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Our Advisory Board

Robert Balfanz, Ph.D., Advisory Board Chair

Robert Balfanz is a senior research scientist at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, where he is Director of the Everyone Graduates Center and Co-Director of the Center for Social Organization of Schools (CSOS). He served as a leading pioneer of the Talent Development Secondary model at CSOS, and then positioned Talent Development Secondary as a lead partner when co-founding Diplomas Now, the proven strategy for turning around some of America’s most challenging secondary schools and winner of a prestigious $30 million federal Investing in Innovation (i3) grant. He has published widely on secondary school reform, high school dropouts, early warning systems and instructional interventions in high-poverty schools. He is also a frequent speaker on dropout prevention and early warning indicators as a strategy to help students most at risk of failing. Through his research, advocacy and practice he has established himself as the nation’s trusted broker of evidence and information when dealing with the nation’s most challenged schools and vulnerable students. He is often referred to as a national expert on dropout prevention and has built his reputation on translating research findings into effective school improvement strategies and models.

Dr. Balfanz was asked to assist the Obama Administration with its national initiative on addressing and eliminating chronic absenteeism in public schools. His research into chronic absenteeism underpins the My Brother’s Keeper School Success Mentors Initiative, and many other chronic absenteeism prevention programs across the country.

Dr. Balfanz is the first recipient of the Alliance For Excellent Education’s Everyone a Graduate Award and he was awarded the White House Champion of Change for commitment to education of African American students in 2013. He holds a B.A. in history from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Chicago.

Jean-Claude Brizard

Jean-Claude Brizard is a Senior Advisor, P-16 Community Investment Team, Office of the President, US Programs and Deputy Director, Washington State Strategy, Pacific Northwest, US Programs where he is focused on supporting the execution of a local proof point to close the achievement and opportunity gaps in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States as well as advising the K-12 team on their new strategy. He is Partner on leave at FourPoint Education Group where he focused on two practice areas – a unique collaborative structure that supports the work of many state departments of education and public school districts as they seek to turnaround chronically failing school systems as well as a practice area focused on education to career.

Mr. Brizard spent the 2013 calendar year as an advisor to the leadership of College Board developing the organization’s career readiness initiative. This engagement culminated in a strategic plan for integrating career readiness into the College Board’s mission and a special supplement that was published as part of the 45th edition of the PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. He is the former Chief Executive of Chicago Public Schools. Prior to his appointment in Chicago, he was Superintendent of Schools for the Rochester, NY School District.

Under Mr. Brizard’s leadership, both the Chicago Public Schools and the Rochester City School District saw substantial improvements in student performance. He introduced a comprehensive change agenda across the Chicago Public Schools, including closing a significant budget gap of more than $1.3B over two fiscal years while preserving core reforms and investing in classrooms. He developed a new framework for teaching and the system saw record increases in student achievement, graduation rates and on college readiness benchmarks. He created a Blueprint for reform that will continue to serve as roadmap for years to come.

Mr. Brizard’s experience also includes a 21-year career as an educator and administrator with the NYC Department of Education. He served as a Regional Superintendent, supervising more than 100 schools in the Borough of Brooklyn and he also served as the system’s Executive Director for secondary schools. Jean-Claude serves as a National Trustee of the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History, serves on the board of Education Forward DC, National Council on Teacher Quality, Rocketship Public Schools, and founding Board Chair of Anseye Pou Ayiti/Teach for Haiti. He is a Fellow of the Broad Center, a Fellow of the third class of the Pahara-Aspen Institute Education Fellowship, and a member of the Aspen Institute Global Leadership Network.

A licensed commercial pilot, Mr. Brizard credits his parents—both of whom were educators—with inspiring him to pursue a career in education. He holds a master’s degree with honors in School Administration & Supervision from The City University of New York/City College of New York and a master’s degree in Science Education from Queens College, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Queens College.

He is married to Dr. K. Brooke Stafford-Brizard and is the proud father of four beautiful children.

Dr. Margarita Espino Calderón

Dr. Margarita Espino Calderón, Professor Emerita, Johns Hopkins University has worked on numerous research projects from 1990 to 2010 for JHU’s Center for Research on Education of Students Placed at Risk, Center for Data-Driven Reform, and Success for All Foundation.

She was Co-Principal Investigator with Robert Slavin on the 5-year randomized evaluation of English immersion, transitional bilingual, and two-way bilingual elementary programs funded by the Institute for Education Sciences/U.S. Dept. of Education. She developed the Bilingual Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (BCIRC) program which is included in the What Works Clearinghouse.

She was principal investigator in a 5-year study in middle and high schools called Expediting Comprehension for English Language Learners (ExC-ELLTM) funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York that developed a program to train math, science, social studies, and language arts teachers on integrating academic language, reading comprehension, writing skills and content knowledge to help ELs and their non-EL peers achieve in the mainstream classrooms. Her program Reading Instructional Goals for Older Readers (RIGOR) was developed for Newcomers with Interrupted Formal Education.

As President and CEO of Margarita Calderón & Associates, Inc., Dr. Calderón and her team continue to implement ExC-ELL in many schools, districts, and state-wide Institutes throughout the country.

Currently, Dr. Calderón and faculty from the Graduate School of Education, George Washington University are recipients of a USDOE-OELA Title III five-year grant to implement and further study “A Whole-School Approach to Professional Development with ExC-ELL” in Virginia schools.

Other research has been funded by the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Labor, National Institutes of Health, and Texas Education Agency, several school districts, and State Departments of Education. She collaborated on longitudinal studies with Diane August, Maria Carlo and Catherine Snow on the National Study of Students Reading in Spanish.
She has over 100 publications, is an international speaker, is invited to do keynote speeches at major conferences, and conducts comprehensive professional development programs throughout the country and abroad.

Kriste Dragon

Kriste Dragon is the CEO and Co-Founder of Citizens of the World Charter Schools, a national network of public charter schools that challenge students to realize their full potential and thrive in a diverse society. Citizens of the World is committed to serving diverse communities throughout the U.S. with schools currently in Los Angeles and Kansas City.

Kriste began her work in education as a middle school mathematics teacher in South Los Angeles. She later served as Executive Director for Teach For America Los Angeles and Vice President of Regional Operations for Teach For America’s western regions. She has led professional development at UCLA’s Center X, and has chaired several charter school boards throughout Los Angeles.

Currently, Kriste is a member of the Advisory Board for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and the Board of Directors for the National Charter Collaborative. She is also the Board Chair for EdNavigator, a non-partisan communications organization dedicated to building support for student-focused improvements in public education.

She was the founding co-chair for the National Advisory Board of The Collective, Teach For America’s national alumni of color association, and a member of the California Charter Schools Association’s Political Council.

Jeff Livingston

Jeff Livingston spent more than a decade as a senior executive at McGraw-Hill Education. Most recently, he was Senior Vice President of Education Policy and Strategic Alliances. During Jeff’s time at McGraw-Hill, he variously held general management responsibility for Intervention, Career and Technical Education, Supplemental Publishing, Advanced Placement, Adult Basic Education, Workforce Training, Fine Arts and College Readiness. Before being promoted to lead businesses, Jeff served as Vice President of Marketing for the McGraw-Hill Learning Group. Jeff also previously served as the Vice President of Urban Markets, Database Marketing and Inside Sales.

Before joining McGraw-Hill Education in 2004, Jeff was a successful entrepreneur with specialties in instructional technology and marketing to urban school systems. As Co-Founder, of Achieva.com, Jeff helped to build the largest provider of online test prep and college prep for American high schools. Achieva.com was sold to the Kaplan K-12 Learning Solutions, a division of the Washington Post Company, in 2001.

In July of 2015, Jeff left McGraw-Hill Education to begin a sabbatical focused on finding creative solutions to important educational problems. His explorations took him to universities in Brazil, after school programs in Colombia and South Africa, universal Pre-K implementations in several American cities, Early College High Schools in New York and California and to Historically Black Colleges and Universities looking to reinvent themselves for 21st century relevance. Emerging from his sabbatical, Jeff formed EdSolutions, Inc. as a vehicle for focusing education innovation and philanthropy on underserved students, increasing the diversity of education leadership and scaling proven innovations to reach the students who will benefit most from them.

Jeff holds a baccalaureate degree in Government from Harvard University. He has served as a director of the Association of Educational Publishers, the Association of American Publishers- Education Division, the Software and Information Industry Association and the Harlem Educational Activities Fund. Jeff currently lives in New York City with his wife, Sahily Artiles.

Charles Hiteshew , Executive Director

Charles Hiteshew has served as TDS’ Executive Director since 2010. During his tenure, TDS has played the lead role in the i3-award winning Diplomas Now initiative, which has generated statistically significant impact in putting off-track 6th and 9th graders back on track to graduation. Prior to joining TDS, he accumulated extensive experience in non-profit and educational reform management, serving as Chief Operating Officer and Special Assistant to the President of the America’s Promise Alliance from 2006 to 2010. During his tenure at APA, he played a lead role in launching and designing the successful Grad Nation campaign. Just prior to that, Hiteshew served as the founding Executive Director of the Public Education Partnership Fund from 2003 to 2006, where he pooled money and oversaw critical investments in the improvement of the DC Public Schools. Prior to that, Hiteshew served as Executive Director of one of the largest local affiliates of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Fort Worth, Texas and helped set the stage to merge operations with neighboring affiliates to form the largest BBBS in the country – BBBS of North Texas, ultimately becoming BBBS Lone Star. Prior to that, from 1993-1999, Hiteshew served as the national director of Quality & Standards at Communities In Schools, the nation’s largest wraparound service provider to public schools.

Hiteshew started his career in 1985 as a street counselor working with dropouts and homeless youth in Boston with a multi-service agency called Bridge, Inc. During that time, he designed and delivered a life skills & street life prevention curriculum for area middle and elementary schools based upon the key lessons from life on the street. He went on to become a principal and lead teacher of a rural secondary school in Kenya with WorldTeach. Upon returning to the states, he served as a school-to-career counselor with the Boston Private Industry Council at Charlestown High School for several years before being appointed as the founding executive director of the National Academy Foundation program in the Boston Public Schools.

Mr. Hiteshew holds a Master’s in Management of Human Services from the Heller School at Brandeis University and a B.A. with honors in American Studies from Amherst College. He lives with his wife and three children in the Washington, DC area.