Executive Director - Joe Williams
Joe Williams has built a reputation as one of the most effective strategists and coalition-builders in the education reform community. He is a nationally recognized analyst and public speaker on education policy and politics, reaching thousands of listeners in audiences from coast to coast each year.
Joe is also one of the most prolific writers and commentators in the education reform world, often tapping into his experience as a newspaper reporter and author to make the case for reform. He previously worked as an award-winning education journalist for the New York Daily News and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He has written extensively on education politics nationally and has served as a non-resident senior fellow for the Washington-based think-tank Education Sector. He is author of the book Cheating our Kids: How Politics and Greed Ruin Education (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.)
Joe lives in New York City where his children attend the city's public schools.
Director of Operations - Brienne Bellavita
Brienne Bellavita joined Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) in the fall of 2007 as the Program Director, working to build up the organization's programs promoting proven education reform policies and supporting local, statewide, and national champions of public education reform.
In 2008, Brienne was promoted to Chief of Staff and spent 4 years facilitating the establishment and start-up of 13 state branches and a federal office. In that capacity, Brienne also organized three large-scale events at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, managed a national field campaign around the documentary Waiting for 'Superman,' and worked as a consultant for the feature film Won't Back Down.
Brienne now serves as the Director of Operations, working to ensure the continued development and advancement of DFER.
Previous to her work at DFER, Brienne worked for the City of New York as an Investigator at the Civilian Complaint Review Board, where she investigated allegations of police misconduct. As a civil servant, she developed the applied skills necessary to deliver on public sector challenges and gained invaluable experience working with many segments of the population.
Policy Director - Charles Barone
Charles Barone has more than 25 years of experience in education service, research, policy, and advocacy. Prior to joining Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) full-time in January of 2009, Barone worked for five years as an independent consultant on education policy and advocacy. His clients, in addition to DFER, included the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights, the Education Trust, The Education Sector, and the National Academy of Sciences.
From 1997 through 2003, Barone worked for Congressman George Miller (D-CA), first as Legislative Director, then as Democratic Deputy Staff Director for the House Education and Labor Committee when Miller became the Committee’s top-ranking Democrat in 2001. Barone led all of Miller’s work on education and children’s issues during that time period and was lead negotiator for House Democrats on the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002. Barone first came to Capitol Hill as an American Academy for the Advance of Science Congressional Fellow in 1993, and subsequently became Chief Education Advisor to the late Senator Paul Simon (D-IL) until 1996 when Simon retired.
Finance and HR Director - Beverly Francis Pryce
Beverly joined Democrats for Education Reform in the Fall of 2008. She quickly carved out her role at DFER in overseeing all finances. While having a knack for numbers, Beverly's background in journalism exposed her to a number of important education issues and she credits her passion for advancement in public education from her experience.
Beverly graduated from Florida International University.
National Political Director - Patrick van Keerbergen
Patrick van Keerbergen is an experienced political organizer with close to a decade of experience in New York City and State government and politics. He joined DFER in 2010 as our National Field Director and in 2012 assumed the role of National Political Director.
In 2009, Patrick served as the Manhattan field director for Mayor Michael Bloomberg's successful reelection campaign. In this role he oversaw a robust field campaign, that resulted in close to 160,000 votes for the Mayor's reelection.
Chief of Staff - Sean Andersen
Sean Andersen joined DFER as Chief of Staff in January 2012 after spending more than two years working as the Deputy Field Director at Education Reform Now (ERN). While at ERN, Sean spearheaded long-term community support campaigns focused on bringing school choice to new neighborhoods, student recruitment campaigns, and short-term turnout campaigns for elections, rallies and hearings. He has worked with groups such as Success Academies, Explore Schools, Launch, Young Women’s Leadership Network and Public Prep.
Director of Communications - Devin Boyle
Devin joined Democrats for Education Reform in June 2010. Prior to her role at DFER, she worked as a Marketing and Communications Manager at a marketing firm in Arlington, Virginia.
Political Action Director - Andrew Flamang
Andrew Flamang is responsible for overseeing DFER's involvement in candidate campaigns. In this role, Andrew works with national staff and state directors to establish and balance electoral priorities, supporting those priorities by strengthening relationships with stakeholders nationwide. He also directs DFER's Ed Reformer of the Month program and Hot List dashboard of priority campaigns.
Andrew first joined DFER in 2009. During 2010 and 2011, Andrew served as DFER's interim regional director in New England, where he founded DFER's Massachusetts chapter. Before joining DFER, Andrew was a political consultant, advising political action committees and federal, state, and municipal campaigns. He consulted with statewide campaigns in Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Colorado, including those of U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and Congressman Harold Ford, Jr.
A graduate of New York University, Andrew lives in Boston's South End.
Director of Teacher Policy - Omar Lopez
Omar Lopez's passion for education reform started when he was part of the first graduating class of Beginning with Children School (now Beginning with Children Charter School) in Brooklyn. It was there that Omar developed a passion for education when he realized that a quality education could lead to quality opportunities as an adult. Unfortunately, Brooklyn (and as it turned out, many other places in the United States) had an overwhelmingly limited number of quality schools for its children to attend. And thus, his mission to provide a quality education for all children began.
Omar graduated from the College of Saint Rose in 2008 where he earned his bachelor's degree in English Secondary Education. He then went on to pursue a master's degree in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University.
Director of Development - Joe Kelley
Joe Kelley is a nationally recognized Democratic fundraiser based in New York City. He guides DFER's national fundraising strategy and assists with our national and NY state political advocacy efforts. Joe's past experience includes consulting for numerous progressive candidates and causes, including US Senator Chris Murphy's 2012 campaign; the 2012 Democratic Convention Host Committee; American Bridge 21st Century; America Votes; Media Matters for America; Women's Voices, Women Vote; and the Democracy Alliance.
In the 2010 election cycle, Joe served as US Senator Richard Blumenthal's Finance Director. Joe also worked on Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes' gubernatorial campaign, and with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Joe graduated from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA with a BA in American History.
Legislative Director - Domenic Giandomenico
Domenic Giandomenico joined Democrats for Education Reform in 2013 after devoting more than a decade of his career to ensuring that every student of every age, background, and aspiration has access to the excellent education they deserve. An accomplished analyst, advocate, and nationally recognized speaker, Domenic has expertise throughout the spectrum of education issues, including K-12 education, postsecondary education, adult education, workforce development, and career technical education. In his current role, Domenic works tirelessly towards a vision of a federal government that best serves the needs and interests of our students and provides the framework for a world-class education system.
Domenic graduated from Millbury (MA) Memorial High School and from American University with a degree in Political Science and Literature.
National Development Manager - Molly Thelosen
Molly joined the DFER team after working in a variety of education contexts, spanning from policy to practice. Initially coaching a summer Cheer/English camp in Nogales, Mexico, Molly developed an interest in the transformative power of education. Teaching in Bogota, she continued to learn about the challenge of providing a quality education for kids. An interest in improving education outcomes at a system level inspired her study of policy at Harvard's Graduate School of Education. While studying, she worked on a project developing an index to measure state-level primary school quality in Mexico's public schools. Joining DFER, Molly looks forward to working with a strong team of highly effective reformers.
Assistant Policy Analyst - Mac LeBuhn
Mac LeBuhn is an assistant policy analyst at Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). Before joining DFER, Mac was a fourth grade teacher at Rocketship Si Se Puede, a charter school in San Jose, CA. He became interested in education policy through internships at the offices of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston.
Mac graduated Northwestern University with honors in political science and philosophy. Outside of work, Mac enjoys swimming, reading and rooting against the Miami Heat.
Policy Analyst - Mina White
Mina White joined DFER in 2013 after working with urban youth in St. Paul Minnesota at TRiO/Upward Bound; a federally funded college access program for limited-income and first-generation high school students. Recognizing a need for equity in education she plans to have a bigger impact for all students through education reform.
Mina graduated from the College of St. Benedict (MN) with a degree in Political Science, and earned a graduate degree in Organizational Leadership from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN.