Our Team

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Digital Pioneers Academy FoundER AND CEO: MASHEA ASHTON

Mashea recently returned to the Washington, D.C. area after spending the last 20 years implementing and scaling best practices in urban education across the country. Mashea is deeply committed to changing the narrative about students who live in Ward 7 and 8 in Washington, D.C. Her family has been in Washington, DC for six generations and her early career started as a special education teacher at Anne Beers elementary in D.C. Most recently, Mashea served as the CEO of the Newark Charter School Fund, where she oversaw a $48 million initiative to support the quality growth of charter schools. Before leading the Newark Charter School Fund, Mashea served as the executive director for the New York Program, and senior advisor for charter school policy, for New Leaders for New Schools. Mashea has also served as the executive director for Charter Schools for the New York City Department of Education and the national director of recruitment and selection for the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP). Mashea is a frequent speaker and panelist for charter school and education reform advocacy organizations around the country.  

Mashea has a M.Ed. in special education with an emphasis on learning disabilities and emotional disturbance and a B.A. in sociology and elementary education from the College of William and Mary. She and her husband are the proud parents of twins who are in first grade.

Digital Pioneers Academy Founding Principal-in-RESIDENCE: Ketica Guter

Core expertise: School Leadership, curriculum, community engagement, and instruction
For the past decade, Ketica has worked relentlessly to close the achievement gap in Las Vegas, Nevada and Chicago, Illinois. During the first five years of her career, Ketica worked as a third and fourth grade teacher with Teach for America in Las Vegas. Ketica's students grew on average one and a half years in reading and one year and two months in math. Ketica was then recruited to Chicago, where she worked at Johnson College Prep, a campus of Noble Street Charter School for five years. At Johnson, Ketica served as a Reading/Social Science instructor, 10th grade level lead, and Alumni Counselor. She led her reading planning team to 2.63 points growth on the PLAN exam, which was a Noble Network record. Ketica recently completed her Master's degree in school leadership and development at the Harvard Graduate School of Education with the goal of developing the tools to successfully lead an urban k-12 school. As a native of New Orleans' Ninth Ward community, Ketica knows first-hand the impact of excellent teachers who have high expectations for all students. Her experience as a student, teacher, and leader drives her commitment to excellence and equity for all students.

Ketica earned her B.A. from Northwestern University in history and African-American studies and her M.A. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Digital Pioneers Academy Entrepreneur-in-Residence: Joanna Klekowicz

Core expertise: Instruction, computer science, professional development, and curriculum
Joanna comes to Digital Pioneers Academy after successfully co-leading, developing, and scaling the RePublic Computer Science Program which will impact over 15,000+ students during the 2017-18 school year. At RePublic, Joanna solidified the vision of the program, shaped strategy, and led all partnership work. Joanna first joined the movement for educational equity after witnessing the injustice of the school-to-prison pipeline while tutoring inmates at the Suffolk County House of Corrections in Boston. Post college-graduation, she joined Teach for America and taught in Memphis. As a 5th-6th grade math and science teacher, she served as the head of Math Common Core while leading her students to achieve more than 2.5 years of growth. After moving back to her hometown of Chicago, Joanna worked with TNTP-Chicago Teaching Fellows to train and develop high school math teachers. She then ventured into the financial sector where she worked as an investment consultant and honed business development skills. 

Joanna graduated from Boston College with a B.S. in Psychology with a concentration in Neuroscience and a B.A. in Sociology. She received her M.Ed. from Christian Brothers University.

Digital Pioneers Academy Director of Family and Community Engagement: Christman Bowers

Core expertise: Family and community engagement, stakeholder mapping and engagement, marketing and communications, issue advocacy, non-profit management, education reform, and data and analytics

Christman Bowers is President of Bowers Consulting Firm (BCF), which was born of the basic belief that "it's always been done that way" is the most detrimental phrase in the English language. BCF applies lesson learned after years of leading the Obama campaign, among other organizations/campaigns to inform BCF’s approach in "how" to build data-driven and impactful organizations and campaigns.

Previously, Christman served as the National Partnership Director for FWD.us—a political advocacy organization started by Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and other key leaders in the tech community. He joined FWD.us to innovatively advocate for comprehensive immigration reform and ensure individuals could create change by ingeniously thinking about the nexus of politics and technology.

Christman has nearly a decade’s experience in developing and implementing community outreach programs and the management of a variety of socially innovative projects and campaigns, from serving as a Field Director for the Cory Booker Campaign, to holding a Director position with 270 Strategies working on education in Newark, NJ, to working at a community centric tech company in San Francisco entitled Nextdoor. At the start of Christman’s professional career, he served as the youngest managerial staffer during President Obama’s re-election campaign in Ohio. Christman’s most memorable political experience was his tenure as the African-American Outreach Director for the 57th Presidential Inauguration. His skill-set revolves around his deep passion for community engagement, and the not-for-profit sector. Christman is well known for his tenacity and project management skills, allowing him to excel in the spheres of politics, tech, and civic engagement.