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.

Lance Bordelon

Digital Marketing & Communications Manager

Lance Bordelon is a double graduate of Louisiana State University’s Manship School, with his B.A. in Public Relations and Master’s of Mass Communication specializing in Strategic Communications. His professional background in marketing and communications has primarily been in the areas of higher education, youth-focused nonprofits, mental health advocacy, as well as included over a decade as a freelance graphic designer. He has been a creative, storyteller, designer, writer, and outspoken advocate in numerous professional and personal spaces throughout his life. He learned from an early age the power and gift of both education and resilience–valuing education above all else for not only unlocking doors but completely tearing down walls, empowering lives with unbridled potential and equity for all. This is the mission he is most passionate about and is thrilled to contribute to this work through SchoolHouse Connection. His years of working in professional theater and as an EFL educator in NYC have enriched his life with invaluable experiences, world travel, a deeper appreciation for diversity, and a stronger commitment to advocacy.

Camille Fleming

Controller and Senior Manager of Operations

With a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from SUNY Old Westbury and an M.B.A in Economic Crime and Fraud Management from Utica University, Camille brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience in accounting and fraud management.

Camille has a love for numbers which gives her a deep expertise in nonprofit finance and operations. Camille’s many years in her career has been concentrated in education and non-profit finance, where she has restructured and streamlined accounting and financial operations at several organizations with the goal of providing high-quality service and promoting practical yet compliant solutions to solve operational needs.

“There is no better feeling than being behind the scenes to help a non profit organization continue to succeed with the financial numbers to prove their success.”

Nikki Hannon

Education Initiatives Specialist

Nikki Hannon (Little Shell Cree/Blackfeet) is the Education Initiatives Specialist for SchoolHouse Connection. She was born and raised on the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. Nikki is passionate about supporting the needs of historically underserved students through building relationships with youth, creating communities of support, and advocating for students’ rights.

Nikki has over 17 years of experience working with Native American students, pregnant and parenting youth, and youth experiencing homelessness. She served in several capacities at the district level, starting out as the Director of Alternative Education where she collaborated with district and community leaders to create a dropout prevention program. She has since served as a certified K-12 school counselor, McKinney Vento and Foster Care Liaison, and most recently as the Director of the Parent Community Outreach program. In this role, Nikki directed a district-run childcare center, Hi-Set education program, and the āissṗoōmmoǒtsiiyō•ṗ “We Help Each Other” Families In Transition program, which she expanded to include the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project and Kinship Program to support students being raised by family.

Nikki specializes in dropout prevention and centers her work on supporting Native American students in completing their high school education. She received her Master’s in Education in Risk and Prevention from Harvard University, as well as a Master’s in Education in Counselor Education from Montana State University-Northern. She is grateful to be a part of the SchoolHouse Connection team and its mission to overcome homelessness through education!

Leconte Lee

Director of Communications and Marketing

Leconte Lee is from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He completed his Bachelor’s in Advertising & Public Relations at Hawaii Pacific University while interning at various marketing and advertising agencies. After graduating, he accepted an account management position at a boutique public relations firm in New York City. He then moved to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2012 to complete his MBA in Marketing. After, he was recruited by his former manager at Outrigger Hotels & Resorts in Hawaii to provide marketing services to 32 local and international properties. He was also the Director of Family Retention and Recruitment at Tulsa Public Schools overseeing a $2.5M grant to retain, recruit, and re-engage families to Tulsa Public Schools. Leconte is drawn to SchoolHouse Connection’s mission because his parents worked extremely hard and made incredible sacrifices to put him through college and he wants to give back to the community. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

*As of September 11, 2023, Bree is serving in a temporary position as an IPA on Special Populations for the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, supporting the Department’s efforts to elevate and address the educational needs of students experiencing homelessness, students in foster care, and those involved with the juvenile justice system.

Bree Levy

Federal Policy Fellow

Bree Levy has joined the SchoolHouse Connection team as a Federal Policy fellow, working with federal, state, and local agencies to improve educational outcomes for students experiencing homelessness. Prior to joining the SHC team, Bree worked for four years at the Hawaii Department of Education’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program (EHCY). Her role involved supporting and developing the state EHCY team in Hawaii, providing structural support to the program, and helping to shape strategy and action based on ongoing assessment of needs across the state. Bree worked within the larger student support continuum, focusing on utilizing longitudinal data systems to improve student attendance and address barriers to full participation in school.

Bree brings a background in supporting K-12 systems at the local and state levels. While in Hawaii, she focused on providing support to local liaisons, student re-engagement, alternative education, family engagement, and cross-population support to improve statewide educational outcomes for children and youth experiencing homelessness.

Bree has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Global Studies from Azusa Pacific University, and a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Thomas J. Lucas (TJ)

Senior Manager, Federal Policy

TJ joined SchoolHouse Connection in October 2023 bringing more than seven years of federal policy development and advocacy. Prior to joining SHC, TJ worked at a nonprofit in Wilmington, DE, a bipartisan consulting and advocacy firm in DC, and as a former staffer to United States Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Having worked on education, health, housing, labor, and appropriations issues, TJ brings a wealth of professional experience.

TJ holds a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and History and a Bachelors of Science in Public Policy from the University of Charleston, which is situated in the heart of the Appalachian mountains in Charleston, West Virginia.

Rodd Monts

Director of State Policy

Rodd Monts is the Director of State Policy for SchoolHouse Connection. He has more than 16 years of experience in leadership with a variety of local and state advocacy campaigns. His work spans many social justice issues, including education, racial equity, juvenile justice, immigrants’ rights, reducing mass incarceration, voting rights and LGBT equality. Rodd’s work in Michigan contributed to the passage of the Detroit Community Input Over Government Surveillance ordinance, state pretrial reform legislation, elimination of zero tolerance discipline in the state’s public schools, as well as passage of several municipal ordinances. He is the recipient of the “Excellence in Advocacy Award” given by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for his 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 teaching Government and Economics in North Carolina and Virginia, taking an active role in school- and district-wide leadership roles. 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), assisting senior advisors on initiatives to expand equitable federal education policies. She has also worked with the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region as a Education Fellow, American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) as a Program Associate, and most recently with EducationCounsel as a Senior Policy Associate. Throughout her fifteen year career in education practice and policy, Erin has focused on expanding opportunities for the most underserved students – those experiencing homelessness, in foster care, and in the juvenile justice system.

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.

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.

Jordyn Roark

Director of Youth Leadership and Scholarships

Jordyn Roark holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and hails from Eastern North Carolina. Jordyn has dedicated her personal and professional life to serving youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, ensuring that they can get to and through higher education. During graduate school, 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 training to young people, organizations, and professionals on the barriers that students experiencing homelessness face and tips for increasing their access to higher education. Previously, Jordyn served as the Residential Coordinator for a large family homeless shelter in Falls Church, Virginia. She has also served as the Housing Navigator for Back@Home, North Carolina’s re-housing initiative following Hurricane Florence, as the Marketing and Community Outreach Coordinator for United Way of Robeson County, the Weekend Shelter Advocate for Southeastern Family Violence Center, and 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 serve as Director of Youth Leadership and Scholarships.

Jillian Sitjar

Director of Higher Education Partnerships

Jillian Sitjar attended Culver Academies, a boarding school in Indiana. She continued her education at Butler University with a Bachelor’s degree in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. Jillian pursued her 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. After graduation, she was a Community Director at Georgetown University where she oversaw an apartment complex of about 450 students. Jillian is excited at the opportunity to be a part of SchoolHouse Connection and is committed to making a lasting impact as the Director of Higher Education Partnerships. She currently resides in Philadelphia with her Maltipoo, Marbles.

Kevin Spears

Director of Revenue & Operations

Kevin Spears has worked in the nonprofit sector for 25 years, serving diverse organizations in higher education, philanthropy, healthcare, behavioral health, social services, and policy advocacy. He is an experienced fundraiser and relationship-builder, and an effective facilitator of internal organizational work to refine strategy, improve operations, launch new initiatives, and increase impact.

Before joining SchoolHouse Connection, Kevin was Director of External Relations for the Center for Child & Family Health, North Carolina’s leading source of expertise in preventing and treating childhood trauma. Prior to that, he was a senior development officer with Visiting Nurse Health System, the largest nonprofit provider of home health and hospice services in the Atlanta region.

Kevin holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Furman University, a Master’s degree in Divinity from Emory University, and a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Social Enterprise from Georgia State University. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Anasofia Trelles

K-12 Senior Program Manager

Anasofia Trelles holds a Bachelor’s degree in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from The College of New Jersey. In addition, she holds a Master’s degree in Education Policy from Teacher’s College, Columbia University. Anasofia began her career working for a non-profit organization providing literary intervention services to students in New York City public schools reading below grade level. Anasofia then moved on to become an Education Specialist/ Advocate at Advocates for Children of New York. During her time at Advocates for Children of New York, she worked on the NYS-TEACHS team where she has provided practical assistance to school districts across New York on the McKinney-Vento Act and the rights of students experiencing homelessness. In addition, has worked with students, parents, advocates, and The New York City Department of Education to influence and change local education policies to better serve marginalized students. Beyond her work in practical assistance and policy advocacy, she has worked in college access and managed several mentorship programs at partner institutions such as Columbia/ Barnard, Middlebury, and Smith. As a first-generation Latinx woman, she is committed to ensuring all students have equitable access to high-quality education across all levels.

Sarah Vrabic

Early Childhood Senior Program Manager

Sarah Vrabic has worked professionally with families experiencing homelessness for over a decade and has witnessed firsthand how education can change the trajectory of someone’s life. Her work has primarily focused on how experiencing homelessness can influence child development and family well-being, and how collaborating systems can promote resilience in the environments young children find themselves in every day. Sarah began her career as a Community Consultant and Early Childhood Education Specialist with The BELL Project at HopePHL (formerly People’s Emergency Center), a non-profit in Philadelphia serving families and youth experiencing homelessness. In this role, she facilitated cross-systems collaboration between family housing and early childhood education programs, creating partnerships to enroll and better serve the young children in their care. She then became Project Manager of the Everyday Learning Play Spaces initiative at HopePHL, where she led a collaborative team to bring trauma-informed design and playful learning spaces into shelter environments by engaging staff and families as co-designers of their new space. As SchoolHouse Connection’s Early Childhood Senior Program Manager, Sarah is excited to work on a national level to overcome homelessness through education for our nation’s youngest learners. She is thrilled to be a part of the SchoolHouse Connection team.

Sarah earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Villanova University in Pennsylvania and her Master’s degree in Psychology from Villanova University with a focus on resilience in child development within adverse contexts. Sarah currently resides in Philadelphia with her partner and their two precious cats, Laszlo and Nadja.

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