Greg Thompson, Chief Executive Officer
Greg’s role as CEO of the Center includes raising education funds from local and national sources, building relationships with partner organizations as well as current and future fellows, and providing guidance to advocates as they navigate the process of creating excellent Tennessee charter schools. Prior to joining the Center, Greg was the education program director for the Hyde Family Foundations in Memphis, where he oversaw the Foundation’s K–12 education portfolio. Greg also participated in the Education Pioneers Program, and was a summer fellow with a San Francisco-based charter management organization. Greg’s previous experience includes working in the sports technology and media sectors and investment banking.
Justin Testerman, Chief Operating Officer
Prior to coming to Nashville, Justin served as the Director of Education Programs for Volunteers of America of Minnesota where he started the nation’s first nonprofit charter school authorizing program, which authorized 17 schools and has been recognized nationally for its work. In this role Justin was also responsible for the operation of three contract alternative high schools for the Minneapolis school district, and an adult basic education program. He has long been involved on the national charter school scene as a longtime board member of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. Justin also served as a Charter School Specialist in the Minnesota Department of Education and began his career in education as a middle school teacher in Newark, New Jersey through the Teach for America program.
Rebecca Lieberman, Managing Director of School and Sector Initiatives
Rebecca is the managing director of school and sector initiatives at the Center. She also served as chief talent strategy officer at the Tennessee Charter School Incubator where she worked to recruit top education-reform leaders to Tennessee through the Education Entrepreneurs Fellowship, an initiative she co-created. Prior to moving to Tennessee, Rebecca worked as a teacher and administrator in and around New York City, including serving as the founding dean of St. HOPE Leadership Academy Charter School and as the assistant principal of a high school in New Jersey. Rebecca lives in Nashville with her son, Gabriel, and her dog, McLovin.
Brandy Bivens, Managing Director of Policy & Advocacy
Prior to joining the Center, Brandy was the Associate Director for Health Sciences, Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs for the University of Tennessee. She covered issues on a state and federal level relating to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC). She has also served as a Public Policy Advisor at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz, P.C. where she specialized in healthcare, insurance and education issues. She quarterbacked passage of the first virtual school education legislation in the state and she shepherded passage of sweeping charter school expansion and funding legislation. She also represented several hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, nursing homes and behavioral health providers. Brandy holds a B.S. degree in Political Science from Middle Tennessee State University, and studied governmental library science at the graduate level in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Previous leadership and activities include the the McKendree Day Care Board, Women’s Political Collaborative of Tennessee, Tennessee Lobbyists Association, and the Junior League of Nashville. At the Center, Brandy oversees the government relations and advocacy teams and is the voice for high quality public charter school options at the Tennessee state capitol.
Jennifer Gentry, Director of Operations and Sector Support
Jennifer Gentry joined the Center staff after working with the Tennessee Charter Schools Association since July 2010 where she served as Director of Operations. She brings with her a background in business and education and is passionate about education reform in Tennessee. Previously, Jennifer has worked in higher education, banking as well as human resources. At the Center, she focuses on internal operations, collaboration within the school community, and coordinates all of the Center’s sponsored events. Jennifer attended Louisiana Tech University with a focus on business administration and education.
John Little, Director of Community Engagement
A native Tennessean and former political campaign manager, John Little is the new director of community engagement for the Center. John will focus on the Center’s efforts to educate, engage and empower parents to collaborate with their public charter schools. He has worked previously with the Tennessee Charter Schools Association and Nashville Preparatory Charter School where he built a passion for working in the community. He also served as director of recruitment for former Gov. Phil Bredesen’s Children’s Cabinet, a statewide mentoring program. In his free time he loves playing basketball at the YMCA and spending time with his family.
Hunter supports day-to-day operations and the research program of the Center while also managing the Center’s IT platform. 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.
Michelle Doane, Director of School Development Programs
Michelle Doane manages the operations of the Center’s Education Entrepreneurs Fellowship, and focuses on leadership development and sector support. She holds a B.M. degree in piano performance and a Catherine Filene Shouse Arts Leadership Program Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, a M.M. degree in piano performance from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, and a M.Ed. degree in Learning and Instruction from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. Prior to the Center, she served as the Education and Community Engagement Manager at the Nashville Symphony for 5 ½ 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. Michelle continues to be active in the music.
Emily Lilley, Government Relations Specialist
Emily Lilley joined the Tennessee Charter School Center in 2013 from the Tennessee Charter Schools Association, where she served as Director of Communications. With a background in education and communications, she is honored to be a part of the Center team. 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, Emily went on to work for several years in publishing and marketing communications, and returned to Tennessee after serving as the communications director for a successful Congressional re-election campaign. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Communications from Johns Hopkins University, and is eager to continue the Center’s work for quality public education in Tennessee.