia Dezen joins Instruction Partners from FirstLine Schools, a five-school charter management organization in New Orleans where she worked for ten years. In her previous role as Elementary Math Director, Julia designed and led assessment and data analysis, curriculum implementation, and professional development for math teachers and principals. Julia is a facilitator for UnboundEd’s Standards Institute and a representative on Louisiana’s Believe and Prepare Math Collaborative. She served as a Teaching Ambassador Fellow with the US Department of Education under Secretary Arne Duncan and Secretary John King, and continues the equity-based policy work she began there as an educator representative for the National Center of Education Statistics.

Judy is a proud “math geek” and advocates for access, equity, and identity in mathematics teaching and learning. She has served in her home state of Arkansas for over 20 years as a secondary math teacher, education service center and STEM center math specialist, district math specialist, and founder of the Arkansas Math Leaders Network. She serves on several state and national committees for math education, equity, and leadership,  has a Master of Education degree from the University of Arkansas, and is National Board Certified. Her happiest moments are traveling, especially with her daughter and grandpuppy.

Rebecca is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in K-8 instruction and received her master’s in curriculum and instruction from the same institution.  Rebecca has worked in the Rutherford County and Murfreesboro City School Systems as a teacher and instructional coach for mathematics. In addition, she has participated in state and national initiatives to improve instruction, review educational policy, and close the achievement gap for students. These include the Institute for Learning Coaching Consortium, Tennessee Department of Education Core Coach, Hope Street Fellow, Tennessee Governor’s Cabinet Member, and Learning Forward Academy member.

Jade brings experience as a middle school math teacher and network math leader in her hometown, New Orleans, where she supported math content and development across six schools. She graduated from the University of Southern California, and has since dedicated her career to inspiring, enabling, and sustaining more equitable math teaching and learning. Jade is an Illustrative Mathematics Certified Facilitator, has coached for TNTP, and has been a writer for SchoolKit’s Math Video Project, providing access to high-quality mathematics content via online and television media. Jade enjoys walking, reading and watching fantasy, doing math, and drinking cocktails.

Cheryl has over 15 years of experience as a mathematics teacher and leader in a variety of settings, including public, independent, urban, and suburban. She believes that when students become active doers rather than passive consumers the greatest learning gains can be realized. After graduating from Drexel University with an M.S. in Mathematics Teaching and Learning, Cheryl served as the Project Manager for an NSF-funded project created by Drexel and Temple Universities that used the Math Forum’s Problems of the Week as a context for developing an online community of mathematics educators focused on understanding and improving student mathematical thinking. She serves on the Executive Board for AMTNJ, has presented at both NCTM and NCSM, and is an Illustrative Mathematics Certified Facilitator. Cheryl is from New Jersey and has strong opinions about what goes into a meatball.

Channing’s passion lies within education. His career began as a Math & Reading intervention teacher, then managed intervention programs in Houston, TX. Channing is originally from San Jose, CA, and has lived in Houston for four years. Most recently, Channing served as the National Manager of Recruitment and Engagement at Relay Graduate School of Education. Prior to that, Channing developed and lead strategy behind diversity recruitment and selection for YES Prep Public Schools, charged with diversifying candidate pipelines and district-level DEI training. Channing earned his B.S. in Marketing from Grambling State University located in rural Grambling, Louisiana. He enjoys spending time near large bodies of water, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.

Channing earned his B.S. in Marketing from Grambling State University located in rural Grambling, Louisiana. He enjoys spending time near large bodies of water, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.

After spending 18 years as a teacher and teacher leader in both private and public school settings, Heather joined the team in early 2016 as a part-time ELA content consultant and moved into a full-time position later that year. She spent two years in the role of ELA Lead, working closely with teachers, coaches, and leaders in Florida and across Tennessee. As Director of Content Lead Support, Heather maintains a small portfolio of district work and partners with districts, leads ongoing staff training, and provides support and feedback in the field on district and school partnership work across the organization. She loves developing others’ content knowledge, impacting student learning, and eating delicious food with family and friends.

Jennifer joins Instruction Partners after nearly a decade in the classroom. She began her career as a Teach for America Corps Member in Chicago, Illinois before moving to Boston, Massachusetts to work with the teams at Match Community Day School and Boston Public Schools. In addition to her work in the classroom, Jen took on a number of leadership roles including serving as a grade-level lead, instructional coach, and elementary curriculum specialist. In addition, Jen was the Co-Founder and Program Director of DIY Coaching, a teacher-led initiative that empowered Boston-based educators as instructional coaches for themselves and others. When not working, Jen is most likely traveling, spending time with her loved ones, or exploring New York City with Elsie, her Bernese Mountain Dog.

Christina has more than 20 years of experience as a Nationally Board-Certified ELA teacher, reading specialist, and instructional coach. Christina believes that high-quality instructional materials matter and has written ELA curriculum for organizations such as Insight Education Group, Amplify, and Great Minds, where she was part of the grade 3 Wit & Wisdom writing team. Christina is passionate about improving teaching and learning for all students. As the Director of ELA she gets to spend time doing one of her favorite things – designing and delivering professional development for teachers and school leaders. Christina and her family reside in Jacksonville, FL.

A recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s doctoral program in Reading/Writing/Literacy, Kelcey joined Instruction Partners in 2021 and is energized by the opportunity to work with partners to strengthen ELA instruction in classrooms across the country. As a doctoral candidate, she worked with school partners and education organizations to support students’ literacy development, coach and mentor early-career teachers, and conduct research on literacy programs and initiatives. Dr. Grogan continues to serve as an adjunct instructor at Johns Hopkins University, where she teaches graduate-level education courses on Classroom Management and Assessment for Reading Instruction. Previously, she was an instructional coach, grade level lead, summer school director, and high school English Language Arts teacher in Detroit, Michigan. It was as a teacher that Kelcey discovered her love of reading and discussing texts with students. In her free time, Kelcey enjoys drinking too much coffee, taking fitness classes, running, reading, and being outside!

José joined Instruction Partners from FirstLine Schools, a five charter management organization in New Orleans. He taught at FirstLine for seven years before serving as the Primary Literacy Content Leader for the network, designing effective curriculum-based professional learning for kindergarten through fourth-grade teachers.

Sarah Guerrero previously served as a principal in Houston, Texas. She and her team cultivated a school environment built around the strengths and needs of students, resulting in significantly improved academic performance, staff and student culture, and family involvement. Sarah was honored as Spring Branch ISD’s 2018 Secondary Principal of the Year. Prior to serving as principal, Sarah worked as a math teacher and assistant principal. She earned two bachelor’s degrees in physics and Spanish from Azusa Pacific University, a master’s degree in education from University of St. Thomas, and an MBA from Rice University. She lives in Houston with her husband and sons.

Ashley is a twelve year high school English teacher, and most recently a five year high school principal of her home high school where she focused on developing strong systems to improve equitable opportunities for all students.  She enjoys strategic planning, and organizing, and her passion is helping teachers and leaders grow instructional practice and capacity.  Ashley is the mother of three energetic girls, and loves spending time outside, playing games with her family, reading, and honing her cooking skills.

Karen Greenhaus has been a math educator for over 32 years. Most recently she has been working as the Spokesperson for Casio Education, supporting professional development, speaking at conferences, and creating virtual learning experiences for math teachers. She is also an adjunct professor at Drexel University in their online Math Master’s program. Her experience in education includes MS and HS public math teacher for 17 years, District Math Administrator, and professional development provider in the math publishing and technology world, in such roles as the Director of EdTech and PD for Key Curriculum, and Senior Product Sponsor at McGraw Hill. Karen received her B.A in Mathematics Education from Virginia Tech, her M.A. in Math Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Commonwealth University, and her doctorate in Curriculum and Education Technology from The College of William and Mary. Her doctoral research focused on hybrid professional development for technology integration in mathematics, something Karen continues to be passionate about. Karen lives in Doylestown, PA where she loves to bike, go on themed walk-abouts, do a lot of porch sitting and people watching, spend time with her daughters, and play the guitar badly.

Tom earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Connecticut. After graduating college, he joined Teach for America where he taught fourth and sixth-grade math and science in Marked Tree, Arkansas. After his corps commitment ended, Tom returned to Connecticut to work at Achievement First Bridgeport Academy Middle School as their Student Services Manager. Tom is an avid reader, board game enthusiast, and enjoys spending time with his dogs, Leia and Nola.

A native Minnesotan and third-generation educator, Charlotte began her teaching career in Washington, D.C. She served as a teacher of record for grades PS-1 before stepping into teacher-leadership roles that enabled her to teach and coach in grades 2-8. Charlotte was an inaugural Education Innovation Fellow with the Citybridge Foundation, a Leading Educator, and an Aspiring Principal in New Leaders’ Cohort 16. She most recently served as a Dean of Instruction, Assistant Principal, and Turnaround Principal at Center City PCS. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, outdoor recreation, and spending time with her family.

Bryan Hearn is a former instructional leader and high school English teacher. Bryan joined Instruction Partners in 2017 after serving as the Director of Academics for The Soulsville Charter School in Memphis, Tennessee. At Instruction Partners, Bryan has supported partnerships in multiple regions, and now he leads the team supporting partners across Texas. Bryan has a doctorate in education from Vanderbilt University. Outside of work, Bryan can be found picking up Legos off the floor and spending time with his three kids, Emerson, Ella, and Harper.

Jessica believes that providing equitable educational opportunities for students is impossible without access to strong science instruction. She first fell in love with science education as a 7th-grade science teacher in Memphis, TN. Most recently, she supported science teachers in Memphis’ iZone as the Instructional Support Manager for Science. In her role, she developed science coaches, worked with school leaders to increase their understanding of effective science instruction, and facilitated professional development for science educators across the state of Tennessee. For fun, Jessica loves to travel with her sisters and find the best food in town.

Kelsey’s belief that high quality, standards-aligned instruction is an essential component of equitable instructional experiences for all students began during her time as a middle school mathematics teacher in Nashville, TN. Most recently, she was an Instructional Support Advisor in Shelby County Schools, where she designed and led learning around curriculum implementation for district and school leaders. Prior to Shelby County Schools, Kelsey was a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development with Teach For America and a middle school mathematics and social studies teacher. Kelsey joined the Instruction Partners team in January 2018 as a Math Content Lead, a Senior Math Content Lead, and now the Senior Director of Custom Services. Outside of work, Kelsey can be found exploring cities through their culinary offerings and passionately rooting for her alma mater, Georgetown University, basketball team.

I am a lifetime Florida resident where I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in History before finding my passion as a math teacher. I spent 10 years teaching all levels of middle school math including advanced Algebra and Geometry. In addition to classroom teaching, I’ve worked the last three years as an instructional coach supporting K-8 math teachers in a Title 1 school. In my spare time I like to watch and play almost any sport and enjoy the Florida hiking and biking trails with my son.

In her 11 years as a Florida and North Carolina educator, Artrice Johnson has been privileged to work with students and teachers in a variety of K-8 settings, with most of her work and years being in ELA classrooms.  She has worked as a classroom teacher in Title 1 and Technology magnet schools, Reading Specialist/Coach, and Literacy Coordinator.  Artrice’s goal is to create academically engaging learning experiences through environments that foster curiosity and inquiry, uphold high expectations, and celebrate diversity. Committed to her passion for learning and servant leadership, she has received a Masters in Public Administration and is working towards a doctorate in Education.

Camesha is deeply rooted in education. Her career began as an English teacher in rural Leland, NC, near her Wilmington hometown. Most recently, Camesha served as Founding Director of Talent for KIPPENC Schools. Prior to that, Camesha led the design and management of the NC Accelerator Program with Parents for Educational Freedom, charged with opening charter schools in rural communities.

Camesha earned her B.A. in English from North Carolina Central University and her JD from UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law. She serves as Board Chair for The Exploris School in Raleigh, NC. She enjoys time with her husband and son and cooking.

Nancy joined Instruction Partners as the Director of Science in December of 2018. She began her career as a Chemistry Professor at Rutgers University where she taught and conducted research. She left higher education and became the Director of High School Curriculum for the School District of Philadelphia in 2003 and never looked backed. She served in several administrative roles during her tenure there and moved onto K-12 positions in keeping with her passion and expertise in science at LEAP Academy Charter School in Camden, NJ and Mastery Charter schools, a large urban turnaround charter network serving communities in Philadelphia, PA and Camden, NJ. She believes that ALL students deserve an excellent science education and remains committed to ensuring this happens wherever she goes. During her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, reading a good book, baking, and working out so she can enjoy what she has baked.

Suzette graduated from Fisk University with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. She attempted corporate America, but realized that she wanted her work to “matter” so she began her career in non-profit. While working as Senior Accountant for the General Council on Finance and Administration of the United Methodist Church, she attended Cumberland University and earned her Master’s in Public Service Management. She later left GCFA to give back to her alma mater, and broaden her experience, by working in the Finance and Administration Department at Fisk. After leaving Fisk, she came to support the important work at Instruction Partners. When she isn’t working, Suzette is busy at home with her husband Jason, and their four children.

Addie is an ELA Content Lead at Instruction Partners who recently earned her doctorate in Learning and Organizational Change from Baylor University. As a Louisiana native, Addie has ten years of classroom experience and a true passion for high-quality ELA curriculum and instruction. As a public school teacher, Addie worked with the Louisiana Department of Education to publish the ELA Guidebooks, a high-quality ELA curriculum for students in grades 3-12. Addie has spent the last three years designing and delivering teacher professional learning grounded in best-practices in literacy instruction and curriculum implementation. She has coached teachers, school leaders, and district administrators to deepen their pedagogical content knowledge and engage in cycles of inquiry that continuously build their expertise and elevate their instruction practice. Addie has also published a chapter entitled “Improving Teacher Professional Learning: Inquiry Cycles and the Whole Teacher” in the book Supporting Early Career Teachers with Research-Based Practices. Away from work, Addie is a wife, mama, and avid reader.

Before joining Instruction Partners as a Texas ELA Content Lead, Danielle was an ELA Achievement Specialist for KIPP San Antonio.  Previous to that, she worked with IDEA for 10 years as a teacher, course leader, and assistant principal of instruction.   Danielle is looking forward to creating opportunities alongside teachers and leaders to ensure students are provided the strongest and equitable opportunities possible.

Lyndz found her passion for instructional support and educator development while coaching teachers with Teach For America and the Johns Hopkins School of Education. She also taught secondary mathematics in classrooms across the country from Hawaii to New Mexico to Kentucky. Additionally, Lyndz worked for the New York City Department of Education as the Deputy Director of Education Technology Development. Lyndz earned a B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.A. in Secondary Education from the University of Phoenix. She also holds an M.P.A in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy from NYU and an Ed.M. in Education Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Sarina joined the Data & Insight Team with a passion for leveraging analytics to support great teaching and learning. Sarina previously worked at The New York City Department of Education as an analyst in the central organization as well as a math and computer science teacher at a large high school. Prior to joining the education field as a Teach for America corps member, she worked at The Boeing Company in finance and strategy teams. Sarina holds a master’s degree from Relay Graduate School of Education in Adolescent Education (mathematics), and dual bachelor degrees from the University of Washington in Business Administration (finance and marketing) and Communication.

Jill brings to Instruction Partners fifteen years of experience supporting branding and marketing efforts at education startups and nonprofits. She began her career in 2005 at Wireless Generation (now Amplify), and has served in business development, partnership, marketing, and strategic consulting roles at organizations committed to equitable, high-quality instruction. Most notably, Jill was the first marketing director for Open Up Resources, helping the organization successfully disrupt the textbook oligarchy. Jill is a New Yorker who relocated to the Pacific Northwest because she sunburns easily. Outside of work, Jill is a rock-n-roll singer. She will also beat anyone at Scrabble.

Cammie is a Math Content Lead who has recently completed her twelfth year in education. She taught high school math for nine years and has spent the last three years as a Math Content Specialist and Achievement Specialist within KIPP Texas – Houston. She graduated from North Carolina A&T State University with a BS in Professional Mathematics and a M.Ed in Administration and Supervision from Liberty University. When not working, she enjoys reading, shopping, traveling, playing basketball, and laughing. She truly believes laughter is good for the soul and it can make anybody’s day a little better.

Brittany McCullough joined Instruction Partners in November 2017. As a native of Nashville, Brittany attended Belmont University for her BBA and Trevecca Nazarene University for her MBA. Brittany is passionate about working to support the improvement of education across Tennessee. She firmly believes that a key element to providing high-quality instruction in schools is having strong operational systems and procedures in place. Prior to joining Instruction Partners, Brittany spent five years as the Founding Director of Operations at Purpose Preparatory Academy, a 2017 Tennessee Reward School. Before working in school operations, Brittany spent time in higher education as a Finance Advisor, and in telecommunications working in business sales and business operations. In 2015, Brittany completed a fellowship program with Education Pioneers. In her spare time, she loves spending time with family and friends, watching great TV, hanging with her dog Chauncey, and reading.

Grace joined the State Partnerships Team as a Data Lead in November of 2021. Prior to that, she worked as an Operations Coordinator for the Partnership Team for two years. Before joining Instruction Partners, Grace had a variety of experiences in the education field, including working as a high school math teacher in North Carolina and Ohio, an English teaching assistant in Malaysia, and an education consultant at Vanderbilt University. In these roles, she quickly learned the importance of support for teachers and high-quality instructional materials. She believes that education is one of the most powerful tools for advancing equity and ensuring that all children can achieve their potential. Grace received her B.S. in Adolescent to Young Adult Education from the University of Dayton and her M.Ed. in International Education Policy and Management from Vanderbilt University. In her free time Grace loves reading, cooking, hiking, and spending time with family and friends.

Eliza came to Instruction Partners in 2018 after 15 years of teaching and instructional coaching. Eliza began teaching in Denver after completing her master’s in education at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In 2006, she relocated to New Orleans. Being immersed in the post-Katrina restructuring of the public education system was a sobering and eye-opening experience that strengthened Eliza’s appreciation for the grit and spirit of the city and its people, and her commitment to working for equitable educational access for all students. During her time in New Orleans, Eliza has worked in education as a literacy coach, ELA teacher, SS teacher, and a reading interventionist. She spends her free time playing with her two boys, reading, and enjoying City Park with her family and friends.

Nicholas Palomino Mendoza is Mexican-American from the Southside of Chicago currently living and learning in Houston, TX. Nicholas is passionate about personalized learning, culturally responsive teaching, and community-responsive leadership. Prior to joining the team, Nicholas trained teachers and leaders as a Relay Fellow Advisor with the Relay Graduate Program of Education and as a humanities coach, curriculum specialist, school director and diversity, equity and inclusiveness facilitator through Teach For America. Nicholas attended Arizona State University, where he studied the archaeology of Mesoamerica and graduated with a degree in Anthropology. In his free time, Nicholas loves creating and consuming music, playing and watching sports, and growing and eating vegetables.

Jess joins Instruction Partners after spending 7 years in the classrooms of Baltimore, MD and Charlotte, NC, and then the past 8 years in curriculum development, teacher coaching, and professional learning roles. A trained community organizer, former school board candidate, and current doctoral candidate, Jess is working to ensure that a child’s outcomes aren’t so directly tied to their zip code. Jess now lives in Miami, has visited 27 of the 62 US National Parks, and likes to have her toes in the sand, her kayak in the water, her Red Sox on TV, and her camera in her hands as often as possible.

Nancy Moncada is a first generation, Mexican American woman who was the first in her family to attend college. Growing up in a low-income family who did not speak the English language, Nancy understands the value of a strong, quality education that is rooted in college readiness in order to provide students with the opportunity to be competitive in the real world. Because of this, Nancy has devoted her life to working in underserved communities in the Houston area as a math teacher, assistant principal and instructional coach. In her free time, Nancy enjoys reading, running, and spending quality time with her family

Before joining Instruction Partners, Silva worked to impact teacher practice and student learning as an Achievement Specialist at KIPP Texas – Houston. She had previously developed her own teaching skills at Achievement First Endeavor Middle School in Brooklyn, New York, where she taught 6th Grade History, Writing, and Guided Reading for 5 years. During her time at Achievement First, she also led the Guided Reading and Writing Intervention teams as well as her grade team. Before working at Achievement First, Silva worked as a substitute teacher and assistant teacher in various schools in Killeen, Texas. A native of Germany, Silva received her Masters of Education degree from the Freie Universitaet Berlin.

Vivian comes to Instruction Partners with over a decade of experience as a teacher and school leader serving NYC charter and district schools. With a background in special education, she has founded and led departments to ensure equity and access for all students. During her time in schools, she has also consistently increased academic results and student culture metrics with her keen eye for instructional excellence. Across two charter networks, she wrote, executed and led a shift towards inquiry-based history instruction. Vivian attended New York University as an undergraduate and has a Masters in Education from St. John’s University. When not working, Vivian is most likely traveling, running or reading.

Elena joined Instruction Partners in 2021 after 14 years of teaching and instructional coaching. Elena began her career in education in New York City after completing her bachelor’s degree in English at Fordham University, then pursuing a master’s in education at C.W. Post. For 6 years she taught children with developmental disabilities at a private special education school in Manhattan, New York. In 2013 she relocated to New Orleans, and has served as an ELA teacher, Social Studies teacher, Special Education teacher, Dean of Intervention, RTI Coordinator, and instructional coach. These experiences have solidified her commitment to working for equitable access to education for all children. She spends her free time enjoying the incredible food, music, and culture that New Orleans has to offer, has a passion for costuming and headpiece design, and practices self-care through yoga and reading.

Vanessa joined Instruction Partners in early 2017 after graduating from the University of Virginia, where she earned dual bachelor degrees in economics and environmental sustainability. She spent three years supporting the organization’s operations as Instruction Partners grew from a small, Tennessee-based team to a national organization. As Marketing Lead, Vanessa works closely with the Director of Marketing to support all things communications at Instruction Partners—from implementing a contact management system, to managing social media, to managing website content. In her free time, Vanessa takes advantage of Nashville’s endless supply of live music.

William is a proud Tennessee native who attended public school K-12 in Nashville and is passionate about educational opportunities for all students. He has worked as an editor, proofreader, dishwasher, sandwich artist, and operations coordinator. The quickest way to William’s heart is with a taco or professional wrestling trivia.

Sejal joined Instruction Partners in September 2019 as the Operations Coordinator for the Professional Development team. Prior to Instruction Partners, she planned events for Teach for America where she began her journey for equitable quality education for all students. Originally from Florida, Sejal has lived in Baltimore, Atlanta, and San Francisco and now makes Denver home with her husband, Ashil and kids Suri and Syan. She is a lover of Octobers, chocolate chip cookies, and holidays!

Julie came to Instruction Partners with 17 years of prior experience from Murfreesboro City Schools in Tennessee. She taught kindergarten, first, and second grades, and was named Teacher of the Year in 2016 at the school and district level, as well as the Mid-Cumberland Region of Tennessee for grades Pre-K-4.  Most recently, she served as an academic coach for Mitchell Neilson Primary and Elementary Schools. Other past experiences include scope and sequence development, writing prompt development, and professional development facilitation. With an immense passion for foundational literacy, she worked tirelessly to support teachers using an instructional routine she developed and piloted, which consistently produced impressive gains in academic achievement. Julie and her husband Rob reside in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with their two amazing girls, Taylor and Valerie.

Alli Parshall began her career in education as a high school science teacher in Jackson, Mississippi. During the last ten years, she has served as a science and writing teacher, grade-level team leader, instructional coach, and an assistant principal. She has experience writing science and literacy curricula and providing reading intervention for elementary and middle school students. She earned her MA in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Mississippi, and she is currently working on her Ed.S in Educational Leadership. She enjoys spending time outside with her two sons, reading, and listening to podcasts while walking around the neighborhood.

LP joined the Instruction Partners team in 2018 as an Operations Coordinator. Originally from the Chicago suburbs, they have been in Nashville over 6 years. LP received their Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences from Bradley University and their Master of Education in College Student Affairs and Leadership from Grand Valley State University. LP is passionate about education and has seven years of experience within the Higher Education and Nonprofit Education fields. Outside of work, LP can be found spending time with their wife and cats, crafting, scoping out a new happy hour, or immersed in the fashion world.

Alexa’s foundations in ELA content started in her middle school ELA classroom in San Antonio, Texas. Her love of the middle grades propelled her towards completing her doctorate in Interdisciplinary Learning & Teaching with a concentration in Curriculum & Instruction.  She has since worked in higher education as a teacher educator, preparing pre-service teachers for their future classrooms. She is passionate about place-based and anticolonial foundations in teaching and learning. Prior to becoming a full-time ELA Content Lead, Alexa worked as a contractor for Instruction Partners.

Liz comes to Instruction Partners after most recently working on TNTP’s 2018 national report, The Opportunity Myth. Prior to her time at TNTP, she was a high school and middle school English teacher and instructional coach in Nashville, where she’s lived since 2009.When she’s not supporting Instruction Partners’ Talent Team, Liz moonlights as a freelance writer. She holds a BA in English from Miami University (Ohio!) and an MFA in Fiction from NYU. In her spare time, she’s currently at work on a fiction manuscript (and walking her dog around East Nashville.) 

Kanitha S. Pope is a native of Nashville, TN. She pursed her collegiate education at Tennessee State University, obtaining a Bachelors in Health Science, and a Masters in Public Health. She spent several years working for First Response Center, a local non-profit that serves those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse. Most recently, she obtained a Masters in Organizational Leadership from Trevecca University. She believes that education is the key that unlocks opportunities in our complex world. Recreationally, she’s a huge sports and music fan! Basketball is her favorite sport, and ESPN is the most important channel on television. There’s not a day that goes by that Apple Music is not operating through her devices.

Before joining Instruction Partners, Lacy previously served as the principal of Girls Prep Lower East Side Middle School in New York City. Prior to that, Lacy was a director of curriculum, literacy coach, and teacher. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA and a masters degree from Columbia University. When Lacy is not working, she enjoys reading, doing the New York Times Crossword, and spending time with her husband and two sons at home in Pittsburgh.

Felicia has worked in the field of Education for 10 years. She has served in various roles such as: a special education teacher, literacy coach and curriculum writer in Washington DC. She’s also worked within higher education, advising and mentoring college students both in New York City and London. Felicia also spent time traveling the world conducting an independent research project exploring the topic of race and identity, as well as promoting social justice, equity, and mental health advocacy. Felicia is committed to dismantling systems rooted in white supremacy and fighting for the liberation of all people. Felicia holds a MA in Education Policy from King's College London, and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from American University in Washington, DC. Felicia has recently gotten into indoor bouldering as well as started collecting tattoos.

Maura received her undergraduate degree from Haverford College in English with a minor in education. After college, she joined Teach For America and was assigned to teach 7th grade math in Alabama. The experience sparked her love for teaching and learning and brought her to the Philadelphia area, where she spent five years teaching 5th grade in the KIPP Charter School Network. While working, Maura pursued her master’s degree in education, focusing on middle school math. Her work in her graduate program at Relay School of Education reinvigorated her passion for excellent math instruction and further solidified her commitment to working for equitable access to high quality education for all students. Most recently, Maura worked as a 4th grade math teacher and team leader in Gainesville, FL.

Previous to Instruction Partners, Carla worked for 16 years at Achievement First. While at AF, she served as Director of Recruitment, taught 5th/6th math, served as an instructional coach, and an academic dean. Carla also helped to write the middle school math curriculum which is now open source and is currently being evaluated by EdReports. She’s National Board Certified in Early Adolescence math and has authored items for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. She absolutely believes that all students are entitled to have access to a great education, and brings that belief with her to work each day. Outside of work, Carla can be found with her nose in a book, or at a college sporting event cheering on her son Aren, who runs track and plays soccer at his university.

Golda Sharpe is a Memphis transplant originally from Clarksdale, MS. She joined the Instruction Partners team in the summer of 2017 and brings over 9 years of experience in education. Golda has served as a high school math teacher, district instructional coach, and senior instructional coach for school districts across the state of Mississippi. Her background in Education and Economics supports her approach of tackling challenges within school networks by integrating best practices with practical approaches. In her free time, Golda has many home-improvement projects that keep her busy in addition to rekindling her passion for baking.

Mark joined Instruction Partners in January 2021 as a Senior Data Analyst. Before Instruction Partners, Mark was an analyst for New Teacher Center, where he supported numerous teacher induction and coaching programs with analyses and visualizations. Mark holds dual B.A.’s from Augustana College in Music and Political Science, as well as a M.P.P in Education Policy from Vanderbilt University.

Leslie received her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan in Elementary Education before moving to Seattle, Washington where she taught 4th and 5th grade, served on her school’s Leadership Team, and led school-wide Instructional Rounds. After realizing how systemic changes can influence student learning, Leslie attended Teachers College at Columbia University to pursue her master’s degree in education policy and sociology. Before joining Instruction Partners, Leslie worked at the Center for the Professional Education of Teachers where she supported schools in curriculum adoption, worked as an instructional coach, led professional development, and wrote ELA units around complex texts.

Molly has worked in the field of education for the past twenty years. Over the years, she has been a teacher, mentor, instructional coach, and curriculum writer. She joined Instruction Partners last year after spending three years working for a charter network in Brooklyn as a dean of instruction. Molly is passionate about providing equitable educational opportunities to all students and has earned her master’s degree in education policy. Although she currently lives in Pennsylvania, Molly loves to relocate every few years and go wherever the wind takes her. Aside from traveling and education, Molly loves a good game night!

Originally from Wisconsin, Kate taught in alternative education classrooms in the Milwaukee area and far rural Maine. Her love for science took her to the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) where she worked for over eleven years. During her time at RIDE, her work focused on statewide efforts towards high quality curriculum adoption and professional learning systems support. She takes inspiration from her undergraduate alma mater’s motto, “Light, More Light!” to seek truth and light in all things. 

Patrick Turk joined Instruction Partners in August 2020 as an Operations Coordinator. Originally from Missouri, he began professional life as a herpetologist before jumping into education. He then spent 7 years teaching elementary science in Baton Rouge, LA before joining Teach for America staff on their alumni team supporting teachers and school leaders. He currently resides in sunny Orlando with his wife, daughter, and a menagerie of animals.

Elysa joins Instruction Partners from sunny California where she has worked to create and sustain high-quality educational experiences for all students. She began her career as a TFA corps member teaching fifth grade in mid-city Los Angeles. With a love for relationship building, systems, and data, she took on a variety of school leadership roles aimed at improving outcomes for all students. Eventually, this led her to California’s Central Valley where she served as the director of an early-college, pathway program in which students earn their Associates degree alongside their high school diploma. Elysa is currently pursuing a doctorate through Vanderbilt University’s Leadership and Learning in Organizations program.

Maggie is a life-long learner passionate about empowering others to reach their full potential. This passion brought her to the education profession where she taught for ten years as a high school English teacher at KIPP Texas Public Schools – Houston. To further her impact on student achievement, she began coaching teachers in 2012 and has been a Dean of Instruction and most recently Assistant Principal. Maggie earned her Master of Arts in Teaching through the Relay Graduate School of Education and later returned to be an ELA adjunct professor for the Accelerated Master Cohort. She has also written curriculum, led professional development, and participated in a variety of teaching and leadership workshops. Her greatest accomplishment has been to see her students graduate college and return to work alongside her in the classroom.

Before joining Instruction Partners in August 2020, Kate worked for the Tennessee Department of Education’s Office of Academics as a copyeditor and content development coordinator. She thinks school is cool and feels lucky that she gets to support education professionals by way of her nerdy interest in sentence construction. Kate has positive feelings about Calvin and Hobbes, negative feelings about temperatures below 50 degrees, and strong opinions about the relative quality of different brands of peanut butter.

During Nadra’s 10 years of experience in education, she has served as a teacher, PCL coach, assistant principal, and principal in Memphis, TN. With a heart for math, Nadra is joining the team as a math content lead. She is excited to help build schools' capacity to provide an equitable education and quality math instruction to all students.

Jen's career started in an 8th-grade classroom in rural North Carolina, where as a teacher, department chair, and special projects coordinator she gained new respect for the impact operations have on student learning. She transitioned to a role with Teach For America's summer training program and worked alongside a brilliant, talented team for 14 years to manage training logistics, build high-quality operations tools and systems, and design and implement risk management policies. Most recently Jen worked as a consultant for Braven. Outside of work, she serves on the board of a nonprofit dedicated to supporting arts in her local school district and is pursuing her master's degree in Public Policy and Management at the University of Pittsburgh. She lives just outside of Pittsburgh with her family.

Our Board

Sandra Alberti is Instruction Partners’ Board Chair and the Senior Fellow, Strategic Partnerships for Student Achievement Partners. Sandra joined SAP from the New Jersey Department of Education where she served as the Director of Academic Standards and as the Director of Math and Science Education. In these roles, Sandra was directly involved in state standards, assessment, and professional development policy and implementation strategies. Prior to working at the state level Sandra held several district-level positions including school superintendent, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, principal, subject area supervisor and high school science teacher. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Rutgers University and master’s and doctorate degrees in Educational Leadership from Rowan University.

Candice Bocala is a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). Her research focuses on the connections between educator learning and organizational conditions that support collaborative work. As a member of the Data Wise Project at HGSE, she co-chairs multiple Data Wise Institutes and is currently the director of Data Wise Research. In this role, she studies how schools and districts use data for continuous improvement and integrates that knowledge into the design of practitioner-friendly tools and resources. She is the former faculty director of the Reimagining Integration: Diverse and Equitable Schools (RIDES) Project at HGSE. Bocala began her career as an elementary school teacher in Washington, D.C. She was also a senior research associate at WestEd, where she served as a researcher and technical assistance provider for federally-funded national centers such as the Regional Educational Laboratory, Northeast and Islands (REL-NEI). Bocala received her Ed.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and she holds an M.A.T. in elementary education from American University, an M.A. in policy analysis and evaluation from Stanford University, and a B.A. in government from Cornell University.

Rick Cruz has served in leadership roles in companies, nonprofits and government agencies – and has extensive experience in organizational management, partnerships, business development, strategic planning and external relations.

Rick is currently with Arabella Advisors – a mission-driven Certified B Corporation dedicated to helping philanthropists increase their impact and make a difference on the issues that matter most to them.  As Arabella Advisors’ chief revenue officer, Rick Cruz oversees communications, marketing and client development efforts, all of which help grow the organization’s reach and philanthropic impact.

Over the last decade, Rick has served in senior roles at leading social sector education and youth development enterprises, including College Board, America’s Promise Alliance, FSG, Teach for America, DC Prep Public Charter School and the DC Public Charter School Board.

Rick began his career in the professional services sector, working at the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) in Washington, DC and London for more than a decade.  There he assumed successive leadership roles and built teams that helped global corporations develop their strategic planning, finance, risk management and governance capabilities.

Rick is deeply committed to advancing access to quality education and currently serves as chair of the DC Public Charter School Board.  That independent board oversees the 66 nonprofit organizations and their 126 schools – which educate nearly half the public school students in the District of Columbia.  Rick is a frequent panelist and speaker about public education and reform efforts..

Wil Del Pilar, Ph.D., serves as Ed Trust’s Vice President of Higher Education Policy and Practice. In this role, Wil spearheads Ed Trust’s mission to highlight inequities and outline solutions in order to improve access, success, affordability, and completion in higher education for low-income students and students of color. Prior to joining Ed Trust, Wil served in Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s administration as Deputy Secretary of Postsecondary and Higher Education, where he developed and implemented the state’s strategic vision for higher education. Wil has also held senior development positions, as the director of development at Pennsylvania State University and at the University of Florida’s Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program. Wil holds a doctorate in higher education/higher education administration from The Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree from California State University-Dominguez Hills, and a bachelor’s degree from Chapman University.

Before co-founding Instruction Partners (formerly District to District), Emily was the Assistant Commissioner of Curriculum and Instruction for the Tennessee Department of Education. In this capacity, she oversaw K-12 core academics including standards, assessment design, instructional materials, and educator training and support. She led a collaborative effort to train more than 65,000 teachers and leaders during this time in a peer-led, content-based approach and Tennessee saw increases in student achievement on both NAEP and state tests. At the department, she also managed the implementation of educator evaluation and served as Chief of Staff, supporting the development of the strategic plan. For five years before coming to Tennessee, Emily managed Teach For America’s D.C. and Connecticut Regions. She fell in love with education teaching seventh-grade math in a rural community in Louisiana.

Saamra Mekuria-Grillo is the CEO and co-founder of Formation Ventures, a nonprofit that is dedicated to dramatically increasing the number and success of Black Gen Z entrepreneurs, through educational and new venture support programs. From 2011–2019, she served as Vice President of Strategy and Operations and Chief Operating Officer of the Pahara Institute, an education leadership development organization. Prior to Pahara, Saamra held roles at Bain & Company and at Google, where she helped to launch Google’s Hyderabad office. Saamra currently serves on the board of Compass Rose Public Schools and has previously served on the boards of the Mission Preparatory School and the East Bay Innovation Academy. She holds an MBA with a certificate in Public Management from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a bachelor’s degree from Yale University. She is also a proud graduate of the Boston Latin School, the first public school in the United States. Saamra lives in San Antonio, TX with her husband, Brandon, and their two sons.

Kira serves as Senior Vice President of Teach For America as well as an elected member on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Kira was a 2000 corps member in Baton Rouge, where she taught fourth grade at Eden Park Elementary. She went on to serve as school director for Teach For America summer institute and, as vice president of new site development, led the organization’s efforts to expand to three new regions. Kira is also a moderator for the Pahara fellowship, a 2010 fellow of the Aspen-New Schools cohort, and a member of the Aspen Global Network. In 2015 Kira was named to TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. She holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University, an M.Ed. in school leadership from Harvard University.

Carrie is a Partner at New Profit, where she provides integrated strategic advising to senior leadership teams at organizations in the portfolio to help them grow sustainably and increase their impact. Her work includes CEO and senior team coaching through individual, pair, and team engagements. Carrie also plays an internal leadership role at New Profit, responsible for ensuring that the day-to-day management of the organization aligns with New Profit’s vision and strategic priorities. She joined New Profit in 2011 to work in development, where she launched co-funder collaboratives in partnership with the portfolio team. Carrie is motivated in her work by a passion for human connection in all its forms–on teams, in organizations, across communities–first ignited through her work to capture the stories of immigrants to build their legal cases for asylum, domestic violence protection, and deportation relief. She holds a B.A. in History from Boston College and a Master’s degree from The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Joanne Weiss is an independent consultant to organizations on education programs, technologies, and policy. For the past fifteen years, she has focused on driving systems-level education change through high-impact grantmaking, investing, and policymaking. From 2009-2013, she served in the Obama Administration as chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and director of the federal Race to the Top program. Prior to that, she led companies that pioneered technology-based approaches to solving teaching and learning challenges in K-12 and higher education. Joanne also sits on the board of LearnZillion and is an Expert-in-Residence at the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-Lab), a Senior Fellow with FutureEd at Georgetown University, and a visiting professor in education policy at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. She holds a degree in biochemistry from Princeton University and resides with her husband in Washington, D.C.

Marcus is CEO of Health:Further, a community and festival focused on the future of health, and President and Founding Partner of Jumpstart Foundry, a new kind of venture capital firm focused on innovative, early stage healthcare companies. Jumpstart has a portfolio of over 60 companies including Concert Genetics, Satchel and Sightbox. He also is a co-owner of Nashville SC, Nashville’s professional soccer team set to debut in 2018. Through his social enterprise The Unlikely Company, dedicated to educating and inspiring unlikely entrepreneurs, Marcus has a YouTube show called Create and Orchestrate about entrepreneurship and life, and is finishing a book now with the same title. Marcus has been listed in the Upstart 100 by Upstart Business Journal, Power 100 by Nashville Business Journal, and has been featured in Techcrunch, Fast Company and The Atlantic. Marcus is also a member of the board of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville, the Nashville Public Library Foundation and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Anne Wicks, The Ann Kimball Johnson Director of Education Reform at the Bush Institute, develops and oversees the policy, research, and engagement work of the Education Reform team. Before joining the Bush Institute, Ms. Wicks served as an Associate Dean at the University of Southern California's Rossier School of Education where she led a team with revenue, communications, and engagement goals. Additionally, she supported Dean Karen Symms Gallagher on a variety of special projects including the launch and early growth of Ednovate Charter Schools. She currently serves as a board member for Dallas Afterschool and is the vice-chair of the Education Opens Doors board. She is on the advisory board of Best In Class and the Educator Collective, and she serves as the chair of the Texas Ed Leadership Community of Practice. Over her career, she has held management roles at Teach for America, the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, and Stanford University. Ms. Wicks holds a B.A in American Studies and a M.A. in Education from Stanford University (during which she taught 8th grade social studies), as well as a M.B.A. from the University of Southern California. Ms. Wicks is an alumni volunteer for Stanford University, and is a member of the Stanford Associates. She is the parent of a public school student.

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