Meet the Professional Education Team
Our people are the heart of our organization. Relay’s leadership team is a diverse group of individuals committed to Relay's mission of providing all PK-12 students with high-quality education and choice-filled lives, and to translating our bold vision for educator preparation into a powerful impact across the country.
Professional Education Office
The Office of the Chief Professional Learning Officer leads and supports the Professional Education team. Alongside a team of Vice Presidents and Managing Directors, the Chief Professional Learning Officer oversees the development and implementation of Relay Professional Education’s academic plans and policies, and supervises the work of its faculty, teams, and operations to ensure a high-quality experience for all partners.
Dr. Shavonne Gibson
In her role as Chief Professional Learning Officer, Dr. Shavonne Gibson leads the Professional Education team at Relay.
Prior to this role, Shavonne was the Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning at the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) in Washington, DC. Shavonne had oversight of training and technical assistance for educators, educator quality and effectiveness, including educator licensure and approval of teacher preparation programs, English learner education policy, and educator awards. Shavonne is a career educator having held roles ranging from teacher, assistant principal, principal, and managing director of schools/principal supervisor in New York City and Washington, DC schools.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Rochester, a master’s degree in Secondary Education-Social Studies from Long Island University, second master’s degree in Educational Leadership from George Mason University, and her doctorate in Learning and Organizational Change from Baylor University. Shavonne lives in Maryland with her husband and two sons.
Dr. Shavonne Gibson
Dr. Ben Klompus
As Vice President of Innovation and Impact, Dr. Klompus drives institutional efforts to identify, codify, and share impactful practice that measurably improves learning and experience for all PK-12 students. As the founding Dean of the National Principal Supervisor’s Academy, a selective, national cohort of accomplished system-level leaders, Klompus supports system level leaders in their quest to support and accelerate the development of the school level teams they serve. With more than 25 years of experience serving students at the classroom, school, and system level, Klompus has worked extensively at the intersection of data informed school improvement, instructional leadership development, and design thinking.
Dr. Klompus holds his Ed.L.D. and Ed.M. from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a B.S. in Philosophy from The Colorado College. He and his spouse Janine live in Williamstown, Massachusetts where their five sons keep them busy and smiling.
Dr. Ben Klompus
Brett is the Director of Impact and Innovation, Professional Education at Relay Graduate School of Education. In this role, Brett supports efforts to articulate the impact our training and support have in districts and schools across the country.
Brett holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Management from Texas A&M University and a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin. Brett has over a decade of experience in the education sector, including 3+ years launching and managing statewide talent and digital learning programs, 4+ years policy and advocacy, and 2+ years providing strategic consultant services.
As the Director of Special Projects for the Professional Education team, Steph manages inclusive and transparent meeting and communication structures for a growing team, steers cross-functional projects, and manages strategic planning and goal setting. She enjoys creating clarity from ambiguity and building collaborative groups.
Previously, Steph was a founding team member at Leading Educators, where she worked across the organization in areas including PR, program delivery, development, 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 partner, children, pets, and many house plants.
Dior Davenport is the Executive Assistant for Relay’s Professional Education team. In this role she supports Shavonne Gibson, Ben Klompus, Eneida Padro, Sarah Marder-Eppstein, Tanisha Bynum and Meredith Anderson.
Working as an administrative professional for 18 years Dior has developed skills in business, calendar, team and project management and supporting executive level teams. She has a bachelor degree in communications, a masters in higher education and twenty years experience in racial equity work. Dior’s administrative skills have helped to support businesses in planning, implementing, and maintaining day-to-day operations while providing a wide variety of complex and confidential executive support.
Dior was born and raised in Seattle, WA where she graduated from Washington State University. Dior currently lives in London England with her partner. Even though she lives in England she still prefers a cup of coffee opposed to a cup of tea.
The Leadership Programs faculty are proven PK-12 school leaders with a commitment to all students attending schools led by exceptional leaders. Our team designs and facilitates professional development sessions, coaches school and system leaders on site, and works with partners to identify programming that best meets their needs.
Dr. Eneida Padró
Dr. Eneida Padró is Vice President of National Leadership Programs at Relay GSE, leading the team responsible for the vision, design, and execution of national school leadership programming. This includes the National Principal Academy Fellowship (NPAF), the National Principal Supervisor Academy (NPSA), the Inclusive Schools Leadership Institute (ISLI), the Leverage Leadership Institute (LLI) and the national Instructional Leader Professional Development (ILPD). In previous roles at Relay, Eneida served as Associate Dean of Regional Support providing on-the-ground coaching and delivering professional development to school and system-level leaders.
Eneida has worked in education for over nineteen years, primarily serving communities in Dallas-Fort Worth while delivering professional development across the country and internationally. Prior to joining Relay, she was an Executive Director in Fort Worth ISD supervising a group of PK-12 school principals in the development of equity literacy, instructional, culture and leadership systems. Dr. Padró has also served as a leadership development coach and program manager in the non-profit sector. She engaged in turnaround work as a former school principal in Dallas ISD, with student progress ranking in the top 5.6% in the district and state.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico, a master’s degree, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of North Texas. She is an alumna of the Leverage Leadership Institute Fellowship. Eneida resides in Dallas, TX, and enjoys spending time with her daughter and husband.
Dr. Eneida Padró
Meredith Anderson is the Vice President of Regional Leadership Programs on Relay GSE’s Professional Education Team. In this role she leads the strategy for the growth and development of new and existing partnerships as well as coaches and manages a team of Partners and Associate Partners who work with leaders all across the country to contextualize and implement research-based best practices of instructional leadership in service of ensuring equitable, high outcomes for all students.
Prior to joining Relay, Meredith was a long-time New York City public school teacher, coach and leader. Meredith founded Excellence Girls Middle Academy, an all girls middle school in Brooklyn, which was awarded the National Blue Ribbon in 2016 for its focus on literacy education and female empowerment.
Meredith is a 2006 Teach For America alumna. She 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 three children.
Rebecca Utton is Managing Partner of National Academies and leads Relay’s National Principal Academy Fellowship, National ILPD and National Principal Supervisors Academy. Before joining the Relay team, she served as Principal and then Managing Director of middle and high schools for STRIVE Prep Charter Schools in Denver, Colorado. 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 Graduate School of Education. She lives Colorado with her two amazing teenagers.
Greg Dutton is the Managing Partner, North Carolina Leadership Programs. Greg manages Relay’s work in North Carolina, which consists of the following:
- North Carolina Instructional Leadership Academy - a 2 year professional development series for over 1500 leaders from across the state
- Direct coaching of 15 districts (district and school based leaders)
- Instructional Leadership Academies for 3 districts
Prior to leading Relay’s work in North Carolina, Greg spent 4 years managing Relay’s school leadership work in California. As a school leader, Greg served as the principal of Queens Metropolitan High School in New York City and as the principal of Aspire Golden State Prep, a 6-12 school 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 lives with his wife and daughter just outside of Washington DC.
Jennifer Baugher is a Senior Partner of Leadership Support Programs at Relay. In this role, Jennifer coaches leaders throughout Colorado as they seek to increase 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 an M.A.T. from Relay GSE, an M.A. from the University of Cincinnati, and a B.A. from Baker University.
Kathleen Sullivan is Senior Partner 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 over 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.
Kathleen earned her Bachelors in English from Williams College and her Masters in Secondary Education from the University of Mississippi. She is a proud member of LLI Cohort 2. She currently lives in Chapel Hill, NC with her family.
Charlene Roach-Glymph, Ed.D, Senior Partner, Inclusive Schools Partnerships at Relay Graduate School of Education. In this role, Charlene has worked with local education agencies and school leadership teams to improve learning outcomes for exceptional learners.
Prior to joining Relay, Charlene served as a teacher, school and district leader in various school systems in Washington, DC. She has been an advocate for students with disabilities and continues to work with leaders to remove barriers to learning for all students.
Charlene holds a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, a Master of Arts in Special Education, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy. She lives in Maryland with her husband as an empty nester.
Megan Sands is the Partner for 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).
Katie Yezzi is Partner, New York Leadership Programs on Relay GSE’s Leadership Programs Team. In this role, she designs programming and provides leadership coaching for a portfolio of school districts, as well as leading the New York Leadership Team.
Prior to joining Relay, Katie was an Assistant Superintendent with Uncommon Schools in Troy, NY, having founded both Troy Preparatory Charter Elementary and High Schools. She also served on the Teach Like a Champion Team. Previously, Katie taught English and served in several leadership roles in district (SFUSD) and charter high schools in San Francisco.
Katie is the co-author, with Doug Lemov and Erica Woolway of Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better. Ms. Yezzi earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in American Civilization and her Master of Arts in Teaching English from Brown University and is a member of New Leaders, Cohort 2.
Jallon Brown-Croskey is the Partner of the Regional Leadership Programs Team. In this role she supports and manages the team of Partners and Associate Partners that deliver professional development and coaching to instructional leaders across the country. In addition, she leads a portfolio of work supporting leaders in the District of Columbia’s Public Schools.
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.
Denise de la Rosa
Denise de la Rosa serves schools and systems leaders as the Partner of Content Development on the National Leadership Programs team at Relay GSE. Along with the members of the Professional Education team, Denise co-designs the vision and strategy for content creation and revision across the national academies (ie. NPAF, NPSA, and ILPD) by centering equitable best practices that center positive student outcomes and experiences in schools across the country. In addition, Denise facilitates both online and in-person professional learning for national programs and provides individualized training and coaching to partner principals, principal supervisors, and/or system level leaders.
Throughout her career in education, Denise has served students and families in communities in Atlanta NYC, Washington, D.C., and across the state of Texas. Prior to joining Relay, she was the Senior Director of Leader Development at IDEA Public Schools, where she designed and implemented regional leader development systems and coached school leaders to sharpen their instructional practice in key Leverage Leadership levers. Previously a middle school principal in Dallas, 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, Texas with her husband, Julian, their son, Bodhi, and their blue-nosed pup, Jojo. As a family, they enjoy cooking, hiking, traveling, and spending time with their loved ones.
Denise de la Rosa
Chris Garcia is a Partner for Regional Leadership Programs with Relay GSE in Texas. In this role, he provides on-the-ground coaching, implementation support, and delivers professional development to school and system leaders in Texas and across the country.
Chris has worked in education for over twenty years, serving communities abroad in Japan, El Paso, TX, the Dallas-Fort Worth areas. Prior to joining Relay, he was a teacher at the primary, middle and high school levels and served as a Road to College Counselor and Advanced Programs Coordinator for a North Texas Charter school. His leadership journey began as an elementary school principal and the lead Director for the K-12 campus of Uplift Peak Preparatory. In that time the team was able to maintain exemplary school ratings and students graduated and earned college acceptance at a 100%. Following his tenure as a school leader, Chris became a Leadership Development coach and program manager in the non-profit sector for five years. Focusing his efforts on training and coaching district/school leaders and teams in Leverage Leadership content. His coaching and collaboration with district/school leaders is focused on utilizing the inherent gifts in the communities he partners with to create sustainable schools of excellence utilizing the Leverage Leadership content.
Chris earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s degree in Education Leadership from Southern Methodist University. He resides in Dallas, TX, with his two beautiful children and incredible wife.
Trakela Small is the Associate Partner of National Programs. She supports the work of the National Programs team primarily through supporting the design and executing programming within the National Principal Academy Fellowship. In this role, Trakela is able to support principals as the instructional leaders of their schools.
Before joining Relay, Trakela spent her entire career in Memphis schools, most recently serving as an elementary school principal. Before entering school leadership, she indulged her love of words and writing as a middle and high school English teacher and as a Dean of Humanities.
Born in Oakland, CA, Trakela considers herself a lifelong Memphian. She resides there with her husband, son, and two dogs. Trakela holds a Master of Urban Education from Union University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Christian Brothers University.
As an Associate Partner, Leadership Programs, Heather works with leaders to implement research-based leadership practices so that every day, in every classroom, every student has a powerful learning experience. After moving Howard Middle School in Orlando, FL from a state performance score of ‘D’ to within 4 points of an ‘A’ in a single year, Heather has continued to support leaders as they work to ensure rigorous, equitable instruction is the standard in their schools.
Before joining Relay in 2022, Heather was a Director of Schools for Seattle Public Schools in Seattle, WA where she co-launched the Learning Support Team model across district schools to prioritize and strengthen instructional leadership. Prior to her work in Seattle, as the Assistant Superintendent for Eagle County Schools in Eagle, Colorado, Heather led the complete redesign of the district’s K-12 core curriculum. She has also served as District Curriculum Director and principal at both the elementary and secondary levels. Heather holds a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from the University of Central Florida and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Stetson University in Deland, Florida.
Throughout her career, Jen has been dedicated to ensuring that more of America’s children have excellent and equitable public schooling experiences. Starting her work in education as a classroom teacher at IS 164 in NYC, she brings over 23 years of experience in teaching, school leadership, and leadership coaching.
Jen joins the Relay Regional team as an Associate Partner of Regional Leadership Support. Before coming to Relay she worked for the AF Navigator program as the director of the middle school math program. At Navigator, Jen supported partners with leveraging high-quality instructional materials to improve student outcomes through leadership coaching embedded in the context of curriculum implementation. She also was one of the founders of Achievement First Amistad High School. AF Amistad High she was a school leader for 12 years and loved watching the school grow from 24 students to over 700 students.
Jen lives in Connecticut with her husband Oscar, three kids and puppy. She enjoys spontaneous adventures with her kids, sports, and traveling.
Malacy T. Williams
Malacy T. Williams is an Associate Partner on the Leadership Programs Team where she provides professional development and coaching to school leadership teams and district leaders.
With over 27 years of experience in public education, Malacy has worked in elementary through high school grades as a teacher, assistant principal and principal. After working for several years as an assistant principal, Malacy accepted a principalship with Charlotte Mecklenburg School as a turnaround principal. Within her first year as principal, the school was removed from the low performing list within the state. In her time, student achievement improved by over 40%. As Associate Partner at Relay, Williams provides leadership coaching for principals with a focus on the implementation of Relay instructional practices, new curriculum, strategic planning, and data driven culture.
Malacy has earned a BS in Business Administration from Johnson C. Smith University, and a graduate degree from Gardner Webb University in Education Leadership. She is a proud member of Leverage Leadership Institute Cohort 6. During her spare time, Malacy enjoys trips to the beach and crafting.
Malacy T. Williams
Tildi Sharp is an Associate Partner of Regional Leadership Programs for Arizona and California. In this role she leads the California Instructional Leadership Professional Development (ILPD) program and coaches school and school system leaders across the two states to contextualize and implement research-based best practices of instructional leadership in service of delivering an excellent and equitable education to all students.
Prior to joining Relay’s Professional Education team, Tildi spent more than a decade at North Star Academy in Newark, New Jersey. During that time, Tildi served as a high school STEM special education teacher and coach and spent six years as the founding Principal of North Star Academy’s second high school.
Tildi is a 2010 Teach For America alumna. She holds an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience from The College of William & Mary and Masters degrees in Special Education and School Leadership from Rutgers University and Relay Graduate School of Education, respectively.
As an Associate Partner of New York Leadership Programs, TS plays a pivotal role in providing professional development and on-the-ground coaching to instructional superintendents, principals, assistant principals, and instructional coaches in district schools. With a career spanning several years in the New York City area, TS has made significant contributions to education. As a Teach for America Corps Member in 2006 and a Ryan Fellow with the Accelerate Institute in 2014, he has taught and held leadership positions in both district and public charter schools. Notably, he spent 8 years as a principal at both the middle and high school levels within Uncommon Schools, where his exceptional leadership led to double-digit gains in math and ELA on the NY State Exam. His outstanding accomplishments earned him the title of Brooklyn Borough Educator of the Year in 2015, along with the prestigious Brooklyn Borough President Citation Award and most improved middle school in Bedford-Stuyvesant in 2018.
Teacher Professional Education
Our team are proven PK-12 educators with a passion for effective teaching, student learning and equity. The Teacher Professional Education team creates workshops and fellowship offerings, facilitates sessions, and works directly with our partners to identify the right offerings for their staff and ensure their success.
Dr. Sarah Marder-Eppstein
As Vice President of Teacher Professional Education, Dr. Sarah Marder-Eppstein oversees all aspects of professional learning opportunities for teachers Prior to joining Teacher Professional Education, Dr. Marder-Eppstein co-led degree-granting programming for over 1,500 teachers enrolled 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.
Dr. Sarah Marder-Eppstein
As Senior Partner, Chanel Ward Biddle is the lead product manager of professional learning opportunities offered through Teacher Professional Education at Relay GSE. In partnership with her team, Chanel uses market research to make decisions around what products to create, sets a vision for what success looks like for each product, and manages instructional design to turn that vision into a reality.
Prior to joining Teacher Professional Education, Chanel served as Director of Residency for Relay Online, partnering with numerous schools and networks nationally to build innovative support systems for preservice teachers. While serving as Director of Residency, Chanel also taught graduate courses in core pedagogy and elementary methods and supervised clinical practice.
Before joining the Relay faculty, Chanel was an Assistant Principal in South Philadelphia. During her time as Assistant Principal, the School District of Philadelphia ranked her school first within its peer group and second citywide for academic growth. Shortly thereafter, her school was designated a Title 1 Distinguished School by Pennsylvania's Department of Education. Chanel began her career in education as an elementary school teacher in Philadelphia.
Chanel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies from Barnard College of Columbia University, a Master’s in Education from University of Pennsylvania, and a principal certification through the National Principal Academy at Relay GSE.
James Verrilli is the Managing Partner for the Hollyhock Humanities Fellowship at Relay. He is a teacher and instructional leader. His teaching career began in 1985, as a part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. he found his calling as a history teacher in Newark, NJ at the Link Community School. After graduate work at Brown University he became Link’s principal until 1997 significantly improving students’ high school graduation rates and student achievement. Then, he co-founded North Star Academy Charter School of Newark with Norman Atkins. During his 14-year tenure as middle school principal, he helped North Star grow to multiple campuses and to become a nationally recognized Blue Ribbon School that was one of the highest performing urban schools in New Jersey.
In 2011, after 25 years of teaching and leading schools, Verrilli joined the new Relay Graduate School of Education and launched the Newark campus as the founding Dean. Over his ten years at Relay, he has been both the Dean of the Newark Campus, a Senior Dean managing deans across Relay’s many campuses and in charge of faculty development. All the while, still teaching as a professor for Relay’s master’s level core pedagogy and residency courses. James has dedicated his professional career to working for social justice through teaching, school leadership, and fighting for educational equity.
Amy is an Associate Partner, Content Development for the Teacher Professional Education Team. In this role, she collaborates with the design team, as well as with internal and external partners, to develop and facilitate practical workshops for teachers that are equity-centered and evidence-based.
Amy has significant experience in elementary and higher education. She began her career as an elementary teacher in Nashville, Tennessee. From this position, she was selected to coach other teachers in the building as a Multi-Classroom Leader. In this role, Amy realized her passion for helping teachers deliver excellent instruction and grow in their craft.
Prior to joining Professional Education, Amy served as a Faculty Site Coordinator at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She worked with school partners to supervise and coach undergraduate and graduate certificate candidates in their student teaching and internship semesters.
Amy has worked at Relay since 2017 in various capacities including as an Assistant Professor of Practice, teaching graduate-level coursework in elementary content and general pedagogy to K-12 teachers. Amy taught online as both an Adjunct Instructor and as a Lead Facilitator for Teacher Professional Education, delivering synchronous professional development workshops to hundreds of teachers across the country.
Amy holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of South Carolina, a Master’s Degree in Education in Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies from Vanderbilt University, and an English Language Learning Endorsement from Lipscomb University. Amy is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with research interests in educational leadership, culturally responsive teaching, and teacher professional development.
The Partnerships team work closely with partnering organizations and their participating educators to provide a high quality customer service experience from the initial interest call through session implementation.
Tim Maynes is the Managing Director of Partnerships for Relay Graduate School of Education’s Professional Education team. In this role, he manages partnerships with schools and districts around the county to connect their educators and school system leaders with Relay’s variety of training and professional development programs.
Prior to joining Relay, Tim began his career teaching high school English and theater in Vermont. He then transitioned to education administration, serving in multiple roles designing and managing arts education programming for organizations such as Disney Theatrical Group, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
Tim earned his B.A. in Drama from Ithaca College and his M.A. in Arts Leadership from Syracuse University. He grew up in South Burlington, Vermont, and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Kajal Ravani is the Director of Partnerships at Relay Professional Education. In this role, she manages partnerships with schools, districts, and other organizations across the country. She enjoys forming relationships with school partners and connecting their teachers and leaders to Relay's variety of high-impact training and professional development programs.
Kajal began her career as a college advisor in Detroit, Michigan, where she worked closely with high school students and their families to plan for life after high school. She then moved to Washington, DC, where she began her career with Relay Graduate School of Education as the Director of Strategy & Operations for the Relay Washington, DC teacher training program. Kajal earned her B.A. in Social Policy from Michigan State University and is pursuing a Master of Public Administration at the University of North Carolina. Kajal lives in Detroit, MI.
Sahmed Poarch is the Coordinator of Partnership Operations for Relay Professional Education.In her role, she manages the enrollment and partnership tracking systems for national, regional, and Leverage Leadership Institute Programs. Sahmed also supports the maintenance and efficiency of partnership tracking.
Prior to joining Relay, Sahmed served as the Administrative Assistant to Campus Ministry at an all girls private High School in Sacramento California. She managed different registration and financial databases, did program support for the department year round and maintained inter departmental communication. She was also heavily involved in mentorship programs and enjoyed working with the students outside of the classroom.
Sahmed is a graduate of California State University of Sacramento, where she received her Bacherlors of Art in Organizational Communications and an Associate of Science degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences. She lives in the outskirts of the Bay Area in California.
Events and Operations
The Events and Operations team works to provide world-class customer service to Relay’s internal and external stakeholders while organizing and executing professional education events. Relay hosts more than 75 National program sessions and conferences, as well as a variety of Regional events and coaching sessions across the county.
For 20 years Tanisha has dedicated her career to improving the lives of others: ensuring the effective preparation and performance of educators; monitoring and providing technical assistance to nonpublic schools and institutions of higher education; and developing, designing, and overseeing the administration of federal and local grant programs; and, establishing systems, policies and procedures to maximize efficiency and standardize operations across teams and, within programs. Through her leadership, Tanisha has coached teams to ambitious results, garnering one agency national attention through the administration of one of their federal programs.
At heart, Tanisha is an educator, believing in the importance of knowledge and the power it has when shared effectively. Tanisha holds a BA and MA in Psychology, from The George Washington and American Universities, respectively, and a doctorate in Education Administration and Policy from The George Washington University.
As a Director of Events & Operations, Professional Education at Relay Graduate School of Education, Laurel Welch is responsible for creating and executing the participant experience from enrollment to programming, as well as an exceptional operational experience during programming, for both participants and our instructional team. Laurel oversees Relay national programming including the National Principal Academy Fellowship, National Principal Supervisor Academy, and Inclusive Schools Leadership Institute.
Laurel graduated from Washington State University with a B.A. in Hospitality Business Management, and also holds the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation. Prior to joining Relay, Laurel worked for Marriott International, most recently at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center as a Senior Event Manager.
Tyrell Collier is the Director of Events & Operations, Regional Programs at Relay Graduate School of Education. In this role, Tyrell executes professional development conferences and workshops for 2000+ education leaders across the country. During the 2023-24 school year, he will lead and supervise operations for California, District of Columbia, New York, North Carolina and Texas programs.
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 music. He currently resides in New York City.
Lmya Ahmed is a Manager of Events & Operations for Relay’s Professional Education Team. In her role, she leads operations for our Teacher Professional EducationPrograms. Lmya handles event logistics, for a teacher professional education team that served over 10,000 participants last year.
Before joining Relay, Lmya worked as a Special Education Teacher and Recreational Programs Coordinator for The Ivymount School for 8 years, serving students with autism and their families. She is a graduate of George Mason University where she earned a bachelors of arts in public and community engagement and a masters of education in special education. Lmya was born in Omdurman, Sudan but was raised and still resides in the DMV with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys trekking the globe with her family and mild hot sauces.
Lindsay Mirchin-Robinson is the Operations Manager for Relay’s National Programs. She leads operations for the Leverage Leadership Institute Fellowship and LLI workshops around the country. She supports the National Principal Academy Fellowship, National Principal Supervisor Academy, and Inclusive Schools Leadership Institute.
Before joining Relay, Lindsay was on the founding team of KIPP NYC College Prep High School where she worked as a Spanish teacher, curriculum specialist, and instructional coach. She also worked with Teach for America’s Summer Institute as an Operations Manager in the Bronx. Lindsay graduated from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill where she majored in Latin American Studies, History and Spanish. She earned her Master’s Degree in School Leadership from New York University. Lindsay enjoys traveling the world and currently resides in North Carolina with her husband and two daughters.
Melisa Hipolito is the Manager of Events and Operations for Relay’s Professional Education team. In this role, she leads operations for the North Carolina Instructional Leadership Academy, Robeson Instructional Leadership Academy, and New Leadership Relay.
Melisa earned her undergraduate degree in English and Economics from Barnard College of Columbia University. While at Barnard, she grew her passion for the literary world, urban planning, and educational reform. Prior to Relay, she worked as a bookseller and interned for several publishing houses, including Simon & Schuster and W.W. Norton & Co. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, where she currently resides. When she isn’t supporting the transformational change of education to support student lives, Melisa enjoys diving into books, exploring new bookstores, and spending time with her three dogs.
Jeff Armfield is the Manager of Events & Operations, Professional Education at Relay Graduate School of Education. In this role, Jeff executes professional development conferences and workshops for education leaders across the country. During the 2023-24 school year, he will be the operations lead for California Instructional Leadership Professional Development programs.
Jeff holds an undergraduate degree from Sacred Heart University in Business Management. He enjoys fitness, outdoor activities, traveling, and event planning. He currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.
Nicole supports former and current participants engaging in the national, year-long fellowship programs for school and system-level leaders.
Prior to joining the Relay Leadership Programs team in 2018, she served as a school leader at Mastery Charter Schools in South Philadelphia. She started her career in education as a teacher in the School District of Philadelphia and a founding teacher at Excellence Boys in Brooklyn.
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. Born and raised in Northern California, she currently lives with her family outside of Sacramento.
Gary D. McCrear is currently a Coordinator for the Professional Education Operations team. In his role, he focuses primarily on being the first point of contact with the Support Team to assist with any general inquiries that participants and partners reach out with for the Leadership Programs and Professional Education teams. He is committed to providing great service to anyone that he comes into contact with. He is a former teacher, having first served as a 1st grade teacher at an all-girls school in Brooklyn, NY. After his first placement, he chose to follow his love of foreign languages and Spanish and continue on to teach high school Spanish for 4 years after his first school placement.
Gary holds a dual degree in International Studies and Spanish from Morehouse College as well as a Master’s degree in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the University of Pittsburgh. He currently still resides in Brooklyn, NY. He is also an author and is currently working on publishing a tarot deck to be released to the world in 2024.