Skip to main content

Staff

Executive Officer

Susan Shaffer

Susan Shaffer

President and Co-Founder

Proud and happy grandparent of three, passionate and seasoned equity advocate working for the civil rights of all people to achieve social justice. Susan's pronouns are she/her/hers. Read More »

Susan has been a nationally recognized expert for more than four decades. Her transformational work in public schools has centered on the development of comprehensive technical assistance for system-wide change, training on educational equity and culturally responsive pedagogy and practice, school climate and culture, family, school, and community engagement, and multicultural gender-related issues. 

Susan has led MAEC for nearly 30 years. She is the Co-Founder of the National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement, a national member of the Continuous Improvement for Equity Design team with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the author or co-author of several books, articles and publications. Her publications include How to Connect with your iTeen: A Parenting Road MapEquity-Centered Capacity Building: Essential Approaches for Excellence & Sustainable School System Transformation; and “Using Social-Emotional Learning & Literacy Tools to Bridge the Gap During & Beyond COVID-19.” 

Susan holds a B.A. in History and an M.A. in education from the University of California, Berkeley. She serves on several boards, including NAFSCE (Chair); Bowie State University School of Education (2012-2019); Harmony through Education, an NGO, India, a school for special needs children (since 2006); Family Math Roadmap; State Consortium on Family Engagement with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO); Pre-Service Consortium on Family Engagement; the Maryland Committee of Title I Practitioners; and the Maryland Superintendent’s Family Engagement Advisory Council. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her service, leadership, and significant contribution to curricular materials on women. 

Susan is passionate about family, friends, building and sustaining relationships, and writing. She is a California girl, surfs up! 

Hide Details ⇑
Karmen Rouland

Karmen Rouland

Vice President

Petersburg, VA native; wife and mother of small children; passionate about ensuring that our schools meet the needs of all students. Karmen's pronouns are she/her/hers. Read More »

Karmen Rouland, PhD serves as the Vice President at MAEC. In this role, she provides leadership, supervision, oversight, and management of MAEC’s programs and services, as well as, collaborating with senior leadership to develop future business for MAEC. Karmen also manages technical assistance and training services to state departments of education, school districts, and schools on civil rights and educational equity issues. Specifically, she provides training on issues related to cultural competence, family engagement, equitable access to education, implicit bias, privilege, and structural inequality. Karmen has published several peer-reviewed journal articles and technical papers on issues related to family engagement and equity. Prior to joining MAEC, Karmen worked at the intersection of education policy and data at the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).

Karmen has extensive experience in educational research and youth development programs. Karmen also served as School Liaison for the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) and as a Co-Site Director for It’s Great to Be a Girl Mentoring Program. Before working for the government of the District of Columbia, Karmen worked at Howard University as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow studying the role of HBCUs in diversifying the K-12 teacher pipeline. She has also provided research consultation for several non-profit organizations and school districts.

For more than 15 years, Karmen has taught undergraduate and graduate-level education courses for pre-service and in-service teachers at Howard University, George Washington University, the University of Michigan, and Washington Adventist University. She graduated summa cum laude from Howard University in Washington, DC with a B.S. in psychology. She received her Master’s degree and Ph.D. from the Combined Program in Education and Psychology from the University of Michigan. Karmen is a 2021 Leadership Montgomery CORE participant, a board member of Girls Prep, Inc and a Co-Troop Leader with her daughter’s Girl Scout troop.

Hide Details ⇑

Staff

Nyla Bell

Nyla Bell

Senior Education Equity Specialist

Native Philadelphian and fourth generation Black educator with over 20 years of experience working at the intersections of equity, social justice, and public education. Nyla's pronouns are she/her/hers. Read More »

As MAEC’s Senior Education Equity Specialist, Nyla provides consultation, training, evaluation services, and technical assistance to educators and policy-makers in schools, districts, and state departments of education seeking to advance racial, gender, cultural, and socioeconomic equity in their schools. Her work involves conducting district needs assessments/evaluations focused on equity; presenting at education conferences; serving on advisory committees related to equity; organizing and hosting webinars; facilitating trainings; and serving as a Community of Practice (CoP) host and organizer. 

With over 20 years of experience working at the intersections of equity, social justice, and public education, Nyla has devoted her life and career to educational justice as an adult educator, technical assistance provider, advocate, English teacher, scholar, and youth organizer. Her recent experiences working to advance equity and justice in education include teaching graduate courses on race and critical pedagogy to pre-service teachers; developing social justice curricula as a classroom teacher; and providing professional development on culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogy to in-service teachers. Her early experiences with equity work include testifying before Philadelphia’s superintendent on the poor condition of textbooks; serving as editor of a youth newsletter that covered topics like racial disproportionality in AP and honors classes; co-leading the work of establishing Penn State University’s first and only Africana Research Center; and organizing a first-of-its-kind Black Women Studies conference. Nyla is an alumna of and board member with the Philadelphia Student Union, and is a longtime member of the Free Minds, Free People (FMFP) Leadership Committee. She holds a Masters of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor of Philosophy degree with an interdisciplinary focus on social inequality, with honors in African and African American Studies and Women’s Studies, from Pennsylvania State University, University Park.  

Nyla is a lover of science fiction drama, and is currently enjoying The Expanse and Star Trek Discovery.  

Nyla’s pronouns are she/her/hers.

Hide Details ⇑
photo of Mira Best

Mira Best

Senior Evaluation Associate

Raised in Richmond, VA and passionate about the use of data to amplify voices, promote social justice, and inform meaningful change from the micro- to the macro-level. Mira’s pronouns are she/her/hers. Read More »

As a Senior Evaluation Associate, Mira’s primary responsibilities include: working with the Evaluation Team to develop and implement MAEC’s evaluations and reporting; leading qualitative research at MAEC including focus group and interview recruitment, data collection, and analysis; and writing reports on qualitative and quantitative data analyses. She works across projects at MAEC including the Center for Education Equity (CEE), and has played an integral role in other projects including the statewide needs assessment of Maryland’s Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program (MIECHV), an antiracist audit of one of the largest school districts in the United States, and an evaluation of Girls on the Run through the lens of equity.

Mira received her Bachelor of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2018 and her Master of Arts in Social Service Administration (equivalent to a Master of Social Work) from the University of Chicago in 2019. Throughout her undergraduate education, she worked as an intern at three nonprofits and observed the impactful role data had on their service provision and the clients they served. This led her to the University of Chicago’s School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, where she gained further experience working with data to inform practice. Before coming to MAEC Mira evaluated an array of social services delivered by a large Chicago-based nonprofit, with an emphasis on early childhood programs.

Mira is immensely fond of her dog Lukka, hazelnut coffee, and the serial comma. In her spare time, she enjoys doing puzzles while listening to podcasts and making expansive cities in the city-building simulator Cities: Skylines.

Hide Details ⇑
Kate Farbry

Kate Farbry

Director of Communications and Engagement

DC-area native, lover of sharp wit and vegan junk food, believes that empathy makes the world go round. Kate's pronouns are she/her/hers. Read More »

As the Director of Communications and Engagement, Kate develops and executes MAEC’s communication strategy. She is the Project Manager for the Continuous Improvement for Equity (CI4E) Resource website and serves on both the leadership and strategic planning teams. In recent history, Kate spearheaded the development of MAEC’s universal services in response to COVID-19, supporting the production of a series of webinars, newsletters, and web-based resources to assist educators and families as they transitioned to at-home learning.

With a focus on maximizing engagement and user experience design, Kate’s background is in front and back-end website development and branding, print publication production, and email outreach. She has over 20 years of experience working in digital communications for non-profit organizations, understanding the multifaceted needs of diverse audiences with varying capabilities and access. Prior to joining MAEC, Kate served as the Website and Outreach Specialist for a national advocacy nonprofit and as an independent consultant developing websites and marketing materials. She holds a B.A. in Writing from the University of Evansville, IN. 

Kate enjoys long commutes where she can catch up on missed podcasts and pints of iced coffee. She also spends time taking art classes that highlight her inability to draw.

Hide Details ⇑
Dannele Ferreras

Dannele Ferreras

Data and Evaluation Specialist

Dedicated to leveraging evaluation methods and data to assess the needs of education stakeholders and amplify their voices, knowledge, skills, and agency; identifying root causes of inequities; and telling stories of change and capacity growth. Dannele's pronouns are she/her/hers. Read More »

Dannele serves as a Data and Evaluation Specialist at MAEC, working across most projects including the Center for Education Equity (CEE) and the Collaborative Action for Family Engagement (CAFE). She collaborates with members of the evaluation team and other MAEC staff to develop evaluation plans and data collection instruments (e.g., surveys, focus group and interview protocols, climate surveys, equity audit tools); collect, analyze, and write data and evaluation reports; present findings to internal staff and external stakeholders; and develop and refine internal evaluation processes to ensure that evaluation data and findings are used to inform and improve MAEC’s work. Dannele supported the finalization of MAEC’s updated Equity Audit Tool, which is being used for a district-wide antiracist audit in one of the largest districts in the United States. 

Prior to joining MAEC, Dannele served as a Senior Evaluation and Research Analyst at ICF, an international consulting firm, where she conducted data collection, analysis, and reporting to evaluate federal child welfare services housed under the Children’s Bureau and services provided by local school districts. She worked directly with youth as a Program and Grants Manager for Chain Reaction, an afterschool-based, service-learning and leadership development non-profit for high school students based in Florida. Dannele holds a B.S. in Psychology from Birmingham-Southern College and an M.Ed. in Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Science from the University of Virginia. She is a member of the Washington Evaluators, a professional society devoted to fostering knowledge and information-sharing about evaluation, based in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. 

Outside of MAEC, Dannele enjoys reading, dabbling in guitar and piano, exploring the DC/NOVA area, and watching comedies on Netflix or informational channels on YouTube. A true Ravenclaw at heart, she consistently scores “Learner” on the StrengthsFinder assessment.

Hide Details ⇑
Carol Gant

Carol Gant

Associate Director of Early Childhood Programs

Dedicated advocate for equity with over 25 years of experience in the field of Early Childhood and Special Education. Carol's pronouns are she/her/hers. Read More »

As Associate Director of Early Childhood Programs, Carol provides leadership and vision in the establishment of policy and procedures to effectively deliver comprehensive services, technical assistance, and training to assist state departments of education and local education agencies in improving education services and educational outcomes. These projects address all children’s needs with a focus on equity for vulnerable or underserved children. Carol represents MAEC in key education policy and advocacy stakeholder networks and serves as a liaison with community-based organizations and coalitions. She also serves as a leadership team member on the MAEC Strategic Planning team.

After starting her career as a special education teacher at Prince George’s County Public Schools, Carol served as the Early Head Start and Head Start Special Education Program Coordinator for Johns Hopkins Hospital/Department of Pediatrics and Educare of Washington DC. She has also worked at Bowie State University as Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Special Education and Bethany College as Assistant Professor of Special Education. Carol joined The National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning (NCQTL) in 2013, where she served as a Regional Field Specialist in the Migrant and Seasonal Program Branch of the Federal Office of Head Start (OHS) and transitioned to the same position at the National Center for Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning (NCECDTL) in 2015. In this position, Carol supported the OHS staff by delivering training and technical assistance, providing consultation on data collection and analysis, and overseeing grantees to assess program performance.

Carol holds a BS in Interpersonal Communication from Ohio University and a Masters of Education from Bowie State University with a concentration in Special Education. Carol completed her doctoral coursework in Early Childhood Special Education at the University of Maryland and is currently completing her Ph.D. in Non-Profit Organizational Leadership at Columbia International University.

Carol was born and raised in rural Ohio in a harness horse racing and farming family and always had a garden. Her garden is her lab; she feels that she learns something from every garden and season that she can pass along to others.

Hide Details ⇑
Photo of Han

Young-chan Han

Senior Family Engagement Specialist

A Korean-American immigrant striving to meaningfully engage linguistically and economically challenged families in their children’s education to ensure educational equity. Young-chan's pronouns are she/her/hers. Read More »

As a Senior Family Engagement Specialist, Young-chan provides program assistance to the Statewide Family Engagement Center, Collaborative Action for Family Engagement (CAFE). In this role, Young-chan partners with families, educators, and community members to build their leadership capacity and develop high-impact family engagement strategies and practices.  

Young-chan spearheads outreach to the Asian American/Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community and brought together AAPI families to share their experiences navigating racism during COVID-10 and identify action steps to support AAPI families.   

Young-chan has over 20 years of experience in language access, family engagement, and leadership development. As the International Student and Family Engagement Specialist at the Howard County Public School System, Young-chan was instrumental in building a sustainable structure of support for immigrant families, including creating the Interpreting and Translation Office and parent leadership programs. At the Maryland State Department of Education, Young-chan continued to provide leadership and training to 24 school systems to meaningfully engage immigrant families in education and technical assistance on the ESSA Title I and Title III requirements. In 2020, Young-chan spearheaded the State’s publication, “A Guide to School for Families of English Learners.” Young-chan has been recognized for her leadership in educational equity and family engagement: she received the 2017 Human Rights Award by the Howard County Human Rights Commission for her dedicated leadership and outstanding achievement to support equal access to programs and services for all families; and the 2017 Konrad Lindenberg Memorial Award for Leadership in Developing Community Partnerships awarded by the Pennsylvania Coalition Involvement, LTD.   

In Chinese characters, “Young-chan” means “praise-worthy.” Her parents gave Young-chan this name, wishing her to live a life worthy of praise.   

Hide Details ⇑
Jessica Lim

Jessica Lim

Finance Associate

Recent immigrant from Malaysia, emboldened to speak truth and act with intent to create a better world for everyone. Jessica's pronouns are she/her/hers. Read More »

As the Finance Associate at MAEC, Jessica’s main role is to assist with day-to-day finance, contracts, and administrative needs. She also supports program staff with webinars and other projects as needed. During her tenure at MAEC, Jessica has systemized the contracts writing and tracking process, improved and re-organized accounts payable and receivable methodology, and developed a technology training series for staff (“Tech Bytes”). 

Jessica graduated Summa Cum Laude from American University with her B.S. in Economics, and she is the Co-Author and Lead Research Assistant with Capitals Air LLC. 

She is the proud cat mom of Rudy, a domestic medium haired cat from Doha, Qatar, and is on the way to becoming an extreme couponer. 

Hide Details ⇑

Hugo Nájera

Communications Specialist

Focused on amplifying voices from oppressed communities, empowerment, and building community in his work from advising BIPOC students at college campuses to performing for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Hugo's pronouns are he/him/his. Read More »

Hugo is responsible for editing MAEC publications; building social media, email, and website capacity; and contributing to the development of an upcoming resource hub. Since joining MAEC in May 2021, he has edited two major publications, produced new organization-wide writing guidelines, and co-authored press release statements. 

Hugo began his career as a Program Coordinator for Diversity and Inclusion at two universities, where he advocated for resources and programming in support of students from oppressed communities. He then moved to the policy field, promoting institutional diversity practices in higher education and building two national membership networks. His latest work experiences include professional writing and social media outreach for a Fortune 500 company and an international film festival.  

Hugo’s advocacy for social justice extends to his community work as a culture creator, writer, and DJ. He has coordinated festivals, produced performances on the Salvadoran diaspora, and hosted two radio shows on Latinx and Soul music. 

Hide Details ⇑
Michelle Nutter

Michelle Gwinn Nutter

Senior Educational Equity Consultant

Passionate civil rights advocate and dedicated educator who is committed to helping create and maintain safe, respectful learning environments for all students. Michelle's pronouns are she/her/hers. Read More »

Michelle is a Senior Educational Equity Consultant for the Center for Education Equity at MAEC, a Pennsylvania-certified teacher, and former Civil Rights Investigator for the PA Office of Attorney General. With over 30 years of experience in education and civil rights law, she provides training and technical assistance to schools and communities on a wide array of issues that disrupt the educational process.

Michelle is a nationally recognized speaker and frequently serves as a facilitator for the SPIRIT Program coordinated by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service. She is a certified Olweus Bullying Prevention Program trainer and a certified Partners Against Hate trainer. She assists schools in the prevention of and effective response to bullying, cyberbullying and bias-related tension incidents.

Michelle holds a B.A. in English Education and an M.S. in Education Law. She participated in the 2016 White House Bullying Prevention Summit and the 2016 Federal Bullying Prevention Summit.

Hide Details ⇑

Jenny Portillo

Senior Education Equity Specialist

A first-generation college graduate and proud daughter of immigrants, passionate about supporting educators in building equitable learning communities that foster student and community agency. Jenny's pronouns are she/her/hers. Read More »

As a Senior Education Equity Specialist, Jenny supports the work of the Center for Education Equity.  Jenny provides technical assistance and trainings for state departments of education, districts, and schools to improve instructional practices, student engagement, and family and community engagement to create supportive learning environments for all learners. Previously, Jenny served as an equity intern for MAEC and developed the publication, 21st Century Learning at Home: A guide for families and caregivers of English Learners, to support project-based, deeper learning at home. Jenny also supported MAEC teams with gathering data and reviewing materials related to culturally responsive curricula and instructional practices.  

Jenny has over ten years of experience as an elementary school educator in both traditional public school and charter school settings in Texas and New York City. Jenny has extensive experience in working with English Learners and developing curricula to support learners from diverse backgrounds. Throughout her career, she has worked as a dual language and general education teacher, teacher evaluator, instructional coach, professional development facilitator and curriculum designer. Jenny holds an Ed.M in School Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. While at Harvard, Jenny was awarded the Equity and Inclusion Fellowship and the Intellectual Contribution Award for School Leadership. Jenny also holds an M.A. in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.A. in English and History from Fordham University.   

Jenny enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and two dogs. 

Hide Details ⇑
Mariela Puentes

Mariela Puentes

Senior Education Equity Specialist

First generation college graduate who is passionate about educational equity and creating educational systems where all children and families can have access and opportunity. Mariela's pronouns are she/her/hers. Read More »

Mariela serves as Program Manager for the Collaborative Action for Family Engagement Center (CAFE) and as a Senior Education Equity Specialist for MAEC. She works with educators and families to help them build effective partnerships for supporting student learning and well-being. Mariela has helped school leaders across several states develop skills and strategies for equitable and effective family engagement practices. She has led professional development on culturally responsive and equitable family, school, and community engagement for community school coordinators across the state of Maryland.  

Mariela has spent her career working with educators, families, and communities to promote equitable learning outcomes for all students. Prior to her role at MAEC, she hired and supervised staff, and directed the summer program at a public charter school in Washington, D.C., and managed enrichment programs for educational nonprofits in New York City. Mariela holds an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, where she was also a Donovan Scholar with a focus on urban education, and a B.A. in Educational Psychology from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. 

Mariela enjoys gardening and practicing yoga in her spare time.  

Hide Details ⇑
Kathleen Pulupa

Kathleen Pulupa

Communications Associate

First generation Latina and DC native with over 10 years of experience working in communications, committed to equity and social justice. Kathleen's pronouns are she/her/hers. Read More »

Kathleen serves as MAEC’s Communications Associate, working in the Communications Division to manage MAEC’s websites, social media, e-newsletters, and designs layouts for print publications. She leads the development of the CAFE newsletters and coordinates the videos for the parent leadership project. 

Kathleen has over 10 years of experience in communications, working in both the profit and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining MAEC, she worked in the travel industry and as a communications consultant. She earned her degree in Communications at Marymount University, VA and graduate degree in Public Communications at American University, DC. 

Kathleen loves traveling and The Office, and she has been a dolphin trainer. 

Hide Details ⇑

Vo Ram Yoon

Senior Data and Evaluation Intern

Third culture kid with roots in Bolivia and South Korea who uses mixed methods research infused with abolitionist values to promote equity and social justice. Vo's pronouns are he/him/his. Read More »

As a Senior Data and Evaluation Intern, Vo assists the Evaluation team with data collection, quantitative and qualitative analysis, literature reviews, and communication of findings to stakeholders. Vo played a key role in the process and equity evaluation of the Baltimore Summer Funding Collaborative by analyzing data sets, interviews, and focus groups to develop recommendations on how philanthropy could be more equitable in expanding high quality summer learning opportunities for youths in the Baltimore area.

Vo has been passionate about education at various levels of practice from driving systems-wide reform through policy to developing the potential of marginalized youths in classrooms. His first job after college was in curriculum development and college admissions consulting in Tokyo, Japan, where he learned how to implement effective and inclusive learning strategies for youths of all ages while deepening his knowledge of international education policy. In that role, he researched evidence-based practices to inform his pedagogy and appreciated how data could drive improvement in education, which led him to graduate school to pivot to analyst roles. In graduate school, he consulted for the Ministry of Education in Costa Rica in the area of student mental health and published his findings as a chapter in the book: An educational calamity: Learning and teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic. Vo holds a B.A. in Public Policy Studies with general and departmental honors from the University of Chicago and an Ed.M. in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he was recognized as the 2020 Class Marshal for his program.

Having lived and worked in Bolivia, the United States, South Korea, and Japan, Vo consumes media in multiple languages, from podcasts in Spanish to J-Pop and the occasional Korean drama. He also has a penchant for reading poetry and drinking green tea.

Hide Details ⇑
Kasia Razynska

Kasia Razynska

Director of Evaluation and Continuous Improvement

First generation immigrant who is passionate about languages, ballroom dancing, evaluation, and ensuring access to education for all children, especially English Learners. Kasia's pronouns are she/her/hers. Read More »

Having moved to the U.S. from Gdansk, Poland at the age of 14, Kasia is deeply passionate about ensuring access to education for all children, especially English Learners and immigrants. Kasia has over two decades of experience working on projects requiring evaluation, research design, statistical programming and data management. At MAEC, she oversees the Division of Evaluation and Continuous Improvement and serves as a part of the leadership team. She manages MAEC’s needs assessments, equity audits, and other evaluation projects across MAEC’s portfolio. Past projects she has led include MAEC’s needs assessment of Maryland’s Early Childcare System in partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education, and the needs assessment of Maryland’s Maternal, Infant and Early Childcare Home Visiting Programs in partnership with the Maryland Department of Health. She also co-led a recent update of MAEC’s Equity Audit tool. She has presented about MAEC’s work at national conferences of organizations such as the American Evaluation Association and the American Educational Research Association.

Prior to joining MAEC, Kasia worked for ICF, where she served on the internal evaluation team for the Capacity Building Center for States funded through the Children’s Bureau. She also played an integral role with the Regional Education Laboratory (REL) Mid-Atlantic. As the REL Mid-Atlantic Maryland State Coordinator, she leveraged her understanding of education policy and knowledge of the state to ensure that Maryland’s needs are well represented in REL activities. In her role as Coordinator of the REL Mid-Atlantic Longitudinal Data Use Research Alliance, she advised stakeholders on implementing new data processes. She has also worked with the Puerto Rico Department of Education on numerous research and technical assistance projects. She is fluent in Polish, Spanish and French. Kasia graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with a degree in International Education Policy with a focus on quantitative research methods, and holds a graduate certificate in Teaching Polish as a Foreign Language from Uniwersytet Marii Curie Sklodowskiej in Lublin Poland. 

In her spare time Kasia enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids, and raising them in a tri-lingual (English-Polish-Spanish) and tri-cultural household (American-Polish-Colombian). She loves foraging for mushrooms in the woods, and in her youth was a competitive ballroom dancer.

Hide Details ⇑

Claire Ruhlman

Data and Evaluation Associate

Recent college graduate excited to offer data insight to a field of enormous importance and relevance to the current political and social climate. Claire's pronouns are she/her/hers. Read More »

As a Data and Evaluation Associate, Claire supports MAEC’s data collection and analysis procedures by updating and maintaining the project database; compiling mid-year and annual reports each grant cycle; designing and implementing MAEC’s data collection instruments; and providing program support to the Director of Evaluation and Continuous Improvement. She has been heavily involved in several major grant reports (CAFE and CEE) and the design of a train the trainer series for MSDE.

Claire is a graduate of Bates College and current graduate student at Northeastern University’s Roux Institute. During undergrad, she double majored in Classical Studies and Mathematics and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Data Analytics. Throughout her life, she has been heavily involved in non-profit work. Before joining MAEC, Claire worked for a non-profit investigative journalism organization. Claire also interned at MAEC for several summers before joining the staff full-time.

In her spare time, Claire enjoys exploring Maine with roommates and friends, attending classes, and training for half-marathons.

Hide Details ⇑
Phoebe Schlanger

Phoebe Schlanger

Director of Finance and Administration

Former New Yorker and unabashed grammar geek, passionate about the beauty of words and their power to affect change, who has recently acquired an admiration of numbers. Phoebe's pronouns are she/her/hers. Read More »

As Director of Finance and Administration, Phoebe is responsible for overseeing operations at MAEC. She serves on the leadership team and reports as necessary to the Board of Directors. Phoebe successfully upgraded MAEC’s financial procedures as MAEC grew both in number of staff and in revenue.  

Phoebe earned a J.D. at the American University Washington College of Law and a B.A. in English and Philosophy at the University of Rochester. She has been admitted to the bars of New York, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Prior to joining MAEC, Phoebe was an editor, lawyer, and policy analyst. She served on several non-profit boards as president, treasurer, and secretary, including a nonprofit bilingual daycare.  

Phoebe loves words, puzzles, and baking sourdough bread. She occasionally lets her alter ego Julie the Cruise Director sit in on staff meetings. 

Hide Details ⇑
Paul Smith

Paul Smith

Project Manager

Busy dad trying to keep up with two teenagers, who believes in all the gifts young people have to offer. Paul's pronouns are he/him/his. Read More »

At MAEC, Paul manages non-federal technical assistance contracts, attains prospective grant and funding opportunities, and collaborates with the evaluation team as a senior consultant. Paul works with all staff to enhance MAEC’s internal systems and recently co-presented on MAEC’s out of school time program at the Maryland Out of School Time (MOST) network’s Maryland 4 Youth annual conference. He also co-authored Addressing Student Reengagement in the time COVID-19 and played a leading role with the Student Reengagement Project for the National League of Cities, which MAEC continues to serve in an advisory role.

For the past ten years, Paul has operated a consulting practice focused on dropout prevention and youth development initiatives for national and local clients including Reading is Fundamental and the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education. In addition, he provided technical assistance for the US Department of Education’s High School Graduation Initiative and the Department of Labor’s Persistently Dangerous Schools grant, each of which significantly increased the graduation rates of at-risk youth. Paul also leads the Reconnecting Youth Campaign for Baltimore, which advocates for pathways to education, training, national service and employment opportunities for 16 to 24-year-olds. Paul earned an MA in Teaching from Trinity University and a Masters of Liberal Arts from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He currently resides in Baltimore with his wife and two children.

Paul grew up just outside of St. Louis and is a loyal Cardinals baseball fan, which tends to cause some friction with local DC fans.

Hide Details ⇑
Photo of Marianna Stepniak

Marianna Stepniak

Content Specialist

Lifelong learner passionate about dismantling inequitable systems, making complex topics accessible, and exploring new places. Marianna's pronouns are she/her/hers. Read More »

As Content Specialist, Marianna develops and implements cohesive organizational messaging to share the amazing work that MAEC does. She also engages in content development as the Content Lead for the Continuous Improvement for Equity (CI4E) Resource website. Marianna specializes in culturally responsive issues related to gender and gender identity, Title IX compliance, social and emotional learning, and continuous improvement for equity practices. She has led and co-authored multiple publications from MAEC, including the Title IX Regulations Series and the Mental Health Toolkit for Teachers.

Prior to joining MAEC, Marianna served as an AmeriCorps Member in a 2nd/3rd grade classroom with City Year Sacramento, and as Chief of Staff for a gubernatorial campaign in Maryland. These experiences sparked her decision to address systemic inequities in the US education system, pursuing work at the intersection of education, politics, and social justice. Marianna earned her Ed.M in Education Policy & Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2020, and graduated Summa Cum Laude with her B.A. in English and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies from the College of William & Mary in 2017. She also serves on the board of Diverstories, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing public access to books written by BIPOC authors.

When she’s not at work, you can find Marianna hiking in New England, trying local restaurants, or finding a sunny spot to read a book.

Hide Details ⇑
Nikevia Thomas

Nikevia Thomas

ALIVE Program Director

A vegan foodie who is dedicated to promoting excellence in education. Read More »

Nikevia manages MAEC’s ALIVE after-school program. For 15 years, she’s been dedicated to enriching the lives of children and families. Prior to joining MAEC, she’s served as the program director or coordinator of enrichment and educational programs in non-profits throughout Washington, DC and Long Beach, California. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Western Governors University and Master of Business Administration from Trinity Washington University.

Hide Details ⇑
Daryl Williams

Daryl Williams

Associate Director of the Center for Education Equity

Daryl returns to MAEC as the Associate Director of the Center for Education Equity, providing managerial day-to-day operations and monitoring program alignment with CEE's goals and objectives. Read More »

Dr. Daryl V. Williams serves as the Associate Director of the Center for Education Equity (CEE), the Region I Equity Assistance Center. Daryl is responsible for CEE’s managerial day-to-day operations and monitors program alignment with CEE’s goals and objectives. He provides technical assistance and professional development training to schools and school districts to ensure that students are given access to an equitable education regardless of race, gender, national origin (English Learners), sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or religious beliefs. Daryl recently led the development and implementation of an Anti-Racism and Equity Project in one of the largest school districts in the US.

An experienced educator of over 40 years, Daryl brings a diverse background of leadership to support equity in teaching and learning for all students. His work experiences include positions as a classroom teacher, school-building administrator, central office director, Associate Superintendent, staff specialist with the Maryland State Department of Education, and doctoral chair and faculty with the College of Doctoral Studies at the University of Phoenix.

Daryl and his wife Patricia have a blended family of five adult children. Although they do not currently have any grandchildren, he and Patricia enjoy raising their Yorkie-poo, Major.
Hide Details ⇑

Join Our Mailing List

Receive monthly updates on news and events. Learn about best practices. Be the first to hear about our next free webinar!

Share
Share