Desmond Blackburn, Ph.D, is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of New Teacher Center (NTC). NTC is a national non-profit organization dedicated…
Desmond Blackburn, Ph.D, is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of New Teacher Center (NTC). NTC is a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving student learning by guiding a new generation of educators. Founded in 1998, NTC works in conjunction with school districts, state policymakers, and educators across the country to…
Atyani Howard oversees NTC’s program vision, innovation, and client delivery while providing collaborative leadership as part of our national Equity…
Atyani Howard oversees NTC’s program vision, innovation, and client delivery while providing collaborative leadership as part of our national Equity Commission. Before her role at NTC, Howard served as the vice president of academics for The New Teacher Project (TNTP), where she led on instructional programs, business development, program…
Arthur Mills IV leads NTC’s shared services, including finance, human resources, communications, operations, and digital transformation/IT groups. His experience in…
Arthur Mills IV leads NTC’s shared services, including finance, human resources, communications, operations, and digital transformation/IT groups. His experience in dynamic roles within both the private and education sectors provides him a unique perspective and strengthens the organization’s culture and operational performance…
Desmond Blackburn, Ph.D, is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of New Teacher Center. NTC is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving student learning by guiding a new generation of educators., with a focus on those working with systemically underserved student communities.
Blackburn began his career in education in 1996 as a High School Math Teacher for Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) where until 2015 he additionally served as an Assistant Principal, Principal, Director of School Improvement, Area Superintendent, and the Chief of School Performance & Accountability. In 2015, he became the Superintendent of Schools for Brevard Public Schools (BPS). Under his leadership, BPS achieved 65 percent proficiency on third-grade literacy assessments, the tenth highest graduation rate in the state. Three schools earned the distinguished Blue Ribbon award and the State of Florida graded BPS an “A” for two consecutive years. As a school district leader, Blackburn served both state and national organizations including the Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS) and Chiefs For Change.
He is a Broad Academy Fellow and former Governor Rick Scott appointed him to serve on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safety Commission. Blackburn also serves on the board of ERS Strategies, a national nonprofit that partners with district, school, and state leaders to transform how they use resources (people, time, and money) so that every school prepares every child for tomorrow.
Chief Program Officer
Atyani Howard oversees NTC’s program vision, innovation, and client delivery while providing collaborative leadership as part of our national Equity Commission. Before her role at NTC, Howard served as the vice president of academics for The New Teacher Project (TNTP), where she led on instructional programs, business development, program delivery, and ELL program development. For five years, she served as chief academic officer for Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (CNCA) in Los Angeles, CA. As CAO, she led the development, implementation, assessment, and improvement of educational programs for eight schools and 3500 students in grades Pre-k-12. Under her leadership, CNCA schools received several accolades for instructional program quality, including the Hart Vision Award from the California Charter Association, “Bright Spot” by the White House Initiative on Hispanic Excellence in Education, Title I Academic Achievement Award and CABE Seal of Excellence. Howard began her teaching career in the Chicago Public School System in 1997. She earned her Master’s degree in English Language and Literature from Northwestern University.
Arthur Mills IV
Chief Operating Officer
Arthur Mills IV leads NTC’s shared services, including finance, human resources, communications, operations, and digital transformation/IT groups. His experience in dynamic roles within both the private and education sectors provides him a unique perspective and strengthens the organization’s culture and operational performance. Previously, Milss served as executive director of talent management and organizational strategy with Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, GA, Georgia’s fourth-largest school district. He developed and implemented award-winning initiatives to revamp teacher and leader selection, recreate new teacher induction support methodologies, modernize recruiting, design an adaptive leadership development framework, and improve overall people management capability. Mills spent over fifteen years in strategy and financial management roles with General Mills, Dell, BNSF Railway, and GE Capital. He is a member and board financial secretary with the 100 Black Men of Atlanta and serves as an advisory board member for Jumpstart! Atlanta. Mills is the McCombs School of Business Advisory Board Chair at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received his Master in Business Administration.
NTC Equity Commission
NTC is committed to our mission: to disrupt the predictability of educational inequities for systemically underserved students by accelerating educator effectiveness.
It’s a tall order that we can’t do alone.
We want to push the paradigm on what we know to be true. To do so, we need help identifying what’s hidden from view. So we’ve built a community of perspectives to ensure NTC is serving students experiencing poverty, BIPOC students, English-language learners, students with learning differences, and immigrant students. The Equity Commission (EC) is a partnership, shining a spotlight on the roots of systemic problems that harm our most vulnerable kids.
Dr. Dawn Brooks DeCostaPrincipal, Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School
Anne ChildersTeacher, Pajaro Valley School Disctrict
Nancy DomeCo-founder and CEO, Epoch Education
Sharif El-MekkiFounder & CEO, Center for Black Educator Development
Brandon FrameDirector of Social Emotional Learning, The Urban Assembly
Lisa FultonLICSW, Four Directions Behavioral Health
Laleña GarciaKindergarten Teacher & Early Childhood Specialist, Rooted Kids
Danica Goyens-WardTeacher and NTC Mentor Trainer, NYCDOE
Lindsay KruseIndependent Consultant, Educating All Learners Alliance
Shannon LeonardDirector of Teaching & Learning, KIPP SoCal
Cary MatsuokaRetired Superintendent, Santa Barbara USD
Alejandra MezaRising Junior, Pacific Collegiate School
Dr. Gholdy MuhammadAssociate Professor of Language and Literacy, Georgia State
Carola Oliva-OlsonSenior Principal Education Researcher, SRI
Norka PadillaInstructional Specialist, Montgomery County Schools
Karen PittmanCEO, Forum for Youth Investment
Lisa QuayExecutive Director, Student Experience Research Network
Tanji Reed MarshallDirector of P-12 Practice, The Education Trust
Hector RicoDirector of DEI, Pacific Collegiate School
Zanthee SchwarzmannRising Senior, Pacific Collegiate School
Dr. Aida WalquiSenior Research Scientist, West Ed
Thoughts from Our Equity Commission
“All children are equally, immensely talented and have a tremendous potential to grow. It is the responsibility of educators to develop that potential. NTC works to give educators the supports they need to do that.”
Dr. Aída Walqui Senior Research Scientist West Ed
We use language for our kids around self-awareness, being able to access external supports, and also being able to understand their needs and emotions. NTC’s instructional coaching process develops similar competencies in teachers themselves. And when teachers experience high-quality relationships and trust, they can reflect that into their classroom.
David Adams Chief Executive Officer The Urban Assembly
NTC’s professional learning series was a great way to make me really think about my practice. Before, I understood the idea of being nonjudgmental when working with new teachers, but it was hard because I didn’t have the tools or guides to keep me focused. The support I got from the series keeps me grounded.
Louis M. Gomez is the MacArthur Chair in Digital Media and Learning at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. Before joining the UCLA faculty he was the Helen S. Faison Professor of Urban Education and Sr. Scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) at The University of Pittsburgh. Professor Gomez is also currently serving as a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in Palo Alto, Ca. . His scholarship focuses on understanding how to support organizational change in schools and other institutions. Along with his colleagues, Professor Gomez has been dedicated to collaborative research and development with urban communities to bring the current state-of-the-art in instruction and support for community formation to traditionally underserved schools. Most recently, Professor Gomez has turned his attention to problem solving research and development. This is R&D organized around high-leverage problems embedded in the day-to-day work of teaching and learning and the institutions in which these activities occur. Professor Gomez received a B.A. in Psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley.
Dr. Paul Goren serves as the Director of the Center for Education Efficacy, Excellence and Equity at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy. Working with an on-line education tech provider (who touches over 8-10 million kids daily in predominantly urban schools), the Center aims to harvest data for studies on student success (across racial, gender and economic groups), learning and learning loss during the pandemic, and pathways students take in acquiring knowledge and skills in English Language Arts and Mathematics.
From 2014 to 2019, Paul served as superintendent in Evanston/Skokie School District 65. Located just north of Chicago, the district serves nearly 8,000 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.A champion for social emotional learning, Paul held the position of Senior Vice President for Program at The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) prior to his superintendent appointment. He has held several senior advisory roles focused on educational practice, policy, and research with large public school systems, including Minneapolis Public Schools, San Diego City Schools, and Chicago Public Schools. Paul also directed the education policy studies division of the National Governors’ Association (NGA) in Washington, DC and served as the Director of Child and Youth Development for the MacArthur Foundation and as the Senior Vice President at The Spencer Foundation.
Paul received a BA from Williams College, a Masters of Public Affairs degree from the LBJ School of Public Policy at the University of Texas, and a PhD from Stanford University.
Nithin Iyengar is a partner in Bridgespan’s San Francisco office. Since joining the organization in 2010, Nithin has been a leader in developing Bridgespan’s Education Practice. Nithin has worked with a range of foundations, organizations, and government agencies pursuing large-scale initiatives focused on educator growth and development and school turnaround and transformation. Additionally, he has supported multiple efforts to develop high-quality, equitable career pathways to enable students to complete high school, graduate with a post-secondary credential, and enter a family-sustaining, personally relevant career. Stemming from his work with districts and charter organizations in particular, he has co-authored a number of papers including, “School District Innovation Zones,” “Should Donors Invest in School Districts,” and “Rethinking High School Turnarounds.”
Nithin has always been committed to building a high-quality and diverse team at Bridgespan. He has championed and led multiple efforts to reshape how Bridgespan recruits and retains all staff and particularly staff of color. Since 2017, Nithin has led recruitment and hiring of incoming staff for the San Francisco office.
Nithin joined Bridgespan after seven years as an educator and district leader working in prior roles in the Oakland Unified School District as coordinator of Portfolio Management and the School District of Philadelphia as chief of staff to the School Reform Commission. His career began in the classroom teaching high school math and later working as an instructional coach supporting new math and science teachers.
In addition to his work at Bridgespan, Nithin serves on the Board of Directors of the Children’s Creativity Museum – one of the leading creativity-focused museums in the United States. Nithin earned a BA in Computer Science for Harvard University; an MA in Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University; and an Ed.M in Educational Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Dr. Barbara Jenkins has been dedicated to serving the needs of students for 30 years. She was named superintendent for Orange County Public Schools in 2012.
Under Dr. Jenkins’ leadership, the district won the prestigious 2014 Broad Prize for Urban Education. The prize earned half-a-million dollars for student scholarships from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. The district also received the Governor’s Sterling Award in 2014 and 2015 and the Sustained Excellence Award in 2017 for its exemplary performance using research-based best practices in its business.
In 2016, OCPS received District Accreditation from AdvancED for its best practices in the education field. OCPS has repeatedly been recognized by the College Board for increasing access to Advanced Placement course work, while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the number of students earning exam scores for college credit.
Dr. Jenkins is a recognized education leader. In January 2017, she received a presidential appointment as a director of the National Board of Education Sciences. She serves on the executive board of directors of the Council of the Great City Schools, Chiefs for Change, The Wall Street Journal CEO Council and the Florida Council of 100. She is past president of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.
In 2017, she was named the Florida Superintendent of the Year and one of four finalists for the national title. The Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents named her Hispanic-Serving School District Superintendent of the Year and the Florida Association for Career and Technical Education named her CTE Superintendent of the Year.
Recognized for her commitment and influence, both the Orlando Sentinel and Orlando Magazine have named her as one of the 10 most powerful people in Central Florida on multiple occasions; Orlando Magazine ranked her number one in Education among its 2018 “50 Most Powerful.” The Orlando Business Journal honored her as a CEO of the Year in 2015. In 2014, she was named the Visionary Award recipient by the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council and the Central Florida Woman of the Year by the Women’s Executive Council.
Deeply engaged in the community, Dr. Jenkins serves on the boards of United Arts of Central Florida, Orlando Economic Partnership, Florida Hospital, Central Florida Regional Commission on Homelessness and the Orange County Youth Mental Health Commission.
Magaly Lavadenz, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor and founding Executive Director of the Center for Equity for English Learners in the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University. Her research addresses the intersections and impact of policies and practices for culturally and linguistically diverse students, their teachers and school leaders.
She has held various leadership positions as President of Californians Together, California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE), the California Association for Bilingual Teacher Education and the California Council on Teacher Education. Her published work includes Questioning our Practices: Bilingual Teacher-Researchers and Transformative Inquiry and Latino Civil Rights in Education: La Lucha Sigue.
Michael Magee, Ph.D., is the CEO of Chiefs for Change. Prior to working at Chiefs for Change, he co-founded and was CEO of the Rhode Island Mayoral Academies (RIMA). Before starting RIMA, for a dozen years, Mike taught American literature and philosophy at Haverford College, Wheaton College, and the Rhode Island School of Design. In 2004, his book, Emancipating Pragmatism, won the Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Studies. In 2007, Mike went on hiatus from academia to help found and direct Mayor Daniel McKee’s Office of Children Youth and Learning in Cumberland, RI. In 2008, he and Mayor McKee founded RIMA. He is a 2013 Pahara Aspen Education Fellow and Walton Family Foundation “Education Reformer to Watch.” Mike holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and English from the College of the Holy Cross
Board Vice Chair
Kelly Pope is co-founder and President of the SpecialRelativity Education Foundation, a small family foundation that provides grants to innovative education initiatives that encourage curiosity and love of learning. She is an active Partner and Executive Board Member at Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2), a venture philanthropy organization. Kelly also serves on the board of Teen Success, Inc. and is an active participant on KQED’s Education Taskforce. Formerly, Kelly was Advisory Board Chair to Citizen Schools California and was a Trustee at Montalvo Arts Center.
Prior to Kelly’s involvement in the non-profit sector, she worked for 25 years as a software professional, focusing on interactive media and educational technology products for both teachers and students. She led technology teams at Sun Microsystems and Electronic Arts and was an early executive at Tenth Planet and Classroom Connect. She was the founding COO at Interschola, voted in 2012 as one of Bloomberg Business Week’s Top 5 most promising social enterprises. Today, she advises numerous young educational technology start-ups and augments her philanthropic work with impact investing in the education sector.
Kelly holds a B.S. degree in electrical engineering/signal processing from U.C. Davis and was one of the first women to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. She is an American Leadership Forum (ALF) Senior Fellow and has served as a board member and community advocate for other Bay Area organizations focused on early childhood development, personalized learning, and youth access to education, including The Big Lift, Montalvo Arts Center, Declara, The Girls Middle School, and Science is Elementary. Kelly lives in the Bay Area with her husband and 2 dogs. Interests: Tennis (seriously!), physical fitness (as a job), piano (when time permits), education (always!).
Shruti, who currently serves as NTC Board Chair, is a Partner at New Profit, where she leads one of New Profit’s domains – a collaborative of social entrepreneurs and funders aligning actions to integrate the concept of investing in individual learners through personalized learning and social emotional development into mainstream public education. Prior to that, Shruti led New Profit’s portfolio management practice, ensuring organizations were receiving the support and resources they needed both from New Profit and from Monitor Group through pro-bono strategic engagements. She also led efforts to measure, evaluate, and report aggregate and organization-specific performance. In addition to domain management responsibilities, Shruti currently serves on the boards of BUILD, New Teacher Center, and Peace First, supporting their efforts to create and execute against aggressive plans to accelerate their impact.
Shruti’s family has a history of giving back to communities in different ways with courage and perseverance. Her grandmother was the ad-hoc matriarch of the neighborhood in India where Shruti’s mother grew up. Among other things, Shruti’s grandmother enlisted a local gynecologist to work with the domestic worker community to provide education and assistance with family planning, and to help break the cycle of poverty perpetuated by high fertility rates and overpopulation. Shruti’s father was born in Multan, a region of South Asia known for producing people with courage in the face of all kinds of danger. She feels that this combined background necessarily led her to New Profit where she now has the opportunity to work daily to boldly forge new paths to drive poverty alleviation and social justice.
Shruti joined New Profit in 2006 while finishing a joint M.B.A./M.P.A. Prior to graduate school, she managed a campaign for State Assembly in California while starting up a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping critically ill workers. Before that, she spent seven years working in the private sector, initially as an engineer at Honeywell, an aerospace engine manufacturer, and later in a series of quality management positions at Howmet Castings, an aerospace casting manufacturer, and Jabil Circuit, an electronics manufacturing services company. Shruti holds an S.B. in chemistry from MIT, an M.B.A. from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and an M.P.A. from Harvard Kennedy School.
When not rigorously pursuing social change, Shruti meditates, loves cooking-especially trying out new dishes-and works hard to spoil her nieces.
David Spiller is a member of the Portfolio Group at Bain Capital Private Equity, where he partners with portfolio companies to drive operating performance improvement. Prior to Bain Capital, David was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, working primarily with global consumer packaged goods companies on growth strategy. Earlier in his career, David worked with Latin American financial institutions clients at Citibank.
David received a B.S. from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, an MBA from Columbia Business School, and a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he was an Editor of the Columbia Law Review.
David lives in New York City with his wife Candice and daughter Marielle.
Gary Syman is an American banker, a nationally recognized business strategist, and a thought leader in the education sector. He is Co-Founder and Chairman of Teaching Partners, a double-bottom line organization offering professional development by teachers for teachers.
Syman is a retired Goldman Sachs partner, who spent three decades with the firm in various leadership positions in the United States and abroad.
Since retirement, Syman has been an active leader, advisor, and board member in the nonprofit sector, using his private sector expertise to help education organizations achieve greater scale and impact. Syman has served on numerous national boards, including Jumpstart (early childhood education), SeaChange Capital Partners (nonprofit merchant bank), the New Teacher Center (professional development focused on teacher induction), Peer Health Exchange (health curriculum for low-income high school students), and the Pearson Charitable Foundation.
Syman received his B.S. and MBA from the University of Southern California. He lives in Northern California with his wife, Azita Raji, and has five daughters.
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