Emary Aronson, Board Chairperson
Emary Aronson is the Managing Director of Education at the Robin Hood Foundation. She is also the managing director of the Robin Hood Relief Fund, a $65 million fund dedicated to addressing the needs of those affected by September 11.
Before joining Robin Hood, Emary was the Director of Education Initiatives at the New York City Partnership and Chamber of Commerce. In this role, she helped develop a $29 million education reform program as well as manage a youth employment program and a school principal management training program.
Prior to her work with the New York City Partnership, Emary taught history and economics at the college level.
Emary holds a BA in History from Smith College, an MSc in Economic History from the London School of Economics, an MPPM from the Yale School of Management, and a PhD in History from the University of Chicago.
Phoebe Boyer is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Children’s Aid Society, one of the nation’s largest and most innovative non-sectarian agencies. She is the eleventh person and the first woman to lead Children’s Aid since its founding in 1853.
Previously, Ms. Boyer served as Executive Director of the Tiger Foundation and Interim Executive Director of Robertson Foundation, where she was responsible for the overall management of both Foundations. Prior to joining Tiger, Ms. Boyer identified and secured private funds for The After-School Corporation (TASC), an organization established to enhance the quality and availability of after-school programming. Before joining TASC, Ms. Boyer was the Assistant Executive Director of Inwood House, a social service agency that works with pregnant and parenting teens. While there, she was responsible for the overall administration and financial management of the $6 million multi-service organization. She also has several years of experience in the public and private sectors.
Ms. Boyer received a Bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and a Masters in Business Administration from Columbia University. She is a board member at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, and a member of the inaugural class of the Aspen Institute NewSchools Fellowship: Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education.
Ms. Boyer lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.
Geoffrey Canada, President of Harlem Children’s Zone, is renowned around the world for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem, and as a thought leader and passionate advocate for education reform after having worked with the Harlem Children’s Zone for more than 30 years.
Having worked with the Harlem Children’s Zone for more than 30 years, Geoffrey Canada is renowned around the world for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem, and as a thought leader and passionate advocate for education reform.
From 1990 to 2014, Mr. Canada served as the President and Chief Executive Officer for the Harlem Children’s Zone, which The New York Times called “one of the most ambitious social-policy experiments of our time.” In 2011, Mr. Canada was named to the TIME 100 list of most influential people in the world and, in March 2014, was named one of Fortune’s 50 greatest leaders in the world. As of July 1, 2014, Mr. Canada stepped down as CEO, handing the reins to COO Anne Williams-Isom. He continues to serve as President of the HCZ and Promise Academy Boards.
Mr. Canada grew up in the South Bronx in a poor, sometimes violent neighborhood. Despite his troubled surroundings, he achieved great academic success, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. After graduating, Mr. Canada began his life’s work helping children who, like himself, grew up in poor, distressed neighborhoods.
Cecily M. Carson
Cecily M. Carson is president of the Carson Family Charitable Trust. She is also a trustee of The Museum of Arts and Design, Fisher House Foundation and the Excellence Girls and Excellence Boys Charter Schools of Bedford-Stuyvesant; chair of the Robin Hood Foundation's Leadership Council; and a member of the President’s Leadership Council at Dartmouth College, the Advisory Board for Columbia School of Business’s Social Enterprise Program and the NY Public Library’s Library Council
Ms. Carson is a native New Yorker who graduated from Dartmouth College in 1995. She majored in Government, minored in Film and has a certificate in Women's Studies. She spent two years at Andrew Edson & Associates, Inc., a corporate and financial public and investor relations firm in New York. She then studied for two years in the Fashion Institute of Technology's (FIT) Jewelry Design program and started an independent jewelry design business called, CMC Jewelry Designs, Inc.
Mark Dunetz is President of New Visions for Public Schools, a role which he has held since 2016. He previously served as the organization’s Vice President for School Support and Operations leading the organization’s collaboration with the New York City Department of Education and the support of partner high schools.
Mark began his career as an English as a Second Language and Social Studies teacher in the New York City public schools. In 2008, Mark founded the Academy for Careers in Television and Film where he served as principal until 2013. The school remains one of the city’s most academically successful and was the first to provide pathways for students from underrepresented communities into the full range of careers in New York City’s television and film industry.
Mark holds a BA in US History from the University of California, Santa Cruz; an MA in Teaching Speakers of Other Languages from New York University; and a Ph.D. in Urban Education with a concentration in education policy from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
Carmen Fariña is Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, the largest and most diverse public school system in the nation. Over the past 40 years, Fariña has worked in virtually every capacity, from teacher and principal to District Superintendent and Deputy Chancellor. As Chancellor, Fariña is committed to expanding access to high-quality, full-day early childhood education, after-school programs for middle school students, and strengthening instruction in every classroom. A Brooklyn native and the daughter of Spanish immigrants, Fariña was the first person in her family to graduate from college. She holds a Bachelor of Science from New York University and three master’s degrees: from Brooklyn College (Bilingual Education), Fordham University (Gifted Education), and Pace University (Administration and Supervision). Fariña is co-author of “A School Leader’s Guide to Excellence: Collaborating Our Way to Better Schools” (Heinemann, 2008).
Spencer Robertson is the Founder and Executive Director of PAVE Academy Charter School in Red Hook. Before launching PAVE, Mr. Robertson worked at North Star Academy Charter School of Newark. Mr. Robertson completed the Building Excellent Schools Fellowship, which provided him one year to study the highest performing public schools in America. His education career includes three years as a seventh and eighth graders language arts and Spanish teacher and co-founder of the school’s running club. He then served as a program officer at the Tiger Foundation, supporting after-school programs and early child development initiatives throughout New York City.
Mr. Robertson holds an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, with a focus on the non-profit sector and an undergraduate degree from Duke University. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and four children.
Basil A. Smikle, Jr.
Basil Smikle Jr. is a Senior Advisor and former Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Committee. He is also PhD candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University concentrating in Education Politics. Smikle served as the “second highest ranking Democrat” in New York during his service at the New York State Democratic Party. Prior to his work with the Democratic Party, he served on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Senate staff as Deputy State Director. Basil currently holds appointments as an adjunct lecturer at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and the City University of New York’s Murphy Institute for Professional Studies. He is also widely recognized as a staunch advocate for public service and educational equity.
His commentary is regularly featured on local and national television programs and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, Salon, the New York Journal of Books and The Hill. Basil has been awarded the Weinberg Fellowship, The David T. Kearns Fellowship, and the Institute for Urban and Minority Education Fellowship – and has been featured on New York Magazine’s cover as the next generation of African American leaders, among many other accomplishments.
Mr. Reich, along with his wife, Carol, is the co-founder of the Beginning with Children Foundation. He was a founder of the New York Charter School Center and served as its Chairman until December, 2007. He was formerly the managing general partner of Centennial Associates and Centennial Energy Partners, L.P., investment partnerships.
He was the founder of Reich & Tang, Inc. in 1970, a leading investment management firm. He served as president until 1987 and Chairman of the Board of Directors until 1989. Additionally, he was a co-sponsor, with his wife, of an “I Have A Dream” Foundation class of 62 Brooklyn children and serves as a trustee of Continuum Health Partners and the New York City Investment Fund.
He received a B.A. in Economics from Cornell University and an M.B.A from Stanford University.