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Every day, DC Prep's elite group of hardworking school leaders and teachers are making a difference in their students' lives. They are the heart and soul of our organization. Get to know our principals and their awesome teams!
DC Prep’s Home Office team establishes, supports, and ultimately oversees each campus as well as the health and stability of the organization – all while striving to support terrific teaching and learning in every classroom.
Emily Lawson founded DC Prep in 2002 and has led the growth of the organization from a single middle school to the highest-performing Charter Management Organization in the nation’s capital — today serving 1,500 students in preschool through 8th grade on five campuses. Emily’s work at DC Prep has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Financial Times, NBC Nightly News, PBS NewsHour, EdWeek, and FOX, among others - and has attracted the support of major national foundations focused on public education reform. Emily is a Spring 2013 Cohort member of The Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship and, in 2007, she completed the Broad Foundation’s Associate Residency in Urban Education. Prior to founding DC Prep, Emily worked for Victory Schools, a charter school management company in New York, as well as Academy of the Pacific Rim, a nationally-recognized charter school in Boston. Emily holds an MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School and an MPA, with a focus on education, from the Kennedy School of Government. Her business career includes three years at The Boston Consulting Group and two years at the New York private equity firm, New Mountain Capital. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina where she was a Morehead Scholar. Emily is a native Washingtonian.
Clarice Ulu, Special Assistant to the CEO, reports directly to the CEO and supports the senior leadership team. Clarice is the mother of two current DC Prep students and a long-time volunteer at the Edgewood Elementary Campus. She has a strong background in office administration, most recently in her role supporting senior executives and their teams at the Educational Testing Service. Clarice has a BS from Southeastern University.
Raymond Weeden joined DC Prep in 2012 as Principal of the Benning Elementary Campus, prior to transitioning to his Home Office role. As Senior Director of Policy and Community Engagement, he leads efforts around organizing DC Prep stakeholders and serves as an advocate for DC Prep and quality public education throughout the city. Prior to joining DC Prep, Raymond has served as Principal of Chavez Parkside Middle School, where he led a school on track for charter revocation to a Tier II school based on the DC Public Charter School Board's 2011 Performance Management Framework. Following six years as a classroom Math instructor, Raymond was Resident Principal at SEED Public Charter School. He is a graduate of New Leaders and received both his BA in Sociology and his MAT from the University of Virginia. He also holds an MS in Education Administration from Trinity University.
Katie Severn, President and Chief Academic Officer, joined DC Prep in 2007 and currently works with the principals at all DC Prep campuses to ensure alignment among schools and the highest academic quality across the organization. Katie served as Principal of DC Prep's award-winning Edgewood Middle Campus from 2008-2011. Previously, she worked at SEED Public Charter School, where she served as Principal, Assistant Principal, and Special Education Coordinator. She began her career as an English teacher in Namibia with the Center for Global Education. Upon her return to the United States, Katie joined Teach For America in Houston where she was recognized as both the New Teacher of the Year and the Special Education Teacher of the Year. She is a graduate of New Leaders and holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from Grinnell College and master's degrees in special education and educational administration.
Nicole Bryan, Senior Director of Elementary Programming, joined DC Prep in 2008 as the school's Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment providing coaching and professional development. From 2010-2013, Nicole served as the Principal of DC Prep's Edgewood Elementary Campus. Under her leadership, the campus was named a National Title I School of Distinction and was selected as a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School. As the Managing Director for Early Childhood, Nicole oversees the continued refinement of DC Prep's Early Childhood model and provides support to elementary Principals and campus-based Early Childhood leadership teams. Nicole was a classroom teacher for six years, the first two as a Teach For America corps member, and has worked in both elementary and early childhood programs. She holds a BA in Spanish from Georgetown University and an MA in education from The George Washington University with a dual concentration in Curriculum and Instruction and Bilingual Special Education. Nicole is currently pursuing her doctorate at The George Washington University with a focus on Leadership for Diverse Students.
Maya Ekus joined DC Prep in 2013 as the Speech-Language Pathologist, and works with students at all of DC Prep’s campuses. Prior to joining DC Prep, Maya served as a Speech-Language Pathologist for nine years in Las Vegas, Nevada. Maya earned her BS from the University of Arizona, her MED from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and an MA in Communicative Disorders from California State University, Long Beach.
Deborah Hanmer joined DC Prep in 2008 as the Dean of Student Support at DC Prep’s Edgewood Middle Campus. Now, as Senior Director of Student Support, she works with the Deans of Student Support at each DC Prep campus to ensure effective systems that support a positive student culture and a well-disciplined school environment. Prior to DC Prep, she was Dean of Administration at Boston Collegiate Charter School. Deb holds a BA from Dartmouth College, an MPA from Syracuse University, and an MEd from Cambridge College.
Michelle Hess joined DC Prep in 2010 after completing two years as a special education teacher in Phoenix, AZ public schools through the Teach For America program. In her current role as the Director of Special Education, Michelle works closely with the special education coordinators at each campus to ensure that students receive appropriate academic support. In her tenure at DC Prep, she has served as an Assistant Principal of Culture at the Benning Elementary Campus, as well as its Special Education Coordinator. Michelle has a BA from Georgetown University and an MEd from Arizona State University.
MaryKate Hughes came to DC Prep in 2003 as a founding faculty member and served as a Math teacher, master teacher, and Math department chair at the Edgewood Middle Campus. Prior to serving as the Director of Adult Learning, she was the Senior Director of Curriculum and Instruction, charged with refining teacher support and professional development programs, and providing ongoing feedback to campus-based instructional leaders. In addition, MaryKate oversees curriculum development and revisions across all campuses. MaryKate entered teaching through the DC Teaching Fellows program. In 2006 she received the prestigious Milken Educator Award for her exemplary teaching and commitment to education. MaryKate received a BA from Boston College, and an MAT from American University.
Tara O’Flaherty joined DC Prep in 2012 and is currently the Senior Director of Curriculum and Assessment. Prior to that, she was the Senior Director of Leadership Support, providing coaching and mentoring to leadership teams and individual campus leaders at all DC Prep schools. Before joining the DC Prep team, Tara was a member of the founding team of Chavez Prep and served as both Assistant Principal and Principal. She served as a school leader for Chavez for seven years and in 2012 was named Principal of the Year by the DC Association of Public Chartered Schools. Tara has a BA from Drew University, an MEd from Lesley University, and an MA from The George Washignton University.
Mary Pendleton joined DC Prep in 2016. As the ELA Curriculum writer, she is responsible for overseeing ELA units and texts to ensure they are engaging and rigorous across DC Prep's network of schools. Prior to DC Prep, Mary worked in New Orleans at a Firstline School as a teacher and department chair, and later as an Assistant Principal supporting the development of teachers. Mary has a BSW and a BA in Sociology from the University of Georgia.
Cassie Pergament joined DC Prep in 2006, and is currently the Senior Director of Middle School Programming in the Home Office. Prior to this role, she was Principal of the Edgewood Middle Campus (EMC) from 2011-2016. Cassie also served in a variety of roles at EMC, including Instructional Coach, Chair of the English Department, and member of the school Leadership Team. She began her teaching career with Teach For America in Compton, California where she designed and implemented a program for Gifted and Talented students. Cassie also taught at the KIPP: Bridge Charter School in Oakland. Cassie holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Rochester and an MAT from Loyola Marymount University. During the 2010-11 school year, Cassie earned an MEd in School Leadership and participated in an intensive residency program at High Tech High in San Diego.
Wendy Scott, Chief Financial Officer, joined DC Prep in 2008 and is responsible for finance and real estate. Prior to this role, she served as the organization's Chief Operating Officer. Wendy came to DC Prep through the Broad Residency in Urban Education, a two-year executive development program of the Broad Foundation. Before joining DC Prep, Wendy was a Strategy and Operations Manager for Deloitte Consulting LLP, where she supported the management, administration, and oversight of federal government charge card programs. Her business career also includes time spent at Citigroup, Accenture, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Wendy holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Howard University.
Ryan Aurori, Director of Finance and Real Estate, joined the DC Prep team in 2013. He works closely with the COO in handling the organization's finance and real estate portfolio. Ryan comes to DC Prep through The Broad Residency in Urban Education, a two-year executive development program of The Broad Foundation. Prior to that, he was an Education Pioneers Graduate Fellow at the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) where he modeled facilities financing options, leading to more effective CCSA state-wide advocacy. He also worked as an Investment Analyst with the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. Ryan earned a BS at Boston College and an MBA at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
Laura Maestas, Chief Talent Officer, joined DC Prep in 2016. She works to ensure that DC Prep is able to attract, develop, and retain great people for our schools and Home Office. Prior to DC Prep, Laura was the Chief Talent Officer at Uncommon Schools – overseeing Recruitment, Organizational Learning, Performance Management, Human Resources, and Uncommon Impact, as well as serving as a member of Uncommon's Executive Team. While at Uncommon, she also served as the Chief Operating Officer for the Teach Like a Champion team, where she helped identify effective ways to share best practices with other school systems and educators. Laura also has extensive experience working in traditional school systems, as the Director of School Leadership for the New York City Department of Education, and at both the district and state level while a management consultant at McKinsey & Company. Laura received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Economics from Kenyon College, where she was a Latino Scholar and Phi Beta Kappa. She also earned a J.D. from NYU School of Law, where she was a Dean's Scholar. She is a member of the New York bar.
Danielle Bryant joined DC Prep in 2011, first as a Prep EX! Teacher and then as the Prep EX! Program Leader at the Edgewood Elementary Campus. Currently, Danielle serves as the Human Resources Associate, where her responsibilities include benefits administration, employment verification, and supporting HR operations. Prior to joining DC Prep, Danielle served as the administrative assistant to the Dean of Psychology at Bowie State University. She holds a BA in American Studies from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
Jake Custer, Director of Recruitment, joined DC Prep in 2011 as a Talent Recruitment and Selection Manager where he recruited and hired teachers across all of DC Prep’s campuses. Previously, he served as the Director of Development, focused on expanding the network of individuals, corporations, and foundations that support DC Prep’s work. In his current role, Jake leads DC Prep's talent recruitment efforts to attract and retain the very best urban educators – overseeing all aspects of DC Prep's recruitment efforts to ensure the most competitive, proactive, year-round recruitment strategy as the organization grows. Jake came from DC Public Schools (DCPS) where he began teaching through the DC Teaching Fellows Program. At DCPS, he worked as a special education teacher. He also worked as a mentor teacher and lead selector for hiring new fellows at TNTP. Jake holds a BA from Michigan State University and an MA from The George Washington University.
Bio coming soon!
Alyssa Goodman joined DC Prep in 2015 as the Director of Human Resources. In this role, she manages and leads the function with a range of responsibilities including benefits administration, employee relations, and human resource operations, among others. Prior to DC Prep, Alyssa worked in Operations Strategy and Support within Teach For America, most recently serving as the Director of Corps Member Summit Operations. She has extensive experience in operations strategy, project management, and policy development. Alyssa also served as the Director of Data Management for KIPP Charlotte, and has experience teaching 4th and 5th grade Math in Charlotte, NC. She holds a BA in Psychology with a minor in Hispanic Studies from Wheaton College in Massachusetts.
Catherine Nwosu, Director of Extended Learning, joined DC Prep in 2011. She is responsible for managing, staffing, and developing programming for Prep EX!, DC Prep’s aftercare program, across each campus. Prior to this role, Catherine served as the EEC Prep EX! Coordinator as well as a Prep EX! teacher and an EEC preschool teacher. Prior to working at DC Prep, she served as an AmeriCorps WNY Tutor Coordinator for Journey’s End Refugee services - connecting volunteers to newly-arrived refugee families from places like Burma and Somalia, and assisting them with English, education, and resettlement. Catherine holds a BA from Ashford University.
Mary Frances Smyth joined DC Prep in 2011, first as a student teacher through the Curry School of Education and then as a 1st grade teacher at the Edgewood Elementary Campus. Currently, Mary Frances serves as the Associate Director for Recruitment on the Talent Team. Prior to joining DC Prep, she was a 1st and 3rd grade teacher at KIPP in Baltimore and Achievement First in Brooklyn. She holds a BA from Washington and Lee University and an MT from the University of Virginia.
Dan Englender, Senior Director of Data, Technology, and Enrollment, joined DC Prep in 2011 and served as Assistant Principal at the Edgewood Middle Campus where he oversaw instructional and school culture initiatives. Dan began his career in education as a Teach For America (TFA) corps member in New Haven, CT, teaching high school math. Dan also worked in a variety of roles at TFA, including Program Director in DC. In the summer of 2011 Dan served as a School Director in TFA's summer institute in Philadelphia. He holds a BS from the University of Michigan.
Hilary Dauffenbach-Tabb, Director of Analysis, Data, and Enrollment, joined DC Prep in 2012. Prior to this role, she served as the organization's Assessment Associate. She is responsible for the collection and analysis of student data as well as managing LUMOS, DC Prep's customized data system that gives teachers real-time 360-degree information on students' academic progress and character development. Hilary spent three years as a 6th and 7th grade general and special education Math teacher in New York through the NYC Teaching Fellows program. She holds a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan and a MS in Education from St. John’s University. Hilary also received an MEd in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University.
Dwayne Ford joined DC Prep in 2016. He provides technology support for the Edgewood Campuses and Home Office. Before joining DC Prep, Dwayne worked as a Dell Field Technician in the Southern Maryland and DC region.
Emily Johannsen, Director of Operations, joined DC Prep in 2013 where she previously served as the Edgewood Middle Campus Operations Manager. In her current role, Emily manages Operations and Safety teams across DC Prep's network. Emily is also an Associate Resident in the Broad Residency in Urban Education, a two-year executive development program of The Broad Foundation. Prior to DC Prep, she worked at Chicago Public Schools as an Education Pioneers Analyst Fellow where she improved the supplier performance review system and streamlined procurement processes. Emily's past business experience includes a project management position at Deloitte Consulting LLP, and she has also promoted the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School in Chicago through volunteer recruitment and fundraising events. Emily holds a BS from the University of Illinois.
Malaika Khafra was a member of DC Prep’s first graduating Class of 2007 and joined the DC Prep team in 2016. In her current role as a Technology Associate at DC Prep's Anacostia Elementary Campus, Malaika works closely with the IT and Data and Enrollment Teams. After graduating from the prestigious Holton-Arms School, Malaika received a BA from Hampton University in International Studies.
Natalie Mufarrige, Data and Enrollment Associate at the Benning site, joined DC Prep in 2015. Natalie is responsible for assessment administration and data system management. She works closely with teachers and leaders to drive their use of data to help students grow. She also supports DC Prep families during the annual enrollment process. Prior to joining DC Prep, Natalie was a Teach For America corps member. She taught middle school math at YES Prep in Houston, TX for three years. She also supported TFA with data analysis about the teacher effectiveness of Houston corps members. She earned a BS from Southern Methodist University.
Heather Nadolny, Technology Associate, joined DC Prep in 2014 and provides technology support and instruction for faculty and staff at the Benning Middle and Elementary Campuses. Prior to DC Prep, Heather served as the Program Manager of GWish, within The George Washington University, as well as The Online School for Girls. Heather received a BA from DePaul University.
Emily Swain, Data and Enrollment Associate at the Edgewood site, joined DC Prep in 2015. Emily is responsible for assessment administration and data system management - working closely with teachers and leaders to drive their use of data to help students grow. She also supports DC Prep families during the annual enrollment process. Prior to joining the Home Office, she was an 8th grade science teacher at Edgewood Middle Campus. Emily has extensive teaching experience serving as a 9th grade earth science teacher at Cesar Chavez PCS, where she started as a Teach For America corps member. She holds a BS from Dickenson College and an MAT from American University.
Sindy Tavarez, Associate Director of Enrollment, joined DC Prep in 2013 and has daily oversight of DC Prep's student enrollment process and student information management. Prior this role, she served as DC Prep's Enrollment Specialist and Enrollment and Data Systems Associate. Sindy previously worked as a registrar at The Next Step Public Charter School in DC. In addition, Sindy has experience as a French and Spanish teacher, and is fluent in both languages. Sindy holds a BA from Canisius College.
Ricardo Troncoso-Ramirez, Director of Information Technology, joined DC Prep in 2015 and is responsible for management and maintenance of DC Prep’s organization-wide technology infrastructure and technical support services and vendors. He has over 14 years of extensive experience at the intersection of technology and education. Prior to DC Prep, Ricardo worked at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School as well as the SEED School. He has served as a classroom teacher, as well as an IT director and coordinator. Ricardo received a BA from the National University of Colombia and an MA with a concentration in educational technology leadership from The George Washington University.
Ibby Jeppson, Chief Development Officer, joined DC Prep in 2004. She is responsible for development, strategic partnerships, and communications. She has more than 35 years of experience in not-for-profit management, program development, and social policy. Before joining DC Prep, she taught in the Pediatrics Department at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Ibby has authored numerous books and produced three award-winning documentary films. Her career began in the classroom, as a member of the National Teacher Corps. She holds an MEd in early childhood education and a PhD in special education.
Amber Walker, Director of Marketing and Communications, joined DC Prep in 2011 and is responsible for internal and external communications as well as the development and successful implementation of innovative and effective marketing and advertising that enhances the DC Prep brand and image. Prior to DC Prep, Amber worked at The Glover Park Group as a Director in the Marketing Division, where she specialized in the firm’s growing education clientele. Amber also served as a Capitol Hill staffer in a U.S. Senate committee. She received a BA from Wellesley College.
Shannon Zeimetz, External Relations Associate, joined DC Prep in 2014. She works with the Development, Marketing, and Communications team on a range of tasks including drafting grant proposals and external communication materials as well as researching and implementing donor communications and fundraising best practices. Shannon began her career in education as a Teach For America corps member, teaching middle school science in New Orleans. She received a BS from Louisiana State University and an MSRED from Tulane University.
James Kelly, Director of PrepNext, joined DC Prep in 2013 and manages the overall alumni support program. In addition, he works with DC Prep alumni during their junior and senior years in high school on the college admissions process. He also maintains contact with alumni once they are enrolled in college, providing the necessary guidance and support to ensure college completion. Jimmy began his education career as a corps member in Teach For America, where he taught Math to middle schoolers in St. Louis, Missouri. Jimmy received a BA from Vassar College and an MEd from Harvard.
Maliza Kalema joined DC Prep in 2011 and has served in a variety of roles including Prep EX! teacher, literacy support specialist, special education support specialist and most recently as a middle school special education math teacher at Edgewood Middle Campus. In her current role as a Alumni Support Counselor, she works with a cohort of DC Prep alumni in high schools across the city. Before coming to DC Prep, Maliza worked with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, Junior National Young Leaders Conference, and Minneapolis College Preparatory Charter High School. She has also served as an AmeriCorps volunteer tutor with City Year and Heads Up DC. Maliza earned her BA in Political Science from Howard University and is currently pursuing a Masters in School Counseling.
Maria Lawson is a native Washingtonian and was the valedictorian of DC Prep’s first graduating Class of 2007. In her current role as a Alumni Support Counselor, Maria works closely with alumni and the team to assist students down the PrepNext path she traveled just a few years ago. As an undergrad, Maria participated in the Eisenhower Institute’s Social Justice Program and served in leadership roles in the Black Student Union and the Latin American Student Association. She recently completed an internship at the IRS, where she worked to make documents accessible for people with disabilities. Maria is a graduate of Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, and, in 2015, earned a BA in English from Gettysburg College.
Jill Salisbury, Associate Director for College Counseling, joined the organization in 2014 and works with DC Prep alumni during their transition to high school. Prior to joining DC Prep, Jill served in a variety of roles at the organization, including co-teaching in our SSAT and ACT prep programs for students and alumni. She earned a master’s degree in educational leadership, politics, and advocacy from New York University and an undergraduate degree from UCLA.
DC Prep’s School Leaders build a unique and close-knit learning community at each school campus.
Sheneil Christian joined DC Prep in 2013 and is currently the Founding Resident Principal for DC Prep's newest elementary campus, leading planning and preparation efforts for its launch in Fall 2017 or Fall 2018. Prior to this role, Sheneil served as the Early Childhood Support Coordinator at the Edgewood Elementary Campus and a preschool teacher. Before joining the DC Prep team, she was a lead teacher for two years at AppleTree Early Learning. Sheneil holds a BA from Fayetteville State University.
Maria-Teresa Duvall is the Founding Principal of DC Prep’s newest Anacostia Elementary Campus, which opened in the 2015-16 school year. She joined DC Prep in 2009 as a member of Teach For America’s Metro DC early childhood cohort. She spent six years at BEC, where she taught preschool and 2nd Grade, in addition to having served as the Math and Science/Social Studies Coordinator and Assistant Principal of Academics. She holds a BS from Pennsylvania State University and an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education from George Mason University.
Shaunte Edmonds is the Senior Principal of the Edgewood Elementary Campus, working closely with Resident Principal Avise Hayes. She joined DC Prep in 2012 and served as the campus’ Assistant Principal – supporting school culture and instructional initiatives. Previously, she served as Principal at a DC charter school and Assistant Principal at Bronx Prep in NY. At Bronx Prep she also served as a middle school teacher, grade level lead, and history coach. Shaunte’s career in education started in DC as a 5th grade teacher at C.W. Harris Elementary School through the TNTP DC Teaching Fellows program. Shaunte received a BA from Columbia University, an MA from American University, and an EdM from Teachers College at Columbia University.
Maura Englender joined DC Prep in 2013, and is the Benning Elementary Campus (BEC) Principal. Prior to this role, she served as Resident Principal-in-Training as well as Assistant Principal of Academics at the school. Maura began her tenure at DC Prep as a Literacy Coordinator at BEC, working with the Kindergarten through 3rd grade Literacy teachers to develop curriculum and improve their instructional practices. Prior to joining the team, Maura taught high school history in North Carolina and served on Teach For America’s DC staff. Maura earned a BA from Lewis and Clark College and an MEd from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.
Avise Hayes, is Resident Principal of the Edgewood Elementary Campus (EEC), and joined DC Prep in 2013. Prior to this role, she served as the Assistant Principal of Culture leading student and team culture efforts throughout EEC. After completing her time as a Teach For America (TFA) corps member in Philadelphia, she stayed in the city to teach in a public middle school. She then became a Reading Curriculum Coordinator and TFA’s Professional Learning Community Coordinator. At KIPP Philadelphia Charter School she was also a 7th grade teacher and Chair, as well as the Assistant Principal. Avise’s BA is from Spelman College, and she holds two MS degrees from Chestnut Hill College and National Louis University.
Rachel McClam joined DC Prep in 2010 after completing two years as a Metro DC Teach For America corps member, and currently serves as the Edgewood Middle Campus (EMC) Resident Principal. Prior to that role, she served as an Assistant Principal of Academics as well as a 5th grade Math teacher. Rachel’s previous experience includes teaching 3rd grade at a DC charter school and student teaching experience in Durham, NC. Rachel holds a BA from Duke University and an MAT from American University.
Erin Waldron is the Principal of the Benning Middle Campus. She joined DC Prep in 2013 and, in her tenure, has served as an Assistant Principal of Academics and Founding Faculty member at the campus, where she taught 4th grade Math in the school's inaugural year. Before joining the DC Prep team, Erin was a founding 6th grade math teacher with Teach For America in Brooklyn, and then became math department Chair and an Assistant Principal. She has a BS from Georgetown University and an MS from Teacher U at Hunter College.