Will Herberich is the National Managing Director of Communications for Families for Excellent Schools. Prior to FES, Will spent three years as a political adviser to former Boston City Councilor John R. Connolly, worked on a campaign for US Senate, and advised a number of other campaigns on a city and state level. Will attended Tufts University, where he served as the Executive Director of the Millennium Campus Network, a nonprofit focused on empowering college students to fight against global poverty. He currently lives in Boston's South End.
Ruben is the Connecticut Political Director for Families for Excellent Schools. Before joining FES Ruben spent 8 years as the deputy chief of staff to former Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch where he lead the mayor’s neighborhood revitalization initiatives, education reform agenda as well as running the mayor’s successful reelection campaign in 2011. Ruben has nearly two decades of campaign experience in Connecticut on the municipal, state and federal level. A father of four, Ruben’s passion for educational equity was originally sparked by his own experiences growing up in Brooklyn, New York and further fueled by his struggle to find a quality education for his children as a parent in Bridgeport, CT. Ruben currently resides in Stratford, CT.
Alison began working at FES in the Spring of 2013. She grew up on the North Shore of Massachusetts, where she enjoyed playing basketball and spending time on the beach. Her family instilled in her the value of equality by fighting for greater educational options in the Boston area. Alison graduated from New York University, where she studied psychology and conducted research on how to ensure schools and students are successful. She is dedicated to improving schools because she believes that all students can succeed. Day-to-day at FES, Alison helps manage the small and large mobilizations in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Outside of the office, Alison loves running, hiking, playing guitar, and hanging out with her nephew.
As Director of Research and Policy, Nathan Jensen develops and conducts research projects designed to advance the organization’s national policy goals. Prior to joining Families for Excellent Schools (FES), Nathan served as Senior Research Associate at Marathon Strategies, a political and corporate strategic communications firm based in New York City. In this role, Nathan performed opposition research, facilitated crisis management and conducted data-intensive analysis on behalf of a wide range of political, corporate and non-profit clients. Before joining Marathon Strategies, Nathan completed his law degree at Washington and Lee University School of Law and passed the New York State Bar Exam. Nathan also attended Washington and Lee as an undergraduate, obtaining his B.A. in Classics.
Alex Hernandez, a Miami-native, joined the Families for Excellent Schools’ team in May of 2016 as an Executive Assistant. Prior to joining FES, Alex worked for two Miami-based funders that have formed a collective-impact partnership attempting to bring greater educational opportunities to children in Miami’s most underserved communities. Alex received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Art from Emory University. Sparked by her interest in Education and community-driven initiatives, Alex completed her Masters of Science in Education, Community and Social Change at the University of Miami in 2015. In her spare time, Alex enjoys visiting art galleries and museums, hiking, yoga, and cooking.
Griffen joined Families for Excellent Schools as Creative Producer in January 2016. Prior to joining the team, Griffen spent 4 years working at HBO. There she managed various creative marketing campaigns including HBO Now, HBO Go, Cinemax's Banshee, and Steven Soderbergh's The Knick. These experiences taught her how to use visuals to tell compelling stories. Griffen works to create arresting creative content that advances the FES mission. Outside of the office she spends her time exploring Brooklyn.
Kimberly joined Families for Excellent Schools in July of 2017 as an Associate of Research and Policy on FES’s Program Team. Before joining FES she worked as an analyst at Triage Consulting Group in San Francisco. After 2 years of living in Oakland she is very excited for the New York climate, as fall is her favorite season. Kimberly attended college in her home state, Michigan, at the University of Michigan, where she received a BA in Public Policy from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. She resides in Brooklyn, NY and in her free time enjoys taking full advantage of the great sites and food NYC has to offer.
Megan joined Families for Excellent Schools in October 2017. As Motion Graphics Designer, Megan takes static information and spins them into visually engaging and educational animations. Before FES, she taught painting classes and was a teacher's assistant for her design class in college. She has also volunteered at The Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department at Mount Sinai Hospital. In her spare time, she enjoys making comics and illustrations.
Dana is the Massachusetts Manager of School Partnerships at Families for Excellent Schools. At Trinity College, she participated in several volunteer opportunities at local Hartford schools. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Trinity College, she worked as a 4th grade teacher at a charter school in Brooklyn, New York. Her purposeful experience teaching 4th graders illuminated how urgent our work is in advocating for quality education for all students. She is dedicated to ensuring that families in Massachusetts have the choice to attend excellent schools so students have a solid foundation for future endeavors. She has a deep desire to tangibly change the lives of children and believes education is the key to change in our world.
As Chief of States, Abena manages Families for Excellent Schools' parent organizing and school partnerships programs. As a child, Abena traveled more than three hours per day in order to attend quality schools and even moved out of state for high school; she hopes that one day this won’t be necessary. Before joining Families for Excellent Schools, Abena completed her Master’s degree at Teachers College, Columbia University, while working at Hyde Leadership Charter School in the Bronx. Prior to Hyde and Teachers College, Abena lived in Spain and worked for the Ministry of Education in Madrid, traveled throughout Europe and fine-tuned her olive oil palate. She currently serves on the board of Yoga Foster, a program committed to bringing mindfulness into public schools across the county. In her free time, Abena enjoys reading, traveling and playing blackjack.
Cory joined Families for Excellent Schools in the summer of 2014 as the New York Director of School Partnerships. A proud University of Maryland graduate (and avid sports fan… Go Terps!), Cory went on to receive her master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She spent the last four years working in the Office of Special Education for DC Public Schools. There she developed a passion for family engagement, as she supported the parents of early-childhood students through the special education identification process. Here in New York, she maintains and builds relationships with schools and community-based organizations to establish a base of active and engaged families. Cory believes that parents may be the most underrepresented voice in public education today—and is excited about the opportunity to help bring about change.
Kara came to Families for Excellent Schools from Education Reform Now, where she worked as an organizing fellow in Brooklyn, NY. Before working at Education Reform Now, she worked at a public high school in Connecticut where she ran a varsity volleyball program and teen programming. Kara also piloted an after school athletic program at Peck Community School in Holyoke, Massachusetts where she honed her skills for youth engagement.
Kara holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and French from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. At one time, she had her sights set on running a collegiate volleyball program, but then she stopped growing. As a Connecticut native, Kara now works to ensure all parents have an active role in improving education in their communities.
Joe is a native of South Brooklyn. He previously worked as a communications specialist for New York City Off Track Betting, where he managed communications for telephone and branch operations. Prior to that, he was employed at Multimedia Services Inc. where he handled the quality development of customer service representatives.
An avid runner, you can usually catch Joe running on the Coney Island boardwalk or beating his two teenage boys badly on the basketball court.
His struggle to find a quality education for his children led him to become a passionate advocate for school choice. He joined Families for Excellent Schools as an organizer in 2012 and currently spearheads the organizing efforts in Coney Island, Fort Greene/Clinton Hill and Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Joe is currently enrolled in Baruch’s School of Public Affairs.
Ramón is a Massachusetts organizer for Families For Excellent Schools (FES). Prior to joining FES, Ramón taught middle school science in Phoenix as a Teach For America Corps Member. During his experience as an educator Ramón became a co-founder of Aguila Young Achievers Program, which is a leadership initiative designed to help 8th grade students from low socio-economic backgrounds develop the skills and knowledge that are necessary to be successful in high school and college. Ramón is very passionate about educational equity, since as a youth he himself experienced educational inequity. He is a product of the low performing public school systems in the United States, but ultimately believes that a quality education can change an individuals life and provide more opportunities for our children, as it did for him. In his spare time, Ramón enjoys cheering for his home team, the Arizona Cardinals, coaching little league baseball, and playing pick-up basketball.
Searcy Williams joined Families for Excellent Schools in the summer of 2017 and serves as the New York Organizing Director. Prior to FES, Searcy traveled across the country helping lead organizing efforts with the Hillary for America campaign (HFA) in Iowa, Maine, and Wisconsin. Prior to his time with HFA, Searcy spent time organizing on US Senate campaigns and working on Capitol Hill. Prior to these positions, he worked in Government and Strategic Initiatives with the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. The son of a criminal defense attorney and social worker, Searcy was taught at an early age the importance of social justice work and civic engagement. He is a proud Howard Bison (HU) and believes in Truth and Service. A product of public schools, Searcy is passionate about educational equality and is working to do his part in helping bring change.
Chantal is the New York Manager of School Partnerships at Families for Excellent Schools. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Chantal grew up attending school in the NYC public school system. After earning her Bachelor’s degree at Fordham University, she worked in two different charter schools in NYC where her passion for education advocacy continued to blossom. Chantal is committed to working towards a public school system that no longer faces the obstacles that her own K-12 schools did. She believes every child deserves to attend high performing schools that produce quality education regardless of their district or zip code. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, reading a good book and planning where she should travel to next.
Jasedia 'Jessy' has been a Bridgeport resident for 28 years and is a graduate of Bullard-Havens Tech. She has two children; a 15 year old son and a 16 year old daughter. Both children attend Bridge Academy, a charter high school in Bridgeport, Connecticut. In addition to the lead organizing position with Families for Excellent Schools, she has been an Administrative Assistant at the Gesswein Co. for 15 years. She is both ambitious and hard working and tremendously passionate about the successes of her children. Jessy has advocated in many lead roles, starting as a PAC member for the first three years of her children's education at ABCD. She was also a governing council member for Bridge Academy Now. A proud graduate of PLTI in 2010, she has since has committed all the time she can to help promote and support what is best for her family and community.
Joseph Rivera is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn he is the oldest of four siblings. Joseph graduated with his B.A. in Criminal Justice from CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Joseph started off as a volunteer with F.E.S. participating in the B.E.P (Brownsville Empowerment Program) where he saw first hand how important community outreach and connecting with parents is. Now Joseph is a New York Organizer in Brooklyn where he works to empower and connect parents who want to see change in New York City Public Schools. As a person who witnessed first hand the disservice many children receive in New York City Pubic Schools Joseph is determined to help ensure all children have access to safe schools and a quality education. Joseph is an avid Jets and Yankees fan.
Andrew Mills is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn with Jamaican roots in his blood. Andrew has three brothers and one sister and is also a father to his two-year-old daughter Kadence. Andrew studied Business Management at Medgar College and is currently completing his Healthcare Administration degree. Andrew developed a passion for advocacy after working as Directcare Specialist (working with the mental and physical disabled) at Heartshare Human Resources for six years and as a Case Manager for Starbright Family Services, assisting with locating suitable homes and employment for individuals/families who were homeless and/or previously incarcerated. After speaking with Erica who is a close friend of the family and Parent Leader (volunteer) with FES, Andrew realized the great opportunity to give back to his daughter and his community by working as an Organizer to motivate and empower parents to make a positive and effective change in education reform.
Samaris Rose is the happy wife of Jermaine and proud mother of 5 boys. Her passion is almost tangible and her drive motivates all who interact with her. Though she feels the public school system let her down, she uses that as fuel to make a better way for her children and others. She takes pride in any task she is given and always likes to come out on top! She’s a helper at heart and credits her life’s success to God alone. She says His favor is all over her life and she remains excited about not just her future, but the bright future of her boys.
La'Quita is a single mom who has been living in Bridgeport, CT since 2010. She has two children, who attend Achievement First schools. She graduated from Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven and attended Quinnipiac University for one year. On top of organizing parents and community members in New Haven, La'Quita works hard daily to make sure her kids are happy and healthy. She is an active member in her community and is training at the New England Tractor Trailer School. She also volunteers at the Salvation Army food bank, is a member of the Bridgeport Neighborhood Revitalization Committee, is a chairperson on the parent committee at her son's daycare, and is on her way to graduating from the Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI). PLTI and FES gave her the torch to light the fire within herself. She has always had so much heart and desire to help her community and she is honored to pass on the skills and passion to other community champions to do the same. She is very excited to be with FES!
Prior to joining Families for Excellent Schools in January 2016, Michele spent 5 years working at Hartford Public Schools as a Community Outreach Coordinator and Recruiter for one of Hartford’s Magnet Schools. She is a native New Yorker but relocated to North Carolina in 2000 and lived there for 10 years. It was in North Carolina where she first was introduced to charter and magnet schools as a choice for one of her sons. She was a volunteer in her boy’s school serving as a parent ambassador and a leader on the PTA. It was here that her passion for families and education blossomed and drove her to secure numerous fundraising and partnership opportunities for the school. She holds an Associate’s degree in counseling and in July 2016 will complete her BA in Organizational Development from Saint Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania. She is the mother of two boys; both attend magnet schools in Hartford. Her love of school as a young girl and passion and advocacy for her own child, has led to a career that brings her joy each day. She believes that all children have the right to an outstanding education and love of learning that was afforded to her. There is no greater experience or motivation for her than watching a child grow and blossom in a school setting that inspires and empowers him or her each day! In her free time she loves to take road trips, head to beach as many times as possible and enjoy time with her family and friends.
Ms. La Keenya Young brings ten years of public service, leadership, and management, to Families For Excellent Schools in her position as a community organizer. Ms. Young is a proud Howard University alumni. She received her dual Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Administration of Justice from Howard University in 2009. There Ms. Young developed an exceptional back ground in people and project management and a professional style based on excellent inter-personal communications and an ability to make the best possible use of personal network. It was there she developed her passion for geopolitics with a focus on topics such as self-government, educational reform, political economy and sustainable development. After graduation, she studied abroad to Kenya, and Tanzania to learn Swahili. In Ms. Young’s free time she enjoys reading, writing, baking, shopping, traveling and have dance parties with her family. Ms. Young’s ultimate goal is to be the best community organizer and to continue to grow in FES as an advocate of change with the help of her parent leaders, colleagues, and volunteers to reform education, using her drive and untiring commitment to bring greater autonomy and dignity to the people of the developing world.
Ola joined Families for Excellent Schools in January 2017 as a Connecticut Organizer. Although Ola has lived most of her life in Shelton, CT, she originally comes from an immigrant background. Ola moved to the United States from Poland in 2001, not yet knowing a word of English. From a young age, she experienced the importance of education first hand when she received extra tutoring help that allowed her to catch up to her peers academically and go on to become a first generation college student. Ola is a recent graduate of the University of Mary Washington where she studied Political Science and Economics. During her undergrad, she was a regular volunteer at an after-school tutoring program for underprivileged youth where she saw young students' academic potential grow exponentially. Ola is committed to the belief that every child deserves a quality education that will open doors of opportunity for them in the future. In her free time, Ola enjoys spending time with her younger sister, Julia, and traveling to new places in hopes of finding the coffee shop with the world's best coffee.
Claudia Phillips, born to Mexican immigrant parents, U.S. resident, currently living in CT. Mrs. Phillips is a proud parent of three hard working scholars. One child who presently attends a public charter in CT., and two recent high school graduates that are enthusiastically college bound.
She is a fierce defender of Parents’ choice in education. As a parent leader and advocate, she has organized and mobilized parents around equitable funding for public charter schools in largely underserved, marginalized predominantly Black and Latino communities. She believes that a quality education that prepares children academically and civically is a right, regardless of one’s zip code or socioeconomic status.
Yvonne is a New York organizer for Families for Excellent Schools. She started working with FES as a volunteer, and is now a passionate advocate for all children. She is currently pursuing her B.S in Criminal Justice at Monroe College. As a mother of 4 children who have had the opportunity to gain access to a great education, Yvonne is a firm believer that our kids are the future and they deserve nothing but the best.
Penny Tyler, a Southern California native, recently made the big move to New York City to take on the position as Executive Assistant to Chiefs. Prior to FES Penny received her Bachelor’s Degree in Art History from California State University, Fullerton. A self proclaimed culture addict, she took the opportunity to immerse herself in Italian art and culture while studying abroad in Florence, Italy her senior year of college. After graduating she decided to mix her love of art, travel, and education by becoming the Art Director at the gallery on board a cruise ship where she not only sold art but held lectures for both children and adults. After leaving the ship she took on more administrative and management roles before her pursuit for a more fulfilling position that would allow her to make an impact brought her to FES. In her spare time she is an avid photographer and happy to lend her talents to FES whenever needed.
Prior to joining the team at Families for Excellent Schools in September 2014, Katie spent eleven years on the staff of Teach For America where she served in various capacities including development, human resources, and teacher recruitment.
Before her transition to the non-profit sector in 2003 she worked in strategic planning and new product development at American Express. She holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and management from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her son and is committed to making an impact in her local community. She serves on the board of Beginning with Children Charter School 2 in Williamsburg and volunteers at her church. She hails from the Midwest but has fallen in love with New York City and spends her free time exploring all the city has to offer from museums to theater to new restaurants.
Richard joined the Families for Excellent Schools team in the summer of 2012 and serves as the Managing Director of Operations and Planning. As the child of an immigrant family, he experienced the importance of education firsthand, learning English at the age of 12 while surviving his adolescence. Prior to joining FES, Richard worked as an investment banker at Barclays Capital for four years, helping U.S. colleges and universities manage their debt portfolios. Then he joined Teach for America and taught at Achievement First East New York Middle School as a math and history teacher. As much as he loves working with the FES staff, building systems from scratch, and overseeing its growth, nothing has made him happier than seeing parents grow into real leaders in their communities.
In his free time he enjoys playing soccer, reading books, and spending time with his wife and friends. He will forever brag about completing the 2006 Boston Marathon in less than four hours but will warn you not to run one yourself. Richard is a graduate of Harvard with a degree in Economics. He also holds a master’s degree in Education from Relay School of Education. He currently lives with his wife on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Julie joined the Families for Excellent Schools team in June 2016 and serves as its General Counsel. Before joining FES, she was an Associate at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, where she focused on corporate litigation and criminal defense. Prior to law school, Julie joined Teach for America and taught middle school reading and language arts in New Orleans' Recovery School District during the first two years the district was open following Hurricane Katrina. She holds a bachelor's degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the Duke University School of Law. Originally from Atlanta, GA, Julie now lives in Brooklyn with her dog and husband. In her free time, Julie enjoys running,spending hours at the dog park,and exploring New York City.
Kitaro joined Families for Excellent Schools in May 2015. Prior to joining the team at Families for Excellent Schools, Kitaro spent two years on the staff of Teach For America where he served as an operations specialist for the Talent Acquisition Team. Before his transition to the nonprofit sector in 2013, he ran operations for the Amplify Education talent acquisition team for two years during the company’s largest growth period. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Human Resources from Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY. As a first generation college graduate, Kitaro is deeply committed to ensuring all children have access to excellent schools and education. In his spare time, Kitaro enjoys good food with good company, avidly following the New York Knicks and Dallas Cowboys, and playing pick-up basketball and competitive softball.
Grace joined the Operations Team at Families for Excellent Schools in December 2016. As a college student, Grace taught kids underserved communities in Manila, Nairobi, and Kolkata. These experiences - and the example of her parents and a number of fabulous public school teachers - seared in a commitment to quality education. After completing an MPH, Grace discovered a passion for urban issues like homelessness, youth empowerment, and public education through her work at Emmanuel Gospel Center in Boston. She is excited to bring her enthusiasm for community development and experience in nonprofit management to FES!
Before joining Families for Excellent Schools, Jason was a borough director for Democracy Builders. Prior to his role at Democracy Builders, Jason was a math empowerment teaching specialist at the Making Waves Education Program in Richmond, California and worked as an educator in Orinda, Oakland and Berkeley, California. Jason came to FES in 2011 as a founding member of the team. Since joining FES Jason has served in multiple roles before his current position as Managing Director, Tactics. A California native, Jason has worked in education and on education reform issues since 1999. Jason says "Working at FES allows me to fight for every child’s right to a great education."
Kelly Orme joined the FES Growth Team as Manager of Learning & Knowledge Management. Prior to joining FES, she worked for three years in the NYC public schools where she taught high school History & Special Education and managed & developed a Special Education department. During that time she was also a NYC Teaching Fellow and completed my Master's in Education at Hunter College. Before moving to NYC, Kelly graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Political Science & Sociology. Always passionate about public policy and education reform, she is excited to be part of FES' ever-growing team. In her free time, Kelly loves to run, ski, travel and satisfy her nearly insatiable sweet-tooth.
Sara Bobak joined the Families for Excellent Schools team in the summer of 2016. Sara is originally from Webster, NY. She studied International Relations and Middle Eastern studies as Syracuse University. It wasn’t until she had the opportunity to study and work abroad that she realized her true passion: education. Through education, all people can grow in the knowledge and skills that they need in order to lead empowered lives and create positive change within their communities. The most sustainable change happens when community members advocate for it and create it themselves. After Syracuse, she joined Teach For America as a Corps Member in Rhode Island and served as a middle school special education teacher and literacy coach at a traditional public school. During this time, she studied and received her master’s degree in Urban Education Policy from Brown University. She then moved to NYC and taught as a 6 th grade Learning Strategist at New Heights Academy Charter School for two years (Go Eagles!). She currently lives in Washington Heights, NY with her husband. In her free time, Sara enjoys reading, exploring, and getting pumped up at Crossfit.
Tracy joined FES in January 2017 as Manager of Development Communications and hopes to put to work her passions for organizing and storytelling. Originally from Boston, since graduating with a bachelors in Policy Management from Dickinson College she's done everything from organize for Greenpeace, to work in operations at Twitter. Most recently she spent two years at the Kendall Square Association in Cambridge, MA as their Membership Director. She holds a Masters in City & Regional Planning from Cornell and on the weekends you can find her running (if it's warm out) or cooking (if it's cold out).