Bright Morning Ambassadors

Meet Our Ambassador Team

We are thrilled to announce a new pilot program we’re launching this year, our Bright Morning Ambassadors.  The Ambassador program was born out of a desire to do more to strengthen and grow our community. We figured there was no better way to do so than to bring together a group of individuals who know our work deeply and strive on a daily basis to put it to use making every conversation count, and building healthy, just and resilient communities. We are inspired by the creativity, commitment, and passion of each of these individuals, and we cannot wait for you to meet them. You will find them engaging with our community on our different social media platforms as well as in person at our annual Art of Coaching Conference.

Our Ambassadors will also play a critical advisory role supporting Bright Morning to ensure our offerings are grounded in the reality of what is happening in our schools and organizations and as such is meeting the needs of our community. These individuals come from all over the United States and serve as teachers, coaches, school administrators and non-profit leaders.

Curious to know more? Meet the Ambassadors below and check out five fun facts they shared with us.

Want some cool swag to show the world you are a part of our community doing this work day in and day out? Ambassadors have some new Bright Morning stickers to share that are great to put on reusable water bottles or computers, so if you see one of these amazing Ambassadors make sure to ask for one!

Ross Anderson

Middle Academy Director | Success @ Thurgood Marshall | New Orleans, LA

  1. During my K-12 educational experience, I attended 7 schools in 4 different states
  2. I come from a family of educators; my grandparents, aunt, and sister are all schoolteachers
  3. I was a theology and philosophy major in college and am currently working on a Masters in Divinity
  4. For the past 8 years, I have started every year with creating a vision board that reflects short/long term intentions and values
  5. I do not like stores (grocery or otherwise) and do 90% of my shopping online.

Cathy Aragon

Northern California Associate Director of Program | California Teacher Development Collaborative | San Francisco, CA

  1. I have a very fluffy dog named Bean.
  2. I love to travel and to learn different languages, especially of the places I plan to travel.
  3. My dream job is to be a sketch comedy writer because I like to make people laugh but I don’t like being on stage.
  4. I have a deep appreciation of other people’s fashion and love to put outfits together.
  5. I often have to lie on my US customs forms when it asks, “Have you come into contact with livestock?” because chances are on some point during my travels,
    I will encounter a horse, or a cow, or a sheep, or a llama, and you can bet I’m gonna pet it!

Jill Ayabei

District EL Coordinator Instructional Coach | Nampa School DIstrict 131 | Nampa, ID

  1. I like to run half-marathons.
  2. My husband is from Kenya and I’ve been there three times.
  3. I love to be with people and connect them to each other.
  4. I have a passion for teaching English learners, children and adults, and helping to empower them.
  5. I love to travel and see the world.

Nick Cains

Instructional Leadership Coach | Leading Educators |Tulsa, OK

  1. I have been in love with the performing arts since the 6th grade and can be seen performing in Tulsa or taking in theater around town.
  2. My self-care includes a Crossfit membership, a Weight Watchers membership, and an Aaptiv Membership.
  3. I have a very snuggly and fluffy cat named Harvey.
  4. At the age of 31, my favorite veggies are roasted Broccolini and Brussel Sprouts (both with bacon).
  5. Fall Out Boy has been my favorite band since my freshman year in high school… and I cannot change that.

Lizzie Fortin

Focused Instruction Coach Visual Art Educator | Worcester Public Schools | Worcester, MA

  1. I am a collage artist.
  2. I am a voracious reader.
  3. I love the ocean and water.
  4. I am vegan and love to cook and eat.
  5. I love my kitty, Zella Boodle.

Dr. Tonia Holmes-Sutton, NBCT

Interim State Director | Teach Plus Nevada | Las Vegas, NV

  1. I am a National Board Certified Teacher, achieving the highest education certification in the country in my twenty-year career as an educator.
  2. I am a wife and mother; I have a twenty-three-year-old daughter and several ‘forever children’ from Serbia, Germany, and Spain.
  3. I enjoy watching Law & Order, Special Victims Unit, especially as a backdrop as I work.
  4. I also enjoy yearly visits to Disneyland or Disney World with my daughter, Brittany Danielle.
  5. I’m a self-identified introvert, who needs daily quiet time to refresh, re-energize, and re-engage.

Natalie Holz

Instructional Coach | Sacred Heart Schools | Chicago, IL

  1. I am a quilter.
  2. I am also a professional musician (my choir’s most recent CD:
  3. I really enjoy zombie novels and speculative fiction.
  4. I am very good at planning long road trips.
  5. My first salaried job was in writing and editing for the cement industry, so I know a lot about concrete.

Aneesha Jacko

Early Childhood Director, District 2 | New York City Department of Education
Cambria Heights, NY

  1. I am curious about everything.
  2. I like to coach my son’s basketball games.
  3. I love to DJ.
  4. I enjoy groups and learning more about people and their experiences.
  5. I support the third-largest Pre-K program in NYC.

Chiara Kupiec

Instructional Coach Grades 6 – 12 | Bernards Township School District | Basking Ridge, NJ

  1. I speak fluently three languages
  2. I am trained in Belly Dancing and I used to be part of troupe
  3. Every summer I spend three weeks with High School students in Italy leading a study program that I developed from scratch
  4. I am an active advocate for Women’s causes globally. You will find me first row at any Women’s March
  5. Since I traveled to Kenya the first time, now my wardrobe consists mainly of gorgeous African fabrics

Charlotte Larsen

Middle School Assistant Principal | Rowland Hall | Salt Lake City, UT

  1. I grew up spending my summers at the Grand Canyon
  2. I love to travel and tend to remember trips based on particularly good or unique meals
  3. I taught English to elementary school students in China
  4. I love music, sang in the choir in high school and college, and I am known to listen to a favorite song hundreds of times on repeat
  5. One of my heroes is my Grandma Bessie who had an amazing sense of adventure and, at 80 years old (and with bright pink hair), traveled by herself to Thailand because she wanted to ride an elephant

Raiza Cruz Lisboa

Managing Director Regional Support and Engagement | Teach for America | Atlanta, GA

  1. I was born in Salvador, Bahia, a beautiful city/peninsula on the northeastern coast of Brazil, but I consider Miami home.
  2. In addition to English, I speak Portuguese, Spanish, French, and a little Italian.
  3. I have three cats, but I wish I lived in a big enough place to have ten.
  4. I love astrology. I think a birth chart beats out the best personality tests.
  5. I signed up for my first 10k at the end of April. Hit me up if you’re a runner and have recommendations!

Kathrina Mendez

Certified Teacher 4th/5th Grade | Ira Harbison Elementary School, National School District | San Diego, CA

  1. I have over 50 first cousins and am an only child.
  2. I’ve never sang karaoke.
  3. I love fonts and will spend too much time on a given project because of it.
  4. I have one kidney.
  5. One of my pet peeves is a toilet paper roll that feeds under instead of over. If I’m at a house where it is under, I will flip it over!

Danielle Christina Mullings

Director Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion | IDEA Public Schools | Houston, TX

  1. I taught Kindergarten which was my FAVORITE.
  2. I am the president of the Bee-hive (Beyonce’s fan club).
  3. I love reading.
  4. I love listening to podcasts.
  5. I have never met a dance floor that I didn’t like.

Colette Owens

School Network Executive Director | Hiawatha Academies | Minneapolis, MN

  1. I started in education as a middle school special education teacher.
  2. I love to bake and recently won a cookie contest.
  3. I studied neuroscience as an undergraduate and love connecting brain research with practical application.
  4. I love puzzles and problem-solving games.
  5. I love gardening.