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Experience and commitment drive our work.

Staff

Melodie Baker

Melodie Baker
National Policy Director

Melodie is a nationally recognized education leader and advocate. As a community leader, charter school founder, school administrator, and program director, she has devoted her career to advancing education opportunities for disadvantaged students. Prior to joining Just Equations in 2020, she was Director of Education at United Way of Buffalo and Erie County. Her day-to-day responsibilities included building partnerships with diverse stakeholder groups, developing strategies to advance equitable education policies, implementing community school models in local districts, managing grants, and investing in educational programs.

Baker has chaired various national, state and local coalitions, including Raising New York, The Coalition for Community Schools, and the Erie/Niagara Birth to 8 Coalition. She directs the research and evaluation effort for the Rockefeller Institute of Government’s First 1000 Days on Medicaid Initiative, headed by the New York State Department of Health, and was recently tapped to serve on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Reimagining Education Advisory Council to devise strategies for re-opening schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Melodie earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Buffalo State College, a Master’s degree in Executive Leadership and Change from Daemen College, and an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Applied Statistical Analysis from SUNY-Buffalo.

Jenn BeVard
Director of Operations and Programs

Jenn is the Director of Operations and Programs for Just Equations. Before joining the Just Equations team, Jenn worked as an independent researcher and grant writer on education, women’s health, and performing arts initiatives. She is an award-winning theatre director and artistic associate at multiple Bay Area theatre companies. Her interest in education equity and reforms has been informed by her work as an executive functioning skills coach for K-16 students and as a theatre educator/artist at San Quentin State Prison. Jenn received her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre & Performance, English Literature, and Philosophy from Santa Clara University and her MFA in Directing from The Theatre School at DePaul University, Chicago.

Pamela Burdman

Pamela Burdman
Executive Director

Pam, founder of Just Equations, is an expert on college access, readiness, and success. A thought leader on the role of mathematics in education equity, she works at the intersection of research, policy, and practice to synthesize knowledge from the field and advance strategies that support student success. Pam’s reports and articles on math opportunity issues helped lay the groundwork for new policies designed to improve equitable college opportunity in California. She has also been a featured speaker, convener, and advisor to educators, policymakers, foundations, and think tanks.

Pam’s experience in journalism, including covering issues such as the University of California’s reversal of affirmative action as a San Francisco Chronicle reporter, informed her commitment to education equity. As a program officer for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, she devised and implemented strategies for strengthening college readiness and success, which led to several California initiatives that continue today. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and Master’s degrees in Business and Asian Studies from the University of California at Berkeley.

Francesca Henderson

Francesca Henderson
Math Educator in Residence

Francesca is a career educator with a diverse range of experiences and a passion for social justice and equity. She has served as a researcher, high school math teacher, vice principal, curriculum designer, and education consultant. Her current research focuses on the transition from high school to college, and the role of mathematics in supporting or hindering the college-going process. Francesca received a Bachelor’s in Mathematics from San Diego State University and a Master’s in Education from High Tech High Graduate School of Education, where she also serves as an instructor, teaching Graduate students how to develop positive school cultures and design equitable discipline practices. She is currently working toward her Ph.D. in Mathematics Education at the University of Maryland. She joined Just Equations in 2020.

Vera Wong

Vera Wong
Administrative Associate

Vera is a first-generation college student majoring in economics at UC Berkeley. She is committed to contributing to the growth and well-being of her community. Her leadership and volunteer experiences with non-profit organizations, like The Street Smarts and Students Rising Above, have focused on supporting economic development and access to educational programs for low-income and underserved communities across California. Her experience in research and community outreach throughout the Bay Area has made her a passionate advocate for improving access to higher education and financial literacy. Through extended research about economic development in the Bay Area, she hopes to work toward supporting educational policies that combat socioeconomic disparities and promote educational equity. She joined Just Equations in 2020.

Research Fellows

Harold Asturias headshot

Harold Asturias

Harold is the director of the Center for Mathematics Excellence and Equity (CeMEE) at the Lawrence Hall of Science; a science center located at the University of California, Berkeley. Before that, he was the Deputy Director of the Mathematics and Science Professional Development at the University of California Office of the President. Mr. Asturias was a member of the writing group for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Assessment Standards for School Mathematics. He has extensive experience providing professional development in the areas of standards and assessment in mathematics for teachers in large urban districts (Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City) and smaller and rural districts. Over the past few years he has focused in the area of designing and implementing professional development for K-12 mathematics teachers who teach English Language Learners. Also, he has collaborated with the Council of Great City Schools in the design and implementation of online resources for understanding the interconnectedness of mathematics content and language.

Phil Daro

Phil Daro

Phil has directed large-scale projects related to mathematics learning, standards development, testing, and professional development efforts. Most recently, he was one of the principal authors of the Common Core State Standards in mathematics, and he continues to work on implementation and policy issues related to the Common Core. He also works with the Strategic Education Research Partnership, which leads mathematics and science learning partnerships between practitioners from the Oakland and San Francisco school districts and researchers from institutions including Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley. Previously, he directed the California Mathematics Project for the University of California system. He is a recipient of the Walter Denham Award from the California Mathematics Council and the Ross Taylor/Glenn Gilbert National Leadership Award from the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics.

Rogéair D. Purnell

Rogéair is a researcher, evaluator, facilitator, and former grantmaker. She has designed, led, and consulted on numerous high-profile studies and projects focused on advancing opportunity, promoting success, and catalyzing change. She is leveraged for her ability to navigate diverse communities, boards, businesses, and industries, including K-16 education and philanthropic foundations. And her intellectual commitment to unbiased analyses strengthens partnerships and equips organizations with sound insights for establishing and achieving significant milestones. Prior to founding RDP Consulting, she worked for non- and for-profit organizations where she effectively managed difficult conversations and built consensus.