The Education Policy program prepares students for their careers as policy analysts, policy advocates, and education researchers. As you read through our website and evaluate if this program is a good match for you, consider the perspectives of our current students and alumni.
BA in International Relations, PUC-SP, Brazil
B.A. in Psychology and History from the University of Pennsylvania
M.PA. from the Wagner School at New York University.
Melissa Herman is a Ph.D. student in Education Policy focused on college access, transition, and retention for New York City public school students. She received a Postsecondary Education Applied Research (PEAR) Fellowship from Teachers College and is currently working in a research apprenticeship at the Community College Research Center.
A native Brooklynite and graduate of New York City public schools, Melissa entered the education space to improve college access and address equity issues facing New York City public school students. She began her education career at PENCIL, overseeing a team of partnership managers and developing the organization’s college and career readiness programming. During her tenure at PENCIL, she worked extensively within the New York City public school system on strategic partnership development, as well as college readiness and project-based learning programming for students.
Most recently, Melissa was the director of Graduate NYC, a college access and completion initiative housed at the City University of New York. In this role, she led Graduate NYC’s flagship project, the College Completion Innovation Fund, a collaborative fund supporting innovation in college persistence and higher education, and worked on mixed-methods research projects about post-secondary education in New York City.
A.B. in Government, from Dartmouth College, NH
M.S.T. in Secondary Mathematics, from Pace University, NY
Steven Koutsavlis is a Ph.D. Candidate in Education Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University and a Research Associate at Columbia’s National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education. Steven is a National Board Certified Teacher in Adolescent Mathematics and a NYC Teaching Fellow. Steven has taught secondary mathematics at the New Voices School of Academic and Creative Arts for over ten years, where he has served as a grade team leader and professional development coordinator. He is a graduate of Coro NY’s Education Leadership Collaborative, which brings together teachers and administrators from across district and charter schools to share and develop best practices in the field. In 2013 he attended the Park City Mathematics Institute, run by the Institute for Advanced Study, where he worked with hundreds of K-12 math educators, administrators, and university researchers from around the world on exploring teaching methodologies and the intricacies of the Common Core Learning Standards. Steven has worked for The New Teacher Project in advising and developing new educators, has participated in multiple conferences run by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and has led training programs through the Math in the City Program at the City College of New York. Steven is very interested in community and policy issues, having served as a field director for a state political campaign and having helped launch the NYC Academy for Discovery as a new school founding member. His research interests include institutional development, organizational theory, instructional capacity building, and school privatization.
Steven was born and raised in New York City, attended public school for most of his life, and is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School.
Originally from rural Virginia, Anna's interest in education policy was sparked while teaching IB science in a small middle school. She has also worked in central office as a program manager and mixed methods researcher at the New York City Department of Education.
B.S. Health Education, University of Florida
MPP Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California Berkeley
Taylor Myers is a second year Ph.D. student in Education Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research is focused on higher education policy, including equity and diversity in student access and success, state and institutional planning and organization of higher education systems, and the impacts of postsecondary credentials on social and economic mobility.
Taylor's career has spanned the non-profit educational ecosystem, from data analysis and program evaluation to policy development and advocacy. She developed a keen interest in higher education after interning at the U.S. Department of Education in the Office of Postsecondary Education. This period codified what she had experienced in her own journey as a first generation college graduate and inspired her to use public policy to advocate for increased access and stronger institutional support for all college students. Taylor has since worked for the University of California Office of the President, California Competes, a higher education policy and research think tank, and presently conducts research at the Community College Research Center at TC and at the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis for the City University of New York.
With policy and research experience at both the institutional and state level, Taylor understands the complicated landscapes and siloes in which policy meets practice. She hopes her research will help improve and inform policy design that reflects the needs of a dynamic higher education system and the diverse students it serves, leading to more equitable and stronger outcomes for all postsecondary learners.
B.A. with Honors in Political Science from the University of South Carolina
Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University
Katharine Parham is a Ph.D. Candidate in Education Policy focused on issues of educational equity. Her research interests span the field of K-12 education, and include school choice and charter schools, special education, and the impacts of accountability policies at local, state, and federal levels.
Originally from South Carolina, Katharine began her career as a special education teacher and later an Assistant Principal at charter schools in New Orleans, LA. She left for Washington, DC in 2015 to pursue a career in the policy arena, hoping to impact critical education issues on a broader scale. While acquiring her Masters in Public Policy, she logged time at both the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Senate Education Committee.
With a background as both a policymaker and practitioner, Katharine has seen the gaps between research, policy, and educational practice firsthand. She hopes to engage in work that closes those gaps and enables more strategic decision-making by those designing policy solutions for our nation’s most vulnerable students.
A.B. Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
M.Ed. Instructional Practice, Lipscomb University
Rebecca Shmoys is a Ph.D. student in Education Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Research Assistant at the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE). Her research interests include examining how policies and practices intended to address inequity, both in the K-12 setting and postsecondary transition, impact student outcomes, with a particular interest in intentionally diverse schools and school choice.
Prior to TC, Rebecca worked as an Assistant Principal at Valor Collegiate Academies. She previously taught middle school math and algebra in Nashville, Tennessee. She has also served as a Federal Analyst at Deloitte Consulting.
B.A. in Education, Hampshire College
M.A. in Environmental Conservation Education, New York University, 2009
M.PA. in Executive Public Policy and Administration, Columbia University, 2020
Marley Bauce is a first-semester Ed.M. student in the Education Policy program, interested in economic justice within higher education, and how universities can best support students from underrepresented economic backgrounds. In addition to school part-time, Marley is the Director of Research within the new School of Climate at Columbia University, responsible for grantmaking, strategic planning, and federal affairs.
B.A. in Political Science from Union College 2011
M.A. in Leadership in Teaching Special Education from Notre Dame of Maryland University 2013
My name is Georgia Swan-Ambrose. I am a special education teacher, special education coordinator, a child protective services' literacy tutor, and the co-founder of the organization Black Girl Tutors LLC. I am currently pursuing a Master of Education Degree in Education Policy at Columbia University's Teachers College with a specialization in K-12 education policy. I am dually certified in New York and Maryland for Teaching Students with Disabilities at the Childhood Level, Grade 1-6. I have spent the past ten years working in low-income schools in both Maryland and New York. I am passionate about being an instrument of positive change in my community. I believe that educating our youth is at the foundation of building that community. For the past decade, I have had the opportunity to impact hundreds of students. Even with the challenges presented by COVID-19 and remote demands in place, I have continued to teach my special needs students in Brownville and have tutored children in Brooklyn's foster care system. Through Black Girl Tutors LLC, I have also worked with students nationwide. Upon completing my master's degree, I plan to create an educational non-profit organization focused on bringing culturally responsive and equitable programs to urban public and charter schools. I also desire to develop and execute programs in schools while promoting public policy issues of importance to marginalized students. This meaningful work is a part of my purpose.
B.S in Psychology, minor in Family Studies from Boise State University 2009
M.S in Child and Family Studies from University of Tennessee, Knoxville 2017
Ericka was born and raised in Los Angeles, California; where her passion to support the education and care of children, their families, and broader community began. While earning her degrees, she worked as an Early Childhood Educator, Researcher, Mentor, and Liaison in many Early Childhood Education settings (ie. early childhood education (ECE) programs, K-12 schools, non-profit organizations, university institutions, and a state agency). She believes in supporting children holistically, which often includes partnering with their families, peers, and other community members.
As a Masters student in Education Policy at Teachers College, Ericka hopes to deepen her understanding of ECE and the disconnect between policy and practice, especially among underserved communities. She is committed to supporting and advocating for initiatives that provide high quality education and care for all children. Her life long goal is to be apart of US and international tables collaborating to improve child development and family services worldwide.
B.A. in Latin American Latino Studies, International Studies and Communications in Culture, City College of New York 2016.
Rene is a first year student in the M.A. in Education Policy program, with an interest in specializing in Higher Education and Law & Education.
After 8 years in the retail industry, Rene decided to make a career change and work in the field of education, an area he saw himself making the most impact. Rene currently serves as part of the administrative team for an independent middle school in New York City. While working as an administrator, Rene has seen how policies can directly affect students, and their teachers. After seeing how policies can be inequitable, one of Rene’s main goals is to be able to create policies that are cognisant of all students and their identities.
Working within high levels in schools, Rene has had direct access to the policy implementation process and how it can affect every school community differently. Currently, Rene is in the process of self designing his own specialization within the Education Policy program that will allow him to create and implement policies that serve all students. As a believer that schools should serve students, not the other way around, Rene hopes to provide all students with a voice and a seat at the table.
B.S. in Literacy, Learning, and Leadership – University of Arizona, 2014
M.S.Ed in Educational Leadership – Indiana University Bloomington, 2017
Certificate in Education Law – Indiana University Bloomington, 2017
Lorenzo Johnson, Jr is a first-year M.A. student in the Education Policy program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Since 2017, Lorenzo has had the privilege of serving as an elementary mathematics teacher in New Orleans. During his time in the classroom, Lorenzo's mission was the creation of a solid classroom culture to facilitate the growth and holistic development of each scholar. Lorenzo implemented various initiatives to improve classroom culture including practicing daily mindfulness, encouraging student self-advocacy, and providing representation from varied identities and careers that paralleled the diverse communities in which he served. Lorenzo wholeheartedly believes that the dedication and confidence he encouraged correlated to scholars scoring 15-20% higher on end-of-unit assessments amidst a pandemic. Lorenzo has been nominated for the ‘Think Like A Champion’ award for the past two years within the KNOS Network for his curiosity and desire to continue to evolve as an educator.
Lorenzo’s primary goal in obtaining an M.A. in Education Policy at Teachers College is to reshape the very policies that have impacted the educational system using his professional and personal experiences. Not only is he passionate about each student’s academic achievement, but he is also even more motivated by the journey that comes from self-actualization. Lorenzo is interested in each student’s access to educational opportunities both within and outside of the classroom, the viewpoints of education for black boys, better schooling practices for marginalized students, increased compensation packages for educators, and ways to maximize student advocacy in schools. Lorenzo plans to use his mantra of being unstoppable as the foundation to venturing into policymaking and ultimately becoming a transformative educational leader.
B.A. in Politics and Governance with Honors, X University, Toronto, ON
Public Policy Analysis Certificate, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK
Taylor holds an Honors Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Governance with a minor in French from X University in Toronto, ON and a Certificate in Public Policy Analysis from the London School of Economics. As an undergraduate student, Taylor primarily focused her research on Indigenous rights, cultures, and histories. She continues to advocate for public policy and legislation that drives equitable and decolonial practices in education.
For the past six years, Taylor has taken every opportunity in her studies and professional experience to increase access to equitable education for all students, particularly those facing intersectional oppression. This includes her work as a classroom assistant, tutor, and mentor for urban K-12 students, as well as her volunteer work as the Director of Fundraising at Doctors for Doctors/Nurses for Nurses, an organization that provides opportunities for high-potential students in rural Nicaragua to attend medical school.
Since 2019, she has worked as the Growth & Partnerships Manager at Teach For Canada, helping to recruit, prepare, and support teachers in northern Ontario and Manitoba in close partnership with First Nations. This role has reinforced to Taylor the power of intercultural perspectives in developing new education policy and practices, and she is committed to prioritizing these perspectives in her work at Teachers College and beyond.
As an M.A. student in the Education Policy program, Taylor specializes in Law and Education. She is particularly interested in learning about the reciprocal impact of education policy on legal practices, court decisions, and civic participation. She is motivated to work with other leaders in reimagining an education system that is not only equal, but equitable for all students.
B.A. in History with Honors, Scripps College 2016
As an undergraduate, Sierra majored in history, focusing on race, class, and gender politics in the United States. She won two awards for her senior thesis on the parallels of media narratives of 20th century lynchings and 21st century police executions and published an abridged version in the Critical Theory and Social Justice Journal of Undergraduate Research.
Since graduating in 2016, Sierra has worked at WestEd, an education research non-profit. She contributes to all aspects of research projects including proposal submission, participant recruitment, content and instrument development, data and participant management, quantitative and qualitative data analysis, and dissemination. While very rewarding, Sierra was eager to engage in more policy- and equity-focused research.
At Teachers College, she plans to specialize in critical K-12 education policy and is interested in exploring the way policies such as zoning, school choice, tracking, or disciplinary protocols shape and constrain opportunities for low-income students and students of color.
Until in-person instruction is available, Sierra will continue to work part-time at WestEd while taking courses part-time.
M.S. in Teaching (Special Education), Pace University, New York, NYB.S. in Vocational Rehabilitation and Disability Studies, Auburn University, Auburn, AL
Sarah’s professional experience encompasses special education and vocational rehabilitation. For the past eight years, Sarah has shaped her academic studies and work experience around advocating for young adults with moderate to severe disabilities. In addition to her studies at Teachers College, Sarah works as high school classroom teacher in District 75, a self-contained special education district of the NYC Department of Education. She has taught a high school classroom of alternate assessment students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) for the past six years, focusing on transition and work-based learning skills in order to prepare her students for employment and independent living as they transition out of the public school system. Sarah holds the Model Teacher position at her school, and in addition to teaching, she mentors and leads professional developments to increase teachers’ capacity to become more effective in the classroom. In conjunction with this leadership role, Sarah is a part of multiple leadership teams within the school including the transition team, instructional leadership team, racial equity team, sustainability team, and extended administrative cabinet. Additionally, Sarah has conducted two years of teacher-led action research at her school measuring effects of different communication instructional strategies for students with ASD.
At Teachers College, Sarah specializes in Law and Education. She aims to use law to redesign special education policy for alternate assessment students in order to provide them with an equitable, free, and appropriate public education that can effectively prepare students for independent living and working when they transition out of high school and into their community.
B.A. in Political Science and History from Loyola Marymount University, 2018
Ed.M in Teaching and Curriculum from Boston University, 2020
Krista’s intersectional experiences as an immigrant, multilingual learner, and woman of color inform the ways in which she views education. Her pursuit for education equity began as an undergraduate when she interned for Education Secretary John King and Senator Patty Murray’s education committee. These internships profoundly impacted her career trajectory as she saw the wide disconnect between education policymakers, the policies they make, and the reality that students, teachers, administrators, and families face. Because of this realization, she began her professional career teaching 7th and 9th grade English in Fall River, Massachusetts. During her first two years teaching, she founded the school’s cheer team and advocated for more teacher development on matters concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Now, as a first-year Education Policy student at Columbia’s Teachers College, Krista continues to teach high school English in the South Bronx. Having seen the gaps between research, policy, and educational practice firsthand, she hopes to better learn how to close them by furthering her education and specializing in K-12 policy. Her policy interests include urban education, school choice, and teacher preparation. Krista hopes to continue her work advocating for high-quality, rigorous education and to ensure that students and school communities are understood, valued, and supported.
B.A. in Economics and Latin American Studies from Colby College 2018
M.Ed in Arts in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education 2020
Clare is a first-year student in the Education Policy program, and an aspiring early childhood education and care (ECEC) leader. Shaken alive by the transformative power of the arts, education, and museums in her own life, Clare is uniquely fascinated by the power of the arts and museum-based learning in ECEC; indeed, it prompted her to pursue graduate studies in the arts in education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and to plunge deeper into arts and museum education work with youth in a variety of different contexts ranging from a qualitative independent study focusing on the role of museums in society with Project Zero Senior Researcher, Ellen Winner, to a role designing and leading of the Colby College Museum’s pioneering Art + Storytelling program, a research assistant position studying the impact of ROUNDS with Steve Seidel, a Graduate Student Teacher position leading object-centered lessons at the Harvard Art Museums, a Fulbright Predoctoral Research Fellowship to Spain to study the funding models and best education practices of an emerging network of independent cultural spaces, and a leadership role organizing elementary school mobile-museum visits as Co-Founder and Executive Director of cARTie. At Teachers College, Clare is most excited by the prospect of understanding international perspectives of ECEC and how cultural institutions in particular may offer co-conspiring potential for intentionally integrated ECEC provision.
B.A. in English Literature from the University of Central Florida
Before moving to New York, Lona Nguyen taught English at public schools in Orlando, Florida. Having been a child of immigrants and a first generation college student, Lona wanted to find ways for public education and systems to be more inclusive of marginalized groups that are low on the socioeconomic ladder. She chose to teach English to help guide students of color to be able to communicate in a way that would empower them to achieve their dreams. After realizing that students in the lower quartiles were often left out of many resources given to their other peers, Lona set out on a goal to bring community resources to those students.
From interviewing community members who broke out of the poverty cycle without higher education, getting internships for her students in their dream fields, and even volunteering as the technical director in local theatres, Lona sought out to find ways to support her community in anyway she knew how. In her classrooms, she encouraged her students to embrace their own personalities and cultures in their everyday writing and conversations.
Lona is now achieving her lifelong dreams of attending an Ivy League in order to pursue equity in education by studying towards her Masters in Education Policy and Social Analysis with a specialization in law and education. She is also teaching full time at the Atmosphere Academy Public Charter School in the Bronx. She is hopeful that with her education and collaboration with fellow peers that education will become truly equitable and leave no child left behind.
B.A. International Relations with Honors, University of California, Davis 2020
For the past 6 years, Vi has been teaching and working with youth as a classroom assistant, after school tutor, pen pal, workshop facilitator, and mentor. Her passion for education began when she traveled abroad to Nicaragua before her senior year of high school and volunteered as an English tutor for local children. She began her college journey with an interest in international education and interned for a non-profit organization that supports children’s education in rural Zimbabwe. The summer of 2019, she traveled to Zimbabwe to teach and work with the students that they supported on the topics of health and hygiene. However, her passion for education in the U.S. remained, and she shifted her focus to examining the racial and ethnic inequities in the United States. Wanting to learn more about her community, she conducted research focusing on the identity development of Vietnamese American high school students for her honors thesis.
She is now pursuing an M.A. degree in Education Policy in the hopes of learning how to create meaningful and impactful changes to our education system to achieve justice and freedom for our diverse students.
Vi's research, titled "Cultivating Identities in a Place Called Home: Intersectional, Ever Changing Identities of Vietnamese American Youth in Culturally Sustaining Spaces" has recently been published by the Journal for Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement.
B.A. in Politics, New York University 2019
Andres Rubiano is a first-year M.A. student at Teachers College in the Education Policy Program with a specialization in Law and Education.
Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Andres’s parents moved to Tampa, Florida in pursuit of better opportunities. Andres was a little over two years old at that time. The role of public education in Andres’s development, paired with the reality of how it had failed too many of his peers, compelled him to pursue the work toward educational equity for all. During the undergraduate program, Andres got interested in topics of justice involved youth through Esperanza NY, food insecurity through Hunger Free America, and closing the achievement gap through Jumpstart. Andres has spent the past three years at Practice Makes Perfect, an organization that partners with low-income schools to help narrow the achievement gap. As a Partnerships Manager, Andres has crafted and overseen programming at over 40 partner schools designed to provide individualized support for students. In 2020, Andres led the inaugural partnership with United Community Schools, the largest community school network in New York City operated by the United Federation of Teachers.
At Teachers College, Andres hopes to build on his passion of enhancing the role of the school building to provide a more comprehensive and quality formative experience for students. In particular, his interests include fiscal equity in education, the role of community schools, and policy implementation. Most importantly, Andres looks forward to learning from his peers and their diverse, impactful roles in the field of education.
B.A. in History, The George Washington University 2015
Ed. M. in Instructional Technology, University of Massachusetts 2017
Advanced Certificate in Social Studies Education, City College of New York, 2019
Since 2016, Christopher has served as a classroom teacher in the Bronx. For three years he taught middle school social studies and science at a parochial school in the Woodlawn neighborhood. There, he established a digital media program, student council and student newspaper. He was nominated for the Curran Leadership Academy. For the past two years, Christopher has been an educator for the NYC Department of Education for a high school in the South Bronx. In addition to teaching Digital Journalism and 11th grade U.S. History, he also created a virtual career center to build opportunities for students.
In addition to teaching full-time, Christopher also teaches at Prep for Prep, a leadership program dedicated to preparing middle school students of color for the top independent schools throughout New York City. He has also previously worked as a language acquisition teacher for Holyoke Public Schools in Massachusetts and as a resident advisor for SummerFuel College Prep in Berkeley and New York.
Christopher has a passion for giving students more of a voice in their education. He wants to establish a new model that provides a holistic education through extracurricular activities. At TC, Christopher is looking forward to understanding how education policy shapes the lives of his students and how we can come together to make necessary systemic change.
B.A. in Psychology--Binghamton University, 2020
Lindsey Snyder is a first-year M.A. student in the Education Policy program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She plans to specialize in early childhood education or law and education. Her academic interests include the ways in which policy affects vulnerable populations such as students with learning disabilities and students from lower socioeconomic areas.
Lindsey’s undergraduate experience greatly shaped her career goals as she consistently worked with at-risk youth through her extensive participation in community service and research. At Binghamton University, Lindsey’s dedication to volunteering with students who did not have access to equitable scholastic resources delineated to her just how rampant issues of inequity are within the educational sphere. Her involvement in undergraduate research pertained to the uncontrollable factors that negatively impact a student’s mental health and academic performance. This experience impassioned her to investigate how the educational system can account for such confounding variables to promote equity.
This past year, Lindsey was an assistant preschool teacher. Participating in the after-school program and teaching an art enrichment class granted her unique experiences not only to collaborate with other teachers, but also to develop deep bonds with her students. Ultimately, she gained incredible insight into the ways in which the educational system fails non-traditional students. Therefore, she’s found that radical policy change must be enacted to account for the systemic barriers that prohibit certain students from excelling academically.
At Teachers College, Lindsey strives to utilize her learned knowledge in order to ameliorate the lives of disadvantaged youth. Progressing towards an educational system in which marginalized groups have access to equitable tools from a young age is her utmost priority within this convoluted arena.
B.A.Ed in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Katie’s professional experience is in early childhood program implementation. She began working at Child Care Services Association in Durham, North Carolina on the universal pre-kindergarten team in 2019. She served as the Outreach and Family Engagement Counselor for two years where she built relationships with community partners, coordinated and attended outreach opportunities, engaged families and community stakeholders on social media, and acted as an assistant to the Durham PreK manager with program implementation. In May 2021, Katie became the Acting Durham PreK Manager. She now serves on multiple committees that ensure program success, support collaboration between all partners, and create opportunities for pre-K expansion. In the fall, she will transition to a part-time program assistant position as she begins her graduate program at Teachers College.
Katie will be studying Education Policy at the master’s level and plans to specialize in early childhood education or law and education. Her academic and career passions include universal and public pre-K, literacy, and community collaboration for equitable education. After graduating from Teachers College, Katie hopes to continue working for a non-profit alongside other experts in child care to ensure all young children have access to early education.
In her personal life, Katie enjoys baking for her friends, crocheting, running, thrift shopping, and waiting for the next Marvel movie to be released. She has lived in North Carolina her whole life and is excited to experience city life in New York.
Box: Box 11
Teachers College, Columbia University
Contact Person: Malgorzata KolbPhone: (212) 678-3751 Fax: (212) 678-3589