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 a Senior Fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He is on a leave from his partner role at Cross & Joftus. For more than a decade, Cross & Joftus has been devoted to helping public education leaders achieve outstanding results. 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.
Simmons is an education consultant, entrepreneur, and proven nonprofit leader committed to significantly improving the quality of education for all students. As founder of Simmons Lettre Consulting, Simmons advises organizations on creating, scaling, sustaining, and governing effective programs in district, charter, and non-profit sectors to catalyze public K-12 education reform and overall student success. She partners with organizations to support them in strategic planning, project management, stakeholder engagement, evaluation, and communications in ways that maximize their impact.
Prior to launching her consulting work, Simmons co-founded and served as the Chief Executive Officer of Charter Board Partners (CBP), a national nonprofit dedicated to improving charter school board governance in ways that sustain effective schools. CBP recruits and trains board members, provides one-on-one coaching for school and board leadership, and delivers online tools and templates through its Great Boards portal. As CEO, Simmons led CBP’s program in Washington, DC, oversaw expansion sites, and managed the development of CBP tools.
Prior to founding CBP, most of Simmons’ work focused at the policy level of urban education. She led communications for Education Resource Strategies and produced numerous papers and books on school-level resource use. She also evaluated program implementation at Expeditionary Learning, and shaped policy and professional development for the Boston Plan for Excellence and New American Schools. But her favorite position prior to CBP was as a first-grade teacher at Benjamin Banneker Public Charter School in Cambridge, MA.
Simmons holds a Masters in School Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Davidson College. She is a Pahara-Aspen Fellow, former board chair of Capital City Public Charter School, coach for her daughter’s soccer team, and a mentor for the Earl Woods Scholar Program. Simmons is married and has two daughters.
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.