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Experience and commitment drive our work.

Pamela Burdman
Executive Director

Pamela Burdman is an expert on college access, readiness, and success and founder of the Just Equations project. Working at the intersection of education research, policy, and practice, Pam synthesizes knowledge from the field to define problems and advance strategies that support student success.

A recognized authority on the role of mathematics in education equity, Pam has authored numerous reports and articles  on math opportunity issues. This work helped lay the groundwork for new policies designed to improve postsecondary success and diminish equity gaps in California. She has also been a featured speaker, convener, and advisor to education leaders, policy makers, foundations, and think tanks.

Pam began working on issues of postsecondary readiness and success more than 20 years ago as a reporter covering education — including the reversal of affirmative action at the University of California — for the San Francisco Chronicle. Subsequently, as a program officer for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, she created and implemented investment strategies for strengthening college readiness and community college student success in California, which led to several statewide initiatives that continue today.

Melodie BakerMelodie 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.

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.

Jenn BeVard
Project Manager

Jenn is the Project Manager 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.