Name
Area of Interest(check all that apply)
Teaching and School Leadership
Other Ways to Get Involved
Student Enrollment
Submit
 

Achievement First Leadership Team

Doug McCurry
Co-CEO and Superintendent
 

Dacia Toll
Co-CEO and President
 

Christina Braganza
Senior Director, Special Services
 

Laurie Bussmann
Vice President, Information Technology
 

Laura Clancy
Chief of Staff
 

Teresa Clarke
Senior Director, Human Capital & Employment Counsel
 

Amy D'Angelo
Regional Superintendent
 

Lisa Desfosses
Vice President, Facilities and Capital Finance
 

Tracy Epp
Chief Academic Officer
 

Harris Ferrell
Chief Information Officer
 

Becca Howlett
Vice President, Recruitment
 

Elana Karopkin
Regional Superintendent
 

Max Koltuv
Regional Superintendent
 

Chastity Lord
Chief External Officer
 

Amber Mackay
Senior Director, Data Strategy
 

Paige MacLean
Vice President, Strategic Partnerships
 

Marc Michaelson
Regional Superintendent
 

Gina Musumeci
Regional Superintendent
 

Ken Paul
Vice President, Development
 

Max Polaner
Chief Financial and Operating Officer
 

Jon Schwartz
Vice President, School Operations
 

Jeff Sudmyer
Regional Superintendent
 

Kevin Taylor
Director, Finance

Chi Tschang
Regional Superintendent
 

Genna Weinstein
Senior Director, Talent Development

..........................................................................................................................................................

Doug McCurry
Co-CEO and
Superintendent
In his role as co-CEO and superintendent, Mr. McCurry oversees student achievement across the Achievement First network through the training and coaching of principals, the development and implementation of principal best practices, and the evaluation of principals and schools. Prior to co-founding Achievement First in 2003, Mr. McCurry was one of the founders of Amistad Academy, serving as the school's instructional leader for three years. In his teaching roles at Amistad Academy, Mr. McCurry achieved outstanding results. His math students achieved 100 percent proficiency on the Connecticut Mastery Test, and his reading and writing students consistently showed over two years of growth in a single school year. Mr. McCurry led the development of Achievement First's standards-based curriculum, including Athena, Achievement First's online interim assessment and data analysis system. Mr. McCurry also leads professional development efforts at Achievement First, and he is a sought-after presenter and coach of teachers. Before coming to Amistad Academy and Achievement First, Mr. McCurry was a management and technology consultant in Atlanta, GA, and taught history and writing and coached basketball and tennis at Providence Day School in Charlotte, NC. A Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina, Mr. McCurry earned a B.A. in history and journalism there, and was recently awarded the university’s distinguished young alumnus award. Through the Klingenstein Private School Leadership program, he earned an M.A. in educational administration from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Dacia Toll
Co-CEO and President
Ms. Toll focuses on the development and expansion of Achievement First and the success of all Achievement First schools. She manages the organization's internal operations and external relations, and her core responsibilities include strategic planning, principal coaching and training, talent recruitment and development, community outreach, fundraising, and board relations. Prior to co-founding Achievement First in 2003, Ms. Toll led the founding team of Amistad Academy and served as the school's principal from 1999 to 2005. Under Ms. Toll's leadership, Amistad Academy consistently produced student performance results that tripled the New Haven Public Schools' average and topped Greenwich and Westport averages in some subjects. Previously, Ms. Toll worked as a teacher, lawyer and management consultant, providing support for community organizations on issues of strategic management and program design. Ms. Toll is a member of the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Visiting Committee. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, where she was a Morehead Scholar, Ms. Toll received a master's degree from Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. She received her teaching certificate and J.D. from Yale University shortly before launching Amistad Academy.

Christina Braganza
Senior Director, Special Services

Ms. Braganza leads Team Special Services, which builds and strengthens the continuum of special education services at Achievement First. Her team also strengthens Achievement First’s intervention programs to prevent the disproportionate referral of students for special education services, a problem that is common in areas affected by the achievement gap. Prior to her work at Achievement First, Ms. Braganza taught special education for six years, first as a teacher in Harlem and later helping to build a special education program at Rise Academy in Newark, N.J. Throughout this time, she spent her summers working as a school director at Teach For America’s Summer Institute, while also earning a master’s degree in public policy at the University of Chicago, where she received a Harris Fellowship. Ms. Braganza earned a B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Maryland.

Laurie Bussmann
Vice President, Information Technology

Ms. Bussmann manages Achievement First's IT support, IT networks, data storage and backup, VOIP, and systems integration for each school and across the network. Ms. Bussmann has led the development and support of Achievement First's technology infrastructure since 2004, when she was servicing a single school, as Amistad Academy's IT manager. Prior to joining Achievement First, Ms. Bussmann supported the technology at Regional School District 17 in Haddam-Killingworth, Connecticut, and worked as a buyer for Compaq/Hewlett Packard. Ms. Bussmann graduated, with honors, from Providence College with a Bachelor of Science in computer science. She is currently continuing her education with a Master of Information Systems from University of Phoenix.

Laura Clancy
Chief of Staff

Ms. Clancy oversees organization-wide performance management, planning, and learning and development efforts. Before joining Achievement First, she served as managing director at New Sector Alliance and executive director at the organization’s Boston office. Earlier in her career, Ms. Clancy worked with the Bridgespan Group for clients that included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Boston Foundation, College Summit, Communities in Schools, and Center for Health Care Strategies. Ms. Clancy has also worked as a development and strategy consultant at New Visions for Public Schools and with Community Resource Exchange, a management consulting firm focusing on grassroots nonprofits in NYC. She has served as associate director of corporate and foundation relations of the national office of Big Brothers Big Sisters and has served on the Boards of the Phillips Brooks House Association at Harvard University, the Guidance Center, and AF Crown Heights. Ms. Clancy holds an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School, where she was a William Randolph Hearst Scholar, and a B.A, magna cum laude, from Harvard University where she was awarded their annual Women’s Leadership Award and the Donald W. Moreland Award for Public Service.

Teresa Clarke
Senior Director, Human Capital & Employment Counsel
Ms. Clarke leads the team responsible for human resources operations and strategic functions for the entire network of Achievement First schools. Before her current role, she was the senior manager of legal recruiting at Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP, where she recruited law students and foreign attorneys for 12 domestic and international offices, planned and executed the global summer associate program, and led diversity recruiting initiatives. Previously, Ms. Clarke practiced corporate law at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. She is an alumna of the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) Career Program, a leading diversity pipeline organization, and formerly acted as an adviser for the SEO Corporate Law Program. Ms. Clarke holds a J.D. from the UCLA School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in political science and African-American Studies from Duke University. She is also a member of the New York State Bar Association.

Amy D'Angelo
Regional Superintendent
Ms. D’Angelo oversees a portfolio of New York middle schools and supports their principals and deans to develop, implement and maintain rigorous academic programs and positive school cultures. She joined Achievement First in 2006 as the founding principal of AF Bushwick Middle School, and during her six-year tenure as principal, the school celebrated many accomplishments, including 100 percent of sixth- and eighth-grade students scoring at or above grade level in math. Prior to working at Achievement First, Ms. D’Angelo was a resident in the New Leaders program. In 2004, she was recognized with the Outstanding Achievement Award in Teaching from Pace University. Prior to her work in education, Ms. D’Angelo spent four years in business at McKinsey & Company. She earned an M.S. in educational leadership and an M.S. in teaching from Pace University, an M.A. from Teachers College at Columbia University, and a B.A. with honors from Binghamton University.

Lisa Desfosses
Vice President, Facilities and Capital Finance
Ms. Desfosses leads Achievement First’s facilities team, which oversees acquisition, construction, renovation and maintenance of more than 40 school properties within the network. The team also oversees all capital financing associated with facility projects. Before joining Achievement First, Ms. Desfosses worked for a management consulting firm that focused exclusively on government and non-profit clients. She then owned and operated a consulting firm that staffed large municipal building projects and managed public-private partnerships for urban downtown developments, including the Gateway Downtown Development Project, a $300-million project that relocated Gateway Community College to downtown New Haven. Ms. Desfosses holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, an M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management, where she was a Yale Presidential Public Service Fellow, and an M. Ed. in educational leadership from The Broad Residency in Urban Education.

Tracy Epp
Chief Academic Officer
Dr. Epp is responsible for ensuring that all Achievement First schools deliver on our promise to prepare every scholar for college acceptance, matriculation and completion. She manages the network-wide alignment of curriculum, assessment and teacher development, ensuring all schools have the leadership capacity necessary to help all scholars reach ambitious achievement goals. She also ensures Achievement First is able to effectively serve all scholars, particularly those with diverse learning needs. Prior to joining Achievement First, Dr. Epp helped lead efforts to establish and expand IDEA Public Schools, a network of public charter schools in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. During her time at IDEA, she served as a founding board member, as founder and principal of the flagship high school, and as chief academic officer. Dr. Epp has also served as both a program director and a member of the national program team at Teach For America. She holds dual bachelor's degrees in history and political science from Case Western Reserve University, an M.Ed. in educational leadership from the University of Texas-Pan American and an Ed.D. in educational leadership from the University of Texas at Austin.

Harris Ferrell
Chief Information Officer
Mr. Ferrell is responsible for information practices, processes and systems across the Achievement First network. His goal is to ensure that Achievement First’s data and information practices are supported by the proper enterprise systems to efficiently and effectively communicate, document, share, analyze, report, plan and review all facets of its best practices and organizational performance. Formerly, Mr. Ferrell was a co-founder and senior vice president of AdvancePath Academics, a company that sets up and operates drop-out recovery academies on behalf of school districts. Mr. Ferrell attended Yale University as an undergraduate and earned his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He has worked in education in many different facets: a classroom teacher through Teach For America in Houston, a designer of education software as director of product management at SchoolNet and an investor in education as an associate partner at NewSchools Venture Fund.

Becca Howlett
Vice President, Recruitment

Ms. Howlett leads Achievement First’s school recruitment initiatives in New York and Connecticut. Her team is charged with ensuring that every Achievement First school is staffed with talented teachers and school leaders dedicated to developing the academic and character skills of all students. In 2003, Ms. Howlett founded a not-for-profit organization, Literacy for Incarcerated Teens, aimed at building libraries for juvenile offenders in NYC. She was a teacher in the NYC Department of Education where she taught in an alternative district and the NYC juvenile detention system. In 2002, Ms. Howlett participated in Coro Leadership NY XIV and worked alongside talented leaders from across the for-profit, public and non-profit sector. Ms. Howlett earned a B.A. in history at the University of Connecticut and a M.S.Ed from Bank Street College.

Elana Karopkin
Regional Superintendent
Overseeing a portfolio of schools, Ms. Karopkin is responsible for training and coaching principals in the development and maintenance of academic programs and a school culture that fosters high student achievement and positive character development. Prior to joining Achievement First, Ms. Karopkin was the founding principal of the Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice (SLJ) which served Title I students from all five boroughs of New York City. At SLJ, Ms. Karopkin (and her students) achieved extraordinary results: 93 percent of the founding class graduated on time, 100 percent applied to and were accepted to college, and nearly 85 percent of those students are currently enrolled in colleges including Bates, Amherst, Colby, Hamilton, Skidmore and the CUNY Macaulay Honors Program. Ms. Karopkin’s significant experience as a leader in urban education also includes roles as a regional literacy specialist, assistant principal, English department head and English teacher. Ms. Karopkin graduated cum laude from Bryn Mawr College and holds an M.A. in English education from New York University, where she received the prestigious Jonathon Levin fellowship.

Max Koltuv
Regional Superintendent

Mr. Koltuv oversees a portfolio of Achievement First elementary schools and supports their leadership teams in producing dramatic academic gains. Before joining Achievement First, he supervised all Brooklyn elementary instructional leaders at the Prep and Excellence networks of Uncommon Schools as the director of Brooklyn elementary instruction. Mr. Koltuv originally joined Uncommon Schools as the founding head of school at Leadership Prep Bedford Stuyvesant, a college-prep elementary school. He started his career at The Monitor Co., an international strategy consulting firm, before transitioning to a teaching role at a high-performing, urban charter school in Massachusetts. He is a graduate of the Building Excellent Schools Fellowship and of the KIPP School Leadership Program, and holds a B.A. in history from Yale College.

Chastity Lord
Chief External Officer
In her role as chief external officer, Ms. Lord is charged with leading the teams directly involved with external relations, marketing and communications, development, partnerships, and expansion. Prior to joining Achievement First, she was a regional vice president for The Posse Foundation, Inc., a national organization that identifies urban public high school students with academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by the traditional college admission process. In her role as regional vice president, Ms. Lord was responsible for overseeing the Posse sites in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Before joining Posse, she served as the mid-Atlantic regional director for The New Teacher Project (TNTP), a non-profit educational consulting firm that partners with urban school districts, states and other governmental entities to enhance their capacity to recruit, select, train and support outstanding new teachers. Directly before TNTP, Ms. Lord was the director of program services for Mentors, Inc., a non-profit organization that promotes the academic, career and personal development of public high school students through one-on-one mentoring relationships and enrichment activities. Ms. Lord holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma and an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Ms. Lord is a 2012-13 Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow with the Pahara Institute and the Aspen Global Leadership Network, and she also serves on the board of directors for the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.

Amber Mackay
Senior Director, Data Strategy
Ms. Mackay supports Achievement First’s data-driven management framework by leveraging tools and information to assist the organization’s goal setting, performance management and strategic decision making. Prior to joining Achievement First, she worked in the economic consulting industry on expert witness support teams to evaluate and quantify economic damages in corporate litigation. Ms. Mackay received an M.Sc. in finance and economics from the London School of Economics and a B.A. in economics from Brigham Young University. She is also an alumna of the Strategic Data Project at the Center for Educational Policy Research with the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Paige MacLean
Vice President, Strategic Partnerships

Ms. MacLean facilitates the sharing of Achievement First’s strategies, tools and lessons learned with other organizations interested in systemic reform. She is also responsible for developing Achievement First’s long-term strategy and guidelines for external partnerships and oversees Achievement First’s broader engagement with New Haven Public Schools, including the development of the Residency Program for School Leadership. Prior to her work at Achievement First, Ms. MacLean was a senior manager at Wellspring Consulting, a consulting firm focused on nonprofit strategy, and a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group.  Ms. MacLean received an M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management and earned her certificate in Afro-American studies and B.A. magna cum laude from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs at Princeton University. After graduation, Ms. MacLean lived in the former East Germany as a Fulbright Scholar, where she taught English and interviewed residents about their experiences making the transition from a communist to a capitalist economy.

Marc Michaelson
Regional Superintendent

Mr. Michaelson oversees a portfolio of schools and is responsible for coaching Achievement First principals in the development and implementation of academic programs and school culture initiatives. Prior to transitioning to the role of regional superintendent, Mr. Michaelson served as principal of Elm City College Preparatory Middle School. He began his Achievement First career at Amistad Academy Middle School, where he taught reading and history as well as directed the school's MicroSociety and Encore! programs. While at Amistad Academy, Mr. Michaelson's students consistently showed two to three years of reading growth in one year on state and national assessments. Prior to joining Achievement First, Mr. Michaelson worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, a program manager with Save the Children and a fellow with the Institute of Current World Affairs. Mr. Michaelson holds a B.A. from Tufts University and an M.A. from the University of Notre Dame. He has completed the KIPP Summer Institute in school leadership at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Management.

Gina Musumeci
Regional Superintendent

Ms. Musumeci oversees a portfolio of schools and is responsible for supporting academic, cultural and operational initiatives within school leadership teams to drive gap-closing student achievement. Previously, Ms. Musumeci served as founding principal of Achievement First Brownsville Elementary School and as principal-in-residence of Amistad Academy Elementary School. Prior to joining the Achievement First team and family, she worked with Teach For America as a corps member, corps member adviser and school director. She also served as a founding sixth-grade teacher at KIPP San Francisco Bay Academy. Ms. Musumeci holds a B.A. in philosophy and psychology from the University of Delaware, and received her master’s degree in education policy, leadership and management from Harvard University, where she earned an Urban Scholars Fellowship.  

Ken Paul
Vice President, Development
Mr. Paul is responsible for all fundraising and donor stewardship for Achievement First’s schools, Network Support and special projects. Previously, he was a co-owner of the Bridgeport Bluefish minor league baseball team, a founder of a Major League Lacrosse team and an airline pilot. Mr. Paul served for 20 years as a board member and development chair for Hopkins School in New Haven and for four years as the board chair of Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County. Mr. Paul is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and began his career as a U.S. Navy pilot.

Max Polaner
Chief Financial and Operating Officer
Mr. Polaner oversees the finance, operations and facilities teams at Achievement First. He joined Achievement First in 2006 as CFO and has been deeply involved in many of the non-instructional areas of Achievement First's network as it has grown from six to 20 schools.  Before joining Achievement First, Mr. Polaner was the chief financial officer of Inductis, an analytical consulting firm which tripled in size during his tenure and was then acquired in July 2006. Prior to Inductis, he founded and ran Impromptu Gourmet, an online gourmet food company, and before that was a consultant at McKinsey and Company in New York City. Before graduate school, Mr. Polaner led the quality control department at Polaner Preserves, the company started by his great-grandfather, until its acquisition by American Home Products in 1993. Mr. Polaner spent the first four years of his career as a public middle school math, social studies and music teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mr. Polaner received a Masters of Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government, an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, his teacher's certificate from San Francisco State University and his B.A. from Yale University.

Jon Schwartz
Vice President, School Operations

Mr. Schwartz currently oversees Achievement First’s school-based operations, ensuring that every Achievement First academy has the operational support necessary for principals to focus on their core role as instructional leaders. Before joining Achievement First, Mr. Schwartz served as vice president of operations and finance at Envision Schools, a San Francisco-based charter management organization. As a member of Envision’s senior management team, Mr. Schwartz worked closely with the CEO and Board of Directors to define the organization’s overall strategic direction, problem solve institutional issues and execute key initiatives. Previously, he worked as director of services and products at the California Charter Schools Association, where he was responsible for devising earned-income revenue streams to diversify the Association's financial base. Mr. Schwartz began his career at Gap Inc. as an early member of the team that launched OldNavy.com, and his work experience also includes time with New Profit Inc., a venture philanthropy fund associated with the Monitor Group, and at Scholastic as a consultant in its corporate strategy and business development division. Mr. Schwartz holds a M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management and received his bachelor's degree from Princeton University, where he was a member of the lightweight crew team.

Jeff Sudmyer
Regional Superintendent

Mr. Sudmyer supports a portfolio of middle and high schools, helping develop the high school curriculum and school culture programs. Prior to becoming a regional superintendent, he served as the founding principal of Achievement First Amistad High School, the first high school in the network. During his six-year tenure as principal, the school was regularly recognized for producing the state’s highest results for African-American students on the Connecticut Academic Performance Test. Achievement First Amistad High School students also posted the second-highest CAPT writing scores in the state and earned average SAT scores that exceeded national averages. For three consecutive years in as many graduating classes, 100 percent of seniors gained acceptance to four-year colleges and universities. Prior to joining Achievement First, Mr. Sudmyer served as a Teach For America corps member and taught high school history. He holds a B.A. in political science from Colgate University, an Ed.M. from Harvard University, and a sixth-year degree in educational leadership from the University of Connecticut.

Kevin Taylor
Director, Finance
Mr. Taylor is responsible for budgeting and forecasting for the Achievement First network. He is also responsible for overseeing federal, state, local and philanthropic revenue recognition, reporting and compliance. Mr. Taylor is currently leading the “scaling with excellence” financial initiative at Achievement First, which includes implementing an automated accounts payable system, online credit card and personal expense reimbursement tool, and online budgeting and forecasting portal and software. Prior to joining Achievement First, Mr. Taylor worked in corporate and divisional finance at Scholastic. He also worked as an educational assessments producer at The Princeton Review and in magazine publishing at PriMedia. A former news reporter, Mr. Taylor majored in political science and mathematics at Tuskegee University. He is also actively involved in his church and community.

Chi Tschang
Regional Superintendent
Mr. Tschang is responsible for driving high student achievement by overseeing a portfolio of schools and supporting Achievement First principals in developing and implementing rigorous academic programs and positive school cultures. Previously, Mr. Tschang founded KIPP Academy Fresno, a 2008 Title I Distinguished School in California. In addition to serving as principal for five years, he also taught fifth-grade history, sixth-grade math and seventh-grade English. Prior to that experience, Mr. Tschang taught history for four years at Boston’s Academy of the Pacific Rim charter school. After college, he participated in City Year, where he lived in a housing project and tutored fourth graders in south Providence. For his work in Boston and in Providence, he was profiled on the Oprah Winfrey Show and in the New York Times #1 best-seller, What Should I Do With My Life? Mr. Tschang holds a B.A. in history from Yale University, and is the recipient of several distinctions including the Comcast National Leadership Award.

Genna Weinstein
Senior Director, Talent Development
Ms. Weinstein leads Achievement First’s Teacher Career Pathway, which is designed to identify, develop and recognize excellent teachers. Prior to her current role, she was on the recruitment team for two years as the senior director of recruitment operations, where she managed the systems, processes and data analysis required to hire Achievement First’s teachers and school leaders. Previously, Ms. Weinstein worked at the Advisory Board Company, consulting with more than 75 chief administrative officers at research universities and colleges across the country. She started her career in education with the Urban Assembly, where she directed operations, afterschool programs and partnerships while helping to launch a public high school focused on architecture and engineering. Ms. Weinstein has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from the Stern School of Business at New York University.

 
CONNECT
with AF