Lori Abernethy, Director
Lori has proudly served the students of the School District of Philadelphia for over 25 years and hopes to continue for many years to come. She has taught self-contained 5th grade, Technology Education, and currently teaches Digital Literacy at Thomas Holme Elementary School.
Her enduring goal throughout her years of teaching is to foster a love of learning in all of her students and to share her love of problem-solving. She has coached teams in the Future City Competition for over twenty years and more recently became a FIRST LEGO League coach, bringing three teams to the competition.
Lori holds her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Lock Haven University, her ESL certificate from Temple University, and her Master’s Degree in Technology Education from Ball State University.
Chris Avery, Director
Chris is the Vice President of Programs for Steppingstone Scholars, Inc. where he oversees programmatic initiatives and helps the organization forge important relationships to enhance its work in the community. He brings an extensive understanding of the challenges that Steppingstone’s Scholars and families face everyday, and knowledge of how to navigate Philadelphia’s complex landscape of school choice. He works to build high quality academic enrichment programs that prepare students for college success and leadership in society.
Prior to Steppingstone, he spent 14 years as an administrator and presenter for schools, most notably serving as the Director of Community at The Haverford School for Boys. In this role, Chris sought to assist students from under-resourced backgrounds with their transition to Haverford and helped them sustain their success at the school. Chris has served on several boards and committees, including the Executive Committee of the Board for the Multi-Cultural Resource Center (MCRC) and the National Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) Project.
He has been published in the NAIS Diversity Handbook for best practices in diversity and inclusion for independent schools and received the 2014 National Teaching Tolerance: Teacher of the Year Award due to his dedication to improving education and better preparing students for the diverse world they face. Also, he was a contributing author for the Corwin bestseller, The Guide for White Women who Teach Black Boys. Chris earned his BA at the University of Virginia in both Foreign Affairs and African Studies and went on to earn a Masters of Education in School Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Kendrick Davis, Director
Kendrick Davis is an equity-minded educational researcher with more than a decade of experience in education, government, and policy. He most recently served as the Vice President of Policy Research at the Campaign for College Opportunity in Los Angeles, CA. There, he was responsible for developing and implementing a research agenda around college access and completion for all Californians.
Prior to the Campaign, Kendrick served as an education policy advisor for US Senator Kamala Harris in Washington, DC where he wrote legislation in the areas of education, STEM, and labor. Before his time in the Senate, Kendrick served as the Director of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) for the city of Philadelphia in the Mayor’s Office where he coordinated citywide efforts in science education and advised the mayor and cabinet on STEM policy and programs.
Kendrick earned his Ph.D. in higher education, and his master’s degrees in both robotics engineering and law from the University of Pennsylvania; his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering is from Temple University.
Maggie Deptola, Vice Chair
Maggie Deptola is the Finance, Grants and Operations Manager for the Building Movement Project, an organization that supports and pushes the nonprofit sector to tackle the most significant social issues of our times by developing research, creating tools and training materials, providing guidance, and facilitating networks for social change.
An advocate for high quality STEM education opportunities in schools, Maggie’s previous roles include serving as the first Chief Operating Officer of Coded by Kids, a Philadelphia-based tech education nonprofit serving students across the region. She was instrumental in building the systems and partnerships that fueled the organization’s early expansion from a small, scrappy team of 3 serving 100 students to a team of 12 serving 500 students annually in 3 states.
Maggie is passionate about economic mobility, educational equity, and capacity-building for social enterprises. She has a bachelor’s degree in international area studies from Drexel University and a certificate in nonprofit management from La Salle University. Maggie is currently a second-year Executive Master of Public Administration student at the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.
Sean Gallagher, Director
Sean has worked as a Machinery Systems Engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division since 2004, where he is the Director of Operations of the Center for Innovative Machinery Design and Integration, which aligns technical needs of the fleet with workforce development opportunities. He earned a Bachelor’s of Mechanical Engineering from the University of Delaware, a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from University of Wisconsin, and a Master’s in Systems Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, and is certified by the Project Management Institute. He is also co-author of four patents regarding sea-based transfer of personnel and cargo.
Kevin Greenberg, Director
Kevin is an attorney at Greenberg Traurig, focusing on administrative law, government-related matters, emerging companies, technology, development and regulated companies and entities. A former government lawyer with more than a decade back in private practice, Kevin counsels private and publicly owned companies on matters that will enhance their business opportunities in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania.
Michael Johnson, Chair and Executive Director
Michael is the head coach of the Central High School RoboLancers and has been teaching physics and engineering in the School District of Philadelphia since 2009. He holds a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and a master’s in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Michael is a 2014 recipient of the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching and has over a decade of experience in nonprofit finance and leadership in Philadelphia.
Jennifer McCusker, Treasurer
Jennifer is a Data Specialist in the School District of Philadelphia’s Child Accounting Department overseeing the disbursement of a multi-million dollar budget to support Philadelphia students residing in residential treatment facilities. Since beginning at the School District she has coordinated interdepartmental reporting teams improving the quality of data gathered and submitted to governmental reporting agencies on a local and federal level. Jennifer began her career with a focus on education before graduating from Temple University’s Fox School of Business with a Bachelor of Business Administration-Accounting Degree.
Armond Smith, Secretary
Armond is a software engineer for Elsevier, a global health resource company, and CEO of Gamechee, a small game development studio based in Philadelphia. With these positions he pushes for alternative ways of learning, combining education with media to create microlearning opportunities that are more accessible to those for whom traditional education fails. He is a FIRST alumnus, serving as president and programming lead for the Central High School RoboLancers. He was a FIRST Dean’s List finalist. Armond holds a bachelors of science in computer science with a minor in data science from Temple University.