Community Roots Charter School

Board of Trustees

Allison Keil
Allison Keil grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Ms. Keil holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Brown University and a Master’s Degree from Bank Street College. After graduating from Brown University, Ms. Keil went to work at St. Ann's School, one of the most highly respected private schools in New York. Ms. Keil then decided to transition into Public School teaching and was accepted into the very rigorous Teach For America program, which prepares top college graduates to teach in under-resourced public schools. After spending the summer training in Houston, Texas and teaching in a bi-lingual 2nd grade classroom, Ms. Keil accepted a first grade teaching position at PS 30 in Harlem, New York where she taught for two years. During this time Ms. Keil pursued professional development opportunities at Teacher's College as well as beginning to take masters level education classes at Bank Street College. Ms. Keil then accepted a teaching position at Beginning with Children where she taught both First and Second Grades. During this time she transitioned into the Educational Leadership program at Bank Street. It was in this program, in a small school design class where she met Sara Stone and developed the initial design of Community Roots Charter School. Ms. Keil and Ms. Stone Co-Founded Community Roots Charter School in 2006. Ms. Keil was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from Bank Street in 2013. Ms. Keil's work at Community Roots Charter School is highlighted in A Smarter Charter, Finding What Works For Charter Schools and Public Education, published in 2014. Today, Ms. Keil and Ms. Stone continue to Co-Direct Community Roots Charter School, a K-8 model serving 450 students.

Beth Lief
Beth Lief has been a leader in public education reform and innovation for more than 25 years. She is currently the Executive Director of The Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation, which focuses on public school reform in New York City. Prior to that position, she was a National Fellow at the Institute for Learning, based at the Learning Research and Development Center, University of Pittsburgh. The Institute for Learning is an internationally recognized center for linking research and practice in urban public school reform. Her work was focused on leadership development and professional development in large schooldistricts and state education departments.

Immediately prior to joining the Institute for Learning, Lief served as a consultant to the New York City Department of Education's strategic planning process, coordinating the instructional aspects of the planning process and managing the literacy working group. From March, 2000 until June, 2003, she was Senior Vice President for Strategic Relations for Teachscape, a venture that uses Internet supported resources, including videos of exemplary teaching practice, specialist commentary and other materials, to provide professional development services to teachers and administrators.

Lief was founding president for 11 years of New Visions for Public Schools, the largest educational reform organization in New York City devoted to improving the City's public schools. During her tenure, New Visions developed and provided professional development in more than 700 schools and had many of its initiatives replicated on a national basis. Among other initiatives, New Visions was the first recipient of an Annenberg challenge grant that helped create 35 small schools; formed collaborative study groups for superintendents; introduced classroom-based literacy assessment in the early grades to the City's public schools; and received a National Science Foundation grant to work in middle school mathematics in some of the City's most struggling districts. Lief began her work in public education as a civil rights lawyer with the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., serving as one of the lead attorneys in the Kansas City, Missouri school desegregation lawsuit, and later served from 1984 to 1986 as Executive Director of the Mayor's Commission on Special Education in New York City.

Lief serves on the Board of Directors of Public Education Network and New Visions for Public Schools. For fifteen years she was a member of the board of Bank Street College of Education. She has been a member of numerous other governmental and non-profit boards and committees, including the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards' Exceptional Needs Standards Committee. Lief has published articles and chapters on public education reform, small schools and characteristics of successful schools, and has received several awards for her work.

Lief received her B.A. from Barnard College, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and her J.D. from New York University, cum laude, where she was a Root Tilden scholar.


Kristin Conklin
Kristin is the Associate Vice President for Development and External Relations at Bank Street College of Education. She has devoted her 25-year development career to creating successful partnerships and programs to promote greater equity and access to high quality education children and adults. She is the daughter of public school educators and the mother of one of the early alumni of Midtown West, a small pre-K-5 New York City public school in Manhattan that was developed through a partnership of parents, the local community school district, and Bank Street College of Education, where Kristin now works. She is passionate about progressive education, public education, and community initiatives that address issues of social justice, and she sees Community Roots Charter School as a standard bearer of what excellent public education can look like for all of our children. As a volunteer, Kristin has taught English to immigrants and is an advocate for human rights and immigration reform. She has helped a variety of non-profits identify and secure resources for community arts and education programs, legal counsel for immigrants, and international fair trade and microfinance projects. She has served on the non-profit boards of Judson Memorial Church, the Centro de Educación de Trabajadores, and the S.T.A.R. Senior Center. Kristin holds a B.A. from DePauw University, a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults from Cambridge University, and is a proud alum of AFS Intercultural Programs, through which she received a scholarship to spend one year of high school as an exchange student in Cochabamba, Bolivia.   

Sara Stone
Sara Stone has been working in public education since 1999. After graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in Inclusive Education Sara began her teaching career working with students as a learning specialist and then as a fourth and fifth grade teacher at a small progressive public elementary school in New York City. While teaching at Midtown West, Sara attained a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Bank Street College of Education. Through this program Sara met co-founder and co-director of Community Roots Charter School, Allison Keil. This is where the blueprints were drawn up for a school that would later become the foundation for a progressive and inclusive public school. Sara continues to be driven by the need to further develop and sustain a highly successful school that meets the needs of all students through collaboration and creativity.

Scott Strasser
Scott Strasser is a co-founder and managing partner of Perennial Advisors, a wealth advisory and investment management firm based in New York City.  Prior to founding Perennial, he was a Managing Director in the private equity area of GB Merchant Partners where he focused on control and minority investments in consumer and companies.  Prior to that, he worked as a Vice President in the principal investment area of Gordon Brothers Group and as an Associate at the Cypress Group, a late-stage buyout and investment firm.  Scott started his career as a financial analyst in the Investment Banking division of Bear Stearns, where he concentrated on healthcare and pharmaceuticals mergers & acquisitions, restructurings and corporate finance transactions.  Scott has served as a Director of several privately-held companies in the U.S. and Canada and as a volunteer for several non-profit organizations focused on education and college preparation.  He received his MBA from Harvard Business School and his BA from Washington University in St. Louis, where he majored in Political Science with a concentration in legal and political theory.  Scott lives in Manhattan with his wife and two daughters.

Tracey Strauss      
Tracey Strauss currently serves as Vice President of Ecommerce at COACH Inc. In her role, Tracey runs the ecommerce business overseeing web merchandising, planning, analytics and production. Prior to COACH, Tracey served as Vice President of Ecommerce at Theory LLC, where she launched and managed the ecommerce business for Theory and Helmut Lang. Prior to Theory, Tracey spent most of her career in online and software Product Management at InterActive Corp and Micrososft. She received her MBA from Harvard Business School and her BA from Stanford University where she concentrated in American Studies and received an honors degree in the School of Education.

Erica Hamilton
Director, City Year

Omar Kara
Portfolio Manager, KKR

Christine Spadaro   
Literacy Specialist

Suzanne Fogarty
Head of School, Lincoln School

Katherine O'Donnell
Ed.D. Educational Leadership Department, Bank Street College of Education