Our Staff


CPRL’s diverse and accomplished team is drawn from an array of professions, including business, education, law, and public policy, among others. Our team has deep and broad experience working within and across these domains to help improve the learning and lives of children in the U.S. and beyond.

  • 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 an Associate Director of Strategy & Operations 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. In this role, she manages external relationships, executes on CPRL’s development strategy, and oversees CPRL’s portfolio of engagements. Scheherazade has led and supported projects for state departments of education, large urban school systems, policy institutes, philanthropies, and nonprofit organizations. She has extensive expertise in law and policy governing special education, school funding, and charter schools; design of state data systems; engaging diverse stakeholders to inform strategy and implementation; and establishing structures to enable organizational learning. 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., overseeing a number of high-impact policy initiatives on school funding, special education, enrollment policy, public education facilities, and community engagement. Scheherazade has a B.A. in philosophy from Columbia University and a J.D. 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. As an associate and CPRL alum, she has supported school systems through leadership coaching and developing measurement and school improvement frameworks and strategic plans focused on educational equity and learning acceleration. Before CPRL, Poorvaja was integral in the founding and management of Ikvanshu, a non-profit organization focused on holistic education for low-income students in municipal schools in Mumbai, India. She earned her M.P.A. from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and holds a B.S. 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. In this role, she supports CPRL partners and students in leveraging continuous improvement methodologies in the design and evaluation of strategic plans. Her research and strategy-development work focus on a range of topics related to equitable student outcomes, including teacher retention, high dosage tutoring, college access, culturally responsive teaching, school integration and diversity. With more than 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. Prior to CPRL, Naureen designed and led learning and development programs for faculty at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies. Her recent research includes "Teacher Residencies as an Approach to Teacher Diversity," published by Issues in Teacher Education. Naureen serves on the Aga Khan Education Board for USA as their Chief Learning Officer, where she designs learning strategy focused on continuous improvement approaches to education. She was previously chairperson of the Aga Khan Education Board for Northeast USA, where she led volunteer teams focused on supporting educational outcomes for marginalized students and families. Naureen holds an MBA in educational management from the University of Leicester, an M.Ed in higher education from the University of British Columbia, and a Ph.D. 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 strategy, measurement, research, and law and policy. She has supported national K-12 education non-profits, philanthropies, and advocacy groups and has particular expertise in high-quality instructional materials, educator professional learning, teacher preparation, change management, and collective bargaining. Her published research includes Curriculum-Based Professional Learning: A State of the Field, Staying the Course: Toward Strong HQIM Implementation in Delaware, and Educational Equity in Action. She has presented her work at conferences including Learning Forward and the Coalition to Reimagine the Teaching Profession.

    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 J.D. from New York University School of Law, an M.S.T. from Pace University in secondary literacy, and a B.A. in journalism and political science from the University of Wisconsin.

  • Meghan is a Director of Research Strategy and Consulting. In this role, she works with CPRL partners and students to design and execute research and evaluation projects, with a focus on creative communication and the translation of findings into practice and applied field support. Her research has covered a range of topics related to governance and system design, knowledge management, networked improvement, AI, and student voice. Meghan also contributes to the design and instruction of CPRL’s seminar course. Prior to joining CPRL, Meghan conducted program evaluation for college access programming at the Opportunity Network and was a lead reading teacher and member of the founding instructional team at Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School in Washington DC, where she taught and developed reading, writing, and social studies curriculum. Her most recent work includes creative and editorial direction on the  Leading Through Learning Playbook — CPRL’s suite of resources on its foundational leadership framework. Meghan holds a M.A. in sociology and education from Teachers College, Columbia University and a B.A. in International Studies from American University’s School of International Service.

  • 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 and reform. Maddy began her career as an attorney at Davis Polk & Wardwell, where she worked on transactional, corporate governance, and pro bono matters. Maddy’s research at CPRL includes “Connecticut Educator Insights on Building a More Effective, Diverse Educator Workforce,” and “A Good Life for Every Student: High Schools Embrace Many Pathways to Success.” Her writing on education policy has been published in the Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems and Columbia Human Rights Law Review, and has been featured in publications including The74, K12 Dive, and District Administration. Maddy holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College and a J.D. 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 at CPRL, where she supports education sector leaders on strategy and policy and manages graduate student teams to facilitate  their leadership development. Her clients have included large urban school systems, advocacy and legal organizations, and school boards. Kyle Kate has experience with  developing project management structures, strategic visioning for complex policy and change management efforts, legal and social science research, and post-litigation support for change management strategies. Her expertise includes community engagement, partnering with disenfranchised families and individuals, literacy, and accessibility for students with disabilities. Prior to joining CPRL, Kyle Kate was the Assistant Director for Accessible Education at Berkeley Law, supporting law students with disabilities and developing accommodations policies. As an attorney, she worked in civil legal aid, art and media law, and education law. As a law school student, Kyle Kate worked as an advocate for systems-involved youth, in disability rights, and at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.  Before her career in law, Kyle Kate worked in education non-profits, was a teacher, and managed a youth conservatory theater. She is a member of the board of directors of the Berkeley Law Foundation. Kyle Kate earned her J.D. from the University of California Davis School of Law and her B.F.A. from New York University.


  • KJ is Manager of Operations and Administrative Services at CPRL, providing essential logistical support for the mission-driven work of the center. A CPRL alum, KJ previously served as a project associate at CPRL, working on client-facing projects with an emphasis on primary, qualitative research, and on internal projects in marketing, visibility, and student experience. Prior to their time at CPRL, KJ worked in under-resourced preschool classrooms across New York City, served as chair of the Education Policy Network at NYU, and did strategic work with a number of foundations, nonprofit organizations, and schools. KJ earned their MA in Education and Public Policy and their BA in Education Studies from NYU Steinhardt. 


  • Kimberly Austin is a Senior Director of Research Strategy at CPRL and a Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School. She helps design and lead CPRL’s seminar on achieving fundamental change and improvement in how public school systems serve students and families. In her work as a manager, Kimberly has supported state departments of education, school districts, and charter school networks, including some of the largest school systems in the country. She has deep experience in implementation studies, program evaluation and design, and strategic planning. Her content and policy expertise includes college and career pathways, digital media literacy, school integration and culturally responsive education, teacher preparation, and diversifying the teacher workforce. Her research includes "Teacher Residencies as an Approach to Teacher Diversity," published by Issues in Teacher Education, and Newark Enrolls: A Principled Approach to Public School Choice. Prior to CPRL, Kimberly worked at Relay Graduate School of Education and the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago. Kimberly has also taught in pre-K and first grade classrooms and worked in numerous after-school programs. Kimberly serves on the board of directors of Roots Connected and is an advisory board member at Govern for America. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in sociology from the University of Chicago and a B.S. 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 organizational strategy and financial and operational activities. She has extensive experience advising school systems, philanthropies, and advocacy and community-based organizations on policy, strategy, systems design, and program evaluation and implementation. She has particular expertise in stakeholder and civic engagement and participation, governance, and school-family partnerships. 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 B.A. in philosophy, politics, and economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. 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 supported a number of research efforts focused on high-quality instructional materials and aligned professional learning, high-dosage tutoring, and school-family partnerships. Grace has deep experience facilitating meaningful interactions within diverse stakeholder groups, sharing knowledge on effective practices, supporting peer-to-peer problem solving, and crafting strategic plans and measurement approaches together with partners. Grace has supported domestic and international nonprofits, state departments of education, school districts, and philanthropies. Her published research includes Staying the Course, a study of Delaware’s implementation of high quality instructional material, and Curriculum-Based Professional Learning: The State of the Field. 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 J.D. from New York University School of Law, and holds an M.S. in childhood education/special education from Touro College and  a B.A. 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 leadership capacity of current and aspiring education sector leaders. Through her research and project leadership, Liz has developed deep expertise in systemwide innovation and transformation, school systems as participatory democracies, evidence-based instructional materials and professional learning, and innovative approaches to educator workforce governance. Her ideas and research have appeared in numerous publications including American Journal of Education, Columbia Human Rights Law Review, TC Record, Education Week, Learning Forward, and Forbes. 

    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 Columbia University, an M.S. in teaching secondary English from Pace University, and a B.A. in English language arts and literature from Yale University.

  • Elizabeth is a Director of Legal Strategy and Policy at CPRL. At CPRL, she provides legal and policy analysis and research and has led projects related to educational equity, school integration, school boards, and student mobility. Elizabeth has supported school districts with the design and implementation of school performance frameworks to support school improvement and enhancing the effectiveness of external school partners working in early literacy. Prior to joining CPRL, she 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. She has served on public school leadership teams as a parent representative. Elizabeth earned her J.D. from Columbia Law School and her B.A. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

  • Crystal Thomas is a Director of Research Strategy and Policy. Before joining CPRL, Crystal was a Lecturer of Education and the Director of Graduate Affairs in the Education Department at Brown University. As a qualitative researcher, her work focuses on community-engaged and evidence-informed research and practice. As the Project Director for Brown’s Providence Talks research team, she spearheaded an assessment of a citywide intervention designed to improve the home auditory environments of pre-verbal toddlers across the city. As a former member of UCLA’s Spatial Analysis Lab, she also utilizes geographic information systems and spatial analysis to illuminate regional trends and map access to services. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in social welfare and a B.A. in international development from UCLA.

  • 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. With more than a decade of experience in higher education, Cherrelle leads CPRL’s  graduate student onboarding, registration, and support, and operations and fiscal and grants management. Prior to joining CPRL, she worked at NYU for over eight 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 and financial operations.. Cherrelle also held positions at NYU in student financial services and non-credit program operations. Early in her career, 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. She is currently pursuing her EdD in educational leadership and change from SUNY Empire State College. Cherrelle’s research on the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on student loans was recently published in the Journal on Higher Education Policy and Leadership Studies.

  • 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.