Sonia has over 18 years of experience in school start-up, support, accountability and development. She has a background in organization and school development, support, and accountability in relation to school-based, district, state and federal policies and practices. Prior to joining the Diverse Charter Schools Coalition, she served under Secretary John King at the US Department of Education as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Innovation and Improvement where she worked on policies concerning charter schools and provided guidance for Race to the Top-District grantees. Before this, Sonia was the Executive Director of Manhattan Charter Schools, a two-school charter network located in lower Manhattan. Sonia also worked under the New York City Department of Education’s Chancellor Denis Walcott as the Executive Director of Charter Schools, Accountability, and Support. She has also worked with the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, NY Charter Schools Resource Center, NY Charter Schools Association, and Edison Schools. She’s presented at statewide, regional, and national charter schools conferences and has been a national a peer reviewer. As a consultant, she’s worked with such organizations as the NY State Education Department, Charter Schools Institute of the State University of New York, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, New Visions for New Schools, The Newark Charter Schools Fund and the Children’s Aid Society.
Elsa is an education leader with a passion for driving system-level change to ensure all children have access to a high-quality education. Prior to joining the Diverse Charter Schools Coalition, she was the CEO of Rhode Island Mayoral Academies (RIMA), a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the transformation of K-12 education and dramatically increasing high-quality educational opportunities for Rhode Island students. Elsa also served as the Chief of Policy & Expansion and Director of Policy at RIMA. Prior to joining RIMA, Elsa was a research associate at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University (AISR) where she implemented, managed, and documented research projects at the local and regional levels. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in urban education policy from Brown University. She is a 2015 Pahara NextGen Leader, a program of the Aspen Institute.
Managing Program Director
Ashley started her career as a special education teacher in Washington, DC. After teaching, she worked as a teacher coach with Teach For America, supporting secondary special education teachers. In 2011, Ashley moved to Chicago to attend law school. During school, she worked with Chicago Public Schools as an Education Pioneer Fellow and for the Illinois Network of Charter Schools consulting with community members starting charter schools. In 2014, Ashley returned to her hometown of Baton Rouge to serve as the Director of Strategy and Innovation at New Schools for Baton Rouge. There she managed the organization’s $10,000,000 human capital strategy and innovative schools portfolio. Later, Ashley founded Ashley Heard Consulting, providing strategic planning and fundraising support to education and social services nonprofits. Ashley holds a BA from Vanderbilt University, a MA from American University, and a JD from Loyola Chicago School of Law. She is a member of the Baton Rouge Business Report’s “40 Under 40”, the Baton Rouge Junior League, and a mentor through the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition. She also serves on the advisory board of the New Orleans-based Special Education Leadership Fellowship. In her free time, Ashley practices yoga, fusses at her poorly behaved dog, Annabel, and attempts home renovation projects.
Special Projects Intern
Brieanna is currently a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park double majoring in Early Childhood Education/Special Education and Psychology. Previously, she worked at disability rights advocacy group RespectAbility as a communications fellow. She also has extensive experience in general and special education classrooms with a focus on working with children on the Autism Spectrum. She has also worked as a research assistant on several federally funded research projects.
Special Projects Intern
Liam is currently a senior at American University in Washington, DC majoring in Philosophy. He is passionate about education and would like to be a high school teacher some day. In the past he has worked as a Teaching Fellow at Breakthrough Greater Boston where he taught literature to a class of seventh grade students, he has worked as an assistant special education teacher in an elementary school in Massachusetts, and he has tutored students of many different ages in the DC Reads program. He is also currently a teaching assistant for an introductory philosophy class at American University. Additionally, Liam has experience working with federal policy working as an intern at the Congressional Relations Office at the Peace Corps. In his free time Liam likes to go to the movies, go hiking, draw, and play basketball.
Fellowship Program Intern
Jahari Shelton is a junior at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC, having earned admissions and a scholarship after graduating with distinction from DC Prep Public Charter School. Coming from a family with deep roots in the District of Columbia, he is already showing critical interest in the progression of his community. Even as a student in high school, he is in the process of founding breakthrough organizations that will re-imagine, re-design, and re-construct how we currently view America. Recently, Jahari was a Fellow at Education Forward, an Intern at Relay Graduate School of Education, and a member of the DC Graduation Requirements Task Force. Currently, he is a board member for North Star College Prep Academy for Boys in D.C.
The Coalition’s Board of Directors
Daniel Kikuji Rubenstein, Board Chair
Daniel K. Rubenstein is the co-founder and Executive Director of Brooklyn Prospect Charter School. Since opening in 2009, Brooklyn Prospect has been dedicated to building and growing learning communities where excellent teachers prepare diverse student bodies to have a positive impact on society and a lifelong passion for learning. In addition to his work with Brooklyn Prospect, Dan has been instrumental in forming the Diverse Charter Schools Coalition, a group of over 30 charter organizations and advisors dedicated to creating successful, integrated public choice schools. An educator since 1992, Dan has served in various teaching and administrative roles at Collegiate School (New York), SEED Public Charter School (Washington, D.C.), Sidwell Friends School (Washington, D.C.), and School Year Abroad (Beijing, China). In 2002, Dan received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching for his work at SEED, and his achievements with charter schools have been documented in USA Today and Education Next, as well as on ABC’s “Nightline” and PBS’ “Life 360.” He holds masters degrees from Columbia University’s Teachers College and St. John’s College and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Hamilton College.
Brian Beabout, is the RosaMary Professor of educational leadership at the University of New Orleans. He was a founding board member of the Morris Jeff Community School in New Orleans, Louisiana. His scholarship focuses on educational change, charter schools, and urban school leadership. He has published in The Journal of Educational Change, Urban Education, Multicultural Education, The School Community Journal, the International Journal of Education Reform, and The Journal of School Choice. He is the co-editor (with Miron and Boselovic) of Only in New Orleans: School Choice and Equity Post-Hurricane Katrina (Sense Publishers, 2015). Brian is a graduate of the Instructional Systems Ph.D. program at Penn State University.
Deborah McGriff, Ph.D., is a managing partner at NewSchools Venture Fund where she focuses on closing the demographic gap between students and executive leaders and governing boards. She co-leads NewSchools’ Diverse Leaders strategy, focused on fostering the creation of strong talent pipelines so that Black and Latino leaders represent at least 40% of education leadership by 2020. Previously, Deborah worked as the executive vice president and chief relationship officer of Edison Schools. She was the first public school superintendent to join Edison Schools in 1993. At Edison, she held numerous positions, including president of Edison Teachers College and executive vice president of charter schools. Prior to Edison, Deborah served as the first female general superintendent of the 200,000-student Detroit Public Schools, where she successfully opened 25 schools of choice and expanded decentralization. Crain’s Detroit Business named her newsmaker of the year for 1992. Before that, she was the first female assistant superintendent in Cambridge, MA, and the first female deputy superintendent in Milwaukee, WI. Deborah is a former president of the Education Industry Association and both a founder and national board member of the Black Alliance for Educational Options.
Eric Grannis is a graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School. He graduated third in his class, was an editor of the Law Review and a Kent Scholar, and was awarded first prize in oral advocacy. Following graduation, Eric served as a law clerk to the Honorable Peter K. Leisure, United States District Court Judge, Southern District of New York. Eric was subsequently associated with the firms of Debevoise & Plimpton (1994-1998) and Salans (1998-2002). At both of these firms he specialized in civil litigation and commercial arbitration. Eric’s publications include Fighting Words and Fighting Freestyle: The Constitutionality of Penalty Enhancement for Bias Crimes, 93 Colum. L. Rev. 178, 191-92 (1993), and A Problem of Mixed Motives: Applying Unocal to Defensive ESOPs, 92 Colum. L. Rev. 851 (1992). Eric is an experienced litigator who has tried six Federal cases to jury verdicts. He also speaks French and represents numerous French clients in U.S. litigation. He is a former public school teacher and a leading expert on charter school law. Eric has been a founding board member and pro bono counsel to two charter schools: the Bronx Preparatory Charter School and the Girls Preparatory Charter School of New York.
Halley Potter is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, where she researches public policy solutions for addressing educational inequality. Her work focuses on school integration, preschool equity, charter schools, and college admissions. She is the coauthor, with Richard D. Kahlenberg, of A Smarter Charter: Finding What Works for Charter Schools and Public Education (Teachers College Press, 2014). Prior to joining The Century Foundation, Halley taught at Two Rivers Public Charter School in northeast Washington, D.C. She graduated summa cum laude from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies.
Heather Schwartz is a policy researcher and the associate director of RAND Education. She researches education and housing policies intended to reduce the negative effects of poverty on children and families. Her work falls in three policy areas intended to help close the income achievement gap: economically integrative housing and school programs, K-12 school reforms, and early childhood learning opportunities. She is interested in experimental and non-experimental methods to make causal inferences about the effects of public policies. Her methodological skills include benefit-cost analyses, survey design, collecting focus group and interview data, and quantitative analysis of large secondary datasets. Heather earned her Ph.D. in education policy from Columbia University.
Jon Rosenberg is the CEO of Hebrew Public, a network of diverse-by-design public charter schools that includes three schools in NYC. Jon is a former public defender at New York’s Legal Aid Society, as well as a former Senior Civil Rights Attorney at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). While at OCR, Jon was the lead attorney-investigator on issues relating to the disproportionate placement of students of color in self-contained special education settings. Jon is a past-Chair of the NYC Bar Association’s Committee on Education Law, and was co-author of the Association’s report on discrimination in NYC’s public gifted and talented education programs. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Seattle-Louisville case, Jon served as Co-Chair of the Montclair, New Jersey Taskforce on School Integration, which found ways to preserve that district’s controlled choice program without relying on individual student race. Jon has taught Education Law at Teachers College and Children and the Law at Columbia Law School. In addition to his work at Hebrew Public, he serves on the Boards of the Coalition of Diverse Charter Schools and the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools.
Krupa Desai currently serves as the managing director of The Broad Residency in Urban Education at The Broad Center in Los Angeles. Prior to that, Krupa was chief strategy officer of Citizens of the World Charter Schools, where she was a founding team member of the first national network of racially and socioeconomically diverse public charter schools. Krupa has also served as senior managing director of development for Teach For America – Los Angeles and as an attorney at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges. She began her career with Teach For America as a corps member teaching seventh- and eighth-grade science in the New York City Department of Education. She was a member of the Pahara NextGen fellowship and is a founding board member of the Diverse Charter Schools Coalition. Krupa holds a bachelor of arts degree in American studies, policy, politics, and governance from Yale University, a master of science in education from Pace University, and a J.D. cum laude from the New York University School of Law.
Maria Cristina R. Heredia’s work focuses on supporting innovative and effective educational and economic opportunities for students. She has been actively involved with charter schools and education nonprofits in California for twenty years. Maria works with High Tech High in the dual role of Chief Operations Officer and General Counsel. As part of a dedicated operations team, she supports the HTH schools in many areas, including strategic planning, board engagement, authorizer and stakeholder relations, and the development of policies and practices reflective HTH culture and design principles. Maria previously served as Senior Vice President of Legal Advocacy and General Counsel to the California Charter Schools Association. Prior to fully moving into the nonprofit education sector, Maria served charter schools, nonprofits and private companies as an attorney. After gaining hands-on experience as a law partner at Luce Forward Hamilton and Scripps LLP, she co-founded California Counsel Group, a law practice focusing on empowerment through education and entrepreneurship. Maria has enjoyed teaching graduate level classes in education law and policy and has served on the boards of local nonprofits. She is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Harvard University where she earned an A.B. in American History and Literature.
Lee Teitel is a Lecturer at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education where teaches courses on integrated schools and leading and coaching for equity and diversity, leadership development, partnership and networking, and on understanding organizations and how to improve them. He is the faculty director of the Reimagining Integration: The Diverse and Equitable Schools Project at HGSE. Before that, he directed the School Leadership master’s program for eight years; prior to that he was the founding director and then faculty senior associate of the Executive Leadership Program for Educators, a five-year collaboration of Harvard Graduate School of Education, Business School, and Kennedy School of Government that focused on bringing high-quality teaching and learning to scale in urban and high need districts. Lee has taught at HGSE since 1999 as a part-time lecturer and then visiting professor (2004-2005). He came to HGSE full-time in 2006, after more than 15 years in teaching and writing about educational leadership at the University of Massachusetts–Boston, where he was the full professor and associate chair of the Department of Leadership in Education.
Michael DeMatteo is the Chief Operating Officer at Blackstone Valley Prep (BVP) Mayoral Academy, a network of tuition-free public schools currently serving just over 1,800 scholars in grades K-12 across 6 schools. Mike is a registered architect with over fifteen years of professional experience in institutional facilities programming, planning, and design, specializing in K-12 education. Interested in more active engagement in the education sector, he shifted his professional focus to working within schools. He also served as a Fellow with Education Pioneers where he assisted the charter school, Alma del Mar, open in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and was a Broad Resident during his time with BVP. Mike holds a Master’s in Public Affairs from Brown University with a focus on Urban Education Policy.
Robert Reed, Jr.
Robert Reed, Jr. is the Senior Director of Legal Affairs for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, where he develops and implements legal advocacy efforts. He has over 14 years of experience as a litigator and policy leader. Prior to joining the National Alliance, Robert was a senior policy adviser with the Vera Institute of Justice. Before that, he was the Associate Director of Legislative Affairs for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Prior to joining ONDCP, Robert worked as oversight counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee, Assistant U.S. Attorney, senior judicial law clerk for then-Chief Judge Annice Wagner of the D.C. Court of Appeals, and as a litigation attorney with Miller & Chevalier in Washington, D.C. Robert holds a Bachelor of Arts, with honors, from Stanford University and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he received the James M. Shoemaker, Jr. award as a finalist in the Lile Moot Court Competition. He has served on KIPP DC’s inaugural associate board, as well as the board of the Luke Moore Academy in Washington, D.C.
Veronica Brooks-Uy is the Director of Policy for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA). She started her career as a middle school science teacher and has worked at the Louisiana Department of Education in the authorizing office, served as the Policy Director for the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, and was a Consultant at Public Impact. Through these experiences, she has learned a lot about quality authorizing, as well as improving the charter sector through policy reform. At NACSA, she works with national, state, and local partners to pass and improve charter school laws and regulations. Veronica holds a Master of Public Policy from George Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Virginia.
Bobbi Macdonald serves as the Executive Director of City Neighbors Foundation, the operator of three diverse public charter schools in Baltimore K – 12 dedicated to making sure every student is Known, Loved, and Inspired. She was selected by the Annie E. Casey Foundation as one of 16 leaders from across the country for the Children and Family Fellowship. Bobbi serves on the Advisory Board of Convergence: Re-imagining Education Project, on the Board of Directors of Hamilton Bank and is past Chair and founding member of the Maryland Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the Baltimore Education Coalition. Previously Bobbi taught early childhood education and kindergarten in two University child development laboratory schools and served as literacy trainer for Head Start and the Children’s Literacy Initiative. Bobbi received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois in Human Development and Family Ecology and holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, in Curriculum and Instruction.
Sean Wilson is the Head of School at International High School of New Orleans (IHSNO). IHSNO is the only high school in New Orleans offering students the opportunity to participate in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). Through the IBDP, IHSNO students gain excellent breadth and depth of knowledge, excel in their academic subjects, and thrive intellectually, emotionally and ethically. Sean previously served the Head of School at the high performing language immersion International School of Louisiana for eight years, seeing it through the expansion to two additional campuses. During his tenure, ISL expanded the number of students and campuses it served, including Jefferson Parish. ISL was named Charter School of the Year, a Certified World Language School and was consistently a high-performing school.
Andrea Arroyo is the Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at Georgia Charter Schools Association. Andrea joined GCSA after spending 15 years as a manager, strategist, and advocate in the nonprofit and economic development sectors. Prior to joining GCSA, Andrea served as Director of New Site Development and Community Engagement with Citizens of the World Charter Schools. In this role she successful cultivated relationships and built advocates among community members, elected officials, school leaders and parents in more than 11 cities. Andrea has also served as Director of Grants at LA’s Promise, helping to secure over $4 million of funding from private foundations, public agencies, corporate partners and other supporters to enhance educational initiatives at LA’s Promise schools. Before that, she served as Managing Director of District and School Partnerships at Teach For America. Andrea previously worked at two consulting firms focused on integrated real estate advisory and affordable housing services. She assisted in the development of over 45 affordable housing projects and advised clients to help them make strategic investments and improvements in their communities. In addition, Andrea spent two years as a 2nd-grade teacher at Saul Martinez Elementary School in Mecca, California. Andrea earned a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology from Pitzer College. She is an alumna of the CORO Fellowship in Public Affairs.
Heather Lamm is Director of Marketing and Communications at DSST Public Schools, a network of 13 secondary charter schools that serve over 5,000 students in Denver. In her role leading Marketing and Communications, Heather oversees student recruitment, all internal and external communications, marketing, brand awareness and public advocacy efforts. Heather served on the Board of Directors at DSST for 8 years prior to joining the staff. Prior to that, Heather was a Founder and Partner at Brushfire Sales, a Denver-based professional services firm helping companies understand and leverage digital technologies to grow revenue, market share, and presence in local markets. Heather was also an Executive Vice President at MediaNews Group, the fourth-largest newspaper company in the US, and the Vice President of Strategic Planning at San Francisco-based Standard Media International, publisher of the Industry Standard magazine. Heather holds an MBA in entrepreneurship and organizational behavior from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and a BA in political science from Brown University. She is a 2004 graduate of the Denver Chamber of Commerce Leadership Denver program.