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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 1,200 students in preschool through 8th grade on four campuses. Emily’s work at DC Prep has been featured in The Washington Post and on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and has attracted the support of major national foundations focused on public education reform. In 2007, Emily 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. She 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 came to DC Prep in 2010 as the Director of Talent Strategy, developing the systems, processes, and training that support professional growth for teachers. She plans the talent development cycle at each DC Prep campus - designing evaluation forms and training materials, and maintaining the organizational structure for record keeping on leadership development. Prior to DC Prep, Beth worked on the recruitment team at Achievement First. She has 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, 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, Managing Director for Early Childhood, 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.
Monique Cooke, School Psychologist, joined the DC Prep team in 2011. Previously, 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, joined DC Prep in 2012 as the Assessment Associate. She iis 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.
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.
Dan Englender, Director of Academic Technology, joined DC Prep in 2011 and served as Assistant Principal at the Edgewood Middle Campus where he oversaw instructional and school culture initiatives. In his new role, Dan is spearheading the development of DC Prep's technology plan to ensure that all students can achieve mastery of the technology standards in the Common Core State Standards curriculum, and graduate from DC Prep with the computer skills required for rigorous college-prep high school coursework. 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.
Deborah Hanmer joined DC Prep in 2008 as the Dean of Student Support at DC Prep’s Edgewood Middle Campus. Now, 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 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.
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 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 as the Leadership Support Specialist, providing 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.
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. Now, 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, Becky was the Special Education Coordinator at KIPP DC: AIM Academy. She also previously taught elementary and special education in Virginia and Arizona. Becky holds a BA from the University of Dayton, and an MEd from Arizona State 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.
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.
Brian Bickerton, Director of Information Technology, joined DC Prep in 2013 and is responsible for management and maintenance of DC Prep’s technology infrastructure and technical support services and vendors. Prior to DC Prep, Brian 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.
Thomasin Franken, Director of Extended Learning, came to DC Prep in 2010. She is responsible for managing, staffing and developing programming for Prep EX!, DC Prep’s aftercare program. Thomasin taught for three years in NYC public schools before earning a Grand Diploma in Culinary Arts from the French Culinary Institute. Previously, she worked as the After School Coordinator at Tyler Elementary School, 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.
Jonathan Host, Director of Operations, joined DC Prep in 2011 as the Operations Manager for the Edgewood Elementary Campus. In 2013, Jon became DC Prep’s Director of Operations, managing human resources, employee benefits, and student enrollment. Prior to DC Prep, Jon worked at the AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation where he conducted observational training sessions and classroom quality data analysis. He also worked for Hager-Sharp Communications where he provided support in data collection for NAEP. Jon received a BA from UCLA and an MA from Columbia University.
Keisha Jackson, Director of Human Resources, joined DC Prep in 2014. In her role, she is responsible for developing and executing human resources processes, procedures, and policies in support of the overall strategic direction of DC Prep – specifically in the areas of employee relations, compliance and payroll, data management, and compensation and benefits. Prior to DC Prep, Keisha practiced labor and employment law, and worked in human resources, recruitment, and office administration. She earned an undergraduate degree from George Mason University and a JD from the University of Virginia. Keisha is a native Washingtonian.
Linton McGahee, Technology Associate, joined DC Prep in 2012 and provides technology helpdesk support for faculty and staff at the Edgewood Elementary and Middle Campuses. Originally, he served as a Safety and Facilities Associate at both Edgewood Campuses, providing building and grounds security. Linton has an extensive background in PC repair and troubleshooting. He is a six-year veteran of the United States Navy, where he served from 2000-2006.
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, Enrollment and Data Systems Associate, joined DC Prep in 2013 and has daily oversight of DC Prep's student enrollment process and student information management. 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.
Katie Rouse, Chief Growth Officer, joined DC Prep in 2013. Working closely with the CEO, as well as the Talent and Operations teams, Katie oversees DC Prep’s expansion strategy. Prior to DC Prep, Katie was a Broad Resident at Chicago Public Schools, where she developed a draft master facilities plan and capital budget, analyzed the financial impact of policy decisions, and designed leadership development events. Katie also spent time at Bain & Company, where she led case projects related to market strategy, corporate strategy, sales force redesign, and change efforts. She holds a BA from Swarthmore College, an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University, and an MBA from Harvard.
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. Most recently, 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.
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.
Chase O’Brien came to DC Prep in fall 2009 as a 6th grade English teacher. In 2011 she transitoned to a Talent Recruiter position, focusing on recruiting and selecting excellent middle school faculty and staff. Chase 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. Chase received a BA from Davidson College and an MAT from American University.
Ibby Jeppson, Director of Resource Development, 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.
Kenny Wang, Director of Data and Accountability, joined DC Prep in 2009. Kenny manages all compliance issues as well as emerging organizational and policy issues and projects 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 and an MPP from the Kennedy School of Government.
James Kelly, PrepNext College Counselor, joined DC Prep in 2013 and works with DC Prep alumni during their junior and senior years in high school, focusing on the college admissions process. He also maintains contact with our 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, Missourt. Jimmy received a BA from Vassar College and an MEd from Harvard.
Ira Luke (“Luke”), Alumni Support Counselor, joined DC Prep in 2014 and works with DC Prep alumni during their transition to high school. He came to DC Prep from North Star Academy in Newark, NJ, where he was most recently the Dean of Students and prior to that, the Office Manager. Luke has significant experience working with young people in a range of settings, including Education, Sports and Fun, Diversified Community Services, and the Philadelphia Education Fund. He received a BA from Susquehanna University.
Jill Salisbury, Alumni Support Counselor, 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.
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.
Sally Houston is the Resident Principal of DC Prep’s newest school – the Benning Middle Campus – where she leads the Founding Faculty. Sally joined DC Prep in 2012 serving as an Assistant Principal at the Edgewood Middle Campus – overseeing instructional and school culture initiatives. Prior to DC Prep, Sally was the Dean of Instruction at YES Prep in Houston, TX. She also taught middle school ELA, social studies, and music. Sally was a member of Teach For America’s 2007 Houston cohort and the 2010 recipient of the Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award. Sally has a BA from the University of Virginia.
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.