Our Story

In March 2011, the SUNY Charter Schools Institute approved Democracy Prep to turn around Harlem Day Charter School, a failing elementary school in East Harlem. The immediate effects were staggering. In their first year, Harlem Prep’s scholars achieved the highest proficiency growth scores in English Language Arts (ELA) in New York State and the highest combined proficiency growth scores in ELA and Math in New York City.
To attain these dramatic results, Harlem Prep’s DREAM Team worked tirelessly to deliver Democracy Prep’s rigorous and structured model to the same students in the same building, turning the school into a high-performing elementary school where students are prepared for success in both college and citizenship. Although much ground remains to be covered, the turnaround has unequivocally proven that it was not the children, but rather the adults in the building, that led to persistently low academic achievement.

Bryan Stroud

Justin Richmond


315 Scholars


The DREAM Team

Bryan Stroud


Justin Richmond

Assistant Principal

Lesley Santos

Operations Manager

Bernado Melinette

Dean of Culture

Colleen Smith

Learning Intervention Coach

Zakiyah Floyd

Leader U Resident

Achante Sims

Administrative Manager

Maciel De La Cruz

Operations Coordinator

Mandell Pratt

Social Worker

Amy Spina

Social Worker

Cara Cherapakov

Third Grade Teacher

Katherine Devaney

Third Grade Teacher

Madeline Hess

Third Grade Teacher

Alexandra Ortega

Third Grade Teacher

Sofia Roman

Grade Team Leader/ Third Grade Teacher

Fatoumata Ceesay

Fourth Grade Teacher

Kadine Cousins

Fourth Grade Teacher

Courtney Cox

Grade Team Leader/ Fourth Grade Teacher

Steve Saunders

Fourth Grade Teacher

Caitlin Geis

Fifth Grade Teacher

Samantha Kienemund

Grade Team Leader/ Fifth Teacher

Kristina Bounviri

Movement Teacher

Stephen Kovalcik

Physical Education Teacher

Marion Lopez

Performing Arts Teacher

Elena Heitke

ELL Teacher

Shakema Philbert

ACT Coordinator/SETSS Teacher

Jose Hernandez


DPNY Board of Directors

Dr. Robert North

Chair, Harlem Hospital

Josh Pristaw

Vice Chair, GTIS Partners

Brian Berger

Treasurer, Glocap Search

Doug Snyder

Vice Chair, Luxor Capital Group

Roger Berg

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

Sean Windsor


Ken Weiller

Westfield Investment LLC

Alastair Wood


Brittany Mullings

Human Resources Business Partner, National Basketball Association

Gregory Weston

Winston & Strawn LLP

Jake Foley III

Khary Barnes

Vice Chair, JPMorgan Chase & Co

Ross Frommer

Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Farida Ilboudo

Columbia University

Drew Gannon Singh

Deloitte Consulting LLC

To contact the DPNY Board, please email Boardoftrustees@DemocracyPrep.org

For information about the DPNY Board of Trustees, including minutes and upcoming meeting dates, click here.