Together We're Stronger

Your Education Consulting Team

Leadership

Mike Montoya

Mike Montoya

CEO and Founder

Mike is the CEO and founder of Stronger Consulting. A 26-year education sector veteran, Mike is an expert in helping organizations design, manage and improve educational programs for young people. He has extensive experience recruiting, coaching, and supporting senior leaders in schools, school systems, and education non-profit organizations. 

Prior to founding Stronger Consulting in 2016, Mike was a senior director at The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems. He served as a director on the board of KIPP SoCal Public Schools, is a member of Education Leaders of Color, and is a Pahara Institute Education Fellow. A native of Colorado, Mike has a BA from Colorado College, and an MA from the University of Chicago. He currently lives in Boise, ID with his husband, Jake.

Kelley Hampton

Kelley Hampton

Partner & Managing Director of Search

Before joining Stronger, Kelley served as director of school leader hiring and partnerships for Alliance College-Ready Public Schools in Los Angeles, managing school leadership recruitment and selection for 28 schools across the city. Her work included continuing to build Alliance’s Principal pipeline program and supporting teacher-leader selection.
Recruited to join the Broad Residency in Urban Education, she served as the director of strategic growth for Equitas Academy Charter Schools where she developed performance management processes for executive leadership and facilitated school and network data and compliance efforts. Kelley has also led program development and capacity-building in support of over 50 schools and youth-serving agencies in her role as director of programs for Break the Cycle, a national youth dating violence non-profit in Washington, D.C, whose legal programs are now part of the Network for Victim Recovery of DC (NVRDC).  Kelley holds a J.D/MPP from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and currently lives in Texas with her partner and son.
Mona Duffus

Mona Duffus

Associate Partner, Consulting

For more than two decades, Mona has led nonprofit, educational, and social-impact agencies that addressed educational disparities, behavioral health, affordable housing, and workforce development. Mona is adept at creating community collaborations to innovate and solve systematic issues. Throughout her career, she has been successful at increasing revenues through fundraising and grant procurement, balancing agency budgets, leading high-performing teams, championing Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI), and creating top-quality, high-impact programs.

 

Prior to joining Stronger Consulting, Mona served as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Tampa-based nonprofit Dawning Family Services. Under her tenure, Dawning Family Services was designated with the One Tampa Award for Nonprofit of the Year (2021). Previously, Mona was the Chief Program Officer for the Lord’s Place in West Palm Beach, a social-impact agency caring for nearly 2,000 individuals and families through its social enterprises, affordable and emergency housing solutions, education and workforce development, and equity for the formerly incarcerated. Mona’s experience also includes providing leadership on the executive team as the national director of Student Services for Accelerated Learning Solutions, a charter-management company spanning 25 charter high schools in Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida. She also served as adjunct professor for FAMU’s School of Social Work.

 

Mona is a graduate of Leadership Palm Beach County, Class of 2020. She earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the Muma College of Business at the University of South Florida (USF). She is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), who earned a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Florida State University (FSU). Mona has also been inducted into the invitation-only, Forbes’ Nonprofit Leaders Council.

Neils Ribeiro-Yemofio

Neils Ribeiro-Yemofio

Associate Partner, Consulting

Neil’s brings more than fourteen years of education system and non-profit management experience to Stronger Consulting. Previously he worked at DC Prep Public Charter School, the highest performing system of schools in the District, as the chief of External Affairs supporting fundraising, communication, community engagement efforts, and college access and success during his tenure. Prior to this role, he worked for College Track, a nationally recognized college-readiness provider, and worked as the launch director for the DC region. For nearly a decade, Neils held several roles with City Year, Inc., serving as a regional managing director for recruitment and admissions and the start-up executive director for Tulsa. Neils also served as an impact director and impact manager for City Year in Washington, DC, helping to start five new school partnerships and supporting City Year in the Congress Heights area. 

Neils is a member of the Fall 2018 Cohort of the Pahara Fellowship, the 2014 LEAD class of City Year, and served as an AmeriCorps member of the 2009 class of City Year Washington, DC. The son of Ghanaian immigrants, Neils was born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia. He earned a bachelor’s degree in management and society from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a master’s degree in nonprofit management with a concentration in organizational leadership from Northeastern University. 

Yinnie Tse

Yinnie Tse

Chief Operating and Finance Officer

Yinnie is the Chief Operating and Finance Officer. Previously she was the director of finance at the Washington Latin Public Charter School, a diverse by-design school that teaches all students to become thoughtful people who will contribute to the public good and continue a lifelong quest toward a fuller humanity. Yinnie has served as chief of staff to the deputy chancellor of Innovation and Systems Improvement at the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). In this role, she designed systems, aligned processes, and refined operations to support the district vision that every student feels loved, challenged, and prepared to positively influence society and thrive in life. 

Yinnie was also the director of operations for Learning Together to Advance our Practice (LEAP), DCPS’ initiative to empower teachers to help each other improve their craft. Before joining DCPS, Yinnie worked at The Broad Center as deputy director of The Broad Academy, a two-year fellowship for K-12 school-system leaders. There, she identified candidates with the highest potential to catalyze equity and drive dramatic student gains. She also helped develop program curricula on topics such as user-centric design thinking, change management, and public engagement.

Earlier in her career, Yinnie was assistant director of finance at the Brookings Institution and worked as a financial analyst in the equity capital markets at Morgan Stanley. She earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and economics from Wellesley College.a

Stronger Team

Naressa Cofield

Naressa Cofield

Sr. Director, Search & Strategy Consulting

Naressa is known amongst her colleagues, family, and friends for her commitment and efforts to create a more just and equitable world. For the past decade, she has combined that unwavering promise with experience in DEI, Talent, Strategy, Operations, and Six Sigma to advance equity, educational and organizational excellence in the corporate, government, K-12 education, and nonprofit sectors. Her education sector work began as a Broad Resident at the Louisiana Department of Education where she oversaw and supported development of the state’s educator support and evaluation system, redesign of teacher and leader certification, school turnaround, district support, and common core efforts. To deepen her understanding of educational equity and excellence, Naressa taught 4th grade and earned a teacher certification in elementary education. 

She has partnered with clients and communities on a range of equity-centered consulting and talent work including EL Education, OneGoal, Black Education for New Orleans (BE NOLA), Orleans Public Education Network (OPEN), New Orleans Youth Alliance (NOYA), New York Urban League, and Unilever.  Naressa holds a B.S. from Alabama A&M University, MS./Ph.D. from Purdue University, M.Ed. from the Broad Center, and an M.A.T. from Relay Graduate School of Education. Naressa lives in New Orleans.

Luis Bernal

Luis Bernal

Director, Partnerships and Storytelling

Luis joins the Stronger team following eight years of service in the education space as a turnaround leader at Mastery Charter Schools in Philadelphia, a founding teacher and world language expert at Noble Street Network in Chicago and a partnership advisor to schools and districts across the country while at Springboard Schools.
Luis experienced the disparity caused by differences in community income levels in the two school districts he attended. He grew passionate in exploring how to improve social structures that limit individuals’ potential outcomes. Through his work, Luis has seen how the lack of access to a quality education can be a gatekeeper to success.

Luis is an Alumnus of Teach for America. He holds a BA with honors and a Child Advocacy certificate from Montclair State University and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a M.S. in Urban Education. “With each partnership, we can strive to close the educational opportunity gap for children so that they can grow up to be the best version of themselves”.

Jose Andre Iniguez

Jose Andre Iniguez

Director of Talent & Strategy Consulting

Jose Manuel Andre Iniguez is the Director of Talent and Strategy Consulting at Stronger. Born in East LA and raised in the rural farm town of Tulare in California’s Central Valley, Jose has dedicated his professional career to developing students toward achieving their full potential in and out of the classroom. He most recently served as Site Director for Year Up San Francisco where he oversaw the site’s efforts toward bridging the opportunity divide for talented young adults by training and then matching them for internships at top finance and tech companies in the Bay Area. Previously, he served as the Director of High School Preparation and Alumni Programs at Equitas Academy Charter Schools, where he oversaw the strategy development, implementation, and evaluation of the inaugural alumni program providing the network’s scholars and families with support through pathways toward college graduation. As Senior Program Manager at City Year Los Angeles, he led and implemented school transformation efforts inside K-5th grade classrooms that empowered students to get back on track to graduate high school. He has also led youth development and digital media efforts at MTV, Participant Media, and Swipe Out Hunger, among others. Raised by Mexican immigrant parents and the first to attend college in his family, Jose graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and earned a master’s degree in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is also a graduate of the Broad Residency in Urban Education, earning a master’s degree in education leadership from The Broad Center.

Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson

Associate Director, Operations

Brian Johnson joins the Stronger team as the Associate Director of Operations following 16 years of service in the higher education space as a practitioner working in Student Affairs, specifically within Student Housing and Residence Life programs. Brian has dedicated his professional career to creating robust residential programs that allow students to learn more about themselves, build relationships with others, and understand the importance of making a positive social impact in the communities that they live and serve. Born and raised in upstate South Carolina, Brian attended Coastal Carolina University where he earned dual Bachelor of Science Degrees in Business Administration, Management and Marketing. One of his greatest accomplishments during his time at Coastal was chartering the Beta Beta Iota Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated – a service organization built on the ideals of brotherhood, scholarship, and service. It is within this organization that Brian grew a passion for civic engagement and working to develop strategies to improve educational experience for minorities. After his undergraduate experience, he matriculated to Eastern Illinois University where he earned a Master’s degree in Higher Education and Counseling.

In his previous position serving as the Director of Residence Life and Second-Year Experience for Student Housing and Residence Life at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Brian set the strategic vision and leadership for all aspects of the Residence Life program and the Second Year Experience initiative. During his time at UAB, Brian assisted with the onboarding of several retention and assessment tools, improved functional area operations by collaborating with campus partners and University stakeholders, conducted and reported assessment analysis to senior leaders, and developed people strategies to improve the employee experience and overall organizational culture.  

Jade Thornton

Jade Thornton

Senior Manager, Search

Jade is a passionate problem-solver committed to educational equity and social justice. Her career in education started when she supported a charter school in Memphis through fundraising and grant writing. Her passion for college access and success led her to join Teach for America where she managed college and career programming. While a corps member, she joined Leadership for Educational Equity where she developed a framework for merging her two passions. Her work with LEE led her to be recruited to lead the launch of a chapter of a national nonprofit that focused efforts on recruiting and training parents, students, and teachers to address community-based issues that impacted schools. After a fulfilling time in community organizing, she returned to her academic role where she now supports students and families to ensure that 100% have access to a post-secondary pathway that allows a life of independence, choice, and fulfillment. Jade considers herself a natural recruiter and looks forward to connecting people to opportunities that are the best fit for them- especially for roles that elevate opportunities for disadvantaged youth. She lives in Memphis, TN with her husband,  daughter and newly arrived son.

Adriana Ryan

Adriana Ryan

Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition

Adriana is the Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition at Stronger Consulting. Adriana has spent the majority of her career in the social impact and education space. She served as an AmeriCorps member with City Year Boston, where she worked in a systemically under-resourced school as a full-time tutor and mentor. She fulfilled the wishes of children with a critical illness in her role at the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

She returned to San Diego in 2015 and began working at Calibr, a nonprofit transnational research institute dedicated to creating the next generation of medicines. In 2017, she rejoined City Year to work on their recruitment and admissions team where she served as a recruitment director for the West Region where she led a team of eight recruiters across four sites, L.A., Sacramento, San Jose and Seattle. 

Adriana earned a BA in Human Development and a minor in Spanish Literature from the University of California, San Diego in 2012 and an MA in Nonprofit Leadership and Management at the University of San Diego. Adriana loves to spend time with her husband and their six year old mini-goldendoodle. She also loves yoga, CrossFit, hiking, cooking, and traveling.

Fernando Ayala-Vaca

Fernando Ayala-Vaca

Manager, Search Operations

Fernando joins Stronger Consulting after two years in operations at The Broad Center, where he supported the recruitment and selection activities for The Broad Residency in Urban Education, delivered career support to Residency alumni, and operationalized the launch of The Broad Center at Yale School of Management.

Fernando knows first-hand the positive impacts education can have from his own personal experience. Fernando was fortunate to have many great teachers who challenged him intellectually, helped him think more critically and grow socially, but they also built strong relationships to help guide and support him. Inspired by his own teachers and seeing the positive impacts of education in his own life, Fernando wanted to help make our public education systems more equitable for others as well.

Fernando attended Brown University, where he earned his BA in Environmental Studies and Economics and served in several teaching and leadership roles including coordinating an annual event for newly accepted students by Brown’s admissions office as well as mentoring hundreds of high school students regarding environmental issues.

Tyler Doblado

Tyler Doblado

Manager, Marketing & Communications

Tyler is an eager and passionate recent college graduate who is set on making an impact on the lives of students. From his experience in coaching and developing youth leaders from a young age, Tyler brings a unique and fresh perspective to our team. Multiple years of 1:1 in-person coaching has prepared him to bring his personal passion for caring for and supporting others to his work. Tyler has grown into many different roles at Stronger Consulting; these include coordinating and managing multiple search projects, organizing and streamlining company financial operations, and driving the company’s social media marketing campaigns.

A native of San Diego, and graduate of CSU, Chico, Tyler enjoys spending his free time in the gym and outdoors where he dedicates his time to training himself and others to develop a passion for health and fitness. 

Consultants

Tiffany Small-McKelvin

Tiffany Small-McKelvin

Senior Consultant, Search & Strategy

Tiffany Small-McKelvin is a change management and talent strategy consultant with nearly two decades of experience in organizational effectiveness, operational excellence, strategic planning, project management, equity and inclusion strategy, and leadership coaching and development across multiple industries including the K12 education sector where she held network-level leadership positions in school operations and talent strategy before serving as Vice President of Human Resources Operations at Alliance College-Ready Public Schools.  Tiffany attended UC, Berkeley, BS Bioengineering; Purdue University, MBA; The Broad Center, MEd, Urban Education and Leadership.

Kristin Levine

Kristin Levine

Senior Consultant, Search & Strategy

Kristin has 15 years of experience leading for education equity as a teacher, school administrator, founding executive director, and network leader in district and charter school settings in our nation’s largest cities. Kristin’s passion and expertise is in strategic planning, systems design, start-up work, and talent development. Most recently, Kristin served as the Chief Academic Officer at STRIVE Prep, a network of K-12 charter schools in Denver, CO, where she led organizational strategy and adult development programming. Prior to that, she was a founding school leader in New York City, and has helped grow new schools in teaching and leadership roles as part of Uncommon Schools and the Noble Network of Charter Schools. She began her career as a district school teacher and Teach for America Corps Member in Brooklyn, NY. Now you can find Kristin consulting with schools and nonprofits around the country on strategic planning, education equity, and talent development. When not working on work she loves, Kristin is obsessively rooting for her favorite baseball team or exploring the outdoors in Denver, CO with her two pups.

Will DeSmit

Will DeSmit

Consultant, Search

Will DeSmit brings more than 10 years of experience in executive recruiting, communications and operations roles from a variety of industries. Since 2019, he has been an independent consultant for nonprofits providing strategic support for various recruitment, research, and marketing initiatives. Previously, Will was a key member of the marketing and communications team at Koya Leadership Partners, a mission-driven executive search firm, where he helped with business development, design and strategy.

He also supported marketing and promotions for Warner Brothers unscripted television properties and served in a range of project management and operations roles for K-12 educational nonprofits, foundations, workforce development agencies and charter management organizations. He earned his BA at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and is currently a graduate student working towards a career as an Art Therapist and Counselor. He is based in Los Angeles.

Laura Horn

Laura Horn

Consultant, Search

Laura is a project management and talent professional with a 20-year career in driving actionable initiatives that strengthen organizations. Among her professional organizations are Clorox, Ghirardelli Chocolate, H2O+ Beauty, and Stronger Consulting. Laura is also adept at strategic project planning, cross-functional team leadership, and employee relations. Laura is passionate about education and understands that children have different learning styles and personalities, and come from a variety of cultural and economic backgrounds. Laura is a former board member and long-time volunteer of Rebuilding Together Oakland California. She is a graduate of Temple University and makes her home in Pennsylvania.

Jodie Semp-Blaskey

Jodie Semp-Blaskey

Senior Consultant, Strategy

Jodie is a senior education leader, with over 15 years’ experience leading national and local education programs in the US and UK. In the UK, Jodie led the expansion of its Charter school program; opening 300 schools in three years and led work to build strategic partnerships between Charter Management Organizations and local school districts. In the US, Jodie led the development and implementation of a new teacher evaluation system for the New York City Department for Education. Most recently Jodie worked at Alliance College-Ready Public Schools in Los Angeles, developing their organizational strategy and leading on their governance change program.

As a consultant, Jodie has led work on a variety of high-profile projects including establishing government and private sector partnerships to deliver national Apprenticeship reforms, establishing a strategic plan to improve teacher retention in New York City, and developing a Playbook for Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.

JunJun Feng

JunJun Feng

Consulting and Search Intern

JunJun grew up in Shenzhen, China where poverty persists alongside wealth and industrialization. Witnessing the stark contrast between the two communities, she developed a deep-rooted belief that education is tied to economic empowerment, the only way communities can become self-sufficient to overpower an unforgiving system of multi-generational poverty. JunJun graduated from Duke University studying Economics and Education to further understand how the two systems are interrelated and is currently attending Harvard University for a Master’s in Education Policy and Analysis to understand how to incur much-needed change for an equitable education system. Prior to Stronger, JunJun has experience working as a 4th grade teacher and instructional coach at an urban charter school in Brooklyn, NY.