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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

    Chief Executive Officer

    Lisa is Achievement First’s Chief Executive Officer and works closely with the AF boards and leadership team to ensure academic and operational excellence across our 41 schools and three regions. Her focus is on improving the strength of AF schools and building the infrastructure to enable the network’s continued expansion with quality and shape our future roadmap.

    Lisa joined AF in May 2022 as Interim CEO and transitioned to CEO in August 2023. 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. With more than thirty years of experience with for-and-non-profits, Lisa developed a deep understanding of all facets of leadership, which includes developing high performing leadership teams, leveraging stakeholder management skills, rebuilding underperforming businesses, leading businesses through integration post-mergers, scaling nonprofits, 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. Prior to that, she led businesses 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. LaNelle Alexander

    Chief Equity Officer

    LaNelle Alexander has a legacy of leading significant organizational development, culture and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts for nearly 20 years across international non-profits, for profits, and higher education based on her deep commitment to advancing equity and combating the pernicious legacy of systemic racism by leading healthy culture transformation.

    LaNelle is a mission-driven leader, workshop facilitator and leadership coach who has a track record of designing and infusing DEIB and Racial Justice strategies to help organizations create healthy cultures, cultivate positive engagement and drive business success by building more resilience and equitable environments, systems, practices and programs so their people and people leaders are empowered with tools and resources to remove systemic barriers to individual and collective success.

    Most recently, she served as the inaugural Head of DEI where she was a member of the senior team, responsible for designing and executing a multi-year DEI-AR strategic plan, executing, leadership and team coaching, leadership development workshop, driving organizational alignment and sustainable change impacting teams aligned to Mission, Vision and Values.

    Prior, LaNelle was on the executive leadership team at buildOn, an international nonprofit based in Stamford, CT, where she served as their first Vice President of Human Resources and founding Global Director of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI).

    LaNelle holds a BA in Organizational Behavior and Change Management, with a concentration in Diversity and Inclusion from New York University.  She is an ICF certified professional coach (CPC) specializing in executive leadership and team coaching from iPEC. She also maintains certifications from both the Society of Human Resources [SHRM-CP] and Society for Diversity [CDP].

    LaNelle is also on the board of buildOn NY, a nonprofit focused on youth development in the South Bronx and HOPE Worldwide’s CT Chapter, which delivers sustainable, high impact community-based services to vulnerable local and international communities.

  3. Karolyn Belcher

    Interim Superintendent

    Karolyn Belcher joined Achievement First in October 2022 as its Interim Superintendent. A seasoned education executive, Karolyn is focused on improving students’ experience in schools and academic achievement across the 41 AF schools.

    Prior to this role, Karolyn was the Chief Academic Officer of the Charleston County School District (CSSD). In that role, she was responsible for leading the academic improvement strategy for South Carolina’s second largest school district, which included CCSD’s curriculum adoption, professional learning, COVID recovery planning, and school turnaround in identified Acceleration Schools. Under her leadership, CCSD students outperformed the state average in all state tests in 2022, the first testing year after the pandemic. Additionally, there was significant improvement among the twelve Acceleration schools – with four being removed from the state improvement list in 2023.

    Karolyn was President of TNTP and oversaw all the organization’s partnerships with school systems nationwide to address their most pressing student achievement challenges. She was the principal of the John A. Reisenbach Charter School, one of the first three charter schools in New York State, located in central Harlem. She began her career teaching science in New Orleans as a charter corps member of Teach For America

  4. Tiffany Bostic

    Chief of Support Services

    Tiffany is a dedicated and visionary leader who is passionate about improving outcomes for students and helping them achieve their full potential. She is an accomplished licensed clinical social worker and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Clark Atlanta University and a Master of Social Work degree from Howard University.

    Tiffany began her career at AF in June of 2020 as the Director of Social Work. In just three years, she has made a significant impact on the organization, expanding the mental health program and network support. Under her leadership, the mental health program grew from 48 to 65 mental health clinicians, and a senior director of social work was added to the team. Additionally, she created a talent pipeline for social workers and counselors with the establishment of an internal clinical supervisor program. Tiffany also codified and strengthened social worker and counselor professional development and practice systems, increasing capacity and strengthening whole school collaboration.

    Prior to joining AF, Tiffany served as a middle school social worker at Bedford Stuyvesant Collegiate for six years. During her tenure, she expanded the social work department, built out community partnerships, and created a male mentorship program, which has proven highly successful.

    In her free time, Tiffany enjoys bike riding throughout Brooklyn, trying new restaurants, binging podcasts and mindless television shows and traveling.

  5. Kristin Damo

    Chief of Elementary Schools

    Kristin comes to this position with almost two decades of experience in education and a dedication and commitment to our students and communities. She is currently a Regional Superintendent and supports both elementary and middle schools. Prior to joining Achievement First in 2021, Kristin was a middle school principal at Success Academy Charter Schools. Before entering into leadership, she has held a number of positions within education, including as a high school advanced placement teacher, instructional coach, and Teach Plus leadership fellow. She holds a B.A. from Carleton College and an M.A. from Columbia University, Teachers College. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring Brooklyn with her partner and children, as well as their dog, Thor.

  6. Xanthe Jory

    Chief Operating Officer

    As the Chief Operating Officer, Xanthe leads teams involved with school operations, systems and data, information technology, 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 leader for eight years. Xanthe’s previous experience additionally includes working with various educational organizations on initiatives related to teacher evaluation, alternate certification, principal selection, systems design, program design, knowledge management, compliance, policy, expansion, 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.

  7. Charmayne Joseph

    Chief of Middle Schools

    In her role as Chief of Middle Schools, Charmayne works to elevate the quality of the middle school academic and student experience, a critical time of transition in child development. She has spent the last 18 years working across K-12 in a variety of roles including teacher, school leader, Regional Superintendent, and Associate Chief of Student Experience. She has experience across founding, fully grown, and turnaround schools. Charmayne started her education career in 2005 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies and Masters in both Curriculum and Instruction and Special Education.  Charmayne is originally from Brownsville, Brooklyn, a mother of four beautiful children (including a set of fraternal 3-year-old twins) and spent her K-12 education attending public schools.  She deeply loves this work and is grateful for the opportunity to continue her life’s calling of dismantling systemic racism within education and beyond. She looks forward to learning, growing, and continuing to support our schools together.

  8. Dumar Paden

    Chief of High Schools

    In his role as Chief of High Schools, Dumar leads AF’s approach to improving HS academic results through goal setting, progress monitoring, and performance management and ensuring the development and execution of our long-term high school program vision. Dumar has nearly two decades of experience as an educator and school leader and specific expertise in building successful high schools. At Achievement First, Dumar has served students at  AF University Prep HS as an Academic Dean, the Principal of AF Brooklyn High School, and a Regional Superintendent. During his tenure at AF Brooklyn High, he led his school through the height of the pandemic, increased pass rates, AP performance, Org Health, and dramatically reduced the number of suspensions. Before arriving at AF, he served as the Director of College & Career Readiness at New Dawn Charter School, an alternative transfer high school serving over-aged and under-credited students who were not successful in traditional educational settings. Prior to his work at New Dawn, Dumar served in a variety of capacities within education including work as a School Counselor, Writing/Composition teacher, and manager of several non-profit programs. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Dumar was the first male in his family to graduate from college. He obtained his Bachelor of Science from The State University of New York at Albany, and his Master of Science from Grand Canyon University. His experiences growing up in Brooklyn as a first-generation college graduate keep him committed to his community while ensuring youth receive quality education opportunities.

  9. Michael Rabin

    Chief Strategy and Growth Officer

    Michael comes to the Chief Strategy and Growth Officer role with thirteen years of teaching, school leadership, and regional leadership experience in Washington D.C and at Achievement First. He served as the Founding Assistant Principal at Rocketship Rise Academy before becoming the Founding Principal at Rocketship Legacy Prep. He then served as the Associate Director of Schools with Rocketship DC, where he led the region’s COVID recovery and reopening, school leader development, and regional operations, while also supporting wellness initiatives, systems-level coordination and strategic planning, and project management across the entire Rocketship Public Schools network. Michael joined Achievement First in March 2022 as the Associate Chief of Staff and has had the opportunity to collaborate with staff across Network Support and within the schools in all three regions on a variety of projects including charter renewals, school contingency planning, portfolio management, and more. Michael is originally from Chicago and now lives in Fairfield, CT with his wife Monica, two daughters Devon (6) and Blair (3), and yellow lab puppy, Clementine. 

  10. Neil Shah

    Chief Financial Officer

    As CFO, Neil leads Team Finance and Team Development at Achievement First. Team Finance manages the financial operations functions of revenue, payroll, accounts payable, internal audits and controls, and budgeting and forecasting. Team Development leads all of the philanthropy and government grant functions.  Prior to his current role, Neil served as an experienced finance executive in the charter and non-profit space for the last 18 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.

  11. John Sharkey

    Chief Academic Officer

    In his role as the 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.

  12. Blakely Simoneau

    General Counsel

    Blakely Simoneau joined Achievement First in February 2022 as the General Counsel, where she oversees Team Legal, Team Compliance, and Board Governance and Management.  Her teams work across the organization to reduce legal risk, ensure compliance at both the school and network levels, and work directly with all seven boards.  Prior to joining Achievement First, Blakely spent the majority of her legal career working in education law with both charter schools and nonprofit special education schools.  She is passionate about Achievement First’s mission, and has published extensively in the field of education law and equity.  Blakely earned her JD from Boston University School of Law and her BA from the University of Colorado.