Our Board

Daniel Pasette (Chair)

Dan is the VP of Engineering, Core Server at MongoDB. Prior to joining MongoDB, Dan worked several jobs related to digital music, content and media at LimeWire, MTV Networks, Sonicnet, iXL, and Electronic Book Technologies. Dan holds a degree in Computer Science from Brown University.

Alex Shub  (Vice-chair)

Alex Shub has 20 years of experience working with school districts and communities on school design, talent development and coaching of new principals. Alex was the founding principal of Essex Street Academy, one of the top performing high schools opened as part of the recent turnaround efforts in NYC. Alex then served as Executive Director of the Office of New Schools at the NYC DOE, where he led the identification, selection and development of new school principals for 120 new schools in NYC. Following his tenure with the DOE, Alex founded and developed School Empowerment Network (SEN), to bring the successful practices developed in New York to other districts around the country.

Eduardo Contreras (Treasurer)

Eduardo Contreras has more than 10 years of experience managing program and administrative operations within large government agencies, as well as within nonprofit organizations in the US and Mexico. Most recently, Eduardo served as Chief Operating Officer for NYC Department of Education’s Division of Portfolio Planning, managing a budget of $1B+ and supervising Finance, Human Resources, Procurement and Special Projects teams. Eduardo received an MBA from Yale University.

Lauren Starr (Secretary)

Lauren Starr is a real estate agent in New York City specializing in sales on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and works for Warburg Realty. Prior to this position, she had a career as a freelance Photojournalist for 15 years. In the last 20 years she has helped advise, support, and raise money for three schools in New York City. She was on the alumni Board of her own alma mater The Dalton School for ten years and also helped Essex Street Academy in lower Manhattan and Community Roots in Fort Greene Brooklyn. Lauren received her BA from Brown University and a Graduate degree in photojournalism from the International Center of Photography in New York.

Clara Markowicz 

Clara Markowicz’s career in production started right after graduating from Brown University in 1994 when she worked as an assistant to a documentary filmmaker. In 2001, she cofounded Original Media, a television and film production company. She produced and executive-produced many television projects including popular reality shows like Miami Ink, Storm Chasers, and The Rachel Zoe Project, as well as the critically-acclaimed independent films The Squid and The Whale, Half Nelson, and A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints.
Clara is also the co-chair of the board of The Brotherhood-Sister Sol a nonprofit that provides holistic support for underserved youth in New York City, and is a longtime supporter of Essex Street Academy, a NYC public school, and spearheads their annual fundraiser.

Erin Carstensen 

Erin Carstensen is an innovative, visionary, solutions-oriented educational leader motivated by a commitment to educational equity and to empowering children, families, and teachers. Erin believes that schools are professional learning communities and should be treated as such. Erin currently serves as the Principal of Essex Street Academy in New York City, where she started as a founding faculty member and has contributed to grow the organization from 85 to 350 students, while creating a culture of high expectations and cultivating a supportive, collaborative and productive workplace environment.

Jeffrey Penn 

Jeffrey Penn is New York-admitted attorney with expertise in executive compensation and employee benefits. He has practiced at a leading New York-based international law firm and is currently advising an American multi-national technology company with respect to the employment related aspects of its mergers-and-acquisition activities. Jeff received a B.A. in anthropology from Brown University and a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law. For several years, Jeff has been a board member of the Montessori Day School.

Ken Blacklow 

Ken Blacklow is a partner at The Cue Group, which provides management and strategic consulting to corporations, non-profits, government, and new philanthropists in the areas of branding, capacity building, economic development and workforce development. Ken received a BA from Harvard University and an MPA from Columbia School of International and Public Affairs.