Office of Teach For America’s Leadership and Co-CEOs
Matt Kramer first discovered Teach For America when his then-fiancé joined the 1998 corps in New York City. Matt tutored recent graduates of the middle school where she taught in math, and saw firsthand how much potential they had and how much work they needed to do to catch up. While working at McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm, he started doing pro-bono work for Teach For America and the New York City Department of Education. Soon after becoming a partner, in 2005 he took a sabbatical to serve as Teach For America's Chief Program Officer, overseeing recruitment, admissions, teacher preparation and support, and alumni affairs. In 2007, he finished the sabbatical and became Teach For America’s President, now with responsibility for the whole of Teach For America’s work, in partnership with CEO and Founder Wendy Kopp. In 2013, Matt was named co-CEO alongside Elisa Villanueva Beard, when Wendy Kopp became Teach For America’s board chair. In his nine years with Teach For America, Matt has met thousands of extraordinary people who have been drawn to this mission, and has remained steadfast in his belief that all children, regardless of race or socio-economic background, can succeed at the highest levels. Matt received a B.A. in economics from Harvard University and currently lives in the Twin Cities area with his wife, two daughters, and two dogs.
Elisa Villanueva Beard
Elisa Villanueva Beard’s passion for educational equity comes from personal experience. Elisa grew up in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and developed a deep commitment to Teach For America's mission as a student at DePauw University, where she was one of just a few Mexican-American students. Her journey with Teach For America started 15 years ago in Phoenix where she taught first and second grade bilingual education as a 1998 corps member. She joined Teach For America's staff in 2001 to lead the organization's work in her hometown in the position of executive director. Elisa was inspired to take on this role because she saw her community beginning to have a different conversation as a result of the work her corps members and alumni were doing. Four years later, she stepped into the role of chief operating officer, leading Teach For America’s field operations. In this role for the past eight years, Villanueva Beard has led Teach For America’s dramatic growth in our regions from 22 regions to 46. It is Teach For America’s regions where the organization’s program is put into practice and where 80 percent of its funding is raised.
In 2013, Elisa was named co-CEO of Teach For America alongside Matt Kramer. Under their leadership, Teach For America currently impacts more than 750,000 students in over 2,600 schools. Together they manage the leadership team, work with the board, and are held fully accountable for the organization’s success.
Elisa holds a B.A. in sociology from DePauw University. She lives with her husband Jeremy and their four sons in Houston, Texas.
Teach For America’s Leadership Team
Executive Vice President, Teacher Preparation, Support and Development
Susan Asiyanbi is responsible for ensuring corps members have the necessary training and ongoing program support to lead their students to success as highly effective teachers. After teaching fourth grade math and science in Newark as a 2001 corps member, Asiyanbi joined staff as a program director in 2003 supporting new corps members in our Newark region. She then served as managing director of the charter Philadelphia Institute and subsequently as the vice president of institutes before leaving to pursue her graduate degree. Prior to returning to Teach For America, Asiyanbi summered at Boston Consulting Group and joined Sears Holding Company as a senior leader associate reporting to the CEO on key strategic initiatives. Asiyanbi earned her B.A. from Williams College, received her M.A. in Education Administration & Supervision from St. Peters College, and obtained her M.B.A. from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management.
Executive Vice President, Regional Operations
Kwame Griffith serves as the Executive Vice President of Regional Operations where he leads the field operations across Teach For America’s 46 regions. A graduate of Cornell University, Kwame was a 2002 Houston corps member who led his fourth and fifth grade students to make significant academic gains. In 2004 he joined Teach For America’s summer institute staff as a corps member advisor and then became a recruitment director focusing on schools in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. After a successful stint as a recruiter, Kwame was promoted to oversee diversity outreach for Teach For America where he worked in conjunction with the Recruitment team to achieve a 26% increase in accepted African-American seniors and an almost 7% increase in acceptance rates for Latino seniors. For four years, Kwame served as the Executive Director of Teach For America’s Metro-Atlanta region, a role in which he worked diligently to develop and empower the leadership of over 500 corps members and more than 600 alumni in the Atlanta area as a force for short-term and long-term change. During his tenure, Kwame doubled Teach For American’s total corps from 200 to 400 teachers, and more than tripled its revenue from $2.5M to $8M per year. Kwame was promoted to serve as the Senior Vice President of Regional Operations in July of 2011, a position where he oversaw the Executive Directors in Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Chief Administrative Officer
Josh Griggs leads the teams responsible for all of the critical functions that comprise Teach For America’s infrastructure, including finance, administration, technology and legal affairs. The breadth of Griggs' experience producing results across a variety of functions at Teach For America positioned him well for this leadership role. In 2008, Griggs became the vice president of our Admissions team and managed the effort to review more than 40,000 applications to the corps each year. During his tenure on the Admissions team, he also oversaw two major changes to the admissions process—the move from two to four deadlines and the addition of an applicant phone interview. Griggs joined Teach For America’s staff in 2005 as a recruitment director and helped train incoming corps members as a corps member advisor at the Philadelphia institute. Griggs was a 2003 corps member and taught fourth grade in New York City. He earned a B.A. from Yale University and a master’s degree in teaching from Fordham University.
Executive Vice President, Regional Operations
Paul grew up in Derry, a city in the northwest corner of Ireland. Derry was the birthplace of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland, and the change Paul witnessed over the last three decades in his hometown fuels his conviction that education is one of the most powerful tools to fight social and economic injustice. As EVP of Regional Operations, Paul leads our efforts to build thriving regional movements that are working in deep partnership with local communities, to deliver on their visions for educational equity.
Paul originally came to Teach For America in 2010, as the Senior Vice President of Regional Operations, where he supported the Executive Directors in Colorado, Hawai‘i, Las Vegas, New Mexico, Phoenix, South Dakota, and Washington State. Prior to his work at Teach For America, Paul was a regional manager at Score! Educational Centers, and helped to grow InsideTrack, an organization that coached first-year college students to increase graduation rates across the United States. Paul holds a master’s degree in the economics of education from the University of London.
Executive Vice President for Recruitment & Admissions, and Growth, Development & Partnerships
Elissa Kim manages Teach For America’s Recruitment and Admissions teams, and recently assumed responsibility for overseeing our Growth, Development and Partnerships team. Since 1999, she has produced a 26% compound annual growth rate in applications. Last year, Elissa and her team attracted over 48,000 applicants—a record for Teach For America; out of those applicants, her team selected 5,800 corps members. In her expanded role, Elissa will apply her many years of experience and insight towards managing TFA's fundraising and development efforts. Elissa joined Teach For America's staff after teaching ninth and tenth grade English for three years as part of the 1996 Greater New Orleans corps. In August 2012, Elissa was elected to the Metro Nashville Public School's Board of Education, representing its 5th district. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she majored in history and religion and played varsity tennis.
Executive Vice President, Public Affairs and Engagement
From a newsroom to a public relations firm to a government watchdog, a federal agency and, now, Teach For America, Massie Ritsch has spent the last two decades communicating about and engaging the public in issues, causes, and campaigns that strengthen communities and our country.
Massie leads the team responsible for communications, marketing, research and evaluation, and strategic initiatives and partnerships. He joined TFA in January 2015 following five-and-a-half years at the U.S. Department of Education. There, as Acting Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach, he directed the team tasked with informing the public about the priorities, policies, and programs of the Department and President Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. He also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for External Affairs and Outreach, connecting Secretary Duncan and other ED staff with organizations of educators, students, parents, civil rights advocates, and business and civic leaders to keep them informed, collect input, and build support for the Department’s ambitious agenda.
Appointed by President Obama in April 2009, Massie joined the administration from the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), where he served as communications director for the nonpartisan watchdog group and its award-winning website, OpenSecrets.org. Before CRP, Massie served as vice president of Sugerman Communications Group, a public affairs firm in Los Angeles, where he represented a number of clients in the education sector. Massie began his career as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, covering local education issues, the 2000 presidential campaign, and L.A. City Hall.
Massie has appeared extensively in the media as a spokesperson and advocate, from CNN and NPR to “The Colbert Report.” He received his bachelor’s degree in politics from Princeton University. A native of Richmond, Virginia, he lives with his wife and two children in Washington, D.C.
Andrea Stouder Pursley
Executive Vice President of Alumni Affairs
Andrea Stouder Pursley leads Teach For America’s Alumni Affairs team towards maximizing the impact of over 32,000 Teach For America alumni across the country. Andrea and her team run national fellowships, awards, the One Day alumni magazine, The Collective (alumni of color association), and several major events including Teach For America’s upcoming 25th Anniversary Summit.
Andrea first joined Teach For America over a decade ago in 2002 as a 6th grade teacher in Phoenix, Arizona. During her three years of teaching, Andrea was inspired by the leadership and persistence of her students and humbled by the commitment of their parents. They continue to motivate her to work hard toward educational excellence and equity for all kids. From 2005-2008, Andrea served as the executive director of Teach For America’s Phoenix region and led her team through a period of extraordinary progress, doubling the corps size and increasing annual funding from $800,000 to more than $6 million. Over the subsequent two years, Andrea managed Teach For America executive directors across three states. In 2010, she launched the Sanford Education Project, an innovative collaboration between Arizona State University and Teach For America housed and run within the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Andrea graduated magna cum laude andPhi Beta Kappafrom Southern Methodist University where she was Division I swimmer, team captain, and a qualified for the 2000 Olympic Trials. Andrea lives in Phoenix with her husband Brian and their two young children.
Executive Vice President, Strategy, Innovation and Organizational Development
Prior to this role, Jeff served as EVP of Teacher Preparation, Support, and Development and Chief Learning Officer, where he and his team focused on the performance and leadership development of Teach For America’s corps members nationally. Wetzler joined Teach For America in 2005, after working at Monitor Group, an international consulting firm, where he developed and led client engagements to advise executives on a range of strategic, organizational, and leadership issues. While at Monitor, Wetzler also led new product development initiatives and managed global training in the area of interpersonal effectiveness. Wetzler currently serves as the vice chair and a founding board member of the Leadership Prep (Uncommon Schools) charter elementary schools in Brooklyn, NY; he also serves on the board of the New Classrooms Innovation Partners and the board of the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education (NAATE). He earned a doctorate in adult learning and leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University and a bachelor’s in psychology from Brown University. While at Brown, he cofounded Providence Science Outreach, a nonprofit organization that equips university students to use hands-on projects to get kids in under-resourced schools excited about science.
Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs; General Counsel
Tracy-Elizabeth Clay provides legal counsel, guidance, and strategic advice in support of Teach For America. She ensures legal and regulatory compliance while promoting Teach For America’s interests in matters related to contracts and general business law, real estate, litigation, employment and labor law, intellectual property, risk management, and insurance. Clay also serves as corporate secretary for Teach For America. Since joining the organization, she has held a variety of positions including director of state and local government affairs, and founding executive director of the Philadelphia region. In addition, Clay was the founding general counsel and corporate secretary for Teach For All, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization which provides technical assistance and support to social entrepreneurs in more than 20 countries who are applying the teacher-leadership development model pioneered by Teach For America to educational inequities that exist within their countries. Clay also serves as general counsel for Leadership for Educational Equity, a social welfare organization dedicated to fostering the public leadership of Teach For America. Tracy-Elizabeth Clay clerked for the Hon. Anne E. Thompson of the US District of New Jersey and is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School (magna cum laude).
Chief Diversity Officer
Dr. Irma McClaurin
Chief Diversity Officer
Dr. McClaurin believes “diversity matters” and strong leadership is the key. She brings over 30 years of experience to her role as TFA’s Chief Diversity Officer. Most recently, she was a senior faculty member at the Federal Executive Institute (FEI), founded in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson. At FEI, McClaurin provided leadership development instruction to hundreds of senior federal executives and coordinated the global leadership courses for the United States Agency for International Development. Previously and as a consultant, McClaurin serviced clientele that included the Office of the VP for Equity and Inclusion at the University of Oregon and the Minnesota African American Museum. Her past service experience includes president of Shaw University, shepherding it through hurricane recovery. She was the Founding Director of the Africana Women’s Studies Program at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, NC and the Founding Executive Director of the first Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center and Associate VP at the University of Minnesota. McClaurin was tenured in anthropology at the University of Florida and the University of Minnesota. Her deep commitment to educational equity derives from her own background as a first generation college graduate and product of Chicago Public Schools.
An award-winning author in anthropology and poetry, McClaurin earned the Ph.D. in anthropology and the M.F.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and has a bachelor’s in American Studies from Grinnell College. She serves on the boards of the Afro-Latin@ Project and the NYU Hip-Hop Education Center (honorary), and is a regular contributor to Insight News of Minneapolis as the Culture and Education Editor.
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Financial Officer
Prior to joining Teach For America, Miguel Rossy was responsible for leading the finance function and critical infrastructure growth initiatives in New York Life’s Investment Management unit. Rossy brings 16 years of financial and strategic management experience from the corporate world, including incremental leadership roles at Brinker International, where he provided business strategy and financial analysis support to the company’s fast-growing Mexican Division, and led Brinker’s company-wide strategic planning efforts. Most recently, he served as vice president and divisional CFO of Chili’s, Brinker’s leading brand with over 1,000 restaurants in 23 countries. Rossy earned his M.B.A. in 1995 from Columbia Business School.
Chief Information Officer
Chief Information Officer
Prior to joining Teach For America, Sandeep Chellani was responsible for strategic technology investments at the NYC Department of Education. He oversaw the creation and launch of an award-winning blended learning technology platform in partnership with over a dozen industry-leading education content and technology partners. Chellani also led many efforts that enabled data-driven decision making for NYC’s educators and leadership. He played a key role in helping the organization align its technology efforts with academic objectives, and oversaw the creation of a strategic product roadmap. Sandeep’s professional experience also includes roles in the private sector at both small organizations and large institutions, including Covance, MTV Networks, and Synacor Inc. Chellani earned his M.B.A. from NYU’s Stern School of Business, and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Systems from Rider University. He lives with his wife, a high school mathematics teacher, in Hoboken, NJ.
Chief Knowledge Officer
Chief Knowledge Officer
Steven Farr, author of Teaching As Leadership: The Highly Effective Teacher's Guide to Closing the Achievement Gap, leads Teach For America's efforts to discern what distinguishes teachers whose students in low-income communities achieve dramatic academic growth. He joined staff as vice president of training and support in 2001 and has managed the research and development of a number of Teach For America's training texts. He has contributed to the development of the Teaching As Leadership framework and rubric, as well as Teach For America's online resources built around those ideas. Farr taught high school English and English as a second language as a part of the 1993 Teach For America corps in the Rio Grande Valley. Farr is a graduate of the University of Texas's Plan II Honors program and Yale Law School.
Chief Marketing Officer
Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships
Grant Besser brings over twenty years of marketing and emerging market development experience to his current role as CMO where he leads our brand marketing and digital strategy efforts. In addition, Grant leads the team responsible for building partnerships across the broader coalition of individuals, organizations, and communities committed to ending educational inequity.
Grant joined Teach For America in 2007 as the founding member of our Emerging Markets team responsible for expanding TFA’s recruitment beyond its traditional campus based efforts. During his tenure as Vice President, Emerging Markets, the team he managed grew the share of corps members coming from the professional and graduate school sectors from 14% to 28%. In this capacity, Grant also helped diversify and broaden the base of colleges and universities at which we recruit. Graduates from over 800 institutions are represented in our 2013 corps of teachers.
Prior to Teach For America, Grant spent fifteen years within the media sector at Turner Broadcasting, Warner Bros. and Yahoo, primarily within brand marketing, international market development, and third party alliance development. Grant is an Emory University graduate who now lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife and three sons.
Chief People Officer
Chief People Officer
Kisha’s passion for education and justice is fueled by her own experience as a first-generation college student and her unflinching belief in the potential of all kids to learn, grow and thrive. Kisha leads the Human Assets team, which partners with national and regional teams to ensure Teach For America’s culture is centered in our mission and core values, that we can attract great talent, and that we foster the performance, engagement, and development of all staff members.
Kisha joined TFA in 2008 as the Vice President of Regional Alumni Affairs. While in this role, she led the team responsible for our regional alumni engagement initiatives, including increasing the number of alumni pursuing leadership roles in education, policy and advocacy. Kisha then became Vice President of Learning and Development, focusing on staff diversity and inclusiveness. Her work here led to the launch of the Staff Diversity Series, TFA’s first organization-wide D&I learning experience.
Before joining TFA, Kisha worked at the Corporate Executive Board where she led cross-functional teams in new-business development launches. Prior to CEB, Kisha had a stint with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, implementing a successful national strategy for increasing voter turnout among 18-30 year olds. She began her career at the Strategic Planning Institute in Durban, South Africa, where she helped build a capacity-building initiative to increase the presence of black South Africans in the maritime industry post-apartheid.
Kisha holds a B.A. in Urban Studies from Columbia University, and an M.S. in foreign service from Georgetown University. Kisha is married with three children and lives in Fort Washington, Maryland.