Michele Mason

Executive Director

Since taking over as executive director of the Newark Charter School Fund in 2016, Michele Mason has worked diligently to ensure that every student in Newark is enrolled in a great school that is preparing them for college and their future careers.

By elevating the voices of parents across the city and working collaboratively with charter and district school leaders, city officials, businesses and community organizations, Michele and the Fund have led the continued evolution of a high-quality charter sector that increases public-school choices to meet every family’s needs and accelerates systemic change to the benefit of all.

Among her accomplishments are working with the charter sector and Newark Public School district to promote equity and widen opportunity by creating a parent-friendly universal enrollment system through which a single application can be used for almost all charter and district schools; and establishment of the New Jersey Special Education Collaborative targeted at improving services to students with special needs in Newark and across the state.

Much of Michele’s effort now is devoted to helping the sector navigate the return to local control after more than two decades of the state running Newark’s schools.

A New Jersey native, Michele is a longtime advocate for high-quality education options throughout the state whose experiences ignited a fire to support, inspire, and enable kids who deserve the best opportunities possible. Prior to joining NCSF, she served as deputy director of JerseyCAN, a nonprofit organization that connects education leaders with the information they need to enact policies that will make great schools available to all New Jersey children.

In 2002, Michele became the first director of college placement at the KIPP Academy in the Bronx, NY. She spent the next 10 years as a counselor supporting first-generation, college-bound students at KIPP and other institutions, including two years as director of college access and success at Newark's North Star Academy. She also spent two years leading the alumni affairs team at Teach for America – New Jersey, where she was charged with motivating and inspiring almost 1,000 TFA alumni across the state.

In 2014, the Black Alliance for Educational Options awarded Michele a yearlong Bailey Sullivan Leadership Institute Fellowship as part of a program that prepares and advances the skills of educational leaders to serve as passionate and effective advocates for change. Michele serves on the boards of the Newark Education Trust, New Jersey Charter School Association, and on NJPAC'S subcommittee on Arts & Education. She is a proud auntie, Philadelphia Eagles fan, and Newark resident.

Michele received her bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary, where she was a four-year letter winner on the varsity soccer team. She has a master's degree in education policy and management from Harvard University's Graduate School of Education and an advanced certificate in nonprofit business management from Washington University-St. Louis.

Misha Simmonds

Senior Portfolio Director

Misha joins NCSF after founding Scholutions LLC, a consultancy that provides management assistance to education organizations on strategy, governance, finance, operations, staffing, technology, facilities, instruction, intervention, assessment, and fundraising. He previously served for eight years as Executive Director of University Heights Charter School (UHCS). During his tenure, enrollment more than tripled to 725 students and the school added a new 35,000 square foot building. UHCS has also been recognized with the national EPIC Silver-Gain Award for breakthrough student achievement gains. For this work, Misha received the 2016 Charter Champion Award for Administrator of the Year.
Prior to UHCS, Misha taught middle school for five years in Newark and Kathmandu, Nepal and completed a one-year Aspiring Principal internship at North Star Academy through the New Leaders for NewSchool program. He also worked for three years as an Associate Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund in San Francisco, where he managed a $20M investment strategy targeting charter management organizations (CMOs) in Los Angeles.
Misha holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Princeton University, a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School, and a Masters in Educational Leadership from Baruch College. 
His wife of 11 years, Maria Cecilia Mosquera, is a pediatrician and his daughter, Natalia, is in second grade.

Ingrid Austin

Chief of Staff

Ingrid Austin is the Chief of Staff of the Newark Charter School Fund. In this role, Austin oversees high-level strategic projects, ensures organizational efficiency and communicates on behalf of the Executive Director. 

Ingrid joins NCSF after launching ID Stationery, a boutique design firm offering individuals and businesses all-occasion custom stationery and graphic design services, and Macaya LLC, an apparel brand that sells clothing promoting pride and awareness in Haiti. Ingrid’s strengths are in project management, client relations, account management, organization and leadership, budgeting and cost control, visual ideation/creativity, and organizational efficiency. 

Prior to leading and running her entrepreneurial ventures, Ingrid has helped to identify refunding opportunities for a boutique investment bank; worked in Operations to develop a new product for ESPN; worked on New Business Development opportunities for Island Def Jam Music Group, and led production and rollout efforts for Glaxo SmithKline’s intranet applications. 

Ingrid holds a BSE in Computer Science Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and a MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurial Management from Columbia Business School.

She lives in Newark with her 13, 10 and 9-year-old children who attend a Newark charter school.  Ingrid is fluent in French and Haitian Kreyol and enjoys reading, traveling, photography, swimming, yoga and all things creative. 

Shaylah Counts

Executive Assistant/ Office Manager

​Shaylah has joined Newark Charter School Fund as the executive assistant/office manager after two years of working for Great Oaks Legacy Charter High School.  In her new role, she reports to the Executive Director assisting with special projects and day to day schedule, managing the office, coordinating with finance and operations contractors (i.e.benefits,payroll,IT) and managing the grant documentation system. 

During her two years at Great Oaks Legacy Charter High School as the Special Projects Coordinator/Athletic Director she supported the School Leadership Team by completing various school-wide projects related to operations, sports, and school programs. In this leadership role she had to formulate and launch a new athletic program for Great Oaks Legacy Charter High School, introducing and establishing four high school sports—soccer, basketball, cheerleading and track—for competition across the state while maintaining the administrative duties and managing day-to-day duties.  

Shaylah is native to Newark, graduating from an Uncommon School, North Star Academy College Preparatory High School, she has always given back to her community. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Rider University. During her college years she joined a sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, that values community service.

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