+ Jay Altman
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.
+ Leona Christy
Leona brings 15+ years of experience scaling up organizations and leading high-performing teams. As a founding team member at Safal Partners, she led projects with the Federal Department of Education, 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.
+ Frances Messano
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.
+ Beth Rabbit
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.
+ Aaron Walker
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.
The CAtalyst:Ed Team
+ 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 led projects with the Federal Department of Education, 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.
+ Nybria Acklin
Associate. Nybria Acklin grew up in Kansas City and then Philadelphia and became an advocate for eradicating racial disparities in education after experiencing some of the challenges inner-city public school systems face. She is a 2019 Venture for America fellow and recent alum of the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs. Nybria graduated from Smith College in 2018 with a B.A. in Sociology. Her experience so far has sparked an interest in ecosystem building and social impact work. Outside of work, Nybria is passionate about dance and music.
+ Bernadette Doykos
Partner, Measurement, Learning and Evaluation. Over the last 15 years, Bernadette Doykos has worked with a wide range of education and community development organizations to integrate research and evaluation as a means by which to inform strategic growth and development and to assess and enhance current practices. Prior to joining Catalyst: Ed, she worked at the Center for Education Policy, Applied Research, and Evaluation at the University of Southern Maine, where she was also an adjunct faculty member in the School of Education and Human Development, and the Harlem Children’s Zone. Additionally, she consulted with a number of organizations, including Mercy Housing, South Ward Children’s Alliance (NJ), and the Tennessee College Access and Success Network. She earned a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Community Research and Action, an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Prevention Science and Practice, and a B.A. in Sociology from Wesleyan University. She currently lives in Portland, Maine, where she can be found consuming endless podcasts, searching for coastal treasures, and scouting new restaurants before the tourists takeover.
+ Meladee Evans
Associate Partner, Programs. Meladee brings 10 years of experience managing strategic programs and partnerships and leading high-functioning teams across social impact and technology spaces. Prior to joining Catalyst:Ed, she worked as the Director of Talent Strategy for KIPP New Orleans Schools, where she designed a number of tools and structures to strengthen teacher and leadership pipelines and build equity into talent practices. Before entering the education sector, Meladee worked as a mechanical engineer, and she now uses her critical eye for problem solving and system building to deliver outcomes that elevate and empower marginalized groups. Meladee currently serves on the advisory board of Live Oak Wilderness Camp. She holds an MBA from Northwestern University and BS degrees in mathematics and mechanical engineering from Spelman College and the Georgia Institute of Technology, respectively.
+ 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.
+ Majida Halaweh
Associate. Majida Halaweh grew up in Northern Michigan, where as a child of a public school teacher and school board member, she learned the inequality of education systems and funding. She is a 2019 Venture for America fellow. Majida is a recent alumna of Princeton University, where she studied History with a focus on material culture, the Middle East and United States. Majida is passionate about sustainability, Palestinian advocacy and art.
+ Tre Johnson
Partner, DEI. Tre Johnson is a career educator that started as a classroom teacher in Houston, TX via Teach For America. He has done work in youth non-profit college access and development work between Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, PA, working at the Urban Alliance Foundation and Philadelphia Futures. In Philadelphia, Tre served in grant-writing and admissions roles for the Mariana Bracetti Academy and Freire Charter Schools and he also served on Teach For America’s (TFA) Greater Philadelphia regional staff as the managing director of alumni affairs and as executive director. He has since served as the senior manager of the District Advisory Board and Strategic Partnerships in the Camden City School District and the deputy director for JerseyCAN, focused on education policy advocacy, community engagement, and community leaders. Before joining Catalyst Ed, Tre has also started a career as a writer for major media outlets on issues of race, culture and leadership. Outside of education, he serves as co-chair for the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project, focused on juvenile life sentencing issues and reentry. He graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park.
+ 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.
+ Rachel Klein
Partner, Strategic Initiatives. Rachel passionately believes that public schools should be a path to success for every student. For over 20 years she has worked to achieve equitable outcomes in schools and school systems as a District Administrator in Highline Public Schools, a Vice President for Code.org, a Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and as a Board President for Bike Works, an innovative nonprofit in South Seattle. Rachel has also worked in Seattle, Boston, and Chicago Public Schools. Rachel currently serves on the advisory boards of Techbridge Girls PNW and Threshold Podcast. Rachel holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School.
+ Colin Liu
Associate. According to his Indigo assessment, Colin brings continuous learning along with a sense of humor to his work. So from researching wastewater pollution and banana farms in Costa Rica to community organizing in the Bay Area, he finds joy in empowering others to share their stories, which is ultimately his mechanism of harnessing equality. Born and raised in Oakland, Colin loves human-centered data, delicious cheeses, and most importantly, educational equity. As a first-gen college graduate, Colin holds a BA in Public Policy from NYU and is a 2019 Venture for America Fellow.