MEET THE TEAM

Meet the team charged with bringing to the fore a new generation of
leaders and innovators.

The Executive Team

Shayne Evans is a Founder and Managing Partner of the Academy Group. Previously, Evans served as the Chief Executive Officer of the University of Chicago Charter School and managing director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute. At UEI, Evans also co-founded The Success Project, a curriculum focused on preparing students for college access and graduation beginning in 6th grade, a program included in President Obama's College Opportunity Day of Action.

Previously, Evans served as the director of the UChicago Charter Woodlawn campus and co-founded the UChicago Charter Carter G. Woodson campus. Before joining the UChicago Charter School, Evans worked as an 8th grade mathematics teacher at the Chicago International Charter School, an AP US History teacher at Ida Crown Jewish Academy and an 8th grade teacher at Chicago Public School’s Julia Lathrop Elementary.

Evans earned a BA in Political Science and African American History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s from Concordia University. First in his family to graduate from college, Evans has spoken across the nation about what is possible for young people from underserved communities and the importance of student agency as a guide for success. Evans has been the recipient of many honors and awards, including the 2017 NAACP Educator of the Year Award. He is a native of Chicago’s South Side and resides in Bronzeville with his wife and daughter.

Shayne Evans

Founder
Managing Partner

Dr. Timothy Knowles serves as Founder and Managing Partner of the Academy Group. Previously, Knowles founded and served as Director of the University of Chicago Urban Labs. Urban Labs work globally to design, test and scale policies and programs that are effective, humane and cost-efficient. At the University of Chicago Knowles also established and served as Chairman of the Urban Education Institute and the John Dewey Clinical Professor of Education.

Prior to his work in Chicago, Knowles served as the Deputy Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools and co-directed the Boston Annenberg Challenge, a nationally regarded initiative to improve literacy. Knowles also served as Director of a full-service K–8 school in New York City, founding director of Teach for America in New York, and a teacher of African history in Botswana.

Knowles has started multiple social sector organizations, holds appointments at the University of Chicago and Harvard University and has written and spoken widely on education and entrepreneurship.

Timothy Knowles

Founder
Managing Partner

  • Kathleen St. Louis Caliento

    Kathleen St. Louis Caliento

    Chief Learning and Design Officer

    Kathleen St. Louis Caliento is the Chief Learning and Design Officer of the Academy Group.

    Previously, Kathleen held several leadership positions at Spark, including Executive Director in Chicago and leading program strategy and growing corporate partnerships nationwide. Prior to Spark, Kathleen was Chief Program Officer for Project Exploration, Director of Program Investments for The Chicago Public Education Fund, and taught in New York City.

    Kathleen has spent two decades committed to urban education and student success. A published author, she earned her doctorate and master’s degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University and graduated with a Bachelor’s from SUNY Stony Brook. Kathleen enjoys running, playing the guitar, and traveling with her family. 

  • Carmen Echevarria

    Carmen Echevarria

    Chief of Staff

    Carmen Echevarria is Chief of Staff of the Academy Group.  Prior to serving as Chief of Staff, Carmen served as Senior Project Manager for the Academy Group.  Previously, Carmen served as an Executive Assistant and Project Manager for The University of Chicago Urban Labs and the Urban Education Institute. Carmen is passionate ensuring students from underserved communities receive an excellent education and the resources necessary to reach their full potential. Prior to The University of Chicago, Carmen worked at Hyatt Hotels Corporation in various management roles.

     Carmen earned her M.A. from Northeastern Illinois University and a B.A. from DePaul University. 

     In her spare time, Carmen mentor’s youth in several city programs. She is an avid Cubs fan and loves spending time with her close-knit family and puppy.

  • Matthew Rogers

    Matthew Rogers

    Chief Operating Officer

    Matt Rogers is the Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer for the Academy Group.  Previously, Matt was at the Boston Consulting Group where he served as a Project Leader and member of BCG’s social impact team.  While at BCG Matt developed expertise in non-profit strategy, programming design and implementation, and due diligence.  He has worked across k-12, higher education and the public sector leading teams in developing approaches to improve the performance of chronically under performing schools, designing new approaches to measuring and monitoring impact, and assisting leaders to launch initiatives focused on reducing urban violence. Matt is a Teach for America alumni and served as high school Physics and English teacher on Chicago’s west side at Pritzker College Prep.  He also served as assistant director of development for Cheshire Academy and worked in Hollywood as a production assistant at Imagine Entertainment.  

    Matt received his MBA from the Duke University and his undergraduate degree from Stanford University

  • Greg Jones

    Greg Jones

    Executive Director, The Academy Chicago

    Previously, Gregory Jones served as the principal of Kenwood Academy High School. He led the school in improvements across all performance metrics. The school earned the highest quality rating awarded by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Jones also was the founding assistant principal at George Westinghouse College Prep, and teacher of business courses at Dunbar Vocational Career Academy.

    His work has been featured in the New York Times, Fox News Chicago, the National Journal and the Gates Foundation. Jones was the recipient of the Leadership Greater Chicago fellowship, and the inaugural Chicago Principal’s Fellowship at the Center for Nonprofit Management at Kellogg and the School for Education and School Policy, at Northwestern University.

    In 2017, Jones was selected to launch the CPS Master Principal Program, in collaboration with the Chicago Public Education Fund. He also was selected to participate in the Obama Foundation Summit of 500 civic leaders from around the world. In 2018, Jones received the prestigious Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award.

  • Halleemah Nash

    Halleemah Nash

    Chief Partnerships Officer

    Halleemah Nash serves as Chief Partnerships Officer of the Academy Group.

    She has led and established a broad range of social impact and education organizations serving Chicago students.  Halleemah managed charitable programs for the Chicago Bulls, developed partnership strategies in service of over 9,000 public housing youth at Chicago Housing Authority, and serving as Executive Director for NFL veteran Israel Idonije’s Foundation.  Halleemah most recently served as Executive Director of  iMentor Chicago, the organization’s first expansion site.

    Halleemah is a proud Compton, California native and avid California based sports and music fan. She is an author and first generation college graduate, with degrees from Howard University and a Masters in Divinity and Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University.

  • Sundeep Vira

    Sundeep Vira

    Chief Growth Officer

    Sundeep Vira is a Chicago based social entrepreneur and Chief Operating Officer for The Academy Group. Vira is also scaling sustainable clean water solutions for excess Arsenic and Fluoride removal, with an international consortium of partners in India. Vira serves on the board of Morgan Stanley Global Impact Funding Trust (GIFT), advisory board for Sattva Consulting and member of the INREM Foundation. Prior work in the social impact sector spans five years of projects in Cambodia, India, Nepal and Vietnam.

    Previously, Vira had a successful 20-year career in financial investment management, including 14 years with Chicago based Nuveen Investments and subsidiary NWQ Investment Management, 3 years with a Singapore based Family Office, Oclaner Asset Management  and 4 years with Morgan Stanley’s Consulting Group in Los Angeles. 

    Vira has an MBA with the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, where he currently serves as teaching coach for the Global Social Impact Practicum (GSIP) course.

Game Changers

  • Brenda Bedolla

    Brenda Bedolla

    Executive Assistant

  • Nick Davis

    Nick Davis

    Program Design

  • Matthew Harris

    Matthew Harris

    High School Advisor, The Academy Chicago

  • Symone Lenoir

    Symone Lenoir

    Communications Manager

  • Liz Paredes

    Liz Paredes

    Director of Advising

  • Jawann Pollard

    Jawann Pollard

    Collegiate Advisor

  • Sam Robinson

    Sam Robinson

    Learning Designer

  • Justin Sankara

    Justin Sankara

    Project Manager

  • Lindsey Schmitz

    Lindsey Schmitz

    Director of Academics, The Academy Chicago

  • Akanksha Shah

    Akanksha Shah

    Program Specialist

  • Chiquira Showers

    Chiquira Showers

    External Relations Manager

  • Anna Wilson

    Anna Wilson

    Senior Accountant

  • Taaha Mohamedali

    Taaha Mohamedali

    Director of College Attainment