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ENTREPRENEURS STARTING SCHOOLS

MAIA BLANKENSHIP

The Entrepreneur
Maia Blankenship was the founding managing director of the DC region for Education Pioneers, an organization that places talented people from other fields into education management roles. While serving as the regional executive director for The Achievement Network (ANet), an organization that provides high-quality aligned interim assessments, she expanded its reach to more than 200 schools. As vice president of strategic growth and partnerships at ANet, she cultivated national and regional relationships to support improved student performance. Maia is also an advisor to organizations working to dismantle systemic racism and oppression, including serving as vice-chair of The Equity Lab.  She is the proud mother of an independent and adventurous toddler who inspires her daily.

The CityBridge Project
What if high-quality Montessori schools were deeply embedded in every DC neighborhood so that this model was readily available to all families? And what if the teachers in these schools had the autonomy and resources to adjust their educational approach to meet the needs and aspirations of the students in their neighborhoods? Wildflower Schools, a national ecosystem of Montessori micro-schools, is partnering with CityBridge to bring this vision to reality. Wildflower provides highly personalized settings that blur the lines between schools and the communities around them. As the DC Partner for Wildflower, Maia is creating a regional hub for Wildflower that will empower a diverse group of Montessori teacher-leaders to create their own vibrant teacher-led learning environments.

LANETTE DAILEY-REESE and ALISON GILLMEISTER

The Entrepreneurs
Lanette Dailey-Reese served as a site coordinator for Communities in Schools in a Philadelphia high school and then went on to serve as assistant director of the Office of High School Reform for the Philadelphia School System. From 2012 to 2017, she was a division leader at the International Center for Leadership in Education, an organization that helps schools and school systems adopt and implement educational best practices. She most recently served as the executive director of City Arts + Prep charter school in DC.

At a Startup Weekend event organized by CityBridge, Alison Gillmeister connected with other educators and a leader at the Smithsonian and began designing a school that would use museums as a resource for DC students. While teaching at Center City Public Charter Schools, she helped lead several pilots to test Capital Experience Lab’s instructional model. She grew up in the Buffalo home of her grandparents, who instilled in her the joy of lifelong learning. She also spent a year in Atlanta with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

The CityBridge Project
What if all DC students could experience rigorous learning opportunities among the rich array of cultural institutions of Washington? Capital Experience Lab, a middle/high school, will immerse students in DC museums and other community learning spaces–including the Smithsonian, the National Institutes of Health, and the Kennedy Center.

ENTREPRENEURS STARTING NON-SCHOOL VENTURES

Lauren Bryant

Lauren Bryant

The Entrepreneur
Lauren Bryant has spent the last decade operationalizing spaces of belonging to ignite and sustain change. Since beginning her career at CityBridge in 2011, she has supported education efforts in DC and across the country. Lauren is formerly the founding Director of National Charter Collaborative, a nationwide network of charter school leaders of color, and has recently relaunched StartOps, a boutique education consulting firm offering operational support to early-stage charter schools and education/education-adjacent organizations.

The CityBridge Project
What if school operations teams were fully supported in designing more equitable experiences in schools? Lauren’s venture will build and fortify the pipeline of operations professionals across the city by providing operations training and coaching to staff.  Her aim is to operationalize equity in schools and create more inclusive and identity-affirming spaces for students, families, and staff.

Marissa Jennings

Marissa Jennings

The Entrepreneur
A social entrepreneur at heart, Marissa has a track record of developing community-based solutions. Currently serving as Community Project Manager for Alley, Powered by Verizon, Marissa has extensive experience working for organizations dedicated to improving the lives of girls. Marissa is a 2015 White House Campaign of Change recipient for Young Women Empowering Their Communities and South by Southwest (SXSW) 2016 Dewey Winburne Community Service Award Honoree. Most recently, she coached and guided a trio of young Black girls from Banneker High School through a prestigious NASA competition for scientific solutions to social problems. The team won second place. 

The CityBridge Project
What if girls of color interested in STEM fields were part of a community that gave them the support, coaching, and resources to confidently pursue their career interests? Marissa will launch SOCIALgrlz, a mobile-first tech platform for girls ages 13-17 that bridges the gap between social engagement, academics, technology, and equity to empower girls of color to meet and exceed their interest in STEM fields.

Susan Comfort and Tyecia Powell

Tyecia Powell and Susan Comfort

The Entrepreneurs
Tyecia Powell and Susan Comfort are passionate about developing cultures of well-being in the charter school community and beyond. Tyecia spent 15 years in the education sector, leading as a teacher, an instructional coach, and with an alternative certification program. She is a trained Pilates, CPR, and Mental Health & Wellness Instructor. Susan is a bilingual organizer who spent 25 years as a leader with nonprofits like Environmental Working Group, Playworks DC, and KaBOOM!. Together, they founded Nonprofit Wellness, a non-profit that provides philanthropic leadership, coaching, and strategy to a variety of educational and environmental organizations.

The CityBridge Project
What if educators across DC possessed the physical, mental, and team health tactics and tools to overcome the unprecedented challenges facing them now and in the future? Susan and Tyecia’s venture will target educator wellness and promote educator health, build positive school cultures, and create a stronger public education system.

ENTREPRENEURS IN THE PLANNING YEAR

Natalie Smith

NATALIE SMITH

The Entrepreneur
Natalie found her calling in education while tutoring at an after-school program during college. After successful runs as a teacher and school leader in Prince George’s County and DC, she became the head of school of Sela Public Charter School, the city’s only Hebrew language immersion school. She substantially increased the percentage of economically disadvantaged students while simultaneously earning the school a Tier 1 ranking from the DC Public Charter School Board.

The CityBridge Project
Natalie is launching Global Citizens Academy, an elementary school opening in 2021 that will immerse children in Mandarin and Spanish as early as age three. Deeply committed to educational justice and well-versed in bringing together diverse communities of students, families, and teachers, Natalie’s is dedicated to creating an equitable environment, free of racial and class-based discrimination.


Target location: Ward 7 or 8

DESIGN FELLOWSHIP PARTICIPANTS

  • Maquita Alexander, Washington Yu Ying
  • Peter Anderson, Washington Latin
  • Tatiana Bowman, Kelly Miller Middle School
  • Janelle Bradley, Washington Latin
  • Nazo Burgy, Center City – Petworth
  • Scott Campbell, Stuart-Hobson Middle School
  • Stacey Carter, Alice Deal Middle School
  • Raymond Cummings, Youth Services Center
  • Sharonda Davila-Irving, Peabody ES
  • Aryn Davis, Washington Latin
  • Aini Fang, Washington Yu Ying
  • Alfonso Franklin, Hendley ES
  • Caroline Gifford, Washington Latin
  • Anna Laura Grant, Washington Latin
  • Russell Helsabeck, Alice Deal Middle School
  • Joi Hollis, Peabody ES
  • Mike Jacobs, Center City – Petworth
  • Kristin Jennings, Hendley ES
  • Anna Kaplan, Center City – Brightwood
  • Anna Katt, Hendley ES
  • James Kelly, Washington Latin
  • Laura Landon, Truesdell EC
  • Louise Lewis, Kelly Miller Middle School
  • Tamara Lovelock, Stuart-Hobson Middle School
  • Tarisai Lumumba-Umoja, Youth Services Center
  • Ebon McPherson, Peabody ES
  • Lourdes Nedelman, Truesdell EC
  • Sarah Perkins, Washington Yu Ying
  • Amy Quinn, Washington Yu Ying
  • Patrick Rottman, Alice Deal Middle School
  • Molly Smith, Stuart-Hobson Middle School
  • Michael Smith, Youth Services Center
  • Dr. Daniel Spruill, Center City – Brightwood
  • Rennie Taylor, Stuart-Hobson Middle School
  • Amber Thomas, Alice Deal Middle School
  • Rachel Tomelleo, Center City – Brightwood
  • Veronica Torres, Truesdell EC
  • Mia Vincent, Kelly Miller Middle School
  • Micah Westerman, Center City – Brightwood
  • Lijin Yang, Washington Yu Ying

 

DESIGN STUDIO PARTICIPANTS

  • Carlette Austin
  • Toni Barton
  • Melanney Beckles
  • Gabriel Benn
  • Floyd Bronson
  • Briana Brooks
  • Melvey Brown-Lee
  • Aaron Cardwell
  • Katie Cheng
  • Darryl Clay
  • Kristen Corliss
  • Abby Coyle
  • Eric Dabney
  • Rameen Dhindsa
  • Lauren Furst
  • Renee Gaillard
  • Morgan Hall
  • Miriam Hammond
  • Emily Hedin
  • Glenn Huang
  • Bresean Jenkins
  • Benjamin Johnson
  • Jashae Johnson
  • Cindy Kent
  • Antoinette Lee
  • Joseph Lewis
  • Cara Littlefield
  • Jordan Marshall
  • Ashley McMichael
  • Paige Mendenhall
  • Che Millervierra
  • Marcus Moore
  • Rian Reed
  • Brandy Reeves
  • Ashley Ross
  • Megan Sands
  • Leigh Sims
  • Kelli Smith
  • Roman Smith
  • Sonya Soloway
  • Keisha Speller
  • Iona Spikes
  • Ben Steinberg
  • Laura Thomas
  • Kisha Warren
  • Brian White
  • Yolanda Whitted
  • Anthony Williams