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FHI 360's School Development and Support Staff

The School Development and Support core team has a strong commitment to excellence and equity in education and to the improved outcomes for young adolescents. Over the past 30 years, we have worked on numerous educational reform efforts in over 50 cities across the country. This work has given us extensive expertise in all issues relevant to middle grades schools.

Patrick Montesano

Patrick Montesano is the head of FHI 360’s U. S. Education and Workforce Development Group and leads the Center for School and Community Services and FHI 360’s New York office. He has over 25 years experience leading the development, implementation, scaling and evaluation of initiatives in school-community collaborations, middle-grades and high school reform, postsecondary access and success, youth development, and other programs that address educational equity. He also directs the Middle Start National Center, which promotes the reform of middle-grades education in schools, networks and districts through regional partnerships that have served over 250 schools in ten states.

Adria Gallup-Black

Adria Gallup-Black is currently an Associate Director, Research, at FHI 360’s Center for School & Community Services, where she directs and oversees the evaluations of the Center’s education initiatives. Dr. Gallup-Black has a rich and varied background in statistical analysis, survey methods, and program evaluation, particularly in the areas of children and families at risk, family/intimate partner violence, education, housing and homelessness, welfare reform, and state and local policy analysis. Dr. Gallup-Black’s expertise is in psychometric measurement development: she has developed and validated a tool that captures effective middle grades school leadership, and is currently conducting research on the ISIS program.

Jorge Izquierdo

Jorge Izquierdo is the Director of the New York City PSO Network. Dr. Izquierdo brings to this position over 30 years of experience working in challenging and diverse student communities for the New York City Department of Education. Dr. Izquierdo was a former Community School Superintendent and Principal. Using his strong skills in communication, consensus building, and the ability to galvanize diverse communities, he has been able to achieve success in the schools he has worked with. Dr. Izquierdo focuses on leadership development and on coaching school administrators to focus on and develop skills in leading schools towards creating reflective learning communities and positive student outcomes. Dr. Izquierdo has served as a coach/facilitator for the NYC Leadership Academy and is currently, the Coordinator for the Leadership Program at Adelphi University at and an Adjunct Professor there.

Maud Abeel

Maud Abeel is the Associate Director, Postsecondary Access and Success at FHI 360. Ms. Abeel supports the development and expansion of Middle Start to new areas and to new partner schools. Her prior work at New Visions for Public Schools and Carnegie Corporation of New York gave her the opportunity to work with a variety of school-wide improvement models. Maud is a contributing author, researcher, and editor to Turning Points 2000: Educating Adolescents in the 21st Century, a follow-up to Carnegie’s landmark Turning Points report. Ms. Abeel helped to create the original ISIS program and helped to expand and grow it across districts.

Michelle Feist

Michelle Feist is the Director of School Development and Support, where she leads the work across projects in the portfolio, including the national development of the ISIS work. For nearly 20 years, she has provided national and local technical assistance and professional development to school, district and CBO partner grantees. Ms. Feist led has directed district level middle grades reform efforts and also led national efforts to support middle and high school work in 250 LEAs across the country. In addition to providing direct support, Ms. Feist has a great deal of expertise managing national networks of experts that focus on secondary school reform and in creating cross-site learning opportunities for schools and districts.

Risa Sackman

Risa Sackman is Director of School Development and Support at FHI 360. In this capacity, she is responsible for managing all US-based education programs and supports designed to support educators, youth, and those committed to improving education. Ms. Sackman was an active part of the Middle School Leadership Project team, and she worked on both the New York City PSO and Newark Public Schools initiatives, where she was responsible for the creation and delivery of professional development workshops and provided direct coaching services to schools. Her primary areas of focus include Dropout Prevention, Adolescent Development, Youth Development, Social Emotional Learning and Noncognitive Factors, Academic Rigor, Differentiated Instruction, Literacy Across the Curriculum, Reading Strategies for Struggling Readers, Effective Small Learning Communities, Teacher Teams, and Using Data Wisely. Her years of experience as a Middle School teacher and administrator, curriculum developer, instructional designer, and national consultant in curriculum and instruction, assessment for learning, and teacher development informs and shapes this work.