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.
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 Senior Corporate Counsel for Global Product and Food Safety & Compliance at Amazon.com. Previously, Heather worked as a trial attorney in the Division of Enforcement at the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission and also 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 who attend Sela PCS.
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.
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!
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.
Bryce Jacobs, PhD, is an educational reformer and educator, with a particular interest in family engagement and college access/equity. She is a proud founder of Sela PCS. Dr. Jacobs is the Regional Executive Director of BUILD Metro DC, an organization that uses entrepreneurship-based, experiential learning to ignite the potential of youth in under-resourced communities and equips them for high school, college, and career success. Previously, Dr. Jacobs was the Director of Education at College Summit, an organization whose mission is to help more low income students get to and through college, and was recently a program specialist at the National Parent Teacher Association. Dr. Jacobs has a BA in International Development from Clark University, an MA from George Washington University in Education, and a PhD 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.
Jenifer Shapiro is a seasoned finance and development professional with a passion for carrying out work that has a substantive social impact, and results in broadening financial and social services to low income individuals in Africa and Asia. She currently works for MSC, a financial economic, social and dgital inclusion consultancy where she spearheads their marketing and communications in the United States and Canada and liaises with donor agencies. Jenifer received her BA from Tufts University in International Relations and her MA/MBA from American University. She is excited to contribute to Sela’s growth and standing in the Washington DC charter school community. Jenifer lives in Capitol Hill, and in her free time enjoys adventures and explorations with her daughter and seeing the world.
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.
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.
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 prouder husband and father of two.
Damone Jones serves as the Senior Vice President of Partnerships at CuriosityStream. He joined from CBS Interactive, where he served as senior director of marketing partnerships. Prior to CBS Jones spent five years at Discovery Education as the Senior Director of Corporate Education Partnerships. In this position, he worked closely with Fortune 500 companies to bring needed critical skills and content into classrooms across the U.S. Previously, Damone held roles with EverFi, PeerForward, USA Football and the Baltimore Ravens with a keen focus on student engagement and empowerment in sports. A former Division I collegiate athlete, Jones is co-founder of Uplifting Athletes, Inc., a national nonprofit organization aligning college football with rare diseases and raising them as a national priority through outreach, research, education and advocacy. He has also served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Damone's work has earned a multitude of awards including: US Chamber of Commerce Corporate Citizenship Award 2019; Shorty Awards: Best Use of Localization Winner 2019; US Chamber of Commerce Corporate Citizenship Award Finalist 2018; and CINDYS Education/Vocation Award Winner 2016. He holds a bachelor's degree from The Pennsylvania State University, as well as an M.B.A. and M.S. in Sports Business Management from the University of Central Florida. Damone lives in Silver Spring, Md. with his wife Karen and their two daughters.
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.