Zeke Vanderhoek, Founder & Principal
The Equity Project Charter School concept was created by Zeke Vanderhoek, who is also TEP's first Principal. Zeke was the founder of Manhattan GMAT (now Manhattan Prep: www.manhattanprep.com), a national GMAT test-preparation company, which he built with no outside investment. Zeke began his educational career as a 6th and 8th grade teacher at I.S. 90, a public middle school in Washington Heights (NYC). He has a B.A. from Yale University and a Masters in Philosophy & Education from Teachers College at Columbia University.
Casey Ash, Middle School Director / 8th Grade Math Teacher
One of TEP's founding teachers, Casey is TEP's Middle School Director. He has served as the school's Assistant Principal since the 2011-2012 school year while simultaneously teaching 8th math. Casey spent the first nine years of his teaching career at Community School 211 in the Bronx, New York, where he was initially placed by the Teach for America program in 1997. In 2006, he moved to Raleigh, North Carolina where he spent three years teaching fifth grade and English as a Second Language. Casey graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors from Washington University in St. Louis with degrees in history and Spanish. One of TEP’s founding teachers, Casey is happily married with two wonderful sons. At TEP, Casey has previously taught social studies and currently teaches math, while also serving as TEP's Middle School Director.
Shelly Gupta, Director of Finance
Ms. Gupta has over 18 years of experience as an educational entrepreneur, information technology project manager, and consultant. She began her career at Thaumaturgix, a software consulting firm, where she was the architect of cutting-edge technology platforms for many e-commerce businesses. Subsequently, she worked for Standard & Poor’s as a Senior Consultant in the Risk Solutions group, leading and managing teams of engineers to build two key, highly profitable products. Shelly then co- founded TutorAndMentor.com, a supplemental educational services company that leverages technology to deliver affordable and convenient education to K-12 students in the US & UK. Shelly earned her Integrated Master of Science in Computer Science and Mathematics at the world-renowned Indian Institute of Technology, earning admission as one of the top 0.5% of students from over 200,000 nationwide applicants.
TEP Board of Trustees
David Coleman, a leading voice in education reform, was named the President and CEO of the College Board in fall 2012. David Coleman is the ninth president of the College Board, a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board is today made up of more than 6,000 educational institutions, including schools, school districts, colleges and universities.
Coleman played a leading role in the development of the Common Core State Standards, which to date have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.
David Coleman grew up in a family of educators and has followed them into this field. Coleman went to public school in New York City until college. At Yale, he taught reading to secondary students in the Ulysses S. Grant program for low-income New Haven students and started Branch–an innovative community service program that worked with students at an inner city New Haven high school. Based on the success of Branch, Coleman received a Rhodes Scholarship, which he used to study English literature at Oxford and classical educational philosophy at Cambridge. He returned to work at McKinsey & Company for five years, where he led much of the firm's pro bono work in education.
Together with a team of educators, Coleman then founded the Grow Network, an organization committed to making assessment results truly useful for teachers, parents, and students. The Grow Network delivered breakthrough quality reports for parents and teachers as well as individualized learning guides for students. Based on the success of Grow, McGraw-Hill acquired the organization in 2005.
Coleman left McGraw-Hill in 2007 and co-founded Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit that assembles educators and researchers to design actions based on evidence to improve student outcomes. Student Achievement Partners played a leading role in developing the Common Core State Standards in math and literacy, a process that drew on the input of teachers, states, higher education, business leaders, and researchers from across the country. As a Founding Partner, Coleman now helps lead Student Achievement Partners' work with teachers and policymakers to achieve the promise of the Common Core State Standards.
Coleman has been recognized as one of Time magazine’s “11 Education Activists for 2011” and was recently named one of the NewSchools Venture Fund Change Agents of the Year for 2012.
Laura Tavormina has served as Deputy Director and Chief Financial Officer of the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing (www.wsfssh.org) since 1990. She brings deep financial, operational, and facilities expertise to TEP’s Board. WSFSSH, a leading supportive housing provider located in New York City, was organized in 1977 and since then has built close to 1,400 units of housing in Manhattan and the Bronx. As Deputy Director of WSFSSH, Ms. Tavormina is responsible for agency-wide financial matters including financial reporting and audits, budgeting, cash management, tax reporting and government contracts. She has primary operations oversight for the areas of property management, asset management and information technology. She is also a key member of the development team that is responsible for creating new real estate projects for the agency.
Crystal Harmon serves as Vice President for Performance Management at The New Teacher Project (www.tntp.org). This group blends rigorous research with a practitioner's deep knowledge of the real tensions that schools, districts and states face every day and provides practical recommendations to maximize access to highly effective teachers for all students, as well as advises education stakeholders on a range of education policy and legislative issues. To date, Harmon has supervised projects in New York City, Washington State, Philadelphia, Newark, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver and Arkansas. Prior to this role, Crystal worked as a Project Director and a Site Manager at TNTP and is a 2002 Baltimore Teach For America (TFA) Corps Member.
Nicole Rodriguez Leach serves as Vice President at Deutsche Bank, acting as the Education Program Officer at Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation (www.db.com/usa). The Foundation administers the philanthropic activities of Deutsche Bank, and with the Bank’s Community Development Finance Group, carries out the firm's corporate citizenship commitments within the United States, Latin America and Canada. The Foundation structures a program of loans, investments and grants designed to encourage sustainable community development, promote wider access to quality education, and provide steadfast support for the arts. Ms. Leach manages a grantmaking program that works toward enabling college readiness, developing effective teachers and principals, and giving voice to students in improving their schools, and also invests in resources for immigrant students and English Language Learners.Zeke Vanderhoek – see above.
Ms. Leach brings extensive experience in the education field to TEP’s Board. Prior to her work in philanthropic sector, she worked with various local nonprofits and school districts as a public policy analyst and program consultant. She has worked with NYC-based and national education nonprofits as an education coordinator, staff trainer, curriculum developer, and program evaluator. She also taught middle school English and Social Studies.
Brooks S. Clark is a native New Yorker raised on the upper east side of Manhattan. He was educated at The Browning School in New York, and graduated from the College of William and Mary and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Mr. Clark is an attorney specializing in real estate finance in the Financial Services Department of Polsinelli Shughart (www.polsinelli.com), a 650 attorney law firm with offices in sixteen cities. Mr. Clark’s practice focuses on advising foreign and domestic banks, private equity funds and investment banks on all aspects of real estate finance. He also advises corporate clients on the real estate aspects of large corporate and M&A transactions. He has presented and written extensively on corporate real estate matters.
Mr. Clark is active in his local community. Mr. Clark has been a long term active parishioner of St. James' Church on 71st and Madison Avenue. Outside of New York, Mr. Clark has served as a Board Member of the Mountain Top Arboretum, an arboretum and conservancy group based in the Northern Catskills.
Sean Juan serves as a Portfolio Manager at Point72 Asset Management, a private family office based in Stamford, CT. Mr. Juan specializes in the energy sector and manages a team of research analysts. Originally from Texas, he studied finance at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to moving to New York in 2011, he worked at Goldman Sachs and Carlson Capital in Texas. He brings deep financial knowledge to the Board. Prior to joining TEP, Juan has been involved in the community through mentorship roles and various volunteer events through his company.
Andrew Buher is the Executive Director of Dialog, an organization that builds participatory forums that gathers global leaders from across industries and ideologies to discuss pressing issues and find opportunities for collaboration. Immediately prior, he served as a White House Fellow at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Until 2014, Andrew was the Chief Operating Officer of the New York City Department of Education under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an organization with a $25 billion annual operating budget and a workforce of 135,000 employees. He began his career in education promoting college access for low-income, first-generation students. He earned an MPA from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and his BA from Rider University. He is a French American Young Leader and has been a White House Fellow, Education Pioneer Fellow, Fellow at the Center for the Presidency and member of the Forbes 30 under 30. He and his wife live in Manasquan, New Jersey with their Labradors, Lincoln and Jackson.