Skip to Main Content

Achievement First Achievement First

The Achievement First Cabinet

We started with a single school. Now we’re 13,300 students strong. As we continue to grow and better serve those students, our cabinet is at the helm of this important work of transforming public education in America.

Our cabinet 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. 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.

  2. 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 director 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.


    Ms. Toll serves on the boards of Relay Graduate School of Education and 50CAN. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, where she was a Morehead Scholar, Ms. Toll received a degree from Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. She received her teaching certificate and J.D. from Yale University.

  3. Crystal Barcelo

    Chief of Staff

    In her role as Chief of Staff, Ms. Barcelo is the primary person responsible holistically for the effective operations of the Network Support team (200+ employees), including all of the talent, culture, and planning work that sets up our teams and staff to be high-performing. Prior to joining Achievement First, Ms. Barcelo was most recently the Chief of Staff for KIPP New Jersey. At KIPP New Jersey, she wore various hats over 8 years starting as a classroom teacher to leading special projects and strategy for the network.


    Ms. Barcelo began her career in education as a middle school classroom teacher through Teach For America in the South Bronx. She holds a B.A. in political science from SUNY Binghamton and an M.S. in teaching from Fordham University.

  4. Fatimah Barker

    Chief External Officer

    In her role as the Chief External Officer, Ms. Barker leads teams directly involved with external relations, marketing and communications, development, legal and authorizer relations, and expansion. She also serves as the organization’s primary spokesperson to all external constituents. Ms. Barker works to ensure that Achievement First becomes an even more prominent, effective partner in supporting education reform and social justice. Before becoming CXO, Ms. Barker worked as an educator and school leader in AF schools for 10 years. During her tenure as principal of Achievement First East New York Middle School, her school’s academic results and organizational health were among the top 5% in the network. A proud Brooklyn native, Ms. Barker began her career in education as a seventh-grade mathematics and science teacher in Philadelphia.


    Ms. Barker joined Achievement First Endeavor Middle School as a teacher, and went on to become a grade-level team leader and mathematics coach, academic dean and principal-in-residence before becoming principal. She holds a dual B.A. in political science and in communications and rhetorical studies from Syracuse University.

  5. 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.

  6. Victor De La Paz

    Chief Financial Officer

    Mr. De La Paz leads Team Finance within the growing AF network of schools across our three states. Team Finance manages the financial operations functions of revenue, payroll, accounts payable, internal audits and controls, and budgeting and forecasting. Prior to joining Achievement First, Mr. De La Paz was CFO at New Haven Public Schools in Connecticut, CFO at Baltimore City Public Schools, and held various leadership roles at Hartford Public Schools including Deputy CFO and Chief Operating Officer. A graduate of the Broad Residency in Urban Education, Mr. De La Paz began his career in financial services and transitioned into K-12 education from a career in mergers and acquisitions in large healthcare and property insurance companies.


    Mr. De La Paz earned his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers College and his MBA from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

  7. Tom Kaiser

    Chief Talent Officer

    Mr. Kaiser became the Chief Talent Officer at Achievement First in August 2016, with the charge of leading AF’s efforts to attract and retain some of the best talent in education reform. He oversees the network’s adult culture priority, people leadership training of school leaders and the network support teams who most directly shape the teacher and leader experience within Achievement First. Before becoming Chief Talent Officer, Mr. Kaiser was the principal at Achievement First Endeavor Middle School for seven years. During that time, Endeavor went from the 33rd percentile on NYC DOE Progress Report to the 97th percentile within 3 years. For four consecutive years, AF Endeavor also led the Achievement First network on Gallup’s nationally normed “Q12” questions to measure employee engagement.


    Before serving as principal, Mr. Kaiser was a founding teacher and then an academic dean at the school. Prior to arriving at AF, he began his teaching career in the Mississippi Delta, through Teach For America, where he taught 5th grade in Sunflower, Mississippi.