I am unbelievably excited to be joining the Co-op School community as its new Head of School. I come to the role with over 20 years of experience at Saint Ann’s School, where I started as a kindergarten teacher and, over time, became a Division Head and a member of the school’s Core Administration. Over the past six years, I have served as the Head of Upper School, where I had the opportunity to shape a vision that allowed students, faculty, and families to teach, learn, and grow in an outstanding academic program and a supportive environment. I now bring these same goals to Co-op, where I will spend my time listening to the perspectives of everyone in the community and keeping the well-being of the students at the forefront of my decisions.
I’ve had many roles at the Co-op School first as a parent, then board member and treasurer. With the 2009 school expansion, my role evolved again to employee as Business Director. I have a master’s degree in public administration and enjoy being part of growing the thriving organism that the Co-op School is. I live in Brooklyn with my husband, son, and daughter.
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.
My name is Lelia Mangham and I have had the honor of working at The Coop School for 17 years. It has been such a pleasure watching the school grow and change. I have spent the previous 16 years here as first, an assistant teacher and then a lead teacher. This year I will be the new Preschool Coordinator and I look forward to being able to serve this wonderful community in this new role. My goal is to be a resource for you on all things preschool and help you to all transition both into our wonderful school community and into your specific classes. I look forward to meeting all of you and having an exciting and fulfilling school year.
After studying history at Wheaton College, Massachusetts, I pursued my teaching credentials at Bank Street College but not before teaching math in Hartford, Connecticut, and later working with students on the autism spectrum at the Manhattan Children’s Center. After student teaching at Brooklyn New School and then two years as an assistant teacher in the Fourth Grade at Brooklyn Friends School, I was honored to become the founding 4th-grade teacher at The Co-op School. I joined the Co-op School’s Middle School Divison in 2020 as the Math and Science teacher for grade 6-8. With a range of experiences across grade levels and learning styles, I couldn’t feel more prepared for my role as Lower School Division Head, supporting teaching growth and school culture. I like to play guitar – especially with students at school performances, see live music, swim, write, complete the crossword, and spend time with my son John, daughter Grace, and wife, Kate, as well as other family and friends here in the city.
Growing up in Queens I have always had the goal of becoming a teacher. After studying American History at Brooklyn College, I worked as a teacher in various school settings. I have taught nearly all grades from Kindergarten to 8th grade, leaving a long-lasting impression of meeting students at their point of need. I have gained a love for teaching and investment in the growth of children. I also serve as the Director of Media Operations for various organizations with an emphasis on visual, audio recording and live streaming events. I have my Masters in Childhood Education with Bilingual Extension from NYIT and I am certified in School Building Leadership from Molloy College.I love the community here at The Co-op School and it has become a family for me. I truly believe this quote to be true: “Kids know the investment. They see the realness and they see your heart.”
I am a New York native and grew up on Long Island. I have a Bachelor’s degree in childhood education from Oneonta State College and a Master’s degree in special education from Hofstra University. My journey at The Co-op School began in 2013, when I started working with preschool students as a SEIT. My love for the community was instant—so much so that I moved to Brooklyn from Long Beach. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, exploring local neighborhoods, and trying new restaurants. I am so proud to be part of the Co-op community!
There’s nothing I love more than eliciting giggles from kids with my silly voices and gibberish words. I’ve worked in camps and schools since I was a teenager, and hold a Bachelors of Fine Arts and a Masters in Education Research. I’m also a Mom to 3 amazing daughters, each 3 years apart, and we’ve lived together in Midwood, Brooklyn their whole lives. I’m especially passionate about interdisciplinary, child-centered learning, and parent advocacy. Some of my absolute favorite things are painting, plants, martial arts, and visiting my husband’s home country of Brazil. I am so excited for my family to be part of a community that’s invested in learning and growing together.
My name is Irish. I was born in the Philippines, grew up in New Jersey, and now live in Brooklyn. After getting my bachelor’s degree in the field of nursing, I decided to work in education and non-profit organizations focused on youth. After working for 5 years in a Brooklyn independent school, I joined a non-profit organization in Philadelphia which works in giving free eye exams and eyeglasses to all of the city’s K-12 students. When I came back to this wonderful city, I wanted to join a school that places value on community. I am delighted to join The Co-op School and am looking forward to being a reliable and supportive addition to the team. In my free time, you can usually find me at the park, bookstore, museum, the beach, or commuting everywhere on my bike.
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.
I was born and raised in Portugal, where I got my Masters in Media Studies and Communication. I have lived in Brooklyn with my husband and our dog since 2015 and we welcomed our son Tomás in 2020. I’m passionate about education, learning and all kinds of stories. I believe in the power of learning through meaningful and fun experiences and projects. In my free time you’ll find me enjoying my family in the parks, museums and restaurants in the city. I love to cook, photograph and gather with our friends and community.
I grew up in Rochester, NY where I completed my nursing degree at Saint John Fisher College. As soon as I graduated I started my first job as a pediatric nurse at the University of Rochester Medical Center. I was eager to move out of my hometown, so after two years there I began my journey as a traveling nurse. I worked in hospitals in many different cities including Denver, San Diego, and San Francisco. During the pandemic I moved back home to Rochester for a few months then thought I’d try my luck in NYC. Before coming to The Co-op school, I was working in the Pediatric ICU at NYP. I’ve been lucky enough to wear many different hats as a nurse throughout my travels and I’m very excited about this transition into the role of school nurse. When I’m not at work I enjoy cooking, hiking, snowboarding, boxing, and live music! I’m eager to meet all of the students and families this year! I look forward to the opportunity to care for your children.
I was born in Harlem and moved to Brooklyn later in life with my wife and three kids. I worked as a custodian for St. John University for five years and with an early childhood education program at Sheltering Arms Children & Family Services for ten years. I love working in environments with children. Whatever I clean becomes so clean you will see your reflection!
Board of Trustees
Poppy Simpson has worked with start-ups at the intersection of culture and technology for over a decade: most recently as part of the leadership team at Meural (acquired 2019), where her team built the first subscription streaming offer for art and photography by partnering with major museums, beloved brands and artists both iconic and emerging. An alum of the University of Oxford, Poppy began her career in her native London, as a teacher and head of department, and subsequently worked with the UK’s leading cultural organizations to develop their educational programs, with a specific focus on digital technologies. She and her partner Raoul have lived in Bed Stuy since 2015 and, along with their son Theo, have been members of the Co-Op community since 2020. She currently serves as President of the Board.
Claire Stapleton is a writer and marketing & communications consultant in the tech sector. A native of Oakland, California, she’s an alum of The College Preparatory School and the University of Pennsylvania. She spent 12 years at Google/YouTube managing communications and brand marketing, slowly following a familiar arc from true believer techno-optimist to vocal apostate. She co-organized the Google Walkout in 2018 and speaks and writes frequently on tech worker issues. She and her husband Shane live in Bed-Stuy and have two sons (Malcolm, Kindergarten and Felix, Ladybugs). A member of the Co-Op community since 2019, she joined the Board in 2022 and co-chairs the Strategic Planning committee.
She is currently a Family Team Conference Facilitator in a non-profit New York human service agency, serving families in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. She has over a decade of experience in the field of Child Welfare, beginning as a Child Protective Specialist, investigating reports of child abuse and maltreatment, for the city of New York. She transitioned to working as a Case Planner in foster care prevention and foster care, working with foster care youth as they work through their respective permanency goals of independent living or returning to their parents. Later, joined middle management as a Family Team Conference Facilitator/Coordinator with a Foster Boarding Home program in Brooklyn, working towards and ensuring the goal of permanency for children and youth in Foster Care. Born and raised in Sunset Park, Brooklyn to immigrant parents of Ecuador and Haiti. She obtained a BA in Psychology at Adelphi University and Master of Organizational Behavior at NYU Poly. She is a proud member of Mocha Moms, Inc, Brooklyn Chapter, and current Membership Chair. Family has been with the Co-op School since 2020 with two boys currently attending. Member of the school’s Community Partnership Committee. Joined the board in 2022, to continue to promote family and staff partnership in the educational process and aid in the development of the school’s community.
Hilary Cramer Robinson has worked in the nonprofit sector for over sixteen 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 serves as the Vice President of the Board, and Co-Chairs the Fundraising Committee. She lives in Bed-Stuy with her husband Mike, first grade daughter, and toddler son.
Renée Ifill is a native New Yorker, Fort Greene resident and executive producer of a popular Philadelphia Eagles podcast. She has spent 25 years working in media, with clients like Condé Nast, Vox Media, The New Yorker and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She specializes in diversifying and producing content and solving problems related to a changing media landscape. She and husband Bobby Jones have a 7th grader named Miles, and this is her second year as a Co-op School parent.
Jilbert El-Zmetr was raised by hard working Lebanese parents who instilled the value of community early on. Finding one’s place isn’t easy, but the community grounds us.
Jilbert and his wife are blessed (after rounds of IVF and surrogacy) with two girls. Their oldest is in 3K at the Co-op School, and the youngest crawls around, exploring.
Aside from family, food is central to Jilbert’s life. Its history, stories, and togetherness connect us. He aims to bring an entrepreneurial spirit (backed by operational, tech, and finance experience) to the board, fostering unity through shared stories.
At the (mealtime) table with other Trustees, Jilbert will listen, learn, and collaborate. His hope is to build on our diverse community’s strengths.
Sara Upton is a director at Chrysara, an international manufacturing company specializing in decorative accents. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Trinity College and received a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law. She has served on the Class Parent and Library Committees and this is her first year on the board. Sara, her partner, Scott, and their son, Nico, live in Bed-stuy and they have been part of The Co-op community since 2016.
Celestine Maddy has fifteen years of experience in Marketing and Communications, including time spent at social technology companies like Reddit and Pinterest. Currently, she holds the position of Managing Director of Marketing and Communications at Emerson Collective—an organization devoted to cultivating opportunities and solutions for humanity through philanthropy, creativity, and impactful investing. Residing just four blocks away from The Co-op School, she actively lends her support not only to the organization itself but also to the ventures and non-profits within the Collective, thus optimizing their marketing initiatives to propel meaningful change.
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. Kristina is Board Secretary, Co-chair of the Fundraising Committee, and a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Finance Committee. She and her husband, Jake, live in Bed-Stuy and are proud parents of two boys. Her family has been part of The Co-op community since 2017.
Alexa moved to New York from her hometown of Vancouver, Canada in 2001 for graduate school at Bank Street College of Education and she has worked in the field ever since: Advocating for equity and access in arts education for diverse learners in NYC public schools; directing a program launched under the Obama administration to prioritize the strategic use of the arts for school improvement; and leading a team of educators and hosting kids and teachers for inclusive and engaging museum experiences. Alexa is a former trustee for several local and national non-profit organizations with collaborative leadership models and current co-chair of the Streetscape Committee for her Bed-Stuy block association. Alexa joined The Co-op School community last fall when her daughter Kai turned two. She and her husband Charlie believe deeply in The Co-op School’s core values and bring compatible goodwill: Be present, communicate, collaborate, embrace the possible, and take risks.
Jesse is a husband, a proud father of three, and the Founder & CEO of Ei Digital, a full-service digital agency based in Brooklyn. With over two decades working at the intersection of marketing, technology, and entrepreneurship, he has deep experience in Bev/Alc, CPG, Media/Entertainment, eCom, B2B, and Startups.
Previously serving two years on the Marketing and Communications committee, Jesse is excited to be joining the Co-op School Board of Trustees to continue supporting the school.
Nzingah is an award-winning photographer and curator with reviews in numerous
publications, including Art In America, The New York Times, Art in Review, The
Philadelphia Inquirer Arts Review, and La Stampa (Italy). She has an MFA in
Photography from Temple’s Tyler School of Art and is a Fulbright Scholar. In
addition, she has taught photography at the University of South Florida as a Visiting
Professor. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows internationally and
nationally. Nzingah is currently a Teaching Artist with the Brooklyn Arts Council and
Adjunct Faculty at The School of Visual Arts.