Jess westermann - executive director
Jess Westermann began her career in public education at New Design High School in New York City, where she served as an English teacher, instructional coach, new teacher mentor, and department leader. After seven years in the classroom, she became director of the New Schools Intensive, a DOE program aimed at supporting principals chosen to design and lead new small schools throughout the city. As a senior director at SEN, she designed and led the Lead and Master Teacher Development program for the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan. Jess has also worked as a consultant for TNTP and as an adjunct lecturer at Hunter College’s School of Education. Before entering education, she worked for as a producer at New York Public Radio. She has a BA in English from Wesleyan University and an MAT in teaching English from Brown University.
Blanca Ruiz - SR. Director
Blanca Ruiz began her teaching career as a Teach For America corps member in Paterson, NJ, teaching third grade bilingual. After TFA, Blanca came back to her home state of New York, where she taught fifth and sixth grade reading at KIPP Academy in the Bronx. During her six years there, she held a dean-level position as “director of solutions.” Blanca then became a successor principal, before moving on to a leadership coaching role. In her 15 years with KIPP NYC, Blanca had the privilege of seeing her first class graduate high school and college, with some former students going on to become teachers in the KIPP network. Blanca went on to earn her doctorate in educational leadership from National Louis University, with an emphasis on the power of authentic leadership for Latina leaders. She holds a BA from Georgetown University.
David Negron - Sr. Director of Program operations
David Negron is an education professional with expertise in talent development and school operations and experience with both district and charter schools. Most recently, David served as director for Pre-K Expansion at the NYC DOE, where he oversaw the operational design for the selection of new Pre-K sites as part of the Pre-K for All initiative. Previously, David was a director of new school development at the NYCDOE, where he managed recruitment and selection of new school principals for new schools in NYC. David received a BFA from New York University and an MPA from Baruch College.
Eduardo Contreras - Chief Operating Officer
Eduardo Contreras has more than 10 years of experience managing program and administrative operations within large government agencies, as well as within nonprofit organizations in the US and Mexico. Most recently, Eduardo served as chief operating officer for NYC DOE’s Division of Portfolio Planning, managing a budget of $1B+ and supervising finance, human resources, procurement, and special projects teams. Eduardo received an MBA from Yale University.
Alex Shub - Chief Executive Officer
Alex Shub has 20+ years of experience working with school districts and communities on school design, talent development, and coaching of new principals. Alex was the founding principal of Essex Street Academy, one of the top-performing high schools opened as part of the recent turnaround efforts in NYC. Alex then served as executive director of the Office of New Schools at the NYC DOE, where he led the identification, selection, and development of new school principals for 120 new schools in NYC. Following his tenure with the DOE, Alex founded and developed School Empowerment Network (SEN), to bring the successful practices developed in New York to the charter sector and to other districts around the country. Alex received a BA from Brown University and an MEA from Teachers College, Columbia University.