The SchoolHouse Connection Team

SchoolHouse Connection is the nation’s leading expert on the early care and education of children and youth experiencing homelessness. You can learn more about us below, and read about our history and advocacy principles here. Learn more about our board of directors here.

Barbara Duffield

Executive Director

Barbara Duffield is Executive Director of SchoolHouse Connection. For more than 20 years, she has bridged policy and practice in early care, education, housing, and homelessness. Barbara began her career as a tutor for children experiencing homelessness in Washington DC in 1990. She was the Director of Education for the National Coalition for the Homeless from 1994-2003, where she collaborated with service providers, educators, federal agencies, and Congressional offices to address children’s issues. She served as the Director of Policy and Programs at the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth in Washington D.C from 2003-2016, leading national efforts to strengthen federal protections and services for children and youth experiencing homelessness, from early childhood through higher education. Barbara helped to establish and develop the NAEHCY Scholarship Program, a comprehensive scholarship program for youth who have experienced homelessness and wish to pursue higher education. She has conducted technical assistance trainings, authored policy reports, appeared on television and radio shows, and has been quoted by various media outlets such as The New York Times and Education Week. Her academic work can be found in Educational Studies, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, and Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services. Barbara has served on numerous commissions and advisory groups, including Sesame Street Workshop’s Trauma Initiative and the National Commission on Children and Disasters education group. She received her Bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in Political Science from the University of Michigan.

Alleanne Anderson

Policy and Outreach Associate

Alleanne Anderson emigrated to Texas from the city of Kingston, Jamaica, in 2015 at 16 years old. She graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelors of Science in Political Science and Psychology, both with magna cum laude honors. During her university studies, she participated in internships at the local, state, and federal levels of government.

Alleanne served as a 2018 Civic Houston Intern in the office of Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen, where she liaised between Houston residents and local agencies, facilitating the improvement of local infrastructure and the provision of essential services. She was then selected to represent the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs at the Texas State Capitol, as a 2019 Hobby Fellow. Not only did she gain direct legislative experience, aiding the passage of 5 bills which were signed into law, but also took the lead on constituent casework, helping persons across a diverse spectrum with unique concerns.

The following year, Alleanne was named a 2020 Leland Fellow, to represent the University of Houston at the nation’s Capitol. Through these fellowship programs, she gained invaluable knowledge on the issues affecting the most underserved throughout the country. One in which she took a particular interest was that of homelessness in schools.  She had worked on this issue in direct collaboration with SchoolHouse Connection (SHC), during her time spent in the Texas legislature. Alleanne is honored to serve in her role as Policy and Outreach Associate for as impactful an organization as SHC; what she believes is the start of a long career in public service.

Patricia Julianelle

Senior Strategist for Program Advancement and Legal Affairs

Patricia Julianelle is an attorney and legal consultant for state and local governments and non-profit organizations. She has over 20 years of experience defending children’s and youth’s rights, including leading state and federal policy advocacy. Patricia is an expert on education law and policy, including the rights of children and unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness, students with disabilities and undocumented immigrants. She has worked with the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY), the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP), the National Disabilities Rights Network (NDRN), Washington State’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), and the American Bar Association, among other organizations. Patricia’s work has been published in academic and practice journals, including the Children’s Legal Rights Journal, the Journal of Negro Education, Seattle Journal of Social Justice, Journal of Poverty Law & Policy, and Inquiry & Analysis. Patricia graduated from Yale University and received her J.D. summa cum laude from Lewis & Clark Law School. She taught high school in the US and law school in Chile, where she met her wife and continues to reside part-time.

Leconte Lee

Senior Communications Manager

Leconte Lee moved to Honolulu, Hawaii from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the age of 20. He studied Advertising & Public Relations at Hawaii Pacific University while interning at various marketing and advertising agencies. Upon graduation, he accepted an account management position at a boutique public relations firm in New York City. Passionate about marketing, he moved to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2012 to complete his MBA in Marketing. During this time, the founder of Charlotte’s first mobile farmers market recruited him to be his right-hand man on the ground floor with $800 seed money and a big ugly van. As the co-founder, he experienced everything: starting/growing a business from scratch, balancing the budget for what became a $200,000 charitable business in less than 2 years, vendor relations, sales, and marketing. As a result, they were awarded three industry awards in innovation, sustainability, and entrepreneurship. When the business was sold, he was recruited by his former manager at Outrigger Hotels & Resorts in Hawaii to provide marketing services to 32 local and international properties. Some of his expertise includes social media, email marketing, copywriting and content development, traditional media, and campaign optimization. In his free time, Leconte loves exploring, seeking out new restaurants, and traveling. Leconte is extremely excited to bring his skills and expertise to such an amazing organization. He was drawn to SchoolHouse Connection because his parents worked extremely hard and made incredible sacrifices to put him through college and he is determined to give back to the community and give others the opportunity that was given to him. He currently resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Rodd Monts

Director of State Policy

Rodd Monts is the director of state policy for SchoolHouse Connection. He has more than 15 years of advocacy, organizing, public policy and coalition building experience gained in leadership of a variety of local and state campaigns. His work spans many social justice issues, including education, juvenile justice, immigrants’ rights, reducing mass incarceration, police reform, voting rights and LGBT equality.

Rodd’s work in Michigan contributed to the passage of the Detroit Community Input Over Government Surveillance ordinance (CIOGS), Public Acts 383-397, groundbreaking pretrial reform legislation, Public Acts 360-366 of 2016 (the “Rethink Discipline Act”), eliminating zero tolerance discipline in the state’s public schools, as well as passage of several city and county ordinances. He is the recipient of the “Excellence in Advocacy Award” given by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for advocacy work on behalf of the Michigan School-Justice Partnership.

He has a bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University, and master’s degrees from Wayne State University and Marygrove College.

Erin Patterson

Director of Education Initiatives

Erin is a former teacher turned education policy strategist originally from South Carolina. With nearly 14 years in education, she has gone from the classroom to positions in federal policymaking, philanthropy, advocacy, and policy consulting. 

Erin spent five years as a classroom teacher in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Newport News, Virginia, where she taught high school Government & Economics and World History, served as the School Improvement Team co-chair, wrote social studies assessments for the district, and oversaw the creation and facilitation of a student-led peer court. After moving to Washington, D.C. Erin began her career in education policy at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development (OPEPD). Here she assisted senior advisors on various initiatives to expand equitable federal education policies. She then moved to the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region, serving as Education Fellow, and spearheading a series of reports and site visits for education and community partners in Prince George’s County, Maryland. She then transitioned to the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a national non-partisan non-profit organization. As a Program Associate at AYPF her portfolio was largely centered on surfacing policies and best practices across states to serve youth transitioning out of foster care and youth involved with the juvenile justice system. Most recently Erin was a Senior Policy Associate with EducationCounsel, a Washington, D.C. mission-based consulting firm, where she worked with clients across the country to strategically advance more equitable policies from early childhood to postsecondary education. She led and supported efforts to align birth-3rd grade policies across multiple states, provided strategic capacity to organizations advocating for the restoration of Pell grants to incarcerated individuals, and facilitated multiple funder collaboratives committed to advancing resource equity, whole child policies, and racial equity in education. 

Erin earned her Bachelor’s Degree in History and Psychology from Anderson University in South Carolina, and her Master’s Degree in Public Policy from George Mason University in Virginia. Erin resides in Washington, D.C. with her fiancé Heidi and their dog Bufa, a rescue from Puerto Rico.

Roshanda Pinson

Program Manager, Youth Leadership & Scholarships

Roshanda has six years of experience with college access programs and has worked in state colleges and universities providing academic and personal support to first generation and limited income students as a Counselor/Advisor, and then Program Manager of the Student Support Services (SSS) Program. Roshanda also had oversight of the SSS Peer Coach program where she led the recruitment, training, and leadership development of top program participants. Most recently, Roshanda served as a School Social Worker and McKinney-Vento liaison for Hillsborough County Public Schools, Florida. In this role, she connected students and families experiencing homelessness with school and community resources, operated an onsite food pantry and weekend backpack program to address food insecurity, and the identification and removal of barriers to school attendance. Roshanda is a Wisconsin native currently residing in Tampa, Florida. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Communication and a Master’s degree in Administrative Leadership with a concentration in Higher Education Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Central Florida.


Karen Rice

Senior Program Manager of Education Initiatives

Karen Rice joins SchoolHouse Connection from Madison, WI. Karen has a Bachelor’s in Spanish and Education from the University of Northwestern- St. Paul (previously Northwestern College), and a Master’s in Education-Professional Counseling from Concordia University-Wisconsin. Karen brings ten years of experience from a district level, serving in a variety of roles including District Translator/Interpreter, Transitional Education Coordinator, Bilingual Family Outreach Coordinator, and Bilingual Family Liaison. During these years, Karen focused on family engagement and professional development to serve both students experiencing homelessness and the Latinx community. In 2017, Karen joined the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as a State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth and a Coordinator of the Migrant Education Program. Together with colleagues, Karen supported district and regional staff by providing extensive training and capacity building opportunities. Karen is excited to be joining the SchoolHouse Connection team as the Senior Program Manager of Education Initiatives. Outside of work, Karen spends time with her family, including two young children, Darcy and Bennett and friends.


Jordyn Roark

Director of Youth Leadership and Scholarships

Jordyn Roark is a social worker hailing from Eastern North Carolina. Jordyn attended the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where she graduated with both her bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work. During her time at UNCP, Jordyn dedicated over 500 hours of volunteer work on campus and in the local community. For the last five years, Jordyn has dedicated both her personal and professional work to increasing access to higher education for students experiencing homelessness. Jordyn co-founded Aspire, a mentoring and financial assistance program for students experiencing homelessness at UNC Pembroke. Using her own story of youth and young adult homelessness, Jordyn has traveled the country providing keynotes and trainings to young people, organizations, and professionals on the barriers that students experiencing homelessness face and tips for increasing their access to higher education. As a social worker, Jordyn served as the Housing Navigator for the Back@Home program, North Carolina’s re-housing initiative following Hurricane Florence. In this position, she provided rent and utility assistance along with intensive case management to individuals and families experiencing homelessness as a result of Hurricane Florence. She has also served as the Marketing and Community Outreach Coordinator for United Way of Robeson County, as the Weekend Shelter Advocate for Southeastern Family Violence Center, and as the Coordinated Entry Lead for the Region 8 Balance of State-Continuum of Care in North Carolina. In her spare time, she enjoys dancing, hiking, traveling, and spending time with loved ones. Jordyn believes in the powerful work that SchoolHouse Connection is doing and is honored to begin her role as Director of Youth Leadership and Scholarships.

Jillian Sitjar

Senior Program Manager, Higher Education

Jillian Sitjar hails from the Midwest where she attended Culver Academies, a small boarding school in Indiana. From there she continued her schooling at Butler University with a Bachelor’s degree in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. Jillian pursued a Master’s of Education in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of South Carolina working as a graduate assistant in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs supporting students of marginalized communities through various programs and events. This role first introduced her into social justice and advocacy work, which has been a guiding principle in her career. After graduation, she was a Community Director at Georgetown University where she oversaw an apartment complex of about 450 students. During her time at Georgetown, she created a diversity initiative, platED, which allows students to engage in conversations regarding identity and social justice with a faculty or staff member over a free catered meal. In 2017 she won the Mid-Atlantic Association of College and University Housing Officers (MACUHO) New Professional Award. Jillian is excited at the opportunity to be a part of SchoolHouse Connection and is committed to making a lasting impact as the Senior Higher Education Program Manager. In her spare time, she enjoys running, reading, trying out new restaurants, spending time with family, friends, and her Maltipoo Marbles.

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