Maya Bugg, Chief Executive OfficerMaya Bugg

Maya Bugg joined the Tennessee Charter School Center in September of 2015 as the Chief Executive Officer. She has deep roots in the education sector, having begun her career as a classroom educator in North Carolina and continuing on to work with the United States Department of Education as a policy consultant. Maya has over a decade of experience launching, scaling, and leading high-impact initiatives throughout the education sector. In her most recent position as the founding State Director for Education Pioneers, Tennessee, she was charged with overseeing strategic growth, financial stability, and partner development throughout the region. In previous roles, she has supported evaluation and strategy for teacher preparation programs; led school and district-level leaders in advancing school turn-around efforts; and founded a national resource dedicated to training educators in the use of culturally responsive education. Maya earned her Ed.M. from Harvard University, her BA from the University of Pennsylvania, her National Board Certification as a teacher, and is currently pursuing her Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership & Policy at the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University. After living in Memphis in recent years, Bugg and her family now reside in Nashville. 

Wild Cotton Photography is a Wedding and Portrait PhotographerEmily Lilley, Director of Policy

Emily Lilley serves the Center as the director of policy, helping to develop and implement policies that support a high-quality charter school sector. Emily 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, she 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. Emily is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Communications from Johns Hopkins University and is grateful for the opportunity to continue serving Tennessee’s students and families.

Wild Cotton Photography is a Wedding and Portrait PhotographerHunter Schimpff, Sr. Director of Operations & Analytics

Hunter Schimpff supports the day-to-day operations and finances of the Center while also managing the Center’s data and research initiatives. 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.

Wild Cotton Photography is a Wedding and Portrait PhotographerMichelle Doane, Director of School Development Programs

Michelle Doane manages TCSC’s Start Strong, Grow Stronger initiative and focuses on leadership development. She holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, and Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. Michelle has presented at the National Charter Schools Conference and served as an external reviewer for charter school authorizers. Prior to TCSC, she was the Education and Community Engagement Manager at the Nashville Symphony for several 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.

Melondie Vernon-Katz, Special Projects Manager
Mel Headshot

Melondie Vernon-Katz joined the Tennessee Charter School Center in November of 2014 as the Center’s Nashville Community Organizer. She has since transitioned from the Learning Resource Manager into the role of Special Projects Manager. Melondie has a BA in Anthropology from Northeastern Illinois University and a BS in IT Business Management from Lipscomb University. Prior to moving to Tennessee, Melondie lived in Mexico and worked as an archaeologist at Teotihuacán. She lives with her husband, Edon, their two sons, Logan and Elijah, and dog, Angus.

Luther Mercer, Memphis Advocacy Director

Luther Mercer

Luther Mercer is the Center’s Memphis Advocacy Director, working with school operators, the Shelby County School Board, County Commission, and other community partners to advance policy efforts aligned with the needs of Tennessee charter schools. Luther joined the Center in October of 2015 and brings a wealth of background and experience having worked in education, government relations and policy for over 15 years. Luther has a diverse education background as well. He holds degrees from Tennessee Technological University and Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. Further, he studied International Trade Law, International Criminal Law and the Islamic Legal System at American University in Cairo, as well as, Certificates in TEFL Methodology and Mandarin Chinese and Culture from Beijing University, and an Instructor’s License in Entrepreneurship Training from the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri.