Karen L. Mapp, EdD, is Lecturer on Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and the Director of the Education Policy and Management Master's Program. Over the past twenty years, Karen's research and practice focus has been on the cultivation of partnerships among families, community members and educators that support student achievement and school improvement. She was the co-coordinator with Professor Mark Warren of the Community Organizing and School Reform Research Project and a core faculty member for the Doctorate in Educational Leadership program at Harvard. Karen currently serves as a consultant on family engagement to the United States Department of Education in the Office of Innovation and Improvement.
Karen joined HGSE in January of 2005 after serving for eighteen months as the Deputy Superintendent for Family and Community Engagement for the Boston Public Schools (BPS). While working with the BPS, she continued to fulfill her duties as president of the Institute for Responsive Education (IRE). Karen joined IRE in 1997 as Project Director, was appointed vice-president of IRE in May of 1998 and served as president from September 1998 to December 2004.
Karen holds a Doctorate and Master's of Education from the Harvard Grade School Of Education, University, a Master's in Education from Southern Connecticut State University, and a Bachelor's degree from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. She is the author and co-author of several articles and books about the role of families and community members in the work of student achievement and school improvement including: “Having Their Say: Parents Describe How and Why They Are Engaged in Their Children's Learning”; A New Wave Of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family and Community Connections on Student Achievement; Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships; “Debunking the Myth of the Hard to Reach Parent”; and the recently published, A Match on Dry Grass: Community Organizing as a Catalyst for School Reform.
One of the most compelling voices of our time, Byron V. Garrett, President and CEO of Life Works International, currently serves as consultant to Fortune 500 companies, non-profits and school districts across the country. A thought leader on family engagement, Byron serves as Chairman of the National Family Engagement Alliance (NFEA) and is the former CEO of the National PTA, the nation's largest child advocacy association composed of more than five million members around the globe. Byron was the Executive Producer for Inaugural Building a Grad Nation Summit featuring Vice President Joe Biden and serves as a lead strategist for NBC News' Education Nation. Throughout his career, he has been a visionary agent of change promoting the idea that everyone has an obligation and opportunity to serve the best interests of our nation's most precious resource – children.
Byron possesses a unique combination of experience from both the non-profit and governmental sectors. Byron served as the first Chief of Staff for the Office of Public Affairs at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). Prior to this, Garrett served as National Program Leader for the National 4-H Headquarters at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the program's seven million participants and 90,000 clubs. While at USDA he was appointed by The White House as Co-Convener of the Helping America's Youth initiative, an interagency effort to address challenges facing youth and to promote successful solutions.
Earlier in his career, Garrett spent a decade in Phoenix as an education advocate and community leader. He served as Policy Advisor for Faith and Community Initiatives for Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano (current U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security); prior to that role, Byron was the Director of the Governor's Division for Community and Youth Development, where he administered multiple boards and commissions. Garrett is also a former K-8 charter school principal.
He has been a guest on the Today Show, MSNBC, Fox and the Dr. Phil Show, and profiled in a number of publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and JET. Garrett was named by Ebony to its "Power 150," an annual list of "The Most Influential Black Americans." Byron serves on Parenting's Mom's Congress Advisory Board and on the Advisory Board for the Mary J. Blige and Steve Stoute Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now, Inc. (FFAWN).
Garrett is a former entertainment columnist for the Arizona Informant and an author of several books including "The ABC's of Life." An accomplished speaker, Garrett has delivered presentations all across the U.S., Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. Byron matriculated through the public schools in the Carolinas, holds a BA from High Point University, MA from the University of Phoenix and has completed doctoral coursework at Pepperdine University.
David C. Banks is the President/CEO of The Eagle Academy Foundation. He was the Founding Principal of The Eagle Academy for Young Men, the first school in a network of innovative all-boys public school in New York City. As President he is responsible for the successful leadership and management of the organization, which is charged with the replication of the successful Eagle model. Since opening in 2004, the Eagle Academy family has grown to encompass a total of three schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, and is expanding its vision nationally.
The Eagle Academy for Young Men, the first all-boys public high school in New York City in over thirty years, is a nurturing institution which believes that excellence, both in character and scholarship, opens doors and provides a bridge to equality. The Eagle Academies represent a partnership between students, school staff, parents, mentors, and community partners, who are all committed to the guiding principles of academic excellence, leadership and character development. These principles are supported by our core initiatives of mentoring, community service, extended day activities, Saturday Institute, summer programs, and parental involvement. The first Eagle Academy for Young Men was established as part of New York City's twenty-first century high school reform initiative, an accomplishment achieved through a unique partnership with One Hundred Black Men, Inc. After five years of sharing space with the Bronx School for Law, Government & Justice, it has since moved into its own, state of the art facilit.Prior to becoming principal of Eagle, David served as the Founding Principal of The Bronx School for Law, Government & Justice. This theme-based high school provided a unique opportunity for him to combine his law and education background. During his tenure, David helped spearhead a community-wide effort to secure a permanent home for the school. As a result, Bronx Law is now housed in a $75 million, state of the art facility, representing an unprecedented partnership between the criminal justice community and an inner-city high school.
David is a graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey and received his Juris Doctorate from St. John's University. He earned his Educational Administration and Supervision certification in only one semester by attending three colleges: Brooklyn College, City College and Baruch College.
David and his wife Marion reside in New Jersey. They have four children, Jamaal, Aaliyah, Ali and Malcolm Rashaad, and one grandchild, Hayley.
Phyllis C. Hunter, President of Phyllis C. Hunter Consulting, Inc., was appointed by Congress and President Bush to the board of the National Institute for Literacy, and has served as an advisor on the President's Educational Transition Team. On November 15, 2002, she was honored with the Marcus Foster Memorial Award for Distinguished Educator of the Year by the National Alliance of Black School Educators. As a reading consultant who specializes in scientific research-based programs, Mrs. Hunter has traveled the nation providing on-site technical assistance to states implementing comprehensive reading programs. Mrs. Hunter proclaims that reading is the new civil right!
The Phyllis C. Hunter Classroom Libraries is her most recent publication that was created in conjunction with Scholastic Inc. The libraries are based on scientific research, Mrs. Hunter's own years of classroom experience, her connection with schools across the country, and her work as a national literacy specialist.
In Texas, Mrs. Hunter was an administrator with the Houston Independent School District for seven years. She managed the reading department for the district's 282 schools, Grades PreK–12, and administered a staff of 52 with a $2.6 million budget. She was responsible for several innovative reading initiatives, such as A Balanced Approach to Reading.
In August 1998, Lauren Resnick, Director of the Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh, appointed Mrs. Hunter a National Fellow of the Institute for Learning.
Mrs. Hunter's tenure in education includes a principalship with California's Hayward Unified School District. Formerly an elementary, middle, and high school teacher, she has also held the positions of curriculum specialist, certified speech and language therapist, specialist in special education, and coordinator of a mentor-teaching program.
The Consortium for Policy Research in Education, which includes the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, unites these five top research institutions in an exciting venture. As an executive board member of CPRE, Mrs. Hunter helps to improve student learning through research on education reform, policy, and finance.
As a board member of the International Reading Association's Urban Diversity Initiatives Commission and the National Center for Family Literacy, Mrs. Hunter impacts reading instruction worldwide. Mrs. Hunter has implemented extensive education reform for a diverse community of learners nationwide. She continues to advise many policy makers through her work on national boards, such as CORE and the National Center for Family Literacy.
Mrs. Hunter received a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin. She also earned a mid-management certification in Educational Administration from the University of California, and has acquired further studies at the Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Judy Blankenship Cheatham joined RIF in January 2011 as Vice president of Literacy services. Dr. Cheatham previously served as the Jefferson Pilot Professor of English at Greensboro College, as well as the coordinator of the Modern Languages and Literatures division and director of the Master of Arts program. She was also the dean of Professional and Graduate Studies.
The child, grandchild, and great-grandchild of teachers, Dr. Cheatham has been an educator for more than 30 years, teaching students from the graduate college level to the middle grades. Active in family and workplace literacy since 1986, she has trained tens of thousands of tutors, teachers, volunteers, and parents. She has served as keynote speaker for state, regional, and national conferences, and been an educational consultant to schools and communities in 31 states.
A volunteer tutor herself, the four books she authored in the literacy field are geared toward tutors, teacher aides, and parents who work with children and families. The recipient of several teaching awards, she feels her greatest recognition was being awarded National Literacy Volunteer of the Year by ProLiteracy (formerly Literacy Volunteers of America).
She is married and is the mother of two children.
Since 2005, Jodi Grant has been Executive Director of Afterschool Alliance, a non-profit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure that all children and youth have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs.
Afterschool Alliance seeks to educate the public, the media and policy makers about the enormous potential of quality afterschool programs and how programs across the country are inspiring children and creating opportunities for them to succeed academically, socially and professionally. Afterschool Alliance serves as a national voice for afterschool and provides resources and materials to more than 26,000 afterschool programs. It organizes national and local afterschool events, including the organization's signature event, Lights On Afterschool; conducts research on the need and support for afterschool; creates tools for afterschool practitioners; and connects afterschool leaders to national, state and local opinion leaders. As Executive Director, Grant oversees all aspects of Afterschool Alliance's work – setting its goals and strategies for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, working with the field to help programs tap into federal funding streams, and supervising research to help national, state and local afterschool advocates and providers support, create and expand quality afterschool programs.
Prior to joining Afterschool Alliance, Grant served as Director of Work and Family Programs for the National Partnership for Women & Families. In that position, she worked to protect and expand the Family & Medical Leave Act, and was a member of the team that successfully defended the law before the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to that, she worked on Capitol Hill as General Counsel to the Senate Budget Committee and as Staff Director for a Senate Committee. Her legislative accomplishments include expanded support for the child tax credit, the Child Health Insurance Program, and class size reduction. She also served as liaison to the National Governors' Association, where she worked closely with Republican and Democratic governors.
Grant graduated from Yale University with honors in 1990 and was elected senior class president. She received her law degree from Harvard University, where she was elected class president (first marshall). As a student, she volunteered at an afterschool program. She currently serves as: a Trustee of the America's Promise Alliance, an Advisory Board Member of Time Warner Cable's “Connect a Million Minds” campaign, and as Co-Chair of the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry's Student Development Advisory Committee. Grant, her husband and two children live in Bethesda, Maryland. Grant is an avid cyclist.