Leadership

Quinton Vance, Executive Director

Quinton Vance joined KIPP DFW as Executive Director in July of 2013. Prior to joining the KIPP DFW team, Quinn was a regional leader within KIPP NYC, where he oversaw the development of KIPP NYC’s initial K-4 elementary programs, managed the creation of aligned curriculum and assessment tools to support instructional outcomes across KIPP NYC elementary schools, selected and trained the founding school leadership teams of the elementary schools, and provided leadership coaching and guidance for KIPP leaders schools.

Vance has worked in education for over 18 years. He earned his stripes in the instructional environment while spending multiple years in early childhood classrooms as a kindergarten teacher. Prior to joining KIPP, Vance was a member of the Teach for America program. He earned a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Oregon, and a Masters of Education from St. Peter’s College. Quinn resides in Dallas with his wife Lauren and their two young children.

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.

Mackenzie Martin, Development Director

Mackenzie Martin is the Director of Development at KIPP Dallas-Fort Worth. In this role, Mackenzie oversees all regional fundraising, volunteer, marketing, communications and public relations activities for the region. As KIPP DFW grows to serve 5,000 pre-K through 12th grade students and their families with 10 high quality public charter schools, Mackenzie works with the Board of Directors, Advisory Council and Campaign Committee to secure the $23 million dollar fundraising need by 2020. Before moving to Dallas to assume her role at KIPP DFW, Mackenzie served as the Director of Community Education and Special Events for I Live Here, I Give Here (Austin’s Campaign for Philanthropy) where she led a collaboration of philanthropists, nonprofit organizations and local businesses. Mackenzie’s passion for community engagement, early childhood education and social justice have led her to be involved with Texas nonprofit organizations for over 10 years. Mackenzie has received a Texas Social Media Award nomination from the Austin American Statesman and was selected as a ‘Young Philanthropist’ by Giving City Magazine. Mackenzie is a member of Association of Fundraising Professionals and The Junior League of Dallas and a Texas Lyceum Director.  Born and raised in Austin, Mackenzie now proudly calls Dallas home. She enjoys spending time exploring Texas and all of its natural treasures, and working on her family ranch in Montague County. 

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, 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. 

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.

Michael A. Horne, Head of Schools

Michael Horne is the Head of Schools at KIPP Dallas-Fort Worth.  In this role, he is responsible for the overall academic performance of KIPP DFW’s middle schools.  Prior to becoming Head of Schools, Michael was the Principal of KIPP Truth Academy, KIPP DFW’s flagship public charter middle school, serving students in grades five through eight. Founded in 2003, the mission of KIPP Truth is to prepare its students to enter, succeed in, and graduate from college preparatory high schools and colleges.

Prior to becoming Principal, Michael served as the Dean of Instruction at KIPP Truth Academy.  Before joining the KIPP family, Michael was a kindergarten teacher at Excellence Charter School in Brooklyn, New York and a seventh grade English teacher at Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Roxbury, Massachusetts, where students consistently outperform their district and state peers respectively. 

In addition to Michael’s teaching and leadership roles, 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, a two-year leadership program to support emerging KIPP school leaders.  In 2005, Michael won the Amherst College Class of 1954 Commitment to Teaching award. 

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. Outside of work, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife, Marissa, a native of Dallas, and learning lessons from their precocious daughter, Bailey.

Karen Salerno, Head of Schools

Karen is deeply passionate about social justice and supporting children in fulfilling their potential in their educational careers and beyond. She joined KIPP DFW as the elementary Head of Schools after spending 4 years with Uplift Education, also in north Texas. In her role as Head of Schools, Karen manages the elementary school principals and supports the expansion of elementary programming in the region.

Prior to joining KIPP DFW, Karen was a Managing Director at Uplift Education, managing the principals and academic programs of K-8 Schools while also supporting the expansion of the network. A conflicted college football fan, Karen earned a Bachelor of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in Educational Administration and Policy at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.  During her graduate school course work, Karen supported school culture research and was the recipient of the University of Michigan School of Education Fellowship Award.

Karen is a Dallas native and, prior to returning home to Dallas, Karen worked as a Teach for America corps member in San Jose, California and a teacher, instructional coach and new teacher seminar leader in Washington, DC and Chicago, IL.  While in Washington, DC, Karen also supported communication and advocacy for the national Teach for America office as an Education Pioneer Fellow.  Karen returned to Dallas in 2011 to found Uplift Pinnacle Preparatory as the founding principal and has also worked with Teaching Trust’s Aspiring Leaders Program as a mentor principal. She is thrilled to live near her family and she enjoys spending time with her husband, Matt, and their daughter, Isabella, as well as jogging with her dog, reading and spending time at White Rock Lake.  

Ellen Trebilcock, KIPP Truth Academy School Leader

Ellen is the Principal 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 Founding 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 Founding 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.

Shawn Bender, Fisher Fellow

In the summer of 2016, Shawn Bender will open the third KIPP elementary in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.  Shawn began in education as a New York City Teaching Fellow in 2001. He taught third and fourth graders at PS 13 in Brooklyn, New York.  He also taught elementary school in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2006, Shawn became a professional development consultant for the state of Georgia, representing Shurley English Instructional Materials. This gave him the opportunity to visit many schools and ignited his passion for leadership. Shawn has had the opportunity to teach and supervise student teachers on the collegiate level for Kennesaw State University and Georgia Perimeter College. In 2009, Shawn was inducted to the New Leaders for New Schools principal training program in Washington DC and served as an assistant principal for three years. In 2012, he accepted a principalship in Atlanta Public Schools and has been principal for the past three years. He earned his B.S. in Behavioral Science from Mercy College and M.S. in Early Childhood Education from Brooklyn College. Later he earned leadership degrees from Kennesaw State University and the University of West Georgia. Outside of school, Shawn is an avid reader, gamer and spends quality time with his wife children. “I believe that life is rich with challenges and staying curious, malleable, optimistic, and passionate are keys to success.”