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.
William is a Project Director at CPRL, specializing in legal, policy, and systems planning and decision-making in education. In addition to CPRL, he conducts high-stakes school evaluations and investigations, facilitates a community of practice for school district superintendents, and provides underwriting analysis to lenders and investment advice to foundations. As the founder of the professional services division at the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), William managed a $2 million annual budget, oversaw the evaluation of nearly 500 charter school applications, and developed its nationally recognized process for formative authorizer evaluations. He is on the founding board of the National Charter Collaborative and is Treasurer for Wildflower New York Charter Schools. He is a graduate of Carleton College (BA), Harvard Law School (JD), and Arizona State University (MEd).
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 is a Senior Director of Legal Strategy and Policy at CPRL. At CPRL she provides legal and policy advice to clients and directs teams on consulting projects addressing a legal right to education, evaluation of high quality instructional materials, and development of kindergarten-post-secondary data systems. Additionally, she supports Project Directors and Associates in the delivery of high-quality deliverables. Prior to joining CPRL, Scheherazade was managing owner of Spark Education LLC, where engagements included launching a new venture philanthropy fund, providing legal analysis of governance options for a school district’s universal enrollment system, developing a successful grant proposal 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.
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.
Molly is a Director of Legal Strategy and Policy at CPRL. At CPRL, she provides legal strategy and policy guidance. While at CPRL, she has led projects involving strategic planning, measurement, and formative evaluations. Prior to joining CPRL, Molly was a litigation associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. As an associate, she focused on government and internal investigations. 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. Throughout her career, Meghan has worked with adults and youth as an instructor, curriculum designer, and researcher in non-traditional education settings. At CPRL, she lends her research and instructional knowledge to projects addressing networks for school improvement and improved outcomes for highly-mobile student populations. She completed her MA in sociology and education at Teachers College (TC), Columbia University. As a TC student, she studied the intersection of education and political engagement in formerly incarcerated communities. She also has a BA from American University in international relations.
Maddy Sims is a Director of Consulting and Legal Strategy for the Center for Public Research and Leadership. Maddy brings experience across the social impact, legal, and PK-12 education sectors. She has partnered with a range of public sector and non-profit clients seeking to build organizational capacity and embrace innovative approaches to advancing educational equity. 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. Maddy holds a BA from Dartmouth College and a JD from Columbia Law School.
Kimberly is the Deputy Director of Quality and Improvement at CPRL and a Lecturer of Law at Columbia Law School. Kimberly leverages her nearly 15 years of experience in organizational change, program design and implementation, and research methodologies to prepare CPRL students to serve public sector organizations. At CPRL, she has designed and conducted implementation studies, developed strategic plans, and facilitated trainings on Evolutionary Learning, covering topics such as afterschool programming, integration, networks, and school choice. Kimberly also oversees CPRL's strategy for knowledge-building and visibility and supports the development of CPRL's Project Directors and Associates. Prior to CPRL, Kimberly was the Interim Director of Research and an Assistant Professor at Relay Graduate School of Education, New York City. In this role, Kimberly managed and designed data management systems and oversaw the execution of the institution’s research agenda while also teaching and mentoring beginning career teachers. She started her career in education as an early elementary teacher. Kimberly earned an MA and PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago and has a BS in journalism from Northwestern 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 Evolutionary Learning Associate at the Center for Public Research and Leadership. As a former CPRL student, Grace has supported domestic and international nonprofits to drive continuous improvement in areas such as teacher retention and curriculum quality. 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 as well as a B.A. from Columbia University.
Elizabeth Chu is the Executive Director of CPRL and a lecturer of law at Columbia Law School. At CPRL, her focus is on readying graduate students and clients to use Evolutionary Learning to enhance the education sector’s capacity to improve and serve all children, particularly those who are traditionally underserved. Before joining CPRL, Elizabeth 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. Elizabeth began her work in education as a middle and high school English teacher in the South Bronx. Liz earned her PhD from Columbia University in educational policy. She also has an MS from Pace University in teaching secondary English and a BA from Yale University in English language arts and literature.
Elizabeth is a Director of Legal Strategy and Policy at CPRL. At CPRL, she provides legal and policy analysis and has led consulting projects related to educational equity, school integration, and student mobility. 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, 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.
David Donaldson is a Senior Director of Research Strategy and Consulting at CPRL with expertise in talent and human resources, superintendent support, and strategic planning. Before CPRL, David was the Chief of Human Capital at the Tennessee Department of Education. In that role, he launched several statewide programs which include: Grow Your Own, Aspiring Assistant Principal Network, and Diverse Leaders Network. David initiated efforts to offer more than 5,000 additional endorsements in special education and English as a Second Language for free. During his tenure, Tennessee ranked #1 for prioritizing educator diversity and equity by The Education Trust. David has been a teacher and administrator in Baltimore, Detroit, and New York City. He earned an EdM in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a MAT in secondary English from Johns Hopkins University, and a BS in language, literature, and writing from Eastern Michigan University.
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.
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. 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 teacher training and instructional practice, and the spread of innovative, interdisciplinary practices in professional education. 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.
Amanda is the Deputy Director of Strategy and Operations at CPRL. Amanda leads CPRL's operations and student supports, project development, and external affairs. She provides strategic planning and implementation support on consulting projects addressing district governance, high-quality instructional materials and aligned professional learning, and teacher preparation, among other topics. Her prior roles include the founding COO for Public Square Partnership and Deputy Chief Portfolio Officer at the New York City Department of Education, helping to lead the department's nationally recognized portfolio and school choice strategy. Amanda began her career as a teacher at an elementary school in East Harlem and as a high school English teacher in Phoenix, Arizona. She holds a BA from Rice University where she majored in English, economics, and managerial studies. Amanda also has an MAEd in secondary education from the University of Phoenix and an MBA in social enterprise from Columbia University.