SEN was founded in 2015 by a group of experienced district leaders, principals, school founders and master teachers. Core members of our team previously selected and trained leaders for over 120 new schools as part of the Bloomberg/Klein administration’s efforts to improve New York City schools, replacing large, failing high schools with smaller, more effective ones, and providing quality charter school options for families.
Alex Shub - Chief Executive Officer
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.
Blanca Ruiz-Williams - SENIOR PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Blanca Ruiz-Williams graduated Georgetown University abandoning the notion of becoming a lawyer, and instead pursuing a career as a teacher. She began her teaching career as a TFA corp member in Paterson, NJ teaching 3rd grade bilingual. After her two year commitment, Blanca came back to her home state where she taught 5th and 6th grade Reading at KIPP Academy in the Bronx for 6 years. In those six years, she earned a title of Director of Solutions – by far one of the coolest titles ever – which is simply translated to Dean. Blanca then became a successor principal for four years, before moving on to her Leadership Coaching Role. In her 15 years with KIPP NYC, Blanca had the privilege of seeing her 1st class graduate high school and college, and become teachers across KIPP. This past year Blanca went on to earn her doctorate in Educational Leadership with an emphasis on the power of authentic leadership for Latina leaders.
Carolyn Yaffe - executive DIRECTOR
Carolyn Yaffe has 19 years of experience working in public education. She spent 17 years with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE); highlights of her tenure with the NYCDOE include serving as the Executive Director for School Quality and serving as the founding principal of the Academy for Young Writers, a 6-12 school located in East New York, Brooklyn. In her time as Executive Director for School Quality, she oversaw qualitative school evaluation and principal practice observation across 1,700 schools. Under her leadership as principal of the Academy for Young Writers, the school’s graduation rate and college acceptance rate were above 90%. Most recently, Carolyn has served as an educational consultant, working to support district, school, and leadership quality nationally. She began her career teaching high school English Language Arts in the Bronx. Carolyn holds an undergraduate degree from Boston University, an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland, and a degree in educational administration from Baruch College.
Clara janis - senior Program Director
Clara began her 15-year career in public education as a history teacher in the South Bronx. She was a founding school director at Broome Street Academy, a high school with comprehensive wraparound services chartered to serve adolescents in the child welfare system. At Broome Street, Clara led a team of innovative educators to rethink and reshape social-emotional and academic support structures for the City's most at-risk youth. Most recently she worked as a leadership coach for TNTP, serving schools and communities in Detroit, Camden, Philadelphia and NYC. She holds a master’s in Public Administration from NYU Robert F. Wagner School where she also served as Deputy Director for the Center for Global Public Service. She holds a master’s in secondary education from Pace University and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
David Negron - Senior Director of Program Operations
David Negron is an experienced educational professional working with district and charter schools, with a focus on talent development through coaching school leaders and managing the operational design of principal selection processes for school districts. Most recently, David served as Director for Pre-K Expansion at the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) where he oversaw the operational design for selecting new Pre-K sites as part of the Pre-K for All initiative. Previously, David was the Director of New School Development at the NYC DOE, where he led the management of recruitment and selection of new school principals for new district public schools in NYC. David received a B.F.A. from New York University and a Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College.
Eduardo Contreras - Chief Operating Officer
Eduardo Contreras has more than 12 years of experience managing program and administrative operations within large government agencies, as well as within nonprofit organizations in the US and Mexico. Before joining the founding team at SEN, 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.
Jess Westermann - executive DIRECTOR
Jess Westermann began her career in public education at New Design High School in New York City, where she served as an English teacher, instructional coach, new teacher mentor, and department leader. After 7 years in the classroom, she became Director of the New Schools Intensive, a DOE program aimed at supporting principals chosen to design and lead new small schools throughout the city. Jess has also worked as a consultant for TNTP and as an adjunct lecturer at Hunter College’s School of Education. Before entering education, she worked for 4 years as a producer at New York Public Radio.
Kate Callaghan - program DIRECTOR
Kate Callaghan has 13 years of experience working in public schools. Kate began her career as a Biology teacher at one of the first small schools in the South Bronx. She then became the Assistant Principal and Principal at the Bronx Leadership Academy II, where she developed a comprehensive teacher performance management system including mid-year reviews and teacher coaching. In addition, she led the school through a transition to Standards-based Grading, and implemented curriculum and strategies to build a growth mindset in students and teachers. Kate holds a BA in Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard University, and an MA from Bank Street College of Education.
Michael Flynn - senior Program Director
Michael Flynn has 16 years of experience working in public schools. Michael started his career in education at one of the first small high schools in the South Bronx, where he was an English teacher and department leader. Later, as an assistant principal at a 1,200-student high school, Michael was responsible for school operations, community engagement and school safety and security. Most recently, Michael served as an instructional leader at a small high school, where he developed an innovative teacher-coaching model. Mike holds a BA in English from Wesleyan University and an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Rolandria Justice - Program director
Rolandria Justice has more than 12 years of experience working in public schools. She started her career in education as a middle school English and Science teacher in Newark, NJ. After years in the classroom, Rolandria moved on to work as a school administrator supporting the development of positive school culture and systems to increase achievement in schools in Harlem and Brooklyn. She then became the founding principal of a charter school in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where she oversaw, trained and evaluated lead and associate teachers and led new curriculum development. Most recently, Rolandria worked as an instructional coach for Turnaround for Children, where she facilitated teacher growth through a variety of coaching supports, including classroom observation, descriptive feedback, co-planning, and modeling of lessons.
Ryan Schetelick - executive Director
Ryan Schetelick has been working in education for 20 years. As a teacher in NYC, a school director and principal in the South Bronx, and a leadership and literacy consultant in Newark, Ryan has been committed in increasing student achievement through structured, systematic work with stakeholders at every level. Most recently, Ryan served as a Talent Coach for TNTP where he helped to revise and implement TNTP’s leadership program. Prior to working at TNTP, Ryan worked at the NYCDOE in the Office of New Schools. Ryan has a BA in English from Amherst College, a MA in Teaching English, an MEd in Curriculum and Teaching, and currently is in the final throes of earning his EdD in Curriculum and Teaching, all from Columbia University Teachers College.