Advisory Board


Peter Bencivenga, Advisory Board Member

Peter Bencivenga has been with CaseNEX, LLC since 2009 and currently serves as the President and Chief Operating Officer. Peter co-founded DataCation (now a division of CaseNEX), which has taken NYC public schools by storm. Mr. Bencivenga has been instrumental in integrating technology and web data tools across the New York City Department of Education, where he served as a Technology Teacher and Coordinator for over 16 years.

Neil Braun, Advisory Board Member

Neil Braun is the Dean of Pace University’s Lubin School of Business. Previously, Mr. Braun held the position of Chief Executive Officer of The Carbon Neutral Company and Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of The GreenLife Organization. Mr. Braun also sits on the Share our Strength and Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center Boards of Directors.

David Coleman, Advisory Board Member

David Coleman is the ninth president of the College Board and has been described as the “architect” of the Common Core. He was recognized as one of Time magazine’s “11 Educational Activists for 2011” and one of the NewSchools Venture Fund Change Agents of the Year for 2012. He received a Rhodes Scholarship and studied English literature at Oxford University and classical philosophy at Cambridge University. He attended Yale University and public schools in New York City.

David Ciulla, Advisory Board Member

David Ciulla is the co-founder of the nonprofit ReadWorks, improving teacher effectiveness and student achievement in reading comprehension, based on cognitive science research. Prior to ReadWorks, David co-founded Sports Basement, a successful San Francisco-based retail company; was a consultant advising U.S. and international business clients; and was an analyst with Chemical Bank in New York City. As a classroom teacher for five years, David taught middle school ELA, math, and science, and coached basketball and baseball. David has also led development projects in the Navajo Nation and the Amazon region of Brazil. He received a B.A. from Stanford University and an M.A.from The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

Deirdre DeAngelis, Advisory Board Member

Ms. DeAngelis has been the principal of New Dorp High School in Staten Island, NY since 1999. No stranger to successful reform, she brought Telecommunications High School in Brooklyn, NY into the public eye when, as assistant principal of special education, she spearheaded a successful improvement for special education students. Since 2005, she has led dramatic transformation of New Dorp through both structural and instructional innovations, including: restructuring into smaller learning communities; implementing strategic inquiry throughout the building; and implementing the Hochman Method of writing instruction across the content areas. Between 2005 and 2011, New Dorp’s graduation rates have risen from 54% to 79%, and they are still rising. The improvements at New Dorp have been recognized both nationally and internationally.

Dr. Esther Klein Friedman, Advisory Board Member

Dr. Esther Klein Friedman has served New York City students since the mid 1970s as a teacher of special education and reading in elementary, middle and high schools; staff development trainer for Manhattan Region; principal in District Two; director of literacy and social studies in District Six; regional director of academic intervention services and local instructional superintendent in Region Ten; director of secondary school reform, director of academic intervention services K-12, director of a Supplemental Educational Services program internal to the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) central office; interim superintendent in District 3; and currently as executive director of literacy and academic intervention services at NYCDOE central office. She completed her undergraduate degree at Queens College and received Masters and Ph.D. degrees from New York University. Her doctoral work focused on reading acquisition in struggling students. Esther’s professional interests include exploration into the challenges of and solutions for supporting achievement of students in urban schools, particularly in the area of literacy. Esther believes deeply in the transformative power of the Hochman Method.

Doug Lemov, Advisory Board Member

Doug Lemov is the Managing Director of Uncommon Schools’ Teach Like a Champion team. He is the author of the international bestseller Teach Like a Champion, a study of high performing urban teachers to make their methods concrete and replicable. It has sold nearly 1,000,000 copies and been translated into eight languages. Doug is also the author of the revised and upgraded Teach Like a Champion 2.0, Practice Perfect (co-written with Uncommon colleagues Erica Woolway and Katie Yezzi) and Reading Reconsidered: Rigorous Literacy Instruction in the Common Core Era (co-written with Uncommon colleagues Erica Woolway and Colleen Driggs). Prior to his work at Uncommon Schools, Doug was the Vice President for Accountability at the State University of New York’s Charter Schools Institute and a founder and principal of the Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter School in Boston. He has a B.A. from Hamilton College, an M.A. from Indiana University, and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Jillian Neubauer, Advisory Board Member

Jillian Neubauer is a former business executive with extensive experience as a general manager and in strategic planning and new business development. Most recently, Jillian served as Director of Finance and Operations for the University Alliance for Life-Long Learning, an online learning venture of Princeton, Yale, Oxford, and Stanford Universities. Prior to that she held a number of positions with The Walt Disney Company, ultimately rising to Vice President and General Manager for ABC.com, Oprah.com, Oscar.com, and Disney’s Family.com. Prior to Disney, Jillian worked at Bain & Company as a strategy consultant. Jillian serves on the Board of Directors of The Stephen Gaynor School and the Children’s Museum of the Arts, as well as the Children’s Board of the Columbia University Medical Center. Jillian received an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School with second year honors and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Operations Research, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Princeton University. Jillian and her husband, Larry, live in New York City with their three daughters.

Dr. John J. Russell, Ed D., Advisory Board Member

Dr. John J. Russell is the Head of Windward School in White Plains, New York. Windward is a school that serves the needs of students with language-based learning disabilities. Over the past three decades, Jay held leadership and teaching positions in school districts in Westchester County, New York and Fairfield County, Connecticut. Prior to his work at Windward, he served for 11 years as Superintendent of Schools in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. Jay earned his doctoral degree in Educational Administration at Fordham University and an M.B.A. from the University of Connecticut. He also has a Master’s degree in Oceanography from New York University and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Administration from Fairfield University. Dr. Russell received his Bachelor of Science degree from Manhattan College where he majored in Biology. His research interests include language-based learning disabilities, direct instruction, and organizational theory.

Shalinee Sharma, Advisory Board Member

Shalinee is the Executive Director of Zearn, a K – 8 digital learning endeavor that aims to create universal access to an excellent education through online, interactive lessons. Before co-founding Zearn, Shalinee was a Principal in Bain & Company’s New York office, working primarily in Consumer Products and Financial Services. At Bain, Shalinee led Bain New York’s pro bono efforts, working on strategies for Teach for America, KIPP NYC and Uncommon Schools. She has taken a few sabbaticals to work in the nonprofit sector at The Bridgespan Group, City Year, and the Atlantic Philanthropies. Shalinee graduated from Brown University with B.A. in History and has a M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Megan Young Wiese, Advisory Board Member

Megan Young Wiese graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University, where she trained to teach in the public school system. Upon graduation, Megan worked as a teacher in the People’s Republic of China while residing in Hangzhou. Megan’s corporate experience includes working as a Vice President of Marketing at The O’Connor Group, an independent investment firm, and as a Senior Vice President at ERE Yarmouth. Currently, Megan is active on a variety of trustee and advisory boards, including those of Amazon Watch, Essex Farm Institute, Human Rights In China, Reading Reform Foundation, Stephen Gaynor School and The Writing Revolution. She resides in New York City with her husband and their three children.