Leadership

Administration

Deanna Bocchetti
Head of School

After receiving my Master’s degree in elementary education from The City College of New York. I taught fourth and first grade for over a decade on the Upper West Side. I then entered administration as Director of Curriculum and Assistant Head of Elementary, also in New York City. I moved to Bedford–Stuyvesant in 2001 and am enjoying being “back home” after spending the past six years as the Head of Lower school at a PK-12 school in Wilmington, Delaware.

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Maureen Boucher
Business Director

After receiving my Master’s degree in elementary education from The City College of New York. I taught fourth and first grade for over a decade on the Upper West Side. I then entered administration as Director of Curriculum and Assistant Head of Elementary, also in New York City. I moved to Bed-Stuy in 2001 and am enjoying being “back home” after spending the past six years as the Head of Lower school at a PK-12 school in Wilmington, Delaware. I love attending my children’s sporting events, family vacations, good mystery tv series and getting outdoors as much as possible!

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Ashley Barnes
Director of Enrollment

I began my career as an assistant teacher at Brooklyn Friends School before moving to New Jersey and teaching at Far Brook School. I attended Howard University and hold a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science with a minor in Black Studies from Portland State University. I earned a Master’s of Arts in Education from Lewis and Clark College.

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Christie Gallagher
Preschool Division Head

I was born and raised in Queens, New York and I have been a part of The Co-op School community since 2008. During my career here, I have enjoyed teaching 2 to 5-year-old students, collaborating with families, and supporting the teaching staff. I’ve taught in the 2 to 5-year-old students 2’s, 3’s, and Pre-K classes and have been enjoying the role of Preschool Education Director. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in childhood education and a Master’s of Science in Early Childhood General and Special Education. I love the cooperative spirit, creativity, and family involvement at The Co-op School. My child started his first Co-op school year and I couldn’t be more grateful for the learning experiences the preschool staff bring to this community. In my spare time, I enjoy gardening, going to the beach (year-round!), camping, and going on coffee dates with friends and family.

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Mandy Vadnai
Lower School Division Head

I have worked at The Co-op School as the founding Lower School Division Head since the program began back in 2012. Prior to this, I was at P.S. 261 in Boerum Hill, where I taught Kindergarten, Third Grade, and was a Special Education Support Teacher. I also taught at The Churchill School in Manhattan, working with students with language-based learning disabilities. I hold a Master’s degree in both elementary and special education from Bank Street College of Education. I am a NYC native and have lived in Brooklyn for almost 20 years. I enjoy reading, painting, cooking, spending time with my husband and two daughters and biking around Prospect Park.

Evelyn Espinoza
Human Resources Director

I have been with The Co-op School since August 2019. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, but while I was in high school my family and I moved to Pennsylvania, where I also earned my degree. Brooklyn has my heart, so I came back home. In my spare time, I enjoy doing CrossFit, traveling, reading, and spending time with my three dogs Nighty, Luna, and Thor.

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Keesha Sterling
Director of Auxiliary Programs

I am thrilled and excited to join the Co-op School Community. I was born in Harlem but consider myself a Brooklynite at heart! I attended SUNY Oswego and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in sociology. I have a strong passion for working with youth. My previous experience includes overseeing and serving in after school programs and summer camps for the past ten years. My favorite things to do are spending time with family, writing poetry and spending time with my dog, Dasher.

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Amanda Rodriguez
Administrative Coordinator

I was born and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I have a background in events, marketing, and communications. I joined The Co-op School in 2011 after teaching English in South Korea for 2 years. I started my career in the classroom and I am now a member of the administration team. In my spare time, I enjoy going to museums, dancing, traveling, and spending time with my one-year-old daughter, Emilia. It’s been such a pleasure growing with The Co-op School over the years—I’m excited to see what’s still in store!

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Lasana Williams
Administrative Coordinator

I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I started off my college education at Siena College only to transfer back home to LIU Brooklyn, where I received my Bachelor’s degree in sports science. In my spare time, I run a business and enjoy traveling as much as possible. I began working summers at The Co-op School in my teen years and later worked as the summer camp facilities manager. I’ve also previously helped to oversee the after school and enrichment program.

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Amina Rahimi
Nurse

I’m a registered nurse who recently started working in the school environment. I started off at Rutgers University, where I completed my Bachelor’s in psychology and health sciences and then moved on to receive my Bachelor’s in nursing from Wagner College. While in nursing school, I completed my capstone at New York-Presbyterian Columbia, on the neurology and stroke unit. Post-graduation, I operated as the director of nursing standards-compliance and as the perioperative nurse at an ambulatory plastic surgery practice. I moved into the hospital setting as a clinical oncology nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. I eventually returned to New York-Presbyterian Columbia as a perioperative and a frontline Covid-ICU nurse during the pandemic’s peak.

Email Amina.

Board of Trustees

The Co-op School’s Board of Trustees governs the school and is responsible for long-term vision and planning. Each Board member leads a committee on which community members serve. The committees are responsible for the development, fundraising, and maintenance of the school, as well as for upholding our school values, including our renewed commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Melba Nicholson Sullivan
President

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan is CEO/Founder of Freedom Flow Solutions, LLC and Sage Psychological Services, PLLC, which focus on reducing stress and building resilience at home, at work, and in community. As a licensed clinical-community psychologist, Executive Coach, and vocalist, she uses theater arts, contemplative practice and body-based approaches to navigate systemic oppression while promoting resilience and liberation. Melba grew up as one of three Black children in her graduating class of 300 in Deerfield, IL. She earned her BS in Psychology from Howard University and her PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She completed postdoctoral studies in child and family trauma and social policy at Duke University, as well as global mental health at Harvard Medical School/Instituto Superiore di Sanita’. Prior to creating her own companies, Melba worked for more than 20 years in nonprofit leadership and as clinical faculty at Northwestern University, Bellevue Hospital Center, NYU School of Medicine, and Ackerman Institute for the Family. She created a university counseling center at American University of Nigeria, in Yola, Nigeria. Melba is Co-Chair of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee and sits on the Strategic Planning Committee. She, her husband Jamal, and their son Kai, live in Bed-Stuy. They joined the Co-op community in 2019.

Sara Siddappa
Vice President

Sara Siddappa is Assistant Principal for the Cypress Hills Community School, the only school-wide dual language program serving students 3K-8 in District 19. An innovative model that was started by a BIPOC contingent of parents, Sara joined the faculty in 2002 and was instrumental in growing the middle school division, which prioritizes admissions for Spanish-speaking students new to the country. As a New York City Teaching Fellow she honed her craft co-teaching grades 5-6 before moving into a shortage area, dual language math grades 7-8. She transitioned to the role of instructional coach centering the social-emotional development of young-adolescent immigrants. In her current role, Sara is responsible for strategic planning and partnerships, teacher development, program design and operations. She is the proud daughter of an immigrant, grew up in a bilingual household in eight states and four countries. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Latin American and Caribbean Studies from the University of Michigan, a M.S. Ed from Brooklyn College, and an Ed. M. in Education Administration from Bank Street Graduate School of Education. Sara is Co-chair of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee and sits on the Strategic Planning Committee. She and her husband Madhu live in Bed-Stuy with their child Joaquín. Their family has been part of The Co-op School since 2018.

Kristina Hoge
Secretary

Kristina has 20+ years of non-profit management and fundraising experience. She has worked for over a decade at The Public Theater / New York Shakespeare Festival, one of the world’s leading arts and cultural institutions. In her current position as Senior Director of Development, she oversees all fundraising, strategic planning, board governance and operational development. Kristina hopes to use her experience and time to help secure the future of The Co-op School for years to come. On the board she is the Co-chair of the Fundraising Committee and a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. She and her husband Jake live in Bed-Stuy and are proud parents of two boys at the school (First grade, Katydid). Her family has been part of The Co-op community since 2017.

Andy Shapiro
Treasurer

Andy Shapiro is a Managing Director at PJT Partners and has worked in the financial services industry for 20 years, including roles at Credit Suisse, Sandler O’Neill and Citi. He advises companies in the financial services and financial technology industries. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Andy has a BS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MBA from the University of Virginia. Along with his wife Anna and two children Noah (K Lions) and Sophie (3s Katydids), Andy has been a member of the Co-op community since 2017 and a resident of Bed-Stuy since 2014.

Hilary Cramer Robinson
Trustee

Hilary Cramer Robinson has worked in the nonprofit sector for fifteen years. As the Director of Major Gifts for JCCA, one of the largest child welfare organizations in New York, Hilary oversees the agency’s individual giving program, as well as events, donor cultivation, and development. Hilary holds a BA in Educational Studies and Sociology from Trinity College and a MS in Nonprofit Management from the New School. She hopes to contribute to the Fundraising Committee and other group efforts during her first year on the Board. She lives in Bed-Stuy with her husband Mike, daughter (a Dragonfly), and toddler son.

Sean Farber
Trustee

Sean Farber is a security engineer for an established network and information security firm, operating in the United States and Europe. Sean designs cloud, on-site, and hybrid network infrastructure, and develops automated threat detection and mitigation solutions. His clientele includes major retailers, hospitals, universities, and municipal government agencies. Sean has previously served as general manager for food cooperatives employing 70+ employees. During his cooperative tenure, Sean worked with Boards of Directors to implement a policy governance model. Sean was born in Brooklyn and he grew up in Fairfax, Virginia and Atlanta, Georgia. Sean lives in Crown Heights with his wife, Valerie, and their daughter, Amelia, a third-grade student at The Co-op School. They have been part of the school community since 2017.

Octavia Figueroa
Trustee

Octavia is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn. She is the product of an independent school education and graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Religious Studies. She is a Vice President at BNY Mellon and has been a product manager in financial services for the past nine years, focusing on providing cash management solutions to other financial institutions. This is her first year on the Board and she is currently an active member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, as well as the Strategic Planning Committee. She and her husband, Eric, live in Bed-Stuy and are the proud parents of Eric III (a LadyBug) who has been a part of The Co-op School for the past two years.

Ann Fraioli
Trustee

Ann Fraioli has 20 years of public and non-profit education experience in New York City. Ann is currently the Director of Education at Billion Oyster Project, located on Governors Island. She moved to NYC in 1996 to attend Barnard College. After graduating from Barnard with a B.A. majoring in environmental history and minoring in education, Ann started teaching at P.S. 126, a public middle school in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Later, Ann earned an M. Ed. in educational leadership from Teachers College at Columbia University. Ann was a founding teacher of New York Harbor School in 2003, where she taught a field science class to freshmen for ten years, before joining BOP in 2014 to write curriculum and train middle school teachers. In 2017, Ann transitioned to the role of Director of Education. Ann is a tall ship sailor, a Coast Guard licensed captain and a mother of two. Ann joined the Co-op community in 2016.

Steve Jean-Baptiste
Trustee

Steve was born and raised in East Flatbush Brooklyn by Haitian immigrant parents. He went to High school in Park Slope and attended Long Island University (downtown Brooklyn) where he studied Business Administration & Finance. Steve spent several years in sales & customer service before switching over to the TV/Film industry eventually becoming an Assistant Director. He lived in Clinton Hill for six years before moving to Bed-Stuy a few years ago with his wife Nyanza, his son Coltrane & dog Riley. They have been members of The Co-op School community since 2017 when Coltrane started pre-school (he is now in First grade). This is Steve’s first year on the Board and he is a member of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee and the Neighborhood Outreach Committee.

Elizabeth Knauer
Trustee

Elizabeth is an environmental attorney in private practice. She is a principal at Sive, Paget & Riesel, a boutique environmental and energy law firm where she has worked for over two decades. Her practice focuses on environmental impact review and litigation. Elizabeth grew up in Columbia, Maryland and is a graduate of Fordham University (B.A. in comparative literature) and Harvard Law School. Elizabeth lives in Crown Heights with Co-op students Sorley (6th grade) and Saskia (Kindergarten), her husband Brian, and their dog Aggie. They have been members of the Co-op community since 2014, when Sorley started Kindergarten. Elizabeth joined the Board of Trustees in January 2016. She currently serves on the Board’s Finance, Strategic Planning, and Building/Facility Committees.

Manuela Mozo
Trustee

Manuela has 20+ years of experience working in the contemporary art and culture sector. In her various roles she cultivated and managed relationships with artists, curators, collectors, institutions, and nonprofit organizations, while producing exhibitions and fostering community partnerships. She holds a BA in Art History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a MA in Contemporary Art Theory and Cultural Studies from NYU. This is her first year on the board, and Manuela is the Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, and sits on both the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee and Neighborhood Outreach Committee. She and her partner Derrick have lived in Crown Heights since 2012, and their daughter Saia has been at The Co-op School since 2013 and is currently in Seventh grade.