StudentsFirst Senior Team
Founder and CEO
Michelle began her career as a Teach for America corps member in Baltimore. Through her own trial and error in the classroom, she gained a tremendous respect for the hard work that teachers do every day. In 1997, Michelle founded and led The New Teacher Project, which recruits and trains teachers to work in urban schools. More recently, from 2007 to 2010, Michelle served as chancellor of District of Columbia Public Schools. Under her stewardship, D.C. schools experienced increases in student achievement, a rise in graduation rates, and an upswing--for the first time in decades--in enrollment. Michelle earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master’s in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.
COO & VP of Fiscal Strategy
As COO, Rebecca ensures that StudentsFirst has the necessary resources to drive effective change. In her role, she oversees the teams responsible for the operational infrastructure of StudentsFirst, including Finance, IT, and HR. In addition to serving as the COO, Rebecca runs the Fiscal Strategy division at StudentsFirst, which studies and makes policy recommendations to states and districts on how to use scarce education resources for the benefit of students rather than bureaucracies. Before joining StudentsFirst, Rebecca served as the Chief Financial Officer for the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education, where she was appointed to mitigate the agency’s “high-risk” designation, and oversaw the financial and compliance operation for education resources totaling more than $1 billion. Rebecca previously worked on contract with the New Schools Venture Fund and also held positions as Budget Director for Economic Development and Education and Special Assistant for Education Finance to the Mayor of the District of Columbia.
VP of Membership
Kellen directs the organization’s membership strategy. Kellen has spent the last ten years helping political groups, candidates, non-profits, and businesses build campaigns and citizen-led movements to bring about meaningful change. Most recently, he served as the National Field Director for Arno Political Consultants, where he specialized in managing ballot initiative drives, citizen engagement campaigns, and GOTV and general canvassing operations for a variety of clients. Kellen served as the National Field Director for Americans Elect. At Americans Elect, Kellen utilized a combination of traditional organizing methods and digital tools to build a team of several thousand volunteers across the country, while assisting in the recruitment of hundreds of thousands of site members. Kellen earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis.
Angelia brings a unique set of experiences to her StudentsFirst legal work. Prior to coming to StudentsFirst, she worked in the in-house counsel’s office for the American Civil Liberties Union and practiced corporate law for a large New York City law firm. She also teaches Non-Profit Organizations at Fordham Law School and is a member of the Government Relations Committee of the Non-Profit Coordinating Committee of New York. Angelia received her law degree from Columbia Law School and her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University.
Chief Financial Officer
Michael leads our finance team and is responsible for the long-term financial success of StudentsFirst. Before joining StudentsFirst, Michael founded OrgAmi, a nonprofit organization providing management consulting and comprehensive back-office support to other nonprofit organizations throughout California. In this capacity, Michael served as CFO of EnCorps Teachers Program, an organization that recruits STEM professionals and facilitates their becoming teachers in high-need, California public schools. Previously, Michael was the Controller at NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm that funds and supports education entrepreneurs; and Controller at Common Sense Media, a national nonprofit focused on media literacy. Michael holds an MBA from the School of Management at the University of San Francisco and a BA in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley.
VP of National Policy
Eric has been working on public education reform issues for the past decade. He served most recently as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Mayor for Education for the District of Columbia, playing a lead role in school reform efforts, including the mayoral takeover of the school system and the successful Race to the Top application. A 2003 graduate of the Washington College of Law, Eric has served as the Legislative Counsel to the Committee on Education, Libraries, and Recreation of the D.C. Council and as a policy analyst for the DC Board of Education. Eric developed his interests in public education and youth justice while in law school, where he served as a Fellow in the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project and taught constitutional literacy to high school students. Eric grew up in Ohio and attended The Ohio State University.
VP of State Affairs
Tim is a former three-term Democratic state representative in the Michigan legislature. During his time there, Tim served in leadership roles, including Assistant Majority Floor Leader, Chair of the Caucus Campaign, and Chair of the House Education Committee. As Chair of the House Education Committee, Tim successfully pushed through many bi-partisan educational reforms that included merit pay, take over of failing schools, smart cap charter school legislation, and creating effective principal/teacher evaluations using student data. He’s brought his commitment to progressive reform and skills in forging coalitions for change to lead the State Affairs team at StudentsFirst. Working with our members, his team has helped change over 100 policies in 18 states affecting 23 million children. Tim earned his bachelor’s degree from Oakland University.
George Parker is a 30-year veteran math teacher of the DC public school system. He is the former president of the Washington Teachers Union, elected to that post in 2005. In 2010, Parker worked with Michelle Rhee to negotiate a ground-breaking collective bargaining agreement that featured innovations in teacher compensation, professional development and evaluations. The agreement was rooted in the shared belief that DCPS leaders must raise academic and teaching standards while also treating teachers fairly and giving them the tools and conditions to work effectively with children.