Our Team

Leadership Team

Dr. Kai Mathews

Interim Executive Director

Dr. Kai Mathews is our Interim Executive Director and former Urban Ed Board Member, as well as a Research Director at UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools. In this position, she leads a statewide project aimed at diversifying the educator pipeline. 

Dr. Kai (as her students call her) has dedicated her life to creating innovative and equitable learning environments for all students. She is an educator, researcher, and creative strategist who is passionate about liberatory pedagogies and structures in K-12 education. With over 12 years of practice work and research experience with students, teachers, families, and administrators around the country, her areas of expertise and passions include educational equity & justice; culturally sustaining pedagogy; social justice education, Project-Based Learning (PBL); Universal Design for Learning (UDL); Blended Learning(BL); and Design Thinking. 

As a former 8th grade humanities teacher at High Tech Middle, Chula Vista, Dr. Kai prides herself in creating immersive, interdisciplinary, project-based learning environments that push, uplift, and teach the whole child and allows students to engage in critical inquiry, social advocacy, and divergent dialogue. She is the founder of The Liberatory Classroom, a space that provides on-demand, online learning opportunities for educators who want to see their students thrive in and outside the classroom. 

Dr. Kai has a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies with a specialization in K-12 education from the University of San Diego, an M.A. in Communication from Ellis University, and a B.A. in English with a minor in Creative Writing from Spelman College.

Dr. John Edwards

Vice President of Programs & Innovation

Dr. John Edwards is a distinguished leader with a rich background in advocacy and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), primed to elevate Urban Ed’s programmatic direction. His journey in education and leadership spans various pivotal roles—from an inspiring teacher to a strategic campus and regional administrator, and an influential policy leader at the state level. These experiences have not only shaped him into a formidable leader but have also deepened his commitment to sculpting organizations and teams through robust people capacity building and strategic planning.

A beacon of transformative leadership, Dr. Edwards has dedicated his career to the betterment of communities and the education system, driven by a profound passion for making a tangible difference. This commitment is rooted in his personal journey, which began with the unwavering support and love of his community. This foundation propelled him into his work, fueling his deep-seated desire to give back to those who needed it most, and to spearhead initiatives that foster opportunity and growth.

Dr. Edwards is exceptionally skilled in developing highly effective talent management processes and systems, as well as designing innovative learning and professional development initiatives. Coupled with his strong legislative partnerships, he is adept at driving progressive policies that not only encourage but also ensure equitable opportunities for all.

Dr. Edwards holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Memphis, a Master’s in Public Administration, and a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership. He is a proud graduate of the certificate program in Organizational Leadership and Strategy at Harvard Business School, showcasing his commitment to honing his skills in strategizing and executing transformative initiatives for maximum impact.

Jacqueline Smith

Sr Director of Development

Jacqueline (she/her) is a development and marketing professional, dynamic and empathetic leader, and community-centric fundraiser who leverages her commitment to social justice and educational equity in her fundraising. As an avid learner – constantly implementing a growth mindset – she has explored several fundraising specialties throughout her career, including individual giving, special events, foundation and corporate giving, volunteer and board management, communications and marketing, donor database implementation and optimization, and staff and team management.   

Jacqueline is most inspired when fostering relationships and building connections between people and the incredible organizations moving the work and society forward. She leverages her love of community building, strategic thinking, attention to detail, and data- and process-driven skillset to scale an organization’s impact and reach. Before joining Urban Ed Academy, she was proud to contribute to the education and workforce development space with organizations like TEAM Inc., Community Schools Learning Exchange, SEO Scholars, SIT World Learning, and others. Beyond her career, Jacqueline loves traveling to try new foods and learn languages, starting DIY household projects, and exploring the outdoors with her Boston Terrier, Pipoca. She is a proud Santa Fe New Mexican, received her Bachelor’s at the University of Denver, and has called San Francisco home since 2014. 

Staff Members

Briahna Baskett
Impact Manager
A’Sharee Brown
Impact Manager
Jenni Capaccio
Executive Assistant
Amanda Coray
Director of Community Impact and Engagement
Darius Fequiere
Director of Impact and Learning
Kayla Jones
Impact Manager
Trent Kravitz
Operations Associate
Marion Masters
Director of Recruitment and Engagement
Brandon Morgan
Regional Talent Partner
Angela Reyes
Program Leader
Frederick Royster
Program Leader
Alex Serna
Institutional Giving Manager
Diane Tarapata
Executive Assistant
Samantha Vaing
Program Coordinator
Tosh Young
Program Engagement Coordinator
Kameron Corprew
Program Leader
Savinnie Ho
Program Leader
Nick Hein
Substitute Program Leader