CNCS Board of Directors 2016-2017
Kuana "Nikki" Burriss
Interim President and Director of Inclusion and Accountability Committee
Kuana Holley-Burris is originally from Northern Virginia. Despite being in the Baltimore area for almost 20 years, she still considers herself a Virginia girl stuck in a Maryland world. Kuana and her family have been a part of the City Neighbors community since Opening Day. Her eldest child was a part of the very first CNCS graduating class! She currently has one child attending City Neighbors Charter School. Previously, Kuana has served on the Board as the Director of Accountability. Always excited to serve City Neighbors, Mrs. Holley-Burris is currently the Vice President of the Board, and the Director of Diversity and Inclusion. Kuana is a proud alumni of Baltimore City Community College and Morgan State University. Kuana, her husband, Ben, and their 3 children reside in the Waltherson neighborhood.
Director of Accountability
Eleanore Simi has a background in political science and social work and has worked for more than 15 years as a clinical social worker. Originally from California, Ms. Simi attended the University of Maryland School of Social Work and has worked the majority of her social work career for Kennedy Krieger School Programs. Ms. Simi has worked as a school based social worker, supervisor, clinical director and is currently working part-time as a supervisor. As a social worker, Ms. Simi has a tremendous amount of experience working with students with special needs. Ms. Simi is also a proud volunteer at Make Studio, an art studio in Baltimore City for individuals with disabilities. Ms. Simi comes from a family of teachers (and is married to one, too!) and is proud to have her daughter enrolled at City Neighbors Charter School.
Treasurer/ Director of the Finance Committee
Jenifer Agnes has owned and run a small business with her husband for the last 13 years. She is currently enrolled at the University of Baltimore pursuing a degree in Business Administration with a specialty in Human Resource Management. Jenifer has 3 children and has been an active parent at City Neighbors for 6 years.
Secretary and Director of the Communication Committee
Gemma Bridges-Lyman has over 10 years of experience in publishing, communications, and project management, in both the private and public sector. She is a graduate of Loyola University and is proud to have called Baltimore home for most of her adult life. She is the parent of a third grader and a Kindergardener at City Neighbors, and is married to a Baltimore City Special Education teacher.
Director of Building Committee
Director of Community Relations Committee
Elizabeth Sterner, a traveller at heart. She has made roots in Baltimore and receives great joy out of watching the city grow and blossom. Charm city is a great place to grow up! She joined the CNCS family in 2014 when her daughter entered kindergarten. Currently, she is on the adjunct faculty at Howard Community College teaching adult sewing classes. She has a background in the city arts scene having worked for Baltimore School for the Arts, music studio Clean Cuts Music in Hamden, and showing her work in local art shows. She is dedicated to CNCS growing in their community in the school and out in the city. Along with heading up the Community Relations Committee, she often runs an after school club. She lives with her husband and two children in Glenham-Belhar.
Director of Fundraising Committee
Brittany Karmasek is a CNCS parent of two current students and one eventual student. She has a background in Business Management and Advertising and has served on the fundraising committee for the past two years. She resides in the Hamilton-Lauraville area with her husband and three children.
Director of the Classroom Parent Committee
Jessica Kohnen has been working in the non-profit sector for nearly two decades, with a consistent focus on improving the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. Jessica has led two non-profit organizations, Evergreen Health Care and Playworks Baltimore, in the role of Executive Director, and has held a number of other roles in various nonprofits, including Baltimore’s Safe and Sound Campaign, the Family League of Baltimore, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Jessica has a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from Vassar College, and a Master of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. Jessica’s son, Patrick, is a 7th grader at City Neighbors Charter School – the 2016-17 school year is his 6th year at the school. Jessica serves on the board of CNCS as the Director of the Classroom Parent Committee and also serves on the fundraising committee. She also actively participates in volunteer fundraising each year via a 140-mile weekend bike ride for Moveable Feast. Jessica lives with her family in Oakenshawe.
Vicky Yasuoka-Almon has a B.S. in Visual Arts with an emphasis in film/video from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a Master's of Arts in Teaching from the University of Southern California. She taught kindergarten in the Los Angeles Unified School District and in a charter school in Brooklyn, New York. While in Brooklyn, she spent two years as kindergarten grade level chair and developed a humanities curriculum which combined reading, writing, and social studies. She is excited to be teaching at Ct.ity Neighbors, where there is such a promotion of the arts, project based learning, and family involvemen
Student Council President
Kate Seidl has been a progressive educator for more than 25 years and will continue in that tradition as principal. Kate arrived at City Neighbors in 2006, hired by the founding teachers as the Reading Specialist and Librarian. In the decade that followed, she collaborated with all staff to foster excellent teaching and learning of reading and writing and also served on dozens of committees as parent and teacher, helping to co-create the City Neighbors Charter School model as it stands today. Kate has a BA from Brown University and Master's degree from Bank Street College of Education. She is a certified special educator and is enrolled at Johns Hopkins University for coursework in School Administration and Supervision.
Executive Director, City Neighbors Foundation
The City Neighbors Foundation supports and operates 3 public charter schools: City Neighbors Charter School (2005), City Neighbors Hamilton (2009) and City Neighbors High School (2010). At City Neighbors schools, students, teachers and parents learn through project based learning, use the arts to teach, and create together schools where every student is “Known, Loved, and Inspired.” The City Neighbors Foundation seeks to disseminate best practices and provide forums that allow urban educators to redefine public education. How do we do this work? With joy. With a vision of children as capable, loving and creative.
Mrs. Macdonald serves on the Board of Directors of Hamilton Bank and is a founding member of the Coalition for Baltimore Charter Schools and the Baltimore Education Coalition. She lives in Baltimore City with her husband and three children. She received her Bachelor's Degree from the University of Illinois in Human Development and Family Ecology, and holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, in Curriculum and Instruction. A lifelong advocate for grassroots organizing for building strong communities, Ms. Macdonald was recently selected by the Annie E. Casey Foundation as one of 16 leaders from across the country for the 2013-2014 Children and Family Fellowship.
Academic Director, City Neighbors Foundation
Mr. Chalupa serves as the Academic Director of all three City Neighbors Schools. Recently he served as the school leader of City Neighbors Charter School for eight years where he served to create an environment rooted in the vision and mission. Mike’s work included educational leadership, staff evaluation, hiring, curriculum development, facilitating collaboration, solidifying administrative and policy structures, and serving as the primary liaison with central bureaucracy. Prior to serving as the Principal of City Neighbors Charter School and Academic Director for the City Neighbors Foundation Mr. Chalupa served as the Executive Director of the GreenMount School from 2000 – 2005 and Dean of Students for St. John’s Episcopal school from 1996 – 2000. Mr. Chalupa has also served as a classroom instructor and program coordinator. Mr. Chalupa has earned his MA of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and his BA of Arts in English and History from Georgetown University graduating magna cum laude. He is also the parent of three children.
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