Flamboyan Foundation opened its doors in Washington, D.C. in 2008 with the mission of improving educational outcomes for children in some of the worst performing schools in the nation. On average, only 14% of 8th graders in the Washington, D.C. perform on grade level in reading1 and more than 90% of D.C. Public School students drop out of high school, never enter college, or fail to get a college degree.2
We began our work by asking stakeholders what education strategies proven to improve student achievement were not being adequately addressed. These informal conversations led us to commission a local landscape assessment of family engagement and education advocacy practices, which we eventually chose as our areas of focus for the region. As we soon discovered, parents have felt dissatisfied and frustrated with Washington, D.C. schools for decades. There has been a general feeling among families that most D.C. schools do not welcome family involvement, do not treat parents as capable of supporting their child’s learning, and were not open to the opinions of parents who desired to take part in their children’s education.
We believe that in order for children to succeed, families and schools need to work together and share in the responsibility of education. As such, this is the issue that Flamboyan Foundation is trying to address in Washington, D.C.
2 Kernan-Schloss, A., & Potapchuk, B. (2006). “Double the Numbers for College Success: A Call to Action for the District of Columbia.” Washington, D.C.: DC College Access Program, et al.
Staff: Washington, DC
School Partnerships Program Manager
The Flamboyan Foundation welcomes a new addition to the DC team: Austin Estes, our new School Partnerships Program Manager. In his new role, he will support the program management and operational functions of the Family Engagement Partnerships.
Austin is a native of Melbourn, Florida and attended Florida Atlantic University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Currently, he is completing his Masters in Public Policy degree, with a concentration in education policy, at American University. Before joining The Flamboyan Foundation, he had tremendous success supporting and organizing social change through various nonprofit institutions, including Rock the Vote and Invisible Children. Among his many accomplishments, Austin inspired students to become civilly engaged, and educated high school and college students on international policy. Austin’s experience in engagement and communications, combined with his enthusiasm for education policy and project management knowledge, is a tremendous contribution to the family engagement work at The Flamboyan Foundation.
School Partnerships Coach
Courtney Garmon is a School Partnerships Coach at Flamboyan Foundation. In her role, she serves as a coach to school leaders and teacher leaders in Flamboyan partner schools and supports the development of family engagement practices and tools that partners can use.
Courtney began her career as a Teach for America (TFA) corps member in Atlanta, where she taught 6th and 7th grade mathematics and served as a Secondary Math Learning Team Leader for first year corps members. After spending 4 years in the classroom, she transitioned into corporate America as a recruiter in the executive search industry. Courtney returned to education by joining City Year Los Angeles as a Program Manager, where she was responsible for managing school partnerships in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Courtney left City Year to pursue her Master’s in Education at the University of Maryland. While there, she worked for the Honors College as their Student Activities Coordinator, where she was responsible for coaching and developing student leaders within the Honors College and overseeing event planning and execution for Honors College programming.
Courtney holds a masters of education in mathematics education from the University of Maryland, College Park, a teaching credential in secondary mathematics from Mercer University, and a bachelor of arts in mathematics/economics from Emory University.
Manager of Professional Development
Diana Suarez is Manager of Professional Development at Flamboyan Foundation. She writes and facilitates teacher trainings focused on improving family engagement at the school and classroom level. Diana also serves as a coach to partner schools, and provides logistic and content support to leadership teams. She provides expertise in structures and content that engage families to build academic partnerships.
Before coming to Flamboyan, Diana worked as a teacher in DC Public Schools. She came to DCPS as a Teach for America (TFA) corps member. She taught 1st and 2nd Grade and is certified in ESL and Special Education. At Powell Elementary Diana served as the family engagement teacher lead for the school’s Family Engagement Partnership with Flamboyan. Prior to joining TFA Diana co-owned and operated Wagamuffin Pet Care LLC., a local pet care company. Diana has a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Catholic University and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Curriculum and Development from George Mason University.
Emily Schulman is the Program Assistant at the Flamboyan Foundation. She provides administrative and coordination support to school partnerships and manages training and event logistics. Prior to this role, Emily worked through AmeriCorps as the Community Outreach Coordinator at DC SCORES, a nonprofit that provides after school programming for low-income youth in 42 D.C. public and public charter schools.
Emily received her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Policy from the College of William and Mary. At William and Mary, Emily founded an international service trip to Nicaragua, was an advocate for First Book, and worked for college admissions providing tour and interviews for prospective students. Emily looks forward to working towards improving educational experiences for D.C. students through her work at the Flamboyan Foundation.
Gina Mandracchia is the Program Manager at Flamboyan Foundation. She leads research and program development focused on families’ role guiding their child’s path through college. She also manages partnerships with Duke Ellington School of the Arts and City Year, and provides operational support to the Family Engagement Partnership. Gina began her career at Flamboyan as a Program Assistant in 2012. In this role, she developed Flamboyan’s data tracking system and provided administrative support to the program team.
Gina comes to Flamboyan with a passion for education and experience in research and administrative support. She joined Flamboyan upon graduation from UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in history. At Berkeley, Gina designed an after-school theater program for English Language Learners at an Oakland, CA elementary school. Previously, she was Research and Administrative Assistant to HHG Higher Education Consulting, where she researched diversity initiatives at universities. In 2011, Gina volunteered as an English Conversation Teacher at Liceo Righi, a high school in Bologna, Italy.
Helen Westmoreland is Deputy Director at Flamboyan Foundation. As one of the D.C. team’s first staff members, Helen has held multiple roles here. She currently supports strategic planning and management across Flamboyan’s family engagement work, and oversees our evaluation, advocacy, co-funding, and communications strategies.
Before coming to Flamboyan Foundation, Helen worked for the Harvard Family Research Project, where she provided research, evaluation, and technical assistance support to non-profits, philanthropies, government agencies, and research policy organizations across the country. She also consulted with a variety of organizations to document and share lessons learned with others in the field. Prior to that, Helen coordinated student tutoring services and site evaluations for community-based afterschool programs in the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership.
Helen has authored numerous publications on the topics of family engagement, education organizing, and out-of-school time. In 2011, she was invited to join the National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group, a leadership collaborative whose purpose is to inform the development and implementation of federal policy related to family, school, and community engagement in education.
Helen received a Master’s Degree in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Bachelor’s Degrees in Spanish and biological anthropology from Duke University.
School Partnerships Coach
Jacqueline Tuke is a School Partnerships Coach at the Flamboyan Foundation. As a coach, she supports Family Engagement Partner Schools by collaborating with principals and supporting teachers so that they have the training and resources needed to effectively engage families. Jacqueline also works on the development of family engagement tools and curriculum for secondary schools in the city.
Prior to coming to the Flamboyan Foundation, Jacqueline taught sixth grade science and nonfiction literacy at KIPP DC: KEY Academy. During her tenure at KEY, she wrote curriculum, managed the sixth grade team, and designed and implemented a family engagement plan across the lower middle school. Additionally, Jacqueline coached student teachers and Capital Teaching Residents at her school and facilitated teacher trainings for The New Teacher Project and Teach for America as a content specialist.
Jacqueline came to D.C. as a Teach for America (TFA) corps member and taught biology at Dunbar Senior High School where she began her family engagement work, implementing a problem-based module for students and their families on bioethics. Jacqueline double majored at Penn State University, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture and Extension Education and Journalism. She holds a Master’s Degree in Teaching from American University.
Director of Program Development & Training
Ms. Lela Spielberg is the Director of Program Development and Training at Flamboyan Foundation. In this role, she designs programming for the foundation’s Family Engagement Partner Schools, and oversees training quality across the organization. She also manages teacher curriculum development, and designs and facilitates professional development for teacher training organizations.
Previously, Lela was the Education Policy Analyst for the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), where she monitored and analyzed legislation, regulations and federal funding streams related to public education and family engagement in education. During her tenure at PTA, she spearheaded the bipartisan introduction of the Family Engagement in Education Act of 2010 in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Prior to joining PTA, Lela was a Teach for America (TFA) corps member in Phoenix, where she taught 4th grade and facilitated professional development for other corps members on investing and engaging students and families, data-driven instruction, and classroom management. Lela holds a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Arizona State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Brown University.
School Partnerships Coach
Megan Lucas is a School Partnerships Coach at Flamboyan Foundation. In her role, she serves as a coach to school leaders and teacher leaders in Flamboyan partner schools and supports the development of family engagement practices and tools that partners can use.
Megan began her career as a Teach for America (TFA) corps member in the Metro DC area, where she taught Kindergarten and First Grade in Prince George’s County. In summer 2010, Megan became a founding teacher at DC Scholars: Stanton Elementary, a turnaround partnership school in Southeast DC. During her tenure at Stanton, she wrote reading curriculum, served as the K-2 Literacy Teacher Lead, the First Grade Level Lead, and conducted over 100 home visits. Outside of the classroom, Megan has served as a Relationship Building Trainer for the Flamboyan Foundation, a Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and a member of the Leading Educators TLI cohort.
Megan holds a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies from Florida State University.
Director of Leadership Development
Regan Kelly is the Director of Principal Curriculum and Coaching at Flamboyan. In her role she designs and manages the training and support school leaders in our Family Engagement Partnership receive. She also works closely with other partners to design and execute pre-service and in-service training for aspiring or resident principals.
Regan began her career as a 2nd and 3rd grade teacher in Compton, California, where she taught for five years. She worked closely with new teachers in her district and as a staff member for Teach For America’s summer institute, as a regional learning team leader and as a mentor and instructor in her district’s certification program. After several years in the classroom, Regan became a literacy coach in Los Angeles where she supported K-5 teachers. She has extensive experience in teacher professional development and was an author of the curriculum sessions for Teach For America’s summer institute. While studying educational leadership in graduate school, Regan worked for the Harvard Family Research Project where she was first exposed to research in the field of Family Engagement.
More recently, Regan supported and managed charter school principals and leaders. As regional director for a national CMO, she worked closely with school leaders to manage operations and support implementation of curriculum and teacher development. For the past three years, she coached charter principals in Washington, DC on performance management for TNTP.
Regan received her Masters in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and her Bachelors of Arts in philosophy from Barnard College, Columbia University.
Susan Stevenson is Executive Director of Flamboyan Foundation’s Washington, D.C. office. She shapes, implements, and oversees all aspects of Flamboyan Foundation’s strategy and manages the team in Washington, D.C.
Susan brings over twenty years of experience in non-profit management, strategic planning, early childhood development and education to her role at Flamboyan Foundation. She began her career in international development, working for Save the Children in Bolivia. Susan served as Vice President, Latin America and later as Vice President, International for Ashoka. At Ashoka, Susan oversaw expansion of programs in Latin America from two to eleven countries and, in her capacity as VP, International, she managed 45 staff in 31 countries.
Susan spent several years with McKinsey and Company as a management consultant in McKinsey’s New York and Buenos Aires offices. She co-founded, and served as President of, En Route Entertainment, a start-up company providing movie and hardware rentals to Amtrak train travelers. Susan also co-directed Success by 6, United Way America’s national network of 350 early childhood initiatives.
More recently, Susan became involved in D.C. education as a strategic planning and organizational development consultant with a D.C.-based education non-profit and through numerous years of active involvement in her children’s DCPS school, as Local School Advisory Team co-chair, annual campaign co-chair and recruitment committee member.
Susan has a master’s of business administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a bachelor of arts in political science and Spanish from Indiana University.
Director of School Partnerships
Zakiya Reid is the Director of School Partnerships at Flamboyan Foundation. In this role she collaborates with the family engagement team to provide high-quality professional development, coaching and technical assistance to school-based personnel, while managing strategic partnerships with non-profit organizations to improve family engagement. The goal of her work is to transform the way families and educators partner on behalf of children in Washington D.C.
Prior to joining the Flamboyan team, Zakiya was the principal of Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, D.C. Zakiya led a turnaround effort at Bancroft that resulted in a more cohesive school community, increased student achievement and enrollment. Zakiya led a successful family engagement effort in partnership with Flamboyan. Under her leadership, 97% of teachers conducted home visits and over 250 families received a home visit by their child’s teacher. While at Bancroft, Zakiya became a strong advocate for family engagement through the partnership with Flamboyan.
Prior to her work in education, Zakiya worked as a statistician with two federal agencies in Washington, D.C. In a quest to find work that aligned with her commitment to social justice, Zakiya entered the world of education as a Teacher for America (TFA) corps member in Baltimore, Md. Over the last 13 years, she has worked in both the public and charter systems as an administrator and as a teacher. As an educator, she is committed to improving the experience of children and families in under-resourced communities.
Zakiya holds a Master of Administration from Trinity College, Master in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University and a Master in Survey Methodology from the University of Maryland, College Park. She also holds a Bachelor of Mathematics from Tuskegee University.