Co-founder & Partner
Brett is the co-founder and a Partner at Empower Schools. After supporting the design and launch of the nationally heralded turnaround of Lawrence Public Schools in Massachusetts, Brett has led the organization’s expansion to Colorado and Texas. He continues to focus on Colorado, as well as explore new partnerships across the country in areas such as rural innovation and pathways to post-secondary success. Prior to launching Empower Schools, Brett led the Greater Boston region for Education Pioneers. Previously he developed and advanced youth civic engagement policy, and led social responsibility efforts for a venture backed startup in Washington DC. Brett began his career as a classroom teacher and has taught 3rd grade and in high school. Brett has a B.A. in History from Middlebury College and an M.A.T. from Brown University. He and his wife live in the Boston area where they are raising their three boys.
Director of Strategic Finance and Operations
Gordon joined Empower as Director of Strategic Finance and Operations in January 2020 through the Encore Fellowship Program, an 18-month Fellowship opportunity. After a 25-year career in finance, the past 9 years at The Boston Company Asset Management, Gordon is now pivoting and applying his finance expertise to the nonprofit sector. He has been actively involved in various different education related nonprofit organizations including Boston Prep, Citizen Schools, and Rehearsal for Life and is excited about the work Empower is doing to promote innovative education models around the country.
Gordon graduated from Denison University and received his MBA from Vanderbilt University. He lives in Brookline with his wife and two children.
Carey Lawrence is a Senior Manager at Empower Schools based in Dallas, Texas. During Carey’s time at Empower Schools, she has supported incubation programs for leaders of autonomous schools and networks and has led the launch of in-district partnerships across Texas.
Prior to joining the Empower Schools team, Carey taught elementary school students with developmental and intellectual disabilities in Dallas, Texas. In addition to teaching, Carey has experience working in multiple organizations in the education sector, including a state department of education, a technical assistance organization, a protection and advocacy agency, and a program evaluation company. Carey has a B.S. in Special Education from Vanderbilt University and a master’s degree in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Jack Elsey is the executive director of the Detroit Children’s Fund and is a Future Chief with Chiefs for Change. Prior to this role, he served as the chief schools officer for the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan, a district charged with turning around some of Detroit’s historically lowest performing schools. Under his leadership, EAA schools experienced student growth results that outperformed state averages. Elsey has also served as chief of innovation and incubation at Chicago Public Schools, assistant superintendent of Detroit Public Schools, a chief schools officer of Detroit Rising College Prep Schools and is a Broad Residency alumnus. He began his career as a middle school teacher in the South Bronx as a member of the Teach For America corps.
Hannah serves as Senior Manager and supports the work of Empower Schools in Texas leading the launch of in-district charter partnerships and ongoing implementation support. Before joining Empower Schools, Hannah worked in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area in several roles supporting education systems including program evaluation for school districts and school authorizers and policy network support across the region. She began her career as a public-school teacher and administrator in Houston. During her time in the classroom and in administration she spearheaded initiatives in instructional coaching, leadership development, social-emotional learning, and blended learning. She is an alumna of Teach for America and Education Pioneers and holds a B.A. in French from St. Olaf College and an M.P.P. from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. In her free time, Hannah enjoys the outdoors, cooking, crafting, and spending time with her husband and son.
Co-Founder & Partner
Chris Gabrieli is the co-founder and CEO/Partner of Empower Schools, Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, and a lecturer at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. He pioneered the Empowerment Zone effort in Empower’s first site in Springfield, MA where he continues to be the Chair of the Zone’s Board. His current work at Empower focuses on building Empower, leading on Massachusetts work and leading the Empower Early College effort.
He has been at the forefront of several movements to expand educational opportunity and improve schooling and has been the founder of three successful non-profit education innovation and policy organizations including the National Center on Time & Learning.
Chris is a graduate of Harvard College. He has been active in civic and political life in Massachusetts for thirty years. Chris and his wife live in Boston where they have raised five children. He has never been cured of his loyalty to his original hometown Buffalo Bills.
Senior Advisor, Higher Education
Erika Giampietro serves as Senior Advisor, Higher Education, at Empower Schools, leading the organization’s emerging Early College team. Erika works both in MA on standalone projects and in zone-synergistic projects across Empower’s portfolio. The Early College team is focused on building strong policy conditions for Early College expansion within states as well as working directly with Early College programs to increase their scale and depth of programming.
Before joining Empower Schools, Erika worked in the Boston Public Schools for seven years serving in a variety of roles, including Deputy CFO, Interim CFO, and Special Assistant to the Superintendent. While at BPS, Erika oversaw the district’s $1B budget, led negotiations for a $2B contract with the Boston Teachers Union, facilitated strategic planning for the Superintendent, and co-authored a long term financial plan for the district. Prior to joining BPS, Erika was Managing Director of Strategy for Teach For America’s national Teacher Support team, where she led the organization’s national effort to design the first fully centralized online system for performance management. Erika began her career as a management consultant with the Monitor Group. Erika has a B.S. in Business from The University of Virginia and an executive education certificate from the Harvard Business School. She is based in Boston, Massachusetts.
Kevin Guico is a Manager at Empower Schools based in Austin, TX. He supports the strategic planning and implementation of innovative partnerships, plans the convenings for in-district partners in Texas to expose them to experts and state-wide and national best practices, as well as facilitates collaborative learning experiences spotlighting best practices and problem solving around problems of practice. Before joining the Empower team, he worked on staff at City Year Dallas, providing year-long professional development, anti-racism facilitation, and career development support to eighty AmeriCorps members as they supported ten of Dallas’ most deserving public schools. Kevin also taught 7th grade Writing and Modern Band in Dallas - spending four years in Dallas classrooms, three community organizing for educational equity, two facilitating racial equity spaces for AAPI educators and multipartial groups, and one in local school board campaigns and fundraising for an arts education nonprofit. He holds a B.A. in Music Management and a minor in Business Management from the Conservatory of Music at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA, and in his spare time he also performs music professionally.
Mary Beth Hiett
Executive Assistant and Office Manager
Mary Beth is the Executive Assistant and Office Manager at Empower Schools based in Boston, MA. She provides direct support to the Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Chris Gabrieli in addition to supporting general office operations. of Empower Schools. She has over 10 years of experience supporting C-Level Executives. Mary Beth holds a BFA in Painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design and an MA in Contemporary Art from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London.
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Matt Matera is a Partner at Empower Schools based in Boston, Massachusetts, and is also the board chairman of Teach Western Mass. At Empower, he led the design and launch of the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership and has supported the launch of more than 10 additional partnerships. Prior to joining Empower, Matt was the Director of Innovation and Talent for Lawrence Public Schools in Massachusetts. Before that, he was the Director of Human Capital Investments for New Schools for New Orleans and taught middle school English for five years. Matt is an alumnus of Teach For America and Education Pioneers and also worked for several summers with the Breakthrough Collaborative. Matt has a B.A. in English and a J.D. from Yale University.
Cara is a Partner at Empower, based in Boston, MA. Cara works with partners in Colorado, Texas and Massachusetts. She has supported the design and launch of new networks of autonomous, empowered district schools, as well as rural, multi-district collaboratives that expand opportunities for students. Before joining Empower Schools, Cara was a Consultant at The Boston Consulting Group, working on strategy and large-scale project management with both non-profit and for-profit organizations. Prior to BCG, Cara was a public school teacher in Boston and Brookline, MA, teaching social studies at the high school level. Cara graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in History and has an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an M.B.A. from The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
Alyssa is a Partner at Empower Schools based in Austin, Texas. She is responsible for leading Empower’s partnerships with districts and autonomous networks across the state. She has worked with 9 districts and 7 operators in Texas to design and implement equity-based strategies that empower educators and drive student success. Before joining Empower Schools, Alyssa was a Senior Associate Consultant at Bain & Company, working with both for-profit and nonprofit organizations on strategy, performance improvement, and organizational design. She has also worked with Education Pioneers and later served as an Education Pioneers Graduate School Fellow in New Orleans, where she helped Crescent City Schools and FirstLine Schools improve their human capital practices. Alyssa has a B.A. in Political Philosophy, Policy, and Law (PPL) from the University of Virginia and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Senior Manager of Higher Education
Chessye Moseley serves as the Senior Manager of Higher Education at Empower Schools and works on initiatives and innovations that have the potential to profoundly increase equitable access and success in higher education for students in Massachusetts and beyond.
Before joining Empower Schools, Chessye worked on staff in a variety of roles at Teach For America. Most recently, she led individual fundraising efforts throughout the state for the Massachusetts region. Prior to that, Chessye worked on the National Recruitment and Admissions team, overseeing diverse portfolios of college and university campuses and ultimately responsible for both recruitment efforts and stakeholder engagement. Chessye began her career as a middle school reading teacher in Colorado and holds a BA in Government from Harvard University. She is based in Boston, Massachusetts.
Finance and Operations Manager
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Janine Pires is Empower’s Finance and Operations Manager based in Boston, MA. She is a business operations professional with a track record in accounting, finance, payroll, and fundraising roles in the nonprofit sector. Prior to Empower Schools, Janine was the Staff Accountant & Schools Business Manager for the Boston Plan for Excellence, an education organization operating a PreK-12 pathway of neighborhood based teaching academies.
Janine seeks to continually merge the skills acquired from her BA in Logistics & Operations Management mastered projects’ portfolio from Southern New Hampshire University, with her passion of building and supporting an education system that advances equity.
Seth serves as the Senior Manager, Policy, at Empower Schools, responsible for designing policies and strategies to support autonomous district schools across the country based in Austin, Texas. He works with Empower’s zone and district partners to ensure that state and local policies are best aligned to increase student success.
Before joining Empower Schools, Seth was the Director of Legislative and Strategic Affairs for the San Antonio Independent School District where he led the district’s state and federal advocacy efforts, most notably helping efforts to pass SB 1882 and school finance reforms. He also helped start up Nevada Succeeds as its first Policy Director, an education non-profit in the Silver State dedicated towards bringing a business voice to creating better schools. He began his career as a 5th grade teacher. Seth has a B.A. in International Relations and Political Science from Tufts University and an M.B.A. from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. In his free time, Seth enjoys traveling around the world, trying new foods, and watching live sporting events.
Sarah is a Partner at Empower, based in Boston, MA. Sarah leads our partnerships in California and Indiana and supports districts and communities across the country to explore, design, and launch Zones of autonomous, empowered district schools. In Massachusetts, Sarah supported the launch and initial implementation of the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership.
Prior to joining Empower Schools, Sarah worked at TNTP where she supported the implementation of New York City’s teacher development and evaluation system. Previously, Sarah was a Program Manager with City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley where she managed a team of AmeriCorps members and worked closely with the school community to help transform the school’s culture and provide targeted support to off track students. Sarah began her work in education teaching high school biology on the South Side of Chicago. Sarah has a B.A. in Biology and Anthropology from the University of Michigan, a M.A.T. from National Louis University, and a M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Education Policy and Management.
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Hannah Sharfman is an Associate at Empower Schools based in Austin, Texas. Hannah primarily supports the implementation and launch of in-district partnerships within rural Texas districts. Before joining Empower Schools, Hannah worked at the Austin-based education consulting firm BlueScope Group. In this role, she built and managed a collective of education consultants across the country and provided support through grant and proposal writing and project support. Hannah started her career as an elementary school teacher in Houston, Texas through Teach for America. In addition to teaching, Hannah has experience working for a small technology nonprofit in Saint Paul, Minnesota and for a higher education association in Washington D.C. Hannah holds a B.A. of Political Science from the College of Wooster and an M.P.P from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. In her free time, Hannah enjoys running, reading, and traveling to new places.
Colorado State Director
Connect on Linkedin
Tori is an Associate at Empower Schools based in Fort Worth, Texas. She works with partners in Texas, Massachusetts, and Louisiana. Tori supports districts with strategic planning and implementation of in-district partnerships. Prior to joining Empower Schools, she served as a fellow in a variety of education contexts at the local, state, and national level including the U.S. Department of Education, the Texas House of Representatives, and the Commit Partnership. She began her career as a public-school elementary teacher in San Antonio, Texas. During her time in the classroom she implemented initiatives such as project based learning, social emotional learning, and an extended school year. Her passion for education is rooted in her time serving as a tutor for high school students in Upward Bound and as a teacher’s aide for Academia Cuauhtli, a language and culture revitalization project for elementary school students. Tori has a B.A. in Latin American and Border Studies from Southwestern University and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Texas at Austin.
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Christi leads Martin Consulting Group and serves as a formal advisor to Empower Schools in Texas. She brings twenty-five years’ experience in education policy and school law. Prior roles include service as senior advisor to the Commissioner of Education and deputy director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Christi holds a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and M.A. and B.A. degrees in political science from the University of Houston. A first-generation college student, Christi has focused her career on broadening opportunity for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Texas Advisory Board Member
Dana Ray serves as the Chief of Staff for San Antonio Independent School District's Office of Innovation. She is directly responsible for supporting Innovation Zone and in-district charter schools and ensuring the evolution of district level departments and systems to meet the individualized needs of campuses. Dana specializes in school design and redesign, charter authorizing, leadership coaching, and systems thinking. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Tulane University and a Masters in Educational Administration from Trinity University. Dana has served as a teacher, instructional coach, school administrator, and district administrator over the course of her 20-year career in SAISD. She believes strongly that education is the key to personal growth, improving one’s quality of life, and making the world a better place.
Hjamil A. Martinez-Vazquez
Texas Advisory Board Member
Hjamil A. Martinez-Vazquez is a 2020-2021 Teach Plus Texas Policy Senior Fellow. Hjamil teaches fourth and fifth grade at the ACE Demonstration and Design Lab at Hargrave Elementary in Crowley ISD. In 2019, he was selected as Campus Teacher of the Year in 2019, at Mary Harris Intermediate. Hjamil has been part of several professional development sessions/presentations including at the 2020 Raise Your Hand Texas Leadership Conference, and works with the district’s curriculum committee and the Bilingual Department. He was a member of the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) English as a Second Language Standards Advisory Committee and the TEA Bilingual Standards Development Committee. He graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a BA in Social Science, and received his MA in Religion from the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico and his ThM and PhD in Religious History from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
Texas Advisory Board Member
John Fitzpatrick is the executive director of Educate Texas, CFT's statewide education initiative. His role spans five areas: strategy, fundraising, advocacy, culture/talent and what he calls Team CFT. From 1997-2004, John had a dual role as the executive director of Skillpoint Alliance, a central Texas nonprofit, and vice president for education and workforce development at the Austin Chamber of Commerce. John moved to Texas in 1994 to attend grad school at the LBJ School at UT Austin, where he met his wife, Kristen Vassallo. Before that, he worked on Capitol Hill for Republicans and Democrats on education, workforce development, trade and other issues. John taught eighth-grade English and U.S. history for a year in Long Island, New York. He holds a bachelor’s in sociology from Wesleyan University, where he also played soccer.
Texas Advisory Board Member
Marcus Ceniceros is a Senior Director at Leadership for Educational Equity. Based in Houston, he supports current and former educators in building individual and collective skills so they can advocate for their students, organize their communities, gain access to leaders that create education policy, and become public leaders themselves. Marcus has been a classroom teacher, grade-level lead, and building administrator in Houston, New Orleans, and Chicago. While teaching and leading with the KIPP Schools, he was a Miles Family Fellow, led the national elementary (K-4) educator learning community, and served as the Director of Community Engagement for KIPP Chicago. Marcus began teaching as a Teach For America corps member after graduating with a degree in government from the University of Texas at Austin. Marcus is a national advisory board member of Allies for Educational Equity, a Pahara Next-Gen Fellow, and co-leads the city-wide effort to reduce the number of school-aged Houstonians in the criminal justice system through school discipline reform.
Paymon Rouhanifard is the co-founder and CEO of Propel America, an organization that empowers students with the skills, experiences, credentials, and social networks necessary to transition from high school to an upwardly-mobile first job within one-year of high school graduation. Previously, he served as the superintendent of Camden, New Jersey from 2013 to 2018 where he helped lead improvements in student outcomes, reductions in out-of-school suspensions, stronger family engagement, and critical capital investments in school facilities. Rouhanifard started his career in New York City as a 6th grade teacher in West Harlem and went on to work in the central office of the New York City Department of Education. He holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Sara is a Manager at Empower Schools based in Denver, and she primarily supports the implementation of innovative partnerships in rural Colorado. Before joining Empower Schools, Sara worked at Denver Public Schools recruiting and hiring school leaders, supporting middle schools, and as Chief of Staff to the Assistant Superintendent. Her commitment to educational equity began when she became a teacher through Teach For America in Chicago as a middle school math teacher and then as a special education teacher upon moving to Denver. Sara has spent time teaching in traditional public schools, charter schools, and in turnaround efforts. She graduated from the University of Connecticut (BS Marketing) and holds a Masters in Teaching (Dominican University) and an Executive MBA from Washington University in St. Louis.
Tim Field works as a Senior Advisor with the Empower Schools Texas team to support district strategic planning and implementation of initiatives to improve struggling schools, strengthen district support systems, and launch new innovative schools and programs. Tim was previously a regional director for the KIPP Foundation, where he provided coaching support to KIPP executive directors, coordinated internal and external resources, and provided quality oversight to ensure that KIPP regions are prepared to open and sustain high-performing schools in under-served communities. Before that, Tim was the deputy chief of Charter, Partnership and New Schools with the School District of Philadelphia, where he led the charter school authorization and oversight department, and worked with the district leadership, school board, and local community groups, to support successful and innovative schools. Tim earned his B.A. from Oberlin College, and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
California Launch Fellow
Romel Antoine is the California Launch Fellow at Empower Schools based in Sacramento, CA. Romel helps to lead our growth and exploration work across the state, working with school districts and other key stakeholders to advance Empower’s mission. In his most recent role, Romel helped to lead state regulatory affairs for the California Charter Schools Association. A life-long facilitator and strategist, he has held various roles in support of school districts, non-profit education partners, and service organizations. Romel graduated from Wheaton College with a B.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies, Political Science, and Legal Studies. Romel is also a Pahara Next-Gen Fellow, a program of the Pahara Institute which focuses on building equity in the Education sector.
California Launch Fellow
Malik serves as a Director for Empower Schools, responsible for leading and supporting projects to benefit students across the country, with a focus on Texas. He leads project teams and works closely with local, state and district leaders to empower public schools and drive the creation, execution and implementation of strategic partnerships. Prior to joining Empower, Malik worked at Reading Partners where he led the literacy improvement portfolio in North Texas. Previously, Malik oversaw grant programs with the YMCA, and Managed Federal Programs in Delaware as a state and school district administrator where he supported schools in exiting improvement statuses and becoming National Blue Ribbon and Distinguished Title I programs. Malik has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art Design from North Carolina A&T State University and a Master’s in Education from Cabrini College. He is based in Fort Worth, TX with his wife Doreen and their three daughters Maya, Taylor, and Faith.
Barry is a Director at Empower, based in Hammond, Indiana. Barry leads partnerships in Indiana and supports districts and communities to explore, design, and launch Zones of autonomous, empowered district schools.
Prior to joining Empower Schools, Barry worked at Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE), where he led the Illinois and Northwest Indiana region in an effort to encourage and support members to get involved in the fight for educational equity. Barry has a long history of working in education and has served as a Senior Director at OneGoal and a Partnership Director at Teach For America. He began his career in youth development by leading The First Tee of Hammond and coaching high school football (something he is still doing 15 years later). Barry has a B.A. in Speech and Political Science from Wabash College and is also the 3rd District Councilman for the City of Hammond.
Eliza Davis serves as the Growth Manager at Empower Schools and is based in Boston, Massachusetts. She works to advance Empower’s mission by exploring and developing new partnerships nationwide, particularly in rural areas. Before joining Empower Eliza worked in a variety of roles at Change Research, a polling firm dedicated to making robust public opinion research affordable and accessible to forward-thinking candidates and causes across the country. She was instrumental in overseeing and conducting research for a wide variety of clients, including media organizations, advocacy groups, and education focused nonprofits. Eliza began her career as a 7th Grade Social Studies teacher in Pueblo, Colorado through Teach for America. She also spent summers directing the Outdoors Department at Camp Kiniya in Vermont, focusing on experiential learning and leadership development for young women. Eliza has a BA in Public Policy from Princeton University.