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 is dedicated to promoting quality education and lasting education reform.
Prior to joining DCSRN, Emerald worked as a communications consultant for Collaborative Communications Group. Notable projects that Emerald led include redeveloping a website on afterschool and expanded learning for the National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks, writing marketing materials for Urban Teachers and developing the publications for the 2012 National Charter Schools Conference.
Emerald joined DCSRN in July 2012 and is thrilled to be focused on local DC education once again. Notable projects include managing DCSRN’s annual High Quality Schools Campaign (HQSC), which helps families from the underserved communities in DC navigate the public school choice application process in order to compete on an even playing field for access to quality schools. Emerald also produces DCSRN’s virtual school tours, which help families gain access to authentic information about quality school options, DCSRN’s annual report and developed and manages DCSRN’s custom-built HQSC database.
Sign up for the latest news and updates from DC School Reform Now.
Learn how federal education policy affects your child's school and your child's education.
Support DC School Reform Now. Contribute today.
Spread the word about DC School Reform Now.
You've got questions. We've got answers. Contact us.