Every member of our Catalyst Academy Board is mission-aligned. They each have a background and history in education and equity. They’re extraordinary members of our community and they will help us to grow and thrive. Here is the superstar team we are proud to call our Board:
Rachel Amankulor, President
Ms. Amankulor is a long-time advocate for enabling greater high-quality educational opportunities for disadvantaged families. She is the former Director of PennCAN: The Pennsylvania Campaign for Achievement Now, a statewide advocacy organization working to enact common sense reforms to ensure that every Pennsylvania child has access to a high-quality education. Prior to moving to Pittsburgh, she worked as Assistant General Counsel at Success Academy Charter Schools in New York City, the largest and highest-performing charter school network in New York City, nationally known for eradicating both racial and income achievement gaps.
Carl Cooper, Vice President
Mr. Cooper is a retired lawyer who has vast legal experience in the areas of commercial, real estate, and urban development law. He is widely recognized as one of the nation’s first management-level Chief Diversity Officers at a major law firm from his time at the K&L Gates law firm. After leaving K&L Gates in 2007, Cooper launched a Pittsburgh-based diversity consulting firm. Prior to joining K&L Gates, he was General Counsel for the Pittsburgh Housing Authority. Mr. Cooper has taught at the University of Pittsburgh Law School and also at the City University of New York, Queens College of Law.
Allison McCarthy, Secretary
Ms. McCarthy has devoted her entire career to working to achieve equity and excellence for all students. She spent seven years working at the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) in a variety of leadership positions, including Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, Director of Academic Initiatives, and the Gifted and Talented Coordinator, Since 2016, Ms. McCarthy has been working for Teach For America where she currently serves as a vice president. She holds a Pennsylvania Teaching certification and Principal certificate.
Thomas Walenchok, Treasurer
Mr. Walenchok is a licensed certified public accountant in Pennsylvania with more than 28 years of experience in public accounting. He is a partner at Baker Tilly, providing assurance and consulting services to clients in the public sector, including higher education, not-for-profit and governmental organizations. His prior board experience includes serving as treasurer and board member of the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. and as treasurer for Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School.
Mr. Childs is a consultant and author who works on behalf of the Maplewood Foundation, a charitable organization deeply committed to providing high quality educational options to families in the East End of Pittsburgh. He is a successful entrepreneur and is the author of Successful Sales without Selling Your Soul.
Dr. Gretchen Generett
Dr. Generett is Professor, Chair of the Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership and the Director of the UCEA Center for Educational Leadership and Social Justice at Duquesne University. She has served in various leadership roles including the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research in the School of Education at Duquesne University and the Community Partnership Fellow at the Center for Urban Education in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Generett has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes in the field of education.
Ms. Harris is a long-time advocate for children and an experienced non-profit leader in Pittsburgh. She served for 13 years as Deputy and then Executive Director of A+ Schools. Currently, she is the CEO of Literacy Pittsburgh, and is also the former executive director of the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission where she worked to form successful public-private partnerships to advance access to high quality early learning. Ms. Harris serves on numerous state and local boards and committees. Most recently she was appointed to serve on the City of Pittsburgh’s Early Childhood Education Task Force.
Mr. Jones is a life-long resident of Pittsburgh’s Garfield community and a long-time advocate for youth in Pittsburgh. He is the President & C.E.O. of Brothers and Sisters Emerging (B.A.S.E.), a non-profit organization that serves as the umbrella agency for the Garfield Youth Sports Organization. B.A.S.E is a year-round organization offering after-school, summer camp, and mentoring programs to over 200 Pittsburgh youth. The mission of B.A.S.E. is to strategically advocate and connect youth and families to life sustaining resources. Mr. Jones also co-founded the Garfield Youth Sports Organization and serves as a volunteer football coach for the Garfield Gators.
Ms. Stiling is an experienced educator and educational consultant focusing on strategic planning, school effectiveness, whole-school improvement efforts, and literacy intervention. Prior to relocating to Pittsburgh, she served as Founding Director of Special Education and Dean of Curriculum and Instruction at a middle school in Boston within the nationally renowned Uncommon Schools charter school network. She was part of the team that helped Uncommon Schools generate the greatest student academic gains of any large charter network. Previously, Ms. Stiling taught elementary school in Chicago Public Schools. She also serves as an Adjunct Faculty member for the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education.
Catalyst Academy Charter School’s mission is to prepare all students for college, career, and life. Catalyst Academy Charter School’s core values of Belong. Grow. Achieve. reflect the school’s deep commitment to cultivating an inclusive supportive school community where everyone – children and adults – is focused on learning every day, in order for all students to define and achieve their dreams. Catalyst Academy Charter School’s education model is designed to close both the achievement and opportunity gap. The approach couples rigorous core academics with a broad offering in the arts and sciences. Students will experience STEM learning daily and arts programming four days per week. Enroll your Kinder or first grader today!