Leadership Team

Linda Brown

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Sue Walsh

Chief Academic Officer

Aasimah Navlakhi

Chief of Staff

Staff Directory

Paul Adler

Director, Follow On Support

As Director of Follow On Support, Paul Adler provides continued high-impact, mission-driven Follow-on Support to BES leaders and BES schools in their planning year and first two years of operation, and works with BES Fellows during their training year. Paul served for six years as the founding Principal of Achievement First Brooklyn High School. He led the first three graduating classes to college readiness, with all students being accepted to four-year colleges, and he led the school to be ranked in the top third of 29 schools in the Achievement First network for academic performance. Previous to Paul’s work as Principal with Achievement First, he was a Teach For America Corps member, teaching seventh grade math in Compton, CA. Paul received an M.A. in Educational Leadership from Teachers College Columbia University, an M.A.T. in Mathematics Education from Harvard University, and a B.A. in Quantitative Economics from Tufts University.


Aidin Carey

Director, Leadership Development

As Director of Leadership Development, Aidin Carey brings strong background in education reform, starting her work with TFA teaching in NYC, then serving as writing instructor and sixth grade lead at Democracy Prep in Harlem.  Most recently and for the past five years, Aidin has worked for Uncommon Schools in Brooklyn, first as an Operations Associate, Instructional Leader, and ELA Teacher and then as Director of Operations.  Aidin has a M.A.T. in Secondary English from RELAY Graduate School of Education and a B.A. in History and Literature from Harvard University.  


Nichole Curtis Cox

Director, Fellowship Recruitment 

As Director of Fellowship Recruitment, Nichole Cox manages all national ground recruitment efforts for The Fellowship. She oversees the Managers of Fellowship Recruitment as the entire team works relentlessly to identify the best leaders for BES schools across the country. Prior to BES, Nichole was part of a two-person team that launched the Teach Charlotte region of TNTP. Before this, she served as Recruitment Director and kindergarten teacher with Teach For America. Nichole received an M.Ed. from Arizona State University and a B.A. in English and Communications from James Madison University.


Tara Deonauth

Director, Data Analytics

Tara Deonauth serves as Director, Data Analytics at Building Excellent Schools. In this capacity, she leads all data collection, analysis, and reporting that informs the organization’s annual publications, fund development, and comparative analytics for Network schools. Previously, Tara completed a yearlong fellowship with Match Education in Lawrence, MA, where she led her ninth and tenth grade students to 80% proficiency on the mathematics state assessment. Tara received her B.A. in Mathematics and Economics and a Certificate in Jewish Studies from Williams College.


Jill Dunchick

Director, LENS

As Director of LENS, Jill Dunchick provides high impact, mission-driven Follow-on Support to BES leaders and BES schools in their planning year and first two years of operation. Jill is the leader of LENS – Leaders for Emerging Networks of Schools, training rising leaders for BES schools and for mission-aligned schools across the country. Prior to BES, Jill served as Assistant Principal and Principal at Mastery Charter Schools in Philadelphia, with her schools twice earning the prestigious EPIC award for student achievement and growth under her leadership, and with 84% of students scoring proficient/advanced on state assessments. Jill began her teaching career with Teach For America, teaching both regular and special education in New Orleans. Jill received her Principal Certification from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.Ed. from the University of New Orleans, and a B.A. in Sociology and American Studies from Dickinson College.


Elise Hadley

Coordinator, Fellowship Recruitment

As Coordinator, Fellowship Recruitment, Elise supports and coordinates the efforts of the Talent and Recruitment team to identify and select high-quality talent for The Fellowship. Most recently, Elise spent two years at UP Academy Oliver in Lawrence, MA, as a founding science and math teacher with Teach For America. Prior to teaching, Elise worked as a Patient Advocate and Summer Fellow with Health Leads at Boston Medical Center Pediatrics while pursuing her undergraduate degree. Elise received a B.A. in Neuroscience from Boston University and will complete an M.Ed in Curriculum and Teaching in fall 2016.


Kelly Hall

Director, Talent

As Director, Talent, Kelly Hall leads the search for BES Fellows to found and lead excellent schools, and conducts executive searches for schools in The Network seeking to fill leadership positions. Previously, Kelly worked on recruitment and development at The Alain Locke Initiative, implementing a national recruiting strategy that resulted in 83% of applicants being intended targets. Before this, Kelly served as a math teacher and department head at View Park Preparatory Charter Middle School and spent three years as a teacher with Teach For America in Los Angeles, CA. Kelly received an M.A. in Urban Educational Policy and Leadership from Loyola Marymount University and a B.S. in Marketing from Azusa Pacific University.


Erika Haskins

Director, Leadership Development

As Director of Leadership Development, Erika Haskins works to sharpen our Fellows’ visions and grow leaders to build school designs of quality. She also works with the LENS team supporting the work across the country.  Erika has served as the founding principal of two high performing charter schools for Goodwill Education Initiatives in Indianapolis, IN.  Before her work as a school leader, Erika was a TNTP Fellow teaching high school math and science.  Erika also worked as an instructional coach for her school and for TNTP.  Erika received an M.A. in Secondary Education from Ball State University, an M.A.T. in Mathematics Education from Marian University, and a B.A. in Sociology and Psychology from Purdue University.


Stephanie Hellested

Manager, Programs

Stephanie joined BES as Office Coordinator in 2012, and has since transitioned into program management, first as Programs Coordinator, and now as Manager, Programs. In this role, Stephanie plans and executes Weekend Warriors and the Summer Leaders Internship, and supports operations for all BES programs and The Fellowship. Stephanie received a B.A. in Management with a minor in Organizational Leadership from Emmanuel College.


Krista Heraty

Director, Programs

As Director, Programs, Krista Heraty leads all operational and administrative aspects of BES trainings in Boston and around the country, including annual planning, venue and vendor management, and travel. Krista has spent the majority of her career in corporate and nonprofit event planning and operations. In her most recent role at Straumann USA in Andover, MA, Krista was responsible for national education programming and event planning, developing and implementing a strategic plan for the efficient and cost-effective execution of all events. Krista received a Certificate in Event Planning from Massasoit Community College.


Erline Hertilien

Manager, Governance

Erline joins Building Excellent Schools as Manager, Governance, from the Computer Systems Institute in Charlestown, Massachusetts, where she served as the Academic Dean. There, Erline provided campus leadership and direction for building management, identified best practices amongst the faculty, and delivered educational guidance to both students and faculty. Previously, Erline served as a Senior Corps member and Project Lead at City Year. Erline holds an M.Ed. in Higher Education from Northeastern Univeristy, and a B. A. in Criminal Justice from Stockton University.


Charlotte Jackson

Director, Talent Operations

As Director, Talent Operations, Charlotte Jackson leads all recruitment operations for The Fellowship and Executive Searches for Network Schools, manages talent technology, and informs recruitment strategy through data and trend analysis. Previously, Charlotte served as Program Manager at Drexel University, where she managed grants, contracts, budgets, and outreach. Charlotte received an M.S. in Public Policy from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a B.S. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Georgia.


Amanda Keller

Manager, Fellowship Recruitment

As Manager, Fellowship Recruitment, Amanda Keller identifies and cultivates high-quality talent for The Fellowship.  Previously, Amanda worked with IDEA Public Schools in Texas, recruiting, interviewing and hiring over one hundred teachers annually. Prior to this, she spent three years working with Teach For America in Las Vegas, managing talent strategy and operations, and coordinating alumni support programs in the region. Amanda received an AA from the College of Southern Nevada and is currently enrolled to receive her BS in Human Resources Management from Western Governors University.


Mariam Klait

Manager, Governance

Mariam Klait joins BES from The Syria Campaign in Washington, DC, where she developed organizational fundraising and development strategy as their Development Manager. Prior to her work with The Syria Campaign, Mariam worked in Jordan as the Country Manager for Syria Relief and Development, and as the Grants Manager/Interim Country Manager for the Syrian American Medical Society. She holds an M.A. in Arts, History: Middle East and Islamic History and a B.A. in International History from Simon Fraser University.


Tim LeBlanc

Operations Coordinator, IT Specialist

As the Operations Coordinator (IT Specialist), Tim LeBlanc assists the BES team with IT and IT-related projects. Prior to joining BES, Tim worked at Public School 345 in Brooklyn, New York as the Technology Specialist, collaborating with students and staff to implement technology within classrooms. Tim received his B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


Melany Levesque

Operations Manager, The Network

As Operations Manager, The Network, Melany Levesque supports the growth of The Network by cultivating relationships with Network schools in order to drive investment in The Network’s dynamic set of offerings. Previously, Melany served as the AmeriCorps Program Director at the United Teen Equality Center (UTEC) for four years. Prior to this, she was an AmeriCorps Corps member, where she worked in disaster preparedness for the Red Cross, tutored students in Mississippi, and built homes for Habitat for Humanity in New Mexico. Melany received a B.F.A. in Business and Religion from the University of Maine at Farmington.


Lorena Lopera

Director, Development

Lorena Lopera joins BES as Director of Development. Originally from Columbia, Lorena joins us from Miami, Florida where she worked for City Year as a Senior Operations Director. Prior to her work with City Year, Lorena was the Development Officer for The Posse Foundation. Before she moved to Miami, Lorena worked in the development office at the Epiphany School in Dorchester, MA. Lorena has also worked for similarly aligned organizations including La Vida, Inc. and Sociedad Latina. She earned her B.A. in Hispanic Studies from Boston College.


Melody Martin

Communications Associate

As Communications Associate, Melody collaborates with the Communications Director to envision and execute print, digital, and social communications for internal and external audiences. Prior to joining BES, Melody was the Coordinator for the Master of Finance Program at the MIT Sloan School of Management, where she managed internal communications and program events. She received her B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont.


Katie Pasniewski

Associate Director of The Network

As Associate Director of The Network, Katie Pasniewski provides high-impact, mission-driven support to Network and Pre-Network leaders and schools, and she develops and leads operations-focused training for BES school teams across the country. Prior to joining BES, Katie spent nearly a decade at Excel Academy Charter Schools in Boston, joining as the founding Director of Development. Katie went on to serve as the flagship school’s founding Director of Operations where she led the school-based operations team, overseeing all aspects of the school’s student- and teacher-facing operations. As the CMO’s founding Managing Director of Finance and Operations, and most recently as Senior Advisor, Katie oversaw all financial and operational aspects of opening two new schools and facilities. Katie began her career with Teach For America, teaching English in North Philadelphia, and received a B.S. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Stephanie Patton

Associate Director, The Fellowship

As Associate Director, The Fellowship, Stephanie Patton provides high-impact, mission-driven Follow-on Support to BES leaders and BES schools in their planning year and first two years of operation, and she works with BES Fellows during their training year. Concurrent with her work at BES, Stephanie serves in a network leadership role at Excel Academy, supporting the growth of its principals. Stephanie joined Excel in 2007, initially as a social studies teacher, and then as Excel’s inaugural Principal Fellow-in-Training to open and lead the second Excel campus. She served as Principal of Excel Academy-Chelsea from 2011 to 2015, leading the team to successfully educate the first four years of cohorts, and preparing the inaugural class of students to matriculate into the first year of the Excel Academy High School. A 2010 recipient of the Sontag Prize in Urban Education, Stephanie received an M.S. in Teaching from Pace University and B.S. in Neuroscience/Psychobiology from Connecticut College.


Caity Sprague

Assistant Director, Development

As Assistant Director, Development, Caity Sprague supports Founder and CEO, Linda Brown. Prior to joining BES, Caity worked at the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School, where she was a key member of the External Affairs team, most recently as the Assistant Director of Alumni/ae Programs. In this role she planned regional and national events for the school, oversaw the office’s marketing efforts, and worked to increase alumni/ae giving participation. Having spent her professional career in independent schools thus far, she looks forward to exploring the world of charter school education. Caity received her B.A. in Studio Art from Connecticut College.


Luke Van de Walle

Director, Leadership Development

As Director of Leadership Development, Luke provides continued high-impact, mission-driven Follow-on Support to BES leaders and BES schools in their planning year and first two years of operation, and works with LENS leaders during their training yearPrior to joining BES, Luke served as the founding Chief Academic Officer of KIPP Delta Public Schools from 2011 to 2016, where the first six graduating classes had a college persistence rate of 76 percent. Luke was the founding school leader of KIPP Delta Collegiate High School from 2007 to 2011 which had 100% college-acceptance for its graduates and was ranked the No. 2 high school in Arkansas by U.S. News and World Report. The AP Calculus class he taught as school leader had more Black students pass the exam than any other school in Arkansas. Luke taught 6-8th grade math at KIPP Delta College Preparatory School before founding KIPP Delta’s first high school. He was a 2002 Teach For America Mississippi Delta Corps member. Luke received a B.A. in Political Science, Communications, and Religion from Purdue University, and a M.A. in Educational Leadership and Administration from National-Louis University.


Board of Directors

Malka Borrego

Malka Borrego is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Equitas Academy, founded in 2009 to provide quality education with the mission of college graduation to all students in the Pico Union neighborhood of Los Angeles. Previously, Malka worked in educational research at the UCLA Center for the Study of Evaluation and as the Operations Director for an after-school literacy program at the Long Beach YMCA. She was the Director of Family Literacy at Families in Schools, and provided leadership as the Executive Director for The Salvation Army-Alegria. In 2007, Malka completed the Building Excellent Schools Fellowship in preparation for founding Equitas Academy. She earned a BS in Sociology from Pomona College and an MA in Social Science from Stanford University’s School of Education.

Linda Brown

A leading charter school supporter, Linda Brown views charter schools as the engine that drives all schools to higher standards. She works along with education entrepreneurs as they break new ground in education reform. Ms. Brown founded Building Excellent Schools in 1993, and her work has been critical to the success of charter schools not only in Massachusetts but across the country. In addition to acting as the organization’s lead fund developer, Ms. Brown also works one-on-one with Fellows on issues related to governance, fund development and mission. Before founding Building Excellent Schools, Ms. Brown was Associate Head of School at an independent school in Massachusetts.

Kenneth Campbell

Kenneth Campbell has decades of experience in creating educational opportunity, and is widely respected as an education leader within his community. As Executive Director for Baton Rouge at IDEA Public Schools, he works to secure charters, identify school sites, raise funds, manage a top-notch team, and cultivate community partnerships. Ken previously served as President of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. Under his leadership BAEO created, protected, and advocated for high-quality school options in some of the nation’s most underserved communities. Prior to BAEO, Ken worked as the Director of Charter Schools for the Louisiana Department of Education where he was responsible for creating many of the systems, policies, and best practices that in turn produced a high-quality charter sector in Louisiana. He routinely advises the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers on standards, practices, and policies.

Rebecca Cass

As Excel Academy’s former Managing Director of Network Programming, Rebecca facilitated departmental organization and programming across the school’s network. Prior to Excel’s expansion, Rebecca wrote the additional charter applications responsible for its evolution from a single school into its now growing network. Rebecca also served as Excel’s Interim Executive Director and on its Board of Trustees. She has extensive experience in charter school policy and management, having served as the Director of Policy and National Activities for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. She has also worked in the Charter School Office of the Massachusetts Department of Education. Rebecca holds a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and a master’s in public administration from Suffolk University.

Ed Chang

Ed Chang is the Executive Director of NewOrg in Atlanta, Georgia. NewOrg aims to transform Atlanta to a place where every student in every community receives a high-quality education. In order to achieve that vision, it intends to become a catalyst for change in Atlanta by playing raising and aligning funding, making strategic investments, and building coherence to support city-wide transformation. Prior to his work at NewOrg, Ed was the Director of Principal Prep Coaching and Succession Strategy at KIPP Foundation. A 2007 BES Fellow, he founded KIPP STRIVE Academy in Atlanta in 2009.

Hrag Hamalian

Hrag Hamalian began his professional work in urban education as a Teach For America Corps member, teaching ninth grade biology and honors biology at Locke High School in Watts. At Locke, Hrag helped found the School of Math and Science and became head of the biology department. After completing a yearlong Fellowship with Building Excellent Schools, Hrag founded Valor Academy Middle School, a high performing 5-8 grade charter school in Los Angeles. In 2011, he was awarded the Gold Award for the alumnus of the decade for Boston College as a result of his work with Valor Academy. In 2013, Hrag helped lead a strategic merger with Bright Star Schools and served as Head of Schools and Chief Cultural Officer for the organization before stepping in as the CEO. Hrag holds a double-major degree from Boston College, a Master’s in Secondary Education from Loyola Marymount University, and an MBA from UCLA.

Doug Lemov

Doug Lemov is the Managing Director of Uncommon Schools’ Teach Like a Champion team. He is the author of the international bestseller Teach Like a Champion, a study of high-performing urban teachers to make their methods concrete and replicable. It has sold nearly 1 million copies and been translated into eight languages. Doug is also the author of the revised and upgraded Teach Like a Champion 2.0, Practice Perfect (co-written with Uncommon colleagues Erica Woolway and Katie Yezzi), and Reading Reconsidered: Rigorous Literacy Instruction in the Common Core Era (co-written with Uncommon colleagues Erica Woolway and Colleen Driggs). Prior to his work at Uncommon Schools, Doug was the Vice President for Accountability at the State University of New York’s Charter Schools Institute and a founder and principal of the Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter School in Boston. He holds a B.A. from Hamilton College, an M.A. from Indiana University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Stephen Kramer

Stephen Kramer is widely considered a thought leader in the field of education with particular expertise in grades K-12 and the transition to college. He is President of Bright Horizons. Mr. Kramer leads the company’s global growth strategy and overseas operations in Europe and India, as well as the Back-Up Dependent Care and Educational Advisory Services segments. Before joining Bright Horizons, Mr. Kramer founded and led College Coach, a leading education company that successfully partners with multinational companies, including AstraZeneca, IBM, Morgan Stanley and PepsiCo. His company was acquired by Bright Horizons in 2006. Previously, he initiated and led the education practice at Fidelity Ventures, the venture capital arm of Fidelity Investments. While at Fidelity Ventures, he invested in and consulted for a number of education service companies. Prior to his experience at Fidelity, Mr. Kramer was a consultant with Arthur D. Little, where he directed high-growth organizations in the areas of strategy and operations. He studied at the London School of Economics and graduated with highest distinction from Babson College and Harvard Business School.

Anita Landecker

Anita Landecker is Executive Director of ExED, a nonprofit organization that develops and manages public charter schools in inner-city neighborhoods in Southern California. Before joining ExED in 1999, Ms. Landecker was Regional Vice President for the western operations of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the largest community development organization in the nation. During her 12 years at LISC, Ms. Landecker was also the Managing Director of the California Equity Fund (CEF), a LISC subsidiary, which syndicated the benefits of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. While at LISC and CEF, she raised more than $500 million for investment in affordable housing in inner-city neighborhoods. She has taught at UCLA and the University of Southern California, and served on the Los Angeles Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; she currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation Land Trust, CDTech and Menorah Housing Foundation. Ms. Landecker earned an M.S. in urban planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Margaret Lin

Maggie Lin is an independent consultant who works with districts, charters, NACSA, and a host of DC-based clients. There isn’t much she shies away from – data is her best friend and solving authorizing politics follows quickly after. Previously, Maggie worked for NACSA for several years in various roles that included Senior Advisor, VP of Knowledge, and Executive Director. Margaret is a graduate of Stanford Law School.

Charles Mitchell

Charles is the CEO of All About People. He is the chair of the Vista College Preparatory board of directors, a BES Network school. As CEO, Charles oversees the company’s day-to-day operations, including recruitment of employees and staff, and is responsible for directing all legal efforts relating to the business. He also serves on the local, regional, and national boards representing Arizona and California for INROADS, a national internship program for talented minority youth. Charles was recently appointed as the Small and Local Business Advisor to Mayor Greg Stanton. He holds a B.S. from North Carolina A&T State University, an MBA from the University of North Carolina, and a Juris Doctor from American University. Charles also graduated from Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management Program.

Martin West

Marty West is the Associate Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is also Deputy Director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Program on Education Policy and Governance and Executive Editor of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research on education policy. Martin’s current research projects include a study on the effects of charter school attendance on cognitive and non-cognitive skills. In 2014-15, Martin worked as Senior Education Policy Advisor to the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. He previously taught at Brown University and was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution, where he is now a nonresident senior fellow.

BES Adjunct Instructors

Building Excellent Schools (BES) and Excel Academy Charter Schools have announced a partnership to draw upon the expertise of top-performing Excel teachers in training school leaders from around the country through The Fellowship, The Network, and Weekend Warriors.

BES Adjunct Instructors are those Excel Academy staff members who have demonstrated academic leadership in their content area and grade level.  Specifically, their instructional leadership in the classroom has led to outstanding student achievement results, and their continuing leadership in the school has prepared them to train others on their practice-proven approaches. 

Kaitlyn Giles

Kaitlyn Giles joined Excel’s staff in 2012 as the school’s founding 5th grade math teacher and currently serves as the 5th Grade Level Team Chair and the Dean of Curriculum and Instruction at Excel Academy-Orient Heights. Prior to Excel, she taught middle school math and reading in Lawrence, MA for two years through Teach For America. Kaitlyn holds a B.A. from Cornell University and an M.Ed. from Boston University.

Kendra Heinricher

Kendra Heinricher joined Excel’s staff in 2005 and currently serves as Excel AcademyEast Boston’s 8th grade math teacher as well as Excel’s Network Math Department Head. She-along with her fellow 8th grade teachers-was a 2014 recipient of the BES Gold Standard in Teaching award, given in recognition of tremendous performance in pushing high levels of student achievement. For the last six years, Excel AcademyEast Boston 8th graders have ranked in the top five of all 460 Massachusetts public schools in math. Kendra holds a B.S. in Marine Biology from Roger Williams University and an M.Ed. in Mathematics Education from Boston University.

Becca Moskowitz

Becca Moskowitz joined Excel’s staff in 2004 as Excel AcademyEast Boston’s 7th grade English teacher. She continues to teach 7th grade and also serves as Excel’s Network English Department Head. Becca’s students are consistently among the highest performers in Massachusetts in 7th grade English language arts, with over 95% scoring advanced/proficient for three consecutive years. She holds a B.A. in English from Carleton College and an M.Ed from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Brett Pangburn

Brett Pangburn joined Excel’s staff in 2006 as the 6th grade English teacher at Excel AcademyEast Boston. In addition to teaching, he also serves as the 6th Grade Level Content Chair for the Excel network. Brett’s accomplishments in the classroom have been both locally and nationally recognized: TNTP named him a semi-finalist for the 2014 Fishman Prize, and he was selected by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) as a finalist for the 2016 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year award. Brett holds a B.A. from Bowdoin College, a J.D. from the Northeastern University School of Law, and an M.Ed. from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

Sarah Savage

Sarah Savage joined RePublic High School in 2016 as the Assistant Principal. Previously, she worked at Excel Academy as a 5th grade English teacher. For two years, she served as a high school English teacher and Chair of the English Department at an inner-city school serving low-income, at-risk youth through Teach For America. She holds a B.A. from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, an instructional certification in high school English from East Carolina University, and an M.Ed. from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.