Who We Are

Current Transcend Contractors

LIZ ARNEY

Liz comes to Transcend as an Education Consultant in the areas of innovation, school leadership, higher education, adult learning, change management, curriculum, pedagogy, school start-up, and education technology. With over 20 years of experience working in schools, Liz has designed, built, and managed cohort experiences and provided management assistance to support leaders of emerging charter networks and districts. She’s also led school transformation efforts using technology to personalize learning and both taught and coached secondary English. Liz wrote an early book on blended learning and is passionate about supporting teachers and school leaders on their journeys to create more equitable outcomes for students. Liz is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she enjoys going on new adventures with her family and dreaming up her next travel destination.

Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt works with school partners across Transcend’s national portfolio and supports the Learner-Centered Leadership Lab. She also serves on the board of the Mastery Transcript Consortium and is an instructor and mentor in the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education’s Education Entrepreneurship Program. Her mission is to create equitable access to innovation to enable all young people to thrive in a changing world.

Prior to Transcend, she served as Managing Partner of Innovation for the Boston Public Schools, where she developed and implemented innovation strategy for the nation’s oldest school district. Her work included fostering a district- and ecosystem-wide culture of innovation, empowering innovation networks, launching a secondary schools innovation incubator, school redesign and personalized learning pilots, new school/program models, and connecting BPS with national innovation communities in academia, education, and tech. She also founded of The Incubator School, which, during its four-year tenure, was one of the most diverse, high performing schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. A middle-high school focused on equity and entrepreneurship, The Incubator School model centered on real world impact projects—including launching startups in 8th grade—supported by blended and social emotional learning. Her work draws upon her 14 years’ teaching experience, including National Board certification, and 21 years’ parenting experience.

She received her B.A. in History from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. in Medieval History from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and was a Junior Fellow at the Society of Fellows at Harvard. She lives in Oakland, California.

MARK CONRAD

Mark Conrad is an independent educational consultant who collaborates with innovative nonprofits and philanthropies to redesign school in ways that support equitable outcomes and focus on transformative learning environments for all students. Mark provides strategic advising, design support, leadership coaching, and professional development experiences that leverage his 20+ years as a teacher, principal, and school network leader. Previously, Mark served as Chief Schools Officer for EL Education where he led EL’s school design/redesign teams and oversaw the growth and quality of the organization’s national network. Prior to joining EL Education, Mark designed, launched, and led The Crossroads School, a public charter school in Baltimore, Maryland where he served as principal from 2002 to 2007. Mark lives in Amherst, MA, is an Aspen-Pahara Fellow, and holds degrees in education from Miami University (OH) and the University of Colorado. 

LILLIAN DUNN

Lillian Dunn comes to Transcend as a Learning Engineer. With over a decade of experience supporting program evaluation and rapid learning cycles, Lillian is committed to data-informed practice. As a consultant, Lillian has supported Valor Collegiate Academies, the New York City DOE, and many others in designing and implementing short learning cycles to improve program implementation, particularly related to social emotional learning. Lillian has also worked with Springpoint and other school design teams to support schools in their own reflection for what is working and how they could better serve students. She lives in Hollywood, Maryland with her three beautiful babies (Alice, Barrow, and Josephine) and husband (Michael).

MITRA GRANT

Mitra began her career in San Franscico’s Mission District teaching high school where the majority of her students were ELL. After moving to New York, Mitra became the assistant principal of Bronx Academy of Letters, a new public high school, which was expanding to include grades 6-12. Mitra then joined iMentor as Managing Director of the NYC program, overseeing its partnerships with 25 high schools and its expansion to a national program. Since 2014, Mitra has been a school design and development consultant working with school leaders and districts across the country to create successful and innovative school models. 

AMANDA HAAS

Amanda comes to Transcend with a range of experience supporting school systems, leaders, and teachers to create transformational student outcomes. As the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Uncommon Schools Public Charter School in Camden, New Jersey, Amanda developed both math and literacy curriculum and coached teachers to use data to drive instructional decisions at the school and regional level. Amanda is passionate about developing school systems that serve ALL families and students and reflect a belief in every child’s ability to learn, grow, and thrive. Since starting her career as a Kindergarten teacher in New York City, Amanda prides herself on supporting key stakeholders at every level and aims to create extraordinary outcomes for students. When she’s not fighting for educational equity, Amanda is based in Salt Lake City where she loves to hike, run, and practice Spanish. 

JAIME LOCKWOOD

Jaime Lockwood joined Transcend as a consultant in September 2020 and provides operations and event support for multiple projects. Her professional background is varied – from teaching high school history at a Quaker school in Philadelphia to working in fundraising for youth development and food and nutrition non-profit organizations in both Pennsylvania and California. The thread connecting all of her work is a steadfast commitment to providing young people and struggling communities with the knowledge, resources, and access they need to not just survive, but thrive. Jaime holds a B.A. in Politics from Randolph College, an M.A. in Women’s History from Sarah Lawrence College, and an M.A. in Politics and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and son and enjoys walking, hiking, swimming and being outdoors as much as possible. She is an avid traveler and hopes to visit all corners of the world with her young son in tow.

Thomas Maffai

With over 15 years of experience in teaching, leading, and advocating in large urban school districts, Thomas supports Transcend’s work with communities seeking to redesign the teacher role and build more innovative staffing models. He brings a deep understanding of policy design and implementation across diverse district contexts. He grew up with two public school teachers as parents, and began his own education career as a bilingual high school teacher in Miami. At TNTP, he partnered with school districts across the country to lead projects focused on teacher effectiveness, human capital management, and the rollout of more rigorous academic standards. Thomas led talent strategy and diversity initiatives for Boston Public Schools, where his team transformed HR policies across 128 schools. He now coaches and supports parent-led organizations across the country to build organizing power and win policy campaigns, including a citywide literacy campaign and a campaign to give non-citizens the right to vote in school board elections. To drive the public narrative in support of this work, he has also written articles on desegregation, teacher diversity, the role of technology, and equity for English learners and authored large-scale policy and advocacy reports on school quality and special education.  

MELISSA MONACO PHILLIPS

Melissa is a seasoned coach to district and school leaders across the country in the areas of leadership development and school improvement. Melissa takes a shoulder-to-shoulder approach to engaging in design thinking, implementing distributed leadership, raising instructional quality, and promoting cultural responsiveness. Melissa is a dynamic facilitator and strategist who leads with infectious empathy, curiosity, creativity and humor. Melissa currently resides in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, where tacos and margaritas fuel her friendships and family fun. In true “lifelong learner” form, Melissa and her rescue dogs are learning the challenging sport of dog agility. She raves about her pups’ natural talents but describes her own progress as “enthusiastically failing forward.” 2020 update: Her favorite “Zoom shirt” is a royal blue knit v-neck with short sleeves.

KATE MEHR

Kate has led and grown organizations across the fields of education, social entrepreneurship, philanthropy and government. In education, she served as the Executive Director of KIPP Baltimore, Chief of Schools and Regional Vice President for Rocketship Education, and Vice President at Citizen Schools, tackling the nation’s education achievement gap. In social entrepreneurship and philanthropy, she was a leader at the international foundation Ashoka and at United Way of America. Finally, believing that true social change does not happen without government, Kate has worked at every level of government including serving as a White House Fellow, and launching President Clinton’s national service initiative as the founding Executive Director of the MA Commission on National Service. Kate holds a Bachelor of Arts from Amherst College and a Master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. 

MARIELLE NARCISA

Marielle is an independent consultant who collaborates with innovative organizations across the country who are focused on equity and creating systemic change within their industry. Marielle is a versatile partner with expertise in talent management, event planning, and fundraising. Previously, with City Year and Education Outside, she directed philanthropic events and mobilized thousands of volunteers to execute large-scale service days to revitalize schools in Chicago, New York City, and the Bay Area. Marielle is a Surge Institute Fellowship alum from the inaugural Oakland class and a Listen for a Change founding team member. When she’s not tasting street food in a different country, Marielle is based in California where she likes to kitesurf, practice a new language, and research ways to reduce her carbon footprint.

SHARON NEWMAN

Sharon has been enlivening the learning of children and adults for over 25 years by providing tools, training, and experiences that cultivate purpose, joy, and connection. As a leadership and instructional coach and formerly as the Director of Field Staff Development at EL Education, Sharon helps leaders and teachers attune to their values, fostering a passion for teaching, a commitment to creativity, and an unwavering belief in the capabilities of all children. Her passions include project-based curriculum design including the creation of high-quality work, participatory instructional practices, and systems to build inclusive classroom and school cultures. Sharon holds an M.Ed in Teaching and Learning from Harvard University and a B.A. in English from UC Berkeley. She currently shares a small organic farm in Northern Colorado with her mother, husband, children, and a collection of pets and farm animals.

MYRA PARKS BROOKS

Myra comes to Transcend as an independent consultant and leadership coach with 20 years of experience in education and a passion for continuous improvement, change management, equity, school reform/redesign, and leadership development. With EL Education, Myra served in a variety of roles, most recently managing a portfolio of school and district partnerships along the east coast, and leading EL’s school credential program. She has also been a school coach, helping leaders strategically plan how to transform or design schools. Myra is currently pursuing certification as an accredited coach through New Ventures West. Myra lives in Baltimore with her husband, three daughters, and new puppy. In her free time, she loves to go pop-up camping and spend time in nature.  

STEPHANIE THAI

Stephanie partners with schools and organizations across the country to improve social-emotional and early literacy practices. Currently based in Denver, Stephanie began her work in the education field teaching pre-K and kindergarten in Houston, Texas. She joined Teach For America’s national design team specializing in early childhood in 2007 and spent over a decade creating and delivering innovative content-focused programming and support for early childhood teachers and their coaches across the country. Stephanie founded POP Ed Consulting in 2018 to expand the impact of her years of experience observing, evaluating, and working to improve classrooms across the country; coaching designers to create powerful learning experiences; and applying the theory and practice of adult learning and motivation principles. Stephanie holds a B.A. in International Relations and an M.Ed. in Learning Design and Technology, both from the University of Southern California.

Transcend is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit that operates nationally.