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Achievement First Achievement First

The Achievement First Leadership Team

We started with a single school. Now we’re 15,000 students strong. As we continue to grow and better serve those students, our leadership team is at the helm of this important work of transforming public education in America.

Our leadership team is made up of content specialists, leadership coaches, operations experts, financial wizards, former teachers and principals, and all around champions for kids.

Meet our leaders.

  1. Lisa Margosian

    Interim Chief Executive Officer

    Lisa is the interim Chief Executive Officer, working closely with the Achievement First (AF) board and leadership team to ready the organization for its search for a permanent successor. Her focus is on improving the academic strength of AF schools and building the systems and structures to enable the network’s continued expansion.

    Lisa joined AF on May 2, 2022. Prior to this, she served as the interim CEO of Ascend Charter Schools. While there, Lisa led between the organization’s founder and now permanent leader during the global pandemic. Her expertise helped organizations reshape, restructure, integrate, and implement. With more than thirty years of experience with for-and-non-profits, Lisa developed a deep understanding of all facets of leadership, which includes utilizing highly developed stakeholder management skills, rebuilding underperforming businesses, leading businesses through integration post-mergers, scaling non-profits, and transforming organizations after mission shifts. Lisa also served as KIPP’s Chief Program Officer and Director of Network Growth and Chief Customer Officer of the Girl Scouts of the USA. She also worked in financial services with Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase.

    Lisa, a proud Wisconsin native and child of public school educators, has always had a deep and abiding passion for K-12 education. She believes the key to social justice and racial equity is quality education that creates access for all children. She has a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University and an MBA from Columbia Business School. Lisa has made New York City her home with her husband and two children.

  2. Beth Cocuzza

    Chief of Staff

    As Chief of Staff, Beth works closely with leadership team members and network leaders to ensure Achievement First achieves its mission by leading organization-wide strategic planning, promoting cross-functional collaboration and alignment, overseeing the execution of critical strategic priorities, and acting as key advisor to the CEO and senior leaders. Prior to joining Achievement First, Beth was the Executive Vice President of Advisory Support at Student Achievement Partners. She also has experience leading content development for The Grow Network/McGraw-Hill, has worked as an independent education consultant, and started her career as a middle school and high school mathematics teacher. In addition, Beth served three terms as an elected member of her local School Board. Beth holds a B.A from Wittenberg University, an M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University, and is currently completing an Ed.M. in Education Policy and Management from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

  3. Neil Shah

    Chief Financial Officer

    As CFO, Neil leads Team Finance at Achievement First. Team Finance manages the financial operations functions of revenue, payroll, accounts payable, internal audits and controls, and budgeting and forecasting. Prior to his current role, Neil served as an experienced finance executive in the charter and non-profit space for the last 15 years, specializing in scaling up finance operations. He joined the charter school sector in 2006 with ExEd, a California nonprofit where he managed financial operations for charter school clients. Most recently, he served as the CFO of the Chicago Charter School Foundation, also known as the Chicago International Charter School Network (CICS), serving 14 network campuses. Neil is a graduate of the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business where he earned both his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in business administration.

  4. Xanthe Jory

    Chief Operating Officer

    As the Chief Operating Officer, Xanthe leads teams involved with enrollment, school operations, and facilities. Previously, Xanthe served as the Chief Planning and Policy Officer at the NYCDOE’s Division of Early Childhood Education during a period of time when the City’s early childhood system was expanding to serve every four-year old in New York. Xanthe is also the founder of Bronx Charter School for the Arts, and served as the school’s Executive Director for eight years. Xanthe’s previous experience additionally includes working with various educational organizations on initiatives related to alternate certification pathways, teacher evaluation, principal selection, systems design, program design, knowledge management, and quality assessment. Xanthe holds a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from Stanford University and master’s degrees in teaching and school leadership from CUNY Lehman College and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

  5. Christina Braganza

    Chief Program Officer

    In her role as Chief Program Officer, Christina partners with the superintendent and academy leads to build toward K-12 alignment by coordinating and supporting the student experience, special services, equity, and academic operations teams. Prior to her current role, she was the VP of Special Services at Achievement First for 9 years, and during her tenure established a consistent continuum of service and support. A proud special educator, Christina began her career as teacher in Harlem and is passionate about serving all students. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from the University of Maryland at College Park, a master’s degree in teaching special education from Pace University, and master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago.

  6. John Sharkey

    Interim Chief Academic Officer

    In his role as the Interim Chief Academic Officer, John leads the vision and development of academics, curriculum, and quality instruction across K-12. John came to Achievement First (AF) in 2020 as the Vice President of Great Teaching, Middle School (MS) where he supported the design and implementation of both our Greenfield and Classic ms models. He holds a Master’s in Teaching and is completing his dissertation on the acceleration of reading proficiency in secondary students at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). Prior to joining the organization, John was a middle school English teacher and assistant principal. John also previously worked in teacher preparation with Urban Teachers at JHU as the National Director of Literacy. He believes access to high-quality, evidence-based, and culturally empowering curricula is a fundamental right for our schools and the communities they serve. He is excited to forward AF’s foundation into the future and looks forward to the partnership with leaders, teachers, and families as we work to continue building an exceptional and cohesive vision for teaching and learning.

  7. Rod Bowen

    Chief of High Schools

    As the Chief of High School Rod is responsible for leading the collaborative efforts of the network high school support team, regional superintendents, and school leaders to ensure that Achievement First high schools provide the conditions for scholars to thrive both in school and beyond. Before transitioning to Achievement First, Rod led the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Teacher Development, and prior to that the Office of School Quality. He also served as the founding principal of the DreamYard Preparatory School, a small arts high school in the Bronx. He holds a permanent New York State certification as a district-level leader and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. Rod holds a master of science in educational administration and supervision, a master of fine arts in printmaking, and an undergraduate degree in visual arts and architectural studies. Rod is excited to continue his work supporting Achievement First’s high school leaders, teachers, and students and to work with the Senior Instructional Team to move the organization’s instructional vision forward.

  8. Charmayne Joseph

    Interim Chief of Middle Schools

    In her role as Interim Chief of Middle Schools, Charmayne works to elevate the quality of the middle school experience, a critical time of transition in child development. She has spent the last 17 years working across K-12 in a variety of roles including teacher, school leader, Regional Superintendent, and VP of Student Experience. She has experience across founding, fully grown, and turnaround schools. Charmayne started her education career in 2005 and holds Masters in both Curriculum and Instruction and Special Education. She deeply loves this work and is grateful for this opportunity to continue her life’s calling of dismantling systemic racism and looks forward to learning, growing, and supporting our schools together.

  9. Jesse Balis-Harris

    Interim K-8 Chief of Schools

    In his role as Interim K-8 Chief of Schools, Jesse works to support our schools in creating the conditions for students to thrive and grow. Prior to his current role, Jesse spent eight years as a founding teacher, dean, and principal at Achievement First Apollo Elementary where he supported the school in making significant gains in academic achievement, student experience, and adult culture. Before joining the organization, Jesse began his teaching career in 2006 as a first and second-grade teacher in Philadelphia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations and a master’s degree in education. He is excited for the opportunity to contribute to this team, and is optimistic and excited for what Achievement First will collectively accomplish.