The Steering Committee of the Research Alliance for New York City Schools provides guidance about our goals and research agenda and feedback on our work, offering a range of vital perspectives on the City’s education system.
The Committee may include up to 12 members who serve for staggered three year terms.
Augusta Souza Kappner, Chair- President Emeritus, Bank Street College of Education
Jennifer Jones Austin- Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies
Mark Cannizzaro- President, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators
Meisha Porter- Chancellor, New York City Department of Education
Mark Dunetz- President, New Visions for Public Schools
Katherine Fleming- Provost, New York University
William M. Lewis, Jr.- Managing Director & Co-Chairman of Investment Banking, Lazard & Co., Ltd.
Frances Lucerna- Co-Founder and Executive Director, El Puente
James Merriman- Chief Executive Officer, New York City Charter School Center
Michael Mulgrew- President, United Federation of Teachers
Félix Matos Rodriguez- Chancellor, The City University of New York
Augusta Souza Kappner, Chair
President Emeritus, Bank Street College of Education
Dr. Augusta Souza Kappner served as President of the Bank Street College of Education from 1995 to 2008.
Prior to Bank Street, she had a distinguished career with the City University of New York, including positions as President of the Borough of Manhattan Community College and Acting President of the City College of New York. From 1993 to 1995, she served as Assistant Secretary of Vocational and Adult Education in the U.S. Department of Education.
Dr. Kappner has spoken widely on education issues and has served on numerous boards and task forces, including the New York City Mayor’s Panel for Education Policy, the New York State Governor’s Education Transition Committee, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the National Writing Project. She has chaired the boards of the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education and the Adult Literacy Media Alliance, and is currently on the board of the Wallace Foundation.
Dr. Kappner is a former Carnegie Fellow and is the recipient of a Distinguished Alumna Award from Barnard College as well as a Medal of Excellence from Columbia University.
Jennifer Jones Austin
Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director, FPWA
Jennifer Jones Austin is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the FPWA, a prominent NYC anti-poverty policy and advocacy organization comprising 200 member human services agencies. Prior to joining FPWA, Ms. Jones Austin served as Senior Vice President of United Way of New York City.
Ms. Jones Austin was appointed as the City’s first Family Services Coordinator by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She has also served as Deputy Commissioner for the Administration for Children’s Services, Civil Rights Deputy Bureau Chief for Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, and Vice President for LearnNow/Edison Schools Inc.
Ms. Jones Austin has chaired several influential boards and commissions, including serving as Co-Chair of Mayor Bill de Blasio's transition team, leader of his Universal Pre-K Design Workgroup and the Jobs for New Yorkers Task Force, Chair of the City of New York Procurement Policy Board, and Co-Chair of the New York State Supermarket Commission.
Ms. Jones Austin is a board member and spokesperson for The National Marrow Donor Program and a board member of the NYC Board of Correction, Citizens’ Committee for Children, the Adelaide Sanford Institute, and the New York Blood Center.
President, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators
Mark Cannizzaro is the President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. He first became active with the union in 2006 when he served as the D-31 Assistant District Chair. He became the union's Secretary before being elected as an Executive Vice President in 2012.
Mr. Cannizzaro began his career as a Staten Island physical education teacher at Totten Intermediate School, where he received the Angela Zirpiades Outstanding Physical Educator Award. In 1995, he was named Assistant Principal at Totten; and in 2003 he was named Principal of IS 75 Paulo Intermediate School, which was recognized as a "model middle school" by Region 7 in 2005.
In 2008, he received the Entertainers4Education Outstanding Leadership Award. Mr. Cannizzaro was also chosen to participate in the Teacher's College Cahn Fellowship, a professional development program for effective principals with a track record of success. Mr. Cannizzaro served as the Middle School Principals' Association's (MSPA) President from 2009-2011, and he is currently a member of the NY Academy of Public Education and the MSPA of NYC.
Mr. Cannizzaro earned a B.A. in physical education from SUNY Cortland. He holds an M.A. in special education and a sixth-year certificate in supervision and administration from the College of Staten Island.
President, New Visions for Public Schools
Mark Dunetz is the President of New Visions. He first joined the organization in 2013 as leader of the school support and operations team.
Dr. Dunetz began his career in the New York City public schools in 1998. He has taught high school social studies and English as a Second Language, and worked as a program evaluator for the National Science Foundation, an educational consultant, and a professor (of research methods at the City College of New York and of educational administration at Baruch College's School of Public Affairs). Immediately prior to joining New Visions, he was the founding principal of the Academy for Careers in Television & Film, a small career and technical education-focused high school in Long Island City, Queens.
Dr. Dunetz earned a B.A. in history from the University of California, Santa Cruz; an M.A. in Teaching Speakers of Other Languages from New York University; and a Ph.D. in urban education with a concentration in education policy from the City University of New York Graduate Center.
Provost, New York University
Katherine E. Fleming, Provost of New York University, joined NYU’s faculty in 1998. A chaired professor in the Faculty of Arts and Science, Fleming served as Deputy Provost and Vice Chancellor (Europe) before becoming Provost.
She is the Alexander S. Onassis Professor of Hellenic Culture and Civilization, Director of the Remarque Institute at NYU in New York City, and associated faculty at École Normale Supérieure in Paris (ENS Paris). From 2012 – 2016 she served as President of the Board of Directors at the University of Piraeus (Athens, Greece).
Provost Fleming has been deeply involved with academia and public affairs both within the U.S. and internationally. Educated at Columbia University/Barnard College (B.A., 1988); the University of Chicago (M.A., 1989); and the University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D., 1995), she is an historian by training and specializes in the modern history of Greece and the broader Mediterranean context.
Provost Fleming oversees the Global Research Initiatives Program, which she created in 2011, and which supports faculty and graduate research at NYU’s global sites.
William M. Lewis, Jr.
Managing Director & Co-Chairman of Investment Banking, Lazard & Co., Ltd.
William M. Lewis, Jr. is a Managing Director and Co-Chairman of Investment Banking at Lazard & Co., Ltd. He joined Lazard in 2004 and has advised numerous global corporations, such as American Express, Amgen, Procter & Gamble, and CBS.
Graduating from Harvard College with honors in 1978, Lewis went on to obtain an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. In 1989, Lewis was elected as Morgan Stanley’s first African American Managing Director. He served in various leadership positions in his more than 20 years at the firm, culminating in his role as the Co-Head of the Global Banking Department, where he was responsible for the firm’s global industry practices and regions, accounting for more than $2 billion in revenue. Lewis was also Chairman of Morgan Stanley’s charitable foundation and their diversity task force. In addition, he has served as Co-Chairman of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Treasurer of the National Urban League, Chairman of A Better Chance, and as a board member of the American Museum of Natural History, Morehouse College, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Harvard Management Company, and the Central Park Conservancy.
Lewis is a member of the Economic Club of New York and currently serves on the boards of several organizations, including the New York City Police Foundation, Uncommon Schools, The Posse Foundation, Columbia Center for Public Research and Leadership, and the Institute for Sports Medicine Research. Lewis received a Doctor of Humane Letters from Bloomfield College, and has received awards from several organizations, including the NY Urban League, the Legal Defense Fund, the National Urban League, the African American Student Union of Harvard Business School, and the Weeksville Heritage Society.
Co-Founder and Executive Director, El Puente
Frances Lucerna is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of El Puente, an organization dedicated to fostering holistic leadership for peace and social justice.
Prior to this role, Ms. Lucerna used her background as a professional dancer to develop the Williamsburg Arts & Culture Council for Youth, the first performing and visual arts program for Latinx and African American youth in Williamsburg. She served as Artistic Director of El Puente for a decade, creating it’s nationally recognized and Brooklyn’s most comprehensive Latino Arts and Culture Center. In 1993 she became the Founding Principal of the El Puente Academy for Peace & Justice, a New Visions public high school that was the first in the nation dedicated to human rights and nationally recognized for it’s groundbreaking “community school” model.
Ms. Lucerna has received numerous awards, including “Celebrating Success” from the Children’s Defense Fund, the Hienz Award for the Human Condition, Brooklyn Arts Council’s Arts Advocate Award, and Comite Noviembre’s Lo Mejor de Nuestra Comunidad award. She serves on several boards, including the Mayor’s Advisory Board for Community Schools, the DOE’s School Diversity Advisory Committee, and the North Brooklyn Parks Alliance.
In 2018, Ms. Lucerna was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from her alma mater, Bank Street College.
Chief Executive Officer, New York City Charter School Center
James Merriman is the Chief Executive Officer of the New York City Charter School Center, which focuses on starting, supporting and building support for high-quality charter schools. Mr. Merriman is recognized as one of the nation’s foremost experts on charter school policy.
Prior to working at the New York City Charter School Center, Mr. Merriman worked at the Walton Family Foundation, where he helped to develop and implement the foundation’s grant making process in the charter sector. He spent seven years at State University of New York’s Charter Schools Institute (SUNY-CSI), five of which he served as the organization’s executive director. During his career, Mr. Merriman has worked to create and design systems aimed at promoting the growth of a high-quality charter sector.
In 2012, Mr. Merriman was named a Pahara-Aspen Educational Fellow. He has served on the board of the National Charter Schools Institute and is currently a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, where he has also served as a member of its advisory board.
Mr. Merriman earned a B.A. in national security policy studies from Columbia College and a J.D from New York University Law.
President, United Federation of Teachers
Michael Mulgrew is the president of the United Federation of Teachers, a union whose 200,000 members include New York City public school educators, family child-care providers, nurses, and others.
He is recognized as a national leader in promoting labor-community collaboration and for leading the union’s efforts to transform education in the City. For example, Mr. Mulgrew mobilized a diverse coalition of public- and private-sector organizations to create the Community Learning Schools Initiative, which aims to enhance children’s achievement and opportunities by connecting schools with partner agencies that can respond to the social, health, and educational needs of students’ families and communities. Mr. Mulgrew also worked with the NYC Department of Education to launch the landmark Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence (PROSE) Initiative, which empowers teachers and schools to redesign their school program to better meet students’ needs.
Mr. Mulgrew spent 12 years as a classroom teacher at William E. Grady High School in Brooklyn, where he served as UFT chapter leader. Before becoming president of the UFT, he served as the union’s Vice President for Career and Technical Education High Schools.
Chancellor, New York City Department of Education
Meisha Porter is Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, the largest school system in the nation. Appointed on March 15, 2021, she is the first Black woman to lead the education of the system’s 1 million students in over 1,800 schools. A lifelong New Yorker and product of the City’s public schools, Chancellor Porter has had a prestigious career with the DOE over nearly 25 years: community coordinator, English teacher, assistant principal, principal, district superintendent, and Bronx executive superintendent before ascending to Chancellor. Under her leadership in her most recent position, graduation rate increases in the Bronx outpaced the gains of other boroughs.
Born in Far Rockaway and raised in Jamaica, Queens, Porter graduated from Queens Vocational and Technical High School before enrolling in Hunter College. She started her career as a youth organizer in Highbridge, then helped to conceptualize and launch the creation of the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice, the first Urban Assembly school. That was where she served 18 years as community coordinator, English teacher, assistant principal, and ultimately principal.
Porter then spent three years as Superintendent of Bronx District 11, which includes neighborhoods that span the North Bronx. In 2018, she was promoted to Bronx Executive Superintendent since 2018, leading the entire borough’s 361 schools, the New Visions Affinity schools and 235,000 students across community school districts 7 through 12.
A recipient of the National Association of Negro Women’s Sojourner Truth Award, Porter has been a Columbia University Cahn fellow and an Aspen Institute fellow. She has taught at CUNY as an adjunct professor and participated in the Harvard University National Institute for Urban School Leaders and is a member of the Fordham University – Carnegie Foundation iLead team.
Porter received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Hunter College, concentrating in Cross Cultural Literature and Black and Puerto Rican Studies. She later received her Master’s Degree in Administration and Supervision from Mercy College and completed her School District Leader certification through the NYC Advanced Leadership Institute. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in education at Fordham University.
Félix Matos Rodriguez
Chancellor, The City University of New York
Félix V. Matos Rodriguez was appointed as the eighth Chancellor of The City University of New York in May 2019, becoming the first Latino educator to serve in this role. Previously, he was the president of Queens College. His career spans both academia and the public sector.
Matos Rodriguez spent five years as the president of Hostos Community College. From 2006 to 2008, he served as Puerto Rico’s cabinet secretary to the Department of Family Services. Matos Rodriguez has published extensively and taught in the fields of Women’s, Puerto Rican, Caribbean, Latino, and Migration Studies. He is a former director of Hunter College’s nationally renowned Center for Puerto Rican Studies. Matos Rodriguez has received numerous awards and honors, including the Citizens Union Community Leadership Award and ASPIRA of New York Circle of Achievers Award. In 2012, he was the Grand Marshal of NYC’s Puerto Rican Day Parade.
He is married to Dr. Liliana M. Arabia, a dentist, and they have two sons: Lucas and Juan Carlos.
A native of Puerto Rico, he is a cum laude graduate in Latin American Studies from Yale University and received a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University.