Joanna Smith

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At Transcend, Joanna plays a key role in building the Yellow Hats League, our team’s R&D talent force. Before joining Transcend, Joanna was a Research Assistant at the Harvard Education Redesign Lab and was the Family Engagement Coordinator at Excel Academy. She earned an ALB in Social Sciences from Harvard University Extension.

Lavada Berger

Lavada has devoted her career to the movement for educational excellence and equity. Her investment and interest in new school models was sparked during her time as a third grade teacher with UnCommon Schools in Newark, New Jersey and enhanced over the last few years. Prior to joining Transcend, she was the Chief of Staff on the Org-Wide Strategy team at Teach For America and the Deputy Director at the Right Question Institute. She started her career in management consulting focused on nonprofit organizational development and effectiveness. She holds an AB in Sociology from Harvard University and lives in her hometown of Newark, New Jersey.

Jenn Charlot

Jenn joins Transcend leading research and development. She is responsible for helping school designers apply pertinent science and best in-field practices to innovative school models. Over the last decade, Jenn has held several leadership positions. Most recently, she served as the director of implementation at Character Lab, where she partnered with educators and researchers to develop, test, and iterate on strategies that support character development. Jenn has also worked for New York City Public Schools Alternative School District 79. There, she spearheaded student support services, increased access to college and career services for over 4000 disconnected youth, and also designed and co-led a small school to reduce college remediation rates for high school students. Jenn has also worked for Turnaround for Children, Newark Public Schools, and co-founded a nonprofit in Haiti called Konbit Pou Edikasyon. She has taught at Columbia School of Social Work and Harvard Graduate School of Education.  Jenn holds a Doctorate in Education Leadership from Harvard's Graduate School of Education, a Masters of Science in Social Administration from Columbia and a B.A. from Boston College. She loves Bikram Yoga and is excited about starting a Haitian Creole children’s book series to support bilingual literacy development in the Haitian community.



Brittany Erickson

Brittany joined Transcend to partner with school and system leaders to imagine and build innovative learning environments. Previously, she worked at Denver Public Schools where she launched and ran an incubator for principals engaged in innovative and community-based school redesign efforts. In that role, Brittany partnered with other district leaders to build an eco-system that is supportive of holistic and sustaining student outcomes. Her work was informed by prior experiences in and outside of education. She worked previously as the Director of 21st Century Learning at Teach For America, as a Management Consultant at Oliver Wyman, and she began her career as a 6th grade English teacher in San Francisco, CA. Brittany has been on the front lines of numerous school design and redesign projects, including as the lead designer and researcher for The New School of San Francisco – an inquiry-based elementary school that opened in Fall 2015 in partnership with the Exploratorium Museum. Brittany holds a doctorate degree in Education Leadership from Harvard University, and Masters and Bachelors degrees from the University of Pennsylvania where she studied Public Policy and Music.


Ryan Hall

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Ryan is an experienced school-based leader and classroom teacher. Most recently, he was the Director of Operations and Co-Leader of Williamsburg Collegiate Charter School, part of the Uncommon Schools network and one of the highest-performing middle schools in NYC.  Before serving as a school leader, Ryan taught 8th grade mathematics, first as a 2007 TFA Corps Member in NYC and then with Uncommon Schools.  In 2012, he was a finalist for TNTP's Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice.  Ryan has a Masters in Teaching from Pace University and a Bachelors in Economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he worked as a researcher for Jim Collins, a leading business thinker and author of Good to Great.  Ryan lives with his wife in Madison, Wisconsin and enjoys soccer, fly fishing, and volunteering with youth development programs.

Jemina Bernard

Board Member
Executive Director of Young Women’s Leadership Network

Trevor Brown

Board Member

Partner, Personalized Learning Initiative

 New Profit

Christy Remey Chin

Board Member
Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation

Vanessa Rodriguez

Board Member
Chief of Talent and Leadership
Citizens of the World

Emily Rummo


Emily leads finance, operations, and development for the Transcend team. Prior to joining Transcend, Emily was the founding Chief Operating Officer at KIPP Bay Area Schools and served in the role from 2008 - 2014. As COO, Emily oversaw finance, human resources, talent recruitment, real estate, technology, operations, and the KIPP Through College alumni program for the 11 school charter network, serving over 2,100 students. Emily now serves on the KIPP Bay Area Schools' Board.  Emily began her career in management consulting, and spent two years on the venture team with NewSchools Venture Fund (2004-2006). She holds a BA in English from Dartmouth College, and an MBA and Masters in Education from Stanford. Emily lives in San Francisco with her husband and two young sons.

Bror Saxberg

Board Member
Chief Learning Officer for Kaplan

Rob Strain

Rob joined Transcend to work with leaders across the country to imagine and realize new, innovative models.  His conviction in the power of education was fortified as a first grade teacher in San Francisco Unified School District. He spent the six years prior to joining Transcend on Teach For America's Bay Area team in a variety of roles: He began as an instructional coach supporting elementary, bilingual, and early childhood educators. He was the founding lead of the San Francisco community team, charged with  building a team to connect and mobilize the 800+ TFA alumni base in the city.  Most recently, Rob served as the Chief Program Officer where he worked alongside his team to redesign the leadership development program to better support teachers and principals in forging next generation learning environments. He holds a degree in Political Science and Hispanic Studies from University of Pennsylvania. Rob continues to live and work in San Francisco, where you can find him taking advantage of the city's beaches, running trails, and restaurants. 

Tyler Thigpen


Tyler S. Thigpen has worked in innovative district, private, and charter schools in Georgia. Tyler is the former head of the upper school at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School in Atlanta, a co-founder and board member of Chattahoochee Hills Charter School in southwest Atlanta, and a former Spanish teacher in the Gwinnett County, Ga., public schools. Earlier, Tyler worked as minister at a local Atlanta church and led international development in Peru in areas of healthcare, education, poverty reduction, infrastructure, and human rights. Tyler holds a Doctoral degree in Education Leadership from Harvard Graduate School of Education, a Master of Public Administration from Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a Master of Theological Studies from Regent College of the University of British Columbia. Tyler lives with his wife and four children in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia, and enjoys playing pickleball and coaching his kids’ sports teams.

Diane Tavenner

Board Member
CEO of Summit Public Schools

Sara Vaz

Sara left a previous career in oil and gas procurement to explore the world of non-profit work at Transcend.  She is constantly delighted and amazed at the work her team does and the passion they do it with.  Sara handles team logistics and anything else that is sent her way.  Sara has a BA in Rhetoric from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.  These days, she calls Houston, Texas home.  She spends her time practicing her crane pose, digging in the garden and trying to convince her child to go to sleep.

Stacey Wang

Prior to joining Transcend, Stacey Wang served as the Advisor of the Superintendent and Director of Personalized Learning for Oakland Unified School District where she collaborated with system leaders, school leaders, teachers, parents, students, and the broader community to transform schools from traditional models to personalized learning schools impacting over 7,000 students. Before that, Stacey worked at Monitor Deloitte in the strategy practice where she helped Fortune 100 companies and education nonprofits design strategies for large scale organizational change. As part of her work in innovation, she ran a team at the Center for the Edge developing pragmatic frameworks for systemic innovation  (more about the work can be found at DU Press).

Stacey's interest in education sparked over a decade ago when she helped a San Francisco school in the Tenderloin develop a ten-year growth strategy. From there, Stacey joined the Board of Trustees for Leadership High School, a high-achieving public school and became an Education Pioneer fellow developing quality community pilot schools for Oakland Unified. Stacey pursued an MBA at Columbia Business School with a focus on social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management and has an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business. Most recently, Stacey completed the Broad Residency and received her Masters in Education Leadership. Stacey has consulted numerous education organizations such as Education Pioneers, SF Ed Fund, and the NYC DOE. She was also a runner up at SF Start Up Weekend 2013: Next Gen Schools. 

Stacey lives in the Bay Area with her partner who constantly inspires her to increase innovation and optimism in education. 

Jenee Henry Wood

Jenee joins Transcend leading work in organizational strategic clarity and internal operational effectiveness. Prior to joining Transcend, she was the Vice President of Knowledge at Teach For America, where she oversaw a variety of programmatic functions from content and pedagogy, to leadership development, to knowledge management and learning teams. Before leading the national knowledge team, she served as the Chief of Staff to the Chief Knowledge Officer and led organizational learning and alignment around the evolution of the Teaching As Leadership framework. She was a teacher in Atlanta Public Schools, where she worked with middle school aged students with learning differences and special needs. In 2011, she was awarded the Sue Lehmann Award for Excellence in Teaching. Jenee began her work in nonprofits at Oxfam Great Britain, an international development charity fighting global poverty. There, she worked in strategy and online communications, advising and developing early social media strategies for engaging youth in issues of poverty, inequality and climate change. She studied Economics and Russian at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY and Wadham College, Oxford University. While living in the United Kingdom, she also served as a cellist in the Oxford University Orchestra and is a life member of the Oxford Union debating society. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut.