If we are successful, a school (or system of schools) will be a healthy, stable, safe environment for all students, allowing them to achieve at the highest levels.
We believe this ultimately depends on creating an equitable and inclusive environment for staff.
Creating this environment requires the recruitment and retention of high quality, diverse people who experience consistent talent processes and systems of accountability and support.
The mission of EdFuel is to empower education organizations to effectively recruit and retain diverse and high quality staff through comprehensive and equitable talent management systems.
What We Do
We’re all about the people. EdFuel is a national nonprofit that helps education organizations recruit and retain top talent at all levels. We offer a range of programs and services from ready-to-use tools to full-scale talent management solutions for schools, networks, districts and education non-profits.
EdFuel supports single site schools, charter networks, traditional districts, and education nonprofits with talent management needs of all types. On the systematic side, we design the tools and processes that education organizations need to implement strong, equitable and inclusive talent management systems. Our work spans all aspects of the talent cycle and we have extensive experience in the following areas: competency mapping, recruitment, hiring, onboarding, professional development, performance evaluation, compensation and benefits, succession planning, and holistic organizational culture.
But we know that systems are only part of the solution. Much of the challenge is adaptive: the ability of organizational leaders to effectively implement talent management systems with consistency, fidelity, and in a way that preserves strong internal culture. EdFuel designs tailored training and support systems that build the capacity of the organization to sustain strong talent practices without us.
“EdFuel has been an important partner to Yu Ying. Over the past year, we’ve worked closely to enhance the school’s organizational capacity and develop strategies to retain our talented employees. Thank you, EdFuel!”
- Cheri Harrington, Chief Operating Officer, Washington Yu Ying
How We Operate
We meet you where you are
We take pride in our nimble nature and ability to design adaptive solutions tailored to meet partner needs.
We make best-practice practical
We source and conduct research as the foundation of our work, yet balance it with a dose of practicality to meet real-world needs.
We have a bias toward action
Because time is precious, we take an applied approach to design, valuing responsiveness and getting things done.
We offer accessible price points
Because top talent shouldn’t be a luxury, we take a streamlined, affordable approach to delivering high-quality products.
We ask difficult questions
Because we believe diversity, equity and inclusion are talent imperatives, we will directly address areas where bias is or has the potential to be at play.
Meet the Team
Mary-Mason joined EdFuel in June 2015 because she believes that students deserve the most talented, focused leaders working with them toward their educational outcomes.
During her tenure at EdFuel Mary-Mason has led key programs including the Executive Coaching cadre and Peer Learning Communities, developed a number of open-source tools, and launched EdFuel’s work in Detroit. As a Partner she oversees our internal talent systems and works deeply with our partners to solve their most pressing talent needs.
Prior to her work at EdFuel, Mary-Mason co-led the Teacher Leadership Development team at Teach For America – D.C. Region, leading the training and development of 6 instructional coaches and approximately 250 teachers. Before taking on that role, she served as an instructional coach, managing over 100 teachers and working with school leaders across D.C., Prince George’s County, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Mary-Mason has also served as a School Director for Teach For America’s Tulsa Institute, leading a summer school program for over 500 students and managing the development of 100 first year teachers and 10 teacher coaches. Mary-Mason began her career as a 7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher at McClintock Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Mary-Mason graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Arts in French and International Affairs. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, Matt, and their daughter, Nan. She is passionate about racial justice advocacy, loves exploring the city, watching Bravo TV shows, and spending time with her family.
Kristina joined EdFuel in February 2017 because she believes that achieving extraordinary outcomes for kids rests on talented teachers and leaders serving within healthy, talent-driven organizations.
Kristina began her career as an elementary teacher and instructional coach within Detroit Public Schools and the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan. She pursued her Master’s of Public Policy at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, focusing on educational policy and teacher preparation. One of her formative professional experiences is her time at NewSchools Venture Fund’s (NSVF) Learning To Teach Fund through the Education Pioneers Graduate School Fellowship. Prior to joining EdFuel, Kristina served as K-12 Program Manager for Excellent Schools Detroit where she led special initiatives including the launch of Enroll Detroit, an enrollment and direct support service for families.
In 2017, Kristina translated her love for literacy and community into Book Suey, a bookstore she opened with her husband and closest friends in Hamtramck, Michigan.
Raven joined EdFuel in July 2016 because she believes strong leaders have a remarkable impact on the growth of students and other adults.
During her tenure at EdFuel Raven has led some of EdFuel’s largest initiatives, including a national compensation study, talent system design for a 35,000 student district and the Washington DC Talent Cohort. As a Partner she oversees our product and service delivery, quality and evaluation.
Raven started her career at Goldman Sachs, where she led large cross-functional project teams to launch new businesses, institute regulatory controls and establish strategic infrastructure in New York and Hong Kong. Raven pursued her MBA at The George Washington University, where she was awarded a fellowship from Education Pioneers and transitioned into education reform. Raven has served in a variety of roles, leading teams at non-profits and public charter schools, to design and implement network-wide systems focused on growth, student programs, school culture, teacher evaluation, and student achievement. Prior to joining EdFuel Raven was Director, Systems & Operations at Achievement First. Raven currently resides in Washington DC with her husband, son and chihuahua.
Kelly joined EdFuel because she believes in the power of leadership to build an education system that serves the needs of all students.
Kelly originally joined EdFuel as Director of Programs, where she helped launch EdFuel’s overall programmatic model and led numerous engagements with schools, districts and non-profits all over the country.
Prior to her work at EdFuel, Kelly focused on charter accountability and academic quality for a portfolio of 540+ charter schools at the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools. Before joining ASBCS, she served as a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development for Teach For America – D.C. Region, managing over 80 teachers and partnering with school leaders at 15 schools across D.C. and Prince George’s County Public Schools. Kelly has also served as a School Director for Teach For America’s Philadelphia Institute, leading a summer school program for over 300 students and managing the development of over 30 first-year teachers. Kelly began her career as an 8th Grade Math teacher at Perry Street Preparatory Public Charter School.
Kelly graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and from American University with a Master of Arts in Teaching. She currently lives in Washington D.C.
Cortney joined EdFuel in April 2018 because she believes that well trained teachers and support staff, result in better prepared students.
Cortney started her career as a high school social studies teacher in her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.
As a teacher, Cortney discovered her passion for ensuring that all students had access to a a quality education and extra curricular experiences. After leaving the classroom, Cortney pursued her MPA with a focus in nonprofit management at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Prior to joining EdFuel, Cortney served as a program coordinator for a nonprofit organization that supported children with an incarcerated parent or loved one. In this role, she was responsible for curriculum creation and implementation, special event planning, data analysis and collection, and management of volunteers and interns.
Cortney currently resides in Atlanta, GA.
Kerri-Ann Nesbeth joined EdFuel in April 2018 because she believes that increasing access to a quality education, regardless of someone’s socioeconomic status or zip code, begins with building capacity in educational leaders.
Kerri-Ann started her career at the Clinton Foundation overseeing operations and logistics for President Bill Clinton’s annual conference, which focused on bolstering the U.S. economy through job creation.
Soon after, she recognized one of the common denominators to unlocking opportunity was receiving a quality education. This realization facilitated her desire to have a more direct impact on education reform and she transitioned to work at Achievement First Public Charter Schools in Brooklyn, New York. As Associate Director of Operations, Kerri-Ann launched AF’s first ever talent management tool that aggregated the most pertinent talent metrics to inform organizational health across over 30 schools in the network. In addition, she played a crucial role in AF’s diversity recruitment efforts and successfully identified new strategies to bolster the diversity of teacher and school leader new hires.
Kerri-Ann graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Management and minors in History and African American Studies. She currently lives in South Florida and serves as Vice Chair of the City of Miramar’s Education Advisory Board. She is passionate about operations and systems, loves traveling, watching TV, and spending time with her family.
Rachel Nozari joined EdFuel in August 2021 because she firmly believes in the power of diverse teams to catalyze real change, so all students have access to an excellent and equitable education. She is personally and professionally driven to build individual and organizational capacity to ensure all leaders can realize their full potential and all teams can operate at their best.
Rachel began her professional career teaching first and second grade in Hartford, Connecticut where she was reminded every day how naturally creative, resourceful, and collaborative people are, even from the youngest age. Rachel spent the last 8 years working at Teach For America. While at TFA she coached K-12 educators across 5 cities to build culturally responsive classrooms that resulted in holistic growth for students. As a Director of Leadership and Learning, she used liberatory design methods to design and roll out a region-wide theory of leadership development. In her most recent role, she focused on strategy, talent, operations, and learning work where she led a regional transition to a more agile and inclusive learning organization.
Rachel is passionate about innovation and human-centered design grounded in equity. She holds a BA in Psychology and Political Science from the University of Connecticut, a Masters in Education from the University of Saint Joseph, and is currently working on her Professional Coaching Certification through the CoActive Training Institute so she can better support all leaders. She currently lives in New Haven, CT with her husband and enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.
Ashleigh joined EdFuel in July 2021 because she believes that people are the key factor to student success and that students should have strong leaders, teachers, and non-instructional staff supporting them.
Prior to her work at EdFuel, Ashleigh managed end-to-end school leader and network-level recruitment at Democracy Prep Public Schools. In her work with the organization, she planned and executed leadership interview rounds with a focus on improving the equity and inclusivity of the hiring process, oversaw the creation and implementation of structured interview processes for network-level roles that would reduce hiring biases, and facilitated the outreach and selection of mission-driven, high potential teacher candidates for the Teaching Residency Program.
Ashleigh began her career in education as a founding seventh-grade English Language Arts teacher in Baltimore, MD. She also taught middle and high school English in Philadelphia, PA. She holds a BA in English from Kenyon College, a Master of Arts in Teaching from The Johns Hopkins University, and a Master of Arts in Education Policy Studies from The George Washington University.
Ashleigh currently lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband where she enjoys reading, running, and exploring the region.
Nicole joined EdFuel in June 2021 because she believes people are one of the most important factors in ensuring that every child has an education that prepares them for life.
After earning her Masters’ Degree in Education Policy from Vanderbilt University, she spent nearly six years at the Tennessee Department of Education. During her time there, she supported year one of statewide teacher evaluation implementation as well as curriculum and instruction, supporting teachers and leaders in the transition to more rigorous standards and assessments. She led selection and performance management for hundreds of facilitators of statewide training for tens of thousands of educators each summer and thousands of school leaders over the years. Following her time at TDOE, Nicole was a founding team member at Instruction Partners, an education non-profit, where she launched the organization’s teacher professional development work before turning her focus to internal learning and development and talent management more broadly. She led hiring, onboarding, performance management, and employee engagement, growing the organization from 20 to 75 employees over two years while increasing the team’s diversity and improving the overall employee experience.
Nicole started her career in education as an elementary teacher in rural North Carolina and still describes herself as an educator at heart. She is passionate about supporting others to be their best across roles in the education field. She will describe herself as a bit of a nerd – loves designing processes and making data tell a story that drives action.
Nicole currently lives in Cary, NC with her husband and two children. Nicole enjoys reading, crafting and hiking, biking, and running (really anything to spend time outside!).
Melany joined EdFuel in May 2021 because she believes talent is a lever for educational equity and should ultimately level the playing field for those marginalized.
Prior to beginning an education career, Melany conducted opportunity gap research at the University of Delaware and educational psychology research regarding stereotype threat in minority families at the University of Michigan. Her research findings compelled her to combat the opportunity gap as an educator. Melany served as an elementary teacher in New Castle, Delaware while pursuing her Master of Arts in Teaching at Johns Hopkins University. As a teacher, Melany used her background in research and data to customize a response to intervention strategy, which resulted in record proficiency rates on student’s end-of-year assessments.
Melany later served as the Coordinator for Teacher Selection and Analytics at DC Public Schools where she used data to inform the District’s national strategy for teacher recruitment and selection. There she performed data analysis into how well the teacher candidate evaluation system predicted teacher’s future performance on end-of-year IMPACT evaluations. She also served as a Strategic Enrollment Initiatives Specialist for DC Public Schools, managing enrollment operations for a third of the District’s schools.
Melany graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and Black American Studies. She currently lives in Delaware.
Sara-Kate Roberts joined EdFuel in February 2020 after serving as an independent consultant whose work primarily focused on strengthening the human capital strategies that educational organizations utilize to build, maintain, and grow their teams. Her consulting projects spanned partners that include charter schools and networks, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations.
Prior to consulting, Sara-Kate oversaw strategic talent initiatives at KIPP New Orleans Schools and before that, helped to lead the roll-out of teacher evaluation in Jefferson Parish Public Schools, the largest district in the state of Louisiana. She previously worked at Teach For America in the San Francisco Bay Area, after teaching English and Leadership at Skyline High School in Oakland. More than twelve years after meeting her first students, they are still the driving force behind her work, and continuously propel her desire to build strong teams that will help students succeed.
Sara-Kate graduated from the University of Alabama and now lives in Atlanta with her husband and dog, Corduroy.
Saima joined EdFuel in May 2021 because she believes that talent is a key lever for building strong and diverse school teams to ensure all students receive a quality education.
Prior to joining EdFuel, Saima led talent and HR initiatives for FirstLine Schools for ten years. Key initiatives that Saima worked on include: the development and implementation of the teacher career pathway and compensation system, performance evaluation systems for teachers and non-instructional staff, employee surveys, and the recruitment and selection of teachers, school leaders and non-instructional staff. Saima led the implementation and evolution of performance management systems and dashboards enabling school leaders to have real-time data on coaching and feedback given to teachers. She also oversaw the development of the HR department and streamlined and improved FirstLine’s personnel policies, employee onboarding and benefits management systems.
Before working at FirstLine, Saima worked at The New Teacher Project, supporting the recruitment of Teaching Fellows in Shreveport, LA. She also spent several years working in international development in both Washington DCand Pakistan prior to focusing on the education sector. Saima holds a BA from Bryn Mawr College and a Master’s in Public Policy from The George Washington University. She currently lives in Miami with her husband.
Saima is an aspiring runner who enjoys watching international dramas, picking up new languages, and spending time in the great outdoors.
Meet the Board
Emmile Brack is an independent consultant that partners with K-12 public school systems and education-focused non-profit organizations to hone its collective ability to understand, identify and address inequities impacting students, families and schools and engage in inquiries and discussions to identify ways to improve how they serve all students. She has helped organizations revamp their theories of change, core values and strategic plans as well as analyze their data and operational processes, using a more intentional equity lens. Before striking out on her own, Emmile was Vice President of Operations for Schoolzilla, a public-benefit corporation that creates data tools for school leaders, leading organizational efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion. Prior to Schoolzilla, Emmile worked at Aspire Public Schools for 7 years, serving as Chief of Staff and Vice President of Operations for the last 3 years of her tenure. As Chief of Staff, she led the work, in partnership with the National Equity Project, to build shared language and understanding around racial inequities amongst school and central office leaders. In her Operations leadership role, she managed the IT, Data and Applications, Strategy and Growth and School Operations Support teams. Before making the shift into education, Emmile worked as a finance and operations consultant. Emmile earned her MBA from The George Washington University and her bachelor’s degree from Santa Clara University.
Chief Executive Officer, KIPP Philadelphia Public Schools, EdFuel Board Chair
Jessica Cunningham Akoto joined KIPP Philadelphia Public Schools as the Chief Executive Officer in June 2018. Jessica started her career as a 4th-grade teacher in D.C. Public Schools. She later transitioned to KIPP as a sixth-grade math teacher at the region’s flagship school: KEY Academy. Jessica founded KIPP DC’s third middle school, WILL Academy, and served as the school’s principal for four years. She then served as a Chief Academic Officer for two years before deciding to return to school leadership in 2012 as the principal of KIPP DC’s high school, KIPP DC College Prep. Most recently, she worked as the KIPP Foundation’s Executive in Residence, where she provided critical on-site support to KIPP regional leaders to identify and execute the steps needed to produce superior results and healthy growth.
Jessica earned a B.S. in African American History from Florida A&M University and a Masters in Elementary Education from American University. She is a Fellow of the fourth class of the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship, a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, and a 2015 Milken Educator Award winner. Most recently, Jessica was named a 2020 Minority Business Leader by the Philadelphia Business Journal. Jessica currently sits on the board of directors of EdFuel and the KIPP Foundation. Outside of work, Jessica enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and exploring Philadelphia’s best restaurants.
Chief Learning Officer
Freddy Gonzalez leads the Teaching, Learning and KIPP School Leadership Programs team with the overall goal of students across the country being empowered to lead choice-filled lives. The team he supports create and improve curriculum and assessment for the KIPP Network while also working alongside KIPP network’s leaders to facilitate opportunities for professional growth and development.
Before joining the KIPP Foundation, Freddy worked at KIPP Austin College Prep where he taught language arts, social studies, writing, and served as the eighth grade level chair. He went on to become the assistant principal at KACP, and finally served as principal for seven years after completing KSLP’s program for successor leaders. Under his leadership, the school earned Recognized or Exemplary ratings every year and earned distinctions in all possible categories such as achievement in reading/ELA, achievement in math, and top 25% student progress.
Formerly, Freddy was the lead college counselor for the Settlement College Reading Program in New York City. Freddy earned his M.Ed. from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education, and a B.A. from Brown University.
Founding Partner, Ampersand Education, EdFuel Vice Board Chair/Treasurer
Kristoffer is a Founding Partner of Ampersand Education, where he leads Ampersand’s Growth Strategy team and supports and advises clients on all aspects of their growth strategy. Kristoffer brings 15 years of experience to the team and has expertise in all stages of growth, leading projects ranging from new site identification and market analyses, to fundraising, marketing and communications, and launch support.
Kristoffer has led teams to launch over 100 schools, raise over $50M, and pass charter legislation improvements in several jurisdictions. He’s handled growth and development for established organizations, as well as organizations in the start-up phase, with an end goal of increasing their impact for kids. Kristoffer began his career in education as a high school English teacher and leveraged this deep knowledge of schools to develop growth strategies for Rocketship Education, KIPP Austin Public Schools, and the KIPP Foundation.
Kristoffer holds degrees from Oregon State University and Emerson College, and lives with his family in Oakland, California. After avidly cheering on the Cubs’ recent achievements, he has high hopes that the Chicago Bears will be the next team to win it all.
Becca Bracy Knight is executive director of The Broad Center, a nonprofit organization that works toward the day when American public education has been transformed into an engine of excellence and equity so every student graduates ready for college, careers and life. The Broad Center identifies, develops and supports people who are inspired to work inside the system, in partnership with students, families and communities to help them open the doors to opportunity and bring their vision for educational excellence to life.
Previously, Becca was a director at The Broad Foundation, responsible for managing numerous grants and two of the foundation’s flagship initiatives. Earlier in her career, Becca was regional director of K-12 programs for Kaplan Learning Services, family services director for the Salvation Army’s South Central Los Angeles Youth Project and a Healthy Start coordinator in San Francisco. She also worked in Oakland on major school improvement initiatives through Partners in School Innovation and has held leadership positions in the AmeriCorps National Service Program and its precursor, the Summer of Service. Becca was a member of the second cohort of the Aspen Institute-NewSchools Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education fellowship, designed to recognize and support entrepreneurial leaders committed to transforming public education. Becca earned a bachelor’s degree in science, technology and society from Stanford University.
President & CEO, SchoolSmartKC
Awais Sufi serves as President and CEO of SchoolSmartKC, a $56M collaborative fund dedicated to improving K-12 education in Kansas City that is supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Hall Family Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. Prior to his work in Kansas City, Awais served as Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Programs at the International Youth Foundation (IYF). At IYF, Awais led the organization’s public-private partnerships between development agencies, the private sector and philanthropy to promote greater opportunity for disadvantaged youth in over 50 countries worldwide. Before his tenure at IYF, Awais served as the startup Managing Director of the Education for Employment Foundation, which links disadvantaged youth to job opportunities and productive livelihoods.
Awais has also served as a corporate and securities attorney at Arnold & Porter, a Washington, D.C. law firm, and as Law Clerk to the Honorable Judge John Sprizzo of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Awais is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, where he was an editor of the Texas Law Review, and the University of Chicago, where he was a member of the Maroon Key Society.
Meet our Funders
We feel fortunate to have been supported by a number of national and local funding organizations. Current and past funders include the following organizations