Showcase Speaker Bios

Family Engagement: Parents as Partners speakers:

Estephany Almanzar is a parent organizer at St. Stephen’s Youth Programs and parent of a daughter at the Blackstone Elementary School.

Ada Avelar-Martinez, Resource Center Coordinator, St. Stephen’s Youth Program.

Steve Desrosiers is a family education coordinator of the BPS Office of Family, Student and Community Advancement. Born in Haiti, Steve Desrosiers grew up in Mattapan and attended Boston College where he earned a BA in History, Boston University where he earned a Master’s in Management, and Endicott College he earned his M. Ed. The bulk of his professional career has been in educational administration; primarily with the Boston Public Schools (BPS). Steve’s work with BPS’ families began with managing the district’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Supplemental Education Services Program. He found his passion working with students and families upon accepting a position as a facilitator for BPS’ Office of Engagement where he designed capacity building workshops for families, teachers and school leaders on building effective home-school partnerships that would lead to improved outcomes for students. Steve spent 3 years as Lincoln Sudbury’s METCO Director, where he effectively led both the Sudbury Elementary and L-S High School METCO Programs using engagement research as a pillar of his practice with all stakeholders. Using the motto: “High academic and high behavioral expectations for all students from the bus to the classroom” Steve’s tenure was marked with improved overall parental engagement across the two districts. 

Clara Lucien is a second grade teacher at the Thomas J. Kenny Elementary School in Dorchester, MA. As a member of the Math Leadership Team (MLT), she collaborates with members of the school community to promote engagement in the math curriculum. She is passionate about developing students’ mathematical competency and motivating students to persevere in rigorous math tasks. Clara graduated from Boston College with a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology and completed a Master of Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Liz Steinhauser, Director of Community Engagement for St. Stephen’s Youth Program, BPS parent with two students at Boston Latin Academy.

Agency and Relevance: Engaging students through Project-Based Learning speakers:

Sarah Cherry Rice is the Founder & Executive Director of Digital Ready. She is a creative systems thinker who delicately balances bold visioning and intelligent execution, Sarah has the ability to lead innovative projects from concept to pilot to launch so that all students can be prepared for the future. As a former teacher, district administrator, and social entrepreneur, she brings both fresh thinking and a nuanced understanding of urban public school districts. She has the ability to think across education silos, leading with a high sense of urgency while activating communities to drive innovation and change. While completing her doctorate at Harvard, Sarah launched Parachute Teachers out of The Harvard Innovation Lab, a start-up that brings community members and industry experts into classrooms as part-time facilitators to generate high quality, real-world learning. Most recently, Sarah worked at IDEO to launch an initiative to help public school districts build cultures of creativity and innovation, where teachers and students are empowered to create change. Sarah is passionate about community-driven change and dismantling the systems, infrastructures, and organizations that fuel oppression. She is a proud Boston Public School parent.

Shannon DeBari is a first grade teacher at the Winship Elementary School. She has taught both first and second grade and runs an after school theatre program at the Winship for grades 3-5 students. She is passionate about bringing learning to life in the classroom through theatre and other immersive learning experiences.

Lisa Llorente has taught in a variety of early childhood education (pre-k through grade 1) classroom settings including special education, inclusion, and Sheltered English Immersion programs. She currently teachers English as a Second Language for Kindergarten students as the Winship School where she has taught for most of her teaching career with Boston Public Schools.

Molly Mus is currently a special education physics and biology teacher at Excel High School in South Boston. She teaches substantially separate sciences to students with a wide range of disabilities and considers herself fortunate to be in her dream career. In her teaching, Molly leans into project based learning to teach her students real-world problem-solving and analytical thinking. In 2019, she graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Science in Secondary Education. She enjoys artistic expression, running, and spending time with loved ones outside of work! You can follow her on Twitter @MollyWMus.

Aaron G. Noll has been an elementary school librarian at the Winship School in Boston for eleven years. He is particularly interested in how technology can be used to augment student engagement and learning outcomes. Aaron holds an MLIS from Rutgers and a MA in History & Archives from the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

Advancing Racial Equity: Perspectives on Practice speakers:

Michael Baulier serves as principal of the Mozart Elementary School, first arriving at the Mozart in September, 2016 as a principal fellow with the Lynch Leadership Academy. He began his teaching career with the Boston Public Schools as an English language arts teacher at the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers. During his eight years at EMK, he taught grades 9-12 in an inclusive setting becoming a National Board Certified teacher in 2014. He is currently enrolled in the doctoral program at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and his dissertation research is focused on how school communities can apply a multilayered approach to racial equity. All of his educational experiences as a student and professional experiences as an educator have taught him the value of self-awareness, communication, and collaboration, and that incredible change occurs when a team is united by a clear mission and working towards the same vision. He is honored to lead such a dedicated team of educators at the Mozart who strive to ensure that every student is set for success. He is also honored to be working with such a committed community of families who trust the Mozart to educate their children in a supportive learning environment that provides them the skills and strategies necessary to be successful. As a school leader, he recognizes there are areas of growth in their inclusion and equity work. As a community, they are committed to ensuring the Mozart lives up to its core values for all students.

Anthony Beatrice is BPS Executive Director for the Arts. In this role he focuses his artistic and education expertise to lead the work of curriculum, instruction, professional development, and student assessment in the arts for Boston Public Schools. Anthony served on the executive board of the Massachusetts Music Educators Association, most recently as Chairperson for the Northeastern District and on the Innovations Council. He has also served as an adjunct music professor for Merrimack College, Northern Essex Community College, and UMass Lowell. He presents at music education conferences and is a frequent writer for the Massachusetts Music Educators Journal. Anthony serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the UMass Lowell College of Fine Arts and Social Sciences and serves on the Music Education Advisory Board at Berklee College of Music. Anthony received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music Education from UMass Lowell where he received the College of Fine Arts Graduate Student of the Year award.

Garcie Champagne is a Black teacher leader with over 10 years of experience working within the Boston Public Schools. Champagne uses the power of theater, arts, and performance within her curriculum as a strategy for teaching essential language skills to English Language learners while also empowering them. As an instructional leader, evaluator, and coach, Champagne is passionate about creating professional development and workshops that support school communities in applying culturally and linguistically sustaining practices. She coaches educators to tackle anti-blackness by being intentional with choice of materials, activities, and resources used in instruction. 

As a co-chair of the Mozart School’s race and ethnicity committee, Champagne facilitates explicit conversations about race with families and staff. As a recipient of a grant from the Nellie Mae foundation, Champagne funded affinity group spaces where children can talk about the impact of race on their personal identity. Champagne’s work has been featured in podcasts by Boston Teachers union as well as the Teacher Collaborative. She was also featured in WGBH news for her advocacy around equitable policies for overaged students in Boston. As a product of BPS, this child of Haitian-American immigrants sees her work as being intricately tied to activism and advocacy for racial, economic and social justice within the Boston community and beyond. In her personal life, Champagne spends her time gardening, spending time with family and friends, and being intentional about what it means to seek black joy and liberation in all the spheres of her life.

Lovely Hoffman is an Award-Winning musical theatre performer, singer, songwriter, and Boston Public Schools Music Educator. Lovely received her BA and M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from Boston College. In 2017, Lovely released her single, My Black Is Beautiful, a song about self-love, self-acceptance, and pride, which went viral and reached #45 on the Adult Contemporary Radio Charts. Lovely has been featured on CNN, BET, The Boston Globe, and Essence Magazine. With over 15 years in the classroom, Lovely’s focus is culturally significant music and character development. Her songs including, “A Kwanzaa Song” and “Black Lives Matter,” have been used in classrooms across the country. To learn more about Lovely and her work, visit www.LovelyHoffman.com.

Jaykyri Simpson leads Young Man with a Plan, a Boston program serving Black and Latino teens across 8 BPS and charter schools. YMWAP delivers a unique mix of in-school and after-school mentoring with a focus on both academic and social emotional growth through sustained coaching and individualized success planning. Originally from Cleburne, Texas, Jaykyri received his B.A. at the University of New England (UNE) where he captained their division-winning basketball team, and his MBA from St. Joseph’s College in Maine. In May 2021 Jaykyri receives his doctorate in Educational Leadership from New England College. His dissertation research explores the relationship of career goals, mentoring, belonging and financial literacy to college persistence in Black males. Jaykyri incorporates everything learned through his research into curriculum for the young men in the program. After successfully defending his dissertation, Jaykyri has been engaged by New England College to share his research and to consult with their faculty on effective approaches for improving campus culture and climate for students of color. Prior to becoming YMWAP’s director, Jaykyri led Project Ochendo at New Mission High School in Boston, where he taught and mentored students of color, helping them improve their study skills and grades, and to access and persist at college. He also served as basketball coach, admissions counselor, and retention coordinator for three years at Mt. Ida College and as basketball coach for two years at UNE.  Jaykyri was in the 2020 cohort of the Lewis Family Foundation’s Strong Leader Program and currently participates in the 2021 Boston Nonprofit Executive Directors of Color Program offered through Third Sector New England. Jaykyri is a founding member of Men on a Mission, a nonprofit serving children in his Texas hometown. 

In Community: Career Connected Learning Through Partnership speakers:

Zorely de la Rosa is a 17 year old musical artist who has a background in music since she was 7 years old. Currently, she studies at Boston Arts Academy for vocal music and has had a passion for researching science. Ever since she was first introduced to piano back when she was 7, she has completely surrounded herself in the music world, and has loved everything she has learned so far about it. She believes that music has shaped her into who she is today, teaching her confidence in her step, and a voice that fills the room.

Marsha Inniss-Mitchell is the Director of Postsecondary Partnerships and Initiatives for the Boston Public Schools and has been with the district for eleven years. In her role, Marsha leads strategic priorities to increase access to college-level experiences for students in high school, expand quality advising services, and build stronger systems for overall college, career, and academic planning. Since the onset of the initiative, she has served on the Success Boston College Completion strategy team and is a voice for increased alignment between the K12 and higher education sectors. A graduate of Hampton University and an alum of the Emerging Leaders Program through the Center for Collaborative Leadership at UMASS, Marsha began building expanded learning opportunities for students as a Program Officer and Americorps Director for the national youth-serving organization Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL). She later transitioned to The Educational Resources Institute (TERI) in 2002. There she developed college advising curricula for students in grades six through twelve, focusing on the needs of first-generation college-goers, and managed their federal Talent Search TRIO programs. Marsha’s career is built on twenty-two years serving students and families in the secondary, out-of-school time, and college access fields across Boston and Washington DC public schools.

Melodie Knowlton is a strategic thinker, dynamic speaker, and visionary leader who uses her background as a scientist, educator and community partner to maximize the benefit of corporate social responsibility initiatives. Melodie currently leads Vertex’s STEAM Education function and drives the strategy and execution of the outreach activities. Since joining Vertex in 2016, Melodie has transformed the Learning Lab into a global outreach program that impacts communities in Boston, San Diego and Oxford through the creation and expansion of STEM opportunities to students who have not always had access to hands-on and paid science experiences. Prior to Vertex, Melodie was a teacher and Science department chair at The Cambridge School of Weston. She also was an instructor at Harvard’s Extension School and did postdoctoral research at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. Melodie earned her PhD in Cell and Developmental Biology from Harvard University and holds a BS in Biology from The Ohio State University. Melodie resides in the greater Boston area with her husband and first grade daughter. 

Joseph McLaughlin is Director of Research and Strategy at the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC), which serves as Boston’s MassHire Workforce Board and school-to-career intermediary for Boston Public Schools (BPS). In this role, Joseph leads the PIC’s research, data management, and program evaluation activities. Joseph’s research focuses on the college enrollment, persistence, and completion outcomes of BPS graduates, the labor market experiences of youth and adults in Massachusetts, and industry and occupational employment developments in Massachusetts and the U.S. Prior to joining the PIC, Joseph worked at the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, where he co-authored research studies on the youth labor market in New England and the U.S., the economic and social benefits of increasing educational attainment, and the college enrollment and completion experiences of high school graduates. Joseph’s recent publications, include: Coming Back to Class: What Predicts Re Enrollment of Students Who Have Stopped Out of College (2021), Moving to Opportunity: Connecting Low Income College Students to Internships and Good First Jobs (2021), and Staying the Course: Six-Year College Enrollment and Completion Experiences of the BPS Class of 2011 (2018). 

Roshni Wadhwani is a College, Career and Life Readiness Analyst at Boston Public Schools (BPS) and a Harvard Strategic Data Fellow. In her current role, Roshni works closely with schools and community partners to build systems to better define, measure and track college and career readiness among BPS students. Roshni began her career in 2011 as a Chemistry teacher at a secondary school in Singapore. She then served as a higher education policy analyst at Singapore’s Ministry of Education, developing and implementing policies to improve post-secondary technical and vocational education, and as an Assistant Director at the Public Service Division of Singapore’s Prime Minister’s Office, leading efforts to improve the quality of government services. Prior to joining Boston Public Schools, Roshni was a Research Associate at Public Profit, an Oakland-based consulting group. Roshni earned her undergraduate degree in Chemistry (MChem) at the University of Oxford, a post-graduate diploma in education (PGDE) at the National Institute of Education in Singapore, and master’s degree in Public Policy (MPP) at UC Berkeley.