DAVID AYALA, Senior Director of Program
Prior to joining SLL, David worked as Head of Schools, supporting The Learning Center and coaching and managing middle school principals. He brings experience as a principal, vice principal, and middle school English teacher. During the eight years he led KIPP DC KEY Academy, the school was among the highest performing in DC and Ward 7, earning recognition as an OSSE Reward School and a KIPP Featured School. David has facilitated workshops for Teach for America, Accelerate Institute, and the KIPP School Leadership Program. He has been honored with the KIPP Founder’s Award, the KIPP DC Innovation Award, and the Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and holds a Masters in Educational Leadership from National Louis University.
ERICA BEAL, Senior Director of Program
Prior to joining SLL, Erica served as a Vice Principal with KIPP DC for four years. Erica brings experience as a vice principal, grade level chair and award-winning teacher. Under her guidance, Erica’s teachers and grade levels were among the highest performing in the KIPP DC network. Erica has been honored with the KIPP DC Board Award and the Teach for America Sue Lehmann Award for excellence in teaching. While in the classroom, Erica’s fourth-grade students were the highest performing in the KIPP network, her seventh-grade students were the highest performing in the KIPP DC network and her third-grade students passed the state exam with 100% proficiency. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, is a National Principals Academy Fellow through The Relay Graduate School of Education and holds a Masters in Educational Leadership from Columbia University.
AMANDA KRAMER BORDEN, Co-founder, Executive Director
Amanda oversees our strategy, operations, finance, and project work. Amanda was most recently part of the senior leadership team overseeing the communications & marketing, talent and data teams, partnerships, advocacy and strategic projects for a charter network in DC. Amanda came to KIPP DC from Success Academy Charter Schools in New York, where she led strategic initiatives and the instructional development team through the early growth of the network. A Washington native, Amanda has tutored, advised and supported public schools since high school. Before moving to K-12 public education full-time, she worked in brand management, innovation, and strategy for Diageo. She started her career in strategy consulting and investment banking. Amanda graduated from Washington University, holds an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Education Leadership from the Broad Residency in Urban Education. Amanda is proudest to be the mom of two spunky and curious kiddos.
MELISSA MARTIN, Senior Director of Program
Melissa leads our coaching model and works on our program design. Melissa came to SLL from Lynch Leadership Academy at Boston College. Melissa has coached aspiring principals and principals from the district, charter and independent school sectors. Prior to Lynch, Melissa served as the Director of School Partnerships at Flamboyan Foundation in DC. Melissa is an experienced principal, having led both Scott Montgomery Elementary and Walker Jones Education Campus in DCPS as a New Leader for New Schools. She was also a founding member of the DC Collaborative for Change. Melissa serves on Rocketship DC's Board of Directors as the Academic Chair. She is a graduate of DCPS’s Wilson High School, Bowdoin College, Harvard’s Graduate School of Education (EdM), and Trinity College where she earned an MSA in Educational Administration.
STEPHEN JACKSON, Operations Associate
As our operations associate, Stephen is responsible for managing the logistics of specific programs and projects, internal operations, data analysis, and supporting communications. Stephen, who is a Teach for America alumnus, taught middle school math in Boston. He believes that all students deserve the opportunity to receive an excellent education. Stephen earned a Master of Education from Boston University, where he majored in Curriculum and Teaching. He also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Information Technology with a concentration in Operations and Supply Chain Management from Virginia Tech. In his free time, Stephen loves biking, being outdoors, and trying new foods and restaurants around DC.
MIRI WEXLER, Chief of Program
Miri leads our program design and execution. Most recently, Miri served as a Regional Superintendent with Achievement First where she managed a portfolio of schools in Brooklyn. Most notably, her schools drove 30% proficiency gains on state exams, decreased suspension rates by 40%, and saw some of the most dramatic organizational health gains within the network. Before joining Achievement First, Miri served on the leadership team at Uncommon Schools’ highest performing charter school in New York City. While Miri’s original passion for the work began with teaching children, she is grateful that it led her into the dynamic space of school leader development; she is currently most driven to support leaders in cultivating both their instructional and adult leadership skills. Most importantly, Miri and her wonderful husband are the proud parents of two.
BUTCH TRUSTY, Board Chair
Butch Trusty is a manager with Bridgespan. Since joining the organization in 2008, Butch has led client engagements with a range of nonprofit clients and foundations. Past clients have included a local funder collaborative making investments in talent pipelines for an urban school district, a national African American mentoring program, a startup national education reform advocacy organization, a national teacher development organization exploring the launch of a new competency-based teacher preparation graduate program, and an urban school district serving disconnected youth. Recently, Butch was the Managing Partner at Education Cities, where he oversaw all of the activities to accelerate the impact of the network’s members, including providing strategic advising services to local leaders and developing a human capital investment community of Practice. Butch also previously served as the Education Program Director at The Joyce Foundation, investing $10 million per year to improve the quality of teachers and charter schools in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and nationally. Prior to Bridgespan, Butch held positions at the Alliance for Excellent Education, as an Education Pioneers Fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and at Edison Schools. Butch is a founding board member and Vice Chair of Great Lakes Academy Charter School, the Vice Chair and Treasurer of Equality Illinois and an overseer at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. Butch holds MBA and MPP degrees from Duke University and a bachelor’s degree from Brown University.
JESSICA CUNNINGHAM AKOTO
Jessica is the Chief Executive Officer of KIPP Philadelphia Public Schools, a network of six schools. Previously, she worked as the KIPP Foundation’s Executive in Residence, where she provided critical on-site support to KIPP regional leaders to identify and execute the steps needed to produce superior results and healthy growth. Jessica joined the KIPP Foundation after 14 years with KIPP DC. She began her career as the sixth-grade math teacher at the region’s flagship school: KEY Academy. Upon completing the Fisher Fellowship, Jessica founded KIPP DC’s third middle school, WILL Academy, and served as the school’s principal for four years. Jessica then served as a Chief Academic Officer for two years before deciding to return to school leadership in 2012 as the principal of KIPP DC’s high school, KIPP DC College Prep. Jessica earned a B.S. in African American History from Florida A&M University and a Masters in Elementary Education from American University. She is a Fellow of the fourth class of the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship, a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, and a 2015 Milken Educator Award winner.
David is a Los Angeles native and current DC resident. He founded Foreston Trends in 1983, and over a thirty-year period built the company into one of the largest home textile suppliers in the U.S. selling to every big-box retailer including Walmart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Kohl's.
David was responsible for every facet of Foreston Trends including finance, marketing, sales, design and HR for over 300 employees. David sold the company in 2014 to be able to spend more time with his son who had just been born. For the past 12 years, David has served as co-chair of the board of PATH (People Assisting The Homeless), California's largest provider of permanent housing and services to the homeless. During his tenure PATH has grown from an organization with a $3 million operating budget to a budget of $80 million today. David also serves on the board of The Ritz Carlton Residences in Washington DC. He's passionate about high-quality public education for all students.
As Chief Executive Officer and President of the Bainum Family Foundtion, Jacquelyn Davis leads the Foundation’s philanthropic investments in programs and services that align with its mission, while increasing internal organizational effectiveness in the areas of strategic planning, finance and administration. Prior to joining Bainum, Jacquelyn co-founded Education Forward DC, a grant-making nonprofit focused on fostering a city of equitable and high-quality schools, and currently serves as Partner overseeing the Human Capital investment portfolio. She has worked with entrepreneurs and national philanthropies on strategy, new initiative design, growth and start-up, and management. Jacquelyn has worked as a subject expert in the areas of human capital, school turnaround, charter management, and state and city education redesign. Previously, Jacquelyn served as an Education Fellow to the George W. Bush Institute and launched New Leaders DC, a national nonprofit that attracts, prepares, and supports outstanding school leaders. She co-founded Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School and Hands on DC. Prior to her work in education, she served as a Congressional Chief of Staff, Legislative Director, Legislative Assistant, and a Congressional campaign manager. Jacquelyn earned a J.D. with honors from Georgetown University and a B.A. from Brown University. She has been named a “Washingtonian of the Year” by Washingtonian Magazine.
TATIANA EPANCHIN, Co-founder
Tatiana is the co-founder of Catalyst Public Schools in Bremerton, WA. Before starting School Leader Lab, Tatiana was Senior Vice President of Regional Operations at Teach for America where she supported eight regions across the country. She moved to TFA after leading eleven schools in the Bay Area as Regional Superintendent of Aspire Public Schools. Tatiana started as a lead teacher for Aspire and grew to be founding principal of ERES Academy and principal of Monarch Academy, both in East Oakland. Under Tatiana’s leadership, Monarch was recognized with a National Title I award for the most progress in closing the achievement gap in California. Tatiana practiced social work with Families First as an intensive family preservation therapist and started her career as a TFA Corps member in New Orleans. She is a co-founder of Catalyst Public Schools in Bremerton, WA. Tatiana has a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, an MSW from California State University, Sacramento and an MEd in Educational Leadership from California State University, East Bay in partnership with New Leaders for New Schools. Tatiana was selected to be a Leverage Leadership Institute Fellow with Relay GSE in 2016-17 and was a Leading for Equity Fellow with the National Equity Project.
Joaquin is currently the Senior Policy Advisor at Education Counsel. He previously served as the National Director of the Kind Schools Project at Stand for Children. He is a native of Los Angeles and his mother is a veteran middle school teacher in LAUSD. He started his career in education as a high school teacher, was in the fourth class of New Leaders principals, and then served as the founding principal of the Urban Assembly Academy of Government and Law high school in New York. He then served as Assistant Director of the Aspen Institute’s Education and Society Program and subsequently went to work for the Obama Administration, where he served on the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force and, ultimately, as Director of Strategic Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Education. It was in this role that he led a school climate initiative which, combined with his many other experiences, make Joaquin the ideal person to help Stand launch an initiative to improve school climates and reduce suspensions. Joaquin graduated from Columbia University and has a Master’s in Public Policy from Princeton University.
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