Savita was chief of staff of Newark Public Schools, supporting the superintendent on the transition from state to local control, the annual budgeting process, management of the school board and other stakeholders, and strategic planning. She worked at the New York City Department of Education in the Bloomberg administration, creating city-wide plans for opening new charter and district schools, closing under-performing schools, and implementing strategic enrollment-based policy changes. Previously, Savita also worked at Deloitte Consulting and Deutsche Bank. Savita has an B.S. in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from Columbia Business School. In 2018, she completed the Broad Residency, graduating with an M.A. in education leadership.
Chris Cerf was superintendent of the Newark, New Jersey public schools, where he drove dramatic increases in reading and math performance. Graduation rates rose 20 percentage points and the city was recognized as having the most “beat the odds” schools in the country. Newark also developed one of the largest and most successful charter school sectors; Newark charter schools now serve 31 percent of the city’s students and 50 percent of its African American students. Previously, Chris was New Jersey’s commissioner of education and deputy chancellor of the New York City Department of Education.
Aquan has served as a high school principal in Michigan for eight years, and heads leadership development for PrepNet, a network of high schools in the state. Recently, Aquan established Balance Power, a nonprofit leadership development organization focused on transforming educational communities. She began her fifteen-year career in education as a high school science teacher. Aquan earned her B.A. and M.Ed. in education from Wayne State University.
After teaching high school math in Charlotte as a TFA corps member, Keri joined Achievement First in New Haven. Teaching seventh-grade math and eighth-grade algebra at the network in Brooklyn, she led her students for two consecutive years to 100 percent proficiency on the New York State exam, with 97 percent of eighth-graders passing the Algebra Regents exam. Later, she joined KIPP in Austin, teaching sixth-grade reading, and rose to become assistant principal and director of curriculum and professional development. Currently, Keri is managing director of leadership development at Teaching Trust, an education leadership development organization. Keri holds a B.A. in economics and sociology from Duke University.
Brittany started her teaching career at Success Academy in New York City, where she taught for two years with Teach for America. Brittany taught kindergarten and first grade as an integrated co-teacher and grade team lead before being tapped to move into leadership. As principal, she led her school to achieve top 5% rankings within New York State in math and ELA for two consecutive years. For the past three years, Brittany served as an instructional training specialist for Success, designing and implementing leader training for assistant principals and new hire teaching staff. Brittany earned a B.A. from the University of Washington in international studies and an M.A. from Relay Graduate School of Education.
Maddy is the director of academic operations at Cadence Learning responsible for managing all of the operations and communications for the program. Maddy was most recently the senior manager of community partnerships & outreach at Girls Who Code, where she worked to foster strong partnerships with school districts, library networks, and community-based organizations so that every girl has the opportunity to gain the confidence and skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. Previously, Maddy served as an assistant principal at Success Academy Charter Schools, where she managed instruction and teacher development in science, math, and literacy for grades K-4—achieving results in the top 1% of all New York state public schools. She first became passionate about education while serving as an AmeriCorps member in an urban education fellowship program in Boston, Massachusetts. Maddy received her BS in Psychology and History from Union College and holds a Women in Leadership Certification from Cornell.
Michele spent the first ten years of her career guiding first-generation college-bound students in navigating the college application process at KIPP, Uncommon, Friendship Public Charter and Sidwell Friends schools. She then became the executive director of the Newark Charter School Fund where she strived to ensure that every student in Newark was enrolled in a great school that prepared them for college and beyond. She is the founder and CEO of Kamau Strategies, a consulting firm providing strategic support to a variety of entities, including school districts and charter management organizations. Michele received her B.S. from the College of William and Mary in kinesiology and exercise sciences. She holds an M.S. from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and an advanced certificate in nonprofit business management from Washington University-St. Louis.
Doug is the co-CEO and superintendent of Achievement First, which operates a network of 37 public charter schools educating 14,000 students in New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford, CT; Brooklyn, NY; and Providence, RI. Achievement First is consistently one of the highest performing charter networks in New York City. Prior to co-founding Achievement First in 2003, Doug was one of the founders of Amistad Academy and served as the school’s instructional leader for three years. Achievement First Amistad High is ranked the number one high school in Connecticut.
As CEO of Public Prep, Ian provides the strategic direction for the network of single-sex elementary and middle public schools that are determined to put their students on a predictive path to earn a degree from a four-year university. Ian was the Deputy Director of Postsecondary Success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he worked to increase college completion rates among low income young adults. Ian worked for MTV as the Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Public Affairs. Prior to MTV, Ian worked as the director of strategy and performance measurement at The White House USA Freedom Corps office.
Steven is a senior fellow at the Center on Reinventing Public Education. He founded and led Ascend Learning, a charter school network in Brooklyn which offers a tuition-free liberal arts education in a warm and supportive setting to 5,500 students. Funded entirely at district spending levels, Ascend reversed the achievement gap on Common Core assessments. As special assistant for strategic planning for Massachusetts Governor William Weld, Steven helped shape the state’s landmark 1993 Education Reform Act that made Massachusetts schools the highest performing in the country and gave rise to the Boston charter school sector.
Lakisha is cofounder and executive director of The Oakland REACH, a parent-run organization founded in 2016 with the mission to “make the powerless parent powerful.” The Oakland REACH has conducted over 5,000 1:1s with parents in Oakland’s most underserved communities to create a team of informed and organized parent advocates fighting for quality schools. Lakisha is a respected national voice on parent advocacy and regularly consults with cities across the country interested in exploring parent advocacy to demand better access to quality education for underserved students.