Furman Brown, Founder. Mr. Brown began his education career in South Central Los Angeles as a member of the first corps of Teach for America. He has two decades of experience in education reform, helping district and charter schools redesign their use of time, staff, professional development, and instructional technology. In 2004, Mr. Brown won a prestigious Echoing Green Prize as “one of the world’s foremost emerging social entrepreneurs” for developing the Generation Schools Model, a scalable and sustainable new paradigm for urban schools. A native of Colorado, Mr. Brown earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver.
Lydia Colón Bomani, Principal, Brooklyn Generation. At BGS, Ms. Colón Bomani will be applying over 20 years of experience as a middle- and high-school educator in Brooklyn where she has worked in communities of color to close the achievement gap. She has a demonstrated ability to foster teacher leadership, places a high value on the importance on innovative problem solving, and on improving instruction through the use of data. As a teacher-leader, she helped develop an alternative program in Bushwick, and remained as the lead teacher and data specialist when the program became an official school. Later, she became the assistant principal of a successful transfer school that partnered with CBOs to provide social, wellness and wrap around services. She has a MA in secondary math education from University of Bridgeport, and a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science, and a professional diploma in educational leadership both from Manhattanville College.
Mary Cipollone, Senior Associate, Community Partnerships and Wellness. Ms. Cipollone has dedicated ten years to improving educational outcomes for students in low-income communities in Harlem, Detroit, Denver, and Latin America. As Director of College Prep with StreetSquash, a community-based after school program, Mary worked to empower Harlem’s high school students to develop and achieve higher educational aspirations. At Generation Schools, Mary builds relationships with community partners who support the health and well-being of the students at West Generation Academy. Mary also works with Achieving the Dream, a national reform network dedicated to community college student success and completion. Mary earned a BA at Dartmouth College and an MPP from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.
Chad Cookinham, Senior Associate, College & Career Transition. Before joining Generation Schools, Mr. Cookinham taught high school Spanish, Economics, and Psychology for eight years in Connecticut and Quito, Ecuador where he was voted “teacher who best prepares students for life outside of the classroom.” During his time teaching, he also coached varsity football, basketball, and lacrosse. He also worked for a summer at the Denver Scholarship Foundation, helping with program evaluation, researching the current state of transfer programs in Colorado, and designing an alumni outreach program. Mr. Cookinham earned his bachelor’s degree with a double major in Economics and Psychology and a minor in Earth Sciences from Dartmouth College. He received his master’s degree in public policy with a focus on education policy from the University of Michigan where he was awarded the Gerstacker Fellowship for academic excellence. At the University of Michigan, he also served as the coaching coordinator for Preparation Initiative, a program that provides academic support to underrepresented students whose pre-college learning situations have left them unprepared to realize their potential at college.
Louis Garcia, Assistant Principal, Curriculum & Instruction, Brooklyn Generation. At BGS, Mr. Garcia is providing instructional support overseeing the humanities and science departments; managing the programming process to shape how students are scheduled, their courses of study, and Regents exam administration; supporting the Wellness team; and directly supervising guidance. Most recently, Mr. Garcia served as the Principal for South Brooklyn Community High School with a $1.5M budget, staff of 21, and partnership with Good Shepherd’s Services. For five years, Mr. Garcia served as a social studies teacher at Boys and Girls High School, and West Brooklyn Community High School, where he designed and implemented curricula for American and Global Studies courses, designed and implemented a service learning course to incorporate community service in coursework, and lent support to new teachers as a Lead Fellow in the NYC Teaching Fellows Program. Mr. Garcia served as a Child Protective Specialist/Casework for Administration for Children’s Services. He has served as a group leader and teacher with the Experiment in International Living in Spain. Mr. Garcia has been working towards his PhD in Urban Education from the Graduate Center at CUNY. He has a master’s in Educational Administration from Baruch College, a master’s in Teaching Secondary Education from Pace University, and a bachelor’s degree in both Sociology and Puerto Rican and Latino Studies from Brooklyn College.
Kathryn Harris, Senior Associate, Development. Kathryn Harris joined Generation Schools at the end of February as our Senior Association for Development. Kathryn is responsible for implementing the fundraising strategy for Generation Schools Network, the nonprofit, as well as the fundraising strategy for our Signature Schools – currently Brooklyn Generation School and West Generation Academy. Kathryn works closely with our foundation partners, corporate partners and individual supporters who are investing in our work to reimagine outdated school structures to optimize learning time, talent and technology and close achievement gaps for low-income students. Prior to Generation Schools, Kathryn was the Development Director for Rose Community Foundation.
Domonic Martinez, Principal, West Generation Academy. Mr. Martinez comes to us with seven years of service in high school administration for Denver Public Schools and a strong reputation for driving academic achievement at the Career Education Center and the phase out of West High School. He has an exceptional track record in developing and expanding concurrent enrollment programs; under his direction, West Legacy High School expanded concurrent enrollment to serve all students, with 187 students taking 1,100 college credits and nearly 90% earning a passing grade last year. His dedication to providing the best possible education for students and his focus on post-secondary preparedness are just a few of the many attributes that make Dom the right leader to champion the implementation of the Generation Schools model at West Generation Academy.
Ade Omotade, Development Manager Northeast Region. Ade joins us with roughly a dozen years in development work, with individuals, corporations, and foundations. As Development Manager, he will have an opportunity to build on these different experiences, integrate different efforts, and be part of our larger development and communications staff – all in support of our staff, families and students.
Lori Overton, Office Manager. Ms. Overton has worked in office management and accounting for 10 years, primarily in technology and finance industries. She is completing her bachelor’s degree in management with a concentration in accounting at Baker College. She has been an active volunteer with Boy Scouts of America for the past 9 years, and currently serves as Unit Commissioner for the Boy Scouts Denver Area Council.
Wendy Loloff Piersee, CEO. Ms. Piersee brings extensive experience in the non-profit and education sectors to Generation Schools Network, especially in the area of network development and school replication. She has worked in higher education (Northwest College, Colorado Christian University, & Harvard University), and served as Development Director and Assoc. Director of the Denver Street School and as the co-founder of the StreetSchool Network, which grew to include 47 schools in 27 cities, serving more than 4,000 students under her leadership. She has a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Colorado Christian University, and is currently completing her Master of Education degree at Concordia University. Ms. Piersee is a member of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce CEO Exchange Program and was a GetSmart Fellow during the launch of West Generation Academy.
Jon Reinhard, Vice-President for Learning and Teaching. Jon has proven his remarkable talents in school turnaround, leadership development, and building strategic community and business partnerships to support innovation in public schools, especially in STEM instruction, in New York, Ohio and California. He holds an MS in Education from The University of Cincinnati, and has more than 20 years of experience in both the non-profit, public education and corporate business areas, including ten years engaged in very successful educational consulting and training projects with various nationally recognized professional development organizations.
Jonathan Spear, Co-Founder. At Generation Schools, Mr. Spear builds on his background in school operations and governance in both district and charter school settings. He manages the technical assistance and training GSN delivers to school leaders and staff, and works closely with the district, labor organizations, and other institutions to build the bridges that allow innovation to occur within the existing system. Prior to co-founding Generation Schools, he was Director of Charter Schools for the Beginning with Children Foundation. As a founding teacher at the New York City Museum School and as Director of New Voices School for Academic and Creative Excellence, Mr. Spear has deep experience developing and managing effective school partnerships with community-based organizations and cultural institutions. Mr. Spear earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in education from Bank Street College of Education.
Craig Spencer, CFO & COO. Mr. Spencer became involved in urban education as a member of the Board of Directors of the StreetSchool Network, a network of over 40 schools serving at-risk children across the US. Prior to joining Generation Schools, he served as the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Strategic Initiatives with Global Link Technology, Inc. Mr. Spencer also worked with a company acquired by American Express Business Finance in a number of capacities including Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer. He worked with Arthur Andersen for 12 years in the Audit and Business Advisory Services group. Mr. Spencer graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s of business administration in Finance and Accounting.
Becky Thoennes, Coordinator, Special Projects. Becky Thoennes brings nearly two decades of project management and business operations expertise to the team. As the business manager for Timberline Electric she was responsible for managing client relationships and accounts receivable, overseeing state compliance and licensing issues, as well as managing a team of 25 employees and subcontractors for a million dollar organization. A third generation Colorado native, Becky understands the importance of engaging community in solving local, complex challenges.