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UP Leadership

UP Board of Directors

Isis Bandele-Asante

Norwich, CT

Isis is currently an 11th grader at Three Rivers Middle College in southeastern Connecticut. She shares an avid love of cooking, reading, and language learning! During the summer of 2022, she was selected for a two month scholarship with the US State Department where she got the opportunity to live and learn Arabic in Morocco. After high school, Isis hopes to go on to earn a degree in international relations with interest in continuing to work abroad for the State Department. She is also an Assistant Editor for Trailblazers, part of the Listening 4 Justice facilitation and planning team, and a member of the Youth Action Council (YAC). 

Erin Dezell (Treasurer)

Montpelier, VT

Erin (she/her) has always believed strongly in the wisdom of young people to co-create meaningful learning experiences and the power that comes through the partnership of youth and adults working together. Erin became UP’s first full-time employee in 2013 and continued to foster and support UP growth over the next three years. Through her experience at UP Erin realized the best parts of her day were when she was interacting with the school-based teams and returned to school to become a school counselor. After graduating from Northern Vermont University in 2019, Erin has been working at Harwood Union Middle/High School as a 9-12 school counselor. When she’s not in school, you’ll find Erin spending her summers volunteering at Camp Knock Knock, a family bereavement camp, adventuring in Vermont’s green mountains with her dog George, and perfecting her pie crust.

Maisie Franke (Secretary)

Youth Advisory Council

Maisie Franke (she/her) joined UP for Learning in the spring of 2020. She is currently a senior and is super excited to be attending the University of Vermont next year! She is a student representative on her school board and tries to take advantage of every opportunity to increase student voice that comes her way.

She joined UP as a youth facilitator with Cultivating Pathways to Sustainability and is continuing her work as a Youth Program Specialist and secretary for UP’s Board of Directors. She spent last year creating the Youth Leadership Module with support from youth from her school and is thrilled to witness the content in action with teams engaged in every area of UP’s work. Maisie strongly believes in the power of youth-adult partnership and is working towards empowering youth to feel more confident and comfortable with being in leadership roles so they can create meaningful change in their communities.

Maisie loves to ski and spends as much time as she can outdoors exploring new trails and searching for fresh powder with friends, teammates, and family. She hopes to pursue becoming certified as a WildernessFfirst Responder in the future and can’t wait for all the new experiences to come in college!

Kayla Loving

South Burlington, VT

Kayla (she/they) is an Education Justice Organizer at the Education Justice Coalition of Vermont. Her role focuses on supporting youth organizers throughout the state. They were introduced to UP for Learning when coordinator restorative justice efforts with the City of Winooski and Winooski School District. Kayla also teaches conflict resolution at Saint Michael’s College. Previously, she taught English in China as a Peace Corps volunteer, researched mediation in Cambodia, and provided administrative support to the Access to Justice Project in Liberia through the Carter Center. They enjoy going on walks, reading, and traveling. 

Michelle Maseroni

Boston, MA

Michelle (she/her) is a former Getting to “Y” youth co-facilitator. Growing up in Vermont she attended Otter Valley Union High School, where she was passionate about working with UP for Learning and empowering student voice. She received a Double Bachelors Degree at the University of Vermont, where she continued her focus on student voice. In college she partnered and collaborated with the National Health Department to make a difference in the medical field encouraging young adults to have a say and take part in their medical care journey. Following college she moved to Boston where she now resides working in the Legal Tech Field. 

Evelyn Monje

Evelyn Monje joined UP for Learning in January of 2021. She is currently a student at the University of Vermont where she is pursuing a degree in social work. Evelyn is an active advocate for antiracism and equity in her community.

She is passionate about collaborating with youth and adults to further the understanding of both antiracism and equity through restorative practices.

Evelyn enjoys working on Bread and Butter Farm year-round as an educator. She loves to be outdoors and to embark on adventures with her friends.

Eli Pine (Chair)

Burlington, VT

Eli (they/them) is a third-year student at American University pursuing a double-major in sociology and secondary education. They grew up on the land of the Abenaki nation in what is known as Burlington, VT, and spent much of their time in Vermont dedicated to social justice, community organizing, and educational justice. During the 2020-2021 school year, they worked as a paraeducator in the special education department at Colchester High School. In June of 2021, Eli will begin their position as Health Equity Intern at Vermont Afterschool Inc., where they will conduct research, build toolkits, and plan workshops on health equity in education. In the fall of 2021, they will return to Washington, DC to continue their studies at American University.

Eli also serves in various volunteer roles. Most recently, they were a member of Burlington School District’s School Safety Taskforce where they researched and co-authored a report on alternatives to school resource officers that are in line with the District’s goals of restorative practices. In Washington, DC they are the Undergraduate Student Representative to the Executive Committee of the DC Sociological Society and they serve as the Co-President for American University’s chapter of Educators Rising, an affiliate of Phi Delta Kappa International. When not working in a professional context, you can find Eli spending time with friends and family, cycling around the hills of VT or the parks of DC, jamming on drums with local musicians, or facilitating groups related to transformative justice, accountability, and prison industrial complex (PIC) abolition.

Auishma Pradhan

Burlington, VT

Meet Auishma (eye – YOU – sh – ma)! She is currently a junior at South Burlington High School in Chittenden County, Vermont. She started her facilitation with UP for Learning in 2021 through UP’s collaboration with the Winooski School District’s Antiracism Steering Committee (ARSC). This committee was formed after Winooski Students for Antiracism (WSA), led and started by high school students and alumni, created six demands of the school board in order to better the district. With UP’s support, the ARSC has developed into a working group consisting of Youth/Students, Community members/Parents, Teachers/Staff, and the superintendent and school board members. The goal is to accomplish the six demands brought forth by the students in the school district. Auishma has continued her work with UP by facilitating at various conferences and events.

Dr. Folami Prescott-Adams

Atlanta, GA

Folami Prescott-Adams, Ph.D. (she/her) is the CEO of HTI Catalysts. She is best known for her effective style of facilitation that offers a blend of theory, practice, the arts and insight in an engaging, interactive and relaxed setting. She has made significant contributions to education transformation and youth development initiatives & collaborative partnerships throughout the nation. She is the creator of Listening 4 Justice, a high-quality multicultural learning experience on systemic racism, self-love, and social justice.

She earned a Sociology of Education degree from Brown University, a Masters in Educational Administration from Temple University and an M.Sc. & Ph.D. in Community Psychology from Georgia State University.

Her creative expressions can be found in her music (now on streaming platforms), a YouTube interview series, and her blogs & posts on social media. Follow her on Facebook @drfolami, Instagram @drfolamipa or connect with her on LinkedIn @drfolami.

David Scherr

Burlington, VT

David (he/him) has served Vermont for years as a government and public interest attorney. He currently serves as General Counsel to the Vermont Cannabis Control Board, working to implement a safe and equitable cannabis market in the state. Before joining the Cannabis Control Board, he served as an Assistant Attorney General and Co-Chief of the Community Justice Division in the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, where he was responsible for policy matters related to criminal justice reform. The measures he advanced in that position included increasing the use of restorative justice alternatives to criminal punishment, expanding access to expungement of criminal records, and reducing the use of cash bail. Prior to his time with the Attorney General’s Office, David was at a small law firm where he worked almost exclusively as a contract public defender, serving as appointed counsel to low-income criminal defendants around the state. A graduate of Amherst College and Columbia Law School, he began his career at a corporate law firm in Burlington, Vermont, after serving as a law clerk to Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey of the Colorado Supreme Court.

Dr. Ben Williams (1955-2023)

East Calais, VT

Ben Williams (he/him) had a long career teaching, directing and supporting programs that work with student voice, empowerment and the importance of place. He co-directed and taught in the National Audubon Society Expedition Institute, a unique mobile community-based school program using a school bus to explore human and natural communities all over North America. He also directed the Teacher Licensure programs at Goddard College and Union Institute and University. More recently he worked on teaching teachers to recognize and better understand trauma and its relationship to learning. In semi-retirement, he enjoyed his family, reading, writing, and playing the fiddle on cold winter evenings.

Executive Director Advisory Council

Daniel Baron

Bloomington, IN

Daniel Baron– Founder – School Leader – Bloomington Project School and The School Project Foundation

Daniel Baron has spent 40 years working in public, private, and Native American education, and pre-K through college, as a teacher, coach, whole school change facilitator and School Leader. Daniel is a founder of Harmony School and the Harmony Education Center in Bloomington, Indiana. He is a National Facilitator for The School Reform Initiative and was Co-Director of the National School Reform Faculty from 2000-2006. He is an expert in transformative learning and leadership. Currently, Daniel is the Founding School Leader of the Bloomington Project School and the Executive Director of The School Project Foundation. For the last 40 years, Daniel’s work has focused on providing exemplary professional development to school districts and equity-based projects across the country.

John Fischer

John Fischer is a Senior Program Officer on the U.S. Programs Policy & Finance team. John’s focus is supporting K-12 and postsecondary pathways including CTE and Perkins V, the Economic Mobility strategy and the future workforce activities. Prior to this, John served as the lead program officer for the “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA) national strategy and earlier on the Foundation’s Florida and Tennessee teams, supporting the College Ready K12 strategy.

Prior to joining the Foundation, John was the Deputy Secretary at the Vermont Agency of Education focused on innovation and transformation of the state’s education system including school improvement, assessments, flexible pathways, career technical education and competency based systems of learning. In his work, John supported high expectations for all students, smooth transitions to college/career and strong partnerships between PK12, higher education and the workforce/economic development sectors.

Earlier in his career, John worked in higher education, serving as Dean, Vice President and Provost in NH. John is a former member of the Advance CTE and served as president of the board in 2013.

Michael Metz

Michael Metz is a retired materials scientist, business owner, and business consultant engaged in the development and commercialization of precious metal products used in high technology applications. Prior to starting his own consulting business 25 years ago, Michael held a number of positions including President and COO of his family business, Metz Metallurgical Corp (25 years), growing the company to become the world leader in the development and processing of precious metal used in technology applications worldwide.

Michael currently serves on the board of the Maker Space Generator, The Burlington City Arts Foundation, ECHO, The Vermont Community Foundation, The Curtis Fund, and Spectrum’s social enterprise Detail Works. Michael previously served on the board of Champlain College, Main Street Alliance Advisory board, BCA Advisory Board, Frog Hollow Craft Center, and numerous for profit boards. Michael has a longstanding interest in art, education, creativity, economic development and technology. He has been a photographer for the past five decades and exhibits locally, including at UVM’s Fleming Museum at Champlain College.

Michael is a graduate of Middlebury College and Columba Universities’ Graduate School of Business. He lives with his wife Denise Shekerjian (an attorney, author, and business owner) in South Burlington. They have two grown sons.

Dana L. Mitra, Ph.D.

Dana L. Mitra has conducted research on voice and leadership as a Professor of Education Policy Studies at the Pennsylvania State University for over 15 years. In her work as a professor, she was named as a Students at the Center “Distinguished Fellow” with Jobs For the Future/the Nellie Mae Foundation in 2016. She is founding editor of the International Journal of Student Voice and Co-Editor of The American Journal of Education.

Dana has published over 30 papers and two books on the topics of student voice and civic engagement. Her books include Civic Education in the Elementary Grades: Promoting Engagement in an Era of Accountability, Student Voice in School Reform: Building Youth-Adult Partnerships that Empower Youth, and a textbook entitled Educational Change and the Political Process. She also has published a memoir entitled French Fries and Banyan Trees: American Kids Explore Bangalore and Beyond.

Dana holds a Ph. D. from Stanford University in Educational Administration and Policy Analysis. She has served as a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar in 2012 to study child participation and educational reform in Bangalore, India. Her prior work experience includes teaching elementary school in the Washington, DC area and serving as the coordinator for two White House Conferences on Character Education.

Val Gardner

Huntington, VT

Val Gardner (she/her) is the Co-Director of the Vermont School Leadership Project. Val has worked as a teacher and coach, as well as Associate Principal and Principal at Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg, Vermont. CVU has been recognized at the state and national level for innovative programs. In 1993 – 1994, Val served as the first Principal in Residence in the U.S. Department of Education under Deputy Secretary Madeleine Kunin. Val earned a Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Vermont and a Masters from the University of Oregon. She currently serves on the Snelling Center for Government and the Vermont Youth Orchestra Board. In the past she served on the Vermont Economic Progress Council, St. Michael’s College Graduate Advisory Panel. The Snelling Center School Leadership Project Advisory Board, and as President of Vermont Headmasters. Val has been recognized in numerous awards, including the Robert F. Pierce Award for service to youth in Vermont (1984); National Distinguished Principal for Vermont (1990); and has been inducted into the UVM Hall of Fame.

Mark Murphy

Mark Murphy founded GripTape, an organization empowering our youth, helping them to become true drivers of their learning and seize great opportunities to grow, lead, and serve.

Before GripTape, Mark was the Secretary of Education in Delaware. During his tenure, Delaware youth significantly improved their academic achievement, college going rates soared, high school dropout rates reached the lowest level in history, and the graduation rate grew to a record high. Mark has also spent a considerable amount of his career directly developing and supporting hundreds of school leaders across the country as the Executive Director of multiple organizations.

Mark’s contributions across the country are significant, and he has served on many boards, including the Council of Chief State School Officers and Chiefs for Change. He began his career as a teacher, and then went on as a principal to lead the dramatic turnaround of a low performing school.

Kelly Young

Kelly Young is the President of Education Reimagined, a non-profit organization committed to making learner-centered education available to every child in the United States. Education Reimagined unites and ignites learner-centered leaders – young people, educators, administrators, policy advocates, and leaders from higher education, business, unions and philanthropy – who are building the models, systems, public will, and policy conditions to transform education in the U.S.

Kelly firmly believes the time has come for the education system to transform (rather than reform) from one that is school-centered to one that meets every child where they are—providing them with the support necessary to address their needs, expose them to their unique interests and passions, and cultivate them into lifelong learners who are engaged and contributive members of their communities. Kelly believes we need inventors (rather than innovators) who are ready to act on this new vision for education and is proud to lead an organization that is bringing these folks together from across the country.

Previously, she served as the interim chief of the Office of Family and Public Engagement for the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), where she led the development of DCPS’s 5-year plan and helped implement home visits and other high-impact family engagement strategies. From 1998-2007, Kelly served as the Executive Director of a national political organization, which grew to be one of the largest political action committees in the country under her leadership.

She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and their two children. She received her JD from Georgetown University Law Center and a BA in anthropology from the University of Virginia.