Board of Directors


Julie Mikuta, Chair

Senior Director of Education, Charles & Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation

Julie Mikuta is the Senior Director of Education at the Charles & Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. Prior to joining the Schusterman Foundation, Mikuta was a Partner in NewSchools Venture Fund’s West Coast office, where she focused on teacher preparation and the firm’s human capital investment strategy and management assistance. She began her career in education teaching high school science in New Orleans through Teach For America. Prior to joining NewSchools, she was Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at EdBuild, led trainings for leadership teams of large urban districts at the Center for Reform of School Systems, and served as an elected member of the D.C. Board of Education from 2001 until 2004. Mikuta has been a Stand for Children board member since 2011.


Dr. Tequilla Brownie, Secretary

A native Arkansan, Dr. Tequilla Brownie is passionate about interrupting intergenerational poverty and improving social mobility for all students, and views education as a key conduit for equity and meaningful change. Dr. Brownie is an Executive Vice President with The New Teacher Project (TNTP), a national education consulting firm based in Brooklyn, New York. Dr. Brownie co-leads TNTP’s consulting team that works with districts and departments of education all over the country. Her team’s work is focused on improving local and national academic outcomes and disrupting educational inequities.

Before joining TNTP, Dr. Brownie worked for nine years in Memphis City Schools, where she oversaw the district-wide effort to improve student outcomes by increasing teacher effectiveness. Working alongside TNTP’s staff, Tequilla helped build community support for quality education, and drove human capital reforms that led to significant policy changes. She is also a licensed therapist and worked as a school social worker, where her focus was on supporting students’ and families’ efforts to improve academic and social outcomes. Dr. Brownie is a sought-after national speaker on policy issues, and frequently presents to key state legislatures and other leaders at the national and local level to drive important policy changes related to educational equity.

Dr. Brownie is a proud graduate of a rural Arkansas public school system. She holds an undergraduate degree from Yale, a masters degree from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, and a doctorate of education from the University of Memphis, where she completed her dissertation on policy implications surrounding teacher effectiveness.

Dr. Brownie and her husband, Derrick, U.S Army (Ret.), reside in Marion, Arkansas, with their 9 year-old son, Markell.


Frances Messano, Treasurer

Frances Messano is President at NewSchools Venture Fund. In this role, she oversees our four investment areas, as well as our research and learning team. Throughout her six year tenure at NewSchools, Frances has had a broad set of responsibilities, including creating the Diverse Leaders investment strategy, leading the Innovative Schools team and developing the content for four Summit conferences.

Previously, Messano served as Vice President of Strategy on Teach for America’s Strategy, Innovation and Organization Development Team. In this role, she led the development of TFA’s long-term, national strategy. Before that, Messano was an Associate Partner at Monitor Institute, the social impact practice within Monitor Deloitte’s strategy consulting arm, where she helped education organizations scale their impact through strategy development, organizational design, leadership development, and program design. She also expanded the Institute’s education practice and developed the strategy for Deloitte’s social impact service line. Additional experiences include working at Morgan Stanley for four years in equity sales and structuring.

Messano has a master of business administration from Harvard Business School and bachelor of arts from Harvard College. She serves on the board of Unidos US, Stand for Children, Pahara Institute, and Latinos for Education. She is also a Pahara-Aspen education fellow. Frances is a first-generation college graduate and an alum of Prep for Prep, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, and Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, non-profit organizations that she credits with helping her gain access to educational opportunity. Frances sings with the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and will always say yes to a karaoke night out.


Kira Orange Jones

Senior Vice President, Teach for America

Kira is a Senior Vice President for Teach for America, responsible for overseeing a cohort of Executive Directors over 15 regions across the Midwest and South. Prior to this position, she ran the New Orleans operations, and operations across the State for a decade.

Kira holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University, an M.Ed. in school leadership from Harvard University and is serving her third term as an elected member of Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), where she serves as Secretary/Treasurer. Kira is also a moderator for the Pahara fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Network. Kira is one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.

Board member since 2017.


Allana Jackson

Allana Jackson is a partner in Bridgespan’s Boston office where she focuses on the Education and Children, Youth, and Families practices. Her work with nonprofit organizations and foundations has included strategic planning, talent strategy, organizational design, and customer strategy with public school districts, charter management organizations, foundations and innovative nonprofits.

Prior to joining Bridgespan, Jackson was a manager at Bain & Company in its Consumer Goods & Retail Practice where she helped clients with a range of issues including organizational effectiveness, growth strategy and mergers & acquisitions. Jackson was also a member of Bain’s pro-bono Education practice where she worked with clients in K-12 education and led Bain’s relationship with Rowe Elementary School, a Bain-sponsored school in Chicago.

Jackson graduated from Harvard University with her bachelor of arts in economics and sociology. She also has a master of business administration from the Kellogg School of Management, where she was a Siebel Scholar. A native of Atlanta, she currently lives in western Massachusetts with her husband and son.


All Stand for Children Leadership Center Board Members are independent voting members.


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