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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, ChairPresident Emeritus, Bank Street College of Education 

Jennifer Jones AustinChief Executive Officer & Executive Director, FPWA

David BanksChancellor, New York City Department of Education 

Mark CannizzaroPresident, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators

Mark DunetzPresident, New Visions for Public Schools

Katherine FlemingProvost, New York University

Frances LucernaCo-Founder and Executive Director, El Puente

Christine ManginoPresident, Queensborough Community College 

James MerrimanChief Executive Officer, New York City Charter School Center

Michael MulgrewPresident, United Federation of Teachers

Felix Matos RodriguezChancellor, The City University of New York

Michelle Yanche Executive Director, Good Shepherd Services 

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.


David Banks

Chancellor, New York City Department of Education 

David C. Banks is Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, the largest school system in the nation. He is the former President and CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation, and the founding principal of The Eagle Academy for Young Men, the first school in a network of innovative all-boys public schools in New York City and Newark, N.J. David is a lifelong New Yorker, born in Brooklyn, and a proud graduate of New York City public schools. After a year working as a school safety officer, he began his first teaching job at P.S. 167. From there, he went on to become a founding principal at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, and later at the Eagle Academy for Young Men, which he founded in 2004. The Eagle model has since been adopted in schools throughout all five New York City boroughs and Newark, N.J., expanding nationally through the Eagle Institute.

Banks is a co-founder of Black EdFluencers United, an organization dedicated to influencing and developing the capacity of Black educators and raising awareness about systemic challenges within education. He has also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the International Boys’ Schools Coalition, co-chair of New York City Young Men's Initiative, and founding board member of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color.

Banks is a graduate of Rutgers University and received his Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University School of Law. In 2003 he participated in the Cahn Fellows Program for Distinguished Principals at the Teachers College Columbia University. In May 2014, Banks was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in education from Wheelock College.


Mark Cannizzaro

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.


Mark Dunetz

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.


Katherine Fleming

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. 

Frances Lucerna

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.


Christine Mangino

President, Queensborough Community College

Dr. Christine Mangino, the sixth president of Queensborough Community College, formerly served as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Hostos Community College of the City University of New York.

Prior to Hostos, Dr. Mangino taught in both an early childhood center, as an elementary school teacher, and later on as an adjunct professor at St. John's University. She served on nine doctoral dissertation committees, chairing four of them. Dr. Mangino began her education earning an Associate's degree from Nassau Community College, a Bachelor's and Master's degree in education from Hofstra University and a doctoral degree in Instructional Leadership from St. John's University.

Dr. Mangino presents at national and international conferences on topics such as differentiated instruction, learning styles, and leadership. She was an invited keynote speaker for faculty at Oregon State University, the 21st Century Principals Forum in Beijing and Shanghai, China and for an international Learning Styles conference in Denmark. Dr. Mangino has served her community as the co-president of the North Merrick Special Education Parent Teacher Association, a Girl Scout leader, and a volunteer counselor for a suicide hotline.


James Merriman

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.


Michael Mulgrew

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.


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.

Michelle Yanche

Executive Director, Good Shepherd Services

Michelle Yanche was appointed as Executive Director of Good Shepherd Services in December, 2019. She previously served for ten years as a member of the agency’s Executive Team, which is charged with overall financial,  operational, and program management, and stewardship of the strategic plan. Yanche has 28+ years of not-for-profit management, government relations and fundraising experience in child welfare, youth development, and neighborhood-based family  services. She has extensive knowledge of how public policies, funding streams, and procurements translate into programs on the ground and a history of successful advocacy for best  practice in each of these areas with a lasting impact on New York City’s children, youth and family services systems.

Yanche earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fordham University. She earned a Master of Public Administration from NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.