Board of Directors
Chris is the founding superintendent of the state of Tennessee’s Achievement School District, which was established to dramatically improve student outcomes in the state’s lowest performing schools. The district currently serves 10,000 students in 33 schools and has been recognized as a national model for improvement. The school district outpaced the state in student test score growth in math and science between 2012 and 2015—at a time when Tennessee was the fastest-improving state in the country in student achievement gains—and made it possible for thousands of students to attend better performing schools.
Before leading the Achievement School District, Chris spent over a decade serving as founder and CEO of YES Prep Public Schools, a network of free, open-enrollment public charter schools in Houston, Texas. YES Prep has been a leader in expanding access to high-quality educational opportunities for students from low-income families since its inception in 1998. The network’s 16 schools rank among the top-performing schools in the country, and more than 70 percent of YES Prep alumni are currently enrolled in college or have earned a college degree. Chris lives in Nashville with his wife, Natasha, and their two terrific children.
Jean-Claude is Deputy Director and Senior Advisor in US Programs at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In his role as Senior Advisor he leads the US Program’s P-16 Community Investment Team in their effort to more deeply understand a student’s journey from preschool through completion of a post-secondary credential. As Deputy Director for the Washington State Strategy within the Pacific Northwest team, he leads several strategies to support partners to close the racial and economic opportunity gaps in Washington State’s educational system as well as support the growth and sustainability of the public charter schools sector in Washington state.
Prior, he was a Senior Fellow – Strategy, Planning and Management at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he is focused on supporting the execution of a local proof point to close the achievement and opportunity gaps in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States as well as advising the K-12 team on their new strategy. He was a Partner at FourPoint Education Group (formerly Cross & Joftus, LLC) where he was focused on two practice areas – a unique collaborative structure that supported the work of many state departments of education and public school districts as they sought to turnaround chronically failing school systems as well as a practice area focused on education to career.
Jean-Claude is the former Chief Executive of Chicago Public Schools, and prior to his appointment in Chicago, he was Superintendent of Schools for the Rochester, NY School District. Under Jean-Claude’s leadership, both the Chicago Public Schools and the Rochester City School District saw substantial improvements in student performance. Jean-Claude’s experience also includes a 21-year career as an educator and administrator with the NYC Department of Education. There, he was a Regional Superintendent, supervising more than 100 schools in the Borough of Brooklyn, and he also served as the system’s Executive Director for secondary schools. Jean-Claude is a Fellow of the Broad Center, a Fellow of the third class of the Pahara-Aspen Institute Education Fellowship, and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. A commercial pilot and a native of Haiti, Jean-Claude credits his parents—both of whom were educators—with inspiring him to pursue a career in education. He is married to Dr. K. Brooke Stafford-Brizard and is the proud father of four beautiful children.
The Reverend Doctor Kendrick E. Curry
Pastor Curry—in his 13th year as Senior Pastor of The Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church—is active in the faith community and the community at-large, seeking to bring a faith-based perspective to the pressing challenges of our day. In addition to pastoring, Pastor Curry has worked as a research engineer for the Union Carbide Corporation (now Dow Chemical), a Program Director of the prestigious NASA/Harriett G. Jenkins Predoctoral Fellowship Program which is administered by the United Negro College Fund Special Programs Corporation, and an Associate Research Director and adjunct faculty member at West Virginia State University. He has also worked as a small business owner with projects in chemical, materials, and environmental engineering and in the development and implementation of educational programming for youth and adults.
Pastor Curry holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Prairie View A&M University, an MS and a Ph.D in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a M.Div (Masters of Divinity) from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. Pastor Curry has studied at The Shalem Institute of Spiritual Formation of Washington, DC and was trained as a community organizer at the renowned Midwest Academy for Social Organizing of Chicago. He is currently a D.Min. (Doctor of Ministry) student in Worship and Congregational Formation at Northern Theological Seminary near Chicago.
Pastor Curry has served as the Interim Executive Director Minister of the District of Columbia Baptist Convention and serves on the Creation Care and Peace and Justice Commissions for the Baptist World Alliance. He has been a leader on the Mayor’s Interfaith Council for three different mayors, and he serves on the Stoddard Baptist Nursing Home Board of Directors where he chairs the Human Resources Committee. Pastor Curry serves on the Executive Committee for the DC State office of AARP. He has also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and the UDC Foundation. Pastor Curry is a trustee of the Leland Center for Theological Studies and a member of the Board of Directors of DC Water.
Pastor Curry was awarded the 2013 Wilhelmina Rolark Outstanding Citizen Award by the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO and the 2013 Community Service/Partnership Award by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. He is happily married to the Reverend Karen Whitney Curry and is the proud father of two wonderful children.
Andrew D. Klingenstein
Andy is an education philanthropist and private investor. He leads, or co-leads, four family foundations, including two with interests in independent and public education. As President of the Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund, he helps advise and oversee the operations of the Klingenstein Center at Teachers College, Columbia University. In addition, he has overseen the fund’s support of education mentoring programs serving low-income children. Together with his wife, Julie, Andy also manages a family foundation, which has supported public education in the District of Columbia, including both public charter and traditional public schools. He and his wife are active members of the DC public education reform community.
Andy has spent many years investing in, and providing legal and business assistance to, companies in the healthcare and technology fields, including education technology companies. He has served on the boards of numerous for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations, including City Collegiate Charter School, the Edmund Burke School (which he chaired), and LearnZillion, an education technology company. Before making private investments on his own, he was a principal and co-founder of Fairfax Partners, a Virginia-based venture capital firm specializing in the creation and management of companies in healthcare and information technology. Andy previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. Prior to his tenure as a federal prosecutor, he was an associate at Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells) practicing in the firm’s commercial litigation section. Andy holds a B.A. from Yale University in Classical Civilization and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He and his wife have four daughters and live in Washington, D.C.
Shivam Mallick Shah
Shivam Mallick Shah has worked in the private, philanthropic, government and nonprofit sectors, and brings a multidisciplinary lens to her work as a leading advisor on matters of strategy and innovation in education. Most recently, she joined the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), where she serves as a senior advisor to the Education team. In this role, she provides counsel on a broad range of organizational and investment matters focused on promoting equality and unlocking human potential.
Prior to joining CZI, Shivam led E.L. Haynes as the Interim Executive Director. She also worked at the US Department of Education where she ran the inaugural Investing in Innovation (i3) fund. She also served as a Deputy Director on the Education team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she managed the foundation’s work with the NYC and Boston public schools. Earlier in her career, Shivam worked at NewSchools Venture Fund, management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, and the investment bank Bear Stearns.
Shivam is a graduate of Georgetown University, the London School of Economics, and Harvard Business School. She lives in Washington DC with her husband, Dr. Raj Shah, and their three young children.
Maura is the Chief Executive Officer of Education Forward DC. Maura previously served as the Managing Partner of the DC Schools Fund at NewSchools Venture Fund. Prior to joining NewSchools, she served as Program Director and Lead Teacher at East Palo Alto High School, a charter school in Northern California founded by Aspire Public Schools. During graduate school, Maura worked on the Network Growth Team at the KIPP Foundation, implementing their national growth strategy. Maura sits on the board of directors for DC Prep, E.L. Haynes, and Ingenuity Prep Public Charter Schools, as well as Charter Board Partners and the Bainum Family Foundation. Maura earned a BA with honors in American Studies from Stanford University, an MA in teaching secondary social studies from Columbia University, and an MBA from Harvard University.
Abigail Smith has spent her entire career focused on improving quality, equity, and access in public education. She currently works as an independent consultant, supporting a range of education-focused organizations in advancing their missions through strategic planning, organizational development, program design, and executive coaching. Her clients span the non-profit, public, and philanthropic sectors. Abigail also co-leads the Seeding Disruption Fellowship in the District of Columbia, which builds knowledge, skills, and community across racial difference and professional fields, with a focus on disrupting systems of racial inequity that directly impact children and youth.
From 2012-14 she served as Deputy Mayor for Education in the District of Columbia. Under her leadership, the office of the Deputy Mayor launched a common application and lottery for charter and district public schools, undertook the first comprehensive revision of student assignment policies and school boundaries in over 40 years, developed and implemented a new student funding formula that directs additional resources to at-risk students, and oversaw the process for awarding former DCPS buildings to public charter schools.
Abigail previously served as the Chief of Transformation Management for the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). During her four years at DCPS, her diverse portfolio included strategic planning for the school district, early-childhood education, the Race to the Top program, school closures and consolidations, and the district’s SchoolStat performance management process.
Abigail spent 12 years with Teach For America, including running the Washington, DC office, overseeing pre-service training and ongoing support for all Teach For America corps members, and ultimately serving as Vice President of Research and Public Policy for the national organization. She began her career as a first-grade teacher in Weldon, North Carolina.