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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.
Beth Berwick, Chief of Staff, works closely with the CEO and senior leadership in a number of cross-cutting DC Prep initiatives. Beth joined DC Prep in 2010 as the Director of Talent Strategy, where she developed the systems, processes, and training to support professional growth for teachers and leaders. Prior to DC Prep, Beth worked on the recruitment team at Achievement First. She received a BS from the University of Colorado and an MBA from Yale University.
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.
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. Now, as Senior Director of Curriculum and Instruction she is 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 as the Senior Director of Leadership Support, provides coaching and mentoring to leadership teams and individual campus leaders at all DC Prep schools. Prior to DC Prep, 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.
Heidi Reed joined DC Prep in fall 2009 and most recently served as a 4th grade Social Studies and Science Teacher as well as the Social Studies Department Chair at Edgewood Middle Campus. Currently, she serves as a Curriculum Writer based out of the Home Office Academic Team, where she manages DC Prep’s transition to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for Grades K-8. Heidi's responsibilities include curriculum writing and ongoing new learning about what NGSS means for DC Prep, in addition to leadership development for curriculum writers, science department chairs, and school leadership teams. She works across all DC Prep campuses. Prior to DC Prep, she worked in community and education initiatives in both Chicago and Washington, DC. Heidi started her teaching career with Teach For America (TFA) as a 4th grade teacher at a charter school in Washington, DC. Prior to joining TFA, she did recruitment for The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning and was a research assistant at Chaplin Hall Center for Children, both in Chicago. She has also served as a tutor and afterschool teacher. Heidi holds a BA from the University of Chicago and an MA from American University.
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.
Bio coming soon!
Matthew Carothers joined DC Prep in 2015 and currently serves as a Talent Recruiter in the Home Office. Prior to that role, he was the the Edgewood Middle Campus Assistant Principal of Culture, where he led efforts to build student culture across the school. Previously, Matthew served as the Middle School Director at the SEED School of Washington, DC. Matthew has extensive school leadership experience and has held leadership roles at KIPP: Houston, DC Public Schools, and Friendship Public Charter Schools. Matthew holds a BA from Prairie View A&M University, an MSW from Howard University, and an MA from The George Washington University.
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.
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.
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.
Gregor Kelsey, Talent Recruiter, joined DC Prep in the 2013-14 school year as a founding 4th grade Science and Social Studies teacher at the Benning Middle School Campus. In 2014, he transitioned to the Home Office as a Talent Recruiter, supporting DC Prep’s ambitious expansion efforts. Gregor began his career in education as a Teach For America corps member in Milwaukee, WI, teaching 4th grade. He holds a BS and MEd from the University of Maryland as well as an MEd from Marquette University.
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.
Kenny Wang, Director of Special Projects, joined DC Prep in 2009. Before joining DC Prep, Kenny worked at MATCH Public Charter School in Boston where he co-founded their Teacher Training Program. He also served as a MATCH Corps Fellow. Kenny spent two years with L.E.K. consulting before becoming involved in education reform. He holds a BA in Economics from Harvard and an MPP from the Kennedy School of Government.
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.
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, 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.
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 College Access Associate, 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.
Tony Keith is a native Washingtonian and joined DC Prep in 2015. In his role as Associate Director, Tony works primarily with post-secondary alumni. Over the past ten years, Tony has served in a variety of youth development roles including Director of the Cathedral Scholars Program, a college access program at Washington National Cathedral; Cultural Programs Coordinator with the Semester at Sea Study Abroad Program; Interim Director of the Paul Robeson Cultural Center and Instructor of African American Studies at Pennsylvania State University; and Assistant Director of the Multicultural Resource Center at The University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Tony earned his BA in Communication from University of Maryland, College Park, and his MEd in College Student Affairs from Pennsylvania State University. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Educational Leadership and Administration from George Mason University.
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 College Access Associate, 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.
Maria-Teresa Duvall is the Founding Resident Principal of DC Prep’s newest Anacostia Elementary Campus, opening 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 Principal of the Edgewood Elementary Campus. 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.
Cassie Meltzer Pergament joined DC Prep in 2006 and has served in a variety of roles 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.
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.
Raymond Weeden joined DC Prep in 2012. For the last four years 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 served as 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.