Meet Our Team

Russ E. Williams Jr.

President & CEO

Mr. Williams joined Center City Public Charter Schools as President and CEO in April 2013, after 15 years of progressive leadership roles in Washington, DC nonprofits and charter schools.

Center City, a Pre-K-8 charter network that serves 1,400 students across six schools throughout DC, is committed to the intellectual, physical, moral and emotional well-being of each scholar and the belief that every child can learn, lead and serve. Under Mr. Williams’ leadership, the organization has seen continued improvements in its fiscal and academic outcomes. For the 2021-2022 school year, Center City was among the highest performing networks of schools in Washington DC as measured by the annual PARCC assessments.

From 2005 to 2012, Mr. Williams served as the founding Executive Director of AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School, responsible for growing the school from one site serving thirty-six students to seven sites serving more than 600 students. He led the school through rapid transformational growth while closing the achievement gap and driving strong outcomes for students. From 1999 through 2003, he served as AppleTree Institute’s Director of Operations, and from 2003 through 2009 he served as Deputy Director and Treasurer, where he led the education organization’s operations, facilities, and finance functions. He began his career as a founding teacher at the Washington Math Science and Technology Public Charter school in 1998.

Mr. Williams holds an MBA from George Washington University.

Guiding Minds, Nurturing Futures: Meet the Center City PCS Leadership Team

We are fortunate to have a diverse and committed group of individuals who bring their unique perspectives and skills from different sectors to support our scholars and help build a sustainable future for our organization.

Kelly Dickens

Chief Operating Officer

Kelly Dickens is the Chief Operating Officer at Center City PCS.  In this role, Kelly is responsible for human resources and benefits, technology, procurement; facilities, vendor management; and development.

Prior to joining Center City, Kelly spent several years in consulting, marketing, and product development roles prior to pursuing opportunities in the education sector.

Kelly holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Morehouse College and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Jeff Cooper

Chief Financial Officer

Jeff is a seasoned finance and operations executive.  He has spent the last 10 years with TenSquare (a charter school consulting org.) improving operational and financial practices of various charter schools in Washington, DC and nationally.  From 2009 until 2014, Jeff served as Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer at Cesar Chavez PCS for Public Policy. At Chavez, Jeff solidified structures and revamped the organization, resulting in removal from charter warning and then achieving a 15-year charter renewal.

Prior to Chavez Schools, Mr. Cooper spent 20 years as a leader in the private sector. He helped build and lead Capital One’s Enterprise Risk Management function. Prior to Capital One, Jeff was a Senior Manager in Deloitte Consulting’s Finance Operations and Strategy Practice where he helped numerous clients reduce cost, increase revenue and generally improve the efficiency of their operations.

Jeff has a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from Duke University and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

Dr. Demetria Gartrell

Managing Director of Schools

Demetria Gartrell serves as the Managing Director of Schools of Center City Public Charter Schools, a public charter school whose mission is to empower students for lifelong success by building strong character, promoting academic excellence, and generating public service throughout Washington, DC.

Dr. Gartrell has over 20 years of professional experience working in urban school districts, paving the way for school reform. She uses her expertise to design programming, develop leaders, and manage partner relationships aligned with organization-wide goals. While at Center City, Demetria has served in two leadership roles and supported a few targeted initiatives. Before joining Center City, she held several leadership roles at Friendship Public Charter Schools. She believes in providing every student with a high-quality education and views school leadership as a critical lever in the transformation process.

Dr. Gartrell earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Dr. Kate Merrill

Managing Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Kate is the Managing Director of Curriculum & Instruction for Center City Public Charter Schools. In this role, she oversees all academic departments and professional learning across the district and supervises a team of instructional specialists who work directly with teachers. In addition to her work with Center City, Kate also provides consulting services to SchoolKit Group, where she serves as a Project Lead with their Tennessee Math Partnership. Her career began more than 20 years ago as a high school math teacher. Her experience extends across six states in roles that span grades PreK-12 through graduate school. After working with students in New Mexico who had been left behind by public education, she was motivated to become a leader in the movement for educational equity. She has since supported teachers across the country as a school administrator, as a staff member for Teach For America, and as a graduate school curriculum designer and instructor for Relay Graduate School of Education. In 2013, she earned her Doctor of Education degree from the University of California-Los Angeles.

Catherine Alston

Information Technology Manager

Charlene Fadirepo is the Founder and CEO of Guidefi, a fin-tech platform that makes it easier for women and people of color to find their ideal financial professional. Charlene started Guidefi after experiencing difficulty in finding the right financial advisor for her own multicultural family. Launched in 2019, Guidefi has garnered multiple awards including First Place in the In3 Labs Pitch Competition, and admission into the Washington, DC-based SeedSpot Impact Accelerator.

Charlene spent the last 20 years of her career in financial services. Most recently she spent 4.5 years at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, where she worked on consumer compliance and bank supervision initiatives. Prior to the Federal Reserve she spent six years advising banks as part of PwC’s Financial Institution and Bank Regulation Practice.

Charlene is passionate about financial education and served as the President of Greater Washington Jumpstart Coalition for several years. She has hosted multiple live family money segments on the Good Morning Washington Show on ABC 7 and has has served as a keynote or workshop speaker for several conferences across the DC community. Charlene currently teaches financial education to youth through Guidefi’s sister organization, GuidefiKids. She is the author of two children’s books about money, Ayo’s Money Jar and Ayo’s Had Enough. She is also a real estate investor and agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties. Charlene studied Electrical Engineering at the University of Virginia and has a Masters In Business Administration from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and two children. Learn more about Charlene at

Laura Berger

Director of Data and Assessment

Nithya Daniels

HR Manager

Alexis Mays Fields

Special Education Coach

Sylvia Fitchett

Purchasing Manager


Associate Director, Humanities

Roger Gambrell

Student Information Systems Manager

Ricardo Garcia

Technology Support Specialist

James Gravette

Senior Accountant

Jacquelyn Green

Director of Student and Family Engagement

Hannah Groff

Language Access Coordinator

Katie Johnson

Manager of Academic Operations

Allison Jones

Manager of Programs and Partnerships

Briana Jones

Special Education Coordinator

Morgan Keeton

Human Resources and Payroll Coordinator

Jauan Knight

Talent Manager

Stephanie Massaro

Special Education Coordinator

Alysia Morgan

Associate Director, School-Operations

Miakoda Atkins Mose

Director of Special Education

Jennifer Norton

Associate Director of Multilingual Support

Rhonda McNeil

Executive Assistant & Board-Liaison

Emily Strohbeck

Associate Director of K-8 Math

Natasha Taylor

Curriculum and Instruction Specialist PK-2

Shelonda Tillman

Curriculum and Instruction Specialist K-8-Science

Felix Toxey

Culture and Behavior Specialist

Crystal Watts

Grants & Communications Manager

Central Office

301 N Street NE, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 589-0202
(202) 589-1629 (fax)