Liam Kerr, DFER Massachusetts State Director
Liam Kerr started his career as an AmeriCorps volunteer with California Library Literacy Services, where he helped expand a library-based adult literacy program. He has advised nonprofits in Massachusetts, an NGO consultancy in the Czech Republic, a charter school incubator, and a charter school network. He has worked on statewide political campaigns in Massachusetts and Vermont.
Prior to DFER, Liam worked for the management consultancy The Parthenon Group and the national venture philanthropy fund New Profit Inc.
Liam graduated from a Massachusetts public high school and earned a BA in History from Providence College, where he served on the Board of Governors of the National Alumni Association, and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.
Liam now serves as the Massachusetts State Director for Democrats for Education Reform (DFER).
John Griffin, DFER Massachusetts Policy Director
A native of Walpole, Massachusetts, John graduated from Walpole High School and Harvard College, where he was Editorial Chair at The Harvard Crimson and sang in the Glee Club. Prior to joining DFER, John helped organize a successful override campaign to maintain school funding in Walpole, sat as a student member on the Walpole School Committee, and served as Walpole’s representative to the Southeast Regional Student Advisory Council to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. A current resident of Cambridge, he sits on the board of Cambridge Local First, a network of locally-owned Cambridge businesses that works to build a strong local economy.
As DFER Massachusetts' Policy Director, John leads the organization's efforts in policy research and writing. He also manages the internship program. He can be reached at [email protected]
Rebecca Heller, DFER Massachusetts Associate
After graduating from The College of William and Mary in 2017 with a major in psychology and a minor in sociology, Rebecca returned home to Massachusetts interested in a career in public service and policy. Before joining the DFER-MA team in 2019, Rebecca worked as a Victim Witness Advocate for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. Stationed in Roxbury District Court, Rebecca observed first hand the obstacles that underprivileged communities face in access to quality education and leadership. Rebecca’s first-hand observation of this reality - and her belief that equitable education has the potential to be a great equalizer - motivated her to become in education and public policy advocacy.
As an associate, Rebecca is responsible for providing administrative, organizational and operational support to the DFER Massachusetts chapter. She can be reached at [email protected]
The Advisory Council supports DFER’s strategic mission to make the Democratic Party the champion of high quality public education and to help increase public awareness and support of its work. Council members are education leaders who provide creative thinking, advice, and support about how DFER can expand its reach to new supporters and deepen support for its work.
Marty Walz, DFER Massachusetts Advisory Council Chair
Over the past 15 years, Marty devoted most of her career and volunteer service to ensuring educational opportunity for all children, with a particular focus on access to a high quality education for children in low-income families.
Marty is the founder and principal of Marty Walz and Associates, a management and public affairs consulting firm. Before founding her own firm, Marty served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, leading the organization’s health care, education, and advocacy work. Prior to joining Planned Parenthood in March 2013, Marty represented the 8th Suffolk District as a Massachusetts State Representative for 8 years. She served on the Joint Committee on Education for six years, two of which as Chair.
Among Marty’s legislative achievements, she was the author of An Act Relative to the Achievement Gap (more commonly referred to as the 2010 education reform law). It is the state’s most sweeping education reform law since 1993 and propelled the state into first place in the Obama administration’s Race to the Top grant competition. She also wrote the state’s anti-bullying law, enacted in May 2010 and since cited as a national model, and the law allowing the establishment of virtual schools, which upended traditional thinking about how and where children can be taught and learn.
In addition to her legislative experience, Marty has held leadership positions at non-profit and public organizations including Jumpstart for Young Children and Boston Public Schools. She also taught at Northeastern University as an adjunct professor for four years. Her volunteer positions have included serving on the Mass Insight Education Board of Directors and the Kingsley Montessori School’s Advisory Council. She is a long-time member of Boston’s Ward 5 Democratic Committee, having served as its Treasurer and Chair.
Marty holds a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where she was a Kennedy Fellow and a Lucius N. Littaur Fellow. Marty also has a J.D. from New York University School of Law and a B.A. from Colgate University, from which she graduated magna cum laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Closing achievement and opportunity gaps has been a driving force throughout Megan’s career. Currently serving as Director of Strategic Initiatives at Roxbury Preparatory Charter School, Megan is a member of the leadership team of Uncommon Schools in Boston, leading the region’s strategic direction and external relations, including partnerships, advocacy, and community engagement work. Uncommon Schools runs and operates 52 charter schools serving over 18,000 students in six cities – Boston, MA; Camden and Newark, NY; and New York City, Rochester, and Troy, NY.
Prior to joining Uncommon Schools, Megan co-led the TIME Collaborative at the National Center on Time and Learning, a five-state, public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of Education, the Ford Foundation, and 16 public school districts to meaningfully expand the school day and year to provide a more well-rounded education for students. Previously she worked at Action for Boston Community Development serving as an advocate for education programs and policies that promote self-sufficiency for low-income families and individuals. Megan is also a former member of the Board of Directors and long-time volunteer with MetroLacrosse, an organization that leverages the game of lacrosse to promote student success on and off the field.
Megan holds a BA from Duke University and a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Her Master’s thesis examining education funding policy in Massachusetts was awarded the Fischer prize and has been published by the Rappaport Institute. Megan lives in Melrose, with her husband Greg and two children, Luca and Morgan.
A Boston native and a proud charter school alumnus, Dominique is building her professional career in education, committing herself to work with organizations that seek to impact the neighborhoods of Boston. She has a specific interest in working towards breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty, alleviating the opportunity divide, revitalizing communities, and education policy.
She is currently the Development and Communications Associate at Bridge Boston Charter School. Before joining the Bridge Boston team, she was the Development Coordinator at Esperanza Academy in Lawrence. In addition to her time working in school-based philanthropy, she spent time working in classrooms as a teaching fellow and teaching assistant.
In addition to her professional experience, Dominique is a member of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Leadership Team working on talent and recruitment. She also volunteers on the events committees of The Massachusetts Promise Fellowship Pass the Wagon event and a start-up called Community Enrichment Scholars Foundation.
Dominique received a B.A. in Sociology and a certificate in public administration from Providence College and is currently working towards a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management at Northeastern University.
A distinguished educational leader, Charlie was appointed by Governor Deval Patrick in September 2008 to the Board of Higher Education and became its chair in December of that year. He served as chair until March 2015. He now serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Inversant, a nonprofit leading the largest children's savings account initiative in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
A Fulbright Scholar, Charlie served from 2002 – 2009 as the Executive Vice President of the Trefler Foundation. Previously, he worked for 30 years at UMass Boston as associate chancellor for school/community collaboration, vice chancellor for student affairs, director of the pre-freshman programs, and project director of College Preparatory Program/Upward Bound. He also served as a guidance counselor at Northeastern University’s African/American Institute and in the Boston Public Schools.
Charlie is active in civic and community organizations, including service as president of AARP Massachusetts and as a member of the review committee for Broad Prize in Urban Education, Board of Governors for the Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory at Brown University. Charlie received his EdD in instructional leadership from UMass Amherst and his undergraduate degree from Northeastern University. He has received numerous honors and awards from local and national organizations, and he is the recipient of three Honorary Doctorates. He is a U.S. Army veteran and was awarded the Silver and Bronze stars. He lives in Danvers and is married to Phyllis Boyd. He has three adult children.
Robert was elected to the Lowell School Committee in 2011 as the youngest elected official in the city's history. During his time on the school committee, he served as Chair of the Finance, Athletics, and Lowell High School subcommittees. After serving two terms, he shifted his advocacy from policy maker to school administrator. Robert is presently the Chief Operating Officer of the Lowell Community Charter Public School.
In addition to his work advocating for students in his community, he also serves on the Mayor's Opioid Taskforce, FreeSoil Arts Collective Advisory Board and as Chairman of The Megan House Foundation Board of Directors, a nonprofit organization that operates substance abuse treatment facilities in the Merrimack Valley. Robert has served on a number of boards and commissions throughout the years including: Lowell Youth Development Collaborative, Lowell Immigration Assistance Commission, Lowell Taxi & Livery Commission, and the Lowell Telecommunications Corporation Board of Directors.
In 2019, Robert was recognized by the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce as a "Distinguished Young Professional".
Robert, his wife, and daughter reside in Lowell.
Immediate Past President of the Democratic Council of Martha’s Vineyard (the council of the six Vineyard Democratic town committees), Ewell is the Chairperson of the Oak Bluffs Democratic Town Committee, an elected member of the Oak Bluffs Planning Board, and will soon join the board of the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School.
A native of Framingham and a 1982 graduate of Boston University, he’s held senior sales positions at leading fortune 500 software and services firms and been a partner in a financial services consulting firm. He currently works as an independent consultant.
Married to Kimberly Cartwright for 26 years, he is a father of three, Kristine, Danielle and Tripp, all raised on the Vineyard, where Ewell has served on many nonprofit boards with a strong focus on affordable housing and social justice. He is currently the Board Chairman of Habitat for Humanity of Martha's Vineyard.
Tripp Jones has spent his career driving reform and innovation on social issues in both the public and private sectors. He is currently Principal at 21c, a company he founded in 2014 to work with for-proﬁt and nonproﬁt social enterprises and investors helping them to develop sustainable and scalable business models and impact the sectors in which they operate or invest. Prior to that he served as the Co-Managing Director of New Proﬁt, a national venture philanthropy and social innovation organization focused on expanding social mobility, guiding the organization’s plans for future growth and impact. Before joining New Proﬁt, he was a senior executive at The MENTOR Network a for-proﬁt, private equity backed national health services company where he spent eight years serving children and adults with disabilities and special needs. During his tenure with MENTOR the company grew its revenues for $250 million to over $1 billion, completed 47 acquisitions and expanded its services from 18 to 38 states.
Tripp has also spent a number of years working in government and politics seeking to change public policy. He co-founded and served for eight years as the executive director of the independent, non-partisan think tank MassINC (The Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth) and publisher of CommonWealth magazine focused on developing a public agenda that promotes the growth and vitality of the middle-class. Tripp also served in variety of capacities in government and is a veteran of national and state political campaigns. In the early 1990’s, he played a key role in leading the effort to create and pass into law Massachusetts’ landmark 1993 education reform law. He lives in Wayland, MA with his wife, Robin and their three children —Hugh, Tucker and Eden.
Saeyun is an education policy consultant whose work is focused on developing and implementing initiatives to enhance access to transformative learning opportunities for children and youth from birth through postsecondary education; to close persistent attainment and achievement gaps; and to enhance policy alignment, collaboration, and organizational coherence across the early education, K-12, and higher education sectors.
She served as the Policy Director at the Executive Office of Education for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and as Senior Assistant Commissioner for Academic Affairs at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. She also served as a Research and Evaluation Specialist at The Education Alliance at Brown University, worked at the Boston Annenberg Challenge to support the implementation of reform initiatives in the Boston Public Schools, and served as an Assistant Dean of Admission at Wesleyan University.
Saeyun is a member of the Board of Advisors for Inversant, a nonprofit organization that empowers families to invest in higher education, and served as a member of the Board of Trustees at Wesleyan University and the Alumni Council at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
She earned a Ph.D. in education leadership and policy at Teachers College, Columbia University; an Ed.M. in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and her undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University.
Bob Markel, a retired political science professor, served seven terms on the Springfield City Council before he was elected as that city's Mayor in 1992. As Mayor, he also served as Chairman of the Springfield School Committee. He was an active participant in planning and implementing Springfield's school reform program, including the establishment of the SABIS Charter School. Bob served as Town Administrator for Norfolk and Town Manager of Ipswich. Since "retiring", Bob works stints as an Interim Town Administrator throughout the state, including in Northfield, Templeton, Stoneham, and Southamption.
Bob has a bachelor's degree in history and a Ph.D. in Political Science from University of Notre Dame.
Linda currently works with nonprofits and advocacy organizations in Berkshire County after serving as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education for fourteen years. At MBAE, she was responsible for advancing the organization’s mission to ensure a high quality public education to prepare every child in Massachusetts for success in college, career, and citizenship. Previously, Linda directed international trade programs at Associated Industries of Massachusetts and served as State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business.
Linda began her career as a policy analyst with the U.S. government at the Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge and also served as Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Her civic and volunteer activities include having served on the Westwood School Committee and on the town’s Permanent Building Committee, during which time three schools were renovated and expanded and a new high school was approved and designed.
Linda has served on a number of nonprofit Boards of Directors and represented the business community on state task forces and advisory councils related to education and economic development. A member of the Cornell Council and the President’s Council of Cornell Women, she holds degrees from Cornell University and the University of Chicago.
Anthony works at Kearney, Donovan & McGee and has more than twenty years of experience at the municipal and state levels of government in Massachusetts. Prior to joining KDM, he served in the state Senate (elected in 2007) and the state House of Representatives (elected in 1999). Prior to his election to the Massachusetts legislature, Anthony worked as an aide to the late Thomas Menino, Mayor of Boston.
During his time in the Senate, he served as the Chair of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government, the Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, and the Joint Committee on Financial Services. Most recently, he served as the Senate Majority Whip. In the House of Representatives, Anthony was the chair of the Joint Committee on Election Laws and the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business.
A resident of Lynnfield with his wife and two children, Anthony is a graduate of the University of Rochester and Boston College High School.
Throughout her career, Saritin has worked tirelessly to create better access to public health resources and has been a strong advocate for underserved communities by promoting efforts to prevent domestic violence, reduce substance abuse, and encourage the expansion of mental health programs. As Assistant Vice President of Community Relations at Metro Credit Union, Saritin is building partnerships in the community that provide low-income and emerging populations with housing services, health care programming, and mental health education.
She is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Immigrant Learning Center, Casa Myrna, the East Boston Social Center, the Newmarket Business Association, and the Governor’s Public Education Nominating Council. She's President of the North Suffolk Mental Health Board of Directors and past President of the Chelsea Rotary Club. She also served for eight years on the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
The daughter of immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic, Saritin is a mother of four children, a grandmother, and the proud wife of a Chelsea Police Officer.
Keri Rodrigues has spent her entire career fighting on behalf of hard working families and brings her passion as a proud Mom to her advocacy on education for children across Massachusetts. Keri is the founder and Mom-in-Chief of Massachusetts Parents United, a parent advocacy group bringing together thousands of parents across the Commonwealth to fight for safer neighborhoods, stable and secure homes, and high quality education for every child.
Keri began her career as an award-winning journalist and radio broadcaster in Southeastern Massachusetts. She continued her career in advocacy as a labor activist, communicator and organizer with 1199SEIU. Keri currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Massachusetts Democratic Party and has worked on dozens of campaigns. She serves as a Justice of the Peace for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
A Secular Franciscan, she also devotes much of her free time to volunteer work at Saint Anthony’s Shrine in Boston where you can catch her serving at the 7:30 a.m. mass on Sunday mornings. Most importantly, Keri is the mother of three wonderful little boys: Matthew, Miles and David.
Stephanie is a dedicated public servant with extensive experience in government. Most recently, Stephanie worked with Stand For Children in Massachusetts as the Campaign Manager to launch a high-quality Pre-K campaign and as the Boston Director organizing parents to become better advocates for their children in the Boston public school system. Prior to that, in 2013-14, she served as the Campaign Manager for the Massachusetts Nurses Association’s Patient Safety Act and Hospital Financial Transparency ballot initiatives. After graduating in 2005 from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Stephanie has worked in Cambridge politics managing various races and in 2012 helped elect Elizabeth Warren to the US Senate
Before graduating from the Kennedy School of Government, Stephanie served as the Executive Director of the College Democrats of America at the Democratic National Committee. In that capacity, she also served as the advisor to the DNC Chairman on Youth Outreach. In 2000 and 2002, Stephanie was the Democratic nominee for the US House of Representatives from Connecticut's Fourth Congressional District.
She grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, and served as president of the Connecticut Young Democrats. Prior to running for Congress, Stephanie served as a Selectwoman in Greenwich from 1997 to 1999. Stephanie attended Phillips Academy Andover and following a year abroad at Cambridge University in England, graduated from Brown University.
Paul is the President of The Novus Group, a consulting firm that provides government relations, political consulting, and real estate development services. Prior to joining Novus, Paul was Senior Vice President of Government Relations at ML Strategies and has worked in an of counsel capacity at Brown Rudnick Berlack Israels.
A Democrat, Paul was a member of the Boston City Council from 1997 to 2006, where he served as Vice President for two years. Paul chaired the Council's Committee on Aviation and Transportation, the Committee on Intergovernmental Relations, and the Committee on Economic Development.
Paul received his B.A. from Tufts University, his J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law, and an M.P.A. from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. He lives in Milton with his wife and 3 children, all of whom attend public school.
John has an extensive policy background in public education reform, workforce development, and urban revitalization. He currently works as a Managing Director at Mass Insight Education and Research. He recently served as the Director of Gateway City Strategic Initiatives for the Massachusetts Charter Public Schools Association. Before that, John was the Executive Vice President of MassINC, where he led the organization’s groundbreaking Gateway Cities research and policy initiative and the New Skills for a New Economy Campaign.
Prior to joining MassINC, John directed a regional planning and economic development partnership within the Massachusetts I-90 and I-495 corridors. He also served as chief of staff to the House majority whip and research director to the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Education, Arts, and Humanities where he played a key staff role in the development, passage, and implementation of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993. John has also been a teacher and college administrator.
Trained in education and public policy, John has degrees from Northeastern University and Loyola University of Chicago. He served as Michael S. Dukakis's first graduate assistant at Northeastern University. He lives in Lowell with his wife and daughter. His stepdaughter is a public school teacher in Vermont and his stepson is a computer software engineer. Both are graduates of the UMass and community college system.
Throughout her career, Meredith has devoted herself to bringing opportunity to children and other vulnerable groups through both the political process and leadership in education reform.
In 2006, eight months before Barack Obama announced his candidacy, Meredith founded Students for Barack Obama, a draft committee that evolved into the official student wing of the campaign with more than 800 chapters across the country. Meredith led the organization for two and a half years and served as a National Co-Chair of Obama for America. Most recently, Meredith has worked for the Bernie Sanders campaign for the Democratic nomination, coordinating mobilization and get-out-the-vote efforts in early states.
Since she was young, Meredith has been involved in education. Dating to when she was in fourth grade, Meredith has volunteered in countless classrooms and supported high-needs students across all types of educational settings. During her first years in Massachusetts, Meredith simultaneously worked in Dorchester at an Early Head Start program, where she witnessed the profound potential of young children from Boston's most challenging circumstances, and created a transitional living house for homeless young adults. These broken young adults led her to seek alternative options to the established K-12 educational system. In 2011, Meredith joined the founding leadership team of Alma del Mar Charter School in New Bedford, MA. For the school's launch and first three years of growth, Meredith served as Director of Operations and Student Services. Meredith recently received a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard's Kennedy School. Before starting her degree program, she was at Match Education, where she held the roles of Chief of Staff and Director of Strategy for Match Beyond, a program helping low-income young adults to obtain college degrees and career-track employment.
Andrea is the President of the Eos Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation which has done significant grant making with schools throughout the state around education and hunger. Before joining Eos in 2007, Andrea was the co-founder and CEO of the Center for Women & Enterprise, one of the largest nonprofit entrepreneurial training centers in New England.
Andrea was a Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts in 2006, campaigning on a platform of job creation, economic development, economic justice, and poverty alleviation. She is a graduate of Harvard University, where she has earned an M.B.A., an M.P.A, and a B.A. She lives in Harwich with her three children who attend public schools, both district and charter.
Ann Connolly Tolkoff
Ann Connolly Tolkoff is the co-founder of City on a Hill Public Charter School, among the first charters (1995) in the Commonwealth. She served there as teacher, administrator, and member of the Board. Ms. Tolkoff taught high school English and civics in public and parochial schools in the metropolitan Boston area for over twenty years. Under United Nations volunteer service, she taught six months in Suzhou, China. Born and reared in South Boston, Ms. Tolkoff was graduated from Girls’ Latin School, Wellesley College, B.A., and Boston College, M.A.T.
In public office, she served on the Brookline School Committee, in Brookline Town Meeting, and, for decades, a delegate to the Democratic State Convention. She is a life member of the Brookline Democratic Town Committee. As a volunteer, Ms. Tolkoff has devoted hours to the Brookline Public Schools and to Tufts Medical Center. She currently serves on the Tufts’ Patient Family Advisory Council, is an overseer on the Board of the Boston Conservatory of Music at Berklee, and is a board member of the Eire Society of Boston.
With her husband of forty seven years, Josh Tolkoff, she spends much of her time travelling with and to her six grandchildren.
David Torrisi is the founder and principal of Torrisi Strategic Advisors, a lobbying and government relations firm based in North Andover. He served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1999 to 2013, representing the communities of Lawrence and North Andover. During his time in the Legislature, David chaired the Joint Committee on Higher Education, the Joint Committee on Labor & Workforce Development and the Joint Committee on Community Development & Small Business. He also served on the Joint Committee on Education, where he was known for his strong and passionate support of public charter schools. David served on the North Andover Board of Selectmen from 1996 to 1999.
David has deep roots in the Merrimack Valley, where his family has owned and operated a small business for seventy years, and has strong ties to many non-profit and community based organizations. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Merrimack Valley YMCA and on the advisory board to the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center. David is also a member of the North Andover School Committee.
David is an attorney, graduating from Suffolk University Law School in 2004 and is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association. He attended the University of Vermont, earning a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science in 1990. David lives in North Andover with his wife Sarah and their two children, Jack and Ella.