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.
Dave Bryson was the Director of Operations of Bedford Stuyvesant Collegiate, part of the Uncommon Schools network in Brooklyn, NY from 2012-2017. During his time at BSC he helped lead the school toward increased student achievement, enrollment, staff retention, staff racial diversity, special education services, family engagement and decreased student suspension. Most recently, he worked on behalf of the Enroll West Contra Costa initiative supporting all families in the West Contra Costa Unified School District to find the right school for their child. Prior to joining Uncommon Schools, Dave helped found a pioneering expanded learning time program at the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown, MA that became the model for Citizen Schools’ national expansion. He has also worked at Breakthrough Collaborative as a partnership coordinator with organizations like Teach for America, MATCH Teacher Residency and Aspire Teacher Residency. Dave earned his B.A. from Wesleyan University and his M.Ed from Lesley University. Dave lives in Berkeley, CA where he equally enjoys hiking the hills and biking the flats. He is humbled to be joining the DCSC team and is inspired by the vision of inclusion, high-quality academics and spirit of collaboration within the coalition.
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.
Seon has spent his career in the social justice sector starting as a corps member with Teach For America teaching 6th and 7th grade reading in Arkansas. He then transitioned to being a Recruitment Manager for TFA, overseeing recruitment campaigns across universities in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. His TFA experience led him to become the Program Manager for the mayoral initiative, NYC Men Teach, based at the New York City Department of Education leading its recruitment efforts in successfully achieving the goal of adding 1,000 male teachers of color to NYC’s public schools between 2015 and 2018 under Mayor Bill de Blasio. In this role, he collaborated with university Deans across 15 junior and senior campuses under the City University of New York (CUNY) to manage university programming, the NYC DOE Charter School Office to expand the partnership between NYC public and charter schools to hire more diverse teachers, and grew the initiative’s portfolio of community-based organizations (CBOs) across 4 boroughs to create training and employment opportunities for pre-service male teachers of color in after-school settings. Seon’s work has intentionally put a focus on bringing a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to organizational operations, practices, and values. Seon is currently working on his PhD in sociology studying how non-profits, grassroots organizations, and socially-conscious companies can have an impact in pushing for broader social change.
2019 Walton-UNCF Education Fellow
Layla is originally from Washington, D.C. and is entering into her senior year at Virginia State University as a Criminal Justice Major with a minor in Political Science. She is active in her Student Government Association as well as Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Through the Walton-UNCF Education K-12 Education Fellowship, Layla will be working from the DCSC headquarters in New York City for June and July supporting the organization on a variety of projects that include a data analysis of current member schools and strategizing for membership growth.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lee Teitel is a Lecturer at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education where he 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.
Mike Chalupa serves as the Director of City Neighbors Foundation, which oversees all three City Neighbors schools (City Neighbors High School, 9-12, City Neighbors Hamilton K-8, and City Neighbors Charter School, K-8). Mike has served as Academic Director of the City Neighbors Foundation for the last eight years, co-founded City Neighbors Hamilton and City Neighbors High School, and led City Neighbors Charter School as Principal for eight years. Prior to his role at City Neighbors, Mike served as the Executive Director of The GreenMount School and Dean of Students for St. John’s Episcopal School. Mike has also served as a classroom instructor in grades 4 through 8 and program coordinator for immigrant youth and homeless youth. Currently, Mike also serves as a Board Member on the Maryland Alliance of Public Charter Schools, the Co-chair of the Baltimore Alliance of Public Charter Schools, and Advisory Board member for the DaVinci Collaborative, an emerging charter high school in Baltimore. 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.
Andrea has spent over 15 years as a manager, strategist, and advocate in the nonprofit and economic development sectors, including as Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at Georgia Charter Schools Association and serving as Director of New Site Development and Community Engagement with Citizens of the World Charter Schools. As the Director of New Site Development and Community Engagement, 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.