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AARON WALKER, Board MEMBER

Aaron is founder and chief executive officer of Camelback Ventures, a fund that levels the playing field for underrepresented entrepreneurs. Since 2015, Camelback has made 33 investments and has helped those companies raise nearly $13M. Aaron is on a journey to live in the spirit of his baseball hero, Jackie Robinson, who said “a life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” With this ethos, Aaron taught ninth grade English in West Philadelphia through Teach For America, put together deals for companies large and small as a lawyer at Allen & Overy, and supported new ideas to improve education as a portfolio director for the NYC Fund for Public Schools. Aaron is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Penn Law School. 

 

Beth Rabbitt, Board member

Beth Rabbitt is CEO of The Learning Accelerator (TLA). Prior to becoming CEO, Beth was a Partner on the organization's start-up team, leading national strategies for developing human capital and for researching emerging teaching and learning models and practices. Beth has previously served as Director of Human Capital at Touchstone Education, an Associate Partner at the NewSchools Venture Fund, a consultant to and with Education Resource Strategies, and the founding Doctoral Fellow at the Harvard Innovation Lab. Beth serves on the board of several education nonprofits, including the Highlander Institute and UNOW, Princeton University's early childhood education center. She earned her B.A. from Dartmouth College and a Doctorate in Education Leadership from Harvard University. 

 

Jay Altman, Board MEMBER

Jay is an educator, school leader and social entrepreneur. He currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of FirstLine Schools. He has founded several schools and nonprofit organizations, including Leading Educators and New Orleans Summerbridge. As Director of Education for London-based ARK Schools, developing a network of academies in England. Jay has helped develop training programs for leaders of open admissions urban schools, including Future Leaders, a program for aspiring principals of open-admissions urban schools, and Teaching Leaders, a program for mid-level school leaders. Jay serves on the boards of Leading Educators and the Teaching Trust.

 

Frances messano, Board member

Frances Messano is a Senior Managing Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund where she leads the Innovative Schools Invent  (new schools) and Diverse Leaders investment teams. She also designs the content for their annual Summit conference. Previously, Frances served as Vice President of Strategy at Teach for America and as an Associate Partner at Monitor Institute, the social impact practice within Monitor Deloitte’s strategy consulting arm. Additional experiences include working at Morgan Stanley in equity sales and structuring. Frances has an MBA from Harvard Business School and AB from Harvard College. She is also a Pahara-Aspen education fellow. Frances is a first-generation college graduate and an alum of Prep for Prep, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, and Sponsors for Educational Opportunity.

Leona Christy, Founder and CEO

Leona brings 15+ years of experience scaling up organizations and leading high-performing teams. As a founding team member at Safal Partners, she played a leading role in growing Safal to one of the premier education consulting firms in the nation and led projects with the Federal Department of Education, leading foundations, non-profits, and school districts. Prior to Safal, Leona led Pratham USA, a nonprofit organization focused on ensuring education access and quality for children in developing countries, from start-up to scale. Previously, she has worked with the World Bank and Unilever. Leona has an MPP from Duke University and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore.

 

Laurel Greilich, associate

Laurel is a recent graduate in Psychology and Political Science from Tulane University, and a Venture for America Fellow. Her interest in child psychology, education policy, and social entrepreneurship, accompanied by a fierce devotion to New Orleans, led her to stay in the city and join Catalyst:Ed’s team. Prior to Catalyst:Ed, Laurel was Fund 17’s Fellowship Coordinator, helping formalize and grow New Orleans community members’ small businesses.

 

Juliana Diaz, Associate

Juliana is a recent graduate in Mathematics and Visual Arts from Union College (NY), and a 2018 Venture for America Fellow. Her interests in math, art, and social change led her to join Catalyst:Ed’s team. Juliana has a passion for using art and design to inspire change and raise awareness about social justice work. Prior to Catalyst: Ed, Juliana has worked on a variety of projects ranging from LBGTQ rights to environmental justice. 

 

Taysa Mohler, Associate

Taysa Mohler is from Lake Tahoe, CA and is a recent graduate of Bard College in NY, where she studied Literature, Middle Eastern Studies, and Science, Technology, & Society. She is a 2018 Venture for America Fellow, and has worked previously in web design, marketing, program management, and operations. She was drawn to Catalyst:Ed as the daughter of a charter school founder and non-profit executive director, and she loves the impact she gets to make at work! When not working, catch her knitting, working in social justice, or color coding her life.