Meet Our Leadership Fellows

March 2, 2020

The Leadership Fellows, selected from among the nation’s most recognized professionals in their fields, were provided opportunities to further hone their expertise in enhancing college and career opportunities for high school students in their local communities.

The 12-month program also included opportunities to engage with leaders from across the country. In between sessions, participants complete rigorous coursework, including robust preparatory activities tied to upcoming session topics and an independent project. Meet the incredible educators, industry experts, and NAF alumni whose projects are helping students #BeFutureReady:

Michael D. Armbruster, Ed.D, Associate Superintendent, Career and Technical Education, Florida

Headshot of Michael D. Armbruster

Dr. Armbruster is in his 33rd year with Orange County Public Schools (OCPS), serving as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, and principal before assuming his current role. As a principal, he served at three high schools over thirteen years, with populations varying from 2700-4400 students. During his current tenure as Associate Superintendent, NAF academies have grown from 11 to 34 with at least one academy in each of the district’s 20 traditional high schools.

Erin Ward Bibo, Ph.D. Deputy Chief of College & Career Programs, District of Columbia Public Schools, DC

Headshot of Erin Ward Bibo.

Dr. Bibo oversees Career Education, College Preparedness Programming, Postsecondary Planning, and JRTOC for the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). Prior to joining DCPS, Dr. Bibo served as Director of Policy and Planning for Postsecondary and Career Education for the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, the District’s State Education Agency. She also previously worked as Assistant Director of Degree Programs at the Harvard Kennedy School. Bibo earned her Ph.D. in Education Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park, and her Master’s in Education Policy from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

Alyssa R. English, Career Development Lead, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Charlotte, North Carolina

Headshot of Alyssa R. English

Alyssa English has been with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools for 22 years. She spent 19 years as a Marketing teacher; 2 years as the NAF Academy of Engineering Director; and 1 full year in her current role. Ms. English serves on the Advisory Board of the State Employees Credit Union – Matthews Branch, earned the Facilitating Career Development credential in 2016 and is a National Board Certified Teacher twice over.

Greg Hutton, Corporate Technology Leader, Verizon, Texas

Headshot of Greg Hutton.

Greg Hutton is responsible for global IP network design, architecture and new technology introduction for Verizon’s Private Cloud Platform (VCP). Greg is an advocate, mentor and perpetual sponsor for Verizon’s summer intern, campus direct, and Verizon Leadership Development Programs (VLDP). He serves on four NAF advisory boards where he’s developed annual Verizon work-based learning (WBL) initiatives, programming, and scholarships serving NAF students districtwide. Greg is a LIFE Member (#333) of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), an active executive board member of the NSBEDFW Professionals Chapter, Verizon’s Black Resource Association of Verizon Employees (VZ-BRAVE) and Dallas ISD Career and Technology Education Industry Leadership Council (CTE ILC). He has been recognized with numerous Verizon spotlight, service, and leadership awards including a Verizon Credo Award for network security leadership excellence.

Khalia Braswell, NAF Alumna, Phillip O. Berry Academy of Information Technology, NC

Ms. Braswell graduated from Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology in 2008. She went on to study at North Carolina State University, graduating with a BS in Computer Science. In 2016, she also obtained her Masters in Information Technology with a concentration in Human Computer Interaction. After spending some time in California working at Apple, Ms. Braswell left to pursue INTech Camp for Girls full time. INTech Camp is a non profit she founded during graduate school whose mission is to inform and inspire girls to innovate in the technology industry. Ms. Braswell is active with her former academy’s advisory board and even employs NAF interns! In 2015, she was invited to attend the inaugural White House Computer Science Tech Jam, which kicked off Computer Science Education Week. Ms. Braswell was also named to the 2016 Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce 30 Under 30 list and the 2017 North Carolina State University Computer Science Outstanding Young Alumni list.

Andréa Comer, Advisory Board Member, Academy of Engineering & Green Technology, CT

For my Fellowship, I heightened awareness of NAF in Greater Hartford by engaging CBIA’s members through a social media and marketing campaign. As the state’s largest business organization, CBIA is well-positioned to utilize its event and marketing platform to expose more businesses to the NAF educational design. In addition, as the industry partner for the Academy of Engineering & Green Technology, CBIA’s Education & Workforce Partnership includes school leadership, current students and alumni, I work to connect our networks and provide compelling contextual evidence of the design’s ability to effect transformative change for students in underserved communities, and build the region’s STEM workforce.

Soley Gonzalez, Chair, Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ NAF Academy of Finance, FL

I developed a mentor-mentee matching initiative that connects high school students in 10th grade with industry professionals and a college/university program, based on their career goals through myNAFTrack Miami. As plans move forward to engage business partners in the overall initiative, I also envision an online scalable mentoring component. This project will offer the guidance, support, and resources needed for the next generation to make important decisions for their futures. Together, we can close the workforce gap by providing opportunities for young people to gain exposure and experience in a way that is relevant and meaningful.

Richard Grimsley, Director of Career & Technical Education, Dallas ISD, TX

Head shot of Richard Grimsley.

Dallas ISD aims to assist each NAF academy in serving more students and helping better prepare them for internships. First, they determined a purpose, vision, and structure for a district CTE advisory board that supports the fast-growing industry sectors in Dallas County. Then a district CTE Advisory Board was implemented in the spring of 2018. The Board assessed the existing CTE programs by industry sector and made recommendations for equipment and program improvements to align with local business and industry needs. Finally, the Board and the district CTE team developed a plan for implementing recommended equipment and program improvements to align with campus improvements.

Shawn Hill, Director of College & Career Pathways, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, MI

Head shot of Shawn Hill.

Ms. Hill is the Director of College & Career Pathways for the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. Through her work leading the implementation of the United Way’s college and career pathway program, Ms. Hill is focused on advancing student achievement in Greater Detroit. She spent seven years teaching math and science in Flint, Grand Rapids, and Detroit. In 2002, Ms. Hill became a K-8 principal and obtained her Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University. She is a results-oriented, visionary leader whose vast experience as an educator also includes opening five Detroit charter schools, serving as K-12 principal for University Prep Science and Math, and as superintendent for the YMCA of Metro Detroit.

Wendy Kallergis, President and CEO, The Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association

Head shot of Wendy Kallergis.

My goal was to recruit 50 new corporate partners for NAFTrack Miami. Hospitality and Tourism is one of the top industries in Miami. The industry is also playing a significant role in real estate, finance, legal, health and wellness, human resources, technology, security, education and nonprofits. I have been working closely with all of the Academy Boards in Miami-Dade County to promote the tremendous efforts of NAFTrack Miami in the MDC Public School System.

Atul Kapoor, NAF Alumnus and Advisory Board Member, NYC NAF Academies & Academy of Finance and Enterprise High School, NY

Head shot of Atul Kapoor.

The goal was to create an easy-to-follow game plan for schools and board members that provides simple steps to take throughout the year to keep partners and alumni engaged. The plan provides suggestions for social media posts, emails, and offline outreach for each month of the academic year. This plan is customized for NYC schools, but can easily be replicated for other cities as well. This plan was developed month by month with regular feedback from the NYC NAF Academies schools. By the end of the Academic year, all the best practices can be made into a presentation, Google Calendar, or automated email reminders so that it can easily be shared with other schools in following years. Some schools are doing a great job of engaging corporate and community partners and building up their brand. For schools that are running low on ideas, this plan will be a good place to start.

Jeffrey Rabey, Superintendent, Depew Union Free School District, NY

Head shot of Jeffrey Rabey.

Dr. Jeffrey R. Rabey has 26+ years of professional experience, which has included teacher, school counselor, building and central office administrator, and most recently the Superintendent of Schools for the Depew Union Free School District. He is an alumnus of Daemen College, St. Bonaventure University, the University at Buffalo, and Niagara University. Jeff received the Lancaster Area Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership Award in 2015 and the Daemen College Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013. He was recognized for Distinction by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) in 2009 and by Business First’s Who’s Who In Education since 2008.

Sondra Sanford, Coordinator of New Britain HS Programs & Community Partnerships, CT

Head shot of Sondra Sanford.

Ms. Sanford has held positions as Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department Chair and New Britain High School (NBHS) Comptroller. She has worked collaboratively with community-based providers, advisory board members, and NBHS administration to foster students’ social, emotional, and intellectual growth and independence within a well-organized environment and make connections between school-based instruction and worksite experience. Ms. Sanford facilitated the first NAF academy at NBHS, which quickly reached Distinguished quality level. Ms. Sanford’s holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Accounting from San Diego State University (SDSU), business teaching, and administrative degrees from Central Connecticut State University (CCSU).

Dr. Kuldip Thusu, CEO, Alta Family Health Clinic, Inc, CA

Head shot of Dr. Kuldip Thusu.

Dr. Thusu first joined the academy advisory board in the planning period of 2008. For over a decade, he has ensured that students receive a well-rounded experience, including traveling to health conferences, arranging visits with a variety of doctors and medical specialists, inviting guest speakers into the classroom, helping to fund scholarships for students, serving as a mentor, and hosting internships at his clinic. His leadership, willingness to help in every aspect, and genuine love for the academy is what keeps other board members motived and inspired to seek out the very best for students.

Enid Valdez, Director of Career and Technical Adult Community Education, Broward County Public Schools, FL

Head shot of Enid Valdez.

I was selected to sit on the GREAT Committee, which is hosted by Senator LeMieux, to address industry credentialing, student internships, and developing rigorous academic programs that address industry needs. This work is in development and with the consistent participation of Broward’s CTACE (Career Technical Adult Community Education) team and myself has led to an increased awareness of the importance of student internships. Additionally, the Superintendent for Broward schools has created a position to address providing internships for all students that meet criteria and qualify. I am on the subcommittee for internships for the Greater Alliance (economic board) and I hope to present to various groups the benefits of internships. Also, I have become a member of the corporate board for Greater Alliance, which I believe will create further reach into the community. I believe this will have a definite impact and contribute to the engagement.

Harini Venkatesh, Deputy Executive Director, CTE Partnerships and Strategy, NYC DOE, NY

Head shot of Harini Venkatesh.

Ms. Venkatesh is the Deputy Executive Director, Career and Technical Education (CTE) Partnerships and Strategy, at the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE). She leads partnership development across eight high-growth industry verticals to ensure CTE programs meet real-world needs and deliver successful labor market outcomes to over 65,000 high school students. Ms. Venkatesh brings a wealth of expertise from the private and nonprofit sectors, having worked in major cities in USA, England, and India. She holds graduate degrees in Economics and City Planning from the University Of Cambridge (UK) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). When not turning ideas to action, Ms. Venkatesh enjoys reading and planning for the next adventure with her husband and kids.

Lisa Wilson, Business, Finance & Marketing Education Associate, Delaware Department of Education, DE

Head shot of Lisa Wilson.

The Department of Education and its partners are implementing a process to provide scalable internships for students in CTE programs through a statewide Workforce Intermediary at the Delaware Technical Community College. The Workforce Intermediary provides regional and statewide coordination of career immersion opportunities. I engage our business partners and higher education partners in conjunction with the Workforce Intermediary staff to create a Future Ready Lab pilot that provides opportunities to scale the quantity of meaningful internship opportunities tailored to NAF students. By providing access to internship opportunities specifically for NAF students, schools will be more likely to adopt the NAF programs which in turn will increase the preparedness of NAF students.