April Martin

April D. Martin
Chair
April D. Martin is the Executive Director of REAL School Gardens in the Mid-Atlantic region. As the Executive Director she manages the regional team, works closely on regional philanthropy, build school district partnerships, and coordinates with the national and regional board.

April attended the Notre Dame of Maryland University, an all women’s liberal arts school in Baltimore, Maryland. She received her BA in International Business and worked in the financial industry after graduation. Shortly after completing her undergraduate degree she received her Masters from Johns Hopkins University.

Throughout her professional career, April has worked to expand her knowledge of education and best practices through the various organizations she has had the opportunity to serve. From designing and implementing innovative curriculum for youth with Harvard University’s W.E.B. Dubois Institute for African and African American Studies, to managing an evidence-based pregnancy prevention program with The Children’s Aid Society of New York, she has dedicated her career to helping students and families.

April has worked closely with government agencies, foundations, schools, and partner organizations on the integration of environmental education programs. She is a fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program and part-time runner. She has a passion for outdoor education and sustainable food production. Besides enjoying running and biking around DC, she also enjoys college football (War Eagle) and good southern food.


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John Zakrajsek
Treasurer
John Zakrajsek is dedicated to public service with over 18 years of budget and financial management experience in federal, state, and local governments that spans across the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Currently, Mr. Zakrajsek is a senior official at the U.S. Department of State where he has a broad range of responsibilities, including the formulation, presentation, and execution of resources. As an executive leader, he focuses on unifying organizations to a strategic vision, and coalescing resources to effectively execute programs and activities to meet goals and objectives. He received a master’s degree in public administration from DeVry University, and has a bachelor’s degree in political science from The Ohio State University. Mr. Zakrajsek has been a resident in the District of Columbia since 2004, and makes his home in the Takoma Park area with his wife and three children..


Suzanne Ehlers
Secretary
Suzanne Ehlers is President & CEO of PAI, and has worked for the last 20 years to promote women's health, rights and empowerment across the globe. Ms. Ehlers serves as a board member for Ibis Reproductive Health and the US Global Leadership Coalition; is an Environmental Leadership Liaison for Rachel's Network; and has previously sat on the Board of Directors of the Global Health Council, the Janelia Family Foundation, The Biodiversity Project, and the Asia Pacific Alliance. She believes deeply in board governance and service, and during her time as CEO at PAI has re-fashioned and re-built PAI's board to be a team of highly engaged and effective ambassadors, advocates and "askers" for the organization.

Ms. Ehlers is a frequent speaker on issues of women’s health and rights and has been profiled by New York Times columnist Nick Kristof, National Journal and Grist. She is also a seasoned and enthusiastic fundraiser; a DC resident passionate about the District's potential.

Ms. Ehlers served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Central African Republic (CAR) following her graduation from Cornell University with a degree in Government. Ms. Ehlers speaks French and Sango (language of the CAR) and is an avid traveler and baker. She has resided in Washington, DC, since 1996, and makes her home in Columbia Heights with her husband and two daughters.


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Katherine Avery
Member
Katherine currently serves as the Senior Director of Facilitation & Training at Flamboyan Foundation, a family foundation dedicated to improving student outcomes by promoting effective family engagement across D.C. public and public charter schools. At Flamboyan, Katherine is responsible for the oversight and implementation of all teacher-facing professional development, including managing a cohort of teacher and parent trainers who facilitate trainings on behalf of the organization. In addition, Katherine recently piloted a Family & Teacher Advisory Group at Flamboyan, and sits as co-chair to the Equity Working Group. Prior to joining Flamboyan, Katherine worked at D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) as a Master Educator, evaluating and supporting early childhood and language acquisition teachers across the district. During her time at DCPS, Katherine also served on the Race & Equity Planning Committee and led a variety of professional development sessions for central office staff as well as school-based educators. While her most recent work is centered around professional development and facilitation, Katherine also carries teaching experience having worked as a Primary English teacher at LAMB PCS. In addition, she has experience opening a charter school (from drafting an application to securing a $250k initial operating grant); Katherine served on the founding board and was Director of Student and Family Services for a local Montessori charter school.

Katherine has lived in Washington D.C. for almost 17 years and has dedicated herself to public education in the district for the last 14, after graduating from The George Washington University with a degree in Criminal Justice. She brings a unique perspective to her work, coming from a social justice-oriented, bilingual, early childhood, Montessori background and having worked in both DCPS and DC Public Charter Schools across the district. Katherine's greatest joy is witnessing the moment a child discovers they can read! In addition, she is the proud mother of two elementary school-aged children, both of whom attend DCPS. Katherine and her family enjoy camping, reading, cooking, and playing with their dogs.


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Roxana Barillas
Member
Roxana’s experience as an immigrant has shaped her outlook and contributions in the area of community development, policy and advocacy. Education is at the heart of Roxana’s upbringing. Her grandmother was a teacher and principal and her mother an early learning and after-school teacher. Roxana came to the US from El Salvador with her siblings at age 12, not knowing any English. She became a Frederick Douglass Scholar at American University, where she majored in International Studies and minored in French. She was a small business owner in DC, served as Secretary and founding board member of the Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC). As a founding member of the DC Latino Civil Rights Task Force, she took part in board trainings provided by the National Council of La Raza (now UnidosUS). She was also appointed to serve on the DC Mayor's Commission on Latino Community Development. She earned her master’s from the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University.

Roxana's professional experience includes working with Congress on domestic and international poverty issues at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. She went to serve as deputy director of the USDA's Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships as part of the Obama Administration, where she worked with nonprofits, including public charter schools, promoting access to nutrition and healthy communities. Most recently, she served as the first director of Hispanic engagement at the literacy nonprofit, First Book, helping the social enterprise close the educational equity gap by increasing access and curating a selection of culturally and linguistically diverse books and educational resources, growing its membership base by 333% in the first year to a network of educators serving children from low-resource communities that is now 47% Latino-serving. Roxana is passionate about social justice and civic engagement. She enjoys time with her son Emilio and daughter Camilla, who wants to teach English in middle school and is currently a freshman at St. Mary's College of Maryland. Roxana enjoys time with family and friends. She loves reading nonfiction, watching international films, going to the theater and visiting museums and botanical gardens.


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Jen Carrier
Member
Jennifer (Jen) is an attorney at Blank Rome, LLP (formerly Dickstein Shapiro, LLP) focusing her practice on nonprofit governance, political law, government investigations, government affairs, and global security. Ms. Carrier regularly advises nonprofit organizations -- including charitable organizations, labor-management committees, and political committees -- regarding formation, corporate governance, obtaining and maintaining tax-exempt status, political activity, strategic planning and communications, crisis management, and ongoing legal compliance. For approximately six years until 2016, Carrier was a Vice President of a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, Doing Small Miracles for Others, affiliated with Dickstein Shapiro, LLP. Prior to receiving her law degree from Columbia University School of Law in 2008, Ms. Carrier worked for three years in the press office of U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, ultimately as his Press Secretary. A Midwesterner, Ms. Carrier graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Criminal Justice. Ms. Carrier has three children under the age of 6, so has forgotten if she has had any hobbies.


Najia Lupson
Member
Najia Lupson is an outcomes-oriented Consultant & Coach focused on serving education organizations. She has spent the last 5+ years working in the urban education sector after spending 10+ years in the corporate sector working in brand strategy, marketing & communications. She brings a marketing lens to her talent & recruitment work and is passionate about helping her clients not only create strong talent programs but also effectively communicate their “why” internally and externally.

Prior to becoming an independent consultant, as the Managing Director of Talent & Recruitment at East Harlem Tutorial Project (EHTP), she managed three teams that led talent & recruitment initiatives across the central office, schools, and after-school programs. Prior to EHTP, Najia lead performance management and talent analytics work at Uncommon Schools as the Founding Director of Performance Management. In 2013, she was accepted into The Broad Residency, a highly selective 2-year professional development program aimed at developing leaders in urban education. In 2010, as a Senior Brand Strategist at Microsoft, she was awarded Microsoft’s highest honor, The Platinum Club Award, for supporting her team’s expansion into emerging markets. While at Microsoft she partnered with DIVOG, a Ghana based NGO, to create and launch Project Empower in Ghana, an after-school program aimed at enabling high school students to launch community based social enterprises.

Najia holds a B.S. from the University of Maryland, College Park, a Master in International Affairs from Columbia University, an M.B.A. from the NYU Stern School of Business and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership. She lives in Silver Spring, MD with her husband, Brian and son, Makai.


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Ericka Markman
Member
Ericka is an experienced executive and entrepreneur who has spent more than 25 years launching and building successful enterprises in education and publishing. Ericka is the president of Turo Park Partners, which provides strategic consulting services to educational and non-profit organizations.

Previously, Ericka was CEO of Millmark Education, a K-12 curriculum company that she founded in 2006 to address the growing needs of ESL/ELL students in U.S. schools. Ericka led a seasoned management team that supervised all strategic, operational, financial, product and sales operations of the enterprise, from pre-product launch and capital raise to completion of a sale in 2014.

Prior to starting Millmark, Ericka was President, Children’s Books and Education Publishing Group at the National Geographic Society. She launched and led the exponential growth of National Geographic’s Education Publishing Group. Under Ericka’s direction, the Group launched a series of highly successful initiatives, including award-winning K-12 literacy programs and websites, National Geographic Explorer classroom magazine, a national network of professional development programs, and long-term partnerships with major publishing houses. Prior to this role, Ericka served as VP, Children’s Television. Before joining National Geographic, Ms. Markman held a series of management and fundraising positions with the Annenberg Foundation, New York City Ballet and Living Planet Press.

Ericka holds a BA from Brown University, and an MBA and MA, Education from Stanford University. She is the proud mother of three daughters and resides with her husband in Chevy Chase, MD.


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Victoria Ortega
Member
Victoria Ortega is currently an Associate Attorney in Blank Rome's Litigation Department. She devotes a significant amount of her time representing pro bono clients from Central America in connection with their asylum applications. She is a member of the Ayuda Advisory Council. Ayuda is a nonprofit serving the legal, mental health, and social services needs of the immigrant community. During law school, she served as an IRC family mentor for families who had recently arrived from their home countries to the Baltimore area.

She has been a D.C. resident for nine (9) years. Before attending law school at the University of Maryland, Victoria worked in higher education administration, focusing her work on improving low-income, first-generation, or minority student access to higher ed. She completed an M.A. in Higher Education Administration at the University of Maryland, focusing her studies and thesis on undocumented student access to postsecondary institutions.

In her free time, she travels, runs (Chicago Marathon 2017), and eats way too many meals out in D.C. restaurants.


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Douglas Tyson
Member
In 2014, Douglas Tyson was named the Region 1 Assistant Superintendent, Fairfax County Public Schools, where he currently supports 40 schools and supervises the principals. Mr. Tyson is an experienced educator with an extensive background in educational management and leadership.

Mr. Tyson was an award-winning teacher of Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) chemistry and mathematics at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, DC. Mr. Tyson also coached the Science Bowl teams and the "It's Academic" teams during his time at Benjamin Banneker. The 2001 “It’s Academic” Team were national champions and were recognized by the Wall Street Journal. After leaving Benjamin Banneker, Mr. Tyson led the Thurgood Marshall Charter School in Washington, DC, where he oversaw dramatic increases in math and English test scores.

Mr. Tyson is the past president of Phi Delta Kappa, a member of the Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee, and has given numerous presentations and interviews on mathematics and science instruction, teaching, and supporting African American students. He has served as an advisor and consultant to the U.S. Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institutional Review Board at Georgetown University Medical Center, and the National Science Foundation. Mr. Tyson has been named a Washingtonian of the Year by the Washingtonian Magazine.

Mr. Tyson did his undergraduate preparation at Dartmouth College and his graduate work at Yale University and George Washington University.