DC School Reform Now is educating, organizing and advocating to build support for public education strategies that prepare kids to become college and career ready.

Staff

David Pickens, Executive Director

David Pickens is a former military officer who started his career in education via an alternative certification program. After spending nine years as an award winning middle school teacher at Price School in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), he became an assistant principal at Arai Middle School.  

Shortly after Arne Duncan was appointed CEO of CPS, he tapped David to be his deputy chief of staff. David remained in this position for two years until Duncan created the position of Deputy to the CEO. In that position, David became senior advisor and system-wide manager to the CEO and was responsible for a wide array of high profile departments and initiatives. Departments included system-wide external and internal communications, governmental affairs, community relations, local school council relations, external partnerships and resources. Initiatives included school closings, consolidations, turnarounds and relocation, the Violence Reduction Initiative and the creation of the automated Board Report Process for the entire district. A few months after President Obama appointed Arne Duncan U.S. Secretary of Education, David was appointed chief of staff to the Chicago Board of Education. In that capacity he was the highest ranking employee in the Chicago Board of Education and one of only two direct reports to the Chicago Board of Trustees, with the other being the CEO of CPS.

David became the executive director of DC School Reform Now in August 2010. He attended Michigan State University, University of Illinois in Chicago and holds a master's degree in education and a principal’s certification from Roosevelt University in Chicago and University of Illinois in Chicago, respectively. David has served on a number of boards and has won a number of teaching awards. He was named a Golden Apple Finalist in 1999. David is married and has two children in traditional neighborhood schools in DC.

Emerald Becker, Director of Communications

Emerald Becker is a communications professional dedicated to promoting quality education and lasting education reform.

A former preschool teacher, Emerald earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and moved to Washington, DC to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA. In this position, she engaged communities from various DC Wards to strengthen Higher Achievement, an academic enrichment program for urban middle school students. The highlight of this experience was providing her students with opportunities to voice their opinions about public education policy that directly affected them.
 
After her service, Emerald pursued her master’s degree in international education from American University to explore innovative approaches to education in other countries. During her master’s studies, Emerald worked as a researcher for the Flamboyan Foundation in which she studied family engagement initiatives in three DC public schools. She also worked as an education Blogger for Change.org to promote reader activism through social media.
 
Most recently, Emerald worked as a communications consultant for Collaborative Communications Group. Notable projects that Emerald led include redeveloping a website on afterschool and expanded learning, writing marketing materials for Urban Teacher Center and developing the publications for the 2012 National Charter Schools Conference. Emerald joined DCSRN in July 2012.

 

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