BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Jahdiya Semper (proposed Chair) is a Director of College and Career Readiness at New Dawn Charter High School in New York City. There, she manages a team of College and Career counselors to ensure that her students are prepared for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead after graduation. Jahdiya has worked to support students in both school-based roles as well as in charter sector organizations. Most recently, she served as the Senior Financial Analyst at Charter School Business Management, where her strategic planning skills and knowledge of school finance helped ensure that NYC area charters were in the best fiscal and operational positions to serve their students. As board president, Jahidya brings a wide set of skills to the table. Her commitment to and passion for serving the students of New York City, her deep knowledge of charter operations and finance, and her strong sense of organizational culture and procedure have helped the ACE board organize its work and prepare itself for the task of opening a high-quality charter school in the Bronx. Ms. Semper has been instrumental in organizing the work of the ACE Board of Trustees, ensuring that the team works under a committee structure with clear time-bound goals and projects that speak to their areas of deep expertise. Through her frequent work with the full board and the various ACE committees, Jahdiya has developed a bird’s eye view of the work and is a proven partner as it pertains to empowering trustees to problem-solve, work together, and grow as they work to open the school. In addition to leading the team in the realm of board development and governance, Jahidya worked on the ACE budgets, pre-opening plan, dissolution plan, as well as all sections of the application that pertained to finance or operations.

 

Stuart Holt (proposed Vice Chair) is Director of School Programs and Community Engagement at the Metropolitan Opera, and oversees all K-12 school and community/adult programming.  He administers the school programs, Urban Voices: A Choral Music Initiative, Students Compose Opera, and Access Opera: Student Dress Rehearsals as well as oversaw the successful completion of the Guild’s arts integration research project COBALT (Comprehensive Opera-Based Arts Learning and Teaching). He also oversees all community/adult programming, including pre-performance lectures, score-reading, master classes, courses, and backstage tours. Stuart continues to be in demand as a panelist/lecturer in the field of opera and opera education.  Recent appearances have included Manhattan School of Music, the American Musicological Society, Cosmopolitan Club, Opera Volunteers International, Opera America and Brown University, where he also served as a master teacher. Prior to joining the Metropolitan Opera Guild, he served as Director of Education and Outreach for the Nashville Opera and the Director of Youth Opera Programs for Sarasota Opera. He has served on the faculty at Florida State University and James Madison University. Stuart holds a Bachelor Music Education from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, MN, and a Master of Opera Production from Florida State University. Stuart will use his understanding of organizational leadership, board development and procedure, education, and fundraising to contribute to the success of ACE. Stuart will sit on the Governance, Finance, and Development Committees. In those roles, he will continue to organize work for the Board of Trustees using a committee structure, will participate in big-picture budget planning and oversight, and will lead fundraising efforts for the board, including setting a “give-get” policy and identifying potential partnerships/donors for ACE.

 

Victor DuBois (proposed Board Treasurer) is the Director of Finance for the Mark Cross luxury fashion brand, and is responsible for overseeing the Accounting, Finance, Budgeting, Tax, Treasury, IT, HR and Operations aspects of the business. Victor partners closely with the CEO as a trusted sounding board and advisor/contributor on all aspects of the business, including evaluating and apprising of potential risks and opportunities as well as helping to create action plans. He frequently leads business development initiatives and operational projects that enhance business performance. Victor began his career as an accountant in 2004 and has gone on to serve in various capacities for companies across multiple business sectors. He has worked in the non-profit, pharmaceutical/biotech, luxury fashion and financial services industries, and for five years as a tax accountant and auditor at public accounting firms. Prior to joining Mark Cross served as an auditor with PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) in the Investment Management and Private Company Services practices, and as a Business Area Controller on the Corporate Accounting team with Fortress Investment Group. Victor is a graduate of Brooklyn College where he double majored and obtained BSs in Business Management and Accounting, obtained his MBA in Finance from St. John’s University, including studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science in London, England, and is a licensed CPA in New York State. Victor’s private sector experience brings a depth of operational and business knowledge that directly benefits the ACE Board and school leader. Victor will be responsible for providing strategic operational guidance in finance and accounting and will provide counsel as ACE moves through the planning and growth processes. His main work on the application included drafting contingency budgets and aligning our application narrative with those budgets.

 

Jessica Rooney (proposed secretary): is the founder of People’s Prep Charter School in Newark, New Jersey. Originally from Vermont, Rooney graduated from Smith College and was a public school Spanish teacher at New Design High School on the Lower East Side for four years before she began considering work in Newark as a comparable focus to her previous experience. At the age of 28, Rooney began training with the selective New Leaders for New Schools program, a year-long urban school leader program that teaches participants every facet of creating and running a new small school, from how to write a charter, to how to recruit staff and create a board of directors. A year before she launched People’s Prep, Rooney worked at The Newark Charter School Fund, which helped provide her with the training and expertise to found her own school. Jess works on the BOT’s Academic Excellence and School Culture Committee, has helped us add a key design element designed at supporting students after graduation, and has helped us think through the different roles that should exist on the school’s College Access Team. In addition, as a charter principal who reports to her own board of trustees, she has helped us strengthen our application in regards to how the board will structure its work, evaluate itself, and evaluate ACE’s school leader. 

 

Sara Dingledy (proposed trustee) is a principal who has extensive experience building new school programs and working to improve existing ones. She currently works at the principal of Martha's Vineyard Regional High School. Prior to her current position, she wrote a successful school proposal for the NYC Department of Education, working for four years to build a rigorous college preparatory option for students in the Bronx. Before becoming a principal, Sara served as the Assistant Headmaster of Teaching and Learning at the prestigious Brooklyn Latin School, and as a social studies teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. High School on Manhattan's West Side. Sara will contribute her organizational and leadership expertise as a member of the Academic Excellence Committee, providing the ACE Board and principal with guidance and oversight as it relates to setting and meeting overall educational goals. Sara will provide specific advice and guidance around curriculum, instruction, assessment, working with special populations, organizational leadership and teacher development, student and staff recruitment and retention, and systems for school improvement/refinement.

SCHOOL-BASED STAFF

Gregory Rodriguez (proposed school leader) is a committed educator who has worked in Bronx schools as a teacher and assistant principal for over twelve years. Mr. Rodriguez worked as a Special Education teacher from 2004-2012, teaching English and History to students in self-contained and inclusion settings. In this role, he collaborated with other teachers to improve instruction in special education classrooms, and took on leadership roles such as department leader, grade-level leader, and special education coordinator. In 2012, Greg became a founding staff member at Westchester Square Academy in the Bronx, where he spent his first-year transitioning from the role of special education teacher to assistant principal. In his role as assistant principal, Greg worked with the principal as part of a two-person leadership team to phase in a new high school grade-by-grade. He was responsible for all aspects of teaching and learning in the school, as well as the supervision of deans, counselors, school aides, and other non-instructional staff. Through the careful creation and refinement of curriculum, the collaborative examination of student assessment data, and regular efforts to improve instruction, Mr. Rodriguez and his team successfully graduated a student body with the highest graduation rate in CSD 8 in SY 2015-16. Greg will be ACE’s founding principal, and will organize work for instructional, operation, culture and college readiness staff.

 

Erika Stafne (Math-Science specialist) has taught science to college, high school and middle school students for over 21 years, in Southern California, the Bronx, and in programs such as Salish Sea Expeditions and the Sea Education Association. She is passionate about inspiring curiosity in her students and helping them learn to question, explore, and solve problems. Having previously served as a school’s founding science teacher, she is committed to helping develop a science program that teaches students to think critically and speak articulately about science and the world around them. Mostly, she wants her students to fall in love with learning and take that passion with them as they head off to college and into the world. Last year, Erika was awarded a fellowship as a Master Teacher of Science from Math for America Master. Erika will work as a founding Science teacher for ACE and will begin working as an instructional coach in Year 3.

 

Nathaniel Robison (College and Career Specialist) has dedicated his life to helping inner city children reach college success. He has served as a mentor for incoming college freshmen, as well as a high school college readiness teacher. His passion for college access and success stems from his own experiences growing up in New York City. Nate was part of the founding team at Great Oaks Charter School in Wilmington, Delaware. He is committed to the growth and long term success for ACE and its students. Nate will serve as the founding member of the school’s College Access Team, and will teach College Knowledge Seminar in Year 1 of the school, in addition to working part-time to consult with the principal around big picture college-readiness strategy.