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The Achievement First Cabinet

We started with a single school. Now we’re 15,500 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. Fatimah Barker

    Interim Chief Executive Officer

    In her role as the interim Chief Executive Officer, Fatimah oversees the strategic direction for Achievement First and the overall success of all AF schools and scholars. As she focuses on ensuring an excellent education for children inside and outside of AF, she coaches both AF’s superintendent and the executive director of AF Accelerate, which supports the open source sharing of AF resources and capacity building for other non-AF schools and networks. She also oversees the leaders responsible for AF’s talent, finance, external relations, development, strategic communications, legal, operations, and equity work. Every day, Fatimah works to ensure that Achievement First best serves scholars and families, and that it becomes an even more prominent, effective partner in supporting education reform and social justice.

    Prior to her role as interim CEO, Fatimah served as Achievement First’s Chief External Officer, leading teams directly involved with external relations, marketing and communications, development, legal and authorizer relations, and expansion. Her 17 years in public education include a 15-year tenure at Achievement First, where her roles included serving as principal of one of AF’s highest-performing middle schools.

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    A proud Brooklyn native, Fatimah began her career in education as a seventh-grade mathematics and science teacher in Philadelphia. She holds a dual bachelor’s degree in political science and in communications and rhetorical studies from Syracuse University.

  2. Stephanie Keenoy

    Superintendent

    As superintendent, Stephanie 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 serving as superintendent, she was the elementary academy lead responsible for the success of Achievement First’s sixteen elementary schools across three regions. She is focused on ensuring all AF schools are incredibly warm and welcoming places for children to learn and grow. Before becoming academy lead, Stephanie worked as an educator and school leader at AF starting in 2011. She was the founding principal at AF Endeavor Elementary School, which has scored “exemplary” on the AF report card since the school’s opening.

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    Later, she became one of AF’s highest-performing regional superintendents, with three out of the four schools she directly coached achieving our top ratings of “strong” or “exemplary,” including our first National Blue Ribbon School. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and education from the College of William and Mary. Stephanie holds her master’s degree in reading and literacy from Boston College. 

  3. Jesse Balis-Harris

    Chief of Schools – Elementary School

    In his role as regional superintendent and elementary school academy lead, Jesse works to directly support six of our elementary and middle schools, and is responsible for the success of our 16 elementary schools. 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. Jesse began his teaching career as a first and second grade teacher in Philadelphia. He earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations at George Washington University and a master’s degree in education from Hunter College.

  4. Rod Bowen

    Chief of Schools – High School

    As the Chief of Schools – 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 PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. Rod holds a master of science in educational administration and supervision from Pace University, a master of fine arts in printmaking from the City University of New York, and an undergraduate degree in visual arts and architectural studies from Brown University.

  5. De-Lea Deane-Allen

    Chief Equity Officer

    As Chief Equity Officer, De-Lea is responsible for developing, implementing, and continuously refining our organization’s plan for how we will lead for racial equity at the network level and across our schools. De-Lea provides alignment, support, and accountability as she leads Achievement First in promoting inclusion and anti-racist practices through our culture, structures, customs, and leadership. Before becoming Chief Equity Officer, De-Lea led Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work at Achievement First for six years, as a director, senior director, and vice president. De-Lea previously worked for 13 years as a classroom teacher and dean at three different Achievement First schools, and supported and learned from organizational leaders across the country through the AF Accelerator program. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University, and a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Columbia University, Teacher’s College.

  6. Neil Shah

    Interim Chief Financial Officer

    As Interim 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.

  7. Talia Shaull

    Chief Talent Officer

    In her role as Chief Talent Officer, Talia leads Team Talent and is responsible for co-creating a people-centered vision to help Achievement First attract, develop and retain the best talent in the sector. Previously, Talia served as the Chief Talent Officer at Uncommon Schools, where she led the talent acquisition, talent development, and HR operations teams. Her previous experience also includes serving as CTO at Tulsa Public Schools, where she and her team were able to drastically improve teacher recruitment, selection, and overall service to schools. Talia holds a bachelor’s degree in international business from Oral Roberts University and a master’s degree in organizational development from the University of Oklahoma.

  8. Chi Tschang

    Chief of Schools – Middle School

    In his role as regional superintendent and middle school academy lead, Chi is responsible for the success of 16 middle schools serving over 4,000 fifth through eighth graders. Between 2013 and 2019, the middle schools under his oversight improved 45% in math proficiency and 34% in ELA proficiency on the New York state exams. During that same period, the state grew 15% and 12% respectively in math and ELA proficiency. Prior to joining Achievement First in 2009, Chi tutored fourth-graders in Providence as a City Year corps member and taught middle school history in Boston. He was also the principal at KIPP Academy Fresno. Chi earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale College.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.