Leadership

Chuck Jackson
Interim Executive Director

Chuck Jackson is an education innovator with more than 15 years of experience in building and transforming thriving educational communities.

Chuck began his career as an attorney and transitioned into the field of education in 2003, with a principal residency at Bell Multicultural High School, in Washington, DC. After leaving Bell, he founded Academie Bilingue de la Comunidad Public Charter School and served as its executive director until 2009. Chuck then went on to direct operations at CentroNia/DC Bilingual Public Charter School and to work with Equal Justice Works, as director of fellowships, and with DC Public Schools, as deputy chief of operations in the Office of Specialized Instruction. In 2016 he joined Maya Angelou Schools and the See Forever Foundation as chief operating officer.

Chuck has a BA in sociology from the University of Chicago and a JD from the Northeastern University School of Law. He lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, Lori, and his three children, Xavier, Talia, and Andreas.

Nayamka Long
Chief Academic Officer

Nayamka Long was a Creative Minds founding teacher and the first member of our school’s Instructional Leadership Team. Before stepping into the role of CAO, she directed CMI’s lower school program and served as interim director of teaching & learning.

Nayamka has extensive experience in general and special education curriculum and program implementation. She is an expert in designing instruction to meet a wide range of student abilities, maximizing students’ learning potential by addressing individual learning challenges and supporting exceptional talents. She is able to differentiate instruction to help a class of diverse learners reach standards-based curriculum objectives. She has trained as an International Primary Curriculum coordinator and has supported the CMI Leadership Team as an instructional coach.

Nayamka taught students from prekindergarten through the elementary grades for more than 12 years in a variety of educational settings, including public, private, and charter schools. She holds an MA in education and human development from George Washington University and a BS in kinesiology from The College of William and Mary.

Craig Bednarovsky
Chief Operating Officer

Craig has more than twenty years of business-leadership experience in sales, marketing, operations, and product management, as well as in entrepreneurship and consulting. His experience includes building a business from the ground up, managing budgets and finances, guiding and overseeing organizational culture, and bringing process and structure to a rapidly growing company. Before joining CMI, he was the COO of an IT consulting and staffing firm recognized on the Inc. list of 5,000 fastest-growing companies in 2013, 2014, and 2015, where he helped drive 30 percent top-line revenue growth. He began his career at General Electric and then worked in management consulting, on a project at the Defense Logistics Agency. From there he ran sales and marketing for a local software company. The world of education has always interested him, and he considers CMI the logical next step in his career.

Craig holds a BA in economics and political science from American University and an MBA from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. He lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, Monica, and his two children, Mia and Liam.

CMIPCS Board of Trustees

Valaida L. Wise
Interim Board Chair / Chair of Executive Director Search Committee

Dr. Valaida L. Wise (Val) is an educational consultant and adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. An educator for more 20 years, Val received a bachelor’s degree in developmental psychology from Syracuse University; an MAT in early childhood education with a Montessori emphasis from Trinity College, Washington, DC; and a doctorate in educational leadership from George Washington University. A recent Brava Award winner, Val has lectured nationally and internationally, most recently on the topics of early childhood education, Montessori education, leadership, and diversity. She has presented at a variety of national conferences including the National Association of Independent Schools. Val has written several articles on educational leadership in early childhood, as well as Montessori education. Her most recent article, “Critical Absence in the Field of Educational Administration: Framing the (Missing) Discourse of Leadership in Early Childhood Settings,” appeared in the International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation. She is a trustee on several professional and independent and charter school boards. Val is married with three children. She joined the CMIPCS Board of Trustees in 2018 and currently serves as interim board chair, chair of the Executive Director Search Committee, and on the Academic Excellence, Executive, and Strategic Planning committees.

Eric Reese
Vice-Chair / Governance and Strategic Planning Committees

Originally from Indiana, Eric Reese has spent his career working and partnering with organizations around the world to improve public sector performance. Eric is currently a senior advisor at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Government Excellence, where he works with cities across the US and around the world to improve their data use and performance to better serve residents. Before working with Johns Hopkins, Eric worked on public education initiatives as a Fulbright grantee in South Korea and at the DC Public Education Fund, in Washington, DC, where he managed grant programs to drive improved performance in the DC public schools. Most recently, Eric worked with local governments across North Carolina on strategic planning, economic development, and local government performance. He holds a BA in economics and history from DePauw University and an MPA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Eric joined the CMIPCS Board of Trustees in 2016 and currently serves as vice-chair of the board, and on the Governance and Strategic Planning committees.

Jeanelle Johnson
Treasurer / Chair of Finance Committee

Jeanelle Johnson is a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s Transaction Services practice based in Tysons Corner, VA. Jeanelle has more than 18 years of experience in financial advisory services, including advice and opinions on all aspects of valuing businesses, assets and liabilities, mergers and acquisitions, IPOs, and private placements across a number of industries—including multiple acquisitions in the aerospace and defense and IT consulting industries for a Fortune 1000, DC-metro-based firm supporting the federal government. Jeanelle has assisted clients with a wide variety of financial reporting valuations related to business combinations, goodwill impairment, and long-lived impairments testing. Prior to joining PwC, Jeanelle worked in the valuation team at a Big 4 firm in both London, UK, and Washington, DC, as well as at Legg Mason’s Investment Banking group. Jeanelle has an MBA from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a BBA in finance from the George Washington University. Jeanelle joined the CMIPCS Board of Trustees in 2019 and currently serves as treasurer, as chair of the Finance Committee, and on the Executive Committee.

Matt Walker
Secretary / Chair of the Governance Committee

Matt Walker is vice president of policy and public partnerships strategy at Teach For America. Originally from Colorado, Matt taught second and third grade for three years in Los Angeles as a TFA corps member; earned a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at night, while teaching full time during the day; and was honored by his school district with an Unsung Hero Award for extraordinary work. He was a Capitol Hill staffer for several years, worked on No Child Left Behind and the Affordable Care Act, and served as chief of staff to Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) and as labor counsel to the House Committee on Education & Labor. He also practiced employee benefit law at Sherman & Howard LLC in Denver, Colorado, and was a deputy district attorney in Aspen, Colorado. He is a board member of Buildings & Books, which works to establish children’s community libraries in sub-Saharan Africa. Matt has a BA in philosophy and political science from the University of Southern California; a master’s degree in administration, planning, and social policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and a law degree from Cornell Law School. He joined the CMIPCS Board of Trustees in 2016 and currently serves as chair of the Governance Committee, as secretary of the board, and on the Executive Committee.

Dionne Tyus Garvin
Chair of Strategic Planning Committee

Dionne Tyus Garvin has had an extensive advisory and management consulting career. With a portfolio of clients spanning both public and private sector organizations, Dionne has more than 12 years of experience creating human capital strategies and solutions for talent management, change management, and workforce strategy and planning. In addition to her management career, Dionne has spent more than 20 years serving as a passionate advocate for children, K–12 education, and student achievement. As a Broad resident, Dionne spent three years supporting Prince George’s County Public Schools building human capital solutions and creating business partnerships for innovative career pathways for high school students. She holds a BS in business administration from Florida A&M University, an MA in communication & culture from Howard University, and an MS in educational leadership from the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems. Dionne’s wealth of experience brings exciting insights to support CMI’s goals. She is also a passionate supporter and patron of the performing arts, particularly ballet, opera, and theater arts for children. Dionne joined the CMIPCS Board of Trustees in 2016 and currently serves as chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, on the Executive Committee, and on the Executive Director Search Committee.

Lynn C. Jennings
Chair of the Academic Excellence Committee

Dr. Lynn C. Jennings directs strategy and advocacy initiatives as senior director of national and state partnerships for the Education Trust, a leading national organization to committed to eliminating education inequities, in P–12 and higher education, that disproportionately impact students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. In this role she has led the organization’s growth into states by building and sustaining advocacy networks in 10 states, including establishing two Ed Trust state-based education hubs. Under her leadership, the Ed Trust has worked with communities, educators, policymakers, experts, and other key stakeholders on issues such as funding equity, educator diversity, college affordability, and accountability. Lynn developed her expertise in federal and state education policy as an education lobbyist and senior program manager at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Currently, Lynn serves as president of the PTO at John Burroughs Elementary School. She joined the CMIPCS Board of Trustees in 2018 and currently serves as chair of the Academic Excellence Committee and on the Executive, Executive Director Search, and Strategic Planning Committees. Prior to entering the education policy space, Lynn taught American literature, African American studies, and women’s studies courses at varied institutions of higher education, including Spelman College, Columbia College Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She earned a BA in English from Spelman College and her PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Lynn lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and two sons.

Ornella Napolitano
Executive, Governance, and Finance Committees

Ornella Napolitano is a senior executive with over twenty years of global finance, operations, and management experience across various industries and geographies. She has worked in small and large, domestic and multinational, and public and private organizations. As a senior executive with Nortel Networks, she managed large and diverse projects and staff groups across vast matrix organizations, often with competing objectives and priorities. In her most recent position as VP of finance and treasurer for a publicly traded telecom company, her responsibilities encompassed many of the traditional financial functions, as well as legal and contract management, billing, marketing, and stakeholder relations, and afforded her the opportunity to redesign key business processes. Ms. Napolitano’s career also includes working for various multilateral institutions in Washington, DC, and starting her own consulting firm and an export-import business, as well as several financial positions with Hewlett-Packard and Bristol-Myers Squibb. She holds an MBA and BSBA from the American University in Washington, DC; speaks numerous languages; and dedicates a portion of her free time to DC schools. She joined the CMIPCS Board in 2014 and served as board chair from 2017-19. She currently serves on the Executive, Governance, and Finance committees.

Prita Patel
Finance and Governance Ccommittees

Prita Patel is the associate vice provost for academic administration at American University, a private, nonprofit, higher-education institution in Washington, DC. In her current role, Prita manages the consolidated budget for the Division of Academic Affairs, leads the development and implementation of key strategic partnerships, and oversees financial and administrative matters for academic units. Prior to joining American University, Prita was senior director of budget, finance, and risk management at Columbia University Medical Center, in New York. Throughout her career in higher education, Prita has utilized her analytic and financial management experience to advance the greater mission of learning. Prita started her career at Morgan Stanley as an equity research analyst for the healthcare sector, where she developed broad and deep knowledge of financial markets. Prita holds a BS from New York University’s Stern School of Business and an MS from the Imperial College Business School in London, England. Prita is a coordinator for the Imperial College London DC Alumni Chapter. She joined the CMIPCS Board of Trustees in 2017 and currently serves on the Finance and Governance committees.

Jerry Zayets
Finance, Strategic Planning, and Executive Director Search Committees

Jerry Zayets is director of real estate development at Building Hope. He is responsible for identifying potential development and redevelopment sites, deal structuring, and managing the entire development process. He previously served at director of acquisitions & development for Capital City and managed a series of multifamily development projects for Jubilee Housing and Urban Investment Partners, ranging in size from 20 to 300 units, with a total value of more than $40 million. He graduated with a BS in marketing from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and a master’s degree in real estate development from the Colvin Institute of Real Estate Development at the University of Maryland. Jerry has been a featured speaker on green building practices at several Ecobuild conferences. He joined the CMIPCS Board of Trustees in 2015, is a CMIPCS parent, and serves on the Finance, Strategic Planning, and Executive Director Search committees.

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