We are a diverse and dedicated team of experienced leaders who are passionate about partnering with local communities.
Alina Hooper is the Director of Political Strategy with City Fund. Most recently, she was a Senior Vice President with 270 Strategies, where she specialized in campaign design, organization building, and online and offline engagement strategy. During the 2020 election cycle, Alina led a team that worked with local partners to identify, engage, and mobilize voters in key battleground states. In 2016, Alina served as the African American Digital Coalitions Director for the Hillary for America campaign, where she developed digital organizing and outreach programs geared towards maximizing support and turnout among African American voters. Alina earned her bachelor’s degree in History from Harvard College. She lives in Chicago, IL.
Ambar Calvillo-Rivera is the Director of Leadership Development with City Fund. Most recently, as an independent consultant, she worked on initiatives building diverse leadership pipelines that support leaders of color across the country. Previously, she served as the Vice President of Campaigns at Voto Latino, where she co-conspired with young Latinx leaders to register our communities to vote. She currently lives in El Paso, TX with her wife and their pup, Churro.
Blair Mindak is an Executive Assistant with City Fund, supporting partners with scheduling, operations, and logistics. Blair has an AA degree from Meramec College. She has over ten years experience as an executive assistant, working for a local government official and in early education. Blair spends her free time creating art and volunteering at a rescue working with race horses. She currently resides in St. Louis.
Chris Barbic is a partner with City Fund. He founded YES Prep Public Schools (winner of the very first Broad Prize for best charter organization in the nation) and was most recently the founding Superintendent of the Achievement School District, where he led Tennessee’s effort to rapidly turnaround the bottom 5% of schools in the state. Chris graduated from Vanderbilt and lives in Nashville with his wife, Natasha, and his son, Ramiz. His daughter, Tatiana, is a freshman at Georgetown University.
Danisha Moore is the Communications Manager with City Fund. She is the former Communications and Engagement Manager at A Better Chicago, a venture philanthropy organization focused on improving education and life outcomes for Black and Latinx youth from low-income backgrounds. Prior to A Better Chicago, Danisha supported brand management at Target. Danisha graduated from DePaul University with a master’s degree in public relations and advertising. She currently resides in Chicago, IL.
Donna is an Executive Assistant with City Fund providing administrative support to partners and senior leaders. Donna comes to City Fund with 10 years of administrative and operational experience in the medical device, commercial real estate, and consulting industries. Donna lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, 3 kids, and German Shorthair Pointer, Inga.
Dorsey E. Hopson, II is a Partner at City Fund. Before joining City Fund, he served as General Counsel for several school districts. He also worked as a healthcare executive and served as the Superintendent of the Shelby County Schools, Tennessee’s largest school district. During his tenure as superintendent, Dorsey presided over the largest school merger in US history. He and his team also worked to improve student outcomes for all students and prioritized improving chronically underperforming schools. Dorsey received his Bachelors of Arts (with honors) from the University of Memphis. He then attended Georgia State University College of Law where he graduated Magna Cum Laude.
Dorsey has a deep passion for education, student equity, wellness and the law. He strongly believes that every child can learn and that education is the great equalizer. In his spare time Dorsey enjoys spending time with his family, watching sports and playing golf.
Ethan Gray is a Partner with City Fund. He is the former Founder and CEO of Education Cities, a national nonprofit that supported and advised city-based education organizations on their efforts to grow great public schools. Ethan is an honors graduate of Harvard College and holds an MA from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He lives in Bend, OR with his wife, son, and small adventure dog.
Gary Borden is a Partner with City Fund. He previously worked as Senior Vice President at the California Charter Schools Association, where he led the organization’s statewide policy and advocacy work. Prior to this, Gary worked at the Charter Schools Development Center. Gary holds a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University and a J.D. from Georgetown University.
Isral DeBruin is a Director of Communications for City Fund. Previously, he led strategy and communications for City Forward Collective, an education champion organization he helped launch in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Isral also served as a teacher at a Milwaukee charter school and as an award-winning reporter covering suburban school districts for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s NOW Newspapers. Isral has degrees from the University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee and Marquette University. He currently lives in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood with his wife and daughter.
Jessica Peña is a Partner with the City Fund. Prior to joining City Fund she was Partner at Education Cities, where she supported and advised city-based education organizations on their efforts to grow great public schools. Jessica has spent her career working in and out of government to reform systems for vulnerable people. Jessica has a BA from Trinity College and a JD from New York University School of Law. She is a native New Yorker currently living in New Jersey with her husband and two children.
Kameelah Shaheed-Diallo is the Operating Partner with City Fund. She is the former Senior Vice President of Strategy and Community Engagement for The Mind Trust, where she worked to ensure that community stakeholders were involved and invested in reshaping public education to best serve students. Kameelah is a graduate of DePauw University and Indiana University School of Law. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two daughters.
Kevin Shafer is the President of City Fund. He is the former Chief Innovation Officer of Camden Public Schools, where he was charged with increasing public school quality and access across the district. He began his career in Bridgeport, CT, where he taught 7th and 8th grade social studies, trained new teachers, and served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Bridgeport Public Schools. Kevin is a graduate of Wake Forest University and lives in Philadelphia, PA with his wife and highly active toddler.
Kristen Forbriger is the Director of Communications with City Fund. Previously, she led external relations for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and the Philadelphia School Partnership. She began her work in education at YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School where she learned that every student can thrive if given educational opportunities to meet their unique needs. Kristen is a graduate of Villanova University and the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her partner and their three boys.
Leilani Matāsaua Pimentel is the Director of Development with City Fund. She previously led development for APIA Scholars, where she expanded national investments in higher education equity for first-generation, low-income Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. She is the former Press Secretary for the late Congressman Eni Faleomavaega, of her family’s native American Sāmoa. Leilani is a graduate of Stanford University. She lives in Reno, Nevada with her husband and two daughters.
Liset Rivera is Director of Events with City Fund. She previously worked as Event Manager for Education Cities, a national nonprofit that supported and advised city-based education organizations on their efforts to grow great public schools. Liset has a BS in Business (Marketing) from San Jose State University. Liset lives in San Luis Obispo with her husband, their son, and their rescue dog.
Marcos Porras is an Executive Assistant with City Fund. He previously served as an executive assistant in a marketing firm and healthcare organization. Marcos is a public school graduate from Los Angeles County, and he believes a great public education is critical to allowing children to achieve their dreams. He is an animal lover and currently lives in Henderson, NV with his two yorkies and four cats.
Maria Castillo is an Executive Assistant with City Fund, supporting partners with scheduling, operations, and logistics. She believes our education system needs to work for all students, not just the few. She is passionate about helping young people and equipping them to be their very best. Maria has many years of experience in both administrative and support capacities in a variety of fields including manufacturing, advocacy with non-profits and transportation. A mother of three, she and her family are all animal lovers currently residing in Joshua Tree, CA.
Mariam Bouricius is a Director of Analytics with City Fund. She is the former Director of Data & Analytics at FWD.us, a national immigration and criminal justice reform organization. Prior to joining FWD.us, Mariam was the Managing Director of Analytics at CCSA, where she led the organization’s electoral modeling, data, and campaign infrastructure. Mariam is a proud KIPP Houston alumna, and graduated with a degree in Mathematics from Scripps College in Claremont, CA. She lives in Denver, CO.
Marlon Marshall is the CEO of City Fund. Most recently, he was a founding partner at 270 Strategies. He served as Special Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy Director in the Obama White House Office of Public Engagement, Deputy National Field Director for President Obama’s re-election campaign, and States Director for Hillary for America. Marlon hails from St. Louis, Missouri and is a graduate of the University of Kansas. He is a die-hard fan of the Jayhawks and the St. Louis Cardinals, and now lives in Denver with his wife Stacy and their two daughters.
Melody Chou O’Conor
Melody Chou O’Conor is the Chief of Staff with City Fund. Most recently, she served as Chief of Staff at KIPP St. Louis, where she led the network’s charter renewal and strategic planning processes. She has spent the last decade fighting for better educational opportunities for all kids, starting with her work at Teach For America and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Melody is a graduate of Columbia University and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and she currently lives in Nashville, TN with her husband and two boys.
Natasha Williams is the Chief Financial Officer of City Fund. Natasha’s experience in both the public and private sectors has spanned across finance, accounting, and operations functions. Prior to joining City Fund, she was the Chief Operating Officer of The Achievement Network, where she facilitated the development and implementation of a sustainable model that aligned talent, systems, and financial resources to maximize educational outcomes for students in over 25 states in the U.S. Natasha holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She lives in Boston, MA with her husband and son and enjoys traveling.
Noor Iqbal is the Director of Analytics with City Fund. She formerly worked as a Director on the education team at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and as a senior policy associate at MIT’s Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). Noor is a graduate of Harvard University and the London School of Economics. She lives in Houston, TX.
Patrick is a native Louisianian and lifelong educator whose career began in the classroom. Prior to joining as a partner at City Fund, he served as CEO of New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO), a nonprofit organization that champions, develops, and funds programs that values educational equity and a quality education for all children. From 2012 to 2017, Patrick served as the former Superintendent of the Louisiana Recovery School District (RSD) where he oversaw the school district’s conversion to the nation’s first all-charter school district.
Sherae Dinkins is an Executive Assistant with City Fund, supporting partners with scheduling, operations, and logistics. She’s most passionate about elevating education for students and has served in the non-profit realm since 2014. She currently supports partners with scheduling, operations, and logistics. Sherae has a BA in Communications from Neumann University. She resides in Philadelphia with her husband, dog Gizmo and son, Cairo.
Simone L. Ward
Simone Ward is a Partner with City Fund. Most recently, she was the Vice President of Regional Strategy at the Educators for Excellence (E4e). She served as the Executive Director for the Women Effect Fund (WEF) and the national Political Director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). She is a veteran campaign manager for three U.S. Senate races and four presidential campaigns including serving as the Florida State Director for Hillary for America. She was raised in Kansas City, Missouri, proud home of the LIV Superbowl winning Chiefs. She is an e-CLC Certified Leadership Coach and continues to advise national advocacy organizations on developing leadership and power for women, people of color and their families at SLW Strategies. She is currently pursuing an Executive Master’s in Leadership at Georgetown University McDonough School of Business and lives in Washington, DC with her daughter.
Steven serves as Director of Communications for City Fund. Most recently, he led communications efforts at Leadership for Educational Equity. Previously he served as a public affairs and communications consultant to trade associations, Fortune 500 companies, and global non-profit organizations. Cruz also led the digital operations of the Stand Together network. In 2019, he founded the Institute for Science, Media + Technology at Florida International University, a philanthropic partnership focused on advancing the public’s understanding of the role science and technology play in public affairs.
Cruz holds a Bachelor’s degree from Florida International University and a Master’s of Public Administration from George Washington University. Steven, his husband Kristien and their dogs, Porto & Rio hail from Miami.
Tyler Whitmire is a Partner with City Fund. She was previously a Senior Vice President at the California Charter School Association, where she helped lead the organization’s political and advocacy initiatives and developed and led the organization’s parent and youth organizing teams. Tyler also served on the 2016 Clinton campaign, overseeing the get out the vote operation for Clark County, Nevada. She has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and lives in Sacramento with her husband Billy and their two dogs.
Elisa Villanueva Beard
Elisa’s journey with Teach For America started as a 1998 corps member in Phoenix. She joined staff in 2001 to lead the organization’s work in her hometown in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. Four years later, she became chief operating officer, leading Teach For America’s field operations as the organization expanded from 22 to 48 regions, growing its network from 12,500 to more than 43,000 leaders in 2013 while improving student outcomes each year.
In 2015, Elisa became chief executive officer of Teach For America. Today, under her leadership, Teach For America corps members impact hundreds of thousands of students each year in nearly 2,000 schools across the country. The Teach For America network of more than 66,000 leaders is working inside and outside the education field to ensure that all children have the access and opportunity to reach their full potential and achieve their dreams.
Elisa holds a B.A. in sociology from DePauw University. She sits on the boards of the Holdsworth Center, the AT&T Aspire Accelerator, and Leadership for Educational Equity, and was named in 2021 to ALPFA’s 50 Most Powerful Latinas list. She lives in Houston with her husband, Jeremy, and their four sons.
John Arnold is Founder and Co-Chair of Arnold Ventures. The philanthropy’s core mission is to invest in evidence-based solutions that maximize opportunity and minimize injustice.
Mr. Arnold is also Founder of Centaurus Capital LP, a family office investment fund with a specific focus on the energy industry.
Previously, Mr. Arnold founded and was CEO of Centaurus Energy, a multi-billion dollar energy commodity hedge fund. Prior to founding Centaurus Energy, he held various positions within Enron’s Wholesale Division, including Head of Natural Gas Derivatives. In May 2012, John announced his retirement from Centaurus Energy to concentrate on philanthropic activities.
Mr. Arnold serves on the boards of Breakthrough Energy Ventures, an investor-led venture capital firm dedicated to funding transformational technologies that will reduce global greenhouse gas emissions; Civica, Inc., a nonprofit generic pharmaceutical company; and City Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting new governance models in K-12 education. He holds a B.A. from Vanderbilt University and lives in Houston, Texas with his wife and three children.
Neerav Kingsland is the former CEO of New Schools for New Orleans, where he helped rebuild the public school system after Hurricane Katrina. Neerav is a graduate of Tulane University and Yale Law School. Neerav lives in San Francisco with his wife and two children.
Reed Hastings co-founded Netflix in 1997. In 1991, Reed founded Pure Software, which made tools for software developers. After a 1995 IPO, and several acquisitions, Pure was acquired by Rational Software in 1997. Reed is an active educational philanthropist and served on the California State Board of Education from 2000 to 2004. He is currently on the board of several educational organizations including KIPP and Pahara. Reed is also a board member of City Fund. Reed received a BA from Bowdoin College in 1983, and an MSCS in Artificial Intelligence from Stanford University in 1988. Between Bowdoin and Stanford, Reed served in the Peace Corps as a high school math teacher in Swaziland. Reed is married with two children.
Romy Drucker is director of the Education Program at the Walton Family Foundation. In this role, she oversees the foundation’s initiatives to improve K-12 education for all of our nation’s children by empowering parents with quality options. She also leads team operations and grantmaking strategy. Prior to joining the foundation, Romy was the co-founder and CEO of The 74, an award-winning nonprofit news organization focused on education. Prior to launching The 74, Romy worked at the New York City Department of Education on Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein’s transformational Children First reforms. Romy served as chief of staff for the Division of Portfolio Planning, working on efforts including new school development, school improvement and accountability, and early childhood education. Prior to that, Romy served as the special assistant to Chancellor Joel I. Klein and as deputy to the Chief Executive Officer of The Fund for Public Schools, which has raised several hundred million dollars for innovative educational programs serving New York City’s 1.1 million students.
Romy graduated cum laude from Yale College with a B.A. in Literature and Spanish language and earned her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.