Our Staff

Our Team

We are an interdisciplinary team of experienced professionals committed to educational equity. 

  • Tong Koh is an Evolutionary Learning Associate at CPRL. Tong began his career as an English law-qualified solicitor, advising clients across the U.K., Europe and Asia on a broad range of transactional matters, including finance, real estate and corporate law. He then served as regional legal counsel for a Southeast Asian Fintech start-up before transitioning to a public sector role as senior manager of a government agency in Singapore. As senior manager, he supervised the development of a regional legal research platform; helped promote legal education in the country; and engaged various communities and stakeholders to build partnerships. Tong holds a BA in Jurisprudence from the University of Oxford, an MSc in Law, Business and Management from the University of Law, and an LL.M. from Columbia Law School.

  • Susan is a Senior Manager of Operations and Alumni Support at CPRL. Before joining CPRL, Susan was a Chicago Teaching Fellow and taught middle school special education in a Chicago public school. Through this work, she became interested in systems change and made the switch to study education policy at Teachers College (TC), Columbia University. While at TC, she worked at NYC Outward Bound Schools to support data needs for schools in the network. As a TC student, Susan also joined CPRL as a student team member and summer associate. In these roles, she helped a state board of education develop strategies to improve integration. Susan has a BS in human development and family studies and communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a MA in education policy analysis from Teachers College, Columbia University.

  • Scheherazade Salimi is a Deputy Director for Partnerships and Impact at CPRL. At CPRL, she helps to manage external relationships, execute on CPRL’s development strategy, and oversee CPRL’s program in conjunction with other members of the leadership team. She also manages teams on consulting projects related to legal and policy advocacy, organizational development, and stakeholder engagement. Prior to joining CPRL, Scheherazade was managing owner of Spark Education LLC, where consulting projects included launching a new venture philanthropy fund, providing legal analysis of governance options for a school district’s universal enrollment system, developing a grant program to support students with significant behavioral challenges, and providing strategy advice for the deployment of a $250 million fund to promote facilities equity for public charter schools. Scheherazade also served as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Mayor for Education in Washington, D.C. whereby she oversaw a number of high-impact policy initiatives on school funding, special education, enrollment policy, public education facilities, and community engagement. Scheherazade has a BA in philosophy from Columbia University and JD from the New York University School of Law.

  • Sarah Turchin is Director of Legal Strategy and Policy at CPRL. Sarah joined CPRL after 10 years at the New York City Department of Education, where she supported 3-K and Pre-K for All expansion and portfolio strategy and worked closely with district leadership and community stakeholders to design and implement strategic plans to ensure access to high-quality education for students from early childhood through high school. Prior to the NYCDOE, Sarah worked in research and data analysis as an Education Pioneers fellow at TNTP and Mathematica Policy Research. She has also worked with students as a tutor, teaching assistant, and in after-school programs. Sarah has an MS in social work with a focus on social enterprise administration from Columbia University, and an undergraduate degree from Connecticut College. 


  • Poorvaja Sundar is an Evolutionary Learning Associate at CPRL. She is a former CPRL student and associate who worked on projects that helped school districts drive improvement efforts related to educational equity and learning acceleration strategies. Before CPRL, Poorvaja was integral in the founding and management of Ichchha, a non-profit focused on holistic education for low-income students in municipal schools in Mumbai, India. She earned her MPA from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and holds a bachelor's degree in business studies from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), Mumbai, India. 

  • Nicole is a Project Director at CPRL. At CPRL, she provides policy and organizational improvement support and lead student teams on projects addressing the implementation of new policies, measuring impact, and designing processes for deep stakeholder engagement. Nicole is a lawyer by training and has worked with several organizations on creating improved efficiencies and effectiveness. At Teach For America (TFA), Nicole seeded new regions and created an expansion model that would ensure sustainable growth during her tenure. Nicole has played integral roles in organizational strategy both at TFA during their operating model redesign project and at Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) during their strategic five-year planning. Nicole most recently worked at DFER leading their work in New York, advancing a policy agenda focused on ensuring a high-quality education for all public students. Nicole has a JD from Emory University School of Law and a BA in communication from Florida State University. 

  • Naureen is a Director of Research Strategy and Consulting and leads projects related to equity and access in education. With over 20 years of experience in the field of education, Naureen has designed, implemented, and evaluated education programs in Canada, India, Kenya, Pakistan, Syria, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States. As the Associate Director of Administration at Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development for East Africa, she managed regional and international academic partnerships and had oversight of academic administration. Most recently, Naureen designed and led faculty development programs at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies. Naureen is a passionate educator, who has taught and mentored undergraduate and graduate students for most of her career. She has an MBA in educational management from the University of Leicester, a MEd in higher education from the University of British Columbia, and a PhD in higher education from New York University.

  • Molly is a Senior Director of Legal Strategy and Policy at CPRL. At CPRL, she leads projects involving strategic planning, measurement, research, and formative evaluation. She has worked on a variety of projects involving, among other things, high-quality instructional materials, educator professional learning, and teacher preparation. Prior to joining CPRL, Molly was a litigation attorney at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. Molly also clerked for the Honorable Katherine B. Forrest in the Southern District of New York and the Honorable Cheryl L. Pollak in the Eastern District of New York. Molly began her career as an eighth grade English teacher in the South Bronx. Molly has a JD from New York University School Law, an MST from Pace University in secondary literacy, and a BA in journalism and political science from the University of Wisconsin.

  • Meghan is a Director of Research Strategy and Policy at CPRL, where she has partnered with clients on research and strategy projects focused on evolutionary learning, system design and leadership, networks for school improvement, knowledge management, and strategies for stakeholder participation. Before joining CPRL, Meghan supported youth and adult learners as a teacher, curriculum developer, and researcher and was a founding faculty member of Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School in Washington DC. She holds an M.A. in sociology and education from Teachers College, Columbia University and a B.A. in international relations from American University.

  • Mariam is a Manager of Operations and Administrative Services at CPRL. Before CPRL, Mariam was a Paralegal at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison where she provided administrative support to attorneys at various stages of the litigation process. She also served as a Resident Assistant through the Office of Residential Life and Housing at New York University School (NYU), implementing crisis management protocols and event programming. Mariam also brings experiences in communication, including journalism, electronic media, and radio broadcasting. Mariam earned a BA in English literature from NYU’s College of Arts and Sciences.

  • Maddy Sims is a Director of Consulting and Legal Strategy at the Center for Public Research and Leadership. Maddy brings experience across the social impact, legal, and PK-12 education sectors. At CPRL, she supports a range of school districts, state departments of education, non-profits, and foundations to map out, implement, measure, and improve strategies aimed at advancing equity-driven innovation. Her work includes leadership coaching, stakeholder and community partnership, statewide cohort facilitation, qualitative research, and legal and policy analysis. Maddy began her career as an attorney at Davis Polk & Wardwell, where she worked on transactional, corporate governance, and pro bono matters. Her writing on education policy has been published in the Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems and the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. Maddy holds a BA from Dartmouth College and a JD from Columbia Law School.


  • Lisa is a Director of Research Strategy and Consulting. Before joining CPRL, Lisa designed and led cohort-based learning programs, facilitated communities of practice, and designed and managed cross-functional projects related to the codification and dissemination of effective talent development practices in a variety of settings including Columbia Business School’s Samberg Institute for Teaching Excellence and KIPP Foundation’s national network of charter schools. After starting her career in finance, Lisa followed her passion for education as an Education Pioneers fellow, interning at The New Teacher Project in 2008. Lisa holds a BA in managerial studies and economics from Rice University and an MBA with a concentration in social entrepreneurship from Columbia Business School.

  • Kyle Kate Dudley is an Evolutionary Learning Associate, where she provides strategy and policy advice and student team facilitation on projects related to community engagement and empowerment, school zoning and integration, literacy, education access, and students with disabilities. Prior to joining CPRL, Kyle Kate was the Assistant Director for Accessible Education at the UC Berkeley Law, supporting law students with disabilities and developing accommodations policies. As an attorney, she worked in civil legal aid, art law, and education law. As a law school student, Kyle Kate worked at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and on youth-related issues, education equity initiatives, and disability rights research. Before her career in law, Kyle Kate worked in education non-profits, teaching, and was the managing director of a youth conservatory theatre that partnered with public schools. She earned her JD from the University of California Davis School of Law and her BFA from New York University.


  • Kimberly Austin is a Senior Director of Research Strategy at CPRL and a Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School. Kimberly helps CPRL clients, students, and staff strengthen and grow their understanding and application of continuous improvement methodologies, including CPRL's Evolutionary Learning. She designs and conducts formative evaluations and facilitates program design and strategy. Her work spans topics ranging from collective impact, college and career pathways, high-dosage tutoring, and school integration and diversity, among others. Prior to CPRL, Kimberly was an Assistant Professor at Relay Graduate School of Education and accreditation officer, and her career in education research began at the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago. Kimberly has also taught in pre-K and first classrooms and worked in numerous after-school programs. She earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in sociology from the University of Chicago and has a B.A. in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

  • Julie is the Deputy Director of Strategy and Operations at CPRL. Julie leads CPRL's operations and student supports, project development, and external affairs. Before joining CPRL, Julie served as in-house and outside counsel to a range of organizations and individuals, including as a litigation associate at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, and most recently as the General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer of P.A.C.E. Education Strategies. Julie began her career as a middle school reading and language arts teacher in New Orleans. She holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy, politics, and economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a JD from Duke University.

  • Jill Grossman is the Director of Communications and Marketing for CPRL, where she oversees all external communications strategy and implementation. Prior to joining CPRL, Jill was communications director at The Leadership Academy, where she used her expertise in education communications and policy to help expand the organization’s presence as a national leader on culturally responsive leadership. Jill has also worked at New Leaders, where she helped write Breakthrough Principals, a book on effective principal and school practices. She recently served as president and trustee of the Pleasantville (NY) Board of Education. Jill started her career in journalism and has taught at NYU and Columbia. She is a member of the CPRL class of 2012-13, and holds an MA in education policy from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a BA in sociology from Vassar College. 


  • Jennifer is CPRL’s Senior Director of Research Strategy and Consulting. Prior to CPRL, Jennifer served as Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Relay, running the New York campus and serving on the National Executive Team that supports Relay’s 19 campuses across the country. As Dean, she supported the growth of the program and shifted programming to focus on equity, culturally responsive pedagogy, universal design for learning, and socio-emotional learning. Previously, she served as Director of Talent Development at Achievement First in New York, as well as the Implementation Lead for a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant dedicated to developing teacher career pathways at Green Dot Public Schools. Jennifer started her career as a high school science teacher in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in Biology from University of California, Berkeley, and a Master of Arts in School Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University.

  • Jim is the Founder of CPRL and Simon H. Rifkind Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. Before founding CPRL, from 2006 to 2009, he served as the Chief Accountability Officer at the New York City Department of Education where he created and led the Division of Accountability and Achievement Resources. Jim joined the Columbia law faculty in 1985. He was Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund from 1979 to 1985, where he specialized in school desegregation litigation. Prior to that he served as a law clerk to Judge Carl McGowan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1977 to 1978, and to Justice John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1978 to 1979. Jim earned his BA from Yale University and his JD from Stanford University.

  • Grace McCarty is an Associate Director of Research Strategy and Policy at CPRL. At CPRL, Grace has led a number of research efforts focused on high-quality instructional materials and aligned professional learning, high-dosage tutoring, and school-family partnership. In addition, Grace has supported domestic and international nonprofits, state departments of education, school districts, and philanthropies to research and craft strategic plans and measurement approaches in partnership with key stakeholders. Prior to joining CPRL, Grace wrote conceptual mathematics curricula for a network of 40+ schools, and coached novice teachers on pedagogical practice. She began her career as a special education teacher in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Grace earned her JD from New York University School of Law, and holds an MS in Childhood Education/Special Education from Touro College as well as a BA from Columbia University. 

  • Liz is the Executive Director of CPRL and Senior Research Scholar and Lecturer of Law at Columbia Law School. As Executive Director, Liz oversees all aspects of the organization’s operations and strategy with a focus on growing CPRL’s efforts to build the capacity of current and aspiring education sector leaders to use Evolutionary Learning to serve all children, particularly those who are traditionally marginalized. Before joining CPRL, Liz was an Assistant Professor of Practice at Relay Graduate School of Education, where she taught general pedagogy courses, designed and managed internal data collection systems, and performed research on school discipline, teacher preparation, and social-emotional learning. Liz began her career in education as a middle and high school English teacher in the South Bronx. She earned her Ph.D. in education policy from Teachers College, Columbia University, an MS in teaching secondary English from Pace University, and a BA in English language arts and literature from Yale University.

  • Elizabeth is a Director of Legal Strategy and Policy at CPRL, where she provides legal and policy analysis and has led consulting projects related to educational equity, school integration, and student mobility. Elizabeth has supported school districts on a range of projects, including one involving the implementation of a school performance framework designed to best identify where schools need support, and another on improving the selection and management of partners in early literacy. Prior to joining CPRL, Elizabeth worked as an attorney for national public interest and civil rights organizations on issues ranging from voting rights to capital defense. Early in her professional career, she was a newspaper reporter, covering education, crime, and government, among other topics. She has served on public school leadership teams as a parent representative and worked on curriculum issues. Elizabeth earned her JD from Columbia Law School and her BA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

  • Clarissa is an Evolutionary Learning Associate at CPRL. She assists directors in external research and consulting projects in the P-12 education sector by setting up and participating in project management structures and collaborating with fellow CPRL staff to ensure the submission of high-quality deliverables to external clients. Prior to joining CPRL, Clarissa worked in various academic settings, supporting students from elementary school to college. She also taught middle-school English in Houston, Texas for four years, serving half of those years as a grade-level chair. She earned an MA in Education Policy from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a BA from the University of Texas in Rhetoric & Writing.  

  • Cherrelle Hall is the Director of Operations and Student Support at CPRL. She has over 10 years of experience working in higher education. At CPRL, she is responsible for graduate student recruitment and support, operations and fiscal management, and grants management. Prior to joining CPRL, she worked at NYU for over 8 years, most recently serving as the Department Administrator in the Department of Teaching and Learning at NYU Steinhardt. In this role, Cherrelle oversaw all administrative operations, including human resources, course scheduling and enrollment, student advisement, facilities, grants, budgets, procurement, and financial operations. Prior to NYU Steinhardt, Cherrelle held positions at NYU in student financial services and non-credit program operations. Before NYU, she worked at Pace University as a Financial Aid Counselor. Cherrelle has an EMPA from NYU; an MBA from Marist College, and a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and International Business from the State University of NY at New Paltz. 

  • Carly is Manager of Operations and Administrative Services at CPRL. Before joining CPRL, Carly taught at an early childhood center and in other various settings inside and out of the traditional classroom. In other roles, Carly has supported nonprofit leaders in advancing public education through grant writing and project management. While in graduate school, Carly was engaged with CPRL as a member of the student cohort, a teaching assistant, and a summer associate. Carly has an MA in Politics and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a BS in Human Development from Virginia Tech. 

  • Ayeola is a Project Director at CPRL. She provides research, organizational strategy and development, and philanthropic advising services to non-profit organizations and foundations. At CPRL, she has developed strategic plans and measurement frameworks, designed and conducted a formative evaluation of improvement networks, and facilitated trainings on Evolutionary Learning. Prior to launching her consulting practice, Ayeola served as a Senior Program Officer at the Wallace Foundation focused on school and district leadership and was the founding director of the 100Kin10 Funders Collaborative where she supported the strategic philanthropy of more than 34 national, regional, and corporate funders. Ayeola has a BA from Duke University and an MS from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

  • Andrea is a Director of Legal Strategy and Policy at CPRL. At CPRL, she provides policy advice and leads student teams on projects on topics addressing high-quality instructional materials and teacher professional development to use those materials, the use of continuous improvement methodologies to improve instructional practice, and restructuring work to include meaningful stakeholder participation. Prior to joining CPRL, Andrea worked at various organizations in the education sector, including community-based organizations, legal services groups, and schools. She is also a former middle school English teacher, having taught in Newark, New Jersey. She earned a JD from Harvard Law School and an AB from Princeton in English.