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Meet Our Board of Directors

The Story of Our Schools is committed to diversity, inclusion and drawing from our own local DC community. We also represent a range of perspectives critical to the work of our organization including professionals in communications, fundraising, law, accounting, policy and programming, as well as parents, community members and educators. Our Board of Directors supports the work of the organization by providing mission-based leadership and strategic governance.

Michelle Austin

Board Member

Michelle Austin is a proud native New Mexican and has happily called Washington, D.C. home since 2000. Michelle believes passionately in public schools and has been working in various capacities to support students, educators and parents for the past 15 years. As a Senior Vice President at the cause-driven communications agency GMMB, Michelle has the opportunity to work on behalf of a variety of nonprofit and philanthropic organizations working to help ensure that all students can succeed in college, the workforce and life.

Michelle holds bachelor of arts degree in broadcast journalism and a master of arts degree in communications from New Mexico State University.

Alina Gómez

Board Member

Alina Gómez has lived and worked in the District of Columbia her whole life and continues to be inspired by the diversity and resiliency of the city and its citizens. As the Grant Management Specialist at the Office of Victims Services and Justice Grants (OVSJG), she focuses on its mission to improve public safety; enhance the administration of justice; and create systems of care for crime victims, youth, and their families in the District. She coordinates OVSJG’s support of community-based and District agency services for victims of crime and other justice involved individuals.

After graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School in NW DC, she attended the University of Colorado at Boulder where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 2016, she received the Laura Banks Reed Award for Community Service to Victims of Domestic Violence.

Joe Harris

Board Treasurer

Joe Harris is a government contractor and has lived in Washington, DC since 2008. He is drawn to The Story of Our Schools because of his deep, personal interest in the architectural history of DC. In 2011, he bought and restored a 1909 row house in Southeast DC, working to maintain its original structure and finding and restoring historically accurate elements throughout the home.

Joe is a parent of a DCPS student and has a B.S. in Physics from University of Central Florida and a M.S. in Project Management from University of Maryland - College Park.

Chris O'Shea

Board Vice President

Chris O'Shea is the co-owner of C2Auctions, a consulting and staffing company that helps nonprofit organizations raise money, cultivate donors, and build community through benefit auctions.

Prior to his work at C2Auctions, Chris spent nearly a decade at St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School, where he was a member of the Advancement Team and, later, the Director of Communication.

He holds a master's degree in strategic communication from American University and a bachelor's degree in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia. He and his partner live in Washington D.C.

Danica Petroshius

Board President

Danica Petroshius has lived in the Capitol Hill area of Washington, DC for over 20 years. She is a parent of two children who attend a DCPS school and a committed advocate for public schools in DC and across the country.

Danica is currently a Principal at Penn Hill Group in Washington, DC a leading bipartisan consulting and lobbying firm specializing in federal education policy and advocacy. Previously, she worked in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Department of Education.

Petroshius holds a master's degree in education policy from Stanford University and a bachelor's degree in liberal studies from the University of Notre Dame.

Ron Piner

Board Member, CPA

Blanchi Roblero

Board Member

Blanchi Roblero is deeply mindful of the significance and power of a good education to change lives and make a difference. It is that awareness that inspired her to pursue a policy-driven career in education. She currently serves as Chief of Staff in the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs at the Department of Education.

Blanchi started her career at the U.S. Department of Education, where she managed a range of policy and funding areas including appropriations, civil rights policy, higher education policy and other key policy issues areas. She has passionately engaged in advocacy efforts addressing immigrants’ and women’s issues in the education field. As a former student—and immigrant herself—she understands the importance of empowering students by encouraging them to explore and learn stories about their communities as a way to preserve history and promote inclusiveness.

Tiffany Solarin

Board Member

Tiffany Solarin is an innovative leader with a flair for developing and maintaining student success programs, while developing employees and managing teams. Tiffany’s educational profile includes a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Sociology. Tiffany is passionate about providing quality service to stakeholders. She relentlessly pursues to positively impact core partnerships while improving recruitment, retention, and satisfaction within an organization.

Tiffany holds over (10) ten years of higher academia experience with a stellar reputation of conjoining and broadening business development partnerships and collaborations with local businesses, educational organizations, and nonprofits.

Kyle Walton

Board Secretary

Kyle Walton grew up in Richmond, VA and has been living in DC since 2006. She is currently a Director of Digital Engagement at DG Connect and has been working in business development and media sales for over 13 years. She received her B.S. in Commerce with concentrations in Marketing & Management from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia.

Kyle and her husband live in Glover Park. She is an animal lover and enjoys traveling, yoga and amateur gardening.

Michael Warren

Board Member

Michael Warren is proud DC native and DC Public Schools alum. He believes the legacy, history and culture of “DC PROPER” should be celebrated and preserved. Connecting with people and organizations that believe in the city's residents and youth is a passion.

Michael and his wife, Christian, started A Life Well Dressed Company (ALWD Co.) in 2018 by blending their three decades of experience in the fashion industry, retail, and marketing. You can find their retail spaces at BWI Airport and coming soon to Union Station. Most recently Michael wrote, "A Beard Like my Dad," a children’s book that celebrates the relationship between fathers and children from different ethnicities and cultures while following the journey of a father and son throughout New York City.

Michael earned marketing degrees in Philadelphia and California from The Art Institutes. He and his family of five currently live in Northeast DC and love touring the Smithsonian museums, DC parks and traveling to California to visit family.

Meet Our Leadership

Our leadership team is committed to working in true partnership with school communities. Our core beliefs in school and community resources, open communication, and inclusive solutions guide and sustain each partnership. Our leadership team currently includes our Executive Director, Education Director, and Development Director who work closely together to oversee successful program, exhibit, and fundraising execution.

Jen Harris

Executive Director & Founder

Jen Harris oversees daily operations, program execution, and exhibition production of The Story of Our Schools. Jen founded The Story of Our Schools when she saw the potential of schools to help tell the stories of their surrounding communities, as well as provide a space to create new ones.

Jen brings over 20 years of experience in photography, exhibition design, and all aspects of digital imaging. She is the owner of Jen Harris Studio where she works with a wide range of organizations from large federal agencies to small local businesses. She has digitized and archived over 15,000 pieces of artwork for The National Portrait Gallery, The National Museum of African American History & Culture, and private collectors. Prior to founding Jen Harris Studio, Jen worked for Chris White Design Incorporated, an exhibit design business.

Jen graduated from Drexel University with a Bachelor of Science in Photography. She currently resides in Capitol Hill with her husband, son, and a variety of pets.

MaryBeth Washington

Education and Community Outreach Director

MaryBeth Washington has dedicated her career as an educator to igniting passion and curiosity and challenging her students. Entering the classroom in 2005, she has found herself in a variety of settings- charter, public, private and parochial schools.

MaryBeth is Montessori certified through American Montessori Internationale. She holds a master’s degree in education from Loyola University and a bachelor’s in American studies from Springfield College. She also studied literacy at the University of Sydney, Australia.

She believes The Story of Our Schools presents a unique opportunity for students to delve into living history. Through rigorous research the students form a personal connection to contemporary social issues that impact their community. This project changes the student's perspective. They no longer just go to their school, they become part of their school’s story.

Erin Roth

Development Director

As Development Director, Erin is focused on growing philanthropic support and momentum for The Story of Our Schools. She is passionate about community building and finding, celebrating, and documenting the ties that make each school community unique and strong. Most importantly, she is excited to build more connections with others in the DC area who support schools, students, historical archives, museums, community building, and more. Please reach out if that might be you!

Prior to joining The Story of Our Schools leadership Erin worked in both local and federal government as the director of education research at the Office of the D.C. Auditor and an associate research scientist at the US Department of Education. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill, a Master’s degree in Sociology of Education from NYU and also holds a certificate in Education Sciences from the Institute of Education Sciences at the US Department of Education. Many years ago, Erin taught kindergarten and Head Start in North Carolina.

Erin and her family currently live in Capitol Hill and when not celebrating school history, she enjoys reading, eating everything DC has to offer, and hanging out with her family and two cats.

Meet Our Associate Advisory Board

Our Associate Advisory Board cultivates an environment where young professionals can contribute their talents and resources to support the growth of the organization.

Alex Davis

Associate Advisory Board Development Chair

Alex is a Washington D.C. native with a deep-rooted passion for education. He is currently an Associate Director at Penn Hill Group, a bipartisan lobbying and consulting firm that specializes in Federal education and workforce policy.

He graduated from Cornell University, where he majored in Government and minored in China and Asia-Pacific Studies, focusing on both domestic politics and international relations.

In his spare time, Alex enjoys chess, playing guitar, discovering new music, and reading. He is thrilled to be supporting the Story of Our Schools in driving forward its mission.

Audrey Kasselman

Associate Advisory Board Treasurer

Audrey is an Early Childhood Education Policy Analyst at DC Action, where she advocates to make child care more affordable across the District. Audrey holds a bachelor's in Public Policy from the University of Michigan and a master's in Education Leadership, Organizations, and Entrepreneurship from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. While in Massachusetts, Audrey worked with the Boston Public Schools on their Universal Pre-K team to bolster family engagement across the early education system.

Audrey has worked in DC federal education policy advocating for high-quality education on all levels, from early childhood to higher education. Audrey's passion for early education led her to work with a DC preschool where she partnered with early educators, families and young children to support child development.

Audrey is thrilled to serve on the Associate Advisory Board for the Story of Our Schools and to have the opportunity to contribute to the work the organization does to empower students through art, history and a sense of community.

Lydia Melnikov

Associate Advisory Board Vice Chair

Lydia Melnikov is a Business & Program Development Associate at the Milken Institute, where she specializes in research and institutional giving around public finance initiatives and strategic philanthropy. A Chicago native, she is excited to be in Washington D.C. working for public-minded, mission-driven organizations creating change on the local and national level. Lydia holds a B.S. from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, where she completed her studies in piano performance and art history. Her experience includes roles in historic preservation, museums, and public programming. Lydia’s independent research thesis, “Renzo Piano’s Harvard Light Machine: The Museum as Experience,” is a case study analysis of changing trends in the museum industry and higher education, exploring how museum and exhibition spaces encourage visitors to learn and grow. She is excited to join The Story of Our Schools to promote experience-driven learning, community building, and storytelling through local history and public space.

Carly Mustich

Associate Advisory Board Chair

As a native to the Washington, DC area, Carly Mustich has always loved the rich history and culture of the city. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in Communication Studies and Applied Statistics, Carly moved back to the area and is currently a Client Solutions Manager at LinkedIn. At LinkedIn, Carly works with education, government, and advocacy clients to achieve their business goals by creating and executing innovative marketing strategies.

As the Associate Advisory Board Chair for The Story of Our Schools, Carly is passionate about empowering DC students to understand the stories of their communities and illuminate the invaluable role of schools in our city's vibrant history.

Marius Sposato

Associate Advisory Board Member

Marius Sposato was born in Washington D.C. and grew up just south in the suburban community of Woodbridge, Virginia. He is currently a Financial Analyst at The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization.

He completed his Undergraduate Degree in Finance from Virginia Commonwealth University and his Master’s Degree in Business Analytics from the College of William Mary, interested in how new technologies such as artificial intelligence will impact the domestic financial system.

Growing up Marius’s first job was working as a youth sports coach at his local recreation center serving as a mentor to youth in his community. Through supporting The Story of Our Schools, Marius is thrilled to continue to work to empower youth in his area.

Soraya Zrikem

Associate Advisory Board Member

Soraya is a Senior Associate at Whiteboard Advisors, where she advocates on a wide range of K-12 policy areas with a special focus on equity and economic mobility. Soraya also brings valuable experience working in navigating federal education issues, spanning from from early childhood to career and workforce development.

Soraya is a graduate from the University of Michigan, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) and English with High Honors. While at the University of Michigan, Soraya supported college access initiatives at the Center for Educational Outreach and taught a freshman-level course based off of her English thesis “Learning in the Shadow of 9/11: The Creation of a ‘Better-Formed Story’ in the Classroom.”

Soraya is deeply honored to be a part of the Associate Advisory Board for The Story of Our Schools, where her passion for education intersects with the organization’s mission to integrate community, art, and history in classrooms throughout the District. She currently resides in Washington D.C. and enjoys traveling, a good book, and hosting friends and family for homemade meals.

Meet Our Consultants, Interns, and Volunteers

Our talented consultants help to create a robust organization by bringing in fresh perspective and expertise to The Story of Our Schools. Our interns and volunteers are self-motivated individuals who seek hands-on non-profit experience while working closely with our Board of Directors and Executive Director.

Saki Asakawa

Website Design Intern

Saki Asakawa is a UX designer and researcher who is passionate about making the digital world accessible to everyone. After she got her bachelor's degree in design, she joined Carnegie Mellon University as a research associate to improve accessibility and independence for people with visual impairments in daily life.

Saki will finish her master's degree in Science in 2021 at New York University, majoring in Integrated Digital Media. Her skills and knowledge expanded to emerging technologies, physical computing, and creative coding, while she has deepened her expertise in digital accessibility. She hopes to keep working in the accessibility field.

Travis Austin

IT Consultant

Meghan Still

Branding Consultant

Meghan Still is an Executive Design Director for VMLY&R's Brand and Identity studio, and a consultant for the visual branding and branded materials for The Story of Our Schools.

Since 2005, Meghan has contributed her design sensibilities and strategic insights for companies and non-profit organizations, including Physicians for Human Rights, the Drug Policy Alliance, Disability Rights International, and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Meghan is an adjunct professor at Avila University where she teaches coursework on design and branding. She is also a former chapter president for AIGA, the professional association for design.