Board of Trustees | 2018 – 19

Vanessa Mendoza, President and Chair
Vice President of, Strategy, Operations & Innovation and Chief of Staff, Teach for America

Ted Eismeier, Vice Chair
Director of Communications & External Affairs, Higher Learning Advocates

Charlene Glymph-Roach, Ed.D, Board Secretary
Associate Dean of Special Education, Relay Graduate School of Education

Cynthia Pascal, Board Treasurer
Director of Student Services, Northern Virginia Community College

Yalcin Akyildiz
Chief Advancement Officer, Harmony Public Schools

Julia Irving
Director, Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services

Brian Sylvester
Special Counsel, Wiley Rein, Llc.

Juliet Squire
Board President

Juliet Squire
has been an Associate Partner in the Policy and Thought Leadership practice area at Bellwether Education Partners since 2013. She most recently worked at the New Jersey Department of Education, where she directed strategies for advancing technology-driven innovation and oversaw the state’s Race to the Top program. Previously, she managed school board relationships and new business development for education management organization National Heritage Academies, providing support to school leaders and helping to launch new charter schools in Louisiana, New York, and Wisconsin. Juliet began her career as a researcher and manager of the education policy studies program at the American Enterprise Institute, where she studied a wide range of issues in K-12 and higher education policy. Her work has appeared in publications such as Education Finance and Policy, Policy Review, American School Board Journal, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale University.

Dr. Soner Tarim
Board Member

Dr. Soner Tarim
is a founding member and current CEO of Harmony Public Schools, high performing K-12 public charter schools with a strong focus on science, technologies, engineering, and math (STEM) providing opportunities for underserved communities. He has developed and managed innovative educational programs and charter schools geared to K-12 schools. He is the driving force in creating STEM academies with an emphasis on College-readiness and beyond. Under his leadership, Harmony has grown to 44 campuses and over 28,000 students many of which have been recognized as academically competitive schools in the nation.

Dr. Tarim holds a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. In addition to his background in biological sciences, he has taught many courses in the field of biology, ecology, general science, and physical education at the high school, college and graduate school levels. He has published numerous peer reviewed scientific articles, book chapter, policies, procedures, and guidelines.

Cynthia Pascal | M.Ed.
Board Treasurer

Cynthia Pascal
is the Coordinator of Academic Advising and Retention at Northern Virginia Community College’s Extended Learning Institute serving over 23,000 online students. With degrees in art education, school counseling, and counseling psychology, she brings over a decade of experience to Harmony Public Schools. An accomplished student development administrator, she is known nationally for her success in academic advising, retention, student support services, social media, diversity programing, accreditation, open educational resources in student development, and distance learning. She has presented on numerous occasions at the regional and national levels and has been named an “Emerging Leader” by the National Academic Advising Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Art Education from Pacific Lutheran University, a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Argosy University and is currently completing her doctorate at Argosy University in Washington, DC.

Julie Norton | M.Ed.
Board Secretary

Julie Norton
currently serves as Director of Communications for Harmony Public Schools. Over the last eight years she has served in a variety of capacities, including elementary classroom teacher, campus administrator, Director of Elementary Curriculum, and most recently as Director of Communications. As Director of Elementary Curriculum, she coordinated curriculum teams in developing curriculum, organized the professional development for elementary teachers, offered and coordinated teacher and administrator support, and managed the budget for all elementary classroom and campus library resources. During her tenure with Harmony Public Schools, the organization has grown from 5 campuses and 2,000 students, to 40 campuses and over 25,000 students.

Julie graduated from University of Houston with a Bachelor’s of Science in Anthropology. The most notable experience of her undergraduate studies included a field study in San Ignacio, Belize. She conducted interviews with numerous members of the community to gain a clearer understanding of the relationship between the government, education, and religious organizations. With education as a lifelong passion, Julie ultimately earned her alternative teacher certification, principal certification, as well as a Master’s in Education, with a focus on Reading.

Samara Yudof
Board Member

Samara Yudof
combines deep experience in strategic communications, crisis communications, public relations and education policy to deliver quality results for a variety of education clients. Previously, as press secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, Samara was the primary on-the-record spokesperson for the Department and U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, including both K-12 and higher education issues.