Christopher Suarez, Founder of Learn Together, Live Together
Christopher Suarez is a teacher and lawyer who carries a passion for education reform and policy. A product of the Chicago Public Schools, he is particularly interested in urban education. He began his career teaching sixth grade math at a charter school on Chicago’s near-west side, where he led an after-school math tutoring program. Chris is an alumnus of the Yale Law School. While there, he served as a clinic director of the law school’s Education Adequacy Project, which challenged the constitutionality of Connecticut’s school funding system. He also led the Project for Law and Education at Yale, which provides a forum for law students to discuss education policy. Chris is currently a litigation associate at a top Washington D.C. law firm, where he litigates patent and technology-related cases. As a litigator, Chris retains his passion for education and provides pro bono counsel to families who cannot afford representation in special education and school discipline cases. In his spare time, Chris is an avid runner and traveler.
Jenna Tomasello, Co-Founder of Learn Together, Live Together
As a product of public schools and a first-generation college student, Jenna has always held a deep appreciation for education and the opportunities it afforded her. Jenna believes all children deserve diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning environments to achieve their full potential, informed by the immense personal and professional benefits she received from attending a diverse state college. Jenna is also a policy associate at the American Youth Policy Forum and her work involves the development of learning events and the dissemination of policy and practice guidance to frame issues, inform policy, and convene conversations that improve education and the lives of traditionally underserved youth. Jenna has a background in philosophy and legal studies, and holds a master’s degree in educational policy from the University of Rochester Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development.
Andrew Hairston, Co-Chair of Law & Policy Committee
As a civil rights attorney, Andrew brings a deep passion for racial justice, educational equity and meaningful school diversity to this role. He currently serves as a staff attorney for Advancement Project, where he supports the organization’s Opportunity to Learn and Power and Democracy programs. Andrew also serves as the
2017-2018 co-chair of the Civil Rights and Social Justice Committee of the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. From 2016 to 2017, Andrew was the George N. Lindsay Fellow and Associate Counsel for the Educational Opportunities Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. He earned his law degree from Louisiana State University and his bachelor’s degree from Howard University. He is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the
National Bar Association.
LeighAnn Smith Rosenberg, Co-Chair of Law & Policy Committee
LeighAnn Smith Rosenberg is a product of the public school system in Lexington, Kentucky, where she participated in magnet programs that achieved varying successes with integration. Pursuing equity in schools and communities became her personal and professional passion during her five years as a teacher and professional developer for Baltimore City Schools. LeighAnn focuses on intersector approaches to addressing systemic resource disparities and believes that solutions must be led by the communities they are intended to benefit. She currently works on housing and community economic development issues as a Staff Attorney at Maryland Legal Aid. LeighAnn obtained her B.A. in English and Psychology from the University of Southern California, and her Juris Doctor & Master of Arts in Education Policy from the George Washington University.
Andrew R. Hanson, Co-Chair of Research Committee
Andrew’s experiences include attending and teaching in diverse educational settings, his research on the economic value of diversity, and his personal and professional relationships with people from a wide range of racial and class backgrounds. Andrew is a Senior Research Fellow at the Strada Institute for the Future of Work, where he researches the challenges associated with the future of work and how our learning ecosystem must evolve to meet those challenges head on. Andrew formerly served as a senior researcher at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and policy advisor for Maryland Senator Bill Ferguson. Andrew is a first-generation college student and a Teach For America alumnus. Andrew studied philosophy and economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and education at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis.
Siri Warkentien, Co-Chair of Research Committee
Siri Warkentien is the proud parent of two children attending public school in Ward 4 of Washington, DC. Siri is a researcher at RTI International in the Center for Evaluation and Study of Educational Equity, where she conducts formative and summative evaluations of programs that seek to improve education and work outcomes for youth. In addition, her research focuses on understanding how parents make education decisions for their children and how school and neighborhood contexts affect young adult well-being. Through her work, Siri hopes to bring awareness to and contribute to the dismantling of the structures and conditions that create and maintain unequal educational opportunities for children. Siri received her PhD in Sociology from Johns Hopkins University.
Erica Cuevas, Co-Chair of Marketing & Communications Committee
Erica’s passion of ensuring all students have access to diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning environments stems from her experiences as a low-income, first generation college student, and from her past studies of poverty and its impact on academic achievement. Erica is also a Policy Manager at Jobs for the Future (JFF) where she provides policy analysis, analytical research, project management support, and external engagement to advance JFF’s education and workforce policy priorities. Erica has a background in college access and persistence and educational policy development as it effects underserved populations. Erica holds a Masters of Public Affairs from The University of Texas at Austin.
Kimberly Quick, Co-Chair of Marketing & Communications Committee
Kimberly Quick is a Senior Policy Associate at The Century Foundation working on education policy in the foundation’s Washington, D.C. office. At TCF, Kimberly writes and conducts research on student assignment processes and school desegregation, as well as broader educational equity issues including tracking and within-school segregation, school disciplinary disparities, and voucher use and civil rights violations. She, along with her colleagues at TCF, also work to connect and provide research to school districts and charter networks who currently have or are interested in implementing diversity initiatives. Prior to joining TCF, Quick worked as a fellow in the Office of the Provost at Wake Forest, where she helped to develop the university’s communications, programming, and policy related to diversity and inclusion and student experiences. Kimberly graduated summa cum laude from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor’s degree in Politics and International Affairs and minors in English and American Ethnic Studies.
Meet the Team
Willie Roberson, Digital Strategy & Social Media Manager
Born and raised in South Brunswick, New Jersey – one of the most diverse townships in the country – Willie believes firmly in sharing with the world the message of positivity and inclusiveness his youth experience brought him. In his professional capacity, Willie serves as Senior Strategist at Revolution Messaging, a full-service agency dedicated to authentic digital storytelling for progressive causes. Willie ultimately fights for LTLT because of his passion for justice, coalition building, and grassroots advocacy efforts. He holds a degree in Political Science with a minor in Legal Studies from the University of Rochester.
Sophia Lee Suarez, Content Manager
Sophia Lee Suarez is a writer and spokesperson of the 1.x-generation (bi-cultural & bi-lingual). She grew up in New Jersey and has family roots in Beijing, China. After completing undergraduate and graduate studies at MIT and Yale, respectively, she worked several years on Wall Street in equity investments. Currently, she is a community organizer and board member of Del Ray Artisans, a non-profit organization whose mission is to create an inclusive thriving art community.
Jesse Kannam, Membership Manager
Through personal, academic, and professional experiences Jesse has developed a passion for social justice and ensuring that all students have access to equitable learning environments. Through research and work experiences in South Africa and the U.S., Jesse has studied the interaction between schools and communities, the power of organizing, and the value in dialogue and action that is inclusive of a diversity of community members and stakeholders. Jesse is currently a Policy Associate at the American Youth Policy Forum, where she assists in the development of learning events and products that aim to bridge research, practice, and policy to better inform the policymaking process and improve education and the lives of traditionally underserved youth. Jesse holds a Bachelor’s degree in American Studies and a certificate in Community Action and Public Policy from Connecticut College.
Thomasena Thomas, Summer Research Fellow
Thomasena Thomas is a rising junior at the College of Charleston. She is pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with a concentration in Public Policy. Thomasena is from Florence South Carolina and spurs from a family of entrepreneurs. When she was 15 years old, she started her own cupcake and confectionery company; FairyCakessc. She created her company with a unique mission and purpose to provide the youth of SC with the skills, knowledge, and encouragement to pursue their career goals through culinary, leadership classes and mentoring programs. This inspired her to get involved in education. Amongst her advocacy work, she is a student ambassador for Save The Children Action Network and a delegate for the South Carolina Student Legislature. In the future, Thomasena hopes to become a Teach For America Corp member, Broad residency leader and potentially become Secretary of Education for America. Her goal is to provide students with the necessary access to resources they need to pursue the career of their dreams through Career and Technology Education programs. In her free time, Thomasena enjoys teaching baking classes and growing her faith walk by writing devotional pieces for Seele. Magazine.