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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.
Rick Cruz, Chief Executive Officer, joined DC Prep in 2012, and currently leads the organization’s continued growth as the highest-performing network of charter schools in the nation’s capital. Rick oversees the executive management of DC Prep and is responsible for the vision, leadership, and growth of the organization as it embarks on a second decade of bridging the educational divide in Washington. Prior to DC Prep, Rick served as the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s (NFTE) first Chief Field Officer since 2010 where he led the development of the organization’s five-year strategic transformation and growth plan. NFTE works in underserved communities globally to implement entrepreneurship education programming that increases students’ basic academic and life skills through experiential in-school curricula, teacher professional development, and a deep engagement of local volunteers from the business community. Rick also served as Vice President of Regional Operations at Teach For America where he led a portfolio of offices in key markets across the country, working with Executive Directors in Washington, DC, Baltimore, Connecticut, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, South Louisiana, New Orleans, and South Dakota in seeking to end educational inequity by recruiting and training recent college graduates for the classroom and as future leaders in and outside of the education sector. In addition, for 12 years, Rick worked in various management roles at the Corporate Executive Board. Rick received a BA from Yale University and is a longtime resident of Washington, DC, where he and his wife are raising their two children.
Clarice Ulu joined DC Prep in 2012 and reports directly to the CEO and supports the Executive Team. Clarice is the mother of two current DC Preppies and a longtime volunteer at the Edgewood Elementary Campus. She has a strong background in office administration and organization - most recently in her role as an office manager with over a decade of experience supporting senior executives and their teams at Educational Testing Service. Clarice has a BS from Southeastern University.
Wendy Scott, Chief Operating Officer, joined DC Prep in 2008 and is responsible for operations, finance, and real estate. 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.
Sujata Bhat, Director of Operations, joined DC Prep in 2009 as the Operations Manager for the Edgewood Elementary Campus. In 2011, she took on the role of DC Prep’s Director of Operations, managing human resources and benefits, technology, and student enrollment. Prior to DC Prep, Sujata served as a special assistant to the director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, managing the agency’s performance management system and other child welfare and education policy initiatives. In addition, Sujata served as an Education Pioneers Fellow at NewSchools Venture Fund. Sujata holds a BA from the University of Chicago and an MPA from Princeton University.
Brian Bickerton, Director of Information Technology, joined DC Prep in 2013 and is responsible for developing, implementing, and managing the organization’s technology plans to meet student and staff technology needs. In this role, Brian oversees and maintains DC Prep’s technology infrastructure and technical support services and vendors. Prior to DC Prep, he served in senior-level IT roles at J Street Companies, a real estate firm in Washington, DC, as well as KPMG, among other firms. Brian holds a BA from Catholic University.
Jessica Smith, Operations Associate, joined DC Prep in 2012 and supports the operations team on a variety of tasks related to compliance, human resources, finance, enrollment, safety, and technology. For the past two years prior to DC Prep, Jessica was an operations coordinator and the assistant to the executive director at Teach For America in DC, with extensive experience in operations, planning, and training projects. She also has a background in event logistics and volunteer management. Jessica received a BA from the University of Florida.
Katie Severn, 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.
Melodie Barron joined the full-time staff of DC Prep in 2012. Her primary focus is on curriculum development, instructional quality, and programmatic improvement in DC Prep's Early Childhood programs. Over the past several years, she has been a consultant to DC Prep’s educational programs at all three campuses and has helped the organization develop in several key areas related to instruction, including teacher support and evaluation system, as well as instructional planning, delivery, and coaching. Melodie received a BA from Furman University and an MEd from Converse College.
Monique Cooke, School Psychologist, joined the DC Prep team in 2011. Prior to DC Prep, she worked as a School Psychologist in Montgomery County Public Schools and Norfolk Public Schools. As the School Psychologist, Monique collaborates with parents and teachers of students with disabilities to find effective solutions to learning and behavior problems. Additionally, she performs psycho-educational and social-emotional testing and provides individual and group counseling and social skills training. Monique holds a BA from the University of Virginia as well as an MEd and EdS from The College of William and Mary.
Hilary Dauffenbach-Tabb, Assessment Associate, joined DC Prep in 2012 and is responsible for the collection and analysis of student data as well as developing data “dashboards” that present student progress in both academics and character at each DC Prep campus. 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.
Moira Clarkin Evans joined DC Prep in 2007 and provides coaching and professional development in English Language Arts and effective literacy programs. She has taught elementary, middle, and high school students in New York, Los Angeles, and in the Washington, DC areas. She has also led professional development sessions for teachers and taught college courses in education and pedagogy. She received a BA from Fordham University and an MEd from Cambridge College.
Thomasin Franken joined DC Prep in 2010 and designs, staffs and oversees Prep EX!, DC Prep’s Extended Learning Program. Thomasin taught for three years in NYC public schools before earning a Grand Diploma in Culinary Arts from the French Culinary Institute. Prior to joining DC Prep, she worked as the After School Coordinator at Tyler Elementary School, reporting to the DCPS Office of Out of School Time, where she transformed a fledgling program into one recognized by United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Thomasin received a BA in Sociology from Harvard College, an MS in Elementary Education from Mercy College, and a Grand Diploma in Culinary Arts from the French Culinary Institute.
Deborah Hanmer joined DC Prep in 2008 as the Dean of Student Support at DC Prep’s Edgewood Middle Campus. As Director of Student Support Services, 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 working at DC Prep, she was Dean of Administration at Boston Collegiate Charter School. She also has experience in consulting and fundraising. Deborah holds a BA from Dartmouth College, an MPA from Syracuse University, and an MEd from Cambridge College.
MaryKate Hughes joined DC Prep in 2003 as a founding faculty member and works closely with the Home Office Academic Team to refine teacher support and professional development programs, providing ongoing feedback to campus-based instructional leaders. In addition, she oversees curriculum development and revision across all campuses. In her tenure at DC Prep, MaryKate has also served as a Math teacher, master teacher, and Math department chair at the Edgewood Middle Campus. She entered teaching through the DC Teaching Fellows program, and received the notable Milken Teaching Award in 2006 for her exemplary teaching and commitment to education. Prior to DC Prep, MaryKate taught 5th grade at DCPS. She received a BA from Boston College, and an MAT from American University.
Tara O’Flaherty joined DC Prep in 2012 and supports the Academic Team’s work across all campuses. Prior to DC Prep, she helped found and open Chavez Prep as its Assistant Principal and then moved into the Principalship. She served as a school leader for Chavez for seven years and in her final year there was named Principal of the Year. Tara has a BA from Drew University, an MEd from Lesley University, and an MA from The George Washignton University.
Danielle Palmer, School Psychologist, joined DC Prep in 2013. She has extensive experience in clinical Psychology, most recently serving as a case manager for the Devereux Children’s Behaviorial Health Services where she developed individualized treatment plans and provided individual and group psychotherapy for adolescents and their families. As the School Psychologist at DC Prep, Danielle provides hands-on support working with teachers and families of students with disabilities to map out solutions to learning and behavioral issues. In addition, she provides individual and group counseling/social skills training, and also administers social-emotional and psycho-educational testing. Danielle received a BS from Howard University and an MA and Ph.D. in School Psychology, both from Michigan State University.
Rebecca Yerman, Director of Special Education, joined DC Prep in fall 2008, and served as the Special Education Coordinator at the Edgewood Middle Campus. As Director of Special Education, she works closely with the special education coordinators at each campus to ensure that students receive appropriate academic support. Prior to joining DC Prep, Rebecca was the Special Education Coordinator at KIPP DC: AIM Academy. She also previously taught elementary and special education in Virginia and Arizona. Rebecca holds a BA from the University of Dayton, and an MEd from Arizona State University.
Alicia Robinson, Chief Talent Officer, joined the Home Office in 2008. She leads DC Prep's efforts to attract and retain the very best urban educators. Alicia came to DC Prep from New Leaders where she managed the recruitment and admissions process for New Leaders' candidates. Previously she served as the Senior Director for Education and Outreach at the Washington Scholarship Fund, overseeing the recruitment, placement and academic support for more than 2,000 students receiving scholarships through the Fund. Alicia is a graduate of American University, earning both a BA in Public Communication and an MAT in Elementary Education. Alicia entered teaching through DC Teaching Fellows and was a member of DC Prep's Founding Faculty in 2003.
Beth Berwick, Director of Talent Strategy, joined DC Prep in 2010 and works closely with the Chief Talent Officer to develop the systems, processes, and training that support professional growth for teachers. She plans and project manages the talent development cycle at each campus - designing and developing evaluation forms and training materials, and maintaining the organizational structure for record keeping on leadership development. Prior to joining DC Prep, Beth worked on the recruitment team at Achievement First. She also has experience working on Capitol Hill and for a health care non-profit. She has a BS from the University of Colorado and an MBA from Yale University.
Jake Custer, joined DC Prep in 2011 and works to recruit and select excellent faculty and staff across DC Prep’s growing network of schools. Jake came from DC Public Schools (DCPS) where he began teaching through the DC Teaching Fellows Program (DCTF). At DCPS, he worked as a special education teacher for students in 3rd through 8th grade. In addition, he also worked with DCTF as a mentor teacher and selector using TNTP's rigorous selection process to hire new fellows. Jake holds a BA from Michigan State University and an MA from The George Washington University.
Chase O’Brien joined DC Prep in fall 2009 as a 6th grade English teacher. Currently, she works to recruit and select excellent faculty and staff for DC Prep’s growing network of schools. She has taught English and Spanish to middle school students in Kentucky and Washington, DC. Prior to joining DC Prep, Chase worked at SEED Public Charter School and Hyde Leadership Public Charter School, both in Washington, D.C. She has worked as both head counselor at a summer camp in North Carolina and a youth services coordinator with the American Red Cross, National Capital Area. Chase received a BA from Davidson College and an MAT from American University.
Hilary Stathes joined DC Prep in 2012 with varied experience in teacher selection and recruitment, marketing, and new teacher development at both TNTP and Teach For America. She began her career in education as a TFA corps member in the East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools. Hilary oversees all aspects of DC Prep’s teacher recruitment efforts. She ensures the most competitive, proactive, year-round recruitment strategy as DC Prep grows. Hilary has a BA from Amherst College and an MEd from Harvard University.
Ibby Jeppson, Director of Resource Development, joined the DC Prep staff in 2004. She is responsible for development, strategic partnerships, and communications. She has more than 30 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.
Kenny Wang, Director of Special Projects, joined DC Prep in 2009 and works on emerging organizational and policy issues, compliance, and federal and state grants. 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 College and an MPP from the Kennedy School of Government.
Lindsay Fallon joined DC Prep in 2009 and works to ensure that DC Prep’s graduates continue their college-bound trajectory throughout their high school years. She works primarily with 11th and 12th grade students to help them navigate the college admissions process. Prior to joining DC Prep, Lindsay was the Program Director of City Kids Wilderness project, a program which allowed her to work closely with many urban youth including many DC Preppies. She holds a BA from Colorado College.
Kathleen Dunn came to DC Prep in 2011. She works primarily with DC Prep alumni now in 9th and 10th grade to ensure a smooth high school transition. She previously worked as the Upper School Dean of Students for the Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart. Prior to that position, Kathleen taught history and literature. In addition, she also served as Dean of Students for the Covenant of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, CT. Kathleen holds both a BA and an MA from Georgetown University as well as an MA from the University of Maryland.
DC Prep’s School Leaders build a unique and close-knit learning community at each school campus.
Nicole Bryan joined DC Prep in 2008 as the school's Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment where she provided coaching and professional development. 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 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.
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.
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.