Pallavi Abraham

Pallavi Abraham

Executive Director

Pallavi has spent her teaching career working in Chicago schools. Prior to becoming Executive Director, she started as the lead science teacher at Youth Connection Leadership Academy in Bronzeville, an alternative high school for at-risk youth. She also worked at UIC College Prep, where she taught Introductory and AP Biology, as well as Biochemistry. She has earned her Masters Degree in Secondary Science Education from Johns Hopkins University. Pallavi strives to empower minority women to join competitive fields and become the future of educational leadership.

Dr. Paul Riskus

Dr. Paul Riskus

Chief Executive Officer

Paul worked as a high school chemistry and physics teacher, and was a science department chair at Urban Prep-Bronzeville High School. Following his teaching career, he became an instructional coach and assistant principal at Garcia High School. He currently has a role as an Assistant Principal at Walt Disney Elementary, and earned an EdD in Urban Educational Leadership at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Paul believes that empowering and supporting teacher leaders is the clearest path to student growth.

Dr. Michael Harries

Dr. Michael Harries

Chief Operations Officer

Michael worked as a freshmen physics teacher and freshmen team lead teacher at Urban Prep- West High school on Chicago’s near west side. He earned a Master’s Degree in Teaching at Dominican University and recently completed medical school at the University of Chicago. He is currently a resident physician at Comer Children’s Hospital. As a Pediatrician he plans to focus his career on the intersection of medical care and the K-12 school system. He also hopes to work towards increasing access to mental health resources for youth in areas of high need.

Andy Rhodes

Andy Rhodes

Chief Academic Officer

Andy works as an Assistant Principal with CPS at South Loop Elementary school.  Prior to this role, he completed his Principal Residency through the Chicago Leadership Collaborative at Coles Elementary in South Chicago and worked as a Dean, grade level lead, and English teacher with the Noble Network at Johnson College Prep in the Englewood community.  While completing his EdD in Urban Education Leadership at UIC, Andy has engaged deeply in identifying problems of practice in educational organizations in order to promote both student and adult learning.  Andy believes that great teachers are truly irreplaceable, and his inspiration in working at TST is to identify and promote teacher leadership within schools.

Meredith Goldberg

Meredith Goldberg

Director of Special Initiatives

Meredith currently teaches Algebra at Brooke High School in Boston, Massachusetts. Previously, she taught math and special education at Speer Academy and Urban Prep – Bronzeville respectively in Chicago. While working she received her Masters in Teaching. Meredith is passionate about improving our education system to a place where all students and teachers can fulfill their full potentials.

Michael Cheng

Michael Cheng

Director of Technology

Michael previously worked as the science department head at Youth Connection Leadership Academy in Bronzeville, an alternative high school for at-risk youth. While teaching, he earned a Master’s Degree in Teaching at Dominican University. He is currently working as a Data and Analytics Consultant at Clarity Insights. Michael believes in the intersection of education and technology to impact learning for both teachers and students.

Kelly McKimson-Rhodes

Kelly McKimson-Rhodes

Director of Outreach

Kelly is an English teacher at H.L. Richards High School, a Title I school in the Chicago suburb of Oak Lawn. She currently teaches Advanced Placement Literature and Composition and senior level elective English courses, including the inaugural Women’s Literature class she created last year. Kelly leads the English IV team and is a founding member of her school’s Advanced Placement Committee, working to increase equity and develop opportunities in Richards’ AP program. Kelly has earned two master’s degrees in education, and she is also a certified yoga instructor who enjoys sharing her practice and trauma-informed mindfulness training with students and other teachers. In her fourteen years in the classroom, and as the daughter of a veteran CPS teacher, Kelly knows teachers to be social justice advocates and the driving force in schools; they deserve opportunity, support, and recognition.

Summer Romero

Summer Romero

Intern: Social Media and Outreach

Summer is an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is pursuing a degree in Mathematics and Comparative Human Development. Summer became interested in education by working as a teaching fellow for Breakthrough Santa Fe and hopes to teach in Santa Fe Public schools after she graduates.

Laramie Cole

Laramie Cole

Intern: Social Media and Outreach

Laramie is an undergraduate at the University of Chicago majoring in Political Science and East Asian Languages and Civilizations. She is a certified TEFL/TESOL instructor and currently tutors English and Math. She is very passionate about education and hopes to go on to law school and practice education law in the future. Laramie believes in building a better educational environment for all and bringing better opportunities to every teacher and student.

Michael Harries

Co-Founder (Board President)


Paul Riskus

Co-Founder (Board Vice President)


Lisa Wiersma

Executive Director –  IMC Chicago Charitable Foundation (Board Treasurer)


Paul Zavitkovsky

Leadership Coach – Center for Urban Education Leadership, UIC


Dr. Steve Tozer

Director and Professor – Center for Urban Education Leadership, UIC


Dr. Decoteau Irby

Assistant Professor – UIC College of Education


Dr. Greg Jones

Executive Director – The Academy Group


Amy Sauer

Strategic Advisor – The OSA Foundation


Shamika Keepers

CPS Framework Specialist – Bronzeville Classical School

George Magnuson (Co-Chair)

Software Developer—IMC Financial Market


Shreya Singh (Co-Chair)

Development Associate—Related


Niki Anand

Managing Consultant—IBM


Joy Elizabeth

Marketing and Communications Intern—CG Life


Dylan Lieteau

Technical Account Manager—MCE Systems


Arthur Dennis

Humanities Teacher—CICS Lloyd Bond


Tejasvi Singh

Student—Midwestern University


Paul Lieponis

Lead Designer—Actualize Therapy


Gabrielle Benoit

Wendell Phillips—Special Education Teacher


Susie Choi

Lighthouse Academics NW Indiana—Regional Director of Professional Development


Vicky Lee

Associate Vice President, Development—Focus


Anusha Balaji

Consultant—Slalom Consulting


Juozas Prarnckevicius

Senior Valuation AnalystJackson National Asset Management


Tori Harrrell

Acute Care Occupational Therapist—Rush University Medical Center


Kelsey McCarty

Math Teacher — Chicago Public Schools


Antanas Riskus

Client Services Associate—MarketsandMarkets


Nisha Mishra



Chris Carlson

Co-Founder and Vice President— Fulcrum Education Solutions 

Jenni Harpring

Director of Field Education – Brown School of Social Work


Andrew Coleman

Management Consultant – Accenture