2011 Cohort | Urban Education Leaders Program | Organization and LeadershipSkip to content Skip to main navigation
Urban Education Leaders Program
Department of Organization and Leadership
Markus Autrey is currently the principal at Los Gatos High School in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has worked in various educational settings on the east coast in the Allentown, PA, in the Midwest, in St. Louis, MO and is currently working in California. As an educational leader, he has served in the multiple arenas of secondary education including teacher, mentor, student activities, athletics, finance, professional development coordinator/mentorship, curricular development, as well as academic program developer. Mr. Autrey is experienced in data driven instruction that uses multiple and meaningful assessments to drive curricular change and organizational reform. He is a strong advocate for recruitment, courageous supervision, and meaningful mentorship of educators and administrators that enhance the learning experience and environment for the success of all students. His research interests and passions are school leadership and organizational reform in urban communities.
Markus received his Masters in Educational Leadership from St. Louis University and his educational credentials from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.
Regina J. Boyd
Regina J. Boyd is currently a Principal at Winterfield Elementary School in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is a member of the first Leaders for Tomorrow cohort, a district initiative to recognize and support the development of school leaders. She transitioned from an English as a Second Language Curriculum Specialist in to the principalship as a part of this program. Regina has provided professional development for school districts centered around best reading practices and instructional strategies for second language learners.
She was recently selected to participate in a group study exchange program with the local Rotary Club to foster relationships with colleagues in Egypt and Lebanon.
Regina received her Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Winthrop University, a Master of Education in Reading Language and Literacy from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte North Carolina.
Alan Y. Cheng
Alan Y. Cheng is the Principal of City-As-School (CAS), one of the oldest alternative schools in New York City. CAS is a nontraditional academic high school that serves over 700 students, ages 17-22, through highly structured internships and interdisciplinary course offerings. The school targets students who do not thrive in a traditional classroom learning environment or are at risk of dropping out of school. The school a founding member and model school for the New York State Performance Consortium and the International Network of Experiential Programs and Schools (INEPS). Prior to becoming the principal, he was an Assistant Principal, an internship coordinator, a school data specialist and a mathematics and science teacher. In 2005, he was awarded a five-year Math for America Fellowship. Before joining City-As-School, he was a Legislative Fellow for the U.S. Senate Education Committee, where he worked on the reauthorization of NCLB and Federal Pell Grants. He has also served as a Curriculum Fellow at the Graduate School of Management at Cambridge University, UK and a Research Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.
Alan holds a MS in Technology and Public Policy and a MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a MA in Mathematics Education and MEd in Education Leadership from Teachers College. He is also a graduate of the National IEL Education Policy Fellowship Program and the Columbia University School Law Institute. Alan received his BE in Environmental Engineering and AB in Engineering and Art History, with honors, from Dartmouth College.
Frank Costanzo is currently serving as the Interim Principal at Roberto Clemente Leadership Academy, a turnaround school in New Haven, CT. He has previously served as the Summer Enrichment Academy Principal for the New Haven Public School District in 2010 and as an Assistant Principal at the Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School in New Haven where he led theory of action planning for all employees and developed an Instructional Rounds model for improving problems of practice. Prior to Co-Op, he completed a one-year administrative internship at the Morse Elementary School in Cambridge, MA where he studied school and district-level urban leadership under former Superintendents Deborah-Jewell Sherman and Tom Payzant.
Before this he taught Humanities and Facing History and Ourselves to ninth and tenth graders for several years at New Haven Academy where he led the NHA Humanities department in substantial student learning growth scores on state testing for four consecutive years. While there, he was a district curriculum developer and was awarded Outstanding Teacher in 2006 and 2008.
He earned an Ed. M in education leadership from Harvard in 2009, an M.A.T. from Brown in 2004 and a B.A. from Quinnipiac University in 2002. Frank was nominated for the High Potential Leadership Program for the New Haven Public Schools in 2010. His work and research focuses on rethinking and transforming existing urban school district organizational frameworks, particularly those structures and systems that undermine student and adult learning.
Veronica Maria Gallardo
Veronica Maria Gallardo is currently the director of English Language Learners and International Programs for the Seattle Public School District in Seattle Washington. As the director, Veronica works on behalf of 6500 ELL students who speak over 101 different languages. This position includes overseeing professional development for over 300 ELL teachers and instructional assistants, working with nine talented ELL coaches and managing an 11 million dollar budget that includes Title III, Title I Migrant, Refugee Impact Grant, and the State Transitional Bilingual Education Program. She was awarded the Kreielsheimer Fellowship by the University of Washington in 2003 and in 2002 she was awarded the Give a Teacher a High Five award. Her research will focus on English Language Learners, specifically on successfully creating an educational system that supports Students with Interrupted Formal Education throughout the nation.
Veronica received her Master’s in Teaching degree at the University of Washington in 1998 and taught for the next six years as a 4th and 6th grade teacher at Woodin Elementary. In 2004, she completed the Danforth Educational Leadership Program at the University of Washington. From 2004-2008 she was the principal at Wedgwood Elementary and has served in her current role as director of ELL and International Programs for three years.
David Hardy Jr
David Hardy Jr. is the founding Principal at Achievement First East New York Middle school which is part of a non-profit charter school management organization that operates a growing network of some of the highest performing K-12 public schools in Connecticut and New York. As the school leader, David has led his school to the highest academic achievement scores in his district after its first year, retained 100% of his staff, and over 90% of his parents rated their school an “A” on the yearly parent evaluation. Prior to founding Achievement First East New York Middle, David served as a Principal-In-Residence and Dean of Students at Achievement First Bushwick Middle School. Before working with Achievement First, David began his search for educational equality in 2003 as a Teach For America corps member in Miami-Dade County. During his five years in Miami, he was honored as a Sue Lehmann Regional Finalist, a Rookie Teacher of the Year nominee and the 2007-08 Teacher of the Year at Madison Middle School, where he taught Language Arts. Also while in Miami David had the opportunity to work as a School Director for Teach For America at the Atlanta Summer Institute in 2007. In his final year in Miami, David served as a Curriculum Support Specialist for the School Improvement Zone, where he provided instructional support to two of the lowest performing elementary schools in Miami-Dade County. During his stint at both schools, each school improved their school report card grade by at least one letter grade. His research foci and interests are urban school development, organizational leadership, and educational policy. Mr. Hardy earned his B.A. in economics from Colgate University and his M.A. from St. Thomas University.
Clarisse Marie Mendoza
Clarisse Marie Mendoza has spent the last five years working in urban education as a classroom instructor, a non-profit leader, and a central office administrator. After teaching English at Cardozo Senior High School in Washington, D.C., as a 2006 Teach for America corps member, she returned to her hometown of Chicago to serve as the Executive Director of Chicago Professionals for Youth, an organization committed to improving educational outcomes for K-12 students through one-on-one mentoring. Following this role, Clarisse became the Principal of Tindley Renaissance Academy in Indianapolis, Indiana, then the Deputy Chief of Schools at the UNO Charter School Network in Chicago.
More recently, Clarisse was the Chief Operating Officer of Early Stages – the District of Columbia Public Schools’ Child Find initiative. In this role, Clarisse was responsible for leading the program’s complete turnaround and ensuring that all 3-to-5-year-old children in D.C. have access to high quality early childhood diagnostic services, as well as a strong start to their schooling careers. Clarisse also serves on the Board of Directors for Dreaming Out Loud, Inc.; a D.C.-based non-profit that sponsors character education programming for elementary and high school youth throughout the District.
At present, Clarisse is the Chief of Schools at the Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools-See Forever Foundation in Washington, D.C. In this role, Clarisse leads teaching and learning for opportunity and incarcerated youth among many other responsibilities.
In joining UELP, Clarisse is incredibly excited to continue to explore transformation management, taking a closer look at how urban school districts can better apply entrepreneurial strategies and practices in order to accelerate reform measures many jurisdictions already have in place. Clarisse received her Master of Arts in Teaching from American University in Washington, D.C., and her Bachelor of Arts in English and Music from Loyola University Chicago.
Ben Ploeger is the Principal and Head of School of Eagle Ridge Academy Charter High School in Brighton, CO. Eagle Ridge Academy was a high performing but fiscally endangered school when Ben joined the team. Since taking the reins, he has led a successful financial turnaround, raised test scores, and steered the school through two successful charter renewals.
Previously, Ben was an Academy Director at Sarah T. Reed Senior High School, a high-needs public school in New Orleans. Ben was instrumental in transforming the school and improving test scores by at least 12% for three consecutive years. He led in the creation of the Academy of Engineering to address critical needs in the STEM fields. As the leader of the Academy, Ben increased his team’s capacity by helping teachers use data to drive instruction, and by leading adult learning focused on effective instructional strategies.
Ben’s interest in education began while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in the island nation of Vanuatu. After serving in the Peace Corps, Ben focused his sights on tackling the deficiencies in the educational system in his home country. He moved to New Orleans, where he taught high school mathematics and robotics for several years before moving into administration and leadership. Years later, Ben returned to Colorado to dedicate his energy to educational improvement in the communities where he was raised.
Ben received his Ed.M. in Educational Leadership from Columbia University Teachers College, his M.A. in Educational Leadership and his M.A.T. in Secondary Math Instruction from Xavier University of Louisiana, and his B.S. in Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines.
Marcus C. Robinson
Marcus C. Robinson is currently the Principal and Chief Executive Officer of the Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School in Indianapolis, Indiana. Since 2004, he has led a fledgling school in an economically challenged neighborhood toward becoming a National Blue Ribbon School in 2010. Tindley has won state and national awards for student performance and closing the achievement gap between poor students and their more affluent peers. Mr. Robinson is a recognized presenter on educational topics such as: school culture, closing the achievement gap, dual enrollment, and charter school policy. As a classroom teacher, he taught in urban and suburban as well as private and public schools. Mr. Robinson is committed to reducing the impact of race and socioeconomic status on the school performance of inner-city youth. He hopes to expand his school into a network of Accelerated Schools serving a dramatically larger student population throughout the Midwest through a new organization he leads . . . EdPower.
Marcus earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from DePauw University and a Master of Science in Educational Administration from Butler University.
Safiyah Sadiq, an educator with a MA in Educational Administration, School Principal and Supervisor Certification from Rutgers University, has always had a love for being involved in her community and a desire to impact change. As an undergraduate at William Paterson University, Miss Sadiq became heavily involved in her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, where she served as Vice President and spearheaded many programs revolving around service and education for the Paterson youth. In 2006 she graduated with her BA in Psychology and Education, and often returns to motivate incoming students to achieve and excel.
Soon after graduation, she obtained her first teaching position in Plainfield NJ while concurrently beginning her graduate program at Rutgers University. Throughout the years of her enrollment, she spent her time teaching, researching policy, and observing the impact that strong leaders have had on the educational community. Three (3) years later this pushed her to develop a program that would impact Plainfield, and inspire inner cities to make changes in their communities for the betterment of the students they served. Inspired by President Barack Obama’s ability to move the average everyday American citizen to a sustained action and involvement, her response was to focus on moving the average child. As Chief Author of her charter, on June 22, 2009, Ms. Sadiq successfully founded The Barack Obama Green Charter High School and was appointed as the school’s Principal. At age 25, Ms. Sadiq became the youngest school Founder, Principal, and Chief Education Officer in the state and has proudly watched her vision of service and sustainability become a reality. Currently, in addition to leadership, Ms. Sadiq volunteers her time working with other school leaders and potential charter founders to conduct Community Needs Assessments and develop sound educational approaches and pedagogies that meet the needs of their respective students.
Paul A. Whyte
Paul A. Whyte is currently the Instructional Leadership Director for High Schools and Turnaround Schools in Waterbury Public Schools in Connecticut. Prior to this role, Mr. Whyte was the Principal of New Beginnings Family Academy, a public K-8 charter school, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Mr. Whyte transitioned to the role of school leader in 2008. As principal, he has focused on building a culture of achievement and high expectations for students and staff. Under his leadership, NBFA scores on the Connecticut Mastery Test have improved dramatically, with NBFA achieving the most improvement among middle schools in the state.
Prior to serving as the principal, Mr. Whyte oversaw the development of formative assessments, data driven decision making processes and a new teacher evaluation program. He raised over $1.1 million in grants for NBFA.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Whyte taught mathematics and ran a college readiness program at Park East High School in New York City. Besides traditional settings, Mr. Whyte has also focused on bringing sound educational practice to non-traditional education settings such as afterschool and summer programs. As an Echoing Green Fellow, Mr. Whyte created Young Voices Initiative, a comprehensive education and athletics program for 200 teenagers in New Haven, CT. YVI was based on two years of field research. He has been a New York Council of Urban Professionals (NYCUP) Fellow. NYCUP prepares emerging change agents to become powerful civic and public sector leaders.
Mr. Whyte holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Yale University and a Masters of Education in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy (APSP) from Harvard Graduate School of Education and an Intermediate Administration and Supervision Certificate from Sacred Heart University.