Executive Leadership Team

Our executive leadership team works to support our school leaders, oversee organizational operations, and partner with districts to open new schools.

Beth Sutkus Thompson

Chief Executive Officer

Beth Sutkus Thompson

Chief Executive Officer

Beth Sutkus Thompson has been the founding CEO of KIPP Bay Area Schools for over a decade, where she is responsible for the organization’s performance, growth and sustainability. KIPP Bay Area Schools currently serves nearly 6,000 students in 15 schools across 6 cities on a path to doubling in size in the coming years; and serves nearly 3,000 alumni on their journey to choice-filled lives. Previously, Beth was the West Coast Trailblazer at the KIPP Foundation, where she created and implemented a strategic growth plan for KIPP schools, including securing charters, start-up funding, facilities, and community support. Prior to her work at KIPP, Beth was on the founding team of NewSchools Venture Fund, a national nonprofit venture philanthropy working to reimagine public education. Beth holds a B.A. in political science, an M.A. in Education, and an MBA with a certificate in nonprofit management, all from Stanford University. She is a graduate of The Broad Academy and the Aspen-Pahara Fellowship. Beth serves on the Board of Cambiar Education, Kids Love Writing, and the Advisory Board of The Broad Center. She resides in Oakland with her husband and two young children.

Cherese Brauer

Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer

Cherese Brauer

Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer

Cherese was previously the Director of Instructional Leadership at the KIPP Foundation where she supported KIPP’s network of over 200 school leaders in executing the best leadership practices to deliver on the promises made to students and their communities. Cherese Brauer began her teaching career with The New Teacher Project’s D.C. Teaching Fellows program in DC Public Schools. She joined
KIPP DC in 2006 as a founding fifth grade teacher for WILL Academy, and served as vice principal at AIM Academy. Cherese completed the Fisher Fellowship in 2011 to found Heights Academy, KIPP DC’s second elementary school. In 2014, she founded Quest Academy, KIPP DC’s first school turnaround at the elementary level. Her experience as a founder prepares her to communicate a previously unarticulated vision, co-design the pathway to realize it, and harness a team’s energy into productive action.

Jessica Chacon

Managing Director of Schools

Jessica Chacon

Managing Director of Schools

Jessica Chacon joined KIPP Bay Area Public Schools in July 2018 as Managing Director of Schools. Jess grew up in El Paso, Texas. She earned a scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin and was the first in her family to earn a college degree. After graduating with a BA in English and Chicano Studies, Jess joined the 2003 Philadelphia Teach For America Corps. She taught middle school in Philadelphia and earned her Master's in Education. She moved to the Bay Area and continued to teach middle school with Aspire Public Schools. In 2012, Jess became an elementary principal and was the founding principal at Aspire Triumph Technology Academy in East Oakland. When she is not supporting principals, you can find her scoping out the newest restaurants in Oakland or reading on her couch.

Lisa Daggs

Chief External Affairs & Communications Officer

Lisa Daggs

Chief External Affairs & Communications Officer

Lisa brings over 25 years of experience in education reform, including four years on the founding team of the KIPP Foundation, three years as the founding Board Chair of KIPP Heartwood Academy, and the last four years heading up network Growth and Relationship Management with regions, back at the KIPP Foundation. She began her career as a TFA corps member, has worked as a national funder in the charter and education reform space, done extensive talent development and coaching of School Leaders and education entrepreneurs in New Orleans and Newark, and has a very deep understanding of the national and local charter landscape. She has also overseen marketing & communications teams at KIPP.

Cory Harris

Managing Director of Finance

Cory Harris

Managing Director of Finance

Cory Harris joined the KIPP Bay Area Public Schools Finance Team in 2013 as an Education Pioneers Analyst Fellow. As Director of Finance, Cory is responsible for overseeing the regional Finance Team, whose responsibilities include annual and long term organizational budgeting, compensation, facilities financing, and providing school budget management support to school leaders. Prior to KIPP, he worked in economic consulting in New York City. A native of Seal Beach, California, Cory holds a B.A. in Economics from Brown University. Education is his passion, but in his spare time, Cory enjoys playing the viola in the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony.

Marie Kawase Huxley

Chief of Schools

Marie Kawase Huxley

Chief of Schools

Marie has been an active force in schools and educational non-profit organizations dedicated to closing the opportunity gap by ensuring all students are prepared to excel beyond high school. Before joining KIPP in 2012, Marie was Senior District Partnership Director at Partners In School Innovation where she worked closely with Bay Area district leaders in developing strategic plans incorporating principal professional development, equity, and the Common Core state standards. Marie began her career in education as a high school social studies and Spanish teacher and later took on the roles of high school assistant principal, principal, and district director of curriculum and instruction. Marie received a B.A. in political science from UC Santa Barbara; she also holds a master’s degree in education from UCLA and master’s degree in educational administration from San Francisco State University.

Philonda Johnson

Managing Director of Schools

Philonda Johnson

Managing Director of Schools

Philonda Johnson joined KIPP Bay Area Public Schools in July 2017 as Managing Director of Elementary Schools. Philonda grew up in San Antonio, Texas and New York City. At a young age, she always thought that she would be a lawyer and fight for justice. As a student at Trinity Washington University, Philonda regularly participated in activities that would enable her to serve others. Working as a literacy tutor with Heads Up her senior year in college completely changed her life and career trajectory. It was this experience that illuminated her love for teaching. After graduating with a BA in Psychology, Philonda joined the 2005 Houston Teach For America Corps. She taught pre-K for two years, and in 2007, Philonda joined KIPP DC LEAP Academy as a Founding Lead Teacher. At KIPP, she fell even more in love with teaching, leading, and serving. She then served as Founding Principal at KIPP Discover Academy for eight years. During her time as a school leader, Philonda earned her MS in Leadership with a concentration in Adult Learning from Northeastern University. When Philonda is not supporting leaders and teachers in their classrooms, you can find her writing, reading, or enjoying Soul Cycle.

Judy Li

Chief of Growth, Real Estate, Advocacy, and Community Engagement

Judy Li

Chief of Growth, Real Estate, Advocacy, and Community Engagement

Previously, Judy was the head of growth at The Primary School and also worked for the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley. She brings deep leadership and management experience and significant expertise in community engagement, parent engagement, real estate, and program development -- through the lens of public health, hospital administration, and early childhood education. She also has strong relationships with decision-makers at SFUSD and with Bayview stakeholders including parents, early childhood providers, and elementary schools.

David Ling

Chief People Officer

David Ling

Chief People Officer

David is the Chief People Officer for KIPP Bay Area Public Schools. In this role David oversees the Talent and Human Resources departments along with KIPP Through College. He also leads the recruitment, development and retention efforts for KIPP Bay Area Public Schools’ Regional Support Office staff. Prior to becoming Chief People Officer, David served as KIPP Bay Area Public Schools Managing Director of Talent, Managing Director of Student Services, and the Director of KIPP Through College, as well as the school leader at KIPP Bridge Charter School in Oakland, California from 2003 –2009. Before joining KIPP, David taught 7th and 8th grade Social Studies in Baltimore, Maryland as a Teach For America corps member. A Bay Area native, he is a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.A.) and Johns Hopkins University (M.A.T.), as a well as the 2002 KIPP School Leadership Program. David lives in the East Bay with his wife and two sons.

Judy Tang Nguyen

Managing Director of Schools

Judy Tang Nguyen

Managing Director of Schools

Judy is a from San Jose, CA and attended UC Berkeley where she earned her B.A. in Psychology and Social Welfare. In 2006 she helped found 7th grade at KIPP Heartwood Academy as the 7th grade English teacher. She later became the Dean of Instruction and School Leader. During her time at Heartwood, the school became well established in the community and was recognized as both a National Blue Ribbon School and a California Distinguished School for their academic achievements.In her current role as Managing Director of Schools, Judy appreciates the opportunity to continue her work in her community where she oversees their three San Jose middle schools.

In addition to her role at KIPP Bay Area Public Schools, Judy serves as a Leadership Coach for the KIPP Foundation where she coaches 14 school leaders in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, and Denver. She previously worked on the KIPP School Leadership Programs team where she led professional development programming for emerging leaders across the KIPP network.

Ruchi Thiru

Managing Director of Operations & Information

Ruchi Thiru

Managing Director of Operations & Information

Ruchi Thiru joined KIPP Bay Area Public Schools in 2014. As the Managing Director of Operations and Information, she oversees three departments: Operations, Data, and Technology. Prior to this role, Ruchi served as our first Director of Data and Evaluation, building a new regional Data department that is responsible for developing our data infrastructure, improving access to key data, and driving regional analysis and evaluation. Before joining KIPP, she worked in the private sector in brand management and consulting. Ruchi received her B.S. in Economics from Wharton/University of Pennsylvania, an MBA from Kellogg/Northwestern University, and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems.

Ruchi originally hails from the East coast, but has quickly converted to Bay Area living. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, young son, and dog.

Lara Knight Wheatley

Managing Director of Schools

Lara Knight Wheatley

Managing Director of Schools

For the past eighteen years, Lara Knight Wheatley has led as Teacher, Principal, Principal Manager, and Leadership Coach. She began her career in Urban Planning after receiving her B.S. in Community and Regional Development from UC Davis. She quickly realized that true community revitalization was not possible without strong public schools. This led her to UCLA to obtain a Secondary Teaching Credential and a Masters in Education with a focus on Social Justice. After teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District, she moved to Sacramento to become a founding teacher at Sacramento Charter High School. In 2009, she joined the KIPP Foundation and led Successor Prep, a national leadership development program supporting principals who were transitioning into existing KIPP schools. In 2011, she jumped at the opportunity to lead KIPP Houston High School (KHHS), the first high school in KIPP’s national network of college preparatory schools. During her time at KHHS, she worked with an incredible team of leaders and teachers who drove results and prioritized relationships. During her five years at KHHS, ACT results climbed from an average of 18 to 21 and the school received the US Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon designation. While she is proud of KHHS’ growth and achievement during her tenure, she is most excited about all the alumni who are teaching, leading, and working in fields focused on educational opportunities for all. Currently, she draws upon her experience as a principal in her current role supporting KIPP Bay Area's four high schools. Lara enjoys spending time with her husband, who shares a similar passion for education, and her two kids, a five-year-old girl and two-year-old boy.

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