Elizabeth Elston | Prospect Hill Foundation | exalt Board Chair

Lizzie Elston joined HeartShare St. Vincent’s in June 2014 as the Director of Data Analysis and Accountability. In this role, she supports, monitors, and evaluates its programs to ensure excellence in the services they provide to children and families.  Before coming to HSVS, she worked for the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera), a nonprofit organization in New York City that provides research and technical assistance to government agencies. There she studied the outcomes and operations of New York City’s child welfare system and laid the groundwork for key reforms to improve its fairness and efficiency. Prior to her time at Vera, Elizabeth worked with a legal services nonprofit organization in Durban, South Africa, where she conducted research in support of a class action lawsuit to ensure adequate school infrastructure for rural students. Lizzie holds a Bachelor of Arts in cultural anthropology from Yale University, and a Master of Business Administration from Columbia Business School.

James Neu | Partner and Managing Director at DBI Projects | exalt Vice Chair

James Neu is a Partner and Managing Director at DBI Projects, a multidisciplinary firm that specializes in development management, project management and real estate advisory services. He has over 10 years of experience in construction management, construction project advisory, and real estate development; including recent work for several non-profit organizations in New York, a public private/partnership project called New Lab.  James is active in community driven real estate development in Brooklyn and is also leading several large scale development projects in New York and abroad.  James graduated from SUNY Albany with a Bachelor of Arts in History & Business; he has served on the board of directors for over 5 years and is passionate about social justice.

Kunal Das | Director of Strategic Accounts at Bluecore | exalt Treasurer

Kunal Das is a Director of Strategic Accounts at Bluecore - a technology company that empowers brands to take meaningful, immediate actions on behavioral, promotional, and product data with speed and simplicity. He has over 9 of experience in technology, online advertising, enterprise sales, and customer success. Prior to joining Bluecore, he worked for Yext, DataPop, and Microsoft as an Evangelist for their Bing division. Kunal was previously a junior board member for Upwardly Global, whose mission is to eliminate barriers to professional workplace entry for foreign-educated immigrants and refugees in the U.S. Kunal holds a BBA from the from the University of Texas at Austin.


David Kirkland | Executive Director | NYU Metropolitan Center for Research  onEquity and the Transformation of Schools

Dr. David E. Kirkland is the Executive Director of The NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and The Transformation of Schools. He has also been described as an activist, educator, cultural critic and author. A leading national scholar and advocate for educational justice, Dr. Kirkland hold a PhD from Michigan State University. 

A Detroit native, his transdisciplinary scholarship explores a variety of equity and education justice related topics, including the following: school climate and discipline; school integration and choice; culture and education; vulnerable learners; and intersections among race, gender, and education. With many groundbreaking publications to his credit, he has analyzed the cultures, languages, and texts of urban youth, using quantitative, critical literary, ethnographic, and sociolinguistic research methods to answer complex questions at the center of equity and social justice in education. 

Dr. Kirkland taught middle and high school for several years in Michigan. He’s also organized youth empowerment and youth mentoring programs for over a decade in major U.S. cities such as Detroit, Chicago and New York. He currently leads efforts to enhance education options for vulnerable youth throughout New York City, and beyond. 

Dr. Kirkland has received many awards for his research and educational advocacy work, including over $20 million dollars in research and program grants. He is the current chair for AERA Division G, and is past recipient of the 2016 AERA Division G Mid-Career Scholars Award, and the 2008 AERA Division G Outstanding Dissertation Award. He was a 2009-10 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, a 2011-12 NAEd/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, and is a former fellow of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Research Foundation's “Cultivating New Voices among Scholars of Color” program. In addition to several other boards, he currently serves as a trustee for the Research Foundation of the National Council of Teachers of English.   

A Search Past Silence: The Literacy of Black Males, the fifth book that Dr. Kirkland has authored or edited, is a TC Press bestseller and winner of the 2015 Daniel E. Griffiths Research Award, the 2014 AESA Critics Choice Award, and the 2014 NCTE David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English. He is also co-editor of the recently released Students Right to Their Own Language: A Critical Sourcebook, published by Bedford/St. Martins Press.

Named by Ebony magazine as one of the most brilliant scholars in the U.S., Dr. Kirkland has been a pivotal intellectual voice promoting educational justice in the U.S. and abroad.

Ed Carson | Board Member at Carson Family Charitable Trust

Ed was born and raised in New York City. He serves on the board of the Carson Family Charitable Trust, which makes grants to a wide variety of charitable organizations. He received an MA from Kenyon College and an MSW from the NYU School of Social Work. He has experience in education, juvenile justice, and drug and alcohol recovery services. Ed joined the exalt board in January 2015.

Jenny Tolan | Product Marketing Manager at Google for Education

Jenny Tolan leads Product Marketing for Google for Education focused on Chromebooks for schools. Prior to Google, Jenny spent ten years working directly in global education. She started at the Global Fund for Children in DC and Mumbai India, supporting NGOs serving children worldwide. Next, Jenny served as an economic development volunteer for the Peace Corps in Costa Rica where she led reconstruction of the town's main bridge. She then taught 5th grade math with Teach for America at KIPP AMP charter school in Brooklyn. Jenny has a BA in International Relations and Spanish from Stanford and an MBA from Columbia Business School.

Julie Pastor | Head of Development at Neal Street Productions

Julie Pastor is the Head of Development for Neal Street Productions - a UK based film, television, and theatre production company. In this position she oversees US operations, helps handle the company's existing slate, and seeks new projects. Julie previously worked as Vice President of Red Hour Films and prior to that as Neal Street's Director of Development. She started at Neal Street as the assistant to Sam Mendes on his films Skyfall, Away We Go, and Revolutionary Road. Julie is a graduate of Fordham University. 

Justin Donatello | Manager at KPMG LLP

Justin is a Senior Manager in KPMG LLP’s Tax Controversy Services group.  His practice focuses primarily on representation before the Internal Revenue Service, of multi-national corporate clients and financial institutions, both domestic and international, where he advises on disputes involving a wide range of technical issues including domestic corporate transactions, partnership tax matters, and transfer pricing issues.  He earned his B.A., from Quinnipiac University, his J.D., from Western New England College School of Law, and his LL.M. in Taxation from New York University School of Law.  Justin is licensed to practice law in New York and Connecticut.  

Lamson Lam | Senior Executive Director, Office of Interschool Collaborative Learning at New York City Department of Education

Lamson Lam grew up in Hawaii where he attended Punahou School (President Obama’s alma mater).  He received his BA in Sociology at UC San Diego where he also played on the Men’s Volleyball Team.  After graduating from UCSD, Lamson began his career as a mental health worker in a halfway house for youth in the juvenile justice system.  After working there for two years, Lamson realized that he wanted to reach kids before they ended up in the justice system, so he chose to become a teacher.  After graduating from NYU with an MA in Education, Lamson taught 4th grade in East Harlem.  He then worked for the Annenberg Institute for School Reform and the NYCDOE Office for Family Engagement & Advocacy, before becoming a principal at a K-8 School in Brownsville, Brooklyn.  For the last 2 years, Lamson has been working with the Office of Interschool Collaborative Learning (OICL) where he is the Senior Executive Director. In this capacity, he is responsible for the Department of Education’s three initiatives for interschool collaboration: Learning Partners, the Middle School Quality Initiative, and Showcase Schools. These programs currently operate in over 270 public schools throughout New York City. Lamson is passionate about issues of equity and social justice in education and society. He is excited to join the board of exalt as he believes his career has come full circle and he is ready to better serve a vulnerable population he cares deeply about. When Lamson isn’t at work or chasing after his two boys (ages 5 and 2), he enjoys playing sports and traveling.

Ron Schneider | Social Work Team Leader at Brooklyn Defender Services

Ronald Schneider is a licensed master social worker with 20 years experience advocating for adolescents and people living with disabilities in a myriad of systems throughout New York City. He currently supervises a team of social workers at Brooklyn Defender Service (BDS) who advocate for alternatives to incarceration for young people under the age of 22. He received his MSW from the Silberman School of Social Work at CUNY- Hunter College, an MS in School Counseling at Long Island University – CW Post Campus, and a BS from The University of Rhode Island.  He has testified to the New York City Council on various child welfare and disability rights issues.  He has presented at national conferences including the National Organization of Forensic Social Workers and the National Commission of Correctional Health Care. Ronald has also participated in various panels discussing justice involved youth and people living with disabilities at The Kings County District Attorney’s Office, NYU and Columbia University Schools of Social Work, and The Brooklyn Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities Counsel.

Prior to BDS, he was a forensic social worker at The Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn where he advocated for alternatives to incarceration.  He also served as a case manager and group worker for visually- and developmentally-impaired individuals at The Jewish Guild for the Blind,  an emergency room social worker at NYU Medical Center, and as a job developer and activities coordinator for developmentally-challenged young adults at AHRC on Long Island. He is an active member of the Jail Advocacy Coalition, Police Reform Organizing Project, and The National Organization of Social Workers.

Ronald is very proud of receiving an award for his work at exalt’s Gala in 2015.  He has referred youth to exalt since its founding and Brooklyn Defender Services has been an internship provider for several of the youth that exalt serves.