Greg Thompson, Chief Executive Officer
Greg’s role as CEO of the Center includes raising education funds from local and national sources, building relationships with partner organizations as well as current and future fellows, and providing guidance to advocates as they navigate the process of creating excellent Tennessee charter schools. Prior to joining the Center, Greg was the education program director for the Hyde Family Foundations in Memphis, where he oversaw the Foundation’s K–12 education portfolio. Greg also participated in the Education Pioneers Program, and was a summer fellow with a San Francisco-based charter management organization. Greg’s previous experience includes working in the sports technology and media sectors and investment banking.
Justin Testerman, Chief Operating Officer
Prior to coming to Nashville, Justin served as the Director of Education Programs for Volunteers of America of Minnesota where he started the nation’s first nonprofit charter school authorizing program, which authorized 17 schools and has been recognized nationally for its work. In this role Justin was also responsible for the operation of three contract alternative high schools for the Minneapolis school district, and an adult basic education program. He has long been involved on the national charter school scene as a longtime board member of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. Justin also served as a Charter School Specialist in the Minnesota Department of Education and began his career in education as a middle school teacher in Newark, New Jersey through the Teach for America program.
Rebecca Lieberman, Managing Director of School and Sector Initiatives
Rebecca is the managing director of school and sector initiatives at the Center. She also served as chief talent strategy officer at the Tennessee Charter School Incubator where she worked to recruit top education-reform leaders to Tennessee through the Education Entrepreneurs Fellowship, an initiative she co-created. Prior to moving to Tennessee, Rebecca worked as a teacher and administrator in and around New York City, including serving as the founding dean of St. HOPE Leadership Academy Charter School and as the assistant principal of a high school in New Jersey. Rebecca lives in Nashville with her son, Gabriel, and her dog, McLovin.
Emily Lilley, Director of Policy
Emily Lilley joined the Tennessee Charter School Center in 2013 from the Tennessee Charter Schools Association, where she served as Director of Communications. Born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Emily attended Auburn University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Social Sciences Education. After teaching in Atlanta, Emily went on to work for several years in publishing and marketing communications and returned to Tennessee in 2012 after serving as the communications director for a successful Congressional re-election campaign. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Communications from Johns Hopkins University. Emily is grateful for the opportunity to continue serving Tennessee’s students and families through the development and implementation of policies that support a high-quality charter school sector.
Jennifer Gentry, Director of Operations and Sector Support
Jennifer Gentry joined the Center staff after working with the Tennessee Charter Schools Association since July 2010 where she served as Director of Operations. She brings with her a background in business and education and is passionate about education reform in Tennessee. Previously, Jennifer has worked in higher education, banking as well as human resources. At the Center, she focuses on internal operations and collaboration within the school community. Jennifer attended Louisiana Tech University with a focus on business administration and education.
John Little, Director of Community Engagement
A native Tennessean and former political campaign manager, John Little is the director of community engagement for the Center. John will focus on the Center’s efforts to educate, engage and empower parents to collaborate with their public charter schools. He has worked previously with the Tennessee Charter Schools Association and Nashville Preparatory Charter School where he built a passion for working in the community. He also served as director of recruitment for former Gov. Phil Bredesen’s Children’s Cabinet, a statewide mentoring program. In his free time he loves playing basketball at the YMCA and spending time with his family.
Hunter Schimpff, Director of School Quality
Hunter supports day-to-day operations and the research program of the Center while also managing the Center’s IT platform. Before the Center merger, Hunter held the title of Special Projects Manager with the Tennessee Charter School Incubator. Hunter previously worked in Nashville Mayor Karl Dean’s Office of Children and Youth, where he focused on adult literacy and early childhood policy for Metropolitan Nashville/Davidson County. Prior to Nashville, he lived in South America where he was a classroom teacher at an international school in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has a BA in Spanish, minor in Mathematics from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. from Vanderbilt (Peabody) in International Education Policy and Management.
Michelle Doane, Director of School Development Programs
Michelle Doane manages the operations of the Center’s Education Entrepreneurs Fellowship, and focuses on leadership development and sector support. She holds a B.M. degree in piano performance and a Catherine Filene Shouse Arts Leadership Program Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, a M.M. degree in piano performance from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, and a M.Ed. degree in Learning and Instruction from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. Prior to the Center, she served as the Education and Community Engagement Manager at the Nashville Symphony for 5 ½ years, where she developed, managed, and evaluated education programs and community engagement activities for children and adults, and implemented and managed the One Note, One Neighborhood initiative, which focused on schools in the Stratford and Pearl-Cohn clusters. Michelle continues to be active in the music.
Jessica joined the Tennessee Charter School Center in 2013 from the Tennessee Charter Schools Association, where she worked with the grassroots advocacy team. A Knoxville native, Jessica is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and Spanish. She began her work in education reform through founding the University of Tennessee chapter of Students for Education Reform (SFER), a group of undergraduates focused on learning more about and advocating for quality K-12 public education. At TCSC, Jessica works on sharing the stories of charter school families and schools through Inside Charters and leads all charter center sponsored events.
Kirstin is a native Memphian and recent graduate of The University of Memphis with a B.A. in journalism and political science. Prior to joining The Center, Kirstin interned with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and Representative Charles Rangel in Washington, D.C. Kirstin was also a communications intern with the Tennessee General Assembly in Nashville, TN where she interned with Representatives Johnnie Turner and Joe Towns. Prior to joining The Center, she was a contributing writer with the Tri-State Defender.
Jennifer grew up in Knoxville and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with the B.A. degree from the University of Tennessee and an M.Ed degree in Educational Leadership from National Louis University in Chicago. Prior to moving into education, Jennifer served as Director of Client Implementations with Asurion. She served as Director of Finance and Operations, Assistant School Leader, and Director of Recruiting and Talent Development with KIPP Nashville. She also served as Program Director of the Ayers Institute for Teaching and Learning at Lipscomb University. Currently, Jennifer works at the Tennessee Charter School Center where she focuses on developing and supporting high-performing public charter schools throughout the state. A former board member of McNeilly Center for Children, Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and CASA, Jennifer has been active in the Junior League of Nashville for 11 years. At the Junior League, she has served as Home Board Chair and Vice President of Finance and Operations and was recently selected to serve as President beginning in 2015. She enjoys reading, cooking, boating and hiking in Percy Warner Park with her husband, Mike, and their children, Lev and Eliana.