New York State Senator and Chair of the Committee on Education
Shelley was elected to the New York State Senate to represent the 37th District in an April 2018 Special Election, and she was subsequently re-elected in November 2018 and 2020. Prior to her time in the State Senate, she served in the State Assembly for six years. Shelley has been a champion for children and public schools throughout her time in the State Legislature. From 2013 to 2017, Shelley served as the Chair of the Assembly Education Subcommittee on Students with Special Needs. During this time, she advocated for and ensured that schools serving the state’s most vulnerable students received increased funding from the state. One of her first achievements as Chair of the State Senate Education Committee was the passing of the APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review) bill, which decoupled teacher evaluations from an undue reliance on state standardized tests. She continues to work with her colleagues to deliver the resources and policies school districts throughout the state need to provide a quality education for every child, regardless of zip code.
Danielle McKoy, Faraji Hannah-Jones, and Toni Smith-Thompson
Founding Members of the New York Alliance for School Integration and Desegregation
Danielle McKoy is a highly empathetic visionary, who leverages her exceptional personal story of homelessness to excelling at Princeton University, coupled with her expertise in advocacy, writing, leadership development to lead equity movements on a local, national, and global scale. After graduating from Princeton University, Danielle served as a Vice Principal, Mathematics Department Chair and Coach in multiple school districts. In 2012, she founded Breaking the Bronx, which provides free academic and personal support to Title I students. And in 2017, she began her global advocacy journey at Teach For All, an international organization working towards educational equity across national borders. At the same time she was appointed to the Junior Board of Youth Represent, a legal defense nonprofit, and became the co-lead of the NY Princeton Women’s Alumni Network Service Committee. During this time, she also co-founded and currently co-leads New York City’s inaugural Alliance for School Integration & Desegregation.
Faraji Hannah-Jones is a parent advocate, integration activist, and public school supporter. He serves as a member of the steering committee for the Alliance for School Integration and Desegregation (ASID) and as a Second Vice President of the Community Education Council for New York City Public Schools District 13. Faraji is an “army brat” who attended Department of Defense schools and developed a deep understanding of the power, the promise, and the possibility of integrated schools well-resources schools. Faraji believes in parent involvement and engagement, equitably schools for all students, with a focus on low-income students of color, and prioritizes his advocacy for Title 1 schools. Faraji works for the ACLU and lives in Brooklyn with his wife Nikole and his daughter Najya, who attends an unscreened, neighborhood Title 1 school.
Toni Smith-Thompson was born and raised in New York City and is now the parent of three children in the NYC public school system. As a parent activist and organizer, Toni is a co-founder and current co-leader of the NYC Alliance for School Integration and Desegregation, which engages with and provides support to communities working to undo segregation in New York City. After beginning her career in non-profit direct service, Toni has built a career as an organizer working on culture change and policy reform and is currently a senior organizer at the New York Civil Liberties Union where she works on campaigns to advance racial justice. In 2003, Toni captured headlines and sparked national debate with her protest, as a basketball player for Manhattanville College, refusing to salute the American flag during the pre-game playing of the national anthem.
Executive Director of the New York State Federation of School Administrators
Peter McNally presently serves as the Executive Director of the New York State Federation of School Administrators. In addition, Mr. McNally served as President of the NYSFSA from 2006 to 2012 and also serves as Chairman of the New York State Administrators Consortium, two groups that lobby Albany on behalf of administrators and supervisors statewide. As an elementary school principal for 23 years, Mr. McNally realized the importance of ongoing professional development for supervisors and administrators in affecting student achievement. Mr. McNally has received numerous awards, including the New York City Board of Education “Educator of the Year” Award for District 24, the St. John’s University Phi Delta Kappa “Educator of the Year” Award, and the New York City Department of Education‘s Emerald Society Pro Deo et Patria Award.
Chief Executive Officer of the New York City Charter School Center
James Merriman is one of the nation’s foremost experts on charter school policy, advocating for high quality, equitable charter schools and frequently speaking about the actions required to strengthen and expand charter schools within the New York City public school system. Before joining the Charter Center in 2007, he worked at the Walton Family Foundation where he helped develop and implement the Foundation’s grant-making in the charter school sector. Mr. Merriman came to Walton after spending more than seven years at the Charter Schools Institute of the State University of New York (SUNY-CSI), including five as its Executive Director. At SUNY-CSI, which is one of two state-wide authorizers of charter schools, Mr. Merriman helped create and design systems for authorization and oversight that promote the growth of a high quality charter school sector. In 2012, Mr. Merriman was named a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow. He has served on the board of the National Charter Schools Institute and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.
Executive Director of Teach for America New York
Tia Morris serves as the Executive Director for the New York region of Teach For America. Formerly, as Executive Director of Teach for America New Jersey, she boldly led a community of more than 1,500 in transforming the educational landscape across the state. In this role, Tia served as a leader in numerous capacities, including being appointed to the Governor’s Transition Committee for Education and being invited by the State Senate to testify on issues of education. Tia has dedicated more than 20 years to improving educational opportunities for young people, and she believes that we must shift our conversations from discussions on how to reform education to plans for collectively transforming communities. Tia is pursuing a doctorate at Columbia University’s Teachers College in Urban Education Leadership. Tia remains proximate to local issues impacting low-income and at-risk students by serving on several nonprofit boards.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Success Academy Charter Schools
Eva Moskowitz is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Success Academy Charter Schools, one of the highest-performing, fastest-growing public charter school networks in the country. Since opening the first school in Harlem in 2006, the network has grown to 47 schools serving 21,000 primarily low-income students of color. The fifth-largest school district in the state, Success Academy schools rank in the top 1% of all New York State schools. One hundred percent of SA’s first four graduating classes have been accepted to college, including some of the most highly selective schools in the country. Eva is the mother of three, a former history professor and New York City Council member, and New York City’s staunchest advocate for education equality and parent choice. Her memoir, The Education of Eva Moskowitz, sparked a national conversation about the future of public education and how we can save our country’s most vulnerable children.
Founder and Executive Director of Young Advocates for Fair Education
Naftuli Moster is the founder and Executive Director of Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED), a nonprofit advocacy group working to improve the secular education in ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic Yeshivas in New York and abroad. He was born and raised in a large Hasidic family in Borough Park, Brooklyn, and he attended Hasidic Yeshivas his entire life. It was at the age 20, when he decided to pursue a career in psychology, that he first encountered the challenges resulting from his poor secular education. While he fought through and completed a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Social Work, he was determined to make things better for future generations, leading him to found YAFFED in 2012.
President of the United Federation of Teachers
As President of the United Federation of Teachers, Michael Mulgrew has represented almost 200,000 of New York City’s public school professionals since 2009. During his tenure, Mr. Mulgrew has negotiated contracts to improve the lives of educators, increasing their pay and expanding their leadership opportunities. He has advocated for transforming student disciplinary practices, and he supports policies that promote fairness, equality, and social justice. Mr. Mulgrew is also a board member of New York State United Teachers and the New York City Central Labor Council.
Anthony E. Munroe
President of Borough of Manhattan Community College
Dr. Anthony E. Munroe was appointed as the Borough of Manhattan Community College’s 11th president and began his leadership role on September 1, 2020. A nationally recognized executive with more than 30 years of experience leading education and health care organizations, Dr. Munroe has since 2017 been President of Essex County College, one of the most diverse colleges in New Jersey and a national leader in boosting the social mobility of its graduates. He was previously President of Malcolm X College, part of the City Colleges of Chicago system. A first-generation U.S. citizen who grew up in the Bronx and attended New York City public schools, Dr. Munroe holds a doctorate in Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College with a concentration in health education.
Advocate and Organizer for Keep NYC Schools Open
Natalya Murakhver is a writer, educator and, most importantly, a tireless advocate for children’s health and well-being. In 2018 she produced the NYU Exposome and Family Health panel and partnered with the New York City Healthy School Food Alliance to improve school food for New York City’s public school children. She is the co-editor of They Eat That?: A Cultural Encyclopedia of Weird and Exotic Food from around the World (Greenwood Press, 2012) and a frequent collaborator with the Bronx-based culinary education program The Fresh Start Initiative, which brings culinary education and urban gardening to NYC kids. In 2020, she helped organize #KeepNYCSchoolsOpen, and brought a lawsuit against NYC to reopen public schools in person with teachers in classrooms. Currently she is raising awareness about the harms of masking children in schools and has founded the #MaskLikeAKid campaign which is rolling out across the country. Follow her on Twitter @AppletoZucchini
President of New York State United Teachers
Longtime union leader and grassroots activist Andy Pallotta was elected President of New York State United Teachers in April 2017. A former New York City elementary school teacher, Pallotta oversees NYSUT’s political, legislative and organizing efforts, which have secured record levels of state school aid, beaten back tax credit and voucher schemes, secured legal protections to preserve public employees’ right to organize, and helped elect pro-public education candidates — including NYSUT members themselves — to positions on their local school boards, in Albany and beyond. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, he has worked closely with local unions and state leaders to ensure the right policies are in place to protect the health and safety of students, staff and families from Long Island to Buffalo.
President of Metropolitan College of New York
Joanne Passaro, President of Metropolitan College of New York, is a cultural anthropologist who holds B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Duke University. Her academic research focused on social inequality and ideologies of oppression. Over the past 20 years, Passaro served in leadership positions at a number of colleges and universities. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities. Passaro returned home in 2018 to serve as President of MCNY; the college’s vision and goals align closely with her own. MCNY was founded in 1964 to bridge the gap between inequality and opportunity for adult students. Its unique curriculum, Purpose-Centered Education, closely integrates classroom studies with work experience and empowers students to create positive change in their organizations and communities. Dr. Passaro is honored to participate in the work of expanding opportunity and equity throughout the New York region.
Vice-Chair for the New York City Panel for Educational Policy
For over a decade, Lori Podvesker has been advocating for transparency, accountability, and improved outcomes for New York City students with disabilities. Lori is the Vice-Chair of the New York City Panel for Educational Policy of the New York City Department of Education. She is also a member of the New York State Commissioner’s Advisory Panel for Special Education Services, which advises the New York State Office of Special Education to the Governor, Legislature, and Commissioner, on the unmet educational needs of students with disabilities. Lori is also the Director of Disability and Education Policy at the nonprofit INCLUDEnyc.
President of Bank Street College of Education
Shael Polakow-Suransky is the President of Bank Street College of Education. Under his leadership, Bank Street is building new models for teacher education, expanding its work with public schools and child care centers, and focusing on translating innovative education practices into policies that work at scale. Previously, he was the second-in-command at the New York City Department of Education, serving as Chief Academic Officer and Senior Deputy Chancellor. Shael oversaw teaching and learning across more than 1,600 district schools and was a strong advocate for teacher and principal autonomy, balanced accountability, and reforms designed to improve learning experiences for the city’s most vulnerable students. Earlier in his career, Shael worked as a teacher and Founding Principal of Bronx International High School.
Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education
Meisha Porter is the first Black woman to serve as Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, where she oversees a school system of one million students in more than 1,800 schools. Having worked as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and district superintendent, Chancellor Porter has worked her way up the ranks of the Department of Education, most recently serving as Bronx Executive Superintendent from 2018 until her appointment to Chancellor in March 2021. Her background in youth organizing led her to establish the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice, and Chancellor Porter’s profound understanding of the rewards and challenges of New York City’s educational system positions her well to lead the city toward greater fairness and equity.
President of Hofstra University
This fall, Dr. Susan Poser became Hofstra University’s ninth president after leaving her position as Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Illinois, Chicago. While at UIC, Dr. Poser oversaw several initiatives to recruit underrepresented faculty and postdoctoral fellows, and she was instrumental in expanding resources for Arab American students and students with disabilities. Dr. Poser holds a J.D. in addition to a Ph.D. and has served in leadership roles for several bar associations.
Michael A. Rebell
Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Educational Equity
Michael Rebell is an experienced litigator, administrator, researcher, and scholar in the field of education law. He is the Executive Director of the Center for Educational Equity and Professor of Law and Educational Practice at Teachers College, Columbia University. The Center seeks to promote equity and excellence in education and to overcome the gap in educational access and achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged students throughout the United States. Previously, Mr. Rebell was the co-founder, executive director and counsel for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. In CFE v. State of New York, the Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest court, declared that all children are entitled under the State Constitution to the “opportunity for a sound basic education” and it ordered the State of New York to reform its education finance system to meet these constitutional requirements.
Commissioner of the New York State Department of Education
The Board of Regents unanimously appointed Dr. Betty A. Rosa as permanent commissioner, the first Latina woman to serve in the position, on February 8, 2021. Prior to serving as Commissioner and Interim Commissioner, she had served as the chancellor of the Board of Regents since 2016. Dr. Rosa was first elected to the Board of Regents in 2008, as the Regent for the Twelfth Judicial District (Bronx County). Dr. Rosa is a nationally recognized education leader and received an Ed. M. and Ed. D. in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University. She also holds two other Master of Science in Education degrees, one in Administration and Supervision and the other in Bilingual Education from the CUNY and Lehman College, respectively, and a B.A. in Psychology from CUNY. She has more than 30 years of instructional and administrative experience with an expertise in inclusive education, cooperative teaching models, student achievement, and policy implementation.
Robert S. Schneider
Executive Director of the New York State School Boards Association
Robert S. Schneider has served as the New York State School Boards Association’s Executive Director since January 1, 2020. Prior to being appointed to the Executive Director position, Bob was the Associate Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer since August 2014. Prior to this position, he was Director of Finance for 15 years. He is a Certified Public Account (CPA), a Certified Association Executive (CAE), and a New York State licensed insurance broker. Currently Bob is the Treasurer of Junior Achievement of Northeastern New York and serves on their Executive Committee. He has volunteered in the classroom many times as a Junior Achievement instructor. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Northeast Chapter of the NYS Society of CPAs representing the Not-For-Profit industry. Bob is a member of the New York Society of Certified Public Accountants; the American Institute of Certified Public Accounts; American Society of Association Executives; and the Empire State Society of Association Executives, which has previously honored him with the Distinguished Member of the Year Award.
President of Kingsborough Community College
Dr. Claudia Schrader has presided as President of Kingsborough Community College since 2018, the first African-American to serve in this role. Before assuming her current position, Dr. Schrader served as Provost and Senior Vice President at Bronx Community College. She has also taught at institutions such as Medgar Evers College, Columbia University, and Bank Street College. In her current role as president of the only community college in Brooklyn, Dr. Schrader is committed to improving access to affordable education that prepares students for rewarding employment.
Senior Advisor of Students First New York, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Moonshot Strategies
Jenny Sedlis was the Executive Director of StudentsFirstNY from 2013 to 2021, where she led advocacy and political efforts for the powerful charter schools sector. In 2021, Sedlis took a leave of absence to start and run a Super PAC supporting Eric Adams for Mayor and raised $7 million for the effort. Ms. Sedlis remains Senior Advisor to StudentsFirstNY and co-founded Moonshot Strategies, a political and communications consulting firm based in NYC. Ms. Sedlis co-founded Success Academy Charter Schools and Zeta Charter Schools.
Brian J. Shanley
President of St. John’s University
Reverend Brian J. Shanley, O.P., has served as the 18th president of St. John’s University since 2020. Before joining St. John’s, Rev. Shanley spent fifteen years as President of Providence College, where he enhanced campus facilities and expanded student services. Rev. Shanley earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Toronto and was also granted a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Philosophy and Religion and the University of Notre Dame. He has published on a wide variety of subjects, and has also held a leadership position in the American Catholic Philosophical Association.
Toby Ann Stavisky
New York State Senator and Chair of the Committee on Higher Education
Toby Ann Stavisky is the first woman from Queens County elected to the State Senate and the first woman to chair the Senate Committee on Higher Education. A native New Yorker, she graduated from the Bronx High School of Science, Syracuse University, and completed graduate school at Hunter and Queens Colleges. Prior to serving in the senate, Mrs. Stavisky taught social studies in the New York City high schools. Currently, Senator Stavisky serves as Vice Chairwoman of the Democratic Majority Conference. In addition to chairing the Higher Education Committee, she serves on the Education, Ethics and Finance Committees. Senator Stavisky serves as a trustee of the City University Construction Fund and the HeCap Board for independent colleges. Senator Stavisky is Treasurer of the bipartisan, bicameral Legislative Women’s Caucus.