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, replacing large, failing high schools with smaller, more effective ones.
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 NYCDOE, 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 the charter sector and to other districts around the country.
Carolyn yaffe (Executive Director)
Carolyn Yaffe spent 17 years with the NYCDOE; highlights of her tenure include serving as executive director for school quality and 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 and college acceptance rates 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.
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 seven years in the classroom, she became director of the New Schools Intensive, an NYCDOE program aimed at supporting principals chosen to design and lead new small schools throughout the city. As a senior director at SEN, she designed and led the Lead and Master Teacher Development program for the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan. 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 as a producer at New York Public Radio. She has a BA in English from Wesleyan University and an MAT in teaching English from Brown University.
ryan Schetelick (Executive Director)
As a teacher in NYC, a school director and principal in the South Bronx, and a leadership and literacy consultant in Newark, Ryan Schetelick has been committed to 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 TNTP, Ryan worked at the NYCDOE in the Office of New Schools. Ryan has a BA in English from Amherst College, an MA in teaching English, an MEd in curriculum and teaching, and is in the final throes of earning his EdD in curriculum and teaching, all from Columbia University Teachers College.
Eduardo Contreras (Chief Operating Officer)
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 NYCDOE’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.
David Negron (Senior Director of Program Operations)
David Negron is an education professional with expertise in talent development and school operations and experience with both district and charter schools. Most recently, David served as director for Pre-K Expansion at the NYCDOE, where he oversaw the operational design for the selection of new Pre-K sites as part of the Pre-K for All initiative. Previously, David was a director of new school development at NYCDOE, where he managed recruitment and selection of new school principals for new schools in NYC. David received a BFA from New York University and an MPA from Baruch College.
Michael FlyNn (Senior Program Director)
Michael Flynn 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.
Blanca Ruiz (Senior Program Director)
Blanca Ruiz began her teaching career as a Teach For America corps member in Paterson, NJ, teaching third grade bilingual. After TFA, Blanca came back to her home state of New York, where she taught fifth and sixth grade reading at KIPP Academy in the Bronx. During her six years there, she held a dean-level position as “director of solutions.” Blanca then became a successor principal, before moving on to a leadership coaching role. In her 15 years with KIPP NYC, Blanca had the privilege of seeing her first class graduate high school and college, with some former students going on to become teachers in the KIPP network. Blanca went on to earn her doctorate in educational leadership from National Louis University, with an emphasis on the power of authentic leadership for Latina leaders. She holds a BA from Georgetown University.
Kate Callaghan (Program Director)
Kate Callaghan 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.
Rolandria Justice (Program Director)
Rolandria Justice 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.
Adam Paredes (Program Director)
Adam Paredes, LMSW, has more than 11 years of experience in public education, serving as a school social worker, dean of students, and restorative justice coordinator. With prior work experience in early childhood trauma and adolescent emotional and behavioral disorders, Adam helped three small high schools in New York City successfully implement restorative practices in building healthier school cultures and strengthening student-teacher bonds. Before joining SEN, Adam served as director of high school admissions for NYCDOE’s Office of Student Enrollment, supporting high school principals with enrollment training, recruitment, and family engagement. Adam holds a BS in human services from St. John’s University and an MSW from New York University.
Carrmilla Young (Program Director)
Carrmilla began her career as an early childhood teacher and ECE director in Austin, Texas, before moving into public school administration as a resident principal with New Leaders Chicago. Most recently, she served as superintendent of Agape Schools in Fresno, California, where she specialized in strategic planning and design of school and district systems that support effective teaching, learning, and student support services. Carrmilla holds a BS from the University of Texas at Austin as well as a MEd in elementary reading and literacy from Walden University and a Certificate of Advanced Study in supervision and administration from National Louis University. She is currently in the dissertation phase of earning an EdD in administrative leadership.