Board of Directors
Board members are ambassadors for Sela PCS. As such, they promote the mission, enrollment, recruitment and engage in general public relations for the school.
Deena Fox, Board Chair
Deena Fox is a civil rights attorney practicing in the Civil Rights Division at the United States Department of Justice. Deena has undergraduate degrees from Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and received her JD from New York University Law School. At the Department of Justice, Deena specializes in enforcement of the rights of juveniles in the juvenile justice system, the rights of people with disabilities to be served in the most integrated settings appropriate, and the rights of prisoners to practice their religions. Deena lives in Mount Pleasant with her husband, son, daughter, and dog. Deena speaks Hebrew and is a proud Sela parent.
Aster Allen-Patel is currently a Supervisor in Labor Relations at the Department of Health and Human Services. She has experience in Corporate Internal Auditing in addition to Federal sector labor and employee relations in Human Resources. Aster holds a BBA in International Finance and JD from Indiana University Maurer School of Law. Aster believes in the value of learning a language and the influence on one’s culture and thought processes. She lives with her family in Washington, DC and her children attend Sela PCS.
Lisa Apple is a special education math teacher who currently works at a public charter school in Washington, DC. She graduated summa cum laude from Drew University in 2009, served as a Teach for America corps member from 2009-2011, and earned a Masters of Education from George Mason University in 2011. In addition to working for 10 years as a special education math teacher, Lisa volunteered for the Washington Literacy Center teaching low-literate adults and taught for 2 years in the Federated States of Micronesia as a Peace Corps Volunteer. When not working to forge a more excellent, equitable education system, Lisa spends her time biking, reading, visiting art museums, and volunteering for a violence prevention nonprofit in Washington, DC.
Rose Benson is an early childhood educator and advocate for education reform. Rose began her career as a financial services professional for a private wealth management firm but found her passion for education through volunteer work with the Bright Beginnings and the Junior League of Washington. Rose received her Bachelor of Arts in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland College Park and is also a graduate of the DC Teaching Fellows program which enabled her to begin her second career in the classroom. Rose has taught PreK for five years at two DC Charter Schools and her classrooms have consistently been rated at the highest levels of instructional quality by OSSE. Rose lives in Washington, DC with her husband, Justin, her son Jacob, and their pup Justice Brennan.
Heather Capell Bramble
Heather Capell Bramble is a seasoned attorney and senior executive with almost 20 years of legal and management experience in government, private law firms, and politics. She is currently Head of Regulatory Affairs for Mattel, Inc. Prior to working at Mattel, Heather was Senior Corporate Counsel for Global Product and Food Safety & Compliance at Amazon.com. Heather also worked as a trial attorney in the Division of Enforcement at the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission and as Chief Counsel to the Commissioner at the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. She has spent time as a litigator and regulatory attorney at private law firms and senior campaign staff on national political campaigns. She received her JD from The University of Texas Law School, her BA with Highest Honors from the State University of New York at Binghamton, and studied overseas in Israel. Heather is proud to be a product of America’s public education system and sincerely believes in the power of education to change people’s lives. She grew up believing this idea, as both of her parents were school teachers for over 30 years in New York City public schools. Heather lives in Washington, DC with her spouse, Jocelyn Bramble, and their two children - one is an alumni of Sela PCS and the other attends Sela PCS.
Liz Cohen is a Senior Director at Whiteboard Advisors, where she works with a dynamic portfolio of social impact organizations, nonprofits and technology firms. Her current practice focuses on the intersection of student and educator success, parent and community engagement, and public policy. For nearly two decades, Liz has worked as a trusted advisor and research consultant for foundations, districts, and non-profit organizations in the K-12 education space. Liz was also a member of the inaugural cohort of Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research Strategic Data Project. She began her career in education at the District of Columbia Public Schools where she worked in the Office of Data and Accountability. She also worked at the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent, the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness in New York City, and 50CAN. A parent of three children, Liz holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.
Ki’ara Cross is an attorney advisor with the Board of Veteran Appeals. Ki’ara received her BA from Truman State University and her Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri - Columbia. Ki’ara has always possessed an active interest in building community as and helping others. She also believes that the children are in fact our future and the resources they’re provided will make for a better tomorrow. Ki’ara has worked as a family attorney, a criminal prosecutor, and now serves the Veterans of this country. In her free time she participated in various community based organizations, actively participates with her sorority, and is especially drawn to activities that contribute to the betterment of the youth. Beyond that, she values most the time that she is able to spend with her friends and family. Ki’ara looks forward to serving the Sela community!
Yair currently serves as Senior Legal Counsel at Children's National, Office of the General Counsel. In his previous roles, Yair served as an Assistant Attorney General for the District of Columbia, supporting DC Public Schools by way of litigation and contract negotiations. Yair is also a Bowser Administration alum, previously serving as Senior Advisor to the Deputy Mayor for Education, with a portfolio in the nexus of health and education, and as Interim Assistant Superintendent at the Office of State Superintendent of Education, Office of Health and Wellness. Before entering the fields of law and policy, Yair taught 11th grade global history in the South Bronx.
Yair is a fluent Hebrew speaker hailing from Israel by way of Pittsburgh. He attended Seattle University School of Law, received his Masters in Education from Pace, and attended Penn State University for his undergraduate studies. He is a proud husband and father of two.
Bryce Jacobs is an educational reformer and educator with a particular interest in family engagement and college access/equity. She is currently a Partner at VPP+Raise DC where she works on collective impact, career and college readiness, early childhood education and supporting Boys and Young Men of Color. Before joining VPP+ Raise DC, Bryce was Executive Director and Chief Strategy Officer at BUILD, a national organization that used entrepreneurship to ensure students from under-resourced communities are college and career ready. Before BUILD, Dr. Jacobs was Director of National Programs at College Summit, an organization with a mission to help more low-income students get to and through college, and previously was a program specialist at the National Parent Teacher Association. She is a founding board chair and current board member of Sela Public Charter School, a diverse by design Hebrew language immersion school in Washington DC. Dr. Jacobs has a B.A. in International Development from Clark University, an M.A. from George Washington University in Education, and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in Education Policy and Leadership.
Steve Messner has over 30 years of experience in finance, general management, operations, and strategy. He works with the top management of small and medium-sized companies to help them define their goals, develop and implement plans to achieve them, and improve profitability and cash flow, typically as a part-time CFO. His extensive non-profit board experience includes serving from 2009-2013 as a trustee and treasurer of the Septima Clark Public Charter School, Washington’s first public school for boys. In 2013, he oversaw its closure via merger with a high-performing charter school, the first such transaction in the city, and managed its finances during the process. Steve received a BA and an MS in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University, an MS in Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Rebecca Rubin Damari
Rebecca Rubin Damari, PhD, is a social science researcher with a background in linguistics. She is currently Director of Research at the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland, where her research focuses on foreign language learning and its importance in our multilingual world. In her previous work, she has examined interpersonal, intercultural, and bilingual communication, including with Hebrew-speaking families. In addition to her work as a researcher, Rebecca is an experienced grant writer, supporting nonprofit organizations in the important work they do in their communities. Rebecca lives in Silver Spring, MD, with her husband and two young children.
Ashley Stoney is a Principal, Culture, Change & Communications at Korn Ferry North America, with a focus on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion communications. She brings expertise and passion in helping achieve business objectives that are focused on reaching target audiences, including communities of color and underserved populations. Previously, Ashley led integrated external communications campaigns for Fannie Mae, a Fortune 25 company and leading provider of housing finance. During her tenure there, she also worked closely with the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion – as well as senior leaders in DEI and corporate communications – to communicate about key DEI activities and initiatives to external audiences and stakeholders. Prior to joining Fannie Mae, Ashley was the Director of Communications at the Plastics Industry Association, serving as spokeswoman for the association. Ashley previously held roles at communications agencies including Finn Partners, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, and Ketchum. During her agency tenure, she supported many clients across different sectors, including Corporate, Consumer, Higher Education, and Public Affairs. Previous clients include Burning Glass Technologies, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, and the Nuclear Energy Institute, among others. Ashley holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Howard University. She earned a Cannes Lion award for her work with Dr Pepper Snapple Group and a SABRE award for her work with the Nuclear Energy Institute. As a freelancer, Ashley also writes about Black culture, millennial motherhood, and pop culture. Her work has been published in The New York Times, New York Magazine’s The Cut, The Washington Post’s The Lily, ESSENCE, Refinery29, and Romper.
Michael A. Walker
Michael Walker is currently serving as the Program Director for the TRIO Student Support Services program at Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) in Largo, Maryland. In this role, he provides leadership and management of program services, oversees the implementation of a federal grant from the U. S. Department of Education and represents the program within and outside of the PGCC community. He also previously served as the Director of Education and Career Programming with the Maya Angelou Schools and See Forever Foundation. In this role, his primary areas of responsibility were supporting the organization’s college, career and workforce readiness programs and establishing and maintaining the organizational partnerships that provide resources and opportunities for students and alumni. His previous positions include Technology Director and Dean of Students during his first stint with the Maya Angelou & See Forever, Behavior Coach with the District of Columbia Public Schools and Academic Coordinator with federally funded TRIO Upward Bound programs at both the University of Maryland College Park and Prince George’s Community College. Michael received his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland with a double major in Criminal Justice and African-American Studies in 1997 and his Master’s in Educational Administration from Trinity University in Washington, DC in 2006. He also earned a Post Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Executive Management from the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University in 2019.
Andrew Whiting is an education-advocate-turned-management-consultant. He spent nearly a decade working for DC Public Schools in a variety of functions, including a two-year stint leading an elementary school. At DCPS, Andrew worked to improve management at all levels to help better our schools, and he eventually spun this passion for good management into a consulting career. In this new line of work, Andrew focuses on strategic planning, goal-setting, process improvement, problem solving, and executive coaching, but he is still passionate about public education and is excited to continue to serve the students of DC. Andrew lives in Bloomingdale and spends his free time reading, cooking (and eating!), traveling, and staying active outdoors.