This diverse and talented team brings skills and experiences to KIPP DC that help us provide the highest quality education to KIPPsters.
This diverse and talented team brings skills and experiences to KIPP DC that help us provide the highest quality education to KIPPsters.
Susan Schaeffler is the founder and chief executive officer of KIPP DC. She oversees all school leadership and academic programming, and plays a direct role in supervising the performance of students, staff, and the KIPP Through College & Career program. As an inaugural Fisher Fellow, Susan founded KIPP DC KEY Academy in 2001 and has since guided KIPP DC’s growth into the highest performing PreK3-12 school system in Washington, D.C. with eighteen schools educating 6,800 students. Prior to founding KIPP DC, Susan spent nine years in the classroom, first as a Teach For America corps member in Baltimore, Maryland, where she earned Teacher of the Year honors. In addition, Susan spent a year in rural Ethiopia working with the International Foundation of Education and Self-Help to train 180 new teachers at the Teacher Training Institute. Susan earned her bachelor’s in human development and family studies from Colorado State University and master’s in instructional systems design from the University of Maryland. Under her leadership, KIPP DC was a Race to the Top District grant recipient, and have won national distinctions such as the Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon School Award and the National Title One Distinguished School Award.
Shannon Hodge is President of KIPP DC Public Schools, where she helps drive the strategic direction of the organization and oversees central functions that support great schools. Before joining KIPP DC, Ms. Hodge served as the founding director of the DC Charter School Alliance, a nonprofit charter advocacy and support organization. She was also executive director of Kingsman Academy Public Charter School, which she co-founded to serve District of Columbia students at risk of dropping out because they were overaged and undercredited, had attendance and truancy issues, or had emotional and behavioral challenges.
A former high school counselor, guidance director, and attorney, Ms. Hodge has worked in and around education at the local, state, and federal levels for much of the past twenty years. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, a law degree from Stanford, and master’s degrees from Georgetown, Harvard, and Purdue.
Tom Clark joined KIPP DC in 2014 and serves as KIPP DC’s chief strategy & advancement officer. In this role he is responsible for leading KIPP DC’s fundraising efforts, marketing and communications strategy, organizational culture and executive operations, board of directors, and various other external affairs functions. Tom grew up all around the country but has called D.C. home for more than 15 years. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University and master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Education. Tom began his career teaching high school Spanish in Baltimore, Maryland before working for Teach For America on teacher recruitment and training, fundraising, marketing, and events for several years. Tom can frequently be found chasing his dog, Toby at the dog park across the street from KIPP DC’s Shaw Campus.
Jami Dunham joined KIPP DC in April 2018 and serves as the organization’s chief equity and inclusion officer. Prior to assuming this role she served as the deputy chief academic officer for high schools. Jami leads KIPP DC’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy and guides our anti-racism efforts. Jami is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and obtained a bachelor of arts in English and a bachelor of arts in French from Howard University and a master’s degree in Education Administration from Trinity University. Prior to joining KIPP DC, Jami spent a decade leading at Paul Public Charter School. While Jami isn’t working she can be found spending time with her husband and two children at any number of their sporting events and games including soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis, track, and cross-country.
Justin Ellis joined KIPP DC in January 2015 and is the organization’s chief financial officer. In this role, he oversees the organization’s accounting and finance team. Throughout his tenure at KIPP DC, Justin has been instrumental in developing and implementing various financial strategies and procedures. Before joining KIPP DC, he worked in financial services, accounting, and auditing at several private sector firms. Justin is a native of Pennsylvania and earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Elon University before becoming a certified public accountant. In his free time, Justin enjoys cooking, golfing, traveling, and spending quality time with his lovely wife and two toddlers.
Rebecca Maltzman joined KIPP DC in June 2015 and is the organization’s chief talent officer. Rebeca has been a key leader in our instructional talent development work. Throughout her tenure with us, Rebecca has led the knowledge & learning team which manages our suite of teacher development (Capital Teaching Residency, the Fellowship in Special Education, and the Teacher Launch Cohort) and leader development (Teacher Leadership, New Deans and Coaches, Rising Leaders, and Principals-in-Residence) programs. She has launched new initiatives, strengthened existing ones and supported the recruitment and selection efforts for teachers and leaders. Prior to her time at KIPP DC, Rebecca worked in talent development at DC Public Schools and in various charter schools in DC and Philadelphia. Rebecca started her career as a teacher in Camden, NJ.
Mekia Love started in 2005 as a Vice Principal at KIPP DC KEY Academy and was the founding school leader at KIPP DC Lead Academy. She served as deputy chief academic officer for elementary schools at KIPP DC for 3 years, and is now serving as Chief of Schools. Ms. Love has years of teaching experience in public schools and was awarded the U.S. Department of Education’s American Star of Teaching award in 2007 and The KIPP Excellence in Teaching award in 2008. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado, a Master’s degree in educational leadership from National Louis University, and an Executive Master’s in Leadership from Georgetown University.
Jacque Patterson re-joined KIPP DC in June 2018 as the chief community engagement & impact oficer. Jacque will be responsible for building even deeper relationships with families, community organizations, and civic leaders. Jacque moved to Washington, D.C. in 1995 while serving in the United States Air Force. He immediately became involved in the communities of Ward 8, where he still resides. In 2000, he was elected as an ANC Commissioner representing 8B07, serving for four terms until 2008. During this time, he also was selected as a Capital City Fellow by former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, eventually becoming his community affairs coordinator.
Jacque was previously a managing director at the Federal City Council, director of management & administration at Martha’s Table, and most recently, the D.C. regional director of Rocketship Education. He has also has been appointed to a number of boards and commissions including the District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency board of directors, Veteran Affairs advisory board, the St. Elizabeth Redevelopment Initiative advisory board, the DCPS Chancellor’s Parent Cabinet, the Democrats for Education Reform-DC advisory board, the Higher Achievement board of directors, and the KIPP DC board of directors.
Jacque earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree in public administration from Central Michigan University. He is a member of the 2006 class of Leadership Greater Washington and a member of the 2017 class of public and charter school leaders in Georgetown University’s executive leadership master’s program.
Saumil Shah joined KIPP DC in 2019 and currently serves as its Chief Information & Operations Officer. In this role, Saumil leads the school operations, information, and facilities teams to create safe and welcoming learning environments for students and staff and to provide excellent customer service to support schools operationally. Prior to joining KIPP DC, Saumil held a variety of strategy and operations roles at Deloitte Consulting, SunPower, and as the head of his own consulting practice. He began his education career through Education Pioneers where he worked at the Oakland Unified School District developing alternative teacher compensation models. Later, Saumil helped launch the Achievement School District in TN, working in capacities including Director of Strategy, Director of Technology & Data, and Chief of Staff.
On a personal level, Saumil is a native of Holmdel, New Jersey. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a master’s degree from the Haas School of Business at Berkeley. In his free time, Saumil enjoys brunch.
Susan Toth joined KIPP DC in July 2012 as the director of secondary academics and currently serves as our chief academic officer. Susan guides our early childhood schools, elementary schools, and high school as they create the powerful, joyful learning experiences that put our incredible students on the path to and through college and career. Susan comes to D.C. from Seattle, Washington. She obtained her bachelor of arts from the University of Washington, master of arts from Seattle University, and principal certification from the Danforth Educational Leadership Program at the University of Washington. Prior to joining KIPP DC, Susan worked for 16 years as a teacher and school leader in Seattle Public Schools. In her free time, Susan enjoys exploring the D.C. area, cheering on her favorite sports teams, and inventing new recipes.
Liz Striebel joined KIPP DC in July 2015 as the managing director of literacy and humanities. Liz provides support to school leaders as they implement joyful and rigorous curricula in grades K-12. Liz is a native of Floral Park, New York and obtained a bachelor of science in special education from New York University and a master of science in education from Fordham University. Liz previously worked as the managing director of ANet DC, providing coaching support to schools as they adopted data-driven instruction and the Common Core standards. She has over sixteen years of education experience as a teacher, curriculum author, instructional and leadership coach in D.C. and New York. While Liz isn’t working, she can be found reading, biking and spending time with her family and friends.
Tiffanie Williams is the managing director of STEM at KIPP DC. She began her teaching career in Ruleville, Mississippi as a Teach For America Corps Member and continued teaching elementary school to 4th and 5thgraders in DC Public Schools. After 5 years, she joined KIPP DC as a middle school math teacher, vice principal and principal. Most recently, Tiffanie served as the founding Director of Curriculum and Instruction at a computer science school in DC before returning to KIPP DC. She received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and is a proud native of Cleveland, Ohio. Tiffanie is a staunch advocate for education equity and firmly believes in empowering students to live choice filled lives.
Dr. Sommer Wynn joined KIPP DC in 2010 as a PreK4 teacher. Starting in 2017, she served as the principal at Discover Academy, and is now our deputy chief academic officer of early childhood schools. In this role, she supports students, staff, and families at KIPP DC’s six early childhood schools. Dr. Wynn has a personal passion for early childhood learning, children, teachers, and leaders. In 2017 she earned a doctorate in education from Howard University. In her free time, Dr. Wynn enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons, exploring DC museums, and trying out new restaurants.
Patrice Billups joined KIPP DC in summer of 2009 as a math teacher at AIM Academy and KIPP College Preparatory High. She also worked as the school leader of KIPP DC Valor Academy, KIPP DC’s Executive School Leader Resident, the school leader of KIPP DC Legacy College Preparatory and is now the Deputy Chief of Schools. She joined the Valor Academy staff as a vice principal and moved into the principal role in the summer of 2018. In this role, Patrice focuses on developing the whole child by preparing students academically, socially, and emotionally, for successful living. She is a native of Hayneville, Alabama – home of the civil rights movement. Patrice earned her bachelor’s degree from Alabama A&M University and graduated with her master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007. Prior to joining KIPP DC, Patrice taught in DC Public Schools as a math teacher and department chair at Ron Brown Middle School. While Patrice is not working she can be found museum hopping, traveling and spending time with her family.
Abdullah Zaki joined the KIPP DC team as deputy chief academic officer of high schools in 2022, where he supports advancing the student and staff experiences at our high schools. In his more than two decades of experience, Zaki has been an ELA teacher, vice principal, and principal at both traditional and charter schools in DC. Most recently, he served as the principal and head of school for Thurgood Marshall Academy in Ward 8. Zaki has a deep commitment to fostering student engagement and learning, staff development, and directing instructional programs to meet the needs of all students.
Stephanie Beltrán-Delinois joined KIPP DC in June 2015 as a 2nd-grade teacher and is currently the principal at KIPP DC Quest Academy. Stephanie is a native of Providence, Rhode Island, and obtained a degree in Anthropology from Colorado College. Before joining KIPP DC, Stephanie was a founding 1st and 2nd-grade teacher at KIPP Jacksonville. When Stephanie isn’t working, she can be found recreating meals from her favorite restaurants and spending time with her wife and two cats.
Donyale Butler is the Founding Principal of Inspire Academy at the Wheeler campus and joined the KIPP DC team and family in July 2018. Donyale is committed to serving the students and families of Ward 8. She understands the importance of all students receiving a quality education. In order to prepare future leaders with the skillsets needed to be successful in a 21st-century society. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in Gifted, Talented, and Creative Education from the University of St. Thomas. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and friends. Donyale’s family members are avid sports fans with a hearty appetite for good food and fun times!
Lauren Catalano joined KIPP DC in July 2019 as a school leader and is currently the school leader of WILL Academy. In this role they set the vision and goals of the school program, build and foster relationships among students, team, and families, as well as collaborate with key stakeholders to provide an equitable, joyful, and rigorous experience for all members of the school community. Lauren is a native of Brooklyn, NY and obtained a Bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University, a Master’s in Reading Education K-12 from Florida Atlantic University, and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Prior to joining KIPP DC, Lauren worked/began their career teaching elementary school in south Florida at Somerset Preparatory Academy. When Lauren isn’t working, they can be found reading, cooking, and spending time with her family and fur child, Antonette.
Gillian Conner joined KIPP DC in 2004 as a 7th grade math teacher. In her time at KIPP DC, she has worked as a math teacher, a special education teacher, a vice principal of KCP, the founding principal of Valor Academy, and a math instructional coach. She is currently the principal of Northeast Academy and is very excited to get to work with such a wonderful group of families, students, and educators.
Michael Cordell is the founding leader of The Learning Center. He previously served as a chief academic officer at KIPP DC headquarters. During this time, he served on KIPP Foundation High School Design Team. Michael is deeply and personally inspired to work with the fantastic students at The Learning Center. He has devoted the most recent time to serving students with special needs who might require the highest level of interventions schools provide. His work as a Special Education leader was initially inspired by his mother, who spent 30 years working as a Special Education teacher on the south side of Chicago in public schools. His daughter attended a non-public school focused on students with Aspergers until she recently transitioned to a public high school. Before joining KIPP DC in July 2012, Michael was the chief academic officer for Friendship Public Charter Schools, overseeing eleven schools. Michael led school turnaround efforts in partnership with DC and Baltimore City Public Schools. He has served as principal of an award-winning high school, and he remembers his time as a middle school/high school teacher in DC and at Chicago International Charter Schools. He served as Board Chair for the DC Special Education Cooperative for four years. He received his bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis, earned a master’s degree from Marquette University, and completed all coursework for a Doctorate in Education at George Washington University.
Miriam Darby joined KIPP DC in July 2011 as a founding first grade teacher for KIPP DC Heights Academy. She is currently the principal of KIPP DC Heights Academy. Miriam is from Louisville, Kentucky and studied Social Work and Women’s Studies at Providence College. After college, she obtained her master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Lesley University in 2006. She then began teaching kindergarten and first grade in the Boston area, for five years before moving to DC. When Miriam isn’t working she can be found spending time with friends and family and playing with her Boston Terrier, Bruno.
Cynthia David joined KIPP DC in July 2010 as a Capital Teaching Resident at Discover Academy. The following year, she looped up with her kindergarteners and was a part of the founding team at Heights Academy. After eight years at the Douglass campus, Cynthia joined the founding team at Honor Academy, where she is now the principal. Cynthia is a native of the Bronx, NY, and obtained a bachelor’s degree from the University of Scranton and a master’s in International Educational from George Washington University. When Cynthia isn’t working, she is fulfilling her goal of visiting every country in the world!
Gaelan Gallagher began her career at KIPP DC teaching fifth and sixth grade reading at KIPP DC AIM Academy. She then went on to serve as the vice principal at KIPP DC Heights Academy before becoming the principal in 2014. In 2019, Gaelan transitioned to be the founding principal at KIPP DC Honor Academy. Gaelan received her master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania and her bachelor’s degree in from Georgetown University.
Ketica Guter joined KIPP DC in March 2018 as a Floating Vice-Principal and later served as the Vice-Principal and Interim Principal of KIPP DC at AIM Academy. Currently, Ketica serves as the school leader of Valor Academy, where she sets the school’s vision, ensuring that all Valor Warriors will grow and develop academically and socially. Ketica is a New Orleans native. She received her BA from Northwestern University, two master degrees from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in Curriculum and Instruction and from Harvard Graduate School of Education in School Leadership. Prior to joining KIPP DC, Ketica served as an elementary and high school teacher in a different school system. When Ketica is not working, she can be found reading, traveling, and spending time with her family.
Monique Hardin-Simmons joined KIPP DC in February 2013 as a Capital Teaching Resident and is currently the Principal of KIPP DC Promise Academy. In this role, Monique supports staff in providing quality, culturally relevant education to all students. Monique is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, and obtained a degree in Public Policy and Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to joining KIPP DC, she worked in the education field, supporting North Carolina and DC public school districts. When she isn’t working, she can be found exploring new places with her son, writing, or watching detective-based TV shows.
Sheila Lewis joined KIPP DC in July 2012 as a founding PreK3 teacher at Grow Academy before becoming a vice principal in 2017 at KIPP DC Discover Academy, where she is now the school leader. Sheila is a native of Los Angeles, California, and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Howard University and a master’s in Early Childhood Special Education from Johns Hopkins University. Before joining KIPP DC, Sheila taught at AppleTree Public Charter School in Columbia Heights for five years as a PreK3 teacher and a mixed-age inclusion general education teacher. When Sheila is not working, she can enjoy a good TV show or movie and spend time with her family and friends.
Salvatore Negrete joined KIPP DC as the Lead Special Education Teacher and Special Education Coordinator at Grow Academy in June 2012. His passion for teaching and working with families led him to become a Vice-Principal at Grow Academy. Kicking off the school year in 2021-22, Salvatore became the Founding Principal at KIPP DC’s newest Early Childhood School at Wheeler Campus, Pride Academy. Before joining the team, he started his career teaching as a 4th Grade Special Educator for seven years in New York City. He is also the proud father of two rising young leaders in 3rd grade and Kindergarten at Pride Academy!
Ashley Peel joined KIPP DC in June 2011 as a Kindergarten CTR and is currently the Principal of KIPP DC Grow Academy. In this role, she leads outstanding educators dedicated to providing unconditional love & high-quality education to all students. Ashley is a native of the Bronx, New York – the big apple! She obtained her bachelor’s from Dickinson College and her master’s at Georgetown University in Leadership. When she isn’t working, she can be found reading a book or hanging with my partner & pup!
Jesse Pertuz joined KIPP DC in July 2011 as a founding 3rd-grade teacher and grade-level chair at KIPP DC Promise Academy. She served as the vice principal at Promise Academy for six years, with Promise being named a National Blue Ribbon School in her final year. Jesse had the pleasure of seeing her former students graduate from KIPP DC College Prep, where she served as the director of high school instruction before transitioning to be a Principal-in-Residence, and now the school leader of KIPP DC Lead Academy – home of the Llamas. Jesse is originally from Morristown, NJ, and obtained her bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis. She also holds a master’s degree in School Administration and Supervision from National-Louis University. Prior to joining KIPP DC, Jesse was a 1st and 3rd-grade teacher in Prince George’s County. She is passionate about her reading and helping students find their love for books. In her free time, Jesse loves watching the NY Giants, binging a great show, and spending time with her friends, husband and son, and her dog, Beckham.
Shantel Sappleton became the school leader at KIPP DC LEAP Academy in 2019
Rashaand Sass joined KIPP DC in June 2014 as a founding 5th-grade math teacher at KIPP DC Northeast Academy. He is currently the principal at KIPP DC KEY Academy, motivating the minds of future leaders. Rashaand is a native of Buffalo, New York, and obtained a degree in politics from Ithaca College. Prior to joining KIPP DC, Rashaand began his teaching career as a special education teacher with another local charter network. When Rashaand isn’t working, he can be found rooting for the Buffalo Bills or hanging out with his son Otto and dog Bix.
Jovon Taylor became the School Leader of KIPP DC Spring Academy in 2020.
Stephanie Renee Young is a KIPP DC veteran and worked at AIM and WILL Academy before joining the team at KCP. She is thrilled to be joining KCP again as the principal! Stephanie is a native of Buffalo, NY and attended college at Canisius before eventually moving to D.C. to continue a career in education. Stephanie is extremely passionate about creating communities where all staff and students feel empowered, included, and joyful. When Stephanie isn’t working, she can be found hopping around D.C., trying all the restaurants in the city!