It's about great public schools.


James Merriman
Chief Executive Officer
James Merriman

James Merriman is one of the nation’s foremost experts on charter school policy. Mr. Merriman is a leading voice and advocate for high quality, equitable charter schools and frequently speaks and writes about the actions that need to be taken to strengthen and expand charter schools within the New York City public school system. Mr. Merriman’s op-eds, commentary and guest blogs have been featured in The New York Times, The New York Post, The New York Daily News, The Huffington Post, Gotham Schools and Eduwonk and he is a frequent guest on major TV and radio outlets on public education reform and policy. Before joining the Charter Center in 2007, he worked at the Walton Family Foundation where he helped develop and implement the foundation’s grant making in the charter school sector. Mr. Merriman came to Walton after spending more than seven years at the Charter Schools Institute of the State University of New York (SUNY-CSI), including five as its executive director. At SUNY-CSI, which is one of two state-wide authorizers of charter schools, Mr. Merriman helped create and design systems for authorization and oversight that promote the growth of a high quality charter school sector; then U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan singled out SUNY-CSI as a national model for this work. In 2012, Mr. Merriman was named a Pahara-Aspen Educational Fellow. He has served on the board of the National Charter Schools Institute and is currently a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, for which he has also served as a member of its advisory board.

Before entering the charter sector, Mr. Merriman was also a commercial litigator for the law firm Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in New York City. He is a graduate of Columbia College and New York University Law School.

Alexandria Aponte
Program Manager, School Supports

As Senior Coordinator, Alexandria oversees program implementation and provides logistical and administrative support to the Charter Center’s School Supports department, ensuring that NYC’s charter schools have the resources and guidance they need to ensure operational excellence. Before joining the Charter Center, Alex spent nine years in the financial sector where she gained extensive experience managing projects, developing training materials and collaborating on program launches. Alexandria holds a Bachelor’s degree in American Studies from the University at Buffalo.

Christina Brown
Chief Operating Officer
Christina Brown

Christina provides critical, high level support to the CEO and is accountable for maximizing the current impact and future growth of the Charter Center and its staff. She brings to the position an extensive background in nonprofit management. Before joining the Charter Center, Christina was Vice President of External Relations at Civic Builders, where she raised more than $15 million to support the development of charter school facilities. She also served in leadership roles at the Union Square Partnership, the Greenwich-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce and several performing arts venues. Christina is a graduate of the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Corey Callahan
Director, Legal Affairs

Corey provides legal counsel and guidance to Charter Center staff, while also working on a variety of projects that benefit New York City’s charter school sector. Before joining the Charter Center, Corey was Assistant Counsel to the New York State Gaming Commission, where she advised on the state-wide casino selection process and helped create the regulatory framework in New York State. Corey was also a litigation associate for the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where she represented a broad range of corporate clients. Prior to law school, Corey was a middle school special education teacher in the Bronx for the NYC DOE. Corey is a graduate of New College of Florida, holds a M.S. in Elementary and Special Education from Lehman College, and is a graduate of the New York University Law School.

Melissa Clarke
Coordinator, Policy & Advocacy
Melissa supports the Policy and Advocacy team on public policy and governmental relations relating to charter school issues. Her work experience reflects her commitment to systemic change and public service. Melissa has worked in public service for over five years within city government, education organizations, and non-profits. Melissa received her B.A in Political Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and her Masters of Science in Social Work and Public Policy from Columbia University where she focused her work on contemporary social issues.
Kristen Coelho
ELL/MLL Specialist

Kristen provides resources, trainings, and onsite expertise to support charter schools in developing and growing high-quality, inclusive programs for culturally and linguistically diverse students. Kristen has built her career as an international educator across a variety of organizations with a primary focus on developing inclusive program models for ELL/MLL populations. Prior to joining The Collaborative for Inclusive Education and Charter Center, Kristen served as Academic Director of a university pathway and intensive English program for undergraduate and graduate international students. She also taught in both district and charter schools in NYC where she designed and implemented culturally responsive curriculum and led collaborative co-teaching and schoolwide initiatives, resulting in significant performance gains for ELLs/MLLs. Kristen earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Boston University and a Master of Arts degree in TESOL from Columbia University Teachers College.

Caryl Cohen
Teacher Certification Consultant
Caryl Cohen

Caryl Cohen worked for the NYC Department of Education for thirty-three years as a middle school English teacher and as an administrator in the Division of Human Resources. During her 25-year tenure in HR, she served as the director of elementary and middle school staffing; special assistant to the chief executive for instruction; and from 1993 until her retirement in October 2004, as the deputy executive director for teacher recruitment, certification, licensing and salary. She was the DOE’s liaison to the NYS Education's Department, Office of Teaching Initiatives dealing with certification policies, regulations, and implementation of the teacher quality criteria (HQT) of the No Child Left Behind federal law. She has continued to serve as the liaison to the SED on certification issues on behalf of the NYC Charter Sector. Ms. Cohen received her bachelor's degree in education from Cortland State University, and a master’s degree in education and an advanced certificate in supervision and administration from Brooklyn College.

David Golovner
Vice President of Policy and Advocacy
David Golovner

David oversees the Charter Center’s governmental and community outreach as well as its grassroots infrastructure in order to ensure a favorable public policy environment for New York City’s charter schools, and education reform in general. David has an extensive background in politics and non-profit advocacy and communications. Prior to joining the Charter Center, David managed a senate re-election campaign, served as senior staff in the Office of the Bronx Borough President and was as a member of the national advance staff for the White House under former President Bill Clinton. David is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and holds an MBA from Metropolitan College of New York.

Corey Green
Program Manager, Special Education
Corey provides resources, trainings, and onsite expertise to support NYC charter schools in developing and maintaining inclusive, high-quality special education programs. Based on findings in the field and member feedback, she also programs the Collaborative’s annual professional development offerings. Her work experience reflects her commitment to ensuring that all educators, whether new or experienced, are coached and supported in formal and consistent ways. Corey became a special education teacher through the NYC Teaching Fellows program. After six years of teaching in NYC Department of Education public schools and training first-year teachers in the NYC Teaching Fellows program, she began working in charter schools. Following time at Achievement First as a learning specialist, she spent two years as the Director of Inclusive Learning at Great Oaks. Corey holds a B.A. in Social Work from Rutgers University and a M.S. in Education from Long Island University – Brooklyn.
Randall Iserman
Director of School Supports

As Director of School Supports, Randall helps charter schools ensure operational excellence and sustainability by providing technical supports, professional development opportunities and best practice sharing among schools. He and his team also seek to address sector-wide challenges and secure needed resources for the sector. Before joining the Charter Center, Randall served in the New York City Department of Education for 11 years - four years as a school business manager, then as Deputy Network Leader in one of the school support networks. He concentrated on the integration of operations, student services and instructional coaching into strategic plans for improvement. Prior to his entry into education, Randall worked in the private sector in sales management.

Erik Joerss
Director of Government Affairs
Erik Joerss

Erik monitors federal, state and local actions affecting charter schools. Prior to joining the Charter Center, Erik was the Director of City Legislation for the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, Legislative Director to Council Member Diana Reyna, Campaign Manager to former Council Member Melinda Katz in her race for Comptroller, and Director of Candidate Services at the Campaign Finance Board and Director of Lobbying and Grassroots Organizing for Common Cause/NY. He also founded "Enlightened Markets," a not-for-profit organization that identified market solutions to lift the working poor out of poverty. Erik has a bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Central Florida and has more than fifteen years of government, advocacy, politics and communications experience.

Aadhar Kansal
Data & Research Analyst
Aadhar leads the Charter Center’s data collection and analysis efforts, and provides analyses and guidance on policy issues that affect the charter sector in order to support school staff and inform the public dialogue. Prior to joining the Charter Center, he served as an Operations Analyst at the NYU Admissions office, co-founded an e-commerce startup and worked with various nonprofits in his native India. Aadhar has a Master of Science in Technology Management from New York University and a Bachelor of Technology in Civil Engineering from India.
Melissa Katz
Director, The Collaborative for Inclusive Education

Melissa is an inclusion and equity advocate for historically underserved populations in NYC charter schools. As the Director of The Collaborative for Inclusive Education, she works to ensure that schools have access to the essential supports, trainings, resources and technical assistance necessary to ensure the success of all of their students. Prior to joining the Collaborative, she worked as a French dual language teacher and an ESL teacher within the NYC DOE. During her time in the classroom, she strived to provide equity and access for all her students through culturally relevant pedagogy and research-based language supports. Melissa holds B.A.s from Trinity College (Hartford) in French, Spanish and English, earned her M.S. in TESOL as a Teach For America corps member from Fordham University, and her M.S. in Educational Leadership from Hunter College.

Edith Litt
Director of Administration
Edith Litt

Edith is responsible for managing the organization's daily office operations, human resources and employee relations. Before joining the Charter Center, Edith served for 16 years as the Director of Finance for the Institute of Literacy Studies at Lehman College, where she also graduated with a Degree in Accounting.

Marcos Martí
Director, Marketing and Communications

Marcos Martí oversees and develops the Charter Center’s public outreach and messaging including media campaigns, program marketing and brand management as well as the Charter Center’s website and social media presence. Marcos brings over eight years of experience in marketing, communications and development for domestic and international community development organizations. Before joining the Charter Center, Marcos served as the external affairs and development manager for a high performing dual language charter school in New Jersey. He has a B.S. in Chemistry from The College of New Jersey and a Masters in Cross Cultural Studies from Nyack College.

Susan McCarthy
Director of Finance
Susan McCarthy

Susan is responsible for the financial and accounting functions at the Charter Center. Susan has over 25 years experience as the Director of Finance at several nonprofits including Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging and Longevity, CCI formerly Child Care, Inc. and the Jewish Museum. Susan is a certified public accountant and has a BS in accounting and a BA in English from Syracuse University.

Myrah Murrell
Executive Coordinator
Myrah Murrell

Myrah works directly with the Charter Center's CEO, James Merriman. She also works outside the Charter Center as a marketing consultant for community organizations and start-up businesses. Before joining the Charter Center, Myrah managed several Grammy Award winning musicians in Atlanta, where she graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing from Clark Atlanta University.

Jenn Rodriguez
Inclusive Education Specialist

Jenn facilitates high quality and equitable experiences for all learners via professional development, school visits, and the providing of necessary resources. Jenn started her career in education as an NYC Teaching Fellow and has since worked as a special education teacher, instructional coach, and school leader in both self-contained and co-taught classrooms in New York City district and charter schools. She has helped charter schools implement Universal Design for Learning, effective co-teaching, and Response to Intervention. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Pace University, an M.A.T. in Special Education from CUNY Queens College, and a Certificate of Advanced Study in School Building and District Leadership from the College of St. Rose.

Dylan White
Coordinator, Marketing and Communications

Dylan graduated from Drew University with a B.A. in English. His responsibilities include managing the Charter Center's social media and websites as well as assisting with media campaigns and communications. Prior to coming on board at the Charter Center, Dylan worked in the sports information office at Drew University and as an Editorial Intern at Men's Fitness magazine.

Luis Zuluaga
Senior Coordinator, Office Administration
Luis Zuluaga

Luis is responsible for managing the Charter Center’s front office support services, which include parent and school customer service, facility and tech administration, event coordination and departmental assistance. Luis has a background in graphic design, music, and worked for Details magazine for several years; before joining the Charter Center, he was the office manager for five years for the Robert Allen Group, a home furnishings design company.