Meet the team of faculty and operations professionals who make Relay's Leadership Programs an exciting and fulfilling experience.
Jesse RectorVice Provost, Regional Leaderships Programs
As Vice Provost of Regional Leadership Programs at Relay, Jesse Rector leads all aspects of training for current and aspiring school leaders. In this role, he teaches courses on instructional leadership and serves as an advisor to the participants in our leadership programs.
Previously, Rector spent sixteen years in Newark, New Jersey, as a high-performing teacher in both the Newark Public Schools and at North Star Academy Charter School of Newark. During his last six years in Newark, Rector led North Star’s Clinton Hill Middle School.
Rector earned an M.A. in organizational leadership from Columbia University and a B.A. from Rutgers University.
Kari FeinbergProvost, Professional Education
In her role as Provost, Professional Education, Kari Feinberg will lead Relay and the Professional Education team to significant institutional goals, delivering outstanding institutional performance and expanding access and institutional recognition.
Ms. Feinberg currently serves as the National Dean of Regional Leadership Programs at Relay. In this role, she leads Relay Leadership's current work and strategic planning efforts to provide network-embedded professional learning, coaching, and support for CAOs, principal managers, and school leaders in the areas of observation and feedback, school culture, and data driven instruction. Before joining Relay in the summer of 2017, she spent ten years with YES Prep Public Schools in Houston, Texas, most recently as the Head of Schools from 2013 to 2017. She has also worked as a school leader and teacher in Baton Rouge, La. and Durham, N.C.
Kari holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Political Science and graduate degrees in School Leadership and Public Administration from the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill. She continues to be Houston-based.
Dr. Ben KlompusManaging Director of Impact and Innovation, Professional Education
As Managing Director of Professional Education, Teacher Programs, Dr. Sarah Marder-Eppstein oversees all aspects of professional learning opportunities for teachers at Relay. Prior to joining professional education, Dr. Marder-Eppstein co-led degree-granting programming for over 1,500 teachers in Relay’s online campus and taught elementary methods and general pedagogy coursework. Dr. Marder-Eppstein also ran the annual Educator Summit conference for six years in partnership with the Character Lab, serving thousands of educators from around the world.
Before joining Relay in 2013, Dr. Marder-Eppstein taught third grade at Achievement First Brownsville in Brooklyn, NY. Dr. Marder-Eppstein holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish Literature from Washington University in St. Louis, a Master’s in Teaching from the Relay Graduate School of Education, and a Doctorate in Education from the Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California. Her research interests include new teacher retention strategies, culturally responsive teaching, and character development.
Sultana NoormuhammadDean of the National Principal Academy Fellowship
Sultana Noormuhammad is Dean of the National Principal Academy Fellowship at the Relay Graduate School of Education. In this role, she has supported hundreds of school leaders across 25 states and internationally to improve their instructional leadership practices to strengthen teaching and learning in their schools.
Prior to joining Relay, Sultana was the Principal of Leadership Prep Bedford-Stuyvesant Elementary School and led the school to double-digit gains in ELA and Math. She started her career in education as a first grade teacher in the South Bronx and is a teacher at heart. She believes deeply in education as an equalizing force for social justice. She holds a B.A. from Wellesley College and M.A.T. from Pace University.
Vernon-James RileyVice Provost, National Leadership Programs
Vernon-James Riley is Vice Provost of National School Leader Programs at the Relay Graduate School of Education. In this role, Vernon-James leads the team responsible for the visioning, design, and execution of Relay Leadership Programs’ national programming, including: the National Principal Academy Fellowship (NPAF), National Principal Supervisor Academy (NPSA), Inclusive Schools Leadership Institute (ISLI), and National Instructional Leader Professional Development (ILPD). Collectively, these programs provide a world-class professional development experience to over 500 school leaders annually from 100 PK-12 school districts and charter management organizations across 30 states and the District of Columbia, in turn serving over 45,000 school teachers and 400,000 children. In previous roles at Relay, Vernon-James served as Dean of Leadership Programs and Associate Dean of Regional Support, providing professional development and on-the-ground coaching in the areas of school culture, instructional planning, observation-feedback, data-driven instruction, and strategic planning to instructional superintendents, principals, assistant principals, and instructional coaches in DC Public Schools and Atlanta Public Schools.
Prior to joining Relay, Vernon-James served as Principal at North Star Academy Charter School in Newark, New Jersey, a National Blue Ribbon School and part of the Uncommon Schools network. During his tenure as principal, Vernon-James led the West Side Park Middle School campus to strong academic gains, with all grades outperforming the state average in Math and all grades outperforming the state’s non-economically disadvantaged students in ELA. Vernon-James has also served as a teacher, Dean of Students, and Director of Operations.
Vernon-James received a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University, M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from the College of Education at Michigan State University, Ed.M. in Organizational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an Ed.M. from Relay Graduate School of Education. He is an alumnus of the Education Pioneers Fellowship and the Leverage Leadership Institute.
Toni BartonDean of The Inclusive Schools Leadership Institute
Toni Barton serves as the Dean of Inclusive Schools Leadership Institute (ISLI) for Relay Graduate School of Education. ISLI is focused on building in school leaders, the core mindsets, knowledge, and skills that support driving outcomes for exceptional learners. Prior to joining Relay, Toni served in roles such as Director of Student Support Services and school principal in Washington, D.C. charter schools. Toni started her career in education as a special education teacher in D.C. Public Schools.
Meredith AndersonDean of Regional Support
Meredith Anderson is the Dean of Regional Support on Relay GSE’s Leadership Programs Team. In this role she coaches leaders to as they work to contextualize, implement and refine the Relay content in their organizations and communities. Meredith also works alongside the National Deans and Partnerships Team to support strategic planning for our regional work.
Prior to joining Relay, Meredith worked for Uncommon Schools as a teacher, instructional leader and eventually the founding Principal of Excellence Girls Middle Academy, which was awarded the National Blue Ribbon in 2016. Meredith is a 2006 Teach For America alumna who began her teaching career at MS 113 in Brooklyn, a community that instilled in her a passion and deep appreciation for power of an arts-based education.
Meredith has a dual degree in Biology and Political Science from Lehigh University and a Masters in the Science of Teaching from Pace University. She is a proud member of the Leverage Leadership Institute. Meredith currently lives in New Jersey with her partner and two daughters.
Jennifer BaugherAssociate Dean of Leadership Support Programs
Jennifer Baugher is an Associate Dean of Leadership Support Programs at Relay. In this role, Jennifer coaches leaders throughout the country as they seek to increase the effectiveness of their leaders and schools to ensure teaching and learning is the priority.
Prior to joining Relay, Jennifer spent 13 years in Houston, TX, working as a teacher and leader in both Houston ISD and at YES Prep Public Schools. During her last six years in Houston, Jennifer served as a Director of Academics at YES Prep Southwest and an Instructional Leadership Support Specialist coaching and developing instructional leaders for the YES Prep system. Jennifer holds a M.A.T. from Relay GSE, an M.A. from the University of Cincinnati, and a B.A. from Baker University.
Aja SettlesDean of Texas Leadership Programs
Aja Settles serves school and system leaders as the Dean, Texas Leadership Programs at Relay Graduate School of Education. In this role, she works closely with leaders across the great state of Texas to improve their instructional leadership practices to strengthen teaching and learning in their schools.
Working in education for fifteen years, she has had diverse experiences as a teacher, curriculum writer, assistant principal, school leader, and school leader coach. Prior to joining Relay, Aja was an Instructional Leadership Director at the KIPP Foundation, providing support and training to leaders in over 200 schools. Before joining KIPP, Aja worked at Uncommon Schools where she founded North Star Academy’s second elementary school in Newark, NJ.
She is the co-author of the Great Habits, Great Readers: A Practical Guide for K-4 Reading in Light of the Common Core and is featured in Leverage Leadership: A Practical Guide for Building Exceptional Schools. Aja received her M.A. in Educational Leadership from Columbia University in 2013 and her Primary Literacy Coordinator certification from Lesley University in 2007.
Greg DuttonDean of California Leadership Programs
Greg Dutton is the Dean of California Leadership Programs for Relay. Greg leads the California ILPD series, in which he facilitates year-long learning for over 200 school leaders in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Greg also provides leadership coaching for principals and principal managers with a focus on the implementation and execution of Relay instructional practices. In addition, Greg is leading Relay’s teacher residency work in California, which will begin with three partner school networks in July 2019. Relay’s teacher residency is a two year, practice-based program that ends in a teaching credential and Master’s Degree.
Prior to Relay, Greg worked in New York City as an assistant principal at Williamsburg Prep High School and principal at Queens Metropolitan High School. Most recently, Greg served as principal of Aspire Golden State Prep in East Oakland.
Greg graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.S. in Education and History and from the University of Maryland with a Master’s Degree in Education Policy and Leadership. He is a proud member of New Leaders Cohort 8 and Leverage Leadership Institute Cohort 2. Greg currently lives in Berkeley with his wife and daughter.
Jenny TanAssociate Dean of Regional Support for the Bay Area
Jenny Tan graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with an undergraduate degree in Cognitive Science. Her experiences as a classroom teacher as well as a Program Director for the Teach for America staff propelled her to move into school administration. Tan earned a Master's Degree and a School Leadership License from Harvard University's Graduate School of Education.
In her time in Las Vegas, NV as the elementary principal of the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, she not only helped the school achieve the highest distinctions possible such as "Exemplary" and "High Achieving" as determined by the Nevada Department of Education, but she also worked relentlessly to close the achievement gap where Agassi Prep students consistently outperformed their highest achieving counterparts in the district and state. She later became the first Chief Academic Officer for KIPP Colorado, where she supported their elementary, middle, and high schools to become top performing schools in Denver Public Schools. Tan then joined the KIPP Foundation allowing her to work with senior academic leaders across the KIPP network.
She is currently a Relay Associate Dean of Regional Support for the Bay Area on Relay’s Leadership Programs Team. Tan was born in Myanmar, a small country in Southeast Asia, and she loves to cook and read.
Kathleen SullivanManaging Director of the Leverage Leadership Institute
Kathleen Sullivan is Managing Director of the Leverage Leadership Institute and a member of Relay's Leadership Programs instructional team.
She has been working in the field of education reform for almost 25 years, including several years serving as a teacher in rural Mississippi and in farmworker communities in Florida and North Carolina, leading a 5-12 public school in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, and serving as a principal supervisor of high schools and middle schools at Uncommon Schools in Brooklyn, NY. She currently lives in Chapel Hill, NC with her family.
Jallon Brown-CroskeyAssociate Dean of Regional Support
Jallon Brown-Croskey is an Associate Dean of Regional Support, Leadership Programs Team where she provides professional development and coaching to school leadership teams.
With over 20 years of experience in public education, Jallon has worked in elementary through high school grades as a teacher, full-time mentor, leader, and administrator. After working for several years as a classroom teacher, Jallon accepted a fellowship with the KIPP Foundation. In partnership with the KIPP, she founded one of the first charter schools in the state of Maryland. Jallon also served as the Director of Academics at The SEED School of Maryland, a public boarding school in Baltimore that serves low-income students. In her time at SEED, student achievement improved dramatically by over 30%. Additionally, Jallon led the academic program as the Chief Academic Officer for KIPP Baltimore, a charter network in Maryland. In her time there she supervised and coached principals and assistant principals, led the implementation of new curricula, and established an assessment strategy that was the foundation of a data driven culture.
Jallon has earned a BA in Sociology and Elementary Education from The College of William and Mary and a graduate degree from George Washington University in Educational Administration.
Joshua SmithAssociate Dean of Instructional Leadership Programs
Joshua Smith is Associate Dean of Instructional Leadership Programs with Relay GSE, overseeing principal coaching and leadership development initiatives in Colorado.
Prior to this role, Josh served as Chief Academic Officer for STRIVE Prep, overseeing the academic programming across a network of 11 schools spanning grades K through 12. Previously, he was the founding Principal of STRIVE Prep’s Harvey Park Campus (now Westwood) for three years, leading the school in achieving the highest academic growth of any middle school in Colorado and earning the status of #1 (of approximately 160 schools) on Denver Public School’s School Performance Framework.
Josh was a Teach for America corps member in the Rio Grande Valley from 2001 to 2004, where he was recognized as Campus Teacher of the Year (2003-2004) and Wal-Mart Community Teacher of the Year (2003-2004). He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a master’s degree from Georgetown University.
Denise de la RosaAssociate Dean of Regional Support
Denise de la Rosa serves schools and systems leaders as the Associate Dean of Regional Support at Relay GSE. In her role, she provides on-the-ground coaching and professional development to school and systems leaders in Houston, TX.
Denise has worked in education for over sixteen years, serving communities in Atlanta, Brooklyn, Dallas and across central Texas. Prior to joining Relay, she was the Senior Director of Leader Development at IDEA Public Schools, coaching and developing systems and school leaders to sharpen their instructional practice in key Leverage Leadership levers. Previously a middle school principal, Denise and her team achieved double-digit gains in student achievement and student progress.
Denise received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is an alumna of Relay’s NPSA Program and the Leverage Leadership Institute Fellowship. Denise resides in Fort Worth, TX, and enjoys cooking and hiking with her husband and their blue-nosed pup, Jojo.
Megan SandsAssociate Dean of the Inclusive Schools Leadership Institute
Megan Sands is an Associate Dean with the Inclusive Schools Leadership Institute at Relay GSE. In this role, she supports school and district leaders across the United States to ensure equity for their Exceptional Learners.
Prior to joining Relay, Megan spent thirteen years in the Washington, DC area school systems as a teacher and leader in Montgomery County Public Schools, and a district and school leader in both DC charter and traditional public schools. She is a fervent believer that all students deserve an equitable education—one that is inclusive and focuses on achievement for all students.
Megan holds B.A.s in Spanish Language and Literature and Secondary Education and an M. Ed in Minority and Urban Education from University of Maryland, College Park, as well as certificates in Bilingual Special Education (GWU) and School Administration (McDaniel)
Rebecca UttonAssociate Dean of Regional Support
Rebecca Utton is Associate Dean of Regional Support with Relay’s Leadership Programs. She leads the Memphis ILPD and supports the national programs. Before joining the Relay team, she worked for STRIVE Prep Charter Schools in Denver, Colorado as a school leader then Managing Director of middle and high schools. She has a Bachelors in Pan-African Studies from Barnard College, a Master of Science in Teaching from Pace University and a Master in School Leadership from Harvard University. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her partner and two children.
Nicole Javier-WatsonAssistant Dean of Students
As the Assistant Dean of Students, Nicole manages the support of National Principals Academy Fellowship and National Principal Supervisors Academy fellows. She started as a teacher in the School District of Philadelphia and then at Excellence Boys in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Prior to joining the Relay team in 2018, she served as a school leader at Mastery Charter Schools, Thomas Campus, in South Philadelphia.
Nicole graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in International Relations and from the University of Pennsylvania with an M.S. in Urban Education. She currently lives in Sacramento, CA, with her husband, two baby girls, and a very large dog.
Steph BatesSenior Director of Special Projects
As the Senior Director of Special Projects for the Leadership Programs team, Steph manages meeting and communication structures for a growing team, data for Regional Support and national programs, and ensuring team focus on long-term goals as well as urgent priorities.
Previously, Steph was a founding team member at Leading Educators, where she worked across the organization in areas including PR, program delivery, development, event marketing, operations, and partner relationships. She also lived and worked in Athens, Greece, developing writing tutoring and teaching programs for English Language Learner students at Hellenic American University.
Steph graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in English and History and earned her M.B.A at Loyola University New Orleans. Steph lives in New Orleans with her husband, daughter, pets, and many house plants.
Warren ChancellorManaging Director, Strategy and Operations, Professional Education
Warren Chancellor is the Managing Director of National Strategy and Operations for Leadership Programs at Relay. In this role, he supervises the events and operations team as they plan and execute 50+ intersessions/conferences per year as well as the partnerships team as they enroll over 1,300 leaders across our eight leadership programs engaging with over 160 unique districts, CMOs, independent charters, and funders each year.
Prior to joining Relay, Warren served as the Managing Director of Events & Operations at Teach For America from 2014-2016, leading the operations team in the planning and execution of the 25th Anniversary Summit that was hosted in Washington D.C. in 2016, attracting more than 15,000 participants from all over the country. He also supported the Executive Vice President as her Chief of Staff in 2013. Warren began his professional career in the classroom teaching high school math in Atlanta Public Schools. After the classroom, Warren had the opportunity to work at Google under their People Operations team as well as the Democratic National Convention Committee planning the 2012 and 2016 conventions.
Warren is a graduate of Morehouse College where he earned a bachelor of science in mathematics. He was born in Charlotte, NC and raised in Irian Jaya, Indonesia, and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.
Justin PerryDirector of Events and Operations
As the Director of Events and Operations for Leadership Programs, Justin Perry leads the Events and Operations team in supporting faculty to create exceptional education and professional development experiences for 1,400+ school and systems leaders enrolled in Relay’s national and regional programs.
Previously, Justin spent 7 years in New York City primarily teaching middle and high school math. Outside of the classroom, he worked as a freelance events and operations consultant where he planned and executed components of Teach for America’s 25th Anniversary Summit in 2016 as well as a variety of their conferences, including The Convening: Black Men in Education Conference, National Day of Service, and much more.
Justin was born and raised in Charlotte, NC and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. He earned his B.S. in Chemistry from Morehouse College and his Master of Science in Teaching from Fordham University.
Yvonne SimmsSenior Director of Partnerships
Yvonne Simms is the Senior Director of Partnerships for Relay’s Leadership Programs. She manages partnerships and oversees the partnership process for over 300 schools, districts, networks, and funders. Prior to this role, Yvonne served as the Director of Strategy and Operations at Relay’s Delaware campus, where she led the expansion of Relay Delaware’s teacher residency program through strategic partnerships with districts and schools across the First State.
Before Relay, Yvonne supported network-wide family and community engagement initiatives across nearly 20 campuses at Mastery Charter Schools in Philadelphia and Camden. She began her career as an English and Social studies teacher in Philadelphia and earned her MS.Ed from The University of Pennsylvania. She lives in Wilmington, Delaware with her husband and their three children.
Riyad MohammedManager of Events & Operations
Riyad has been with Relay for a little over two years, originally working with Relay GSE's traditional Master students to assist with their various financial needs.
Prior to Relay, Riyad had worked in finance, client management, and community investment in the Philadelphia region, where he is originally from.
Having earned his Masters and Bachelors in Business Communication, he continues to leverage his expertise and development of various communication and operational needs with the Leverage Leadership Institute. Riyad enjoys his spare time finding free and frugal activities so he can expense his passion for food and worldly excursions.
Tyrell CollierManager of Events and Operations
Tyrell Collier is the Manager of Events & Operations, Leadership Programs at Relay Graduate School of Education. In this role, Tyrell executes professional development conferences and workshops for education leaders across the country. During the 2019-20 school year, he will be the operations lead for the Texas ILPD Dallas Cohort, the California ILPD Los Angeles Cohort and the District of Columbia ILPD.
Tyrell holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan in Sociology and Afroamerican & African Studies. Previously, he has worked with Success Academy Charter Schools as an Operations Coordinator. He enjoys traveling, event planning and photography. He currently resides in New York City
Natalie ToewsManager of Partnership Operations
Natalie currently serves the Leadership Programs Team as Manager of Partnership Operations. She has a passion for systems building, which she brings to her work in managing the enrollment and partnership processes for Relay Leadership’s National & Regional Programs.
Prior to Relay, Natalie worked for the American Museum of Natural History as a researcher for the Division of Anthropology. She attended college at the University of Washington, Seattle, where she earned her B.A. in Anthropology. Natalie currently resides in Seattle and enjoys spending her free time in the great outdoors with her friends and family.
Audrey Josephson-DaySenior Coordinator of Operations
Audrey Josephson-Day is the Senior Coordinator of Operations for Relay’s Leadership Programs Team. Working in the Events & Operations wing of the team, she leads our operations for the Houston ILPD and Memphis ILPD cohorts.
Before joining Relay, Audrey studied Psychology, Management, and Spanish at Tulane University, where she developed a passion for education reform through her work with school psychologists in New Orleans. Through her work with Relay, Audrey is inspired by the dedication and determination of countless educational leaders who are committed to ensuring quality education for all students.