Survey: Today’s teaching force is less experienced, more open to change
By Jackie Mader
Hechinger Report, October 23, 2012

Teacher-Leader Corps Helps Turn Around Schools
By Stephen Sawchuck
Education Week, April 20, 2011

New Teachers are the New Majority 
By Celine Coggins & Heather Peske
Education Week, January 19, 2011

Lesson Plan in Boston Schools: Don’t Go It Alone
By Mike Winerip
New York Times, August 8, 2010


Click on team member name or photograph to view or hide bio

Leadership Team

Celine Coggins
Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Celine Coggins founded Teach Plus in 2009 to create leadership and growth paths for excellent teachers and help stem their attrition from high-needs schools. In her role as CEO, Celine sets the national agenda for the organization that speaks to both teacher needs and policy opportunities.

Celine started her career as a classroom teacher in Worcester, Massachusetts. She went on to become a special assistant to the Massachusetts Commissioner of Education, working on a set of initiatives to improve the quality of the state’s teaching force. Upon completing her PhD at Stanford University, Celine returned to her home state to work at Cambridge’s Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy, an education-focused think tank. She originally launched Teach Plus as a subsidiary of the Center.

Under Celine’s leadership, Teach Plus has introduced three groundbreaking programs that put teachers at the center of school- and system-level reform: The Teaching Policy Fellowship that empowers teachers to have a voice in policy discussions that impact their classrooms; the T3 Initiative designed to ensure that high-need students have access to excellent teachers; and the Teach Plus Network of more than 15,000 teachers nationwide.

A nationally-recognized expert on teacher leadership, education policy standards and accountability, and union politics, Celine has addressed audiences at the Philanthropy Roundtable, the Askwith Forum at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and on NBC’s Education Nation. She appears regularly in the media and has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic, among many others.

Celine earned a BA in psychology from the College of Holy Cross, an MA in educational research and measurement from Boston College, and a PhD in education policy analysis from Stanford University. She is a National Center for Teacher Quality advisor, an Aspen Institute Education Fellow, and a Mind Trust Education Entrepreneurship Fellow. She is the author of more than two dozen reports and journal articles and editor of three books. The New Teacher Project recently named Celine one of their favorite thinkers of 2013. Celine lives in Milton, MA.

Monique Burns Thompson

Monique has been President of Teach Plus since its incorporation in 2009.  She brings experience as a social entrepreneur, management and human capital consultant and reform-oriented district administrator to the Teach Plus team.  She started her career in the business sector (Quaker Oat Co.) in marketing and brand management before moving to the education sector as a consultant for McKenzie Group, opening model middle schools in Washington, DC.  After spending a year as the assistant principal of one of those schools, Monique then worked as Special Assistant to the Superintendent of the Philadelphia Public School District, which informed her understanding of the need for quality training of urban school teachers and leaders.  This focus on human capital development lead her to co-found, and co-lead as President and Chief Curriculum Officer, New Leaders for New Schools. She later worked as a consultant for Building Excellent Schools, supporting the leadership capacity of some of Boston’s strongest charter schools. Monique earned her Bachelor's Degree from Dartmouth College, her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, and her Master’s in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is ABD for her doctorate in Education Administration and Social Policy.

Read her testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee on the T3 Initiative.

File: TeamMStryer.png
Mike Stryer
Vice President for District and Union Policy

Mike Stryer is joining Teach Plus following work as Executive Director at Teachers for a New Unionism.  His work focused heavily on developing the participation of solutions-oriented teachers in teacher union governance and policy-making. He partnered closely with Teach Plus both in L.A. and Boston on this work.

Prior to his new unionism work, Mike Stryer taught Social Studies at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles for eight years- focusing on expanding access to AP-level courses, including AP World History.  At Fairfax, he served as the school's Lead Teacher and as the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) chapter chair (building rep).  He co-founded NewTLA, a political reform caucus, a caucus comprised primarily of "new majority" teachers within UTLA’s governing body.

Before teaching, Mike worked in international business, heading international divisions of several U.S. consumer products companies, including Applause and Variflex. He has a bachelor's degree from Stanford University in Political Science, a master's degree in International Relations from Yale University and a master's degree in Education from Pepperdine University.


Alice Johnson Cain
Alice Johnson Cain
Vice President for Federal and State Policy

Alice Johnson Cain charts the policy and advocacy agenda for Teach Plus, establishing annual goals for the organization and working closely with Teach Plus staff and teachers to ensure that their advocacy yields tangible victories for students. Alice leads policy workshops for teachers across the country, connects teachers with leading policymakers, and builds effective partnerships between Teach Plus and other organizations that are also working on behalf of students.

Alice brings 25 years of policy and advocacy experience to Teach Plus. She joined the organization in 2011, after six years as Congressman George Miller’s chief advisor for K-12 policy. During that time, she helped develop and secure passage of Race to the Top, the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3), and the RENEWAAL Act to assist Gulf Coast schools after Hurricane Katrina. She led efforts to enact the Teacher Excellence for All Children (TEACH) Act the 2006 effort to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Alice served on the education committee that advised then-Senator Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, spent five years working for Senator Paul Simon on the HELP Committee, and served in the Clinton Administration for five years. Her advocacy work includes leading the Children’s Defense Fund’s national grassroots advocacy program, leading Hope Street’s Group’s initiative to engage teachers in Race to the Top implementation, and leading the National Institute for Literacy’s successful campaign to double federal funding for literacy.

While at Teach Plus, Alice has focused on bringing perspectives of solutions-oriented teachers into the national policy conversation. In 2013, she brought Teach Plus teachers to the White House to meet with President Obama’s top education advisors, and to the Department of Education to meet with Secretary Arne Duncan. She has secured invitations from both Democratic and Republican committee chairs for Teach Plus teachers to testify on education policy in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate – and has brought top policymakers, such as Congressman George Miller, to speak at Teach Plus forums.

Alice has published numerous reports and articles on education policy, including a report published by Fulbright New Zealand that included policy recommendations later adopted by the New Zealand government. She has acted as peer reviewer for the U.S. Department of Education and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. She was a Senior Congressional Staff Fellow with the Aspen Institute, and has presented before numerous groups, including the Education Writers Association and the American Educational Research Association.

Alice earned a BA with honors in political science from Gettysburg College, and was set to complete an MA in policy management from Georgetown University when she was recruited by Representative Miller’s office. She serves on the board of the Success for All Foundation and MarylandCAN–The Maryland Campaign for Achievement Now. Alice lives with her husband and two sons in Annapolis, Maryland.

Meghan O'Keefe
Vice President of T3 Initiative

Nathan Pelsma
Chief Operating Officer

Nathan is currently the Chief Operating Officer at Teach Plus, leading the finance, operations, and IT strategies for the national organization. Prior to working at Teach Plus, Nathan was an economic consultant at Analysis Group in Boston. Before economic consulting, Nathan consulted on corporate development strategies for Unis-Cité, a national service organization in Paris, France. While earning his MBA at Boston College, Nathan conducted research on corporate volunteering and philanthropy at the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship.

Prior to receiving his M.B.A., Nathan managed City Year’s national corporate partnerships with Timberland, Bank of America, and CSX. Nathan developed and grew Care Force, a revenue-generating community service model at City Year, to earning over $1 million annually. He served as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Boston developing a Boston-based revenue-generating program at City Year.

Nathan has also spent time as a teacher in an urban classroom and working for after school organizations such as Citizen Schools and BELL. Nathan received his B.A. from the University of Kansas and his M.B.A. from Boston College. He serves as an officer on the board of two Boston-area nonprofit organizations. Nathan is currently an adjunct professor teaching nonprofit management at the Carroll Graduate School of Management at Boston College.

Site and Program Leadership

John Lee
John Lee
Senior Executive Director, Los Angeles, CA

Caitlin Hannon
Caitlin Hannon
Executive Director, Indianapolis, IN

Candace Crawford
Candace Crawford
Executive Director, Washington, D.C.

Lindsay Sobel
Executive Director, Massachusetts

Arielle Zurzolo
Arielle Zurzolo
Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships

Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships, Arielle Zurzolo is joining us, after holding a variety of leadership positions in California Public Schools as well as partaking in multiple committees.  Arielle was an Ethnic Studies teacher at Green Dot Public Schools when she was elected to serve as the union building rep for her school site. After serving on Rep Council, she decided to run for the Union Executive Board . Arielle served as President for Asociación  de Maestros Unidos (AMU) for three years and led a contract adoption of a multiple-measure evaluation system, initiated a shift to a collaborative labor/management relationship, and began work on teacher and counselor career ladders.  She worked to bring other innovative ideas to the union such as electronic voting for contract votes and elections which led to a 70% average member participation rate.

She also served on the Green Dot Public Schools Board, the California Teacher Union Reform Network (CalTURN) Steering Committee, and the California Teachers' Association Long Term Strategic Planning Committee. She is a passionate supporter of unions and believes they should be a vehicle used to professionalize the teaching profession.

National Team

Anya Grottel-Brown
National Director of Communications and Media

Anya Grottel-Brown leads the organization’s communications and media effort. She works with Teach Plus staff and teachers nationwide to amplify their voices through the media and grow awareness of the organization’s programs and key areas of focus.

Prior to joining Teach Plus in 2014, Anya was a member of the executive team at two public relations agencies specializing in education and non-profit communications. While there, she developed successful PR/communications programs for the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, Merck Institute for Science Education, Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, and the Siemens Foundation and the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, among others.

Anya’s work in education communications has been recognized with two PR News NonProfit PR Awards for Best Media Relations and one of the year’s Best Marketing Campaign and Best Event PR Awards, as well as with PR Daily’s Honorable Mention for Best Op-Ed. A seasoned media trainer, Anya has successfully prepared teachers and students nationwide to work with the press. Her article The Reluctant Spokesperson, published in the 2012-13 PRNews Media Training Guidebook, offers a roadmap for turning reluctant spokespeople into an audience invested in working with the media.

Born in Russia, Anya holds an Honors BA in East Asian Studies from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She spent five years in Japan, where she taught English and reported for a regional newspaper Ehime Shinbun. Anya’s cultural commentary was subsequently published in Meet Japan, a quarterly magazine of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Anya has traveled extensively through a dozen countries and has once gone around the world. A long-time New Yorker, she now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.

Andrea de Azevedo
National Director of Expansion and New Business

Andrea joined Teach Plus in 2014 as the National Director of Expansion and New Business after three years at Horizons National, first as their Growth & Expansion Manager and most recently as their Director of Development. In her first role, she led the implementation of a comprehensive accelerated growth strategy through planning, analysis, and partnership development and management, helping grow the national network of high-quality academic enrichment programs from 20 sites in 2011 to 33 in 2013. Andrea then transitioned to expanding the organization’s fundraising efforts to support the new growth strategy, where she successfully managed a portfolio of foundations and corporations and identified new funding opportunities around key priorities. Andrea has presented workshops on program expansion at national conferences and co-authored Horizons National’s most recent business plan with their CEO.

Prior to this, Andrea practiced as an estate planning attorney in New Haven, Connecticut. She also spent three years as a special education instructor for high school students from Bridgeport Public Schools. Andrea holds a B.A. from Boston College and a J.D. and an M.B.A. from Quinnipiac University.

Heather Rubeski
Heather Rubeski
Director of Development

Heather became the Director of Development at Teach Plus in 2012, bringing with her a breadth of experience in a variety of Development functions, especially grants and foundations. Before joining Teach Plus, Heather spent several years as the National Grants Director at Stand for Children. There she expanded foundation fundraising to keep pace with the organization’s growth plans as it doubled in size in the space of a few years. Prior to that, Heather built her development experience as at the Development Projects Manager at Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. She began her non-profit career with the Global Habitat Project (which became a part of the Urban Ecology Institute); there she ran the Greentimes science writing program and gained her first insights into the challenges that urban students and teachers face.

Heather spent a year abroad in high school with the American Field Service exchange program in Costa Rica, which was her first experience in a large urban school after having grown up in rural northern Michigan. She also has worked abroad in London, England, and was privileged to present at the Kuwait Conference for Women in STEM in 2006. Heather earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Michigan, and she has completed half of a MBA specializing in Non-Profit Management at Boston University.

File: TeamMarkTeoh210.jpg
Mark Teoh, Ed.D.
Director of Research and Knowledge

Mark Teoh is a former high school history teacher, having taught for six years in both Texas and Pennsylvania. While in Texas, he was a Master Teacher in the Summer Bridge Houston program. He is a contributing author to two books on using data to improve instruction, "Data Wise" and "Data Wise In Action." Mark has worked in the Human Resources and Academic departments of the Boston Public Schools and, most recently, served as Executive Director of Research, Evaluation, Assessment, and Development in the Seattle Public Schools.

Mark earned a B.A. in History from Rice University, a M.S.Ed. in Education Policy from the University of Pennsylvania, and an Ed.M. and Ed.D. in Education Policy, Leadership, and Instructional Practice from Harvard University. Mark's research has been focused on the retention of novice teachers in school districts, looking at how pre-service training, career stage, and geography impact their career decisions.

Lambrina Kless
National Curriculum Development Manager

Lambrina Kless joined Teach Plus as the National Curriculum Development Manager. She has extensive experience in urban education reform. Lambrina managed data and analytics at San Jose Unified School District, where she spearheaded efforts to identify, evaluate, and provide individualized support systems for all students. At the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University, Lambrina co-developed a college readiness indicator system that school districts nationwide are using to help a greater number of students finish high school prepared for college. She has led various teams in the creation and evaluation of teacher development and training efforts, including around the Common Core. As Research and Evaluation Manager at a nonprofit with a national reach, she has led efforts to assess organizational effectiveness and the creation of long-term strategic growth plans.

Prior to this, Lambrina ran service-learning and student leadership programs at Chicago Public Schools and taught and conducted policy research at a bilingual school in Spain on a Fulbright fellowship. She has launched a leadership program in Guatemala for high school students and run human rights education programs in Argentina. Lambrina earned her Ph.D. in Education Policy from Stanford University, and Bachelors and Masters degrees in Comparative Literature from Harvard University.

Will Wiggins
Design Coordinator

Prior to joining Teach Plus, Will has worked with other non-profit organizations including Artists For Humanity and The Young People’s project, in addition to freelancing for small and large businesses across the nation such as True Artists, Laced Boston, and Flat Black Coffee. He has illustrated the book cover for multi-award winning poetry book Cinematic Mind by Kimo Hill, and self-published the comic book Painted Black with Zack Newirth. Prior to earning his Bachelors of Arts from Elmira College he became fascinated with digital art and design. He has experience working in both fine art, and design settings, and has a passion for creating visually compelling content. His skills cover a broad spectrum, covering website content design and management, illustration, logo and branding design, marketing, and graphic design.

Erin Haggerty
Technology Systems and Operations Coordinator

Before joining Teach Plus, Erin worked at Root Cause in Boston, MA as a Research and Database Assistant. She interned at the Rainforest Alliance and later worked as a Development and Membership Assistant at the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn, NY. Erin graduated from New York University, where she majored in Environmental Studies.

Christina Ross
Federal Policy Analyst

Christina joins the Teach Plus team as the Federal Policy Analyst with experience in both federal policy and the classroom. A former social studies teacher with nearly eight years of classroom experience, Christina most recently taught U.S. history and world geography at a Title 1, turnaround middle school in Baltimore City. Prior to that, she taught AP government, AP psychology, and US history to ESOL students in a high school in Prince William County, Virginia. As a teacher leader, Christina collaborated with another teacher to provide professional development at the school, district, and state level on using digital tools in the classroom, as well as cultivated relationships and created mentorship programs between schools. She also served as a mentor teacher, a Faculty Senate liaison, a textbook adoption committee leader, and a Professional Learning Community team leader for various content and grade-level teams. Prior to entering teaching, Christina focused on education and other domestic policy issues as a member of the late Senator Paul Wellstone's team and Senator Tammy Baldwin's team when she represented Wisconsin's 2nd district. As an educator, Christina was honored with the New Teacher of the Year Award in 2008, Teacher of the Year Award in 2010, and a Prince William County Achievement Award in 2011. She was named “Super Teacher of the Year” by the Virginia Lottery in 2013. Christina graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor’s degree in History, with an emphasis on 20th century social and political movements in the U.S., and earned a Master’s in the Art of Teaching from the Citadel College. Christina is excited to help teachers have a meaningful voice in shaping education policy to ensure that all students have access to a rigorous, high-quality education.

Nicole Gary
Nicole Gary
Human Resources Generalist

Nicole joined Teach Plus as the Human Resources Generalist bringing with her prior HR and recruiting experience in education reform. In her previous roles she managed full cycle recruitment partnering with hiring managers and was the sole HR person at a growing nonprofit education organization during a critical period of rapid organizational growth. Nicole is passionate about Teach Plus' mission to improve outcomes for all students and has volunteered as a mentor with organizations such as Big Brother Big Sister and Each One Save One. Nicole graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BA in sociology and psychology.

Bailey Blough
Bailey Blough
National Communications Associate

Before joining Teach Plus, Bailey interned with Horizons at Nazareth College as the non-profit management intern and at St. John’s Living in Rochester and the Alzheimer’s Association Rochester and Finger Lakes Chapter as their communications/ marketing and social media intern. She graduated cum laude from Nazareth College in Rochester, NY, where she majored in Communications and Rhetoric with a focus in Public Relations

At Teach Plus Bailey is involved in social media and communications efforts for the organization.

Jennie Kress
Program and Operations Associate

Before coming to Teach Plus, Jennie worked as a Human Resources Assistant for Success Academy Charter Schools, a network of 22 charter schools in New York City. She also worked in the development department at Immigration Equality, a legal non-profit. She holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in French and Women and Gender Studies from Bates College.