Together We're Stronger

Your Education Consulting Team

Founder

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, and their four horses.

Partners

Luis Rodriguez

Luis Rodriguez

Partner & Chief Operating Officer

Luis Rodriguez brings 20 years of experience in both the private and education sector. Luis grew to be a senior leader at Accenture where he supported high-tech clients in the organizational redesign, portfolio management, and systems implementation. Luis transitioned to the public sector through the Broad Residency in Urban Education and completed his Residency with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Luis served in a partner role at The Learning Accelerator, which focused on high-quality blended learning in public schools. He founded Oakland Enrolls a non-profit with a mission to support under-resourced families to participate in school choice and advocate for their rights. Over 5 years, the organizations served over 40,000 families, partnered with charter and district school leaders, and facilitated community-led equity enrollment initiatives. He earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Oklahoma State University, an MS in Strategy from the University of Texas, and an MA in Educational Leadership from The Broad Center. He lives in Denver with his wife and two kids.

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.
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.

Stronger Team

Jake LeClair

Jake LeClair

Director, Innovation & Partnerships

Jake LeClair is an entrepreneur and life coach specializing in helping individuals achieve their fullest potential, with particular expertise working with individuals entering a stage of transition. Jake’s evidence-based coaching model builds on his years of practical experience to bring a special alchemy to his approach. Jake is a graduate of Cornell University and has more than 30 years of expertise working with horses, his co-facilitators alongside him in his coaching practice. Jake joins the team at Stronger after a successful corporate sales career, his experience affords him a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities our client partners face in their work and organizations.

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.

Jade Thornton

Jade Thornton

Consultant, 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 and daughter.

Kristen Levine

Kristen Levine

Consultant, Search

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.

Sheronda Helton

Sheronda Helton

Senior Consultant, Business Strategy

Sheronda Helton is an accomplished leader in educational equity. With over a decade of experience in the sector beginning as a Special Education teacher in LAUSD and recently serving as the National Director of Public Partnerships at HopSkipDrive she has implemented innovative youth development programs and cultivated strategic program and business partnerships. Previously at HopSkipDrive Sheronda supported systems-wide change impacting foster and homeless youth, creating the infrastructure and systems to expand services across the country to serve over 6,000 schools. Sheronda is a native of Detroit and lived in Los Angeles for 13 years before moving to the D.C. area to work with the National School Board Association in their Equity and Member Services Department. She holds an MA in Special Education from Loyola Marymount University and a BA in Psychology from Grambling State University.

Erin Keller

Erin Keller

Senior Consultant, Search

Erin Keller serves as the Executive Director of Search for Stronger Consulting. Erin started her career in education as a high school teacher creating her own connections with her students and supporting them in their transition to college, adulthood, and beyond. Erin continued to dedicate her career to education as senior director of recruitment and selection for The Broad Residency. Every day, she worked to improve the level of attention, service, and care given to each candidate during the selection process. Erin was selected to be a leader on the Launch Team, responsible for the transition of The Broad Center in Los Angeles to The Broad Center at Yale SOM.

Between teaching and joining The Broad Center, Erin worked with City Year in Los Angeles, where she developed partnerships with schools across the city and coached 200 school-based corps members to deliver data-informed tutoring interventions. In addition to her work to improve public education on a national scale, Erin serves as a board member of New Heights Charter School in Los Angeles. The school, which serves students in grades K-8, balances academic rigor with a nurturing school culture so students develop socially and emotionally as they learn.

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.

Ngozi Max-Macarthy

Ngozi Max-Macarthy

Consultant, Program

Ngozi is a dedicated educator focused on creating meaningful learning opportunities for all students. She fell in love with education as an 8th grader when she tutored a 4th grader who hated Math. The urge to change his mind put her on the path to teaching. Since then, she has been an elementary teacher, both in the USA and abroad, a curriculum fellow, a teacher coach, and a school operations team member. Ngozi is passionate about designing equitable systems that put students’ and teachers’ needs at the center.

Ngozi calls Brooklyn, NY her hometown. She graduated with distinction from Duke University with degrees in Public Policy and Education. She continues to explore the intersection of curriculum, equity, and technology while living and working in West Africa.

Greg Francis

Greg Francis

Senior Consultant, Program

Greg has 18 years of experience designing transformative learning experiences for learners from high school students to leaders of school systems. For more than 10 years, Greg was a leader in designing and evaluating executive education convenings, first for senior school system executives at The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems and later for university students with Net Impact, where he worked with Toyota, SAP, and Unilever to execute design-thinking workshops on four continents. He has authored more than 30 curriculum units for high school and university students with the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE), and has delivered over 100 workshops for global audiences in English and Spanish.

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.

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Program Consulting

In partnership with the Broad Center, Stronger Consulting created a suite of personalized toolkits designed to support new chiefs across different functional areas to enter their new roles effectively and efficiently.  The tool kits included personal development support, entry planning support and advice from CEOs and district leaders.

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Program Consulting

New Schools Venture Fund For the New Schools Venture Fund, Stronger Consulting developed a network and relationships to find educational entrepreneurs interested in becoming new school founders. Stronger Consulting led the outreach campaign including marketing support, pitch calls, and webinars to engage audiences to learn about the Innovative Public School Leaders program. This campaign generated 130 new individual leads, 160 institutional contacts and led to more than 40 applications for innovative school leaders. The Innovative Public Schools program currently has 82 new school ventures underway.

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Program Consulting

Emerge Resilient is a life coaching program designed by Stronger Consulting to support young adults in building a set of life skills and learning how to adapt to be more resilient, and stretch in new ways.  Through this program, which includes horse therapy, participants are equipped to meet young adult life outcomes and grow into functional adults.

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Program Consulting

Stronger Consulting led the model development for Transcend’s “Yellow Hats League,” a network designed to bring together a diverse community of world-class experts who build and spread innovative models of education. From idea conception through execution, we designed the partnership model, developed partnerships with potential clients and service providers, and created a sustainable system to assess and retain partners.

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Program Consulting

In partnership with UC San Diego, Stronger Consulting led program development and fundraising for the PATHS Scholars Program to increase the number, persistence, and success of under-resourced and underrepresented minority students in STEM.

With the Center For Research On Educational Equity, Assessment & Teaching Excellence (CREATE) at UC San Diego, Stronger Consulting developed programing, protocols and relationships with industry corporate partners to provide internships and career development for young people who have limited access to these opportunities.  The internship program creates pathways for young people to become connected to the private industry in high school and college and gain exposure to new careers and career pathways.  

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Management Consulting

 

With Brick Education Network, Stronger Consulting tackled three key areas critical to organizational success and sustainability.  By developing a strategic growth plan, consulting on strategic fund development, and constructing a compensation study and total compensation plan, our consultants prepared Brick for the next phase of growth. 

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Management Consulting

At a critical moment of organizational reflection, Stronger Consulting led a CEO and board-level working session which included strategic direction discussions ultimately leading to the next phase of growth for Green Dot Public Schools.  

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Management Consulting

Through a multi-year partnership, Stronger Consulting led strategic fund development including identifying new leads, producing pitch materials, applying for mission-critical grants and establishing a bank for future outreach all resulting in raising 20% of KIPP San Diego’s annual budget.  Stronger Consulting was also a key thought partner in the merger decision of KIPP San Diego and KIPP LA.  

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Search & Recruiting

For College Track Colorado, Stronger Consulting filled multiple roles including a critical Site Director role which needed highly-qualified candidates in a short timeframe.  By creating an extended application to assess candidate skills and experience and conducting thorough screenings that probed for effectiveness and depth in previous roles, College Track was excited and relieved to find a solid candidate match. 

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Seach & Recruiting

In partnership with Equitas Schools, Stronger consulting led the search, interviews, and placement process for three key roles including Chief of Staff, Founding School Principal, and Chief Development officer.

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Program Consulting

Lifting Our Stories is a newly created organization designed to help young people explore career opportunities and access college readiness academic and application  support.  Stronger Consulting provides monthly guidance including organizational founding, by law creation, board development, executive coaching and program resources.  

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Program Consulting

Facing a growing middle school and high school population with no engagement activities, Strong Consulting worked with St. Bart’s Epsicopal to develop a comprehensive youth ministry program and to search and hire for a program coordinator. 

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Program Consulting

In response to COVID-19, Stronger Consulting developed, launched and trained staff on Scholar Unlimited--a traditional summer and after school program that had to be transformed to an online product.  From sourcing and purchasing a learning management system to redesigning a finished product to meet shifting district requirements, Strong Consulting developed curriculum, set up a parent helpline, trained teachers and provided tech support leading to a successful launch and execution. This innovative programmatic solution radically changed the clients product during an urgent and critically important time for children and teachers to access education in new ways.  

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Program Consulting

College Connect in an in-development app geared toward providing young people college counseling support.  Stronger Consulting provides organizational and leadership coaching on a monthly basis which has led to monetary awards for the ed tech product.  

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