Meet Our People
As Relay’s co-founder and president, Norman Atkins has led the institution since 2008. Atkins is also the founder, board chair and former CEO of Uncommon Schools, one of the nation’s highest-performing nonprofit charter management organizations, with 46 schools serving 14,000 students. In 1997, he co-founded and co-led North Star Academy Charter School of Newark, one of New Jersey’s very first and most celebrated charter schools. From 1989 to 1994, he was the co-executive director of the Robin Hood Foundation in New York City.
Recently, Atkins co-founded Zearn, a nonprofit, which is building the only comprehensive, standards-aligned, personalized K-8 math curriculum on the web for students and teachers to use for free. He has also joined the board of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation. Atkins began his career as a freelance journalist, writing about education, poverty, politics, culture and social issues for The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Parenting, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe.
Lauren Bassi is the dean of the Relay Teaching Residency program, where she oversees the program and supports residency directors across the country. Lauren spent the last three years managing Relay’s residency program in New York and Chicago, where she also served as an assistant professor of practice in core pedagogy. Before joining Relay, Lauren was the senior director of literacy for the Achievement First network, where she oversaw ELA vision, instruction, and professional development across K-12. Lauren led the program’s curriculum and assessment transition to the Common Core State Standards. Previously, Lauren taught 6-8th grade English at Rise Academy, a KIPP school in Newark, New Jersey, where also she served as the dean of instruction. At KIPP, Lauren’s cohort of students improved their performance on the NJ ASK exam by 38% in their three years with her. She began her career as a middle school teacher at MS 22 in the South Bronx through Teach for America in 2004. Lauren earned her M.S.T. from Pace University in New York City, and her B.A. in Political Science from Tufts University.
Cherise Ortiz Cota
As Relay’s managing director of talent, Cherise Cota leads the Talent team’s mission to find, support, and develop a diverse, high-performing staff. Cota continuously conducts research into staff development and hiring best practices, and she leads the organization’s Diversity Steering Committee, which works to ensure a diverse and vibrant workplace culture at Relay. Before joining Relay, Cota served as a senior director of talent initiatives at YES Prep Public Schools in Houston, Texas where she led the talent acquisition team, the teacher performance evaluation system, and several other cross-functional initiatives. She began her career as a 5th and 6th grade teacher in the Houston Independent School District and YES Prep, eventually becoming a co-school leader at its East End Campus. She received her B.A. in Spanish at the University of Kansas, and received her M. Ed. From National Louis University.
As the founding dean of Relay Philadelphia & Camden, Shemanne Davis oversees all aspects of teacher preparation in the region. Most recently, Davis taught and supported graduate students at the Relay Newark campus. She began her career at Stephenson Middle School in DeKalb County School System, GA, where she was later selected as a Special Education liaison to support district teachers in the implementation of inclusion and co-teaching strategies.
Davis earned her J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law, graduating cum laude. She put her law degree to use advocating for appropriate placement and services for special needs students under the Georgia Legal Services Special Education Program. Davis was also an Education Pioneers fellow at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education, where she conducted research that led the Secretary to endorse rigorous state standards. From 2011-14, Davis was the Dean of Students at Bedford Stuyvesant Collegiate Charter School, where she developed and executed strategic goals and school policies before joining Relay.
Davis earned her B.A. in history and women's studies and her M.A.T. from Emory University.
As the executive director of Relay’s Teacher Pathways initiative, Shani Dowell leads development programs and campaigns to recruit talented, diverse, and committed prospective teachers to join Relay’s Teaching Residency and undergraduate pre-teaching programs. She develops and manages the strategy, execution, and branding for all Teacher Pathways programs, including the launch of the Relay Tutor Corps and Relay Summer Experience.
Prior to joining Relay, she served as a senior vice president at Teach for America, where she headed recruitment efforts and managed a national recruitment team of 200, leading to improved applications and the highest rate of directly cultivated applicants in Teach for America history. She began her career as a program associate with the Posse Foundation, a nonprofit that sends teams of urban high school students to top colleges on full-tuition leadership scholarships. She was also a Teach For America Corps Member and teacher for the Houston Independent School District.
Dowell received her B.B.A. from Howard University and an M.B.A. from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
As founding dean of Relay Delaware, Christine Eisenhauer oversees all aspects of teacher training in the First State. As a native Delawarean, she is thrilled to be leading Relay Delaware in her home state and providing teachers with the knowledge and skills to be effective teachers for their PK-12 students.
Most recently, Eisenhauer taught core pedagogy to graduate students at Relay’s Newark campus. Prior to joining Relay, Eisenhauer served as the Managing Director of Academics at KIPP Philadelphia Schools, where she worked with regional and school-based teams to create effective network-wide systems for curricular alignment. Before joining KIPP, Eisenhauer worked with schools in Wilmington, Delaware, and on staff with Teach For America as a program director in Newark, New Jersey. Eisenhauer began her teaching career as an 8th grade math and science teacher at Bishop Spaugh Community Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina. She earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from the Relay Graduate School of Education, and her B.A., in political science and Asian studies, from Furman University in Greenville, SC.
As Relay’s chief financial officer, Piper Evans is responsible for all aspects of financial management and planning at Relay. Most recently, Evans consulted on economic development and sustainability at O-H Community Partners, where she worked with nonprofits, foundations and government agencies to create jobs, develop entrepreneurial communities, and reduce CO2 emissions. Previously, she worked at The Walt Disney Co., in operations planning and analysis, for three years. She also worked at a boutique investment bank, advising parties to corporate bankruptcies, for two years.
Evans earned an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a B.S. in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She grew up in Dallas, Texas, and she has lived in North Carolina, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.
As senior dean of Relay New Orleans, Jennifer Francis oversees all aspects of teacher training in New Orleans. For more than ten years, Francis has been committed to closing the opportunity gap in public education. As a native of Chicago and alumna of Chicago Public Schools, she believes that public schools in America can be positively life-altering institutions for students and families — but only if they are staffed with dedicated and results-driven teachers and leaders.
Francis has taught in several states and previously worked with Teach For America and TNTP to train and support teachers. Before launching the New Orleans campus in 2013, she served as the principal of West Gary Lighthouse College Prep Academy in Gary, Indiana. During her tenure, students’ class-failure rates dropped 40 percent and parent participation rose more than 80 percent.
Francis earned a M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction and an Ed.S. from National Louis University, as well as a dual B.A. in Black Studies and American Studies from Scripps College. Francis is currently a doctoral student at the Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California.
As senior dean of Relay Houston, Chris Fraser oversees all aspects of our teacher preparation in Houston. He steadfastly believes that all students can achieve, and that all students deserve a great teacher every year. He is dedicated to providing graduate students with the knowledge, skills and mindsets that help them push their teaching to a higher level.
Fraser is an experienced Texas educator who most recently taught core pedagogy and secondary social studies to graduate students at Relay’s Newark campus, and served as a Ferguson Education Leadership Fellow in Revere Public Schools. He began his career in education as a Teach For America (TFA) corps member in the Houston Independent School District. After working as a senior recruitment director for TFA in Atlanta, Fraser returned to Texas to serve as a high school social studies teacher at YES Prep, an open-enrollment charter school system serving students in grades six through twelve in Houston’s most disadvantaged communities.
As founding dean of Relay Baton Rouge, Norah Gillam leads the teacher training curriculum for the campus. As an educational leader, Norah helped drive Newark Collegiate Academy in Newark, NJ to strong academic results and above 90% college matriculation for the past 7 years. During her time at Newark Collegiate, she also worked as a writing teacher and English Department Chair. Before joining KIPP: New Jersey, Norah taught English and AP Language at East New York Family Academy in Brooklyn as a member of Teach for America. Norah earned her B.A. in Writing from Wittenberg University and her Masters in Teaching from Pace University.
As founding dean of Relay Connecticut, Rebecca Good leads teacher training and support in Connecticut. She began her career over a decade ago joining the first Teach For America cohort in the Miami-Dade School District. As a secondary ELA instructor, she worked closely with students and colleagues to make significant gains with her students and was named Teacher of the Year. Before joining Relay, Good spent nine years teaching and leading in New Haven, CT, including six years as principal of Elm City College Preparatory Middle School. She earned her B.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.A. in Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University.
As Acting Dean of Relay San Antonio, Annie Hoffman oversees all aspects of teacher training. As a native Texan, she is thrilled to be leading Relay San Antonio in her home state and providing teachers with the knowledge and skills to be effective teachers for their PK-12 students.
Most recently, Hoffman took a sabbatical from her role as the Senior Director of Elementary Curriculum Design and Assistant Professor of Practice in Relay New York to teach first grade in the New York City Department of Education. Prior to joining Relay, Hoffman completed her Masters of Education in Language and Literacy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She began her teaching career at Sherman Elementary in the Houston Independent School District. Hoffman earned her B.S. in magazine journalism from Syracuse University.
As Relay’s national dean, Mayme Hostetter oversees teacher preparation programs at all Relay campuses across the country. Hostetter was previously dean of Relay New York City. Before joining Relay in 2008, as founding director of teaching and learning, she taught eighth-grade English at KIPP Academy in the South Bronx, where she also started both the girls' basketball team and the co-ed cross-country running team. Her students at KIPP were among the hardest working, nicest kids on the planet...and the highest-performing eighth-grade charter school class in the city. The vast majority of Hostetter's former students have now graduated from college, and she currently has ten of her former eighth-grade students enrolled at Relay, earning their master's degrees. Hostetter began her teaching career as a teaching fellow at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, where she was an English teacher, coach, and dean.
Hostetter earned an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she was an Urban Scholars Fellow in the Mind, Brain and Education program. While at Harvard, where she also earned an A.B., Hostetter researched reading-related development and disabilities in the Gabrieli Laboratory of M.I.T.'s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. She is a doctoral candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University.
As Relay’s Chief Research Officer, Anne-Marie Hoxie oversees institutional research and program evaluation activities in support of Relay’s commitment to data-driven improvement and learning. Prior to joining Relay, Anne-Marie lead research and strategic learning for Classroom, Inc., a non-profit ed-tech organization. Anne-Marie also managed research, evaluation, and data initiatives at the New York City Department of Education and at The After-School Corporation (now ExpandED). She received her doctorate in Developmental Psychology from Fordham University. Her dissertation research focused on adolescents’ growth experiences in after-school programs.
As Relay's chief operating officer, Pamela Inbasekaran ensures that the institution sets and meets annual targets through strong systems, effective communication, meaningful professional development, and a productive work environment. Previously, Inbasekaran served as chief talent officer at Relay and led community engagement and enrichment programming at North Star Academy Charter School of Newark, a member of Uncommon Schools. She also helped build and refine recruitment systems for the Uncommon Schools home office. She began her career as a middle school special education teacher and coordinator at M.S. 224 in the South Bronx, through Teach For America.
Inbasekaran earned an M.S. in teaching from Pace University and a B.A. in economics and American culture from the University of Michigan.
As founding dean of Relay Washington, D.C., Brooke James leads all aspects of teacher preparation for the region. In the six years that Brooke has been with Relay, she served as a founding Assistant Professor of Practice of Relay, NYC, and led the research, design, and review of over 80 graduate-level courses used in Relay’s Master of Arts in Teaching program nationally. Brooke started her teaching career at English High School in Boston, MA, and then excitedly moved back to D.C. to join DC Public Schools, teaching social studies for two years at Columbia Heights Educational Campus, where she served as Social Studies Department Chair, and two years at Alice Deal Middle School, where she served as a Cross-curricular Team Leader. In 2007-2008, Brooke was named DCPS Outstanding First Year Teacher and, in 2009, Brooke served in the first group of Teachers Central to Leadership Fellows. James holds a B.A. from The George Washington University and an Ed.M. from Harvard University.
As senior dean of academic programs, Julie Kennedy leads the development and ongoing evolution of Relay’s rigorous. Kennedy directs a team of designers who work to continually improve Relay’s core and content curriculum and create new programs, including computer science and personalized learning. Kennedy also oversees Relay’s instructional media team, which produces and manages an extensive library of instructional videos. Prior to joining Relay, she was the managing director of Uncommon Schools’ NYC middle and high schools, where she was responsible for the growth and performance of fifteen schools serving approximately 4,000 students. She has worked with Relay in an adjunct professor role since 2009, eventually joining the organization full-time in June 2016. Kennedy has also created and delivered professional development for organizations around building and maintaining staff culture, pedagogical techniques, and best practices of school leadership.Kennedy received her B.A. from Willamette University and a Master’s in Public Policy in Human Resources from Harvard University.
As the dean of special education, Erin Larkin-Maguire manages the development and implementation of Relay’s special education teacher preparation programs. A seasoned special education teacher and leader, Erin is passionate about setting high expectations and improving outcomes for students with disabilities. Erin started teaching via New York City Teaching Fellows, teaching self-contained and integrated co-teaching classrooms in East Harlem. She then spent five years at Leadership Prep Bedford Stuyvesant (LPBS), a member of Uncommon Schools, first as a Learning Support Coordinator and then as Dean of Curriculum and Instruction. LPBS' students with IEPs significantly outpaced the city and state averages on state exams, and showed accelerated rates of reading growth, across multiple years. Erin joined Relay in 2012, as an Assistant Professor, and looks forward to managing the growth and impact of Relay’s special education programs for years to come. Erin earned her M.Ed. in Learning Disabilities from Hunter College and her B.A. in sociology from Wesleyan University.
As founding dean of Relay Nashville, Linda Lentz leads the teacher training curriculum for the campus. As an educational leader and entrepreneur, Linda has a remarkable track record of success in Nashville and is proud to call the city home to her and her family.
Before joining Relay, Linda co-founded RePublic Schools, a network of schools aimed at reimagining public education in the south. During her tenure as founding partner and managing director, the network’s two middle schools in Nashville had the highest composite growth of any charter management organization in the United States, according to the 2013 CREDO study. Prior to her role at RePublic, Linda founded and served as executive director of Liberty Collegiate Academy in East Nashville, which was named a Tennessee Reward School for performing in the top five percent of all schools in the state in both absolute academic achievement and growth.
As Relay’s provost, Brent Maddin advises on the vision for our curriculum and institutional research and leads programmatic innovations. Relay grew out of his work as a founder of Teacher U at Hunter College, where he worked from 2008 to 2011.
From 2003-2005, Maddin served as a founding teacher at I.D.E.A. College Prep—a public charter school dedicated to getting students from the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas into top colleges. Maddin moved to Texas from Louisiana where, as a 1999 Teach For America (TFA) corps member, he taught high school science in his TFA placement school for four years. During his six years in the classroom, he trained new teachers at TFA Summer Institutes, TNTP content seminars and regional science learning teams. He also co-wrote a national chemistry curriculum for TNTP. In 2002, Maddin received his National Board Certification.
Maddin earned a doctorate in education policy, leadership and instructional practice at Harvard Graduate School of Education, where his dissertation focused on student attrition at charter schools. While earning a B.S. in biology from Arizona State University, he earned a Circumnavigator’s Fellowship, an award that funded a six-continent investigation of forest fires.
As Relay’s chief external affairs officer, Anne McCarley is responsible for communications, development, marketing, and public affairs at Relay. Before joining Relay, McCarley served in a number of capacities on Teach For America’s national development team, securing over $150 million in philanthropy to support the organization’s growth in scale and impact from 2008-2015. She began her career as an associate at the global investment research firm, Morningstar, Inc.
McCarley earned an M.A. in English from Northwestern University and a B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame.
Kelly Boucher Morris
As Relay’s Chief Student Services Officer, Kelly Boucher Morris manages the program operations, certification, enrollment, and AmeriCorps teams. She leads and coordinates the development of services, systems, and policies critical to providing excellent customer service and support to students. She previously served as the Managing Director, National Operations at Relay, overseeing campus operations, guiding student recruitment, and supporting new campus launches. Before joining Relay, she worked as a Manager in the Office of School Turnaround at District of Columbia Public Schools. She also served as a special education teacher at Beach Channel High School and Teachers Preparatory Academy.
Morris received her B.A. from Smith College, an M.S. in Secondary Education for Students with Disabilities from Brooklyn College, and an M.B.A. from Duke University.
As dean of Relay Memphis, Aubrey Nelson leads teacher preparation for the Memphis campus. Before joining the Relay faculty as the founding elementary adjunct instructor in 2015, Aubrey served as the founding Assistant Head of School of Freedom Preparatory Academy Elementary School. She previously taught kindergarten and first grade and served as a Managing Director of Teacher Leadership Development with Teach For America Memphis. She is an alumna of Teach For America (Memphis, ’08). Most recently, Aubrey served as the Residency Director of Relay Memphis, teaching and coaching residents in year 1 of the Relay Masters of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program. After 13 years in Memphis, Aubrey, with her family, proudly call Memphis home. Aubrey earned an M.A.T. from Christian Brothers University; and her B.A. in International Studies from Rhodes College.
As dean of Relay New York, Jennifer Ramos leads all aspects of teacher preparation for the New York campus and teaches core pedagogy to Year 1 graduate students. She believes that great teachers are made, not born, and she is committed to developing in all teachers the knowledge, skills, and mindsets needed to ensure all students, schools, families, and communities have the excellent teachers they deserve. Most recently, Jennifer served as the assistant dean of Relay’s New York campus, managing and coaching faculty. Before joining Relay, she worked to increase teacher retention, leading efforts to redevelop how to support, evaluate, and compensate teachers at all levels of their careers at Achievement First and Green Dot Public Schools. Jennifer previously taught high school Biology and Chemistry in North Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Now, after spending six years in New York, Jennifer and her family proudly call the city home. Jennifer earned an Ed.M. from Columbia Teachers College and her B.S. in Biology from University of California, Berkeley.
As dean of school leadership programs at Relay, Jesse Rector leads all aspects of training for current and aspiring school leaders. In this role, he teaches courses on instructional leadership and serves as an advisor to the participants in our leadership programs.
Previously, Rector spent sixteen years in Newark, New Jersey, as a high-performing teacher in both the Newark Public Schools and at North Star Academy Charter School of Newark. During his last six years in Newark, Rector led North Star’s Clinton Hill Middle School.
As Executive Director of Teaching & Learning Labs, Tim Saintsing leads initiatives that support school-wide learning and improvement. Saintsing previously served as Relay's chief operating officer, where he managed the day-to-day technology, finance, talent, human resources, enrollment, facility-related and student-support operations and systems of the institution. In this position, Saintsing helped create and manage the culture of 200 staff members across 10 states. Before joining Relay, Saintsing was the co-director for operations of Excellence Boys Charter School of Bedford Stuyvesant, in Brooklyn, New York, where he oversaw all aspects of strategy, facilities, and human resources to fulfill the school's mission of preparing students for college. Previously, Saintsing was a special assistant at the New York City Department of Education, where he worked with the department's No Child Left Behind Public School Choice Program.
Saintsing is a graduate of Davidson College and earned a master’s degree in public policy from Duke University.
As founding dean of Relay Dallas-Fort Worth, Jabari Sims oversees the Metroplex’s growing teacher preparation programs. A Louisiana native, Sims started his career as a teacher in Houston, Texas. He eventually moved to New York City, where he taught, served in several education and school leadership positions, and was a founding principal at an elementary school in Brooklyn. During his time teaching in the Bronx, Sims’ 4th grade students earned the highest test scores in the state and were featured in the New York Daily News. Sims earned his M.Ed. in Education Administration from National Louis University, as well as a B.A. in English from Dillard University.
As the founding dean of Relay Chicago, Mindy Sjoblom is Relay's lead instructor in the Windy City. A Chicago native and career educator, Sjoblom is uniquely qualified to train novice teachers to lead their students to life changing academic achievement.
Before joining the Relay faculty as dean fellow in 2013, Sjoblom served as director of curriculum and instruction, then as principal, of Rauner College Prep, part of the Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago. While she was principal, Sjoblom’s students earned the highest average ACT scores in the school’s history, and the third highest of all nonselective high schools in the city. Before that, she served as founding humanities teacher at the Crossroads School in Baltimore. She is an alumna of Teach For America (Baltimore ’00).
Sjoblom earned an M.A.T. from Johns Hopkins University; her Certificate of Advanced Study from National Louis University, through the KIPP School Leadership Program; and her B.A. in political science from Butler University.
As senior dean of Relay Newark, Jamey Verrilli oversees all aspects of our teacher preparation programs in Newark. Since the beginning of his career, Verrilli has fought for community development and social justice. He began his educational work in 1984, as a Jesuit Volunteer Corps community organizer in the Bronx. Verrilli then joined Link Community School, where he stayed for more than a decade — first as a teacher and eventually as principal. In 1997, Verrilli co-founded North Star Academy Charter School of Newark, where he was principal of the Downtown Middle School for 14 years and saw North Star Academy grow to a network of 10 schools with 3,500 students.
Verrilli has received numerous awards for this leadership, including the National Blue Ribbon Schools' Terrel H. Bell Award, given each year by the U.S. Department of Education to the top ten principals in the nation. He earned his B.A. in history from Colby College and his M.A.T. from Brown University.
As founding dean of Relay Denver, Therese Zosel-Harper oversees all aspects of teacher preparation in the Mile High City. Before joining Relay Denver, she served as Relay New York's Assistant Dean of Students, and as an Assistant Professor of Practice for four years. Prior to joining Relay, Zosel-Harper served as a high school social studies and adolescent literacy teacher at Peace and Diversity Academy in the Bronx, NY, where she was placed as a Teach For America corps member. Zosel-Harper earned her B.A. in Sociology from the University of Oregon’s Clark Honors College. She earned her M.S.T. in Teaching Social Studies at Pace University, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Education Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University. Zosel-Harper’s dissertation focuses on the role of observation and feedback cycles in teacher performance management systems. Her research interests include: teacher recruitment, support/development and retention, and teacher evaluation policy.
Board of Trustees
LARRY ROBBINS - CHAIR / FOUNDER AND CEO, GLENVIEW CAPITAL MANAGEMENT
AIMÉE EUBANKS DAVIS - FOUNDER & CEO, BRAVEN
DAVID LEVIN - CO-FOUNDER, KIPP
DAVID SALTZMAN - TREASURER / SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, TWO SIGMA INVESTMENTS LP
SHAYNE SPALTEN - DIRECTOR, EDUCATION, CHARLES & LYNN SCHUSTERMAN FAMILY FOUNDATION
DR. DAVID STEINER - EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JOHNS HOPKINS INSTITUTE FOR EDUCATION POLICY; PROFESSOR
DACIA TOLL - VICE CHAIR / CO-CEO & PRESIDENT, ACHIEVEMENT FIRST
NORMAN ATKINS - EX OFFICIO / PRESIDENT, RELAY GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION