Sonia Park – she/her/hers
Sonia is a daughter of Korean immigrants and the product of public schools. Growing up she moved frequently and attended many schools in and around Philadelphia. In some instances, she and her siblings were the only non-white students in the entire school. She directly experienced the possibilities and limitations that a zip code can confer. She believes that the primary place that can bring people together – school – should be a space where students can develop understanding and empathy across lines of differences. She believes that in today’s world, her son should not have to defend or define who he is. She is striving towards creating that ideal.
Sonia’s been working in education reform for over 20 years. Prior to DCSC she served under Secretary John King at the US Department of Education as a Senior Policy Advisor and also was the Executive Director of Charter Schools Accountability and Support in the NYC Department of Education under Chancellor Denis Walcott. In addition to leading Manhattan Charter Schools, a two-school charter network located in lower Manhattan, her work experiences include the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, NY Charter Schools Resource Center, NY Charter Schools Association, and Edison Schools. She’s a Brooklyn convert who runs at a glacial pace and believes that kimchi fried rice with spam topped with a fried egg is the perfect breakfast.
Dave Bryson – he/him/his
Son of a social worker and a corporate lawyer, Dave grew up in a highly segregated white neighborhood in Boston, MA. The divergent professions of his parents provided him with an early understanding of inequality, as well as his own relative access to power and privilege. Though he didn’t have the language to describe it as a child, this visceral understanding of fairness (and its lack thereof) has driven him ever since seeking out areas of study and employment that provided opportunities to work toward a more just world.
Prior to joining the team at DCSC, Dave helped lead Bedford Stuyvesant Collegiate (part of the Uncommon Schools network in Brooklyn, NY). While he continues to be a proud supporter of his colleagues at Uncommon he always wondered what BSC would look like if the student and family community represented a broader array of racial and socio-economic backgrounds from families across Brooklyn. Dave is inspired by the work of DCSC members because they are answering that question on a daily basis. As Deputy Director at DCSC, Dave appreciates the opportunity to support practitioners realizing the promise of school integration. He also has an extremely specific point of view on what constitutes a high quality sandwich.
Ashley Heard – she/her/hers
Managing Program Director
A Baton Rouge native, Ashley (she, her, hers) grew up moving around the country. She landed in Nashville for college and was shocked by the economic privilege of many of her peers. Thanks to supportive friends, professors who went the extra mile (one loaned her a laptop so she could work on her senior thesis!) and a financial aid officer who more than once found a little extra aid money or another work study job, she made her way. As graduation loomed, she found herself wondering about opportunity, about those who had it, those who lucked into it as she had, and those who were cut off from it. Upon graduation, she joined Teach For America and taught in Washington, DC; she has worked in education ever since.
Ashley returned home to Baton Rouge in 2015. In 2016, Alton Sterling was shot and killed by Baton Rouge police and the response fell along predictable racial lines. Racism, and the segregation that comes with it, is both a defining feature of Baton Rouge’s history as well as its current reality. In 2017, Ashley learned about Diverse Charter Schools Coalition (DCSC) and the work to start intentionally integrated public schools. She was drawn to work that combined her experience in charter school growth with work to integrate schools and, by extension, communities. Ashley now serves as the Managing Director of Program and loves working with UnifiED school launch fellows and explorers. Ashley is an overly lenient dog mom to Annabel, a friend, sister, aunt, and daughter. She is an avid yogi, turned novice runner and bike rider in a covid- 19 world. She can clap one-handed and likes Prince, cooking, wine on the porch, gardening, and Twitter debates.
Seon Britton – he/him/his
Program Manager, Membership Engagement
A product of two first-generation college students of the civil rights era, Seon comes from Detroit, MI. Moving to the suburbs at the age of seven was an early lesson for Seon on how resources are distributed to communities of color vs. white communities. His experiences growing up made him a strong believer of equity in which he chose to work within the education sector teaching 6th grade reading in Arkansas as a Teach For America corps member. After this, he focused on finding great teachers for students by recruiting for TFA and later the NYC Department of Education under NYC Men Teach. Seon currently lives in New York City and when not working on school integration is perfecting his expertise on classic Black 90s sitcoms through Netflix.
Amy Jiravisitcul – she/her/hers
Director of Data & Evaluation
As an educator, Amy consistently sought out institutions that prioritized educational equity. She is a proud daughter of Chinese heritage parents who arrived in the US during the 1980s as refugees from Southeast Asia. Although Amy’s parents hail from Savannakhet, Laos, and Bangkok, Thailand, Amy grew up in a predominantly white suburb of Milford, Connecticut. Amy’s K-12 experiences in a white-centric public school system sparked her passion for disrupting generational legacies of systemic racism, colonialism, and trauma among marginalized communities.
She formerly served on the Board of Directors for Asian American Resource Workshop, supporting programs related to neighborhood-based organizing and fighting anti-Black racism. Amy’s background includes teaching foreign language at the elementary and middle school level, as well as advising underserved students and families in a Boston out-of-school-time academic program. In her free time, she enjoys discussing racial identity development, making pizza dough from scratch, and getting lost in everyone’s Instagram stories.
The Coalition’s Board of Directors
Mike Chalupa, Board Chair
Mike Chalupa serves as the Director of City Neighbors Foundation, which operates three arts integrated, project-based, Reggio Emilia-inspired public charter schools in Baltimore (City Neighbors High School, 9-12, City Neighbors Hamilton K-8, and City Neighbors Charter School, K-8) and works to promote progressive, child-centered, democratic educational practices across the region. Mike had previously served as Academic Director of the City Neighbors Foundation, co-founded City Neighbors Hamilton and City Neighbors High School and led City Neighbors Charter School as Principal. Starting his career as a program leader for various non-profits supporting immigrant and homeless youth, Mike then served as a 4th through 8th grade classroom teacher, and an independent school leader – before coming to City Neighbors. In addition to his role on the DCSC Board, Mike also serves as Co-President of the Maryland Alliance of Public Charter Schools. Mike earned his Masters in School Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and his Bachelor of Arts in English and History from Georgetown University.
Growing up, Veronica Brooks-Uy attended school in rural, southern Virginia. Many of the spaces she navigated were highly segregated, and she often felt people tried to place her into boxes that did not fit. It wasn’t until college when she had the privilege to meet a diversity of people and be exposed to a broad variety of experiences and ideas did she begin to see that those boxes were arbitrary and that she could decide who she wanted to be. As a former teacher and now a mother, Veronica wants to help build a society where her students and her son are allowed to experience the world, determine who they want to be, and live their truths.
Veronica is now the Vice President of Policy at 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.
Rhonda Broussard founded Beloved Community to create sustainable paths to regional economic equity. Beloved Community works at the nexus of Equity in Schools, Equity at Work, and Equity at Home. Her vision for Beloved Community is informed by her education leadership and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s goal “ to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”
Rhonda has been a leader in diversity and international education initiatives throughout her career. In 2007, she founded St. Louis Language Immersion Schools (SLLIS), a charter management organization serving an intentionally diverse school community with language immersion and International Baccalaureate pedagogy for all students. Under Rhonda’s leadership, the first three schools in the network became IB World Authorized Schools, and SLLIS achieved an AYP of 92%, equivalent to Accreditation with Distinction from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Rhonda is a Pahara-Aspen Institute Fellow and an Eisenhower Fellow. She completed her undergraduate studies in French and Secondary Education at Washington University in St. Louis and a Master of Arts degree in French Studies from New York University’s Institute of French Studies. She has studied education in Cameroon, Martinique, metropolitan France, Finland, and New Zealand. Rhonda currently serves as chair of the Board of Directors of EdNavigator and treasurer of Dat School Agile Learning Center. Previously, Rhonda has served on the board of Missouri Charter Public School Association, PROMO – Missouri’s LGBT Advocacy Leader, and Campus YMCA-YWCA. Rhonda lives with her partner Kim and two children Olivia and Oscar in her native Louisiana. She studies, performs, and occasionally teaches dances from the African diaspora.
Rhonda’s first book, One Good Question: How Countries, Communities, and Schools Prepare Youth for Global Citizenship, will be published by TBR Books/CALEC later this year.
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.
Ebonie Durham is the Senior Director of Operations at the Noble Network of Charter Schools. Noble School serves over 12,000 public school students in the city of Chicago. Noble Schools is nationally recognized for the academic performance and collegiate success of its over 15,000 alumni. At Noble, Ebonie leads the network strategy for student admissions and campus operations. She also serves as a mentor and facilitator for the Diverse Leaders Fellowship, a leadership program that invests in emerging leaders of color by providing in-person training and mentorship from senior leaders throughout the education community. Ebonie is also a member of the 2020 winter cohort of Pahara Fellows
Prior to joining the Noble Support Team, Ebonie was the Founding Dean of Operations and Assistant Principal for Noble’s tenth campus, John and Eunice Johnson College Prep. With over 15 years of experience in the public and private sector, Ebonie’s expertise is in education business operations and administration. As a first-generation college graduate, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a master’s degree in Education Leadership and Administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
Derrick Johnson, Vice Chair
Derrick Johnson is an anti-racist venture philanthropist, educator, and entrepreneur. He has supported the launch of more than 75 innovative public schools and coached more than 100 entrepreneurs launching ventures across early childhood and K-12 education.
Derrick is the founder of Edustory, a national nonprofit that highlights Black, Latino, and Native American education entrepreneurs’ stories and collective impact. Previously, he was a school launch & incubation director at CityBridge Education, an incubator for equity-centered innovation in public schools in Washington, DC. He built and led a launch portfolio of investments, managing selection, management assistance, data and impact analysis, and sector partnerships. Before this, he led sourcing, diligence, selection, and grants management for investments in new innovative public schools at NewSchools Venture Fund, a national venture philanthropy that supports and invests in promising teams of educators and entrepreneurs with the vision and skills to reimagine learning. Earlier in his career, he was a founding teacher and school leader at Success Academy Charter Schools. Derrick began his career as an analyst at Goldman Sachs.
He earned a master’s degree in education from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Morehouse College. Derrick serves on the boards of Diverse Charter Schools Coalition and Social Justice School. Additionally, he serves on the Investment Committee of the Detroit Children’s Fund, an education funder in his hometown.
Dr. Kristina Kyles-Smith
Dr. Kristina Kyles-Smith is currently the Executive Director of Two Rivers Public Charter Schools. This network of high-performing public schools in Washington, D.C., has the mighty mission to nurture a diverse group of students to become lifelong, active participants in their education. Throughout her career, Dr. Kyles-Smith has served in several roles in public education, amassing a wealth of diverse educational leadership experience. These roles include teacher, district director of equity, and district curriculum director in Massachusetts. She has also served as a public-school Principal and Assistant State Superintendent of Education in Maryland. Nationally, Dr. Kyles-Smith supported school transformation and equity as the Regional Director for EL Education. She received her Bachelors from Hope College and a Master’s from Simmons College. She received her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Cambridge College, in Cambridge, Massachusetts completing her dissertation on historically black schools’ ability to educate black students and sustain powerfully black communities.
Dr. Kyles-Smith successfully supervised the administration of Federal and state programs to improve students’ educational opportunities, empowered teachers and students to do more than they thought possible, and focused on growing access to quality educational options. She is the co-author of the article, Is Your Approach to Continuous Improvement Colorblind, published in the March 2021 Issue of Educational Leadership. She is also the author of The Essence of Dunbar, A Qualitative Exploration of the Essence of a Historical Black School in Baltimore, Maryland. She is the recipient of several awards, including Hope College’s Kujichagulia Alumni Excellence Award (2021) and Distinguished Alumni Award (2004), and The Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award for Community & Business (2012).
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.
Ron C. Rice has over 15 years of public policy experience in the fields of education, urban development, and community empowerment initiatives as an executive state government appointee and two-term local elected official.
Prior to joining the National Alliance, Ron served as the Special Assistant/Chief Policy Analyst for the Chief of Staff to the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education, and as a city councilman for two terms in Newark under Mayor Cory Booker where he created his ward’s Education Support Committee and consistently supported charter school facility needs and their growth and advancement throughout the city, specifically working with KIPP (TEAM Rise and SPARK Academies), Uncommon Schools (North Star Academy), and community charters such as Marion P. Thomas Charter School, Lady Liberty Academy, and Adelaide Sanford Charter School.
Ron has created and served on numerous boards, commissions, and school boards. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C. with a degree in Political Science/Public Administration. Ron received his Juris Doctor from the Seton Hall University, School of Law in Newark, NJ.