Sonia Park – she/her/hers
Reporting to the governing board of directors, Sonia serves as the Executive Director shaping the Coalition’s strategic vision, lead fundraising work, hire and lead a high-performing team, operationalize the organization’s ambitious agenda, and engage with a wide array of stakeholders to advance our vision and ensure financial viability.
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
Dave serves as the Operations Lead blocking and tackling for Executive Director, Program and External Relations leads by developing systems, managing logistics, setting membership policy and ensuring alignment between strategy, revenue and expenses. Dave takes the lead on DCSC organizational culture work to ensure DCSC is living up to our vision and values in the way our team works.
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 bold work of DCSC members because they are answering that question on a daily basis as they seek equity and integration. 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
External Relations Lead
Ashley serves as the External Relations Lead driving the growth of the Diverse-by-Design movement by developing relationships, messages and actions that build our membership, long term sustainability and bonds with other leaders in the field. She owns developing the UnifiED pipeline (both leaders, host sites and funders) as well as spearhead our advocacy and communication strategy.
A South Louisiana 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 South Louisiana 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 Louisiana’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 charter schools. She was drawn to work that combined her experience in charter school growth with work to integrate schools and, by extension, communities. At DCSC, Ashley loves working with folks around the country boldy demanding equity and integration. Ashley is a partner, stepmom, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. She is an avid yogi, Chicago Cubs fan, Planned Parenthood supporter, and oenophile.
Seon Britton – he/him/his
Seon serves as the Program Lead bringing to life the Support plank of our work by leading the program and evaluation design and implementation of our 3 core programs: Communities of Practice, Annual Convening and UnifiED. Seon ensures that DCSC provides robust and ever improving learning opportunities for leaders (and future leaders) of diverse-by-design schools to improve their practice.
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.
The Coalition’s Board of Directors
Derrick Johnson, Board Chair
As a principal consultant, Derrick Johnson advises nonprofits and philanthropies across the social sector to support scaling their programs. Most recently, Derrick was the Chief of Staff of EL Education. In the role, Derrick served on the Executive Team and was responsible for the implementation and progress of the EL Education Strategic Plan. He also managed the Executive Office – including the strategy external affairs functions – and was a liaison to the EL Education Board of Directors.
Before EL Education, Derrick was a funder and educator. At CityBridge Education and NewSchools Venture Fund, he funded the launch of more than 75 innovative public schools nationwide. Earlier in his career, he was a founding teacher and a school leader of two National Blue Ribbon Schools at Success Academy Charter Schools in New York City. He began his career as an analyst at Goldman Sachs.
Derrick earned a master’s degree in education policy, organizations, and leadership from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Morehouse College. At Morehouse, he was a Gates Millennium Scholar and an Oprah Winfrey Scholar.
Derrick lives in Detroit, where he serves on the investment committee of the Detroit Children’s Fund. He is also a Pahara Fellow (Pahara Institute), a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network (Aspen Institute) and REALITY Network (Schusterman Family Philanthropies), and Board Chair of the Diverse Charter Schools Coalition.
An experienced education policy leader in the K-12 education space with a background in economic and community development, Natalie has spent more than two decades working to ensure that families statewide have access to affordable housing, and high-quality education options that they deserve.
Currently, Natalie is Co-President of External Affairs of the Washington State Charter Schools Association, where she oversees policy, advocacy, and communications. She has led a team of organizers statewide for a national nonprofit education advocacy organization, where she focused on supporting families in their fight for improved college and career readiness standards and diverse charter schools in Washington state. Natalie has personal and professional experience in both district and charter public schools. Since entering the charter school space in 2015 as a founding parent at one of Washington state’s first charter high schools, Natalie has used her voice in a variety of roles – including volunteer, parent leader, charter school co-founder, and charter school board member – to influence legislation, statewide policy, accountability, and leadership practices within the charter space, that improve the experiences and outcomes of students. Natalie also served on the WA Charters Board of Directors from 2016 – 2019. Natalie is passionate about increasing the number of Global Majority-led, community-rooted, anti-racist public schools and ensuring that we have strong policies that are informed by the needs, desires, and voices of parents and families.
Natalie has is the proud parent of two daughters who currently attending college and high school in Seattle. She is an active member and volunteer in her community.
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.
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.
Ebonie Durham is an educator with over 15 years of leadership experience in the public and private education sectors. Her expertise is in education policy, business operations, and administration. Ebonie is currently the Executive Director of Great Lakes Academy Inc. Founded in 2014, Great Lakes Academy Charter Elementary School serves families in the South Shore and South Chicago neighborhoods of Chicago. As a first-generation college graduate, she is committed to equity and social justice. She knows firsthand how diverse education can empower children to create better futures for themselves and their families. She is excited to lead the next generation of GLA “Beacons” as they light the paths forward for their communities.
Prior to her role at Great Lakes Academy, Ebonie spent eleven years leading various initiatives at Noble Schools including founding Johnson College Prep in Chicago’s Englewood community, establishing the Noble Family Support Fund, and leading the network strategy for operations and admissions. 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. Ebonie has been named a McNair Scholar, Presidential Management Fellow, and Pahara Fellow. She is a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. When away from work, she enjoys spending time with her family and volunteering for various causes that impact women and children.
Dr. Kristina Kyles-Smith, Vice Chair
Dr. Kristina Kyles-Smith is currently the Chief Executive Officer for the Lillie May Carroll Jackson Charter School, an all-girls school focused on leadership and scholarship for girls of color in Baltimore, Maryland. This public charter school has the mighty mission of offering a supportive 21st Century learning environment for scholars to reach their maximum potential through rigorous academic coursework, character development, and leadership opportunities. In collaboration with her team, Dr. Kristina strives to achieve a world where all young women, regardless of their background, have the skills, tools, and qualities to develop as leaders in their communities and the world.
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 school Principal, charter network executive director, and Assistant State Superintendent of Education in Maryland. Nationally, Dr. Kyles-Smith supported school transformation and equity as the Regional Director for EL Education. Dr. Kyles-Smith was raised in Holland, Michigan, by activist parents who owned and operated a community outreach center, a black culture center, and a church. Through her parents, Dr. Kyles-Smith fostered a love of learning and a commitment to her community. She received her bachelor’s 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. She is also pursuing a second terminal degree in public policy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Dr. Kyles-Smith successfully supervised the administration of Federal and state programs to improve student’s educational opportunities, empowered teachers and students to do more than they thought possible, and focused on growing access to quality educational options. Dr. Kyles-Smith has dedicated her career to serving and empowering students and teachers. Dr. Kyles Smith 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).
Dr. Kyles-Smith lives in Baltimore County, Maryland, with her husband. She has three children, who bring her joy and keep her grounded. She is active in several professional associations, such as the National Alliance of Black School Educators and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. She remains committed to community service and serves as a member of the Harbor City Links, Incorporated, and an active member of her local NAACP.
Dr. Chanel Hampton
Dr. Chanel Hampton serves as the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Strategic Community Partners (SCP). In 2015, Chanel launched SCP with a vision of pairing excellent strategy and execution with unapologetic community and cultural context. SCP works with organizations by advising, designing, and managing projects and initiatives that advance equity with and for communities. SCP works with a robust array of partners, including Detroit Public Schools Community District, The Skillman Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Washington, D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education, WEPOWER St. Louis, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, The Obama Foundation and numerous other community-based organizations and leaders. SCP also operates a community center and co-working space in Detroit’s Fitzgerald neighborhood, in addition to offices in Washington, D.C. and St. Louis.
Prior to founding SCP, Chanel began her traditional career as a middle school teacher, where her passion for larger systemic change in the education system grew. Particularly moved by the need for diverse teacher talent and equitably operating organizations, Chanel began her work in administration and later joined Teach for America’s National Recruitment Team. Founding and leading national diversity initiatives, Chanel served as a national recruitment team executive and also worked with the organization’s 52 regions as a strategic advisor and partner–resulting in unprecedented community engagement, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and progress with communities across the country. Chanel also led several additional organization-wide initiatives and partnerships, including the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference.
As Chief Operations Office for Summit Public Schools, Felix brings to Summit over a decade of K-12 school and systems leadership experience in public education with expertise in school operations, systems design, cross-functional project management, budgeting & finance, crisis communication and management, strategy and people development. Felix brings a deep commitment to building a more anti-biased and anti-racist world to his work in his leadership of efficient and effective school systems that drive strong outcomes for all students. Prior to Summit, he started his career in public education serving as a middle school math teacher and Teach for America corps member in the NYC Department of Education for five years. He later spent nine years as an Associate Chief Operating Officer and school leader of an all-boys K-8 school with Uncommon Schools in Brooklyn, New York. Felix is a graduate of Duke University with a dual degree in Public Policy and Sociology, and holds a master’s in Teaching from Pace University.
Amanda Fenton has 15 years of advocacy experience straddling both the California legislature and Washington DC. She specializes in developing and executing long-term legislative strategies to create and shape funding streams to meet a client’s needs. Accomplishments include securing over $100 million in federal funding and $60 million in state grants for clients, done through the methodological use of every stage of public funding process to pursue a competitive advantage for clients — from authorizing legislation to appropriations language, all the way down to the issuance of RFPs and the content of grant proposals. During this time she also achieved meaningful state legislative change to help clients pursue their objectives and realize innovative public-private partnerships.
Amanda has more than 10 years of experience in state and federal charter school policy, which includes the creation and execution of policy and funding advocacy campaigns for national associations and their regional members and affiliates, most recently as an in-house Director of Federal and State Policy for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. As the policy lead Amanda created the organization’s first federal policy platform, which included legislative, regulatory, and funding priorities. Using this platform, Amanda developed an advocacy strategy marked by success. This includes regulatory efforts that found success in the Biden, Trump, and Obama Administrations, as well as a funding strategy that created a new funding stream to support association interests that is worth up to $16 million annually. She also managed development and oversaw execution of a multi-state policy campaign that secured policy reform in 25 state houses over the course of just four years. Amanda is honored to continue working with trailblazers in the charter community, including national equity organizations, associations, and individual charter schools.
Amanda grew up in Alameda, CA and has lived in Berkeley, Oakland, New York, and the Washington DC areas. She currently lives in Hyattsville, MD, though she and her family escape to California often to see family and friends. She has a BA in Public Policy from Stanford University.
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.
Raúl Alarcón is the Chief Academic Officer for ISANA Academies and leads the academic vision at ISANA through supporting charter school leaders as they navigate the implementation of instructional practices, curriculum, and assessments at six schools throughout the Los Angeles region. Raúl was previously the Chief Academic Officer for City Charter Schools and the founding principal of City Language Immersion Charter (CLIC), a dual language elementary school serving a diverse group of students in the mid-city neighborhood of Los Angeles CLIC was a proud DCSC member school. Raúl is a tenured lecturer for the Principal Leadership (PLI) program at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and has worked at UCLA for over 27 years. Raúl has worked in the educational field in Los Angeles for over thirty years and started his career in education as a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Raúl obtained his Master of Arts in Educational Leadership through UCLA and his Master of Arts in Educational Leadership in Technology through California State University Los Angeles.
Mr. Alarcón’s work has always been guided by the belief that all children are very capable of learning, of achieving great things in life, and in making a difference in the lives of others. These guiding principles were nourished while at UCLA and are instrumental in designing the instructional program at CLIC. Raúl is a native Angelino and lives in the San Gabriel Valley with his wife and daughter.