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FEF Leadership

Friendship Education Foundation Board Leadership

National Board Members

Donald L. Hense

Chairman and CEO

Mr. Hense founded Friendship Public Charter School in 1997. Thanks to Mr. Hense’s vision and relentless insistence on excellence, thousands of District students have achieved academic success with the nation’s best educators and administrators directing students to college and a rewarding future. Friendship Public Charter School now operates six public charter school campuses in Washington, DC serving approximately 4,000 students. Mr. Hense is a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Education Reform. He previously served as Director of Development of the Children’s Defense Fund; National Vice President for Development of the National Urban League in New York; Vice President for Development of Prairie View A&M University and Texas A&M University System; and Director of Governmental Relations at Dartmouth College, Boston University, and Howard University. He is also the co-founder of the Bridges to Friendship Initiative, which was highlighted by Vice President Gore at the White House Summit on Community Empowerment as a model initiative.

In June of 2011, Mr. Hense was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools. He was among selected Washingtonians showcased in the Choosing to Participate: Portrait of Courage Exhibition, which highlighted how civic choices shape individuals as they grow into active community members and global citizens. In celebration of Black History Month, Mr. Hense received the Amtrak Pioneer Award from the Washington Wizards to honor African Americans who have made outstanding contributions to the greater DC community. Mr. Hense received one of the most prestigious awards offered by Morehouse College, the Bennie Award for Service, which honors alumni who have performed great acts of service to others. He is a graduate of Morehouse College and attended graduate school at Stanford University where he was a Ford Foundation Fellow. He was a Rockefeller Intern in Economics at Cornell University; a Merrill Scholar to the University of Ghana; and a Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley. In his capacity as Chairman of the board of Friendship Education Foundation, Donald Hense works an average of four hours per week and attends to the proper governance, oversight, and strategic direction of the organization.

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Kenneth Campbell

Board Member

Mr. Campbell is a founding board member of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and served as BAEO's president from 2010-2015. BAEO is an education reform advocacy organization founded to increase access to high-quality educational options for black children by actively supporting transformational education reform initiatives and parental choice policies that empower low-income and working-class black families. Under Campbell's leadership, BAEO has played an instrumental role in advancing bold education policy reforms in key states. A retired Army Reserve captain, Campbell began his career in education reform by helping to secure passage of Washington, D.C.'s landmark charter school law. He later founded the D.C. Charter School Resource Center and served as vice-president of business development for the nation's second-largest education management company. Campbell is a founding board member of 4.0 Schools, which brings educators and entrepreneurs together to launch ventures that redefine schooling, and Building Excellent Schools, which supports educational entrepreneurs in creating and maintaining excellent schools in underserved communities. Prior to assuming his role as president of BAEO, Campbell was the founding director of charter schools at the Louisiana Department of Education. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he helped engineer the rebuilding of New Orleans's education ecosystem and accelerated the growth of high-performing charter schools across the state. Campbell holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and a master's in educational leadership. In his capacity as a board member of Friendship Education Foundation, Ken Campbell works an average of one hour per week and attends to the proper governance, oversight, and strategic direction of the organization.

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Gil DeLorm

Board Member

Mr. DeLorme represents financial institutions, real estate developers, and a number of charter schools and other not-for-profit organizations in the purchase, sale, financing and development of commercial and residential real estate, primarily in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Mr. DeLorme's lender practice involves the structuring and documentation of new loans or refinancing of both residential and commercial property throughout all three jurisdictions, advising lenders as to the handling of troubled credits and when necessary, undertaking workouts with defaulted borrowers, including bankruptcy and foreclosure actions to realize recovery against secured collateral. Many of the charter school acquisitions involve structuring real estate finance packages from non-conventional financing sources such as the District of Columbia Government itself, charter school support organizations, public and private tax-exempt bond transactions and commercial banks. Mr. DeLorme is a founding shareholder of Greenstein, DeLorme & Luchs, P.C. Prior to returning to private practice in 1983, Mr. DeLorme served as the in-house general counsel of Perpetual Savings Bank which was then one of the largest savings and loans in the D.C. area. Between 1990 and 1993, Mr. DeLorme represented the RTC and the FDIC in working out troubled credits on behalf of these governmental entities as they acquired control over troubled savings and loan institutions. In his capacity as a board member of Friendship Education Foundation, Gil DeLorme works an average of one hour per week and attends to the proper governance, oversight, and strategic direction of the organization.

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FEF National Staff

Joe H. Harris III

National Executive Director

Joe H. Harris is one of the top charter school management leaders in the United States. An applauded senior executive and educational thought leader with substantial experience in nonprofit management, Harris’ 24-year record is marked by accomplishments felt across four states. The mass of his work has positively impacted budgets, businesses and a significant base of people.

Across his career, Harris has managed over $50 million in funds towards the building, administration and operation of schools and has raised over $$ million in fundraising towards such projects. He is directly responsible for raising proficiency scores for thousands of disadvantaged or minority students and eliminating barriers to educational opportunities. He has fostered strategic and innovative partnerships with key government, business and charitable entities - including the Walton Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm run by the family behind Walmart. And Harris’ work has immeasurably improved the lives of several large communities.

The overarching vision for Harris’ years-long endeavors: to ensure excellence - academic and otherwise - that changes the arc of young and adult lives and enhances the nation’s global competitive advantages.

Underlining Harris’ track record is his reputation as a process improvement specialist. He has ushered in innovations and disruption as a member of the board for multiple organizations. He earned a coveted mayoral appointment from the former Mayor of Washington D.C. He co-founded an influential, community-based organization. And Harris’ experience has made him a sought-after speaker, earning him audiences at Morehouse College and elsewhere.

Harris is currently the Chief Operating Officer and National Executive Director of The Friendship Education Foundation (FEF), one of the top national charter school management organizations (CMOs) in the U.S. It operates and manages a network of 15 schools across Washington D.C., Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the Arkansas cities of Little Rock and Pine Bluff. In this leadership position since 2015, Harris oversees the foundation’s day-to-day operations and manages all schools in the Friendship network outside of the nation’s capital.

Specific elements of Harris’ portfolio include: executing the Foundation’s national expansion plans; introducing Friendship’s vaunted brand to new audiences; replicating its successful educational approach and school design across the country; supervising statewide CMO teams; maintaining and expanding high-quality teacher and administrator talent pools; overseeing budgeting and finance models; making strategic planning decisions to target and expand new business; leading charter application submissions and approval processes; managing school facility financing and design; leading fundraising efforts; working with vendors; tasking teams towards marketing and enrollment goals; aligning Friendship’s curriculum to various state standards; improving academic performance for thousands of students in Friendship schools outside of Washington D.C.; and cultivating and maintaining strategic partnerships with state and district charter authorizers, funders, and school stakeholders. Under his leadership, Harris has successfully managed the charter approval and continuation process in three states: Maryland, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Harris was formerly the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Friendship House Association, a nonprofit committed to helping individuals and families overcome chronic problems, including homelessness, poverty, lack of education and little access to opportunity.

He has developed and implemented workforce literacy and job training programs for disadvantaged youth and adults; done advocacy work to ensure affordable housing for low-income families and seniors in D.C.; and forged partnerships within the government, philanthropic, and business sectors.

In 2010, Joe was appointed by District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray to the Citywide Mentoring Initiative — an effort to promote big brother/big sister mentoring throughout the city.

Harris has served as a founding Board Member and Officer of Friendship Public Charter Schools, Louisiana. And he’s led and been involved in numerous Washington D.C.-based organizations. He is co-founder of the Bloomingdale Boys Club, a web-based community news service. He has sat on committees of the North Capitol Development Corporation and its Main Street Project. And he was Secretary of the Board for the Crispus Attucks Community Development Corporation/UNV1.

He’s a past board member of the Dance Institute of Washington and has volunteered with the D.C. Boys and Girls Club, the D.C. Public Library, Food and Friends, and the Bloomingdale Neighborhood Community Garden Project.

Harris obtained a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration and Management from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University and has completed studies towards a Masters in Health Services Management and Policy at The George Washington University.

Harris served in the United States Army, U.S. Army Reserves Unit, as a Soldier/Combat Medic and received an Honorable Discharge in June 1988. He is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Kappa Phi Lambda Chapter, Columbia, Maryland.

Harris has been a resident of the District of Columbia for 22 years. His proudest role has been that of husband and father of two boys.

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Phong Tran

Southern Region Superintendent

Phong Tran believes that all children can learn. This belief is his motivating force to improve educational outcomes for all children in a safe, responsible and respectful school environment. Tran was previously Deputy Chief Executive Officer of four high-quality charter schools in New Orleans. There, he successfully increased student achievement within a highly diverse student population where students spoke a minimum of three languages. Tran is well versed in curriculum, instruction, data analysis and intervention strategies.

Tran was integral in helping his previous school gain recognition as a High-Quality Charter School from the United States Department of Education and gain recognition for increasing student achievement, while bridging the sub-group achievement gap, by the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color. Tran and his team were the first in the Orleans parish school district to acquire a failing school and increase student achievement in its first year of operations.

Tran has brought his expertise and years of experience to Arkansas for the sole mission of bridging the achievement gap between subgroups while increasing overall student achievement as he did in New Orleans.

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Virginia Perry

Director of Development

Virginia Perry is a Director of Development who works with campus, district, and Charter Management Organization administrators to grow their capacity to develop students. After over two decades working in public education at various levels, Virginia knows what it takes to start successful schools, inspire staff, and maintain alliances to keep schools in compliance and solvent. At the heart of every initiative that involves schools is the benefit to the children served. Virginia has started schools from the community and business support, facility acquisition and application process to the curriculum and staff selection process. She has turned around schools in challenging environments and established in-district partnerships with charter and traditional public school entities. In addition to being a licensed teacher and school leader, Virginia has experience in marketing and public relations. Virginia holds a BA in English, a Masters in Educational Administration, and is pursuing a doctorate in Educational Leadership.

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Katrina Cephas

Director of Finance and Administration, Washington DC

Katrina Cephas leads Friendship Education Foundation’s finance and operations activities in Washington DC. She has over 15 years of extensive accounting experience, split between the non-profit, for-profit, and government sectors in areas of financial accounting, tax accounting and payroll services. Katrina currently manages monthly financial reporting and analysis, payroll processing, and vendor payments at the charter management organization (CMO) level. In her current role, she works closely with the CMO leadership to ensure the financial health, control, and stability of the CMO. Katrina was most recently the Finance Director for a community-based non-profit in Washington DC. In this position, she became keenly aware of the challenges of the disadvantaged youth and adults in education. Her duties called for a wide range of financial reporting and accounting functions, as well as program support. Katrina holds a B.S. in Business Administration and Accounting from Delaware State University.

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Angela Dixon

ELA Coach

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Jimmy

Math Coach