Principal, Freedom Prep Elementary School Leader U Fellow ’17

My career with Democracy Prep began at Freedom Prep Middle School in Camden, New Jersey. Previously, I had worked in elementary and middle schools in Maryland supporting underserved scholars. As an ACT teacher, my passion had always been geared toward supporting high-needs scholars and ensuring they had a pathway toward success that was both effective and rigorous. On the FPM team, we worked hard to develop systems and practices that exemplified DP’s core values and ensured scholars had access to an education that had previously been absent in the community. During my second year at FPM, I transitioned into the role of instructional coach. I guided teachers of all experience levels toward their own development in both planning and execution. While I was an instructional coach, I saw that I could have a broader impact in a leadership role, so I made the decision to apply for the Leader U program at DP. I spoke with members of the DP team who had either completed the Leader U program or were supported through the program. I heard themes of support, vision, and personalization clearly in their experiences. I intended to stay with DP long-term, so I sought a program that would not only develop me as a leader but set me up for success within the DP organization. Through the program, I built on skills that I already had and was provided opportunities to develop skill sets that I had less experience with. The program created a space for collaboration with excellent teams who focus on data, technology, teamwork, and instructional practices. The program also provided opportunities to travel to schools with similar challenges, goals, and student populations. These visits have impacted what I know is possible and my overall perspective on the urgent need of strong schools in the United States. My experience in Leader U helped define who I am as both a school leader and community leader. Every day at Freedom Prep Elementary, my team and I change the future of Camden through every decision we make, interaction we have, and scholar we inspire to do their absolute best.


Principal, Harlem Prep Elementary School Leader U Resident ’16

Before finding my home at Harlem Prep Elementary and Democracy Prep, I taught and led in traditional public schools in Washington and Colorado. I joined Leader U as a Fellow in the summer of 2015, after being principal at a traditional elementary school in Aurora, CO. The elementary school had been classified as Turn Around by the state of Colorado. Leader U allowed me to learn the charter school system in the context of a high-performing charter network. Democracy Prep and Leader U recognized that I had experience as a leader and supported me by tailoring the program initiatives to where I was and where I needed to grow as a leader. Relationships matter at DP. Democracy Prep’s strength is the people who make up the network. As a Leader U Fellow, I was able to connect with so many knowledgeable and impactful people throughout the network. Those connections continue years later. We celebrate and connect. We reflect on successes and the “not yet” successes. We share ideas as a sounding board. We practice conversations and professional development sessions. We push each to be better for our scholars and families. The opportunities that I had to learn from (and with) an amazing team of leaders and professionals throughout the DP network set me up for success. Better yet, these opportunities prepared HPE and our scholars to work hard, go to college and change the world.

“Underserved communities need strong schools and strong schools need strong leaders. Leader U also provided me with the opportunity to serve a community in which I grew up.”

– Joshua Rivera, Freedom Prep High School Principal, Leader U Fellow ‘17

Willie Gould

  • Democracy Prep Pathways Campus Director
  • Leader U Fellow ’19

Nakita Green

  • Democracy Prep Charter Middle School Principal
  • Leader U Fellow ’19

Ashley Livingston

  • Democracy Prep Baton Rouge Principal
  • Leader U Fellow ’19

Anastasia Lyons

  • Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus Elementary School Principal
  • Leader U Fellow ’19

Mary Kate Oyaga

  • Democracy Prep Charter High School Assistant Principal
  • Leader U Fellow ’19

Josef Robinson

  • Democracy Prep Harlem Middle School Principal
  • Leader U Fellow ’19

Lucy Schultz

  • Democracy Prep Charter Middle School Assistant Principal
  • Leader U Fellow ’19

Hannah Twillman

  • Democracy Prep Baton Rouge Assistant Principal
  • Leader U Fellow ’19

John(Teddy) Alvaro

  • Democracy Prep Charter High School Assistant Principal
  • Leader U Fellow ’18

Andrew Clay

  • Harlem Prep Middle School Assistant Principal
  • Leader U Fellow ’18

Grace Han

  • Harlem Prep Elementary School Instructional Coach
  • Leader U Fellow ’18

Chasidy Kretzer

  • Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus Secondary School Assistant Principal
  • Leader U Fellow ’18

Elizabeth Monahan

  • Bronx Prep Middle School Assistant Principal
  • Leader U Fellow ’18

Alex Daniels

  • Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus Secondary School Principal
  • Leader U Resident ’17

Joshua Rivera

  • Freedom Prep High School Principal
  • Leader U Fellow ’17

Mia Backon

  • Democracy Prep Harlem Elementary School Principal
  • Leader U Fellow ’16

Greg Daniel

  • Harlem Prep High School Campus Director
  • Leader U Resident ’16

Jason Rios

  • ELA Curriculum Specialist
  • Leader U Fellow ’16

Brian Serzan

  • Democracy Prep Charter Middle School Master Teacher
  • Leader U Resident ’16

Duncan Scherer

  • Democracy Prep Public Schools Assistant Superintendent
  • Leader U Fellow ’15

Kaitlin McCann

  • Freedom Prep Middle School Principal
  • Leader U Fellow ’14

Steve Popper

  • Democracy Prep Public Schools Superintendent
  • Leader U Fellow ’14