Leadership

Michael A. Horne, Superintendent

Michael Horne is the Superintendent of KIPP Dallas-Fort Worth.  In this role, he is responsible for KIPP DFW’s overall performance, setting the vision and strategy to support student achievement; and execution of a growth strategy to serve 10 schools and 5,000 students by 2021.  Prior to becoming Superintendent, Michael was the Head of Schools supporting KIPP DFW’s middle schools.  In 2012, Michael became the School Leader of KIPP Truth Academy, KIPP DFW’s flagship public charter middle school, serving students in grades five through eight.

Michael earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Amherst College, a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a Master of Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Michael is also a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  In 2012 Michael was selected to the KIPP Fisher Fellowship program; a highly selective leadership development program designed to prepare leaders to found and lead KIPP schools.  Michael was also selected to the Miles Family Fellowship program designed to support emerging KIPP school leaders.  In 2005, Michael won the Amherst College Class of 1954 Commitment to Teaching award.  Outside of work, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife, Marissa, and learning lessons from their children, Bailey and John. 

Donnidra Johnson, Chief Operating Officer

Donnidra Johnson joined KIPP DFW in 2011 and currently serves as Chief Operating Officer. In this role, she oversees all business operations for KIPP DFW and manages and supports the Finance, Operations, and Talent departments. Donnidra leads regional initiatives to design, implement, and monitor systems and practices that enhance organizational efficiency and scalability. She leads the continuous assessment of KIPP DFW's expansion plan to grow from 1 school serving 350 students in 2012 to 10 schools serving over 5,000 students in southern Dallas by 2020.

Prior to joining KIPP DFW, Donnidra spent four years as a public accountant at Ernst & Young where she created, executed, and reviewed audit procedures for several Fortune 500 companies' annual financial statement audits and quarterly reviews. Donnidra also has strategic planning, operations, and business consulting experience with Humana, KIPP NYC, and New York’s Future Leaders Institute Charter School.

Donnidra earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Florida, a Master of Science in Accounting from the University of Virginia, and a Master of Business Administration with specializations in Strategy and Entrepreneurship & Innovation from New York University. When taking a break from building a better tomorrow, she enjoys travelling with her husband, Rashard, and having fun with their two children.

Lauren Vance, Chief Academic Officer

Lauren is the Chief Academic Officer of KIPP DFW. Prior to joining KIPP DFW, Lauren was the Senior Director of Principal Development Programs at the KIPP Foundation. Lauren joined KIPP in 2012 after 10 years with Uncommon Schools in New York City and Boston. She co-founded Kings Collegiate Charter School in Brooklyn in 2007 and led the school from August 2007 – June 2010. She then served as Associate Managing Director, managing the principals and academic programs of Uncommon NYC’s middle schools, from July 2010 until June 2012. Before her leadership roles, Lauren taught 7th and 8th grade math at Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Boston, MA for three years, and 7th grade Math and Science at Ferndale Middle School in High Point, NC for two years. Lauren earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Middle Grades Education at Appalachian State University in North Carolina (her home state) and a Master of Education degree at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. She is enjoying getting to know Dallas after moving here in 2013 with her husband Quinn and two children Alex and Ella. She enjoys spending time with her family, jogging, seeing movies in the theater, and watching Modern Family.

Dominick DiFalco, Managing Director of KIPP Through College

Dominick began his career in higher education as Writing Center Director at Pace University. He then entered the not-for-profit sector, serving as Director of College Academics for KIPP Through College in NYC beginning in 2008. Operating out of the South Bronx, he assisted high school and college students, developing academic support and college persistence initiatives, as well as managing the successful College Scholars Program. After holding a consulting position for KIPP Foundation, he joined Uncommon Schools to create an alumni services program in upstate New York, where he worked for two years. Dominick joined KIPP Dallas-Fort Worth in July of 2013 and is thrilled to be a part of the KIPP DFW team and family. He earned hiss B.A. from Pace University and received his M.A. in English Language and Literature from Brooklyn College.

Cara Eng, Director of Regional Operations

Cara Eng immigrated to the US at the start of first grade with zero English ability.  Because of teachers who had high expectations, she flourished in an urban school system and achieved her dream of graduating Rice University.  While at Rice, Cara learned about the achievement gap in public education; this became her calling.  She wants all children to be able to attain the American Dream because that is what America has done for her family.  As Director of Regional Operations, Cara is excited to work with a hard-working group of individuals who believe in the potential of all children.  She leads the growth of the Operations Team to support expansion to reach 5,000 students by 2022.

Prior to joining KIPP DFW, Cara taught for 3 years in both traditional public and charter schools as a member of Teach for America’s Camden corps.  After teaching, she earned a Master in Business Administration with concentration in Non-Profit Management at Yale School of Management.  From Yale, she transitioned back to her hometown of Houston to be a campus Operations Manager at YES Prep where she created systems to improve substitute efficiency, managed the budget, designed the school schedule, and implemented a flip schedule to increase staff satisfaction.  On a district level, she led the Lottery Task Force that redesigned the lottery system to be fully web-based and automated and created professional development for the Operations staff.  Cara believes that all problems have a solution, and this motivates her to do her best for KIPPsters every day.

Outside of work, Cara enjoys playing strategic board games with her husband Sanford and reading young-adult fiction. 

Laura Farber, Head of Schools

Laura Farber is originally from Indianapolis, Indiana and earned her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame. After college, she taught 4th grade at MacArthur Elementary School as part of Teach for America in Houston. Laura then taught 6th grade reading, writing, and social studies at YES Prep North Central in Houston. While teaching, she earned her Master’s in Administration from the University of Houston. Laura moved to Austin in 2010. There she was an assistant principal at KIPP Austin Academy of Arts & Letters her first year, and then completed the Fisher Fellowship. In the summer of 2012 she opened KIPP Austin Vista Middle School and led the school for four years. While leading Vista over the last two years, Laura supported regional work at KIPP Austin by managing another middle school principal and leading the Secondary Literacy Priority work across the region. Laura is excited to continue on her Texas journey to Dallas, and to work with the Team and Family in Dallas! Laura will be working on KIPP DFW’s regional academic strategy alongside our Chief Academic Officer. Outside of school, she loves to spend time with her husband Matt, her son Asher, and their 95-pound dog Otto.

Tasha Ginn, Pleasant Grove Primary Head of Schools

Tasha Ginn is the Head of Schools for KIPP DFW’s Pleasant Grove schools. Prior to joining KIPP DFW, Tasha served as the Founding School Leader at KIPP Voyage Academy for Girls in Houston for seven years. Tasha started her path as an educator in 1998 as a Houston Teach for America Corps Member after graduating from Texas A&M University. During her eight years as a classroom teacher Tasha worked in both urban and suburban schools in the Houston and Dallas area. When she began her graduate program at the University of Houston she planned to focus on curriculum development, however her path was redirected by witnessing the extreme disparities between the urban and suburban settings in which she taught. This led to her relocating to Harlem to be a founding leadership team member of Democracy Prep Charter School.

Tasha is overjoyed to return to Dallas-Fort Worth to be closer to her family and to continue her doctoral studies at Texas Christian University. Furthermore, she is excited to continue her passion for doing whatever it takes to help students on their path to college graduation. In her free time, Tasha enjoys reading, power walking, and spending time with her family.

Randall Fowler, Director of Talent

Randall Fowler joined KIPP DFW as the Director of Talent in the spring of 2014. During his time as an intern with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Randall began to recognize challenges faced by certain communities that were negatively impacted by limited educational opportunities. As a result, he became motivated to work in education. In 2008, he began his career as a Teach For America corps member, where he taught humanities to high school students at the D. M. Therrell School of Law, Government, and Public Policy in Atlanta Public Schools. After his commitment to Teach For America, Randall moved back to Dallas and continued teaching in Dallas Independent School District. From there, Randall was asked to join the national recruitment team of Teach For America, as Recruitment Manager throughout Texas. From the experiences he gathered with Teach For America, Randall transitioned to become the Talent Recruitment Strategist for Uplift Education, where he led talent acquisitions at the central management levels, as well as the expansion of ten schools. In his role with KIPP DFW, Randall leads the efforts to recruit, retain, and reward the highest caliber of education-minded individuals, as well as manage the organizational framework of its employees.

Tryna Knox, Director of Academic Compliance

As KIPP DFW’s Director of Academic Compliance, Tryna will help to create and maintain a culture of academic excellence and high levels of student achievement for all schools in our region. Tryna joined the KIPP DFW team in 2014 as the Director of Curriculum and Assessment. In this role, she has worked with the Regional Academic Team to align and develop K-12 college preparatory curriculum and data systems to promote student growth and achievement. Her prior work in education was in elementary schools as an assistant principal, lead science teacher, 3rd grade teacher, grade level chair, and librarian in Richardson ISD and Lewisville ISD. Tryna designed procedures and instructional approaches to focus on exceptional outcomes for all students; using data and technology to target learning gaps and enrichment experiences. Before moving into education, Tryna led large transformational project teams in the healthcare industry as an engineer and business consultant. She worked for community based non-profit hospitals, VHA, Inc., Ernst & Young, and Deloitte Consulting. Tryna earned her M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Southern Methodist University, her M.B.A. from Brenau University, and her B.S.E. in Industrial Engineering from The University of Central Florida. Outside of school, Tryna enjoys running marathons, reading, photography, scrapbooking, and watching sports with her husband and three boys.

Amanda Wyatt, Director of Finance

Amanda Wyatt joined KIPP DFW in 2013 after attending a presentation by a member of the Board of Directors about the organization’s mission to effect change in the lives of students and families in southern Dallas. After working for several years in the private sector, Amanda’s desire to join a mission-focused organization where she could share her experience grew. Prior to joining KIPP DFW, Amanda worked in start-up, consulting-focused roles that allowed her to emphasize building scalable processes across growing organizations. She began her career at Rockfish Interactive, a start-up digital advertising agency based in Northwest Arkansas. After the company was purchased by an international parent organization, Amanda joined Alvarez & Marsal Business Consulting. She focused on performance improvement and organizational change initiatives across companies in the healthcare, oil and gas, and retail industries. She has experience in governmental accounting, financial reporting, process development, and change management. In her role with KIPP DFW, Amanda leads the financial management and oversight of the organization. She earned a Master of Accountancy and B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas, where she held the prestigious Boyer Fellowship for business study and was named the Sam M. Walton College of Business Outstanding Graduating Senior. Amanda is a certified public accountant and a registered yoga teacher. Amanda enjoys traveling, teaching and practicing yoga, refining her Spanish-language skills, and spending time with her puppy, Rosie.

Ariana Moore, Director of Alumni Services

Prior to working with KIPP DFW, Ariana interned with the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, assisting with an Outreach Seminar for Darfur, and The International Center in Washington, DC, assisting with the Clean Water Initiative and the New Forest Project. It wasn’t until she participated in different child development programs, including tutoring for ESL students in DISD, teaching English in Madrid, Spain, and volunteering with Hogares Club Michin, a home for abandoned children in Bogota, Colombia, that she realized she wanted to work with students.

Ariana started working at KIPP Truth Academy as a Student Recruiter/Community Liaison in March of 2008, while finishing her third major at Southern Methodist University. In September 2008 she transitioned to start KIPP DFW’s alumni support program, KIPP Through College (KTC). With only 51 KIPP DFW alumni at that point, Ariana started creating college and career readiness support services as the founding Class of KIPP DFW became high school juniors. It wasn’t until August 2011, when KIPP DFW’s founding Class started college that KTC’s focused shifted from supporting alumni to college, to supporting alumni through college. Today, KTC has grown to serve 478 alumni, with 307 high school-aged and 171 college-age alumni, and Ariana continues to support the development and growth of KIPP DFW Alumni services in high school and college.

Elizabeth Rubalcava, Director of Career Services

Along with advising alumni to and through college, Elizabeth leads KIPP Through College’s career readiness initiatives, including the Summer Internship Program that matches alumni with meaningful summer work experiences. A lifelong resident of Dallas, Elizabeth’s passion for education stems from her own experience growing up in Oak Cliff and being a first-generation college graduate. She holds BA degrees in Communications and Spanish from Southern Methodist University and a Master’s in Education, with specialization in Higher Education, from the University of Texas at Arlington. She honed her skills in serving youth and families through her past work at Texas A&M University, Educational Opportunity Center, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and The Concilio. She is a 2014 fellow of Leadership ISD and volunteers regularly within her community.

Ellen Trebilcock, KIPP Truth Academy School Leader

Ellen is the School Leader of KIPP Truth Academy. Ellen joined the KIPP team and family in 2012 as the 6th grade ELA teacher. It was during this year that she began to witness the power of bringing literacy to life and developing curious readers. Ellen taught 5th grade ELA during the 2013-14 school year and became an Assistant Principal for the 2014-15 school year. Prior to joining KTA’s Team and Family, she spent two years teaching seventh-grade Foreign Language Exploratory at Southwest Early College Campus in Kansas City, MO, as a 2010 Teach for America Corps Member. In the first two years of her teaching career, she also dedicated herself to building out the men’s and women’s high school soccer department at SWECC. Ellen received her B.A. in Advertising with a minor in French from The University of Oklahoma and her M.A. in Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. 

Katie Gilleland, KIPP Destiny Elementary School Leader 

Katie is a Dallas native, earning her degree in education from the University of North Texas and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Abilene Christian University. In 2006, she taught in Denton Independent School District as a substitute teacher, and then taught in Irving Independent School District for five years, looping with her many of her students through first grade, second grade, and then fourth grade. Katie also helped design Irving ISD’s district-wide math curriculum and served as one of their district-wide balanced literacy trainers. In 2012, she joined KIPP DFW to be the sixth grade World Humanities teacher at KIPP TRUTH Academy and grade level chair. A year later, she transitioned to KIPP Destiny Elementary to lead the founding kindergarten team as grade level chair in the fall and as assistant principal in spring 2014. Katie Gilleland is excited to step up as successor leader for KIPP Destiny Elementary this spring as she continues to help our flagship elementary school fulfill its destiny for every KIPPster to and through college.

Esmeralda Cardoso, KIPP Destiny Middle School Leader 

Esmeralda is the Founding School Leader of KIPP DFW’s second middle school, KIPP Destiny Middle School. Prior to earning the Fisher Fellowship, she served as assistant principal for three years at KIPP Truth Academy. She first joined KIPP Truth Academy in 2006, serving as sixth grade math teacher and sixth grade level chair. Prior to joining the KIPP team, she was a founding teacher at Uplift Education - Hampton Preparatory in Dallas, TX where she taught sixth and seventh grade mathematics, fifth grade math lab and served as seventh grade level chair. She began her teaching career at YES Prep-Southeast in Houston, TX, as seventh grade mathematics teacher in 2004. Esmeralda received her B.A. in Electrical Engineering and Hispanic Studies from Rice University and her M.Ed. in Educational Leadership with Urban School Specialization from Southern Methodist University. Outside of KIPP, she spends her free time with her two wonderful children and supportive husband.

Katie Hill, KIPP Truth Elementary School Leader 

Katie is absolutely honored to be the Founding School Leader at KIPP Truth Elementary. Prior to joining the KIPP DFW Team & Family, Katie was a principal intern in Durham Public Schools and the Director of Special Education at Maureen Joy Charter School in Durham, North Carolina. With KIPP DFW, she served as the Director of Special Education at KIPP Truth Academy, was a Miles Family Fellow and a Fisher Fellow.  An alumna of Teach For America - Eastern North Carolina, she taught special education in inclusion, resource, and self-contained settings. Katie has served three times as a School Director for Teach For America at both the Mississippi Delta and Tulsa Institutes and was a Corps Member Advisor at the Chicago Institute. A recipient of the Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teaching Award, the Sontag Prize for Urban Education, and a national finalist for Teach For America’s Alumni Award in Teaching, she is also featured in Teaching As Leadership: The Highly Effective Teacher's Guide to Closing the Achievement Gap. Katie received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Colorado State University and holds a Master of School Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dexter Chaney, KIPP Pleasant Grove Primary Co-School Leader

Dexter A. Chaney II is a life-long learner and has been a passionate educator for 11 years. He has served in various communities in Houston, Chicago, and Dallas. Dexter has been an elementary teacher, assistant principal at traditional public schools and charter schools, and in the fall of 2016, will serve as KIPP DFW’s co-founding school leader of KIPP Pleasant Grove Primary. . Dexter has always pushed his students to be champions inside and outside of the classroom. For three consecutive years in Houston, 100% of “Mr. Chaney’s Champions” passed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills in reading and math. Before his arrival in Chicago, only 37% of the 3rd graders at his school were meeting or exceeding grade level requirements for the Illinois Standard Achievement Test. Under Dexter’s guidance, 90% of third graders performed at or above grade level for three consecutive years. Dexter graduated from University of Houston with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies and received a Master of Arts from Concordia University Chicago in School Leadership. Dexter is a Milken Educator Award recipient from Illinois, served as a Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellow with the United States Department of Education, and is a recipient of the Miles Family Fellowship.