Our Team

Reid Saaris – Executive Director
With a personal commitment to equity in education that traces back to seeing his best friend not receive the same quality of education, even though he was just across the hall at the same school, Reid founded Equal Opportunity Schools to help schools develop systems to close achievement gaps and provide all students an equal opportunity to achieve their education goals.

At Equal Opportunity Schools, Reid provides vision, organizational and strategic leadership. His role as Executive Director includes partnership, fund, and board development; long-term planning; recruitment; team and program development; and advocacy on behalf of the Equal Opportunity Schools’ mission to ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed in challenging high school classes.

Prior to starting Equal Opportunity Schools, Reid coached soccer and cross-county running and taught history, economics, philosophy and psychology at a large, rural high school in South Carolina. He also headed the Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs at a school that grew to the largest IB program in the state. It was there he found a relatively simple, high-impact reform that could enhance learning opportunities for “missing students” across the country. He committed to ensure that no student in the school would be overlooked for participation in AP or IB because of the color of their skin or the size of their parents’ paycheck. That reform effort seeded Equal Opportunity Schools.

Reid is a respected writer and researcher on education. His summa cum laude thesis at Harvard, Our Latest Generation: The Civic Greatness of Young Americans, disputed the idea that young Americans are disengaged and apathetic, and traced political inequalities back to inequity in educational opportunities. It was awarded the Hoopes Prize for excellence. Reid also authored a paper for the Education Trust about the missing students problem. He received Stanford’s only 2010 Social Innovation Fellowship and is currently a Draper Richards Kaplan Entrepreneur and an Echoing Green Fellow.

Reid graduated from Harvard with a Bachelor’s in Government and has a Master’s in Business and Education from Stanford.


Judy Margrath – Chief Program Officer
Judy is a seasoned education reformer who has operated at all levels of the education system. She is known for insisting that everything be aligned with the intended impact on students and has a passion for innovating to support their success.

As CPO, Judy both manages the Equal Opportunity Schools program team and its partnership work. She is responsible for continually improving Equal Opportunity Schools’ effectiveness in finding missing students and meeting the needs of our partners. Judy brings vast experience with all levels of the K-12 education system, from teacher to superintendent, to support student success at Equal Opportunity Schools.

As a K-12 educator, Judy has been a teacher, principal, program coordinator, curriculum and assessment director, associate superintendent, chief technology officer, and CEO of an educational non-profit focused on online learning. Judy has also conducted seminars across the U.S. on curriculum alignment, instruction and assessment, instructional “best practices”, school improvement planning, and leadership development and has been an adjunct professor for the principal preparation program and the Coordinator/faculty for the Executive Leadership Superintendent Program at Seattle University.

Judy received her Bachelor of Arts from Whitworth University. She also holds a Masters of Education from the University of Washington and a Doctorate of Education from Nova Southeastern University.


Luke Justice – Director of Special Projects
Luke brings a strong background in education advocacy and a broad set of skills from his private sector experience to his work at Equal Opportunity Schools.

Luke collaborates with the Executive Director and the rest of the Equal Opportunity Schools team on a wide variety of projects, including strategic and financial planning, new systems visioning, development, and implementation, and communications and innovation.

Prior to joining EOS, Luke worked at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a consultant on the Measures of Effective Teaching project. Luke analyzed the use of student perception surveys and developed a set of strategic recommendations for how the Foundation could help scale the adoption of student surveys in teacher evaluation systems. Luke has also consulted for Education Pioneers and 2Revolutions, an education design firm that launches new schooling models. Prior to his work in education, he served as Vice President for Aon Corporation, a global risk management company.

Luke serves as the Board Treasurer and head of the Finance Committee for Invictus Preparatory Charter School.

Luke graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts from Harvard and received his MBA from Columbia Business School, where he was President of the Social Enterprise Club.


Sandy Zook – Office Manager
Sandy’s strong operations, human resources and accounting background keeps Equal Opportunity Schools running smoothly and focused on closing educational opportunity and achievement gaps.

As Office Manager, Sandy develops and implements a wide variety of systems and processes essential to the organization’s effectiveness in areas including finance, human resources, legal, compliance, contracting, information technology and procurement.

Most recently, Sandy was the Office Manager for an international high tech startup. She managed finance and accounting, office operations and human resources.

Sandy was an engaged parent of Advanced Placement students in public schools and served as PTA President and a parent representative to Bellevue High School’s program delivery council at the Bellevue School District’s finance committee. Sandy also has a strong commitment to community service and has been a volunteer and advocate for Hospice of the Valley, Little Bit Therapeutic Riding, Life Care Center of Kirkland, Los Angeles DSHS and New Directions for Women.

Sandy graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University.


- Equal Opportunity Schools Partnership Directors -
Partnership Directors manage relationships with equity-minded school and district leadership teams to achieve ambitious outcomes for students. They use consultative and collaborative problem-solving, as well as rigorous research and analysis to enable educational leaders to navigate their particular context toward specific, substantially-improved results for students.

Dina Blum Ed.D – Associate Director of Program
Dina brings a strong background as a teacher, facilitator, instructional coach and administrator.

As Associate Director of Program, Dina supervises and supports other Equal Opportunity Schools program team members in assisting districts to engage “missing students” in AP/IB courses.

During her time as a Project Director at the UW Center for Educational Leadership (CEL), Dina designed professional development programs and resources, managed several district partnerships, and spearheaded the development of the 5 Dimensions for Teaching and Learning – a research-based instructional framework and online assessment of classroom practice.

Dina received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University. She has a Master’s in Education from Lesley College and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Washington.


Niambi Clay – Partnership Director
Niambi’s passion for addressing the educational needs of students, business training and experience in the classroom help her make a difference in students’ lives as a Partnership Director at Equal Opportunity Schools.

Niambi has dedicated her career to education reform. She was a high school math teacher in the Bay Area where she also served as a curriculum consultant for the creation of the California High School Exit Exam and developed an internship program for teachers pursuing their teaching credentials. Most recently, Niambi served as district administrator for tutorial support in Oakland where she managed a $5 million budget. During her tenure the program was recognized by the California Department of Education as a national model for program implementation.

Niambi has a Master’s of Education and MBA from Stanford University where she was also President of the Black Graduate Students’ Association. While at Stanford, she also helped develop the vision for Schools for Community Empowerment, an educational nonprofit that won the grand prize in the Global Social Venture Competition at the London Business School.


Kia Franklin – Partnership Director
Kia is committed to advancing educational equity through policy, advocacy and direct services. She comes to Equal Opportunity Schools having successfully partnered with and in schools, districts, and non-profit organizations to provide meaningful educational opportunities to all students. She has also worked in the legal/policy fields to advance the interests of underrepresented groups.

Most recently Kia worked at TAF (formerly Technology Access Foundation) providing support to TAF Academy, a public 6th through 12th grade school in Federal Way, Washington. There she collaborated with teachers to design a college readiness curriculum for middle and high school students, advised seniors through the college admissions process, and supported district family engagement initiatives. She was a program manager in the Education Department at The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle and a senior fellow at the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy in New York.

Kia has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and African and African-American Studies from Stanford University and a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center. She is also a member of the Washington State Bar Association.


Maile Hadley – Partnership Director
Maile connects all of her work to equity of access to high quality educational opportunities for underrepresented students. She has previously brought this lens to work in online learning, Washington STEM (science, technology, engineering, & math) program development, and statewide policy work.

Most recently she launched a new initiative to promote computer science through student created apps, with a strong focus on rural and underrepresented communities with the Technology Alliance. She has worked with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Digital Learning Commons.

Maile has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington and coursework towards a master’s in pastoral studies from Seattle University.

Maile is active in her community and church, serving on the St. James Cathedral HIV/AIDS CareTeam ministry. She has a long history of community service, including working with the Washington Engineering and Technical Outreach Council, and the National Society of Black Engineers.


Bernadette Merikle – Partnership Director
Bernadette is passionately committed to increasing access to higher education for underrepresented students. She spent most of her career in higher education admissions where she recruited students to New Mexico State University, Cornell and the Seattle University School of Law.

Her focus shifted to educational equity when she was selected as the inaugural Director of Diversity and Equity for South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia, WA. Recently, Bernadette served on the Senior Leadership Team for Highline Public Schools as Director of Equity and Family Engagement.

Bernadette received her Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University and has a Master’s of Education from Seattle University. Additionally, she completed the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Collaborative Leadership for Results program and is a 2011 graduate of the National Urban Fellows’ America’s Leaders for Change cohort. Bernadette volunteers on the Curriculum Committee for Leadership Tomorrow, Seattle.


Aurora Parrish—Partnership Director
Aurora brings her strong background in education policy and school/community partnerships to her role as a Partnership Director at Equal Opportunity Schools.

Aurora worked for seven years for the YMCA of Greater Seattle, developing and managing innovative programs for college and career readiness, as well as for extended learning time, within a number of public middle and high schools. Previously, she acted as an academic coach at School’s Out Washington for program providers at two diverse middle schools to increase their efficacy with meeting students’ academic needs.

Aurora has a Bachelor of Arts from Johns Hopkins University and a Master’s in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies from Stanford University. She completed a Thomas C. Wales Foundation fellowship in 2010, which focused on non-profit leadership development.


Sasha Rabkin – Partnership Director
Sasha brings a strong background in diverse education settings including program management in a cross section of schools and districts.

For over eleven years, Sasha served as Director of School and Family Programs at the Institute for Community Leadership where he managed community based social justice leadership interventions with schools and families. Prior to this, Sasha spent three years at the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instructions where he managed statewide youth leadership and service learning programs.

Sasha has a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the University of Redlands, where he also served as student body president. He recently completed his Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Change from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, CA.


- Equal Opportunity Schools Partnership Analysts -
Partnership Analysts provide direct support to our partner schools and districts through collaborative work with their leaders and the detailed study of existing and new, student-specific data.

Ross Gilliland – Director of Analytics
Ross uses data and research to inform policy decisions at Equal Opportunity Schools as a Senior Analyst.
Ross provides direct support to our partner schools and districts through collaborative work with their leaders and the detailed study of existing and new, student-specific data. He has been instrumental in developing cutting-edge research, findings and tools to enable schools around the country to understand the causes and potential solutions to the problem of students being under-matched with the challenging coursework that will prepare them for college.

Most recently, Ross worked at the White House Council on Environmental Quality in Washington D.C. developing National Environmental Policy Act procedures and guidelines, as well as managing data for 26 federal agencies.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin with a degree in physics and music performance, Ross was a string bassist with the Madison Symphony Orchestra for almost 10 years. Ross also has a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Washington and serves on the Systems Advisory Committee for Seattle Public Utilities.


Graham Bearden – Partnership Analyst
Graham combines teaching experience with database management and statistical analysis skills in his study of student data.

Previously, Graham taught Theory of Knowledge and Environmental Systems and Societies at United World College Costa Rica as part of the International Bachelorette Diploma. He was also a Youth Programs Fellow at the World Affairs Council. Graham’s experience in international education has led him to work with students from over 100 countries.

Graham has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Florida Gulf Coast University, a Master of Arts in Natural Resource Management from United Nations University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington.


Adam Kay – Partnership Analyst
Adam works to develop and use research, findings and tools to enable schools around the country to understand the causes and potential solutions to the problem of students being under-matched with the challenging coursework that will prepare them for college.

Previously, Adam was a faculty member of Teacher’s College at Arizona State University  and in the Department of Education at Dartmouth College where he taught courses and conducted research in teacher professional development, learning across cultures and adolescent social development.

Adam has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology from Northwestern University, a Master of Education from U.C. Berkeley and a Doctorate of Philosophy with a focus in Cognition and Development.


Jessica Paulson – Partnership Analyst
Jessica comes to Equal Opportunity Schools after a career in the political world. Jessica served as a Senior Analyst for Grove Insight, a polling and communication strategy firm.

After college graduation, she worked in her hometown of Seattle as membership coordinator for the Washington Food Coalition – emergency food providers committed to developing new programs, helping to provide additional food for individuals and families in need, and informing the public about hunger issues. While still in college, Jessica interned with Washington Governor Gregoire’s office.  She also built up a taste for change as the intern for the Center on Diversity and Community on the University of Oregon’s campus.

Jessica has Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Oregon.


Allison Wood – Partnership Analyst
Allison brings to Equal Opportunity Schools a strong commitment to increasing access to high quality educational opportunities for all students in the US. She has expertise in designing and building databases and performance measurement systems, and a broad range of experiences in public education, workforce development and microfinance.

Previously, Allison consulted with several New York City organizations on developing and customizing their data management systems. Allison most recently worked at the New York City Department of Education as an Education Pioneers Fellow. She also led research activities for a community-based organization in Brooklyn that was applying for a $30 million federal Department of Education Promise Neighborhoods grant.

Allison has a Master’s in Public Administration from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service, and graduate certificates in Business Administration and Case Management from the University of Washington and Antioch University. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, where she graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.

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