Our Team

Ms. Valda Valbrun

Chief Executive Officer

Ms. Valda Valbrun is the Founder and CEO of The Valbrun Consulting Group. As an established educational leader, she is known for passion toward inclusive, research-based, data-driven pedagogy. She is a system change facilitator with a proven track record of supporting schools and districts to change and manage educational practices and establish systems for achievement. Prior to founding her company, she was a school and district leader, Director of Professional Learning at ASCD, and Executive Director of Organizational Management with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. She is a strategic partner to The Winter’s Group, Inc. and FourPoint Educational Partners and serves as an Executive Board Member of Teach for Haiti. Ms. Valbrun is an Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) Qualified Administrator and holds a certificate as a Facilitative Leader for Social Change.

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Ms. Michaelle Pope

Chief Operating Officer

Ms. Michaelle Pope is the Chief Operating Officer of The Valbrun Consulting Group. With close to 40 years of experience in education in the New York City and Broward County, Florida school systems – two of the largest school systems in the nation –  Michaelle brings deep knowledge and expertise to the field. Her experiences range from the classroom as a teacher, to leading district-wide initiatives for student and family success.  She recently retired as the Chief of Student Support Initiatives & Recovery for Broward County Public Schools. She is a Certified Qualified Administrator, Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) IDI, LLC, a Certified Facilitator, Fundamentals of Facilitation for Racial Justice, (IISC), Facilitating Restorative Practices in Schools, Communities and for Family Empowerment, (IIRP) and is State of Florida Certified in Educational Leadership (FDOE).

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Dr. Ardell Cothrone

Dr. Adell Cothorne has been an educator for over 25 years advocating for students in both urban and suburban school systems. She has been a teacher, assistant principal and principal with several public-school systems in the Maryland/DC area. Dr. Cothorne worked for Harvard University as a School Coach for a research project in Baltimore City Public Schools examining how debate impacts middle school students’ reading comprehension. Dr. Cothorne has presented at several national conferences and has published book chapters, one entitled – SCHOOL CLOSURES AND URBAN EDUCATION – which is in the 2nd Edition Handbook of Urban Education. She has engaged in racial equity work for districts such as, Balz School District (Phoenix, AZ), Baltimore City Public Schools and the Pueblo D60 school district (Pueblo, CO).

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Dr. Inger Swimpson

Dr. Inger Swimpson is a skilled facilitator and excels at helping leaders discover their creativity and passion through shared leadership challenges and aspirations. She is a Facilitative Leadership Master Trainer having earned this certification through Interaction Institute for Social Change. She understands the dynamics of race, culture, and equity and the importance of building systemic cultural competence. She brings experience in human resource and talent management and is an Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) Qualified Administrator.

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Dr. Amalio Nieves

Dr. Amalio Nieves is an experienced leader with over 30 years of leadership in large urban school districts, including Chicago, Broward County and Boston. Dr. Nieves has successfully led initiatives aimed at fostering and sustaining organizational commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and ensuring high quality equitable educational opportunities for all students. His expertise includes development and coordination of innovative strategies designed to integrate equity and the instructional knowledge of social emotional learning (SEL) using a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) model. Dr. Nieves is also experienced in the design and implementation of SEL and wellness for culturally, linguistically, and abilities diverse student populations. He has extensive experience in strategy, leadership, partnership development and a successful track record at helping educational systems promote equity and inclusive practices to ensure students’ academic, behavioral, and social/emotional well-being.

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Ms. Shauna Bell

Ms. Shauna Bell is formerly the Director of Strategic Planning for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools where she was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day management of Strategic Planning through aligning the work of the organization and developing a performance management process. In that role, she led the organization through the development of the most recent Strategic Plan through organizing and executing community engagement events, focus groups and synthesizing data to provide direction of the work. Shauna is a former Broad Resident (2013) with experience as a teacher and a career counselor in a high school and as an engineer for Procter & Gamble. Shauna is a graduate of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, FL, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering. Shauna also received a Master of Business Administration from Goizueta Business School in Atlanta, GA, and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems.

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Ms. Merisha Leak

Ms. Merisha Leak is a professional learning specialist that creates equity focused content for a variety of audiences.  advancing the outcomes for all students. She has over 11 years of experience in English education. She began teaching in 2008 in Charlotte, NC, and has taught grades 6-12. With her love of literacy, she has worked as a PLC lead, master teacher, and an instructional coach for both beginning teachers and teachers in the ELA department. She also served as a member of the DTEC-TAG teacher efficacy group (through the Delta Research Education Foundation), as well as a member of her district’s curriculum writing team. In her spare time, she has written as a blogger and has had articles published for ASCD’s InService website. She brings with her passion for English curriculum and the belief that all students are deserving of high-quality education. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Roehampton-London. She is also a certified Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) Qualified Administrator.

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