Golnar Abedin, Ph.D.
Founder/ Executive Director
Dr. Abedin is a Founder and the Executive Director at Creative Minds International PCS. She designed the CMI education plan and curriculum components, with the goal of providing DC public school students an international, inclusive, and arts-based educational opportunity.
Dr. Abedin is a graduate of the doctoral studies program in Organizational Leadership and Education Policy at the University of Maryland. The recipient of the Dean’s Scholarship, she completed her Ph.D. in May 2010. Her doctoral dissertation research was on the impact of arts-based education on student engagement in a public charter school inclusion setting, within the context of the No Child Left Behind Act and the IDEA policy frameworks. Dr. Abedin holds an M.A. in Special Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University.
During the last 20 years, Dr. Abedin has worked in the United States and abroad with students, teachers and school leadership teams in a variety of educational settings, as a teacher, an instructional coach, an inclusion specialist, special education director, academic researcher, and USAID consultant.
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
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 of Trustees in 2014 and currently serves as the chair of the board.
Vice Chair / Development Cochair
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 development cochair and vice chair of the board.
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 as treasurer of the board.
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 and as secretary of the board.
Dionne Tyus Garvin
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 development cochair.
Lynn C. Jennings
Chair of the Academic Excellence Committee
Lynn C. Jennings, PhD, is the Education Trust’s director of national and state partnerships, leading a dynamic team that builds and strengthens relationships with organizations and communities that care deeply about educational justice. She works to increase the political and public will to act on equity issues, from preschool through higher education. Lynn previously served as the senior legislative affairs associate at the Ed Trust. Before that she worked for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, where she managed the foundation’s educational and professional development programs. Prior to entering the education policy world, Lynn taught English, 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 and her husband have two school-aged sons and live in Washington, DC She was a cochair of the board of directors for the Humanities Council of Washington, DC, on which she served for six years. Currently, she serves on the Local School Advisory Team at Burroughs Elementary School. She joined the CMIPCS board in 2018 and currently serves as chair of the Academic Excellence Committee.
Jeanelle Johnson is a Director in PwC’s Deals – Valuation practice based in Tysons Corner, Virginia. Jeanelle has more than 16 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, England, and Washington, DC, as well as 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 on the Finance Committee.
Academic Excellence Committee
Rahul Sinha is the managing director of Inquiry, a consultancy that works with nonprofits and government agencies to support their missions by weaving together policy expertise with data science. Growing up in Jakarta, Indonesia, and in the Washington, DC, area, Rahul attended an international school with a curriculum like that of CMI, which foregrounded cultures from around the world. After earning a BA in government and politics and a BS in computer science at the University of Maryland, he spent six years as a software architect and data scientist for the SAS Institute and then returned to the University Maryland for a master’s in public policy. More recently, he spent another six years as a financial macroeconomist with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, before founding Inquiry, in 2015. He has worked with the DC chapter of Code for America to build an interface that helps parents navigate education data and make informed choices of schools for their children, written about regional education policy issues for Greater Greater Washington, and served on an advisory board for DC Public Schools. Rahul joined the CMIPCS Board of Trustees in 2017 and currently serves on the Academic Excellence Committee.
Valaida L. Wise
Academic Excellence 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 on the Academic Excellence Committee.
Parent / CFA Liaison
Originally from California, Kelly Young has lived in metropolitan Washington, DC, since 1985 (and in the District proper since 1990). After spending seven years as a professional touring musician, he spent time in the restaurant business in DC before embarking on a career in operations, including nearly 10 years at the Washington City Paper. For the last eight years, Kelly has worked at Capitol Hill Day School as the operations manager. Married to Megan with two children, he has been involved with public, private, and charter schools in the District, including three years on the board of trustees at Bridges Public Charter School. He joined the CMIPCS Board of Trustees in 2015 and is currently a CMIPCS parent and serves as the CFA liaison to the board.
Chair of the Facilities Committee
Jerry Zayets is director of acquisitions & development for Capital City. He is responsible for identifying potential development and redevelopment sites, deal structuring, and managing the entire development process. Prior to joining Capital City, Jerry 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 currently a CMIPCS parent, and serves as chair of the Facilities Committee.