Launch Board of Trustees
Our board is an organized group of volunteers who, collectively, are legally and morally accountable to the Launch community for the health, vitality, and effectiveness of our school. The board plays a pivotal role in ensuring the Launch realizes its potential as an excellent school.
Jonathan D. Harber
Jonathan D. Harber has been a pioneer in education innovation. As an entrepreneur, CEO, investor, board member, consultant, and professor, he has worked to advance the field. Jonathan was the founding Chairman of LAUNCH and has served in that role since its inception. Formally, he served a decade on the board of NYC Outward Bound where he chaired the New Schools Committee to establish ten Expeditionary Learning schools in partnership with the NYC Department of Education.
Jonathan serves on the board of the Fund for Public Schools, a non-profit organization that facilitates partnerships between the philanthropic community and the NYC DOE to pilot innovative projects. As an Adjunct Professor at NYU Steinhardt, Harber teaches Entrepreneurship in Education. Jonathan co-founded Started Inc, a public-benefits corporation aiming to galvanize the ecosystem of education innovation – and to support entrepreneurs.
Jonathan was previously the CEO and co-founder of Schoolnet, Inc., a company that helped school systems use data and assessment to increase academic achievement. Following Schoolnet’s acquisition, Harber served as CEO of Pearson K12 Technology. He received his master’s degree from M.I.T and B.A. from Wesleyan University. He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and three children.
Board Member—Senior Program Officer, Overdeck Family Foundation
Melanie Dukes leads the Innovative Schools portfolio, which aims to scale innovative solutions within K-9 learning environments. She brings over 15 years of experience with leading education initiatives, building innovative programs, and using technology, data, and analytics to generate new solutions to complex problems.
Previously, Melanie worked at 2U, Inc. as a Director in the technology department to support online learning for universities. Prior to that, Melanie worked at Relay GSE, KIPP NYC, MLT (Management Leadership for Tomorrow), Morgan Stanley, and General Mills.
Melanie earned an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School and graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering. She is pursuing an M.A. in Education Technology at NYU Steinhardt. She enjoys volunteering, spending time with friends, traveling, and exploring Brooklyn with loved ones.
Marcia Ward Mitchell
Board Vice Chair—The Depository and Trust Clearing Company (DTCC) 1997-2012
Marcia was a Supervisor of Internal Security/ Technical Support and Training Coordinator Lead Specialist and GE Picture Perfect Certified Pass Administrator. As a parent of 2 daughter's, one of which has special needs, it is my mission to ensure that not only my children, but all children receive a high quality all-inclusive enriched education.
Being a Board member at Launch gives me the opportunity to give back to my community which has been undeserved for far too long. More importantly, I will be a part of an organization that cares deeply about the education of young scholars as well as addressing the systemic issues such as racism and equity that exist in our communities.
Nic most recently served as President at American Express, serving as Chief of Staff for the head of the Consumer business. He was responsible for a range of business planning and strategic activities and partnered with leaders across the organization. Prior to this role, Nic played a central role in payment security with the launch of chip cards and contactless payments and helped improve customer satisfaction globally.
Prior to American Express, Nic worked in investment banking and investment management and founded a custom apparel social venture. Nic holds a MBA degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor’s degree from Tufts University. Originally from Canada, Nic speaks French fluently.
Board Secretary—Associate, Proskauer Rose LLP
Mr. Hazelwood is an attorney at Proskauer Rose LLP, where he specializes in negotiating sports, entertainment and media transactions. Before beginning his work as an attorney, Mr. Hazelwood was a teacher at the Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Massachusetts where he was a teacher, coach and advisor for middle school and high school students. Mr. Hazelwood is a graduate of Boston College, where he majored in Elementary Education and History, and received his law degree from Georgetown University.
Rebecca van de Sande
Board Member —Senior Design and Branding Executive
Rebecca is a senior design and branding executive with over 15+ years of experience in real estate development, hospitality, architectural design, branding and business development. Rebecca is a graduate of Parsons School of Design and of Hunter College.
Board Member—President, NYC Outward Bound Schools
Mr. Stopol was appointed to his position in 1989, and, during his tenure, NYC Outward Bound Schools has directly served and touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of students in New York City. He previously served as a program director at the Fund for the City of New York, specializing in issues affecting children and youth. An attorney, Mr. Stopol earned a JD from New York University’s School of Law. He graduated summa cum laude from the State University of New York at Buffalo and is a trained facilitator and a published writer.
Board Member—Co-Founder of Flocabulary (acquired)
Alex Rappaport is an entrepreneur, advisor and investor focused on education and social enterprise. For more than 15 years, Alex served as co-founder and CEO of Flocabulary, a widely-adopted learning platform that reaches millions of students around the world.
Alex now serves on the board of American Student Assistance, an organization focused on college and career pathways, and on the education committee of the Sylvester Manor Educational Farm. Named one of Fast Company's Most Creative People in Business, Alex is a mentor and advisor to entrepreneurs and organizations at all stages of growth. Alex studied music at Tufts University and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two daughters.
Board Member—Principal, S Genesis
Shadoe is an advocate, adviser and consultant. With over 10 years professional experience in public service, Shadoe helps individuals and organizations make organic community connections to reach their personal and professional goals. Shadoe has worked in municipal government, corporate philanthropy, lobbying, and at a community-based anti-gun-violence program. Shadoe is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College and a proud, born-and-bred Brooklynite.
Board Treasurer—Managing Partner, NV Capital Management
Nicole is a financial executive, advisor and investor, having worked for over 25 years in the finance industry. She has had significant experience over the course of her career executing complex transactions, managing diligence processes, raising capital and structuring balance sheets. Nicole has worked at several large financial institutions, including Lehman Brothers and The Carlyle Group.
In addition, Nicole has served on the boards of various charitable organizations including Kids B.A.S.E., where she was the Board Chair and Engineering World Health, where she was the Treasurer. She is a devoted volunteer and has a passion for bringing equity to education.
Nicole splits her time between New York and Vermont with her husband and three children.
Board Member- Senior Program officer at the Wallace Foundation
At Wallace, Katherine works in the Learning and Enrichment unit, the goal of which is to create equitable access to high quality summer and out of school time experiences for all children and youth across the country. She joined Wallace in 2012 as a senior program and research analyst, conducting research and analysis for projects across the foundation. In 2015, she was named a program officer, stepping into the role of senior program officer three years later.
Her background includes both research and direct service to youngsters. Lewandowski has worked for several educational not-for-profits focused on youth development, including NYC Outward Bound, Northwest Youth Corps, the Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment and Roads to Success. She has an M.A. in Comparative Human Development from the University of Chicago and a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.
Katherine lives in Crown Heights with her two children, husband, and dog. She is an avid bike rider and gardener and is delighted to be able to give back to her community by serving on the board of Launch.