Our Education Partnerships team is dedicated to building long-lasting, supportive, and engaged partnerships with educators and those who work with us to make our mission a reality. With 40 years of expertise in the fields of education and child advocacy, we’ve developed a team of passionate professionals who truly understand the challenges faced by schools and districts. We’re committed to working with our clients by providing high-quality, research-based programs and ongoing support that promote our vision of safe children thriving in a peaceful world. Join our growing team! Visit our Careers page to learn about our current openings. Jessica Russom Director of Education Partnerships Read Bio × Jessica Russom Director of Education Partnerships Jessica Russom joins Committee for Children as director of education partnerships with years of leadership experience in education tech sales and software as a service. As former senior sales director at Lexia Learning and Mentoring Minds in Texas, she has experience building sales teams, developing strategy, and increasing revenue in a rapidly growing, competitive education market. In her current role, Jessica will help Committee for Children expand its geographical and institutional reach as a leading provider of social-emotional learning (SEL) curricula. She was drawn to Committee for Children because she knows SEL is key to kids’ success in school and life, and she is dedicated to supporting educators’ efforts to foster holistic and consistent SEL instruction. Jessica says her own SEL superpower is responsible decision-making. A data-driven leader, she closely monitors the impact of her sales team and Second Step® programs on districts and schools. Outside of her role with Committee for Children, Jessica enjoys reading, traveling, and being a foodie. She’s thrilled to help the organization grow its partnerships across the country. Kyra Rhoads Regional Manager, Education Partnerships Read Bio × Kyra Rhoads Regional Manager, Education Partnerships As Regional Manager, Education Partnerships, Kyra Rhoads leads the team responsible for Committee for Children’s sales, strategic planning, and partnership development across the Gulf Coast and Southeast regions. She also promotes awareness of social-emotional learning (SEL) at the state level and helps educators and community leaders learn more about our Second Step® family of SEL programs. “We have the most amazing clients,” Kyra says. “It’s beyond rewarding to support educators’ efforts to create systemic and meaningful change in their school communities.” Kyra has a background in nonprofit management and youth advocacy, as well as more than 20 years of experience in sports leadership. In 2017 she joined Committee for Children as an education account manager because she was excited by the mission and wanted to contribute to the greater good. She felt the role aligned with her values and allowed her to leverage her experience as a mother who is active in the classroom education of her children to support other parents and educators and create spaces for students to learn, grow, and thrive. Kyra says her SEL superpower is teamwork and collaboration. Her experiences with organizational management and athletics have taught her the power of creating opportunities for everyone to succeed—a skill she applies to her partnership with educational leaders. “When you work with districts, you become a part of that team,” Kyra says. “Seeing districts transform their environments by embedding the social-emotional practices that children need to flourish is an amazing experience to be a part of. An experience where everyone wins.” Kyra has a BS in business and economics from George Fox University and is currently pursuing an MS in organizational change leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. She also holds a change management certificate from Cornell University. Chad Ragland Regional Manager, Education Partnerships Read Bio × Chad Ragland Regional Manager, Education Partnerships Chad K. Ragland brings nearly 20 years of experience in education sales and sales leadership to his role as regional manager of education partnerships for Committee for Children. Chad discovered a passion for social-emotional learning (SEL) in a previous role and uses his experience in the field to build and maintain relationships with existing and new school partners in Florida. “I’m so excited to contribute to the important work we do to foster the safety and well-being of children through social-emotional learning,” Chad says. His enthusiasm and knack for building positive relationships—which he considers his SEL superpower—serve him well in his relationship-driven work for Committee for Children. Chad lives in Central Florida with his husband and their two dogs, Bella and Rupert. Outside of work, he enjoys gardening, musical theater, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. Prashansa Banepali Education Account Manager Read Bio × Prashansa Banepali Education Account Manager Prashansa is the education account manager for the Northeast territory of the United States. As part of the Education Partnerships Team, she provides guidance, resources, and strategies to schools and districts implementing our Second Step® family of social-emotional learning (SEL) programs. A former educator, Prashansa joined Committee for Children in May 2022. She was drawn to the organization’s mission of empowering children everywhere with SEL. “I didn’t have access to SEL growing up, and I feel grateful for the opportunity to provide children around the globe with quality resources that will help them prepare for the real world,” she says. Prashansa believes her SEL superpower is relationship-building. “Communicating with empathy was very important throughout my experience teaching and tutoring, and remains important in my current role,” she says. “I use those skills every day when connecting with principals and district leaders.” In her spare time, Prashansa enjoys meditating, long hikes, working out, and bonding with friends and family. Kelly Brazell Senior Education Account Manager Read Bio × Kelly Brazell Senior Education Account Manager Working as a drug and alcohol prevention specialist strengthened Kelly Brazell’s passion for supporting the well-being of children. “I care deeply that every child has the skills to attain long-term success,” she says, “so I was very excited to find an organization like Committee for Children that takes active steps to positively impact the lives of children everywhere.” As an education account manager for the western US, Kelly provides program guidance, resources, strategies, and support to schools and districts implementing the Second Step® family of social-emotional learning (SEL) programs. With a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Biola University, Kelly considers goal-setting her SEL superpower. “I love setting personal and professional goals for myself,” she says. “I have a very proactive approach to life that has allowed me to have many incredible experiences, both in my personal life and in my role at Committee for Children.” Adam Campbell Senior Education Partnerships Manager Read Bio × Adam Campbell Senior Education Partnerships Manager A former teacher, Adam Campbell has been a longtime advocate of social-emotional learning (SEL) and a believer in its positive impact on long-term outcomes for students. He sees SEL as an essential early intervention for children and a foundation on which positive classroom, school, and community culture is built. As a senior education partnerships manager, Adam works with school districts in the central US to implement the Second Step® family of SEL programs. Adam has a bachelor’s degree in international business from Washington State University, a teaching certification from the University of Michigan, and a master’s degree in public administration from Seattle University. He considers his SEL superpower to be social awareness, and strives to recognize the feelings and needs of those around him. “I’m practicing a lifelong growth mindset in developing my appreciation for diversity and for how my personal identity impacts my worldview,” he says. Harriet Dempsey Proposal Specialist Read Bio × Harriet Dempsey Proposal Specialist Harriet Dempsey is a proposal specialist for the Education Partnerships team. She supports Committee for Children’s request for proposal (RFP) submission process and assists with other program compliance and document needs, including purchasing requests. She has more than 15 years of experience working as a lawyer and in a variety of educator roles in New Zealand, Germany, Australia, and the US. Harriet believes it’s her international perspective and expertise that help her form authentic relationships with prospective clients and foster collaboration across departments. She says, “It’s about building connections and trust. Whether it’s in cross-functional meetings or solving a district’s compliance issue, I value every connection I make.” Harriet joined Committee for Children in June 2022 and says the mission is what drew her in, explaining, “CFC is truly a mission-led organization that walks the talk. I feel fortunate that I get to do meaningful work and learn and grow at the same time.” Harriet says building positive relationships is her SEL superpower, a skill that aids her in both her personal and professional life. In Harriet’s spare time, she enjoys reading, gardening, and playing with her children. Casey Escola Education Partnerships Manager Read Bio × Casey Escola Education Partnerships Manager When Casey Escola was working on her master’s thesis, she wrote about the importance of teaching empathy at critical stages of childhood—and referenced Committee for Children’s work in her research. Soon thereafter, she joined Committee for Children and now serves as an education partnerships manager for school districts in the Mountain Plains region. Prior to joining Committee for Children, Casey worked for several nonprofit organizations and volunteered for the Peace Corps in Northern Benin. Among her undertakings, she developed educational materials for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, helped fundraise for the World Literacy Foundation, and worked as a research assistant for the Literacy Lab at New York University. Casey is highly skilled in community engagement, policy analysis, and positive communication, but she believes her SEL superpower is empathy. “I love hearing other people’s perspectives and stories and imagining life through their lens, which enables me to help others feel seen, appreciated, and understood,” she says. Casey earned her bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Washington and her master’s degree in sociology of education from New York University. Joany Higgins Senior Education Partnerships Manager Read Bio × Joany Higgins Senior Education Partnerships Manager Working with nonprofit organizations that serve youth and families deepened Joany Higgins’s passion for making a lasting difference in the lives of students. At Committee for Children, she supports school districts across 15 states in the Mountain Plains region as they implement Second Step, our social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum. “I believe deeply in the power of social-emotional learning to transform schools, communities, and students,” she says. “Each day, I am inspired by my colleagues and our clients who make our mission a reality and help us move closer to a vision of ‘safe children thriving in a peaceful world.’” Joany has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Saint Michael’s College and a master’s degree in public administration from Villanova University. Joany considers her SEL superpower to be teamwork, and she enjoys helping others feel empowered to combine their skills, talents, and passions toward a common purpose. Lindsey Mascarenas Education Partnerships Manager Read Bio × Lindsey Mascarenas Education Partnerships Manager Lindsey Mascarenas is education partnership manager overseeing the West Coast region of the US. She supports district leaders in their implementation of Second Step® programs across the West Coast. As an ambassador for Committee for Children, Lindsey builds relationships with prospective clients and ensures that every district and administrative leader she works with has a deep understanding of social-emotional learning and the programs available to support them in reaching their educational goals. Lindsey is passionate about providing equitable access to education and equal opportunities for every child. She brings more than eight years of experience in the education space supporting districts of all demographics, enrollment sizes, and backgrounds. Joining Committee for Children in August 2022, Lindsey says it was the powerful mission that drew her in. The opportunity to collaborate and build positive relationships internally and externally is what inspired her to join. “My greatest passion is serving the underserved, especially those facing socioeconomic challenges. You never know what someone is going through or has gone through. Every day, I try to communicate compassionately and to listen and lead with an empathetic heart.” Lindsey’s SEL superpower is perspective-taking, a core value she integrates into all parts of her life. In her spare time, Lindsey enjoys live music, film, traveling, and camping in the great outdoors. Bridgette Melton Client Development Representative Read Bio × Bridgette Melton Client Development Representative Bridgette is a client development representative for the Southern region of the United States. As part of the Education Partnerships department, Bridgette supports school and district leaders in their implementation of Second Step® programs. As a former PreK and Kindergarten teacher, Bridgette has always been passionate about education, and as she completed her master’s degree, social-emotional learning (SEL) became an inspiration. This led her to search for an organization focused on SEL where she could use her relationship-building skills and unique perspectives as both a teacher and a student. “I try to live my life in such a way that I create a positive impact wherever I go,” Bridgette says. “I knew that, to make the biggest impact possible, I needed to join an organization with likeminded people, and Committee for Children fit the bill.” Bridgette joined Committee for Children in May 2022. She says her SEL superpower is respect for others, a strength she draws on in her personal and professional life when connecting with clients. “Respecting others and accepting them where they are in their life journey helps me develop genuine relationships with people,” Bridgette says. “This gives me the opportunity to help them see their own value and worth.” In her spare time, Bridgette enjoys traveling, walks on the beach, a home-cooked meal, and enjoying time with her family. She is also the founder of a nonprofit that works with Syrian refugees in Greece. Tyler Morrison Education Partnerships Manager Read Bio × Tyler Morrison Education Partnerships Manager Before joining the Education Partnerships Team with Committee for Children, Tyler Morrison spent five years teaching high school science in the Denver metropolitan area. “I have a passion for helping students succeed, and I understand the important role that social-emotional learning plays in achieving that goal,” he says. “I joined Committee for Children because I wanted to support students in a more systematic way. I’m excited to contribute to this mission.” As Education Account Manager for the Gulf Coast Territory, Tyler engages with district leaders to support their Second Step® implementations and social-emotional learning (SEL) priorities. He proactively provides a variety of resources that leaders can use to optimize Second Step programs within their district and stay informed of relevant news and events. Whether he’s helping district leaders plan implementations, train teachers, or expand adoption of Second Step programs, Tyler says he focuses on the end goal of supporting students’ social-emotional needs. He says his SEL superpower is making responsible decisions, and he helps districts do the same by listening carefully to their needs, gathering and sharing information, and inclusively considering the effects on all involved. Tyler earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and philosophy from the University of Idaho, and he holds a master’s degree in education from Regis University in Colorado. Leah Murray Education Account Manager Read Bio × Leah Murray Education Account Manager Leah Murray joined Committee for Children in May 2022 as education account manager for the Central region of the United States. As part of the Education Partnerships Team, she supports schools and districts implementing Second Step® social-emotional learning (SEL) programs. In a previous role, Leah helped graduate students work through roadblocks that prevented them from being successful. Now she uses those skills to help educators meet their SEL goals. “I love working with people to determine what they’re looking for and how I can help them get there,” she says. One of Leah’s strengths is building positive relationships. “Collaborating is about listening, empathizing, and sharing my expertise,” she says. “It’s always helped me build strong relationships at work and in my own life.” In her free time, Leah enjoys a reading a good book, taking a beautiful hike, or baking delicious treats. Daniela Ramírez Senior Education Account Manager Read Bio × Daniela Ramírez Senior Education Account Manager Working in the education field strengthened Daniela Ramírez’s appreciation of social-emotional learning (SEL) and belief that SEL benefits students far beyond the classroom. As an education account manager for the central US, Daniela provides program guidance, resources, strategies, and support to schools and districts implementing the Second Step® family of SEL programs. She also assists with some translations of our K–5 materials from English to Spanish. Daniela has a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey and a degree in marketing and international development from ESCD 3A University in Lyon, France. She considers her SEL superpower to be relationship skills, particularly establishing and maintaining healthy relationships with diverse individuals and groups. “I’m passionate about learning about other cultures and backgrounds, while actively listening and cooperating with others,” she says. Alex Van Hook Sales Operations Manager Read Bio × Alex Van Hook Sales Operations Manager As sales operations manager, Alex Van Hook is responsible for the planning, development, administration, and management of systems, training, and processes that support the success of CFC’s Sales team. In her role she also optimizes the sales process and streamlines sales automation. With years of experience in leadership roles, Alex also provides trainings, as well as gathering and reporting data and analytics. She brings a deep knowledge and wide range of experience in sales and operations and has worked with companies such as BioMed, Neuromodulation, AbbVie, Abbott Labs, and other clients within the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry. Alex joined Committee for Children in June 2022 and says it was Committee for Children’s powerful mission that drew her in. She believes her SEL superpower is problem-solving, a skill she utilizes in both her professional and personal life. In her spare time, Alex enjoys cooking delicious meals and playing great music. Forrest Walter Senior Education Partnerships Manager Read Bio × Forrest Walter Senior Education Partnerships Manager As a second-grade teacher who used Second Step social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum in his classroom, Forrest Walter saw firsthand how powerful it can be. That made the decision to join Committee for Children in 2019 an easy one. Forrest now helps districts implement SEL programming, providing support throughout the life of the partnership. He also works with community organizations, state departments, and nonprofit organizations to expand the SEL footprint nationwide. “Education equity has always been at the heart of my career mission,” he says. “I was attracted to the vision and reach of CFC, which is worldwide and focused on not only developing amazing curricula, but also on furthering the SEL frontier through policy and legislation, innovation, and many other methods.” Forrest earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Colgate University. He considers his SEL superpower communication, as he loves to connect with people and build authentic relationships. Maureen Wishkoski Senior Proposal Manager Read Bio × Maureen Wishkoski Senior Proposal Manager Maureen joined Committee for Children in 2021 after managing programs to assist victims of sexual and domestic violence. She has also served as board chair for an outdoors leadership nonprofit for girls. With a background in providing and teaching others to provide trauma-informed care, she is passionate about the capacity of social-emotional learning (SEL) to mitigate trauma and help build caring communities where all children can thrive. As a senior proposal manager at Committee for Children, Maureen provides schools and districts with the information they need to bring the Second Step® family of SEL programs into their classrooms. “My focus is on demonstrating the many benefits Second Step programs can offer students, schools, and communities,” she says. Maureen has a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in nonprofit leadership from Seattle University. A lifelong athlete, she considers teamwork to be her SEL superpower. “At Committee for Children, teamwork looks like collaborating with my colleagues to enhance our communication and client services,” Maureen says. Seth Zeldenrust Client Development Representative Read Bio × Seth Zeldenrust Client Development Representative Seth is the client development representative for the Central region of the United States. As part of the Education Partnerships department, Seth supports educators and school leaders in small and rural school districts with their implementation of Second Step® social-emotional learning (SEL) programs. Seth says his SEL superpower is positive relationship-building, a skill he draws on while working with each unique district. “It’s important to connect and speak directly with the districts about the issues they’re facing, especially for small and rural schools,” Seth says. “Helping them identify those problems is the biggest step toward solving them and the best way to build positive relationships.” Seth earned his undergraduate degree in Integrated Strategic Communications at Washington State University. He completed a semester-long internship with the nonprofit Northwest Innovation Resource Center, where he gained significant experience in market research and client relations and development. Seth was inspired to make a meaningful change after witnessing the hardships educators and students faced throughout the pandemic. “When I was a student, I wasn’t fortunate enough to be exposed to the benefits of SEL,” he says. “I want to use all of my skills to ensure every student has the opportunity to thrive.” Seth joined Committee for Children in April 2022. In his spare time, he enjoys outdoor sports and activities, spending time with friends and family, and supporting his favorite team, the Seahawks.