Mark DiBella, Chief Executive Officer
Member of the YES Prep Team Since 2001
Mark began his career in education as a 1999 corps member with Teach For America teaching 5th grade at Garcia Elementary in the Houston Independent School District (HISD). Inspired by founder Chris Barbic’s vision, Mark left his position at HISD in 2001 to join YES Prep—at the time, a small charter school in southeast Houston. Four years later, Mark became the School Director of the first replication site—YES Prep North Central. Under Mark's leadership, YES Prep North Central earned the state's highest ranking of Exemplary every year, received the national EPIC award, and was named a National Blue Ribbon school. In 2010, Mark joined the YES Prep Head of Schools team to manage all YES Prep campuses. From 2011- 2013, he served as the Vice President of Operations and Growth before moving into the role of Superintendent for the next three years. During his time as Vice President and Superintendent, Mark executed YES Prep's growth strategy and surpassed their vision to serve 10,000 Houston children. For his unwavering commitment to educational equity and undeniable results, the Board of Directors named him Chief Executive Officer in April 2016. Mark is originally from Virginia and is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in political science and an MBA from Rice University. Mark and his wife, Erica, have been married since 1999, are active members of their church, City Church, and have two children, Emarie and Gavin.
Jeremy Beard, Head of Schools
Member of the YES Prep Team Since 2014
Jeremy began his career in education as a corps member for Teach For America. He continued as a Corps Member Advisor, School Director for Teacher For America Summer Institute, and then as a Program Director. He was named Teacher of the Year while teaching Language Arts for IDEA College Preparatory, and then became IDEA’s Assistant Principal and Director of College Counseling, later, serving as Principal for five years. Jeremy has worked for Houston Independent School District as an Apollo 20 School Improvement Officer, leading principals in some of the lowest performing schools in closing the achievement gap. He also spent three years as a National Director of Programs for Blueprint Schools Network, leading regional program partnerships with public schools district. Jeremy came to YES Prep in 2014, as Head of Schools, where he leads school directors and senior directors of the College Initiatives team. Jeremy holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of Maryland and a Master of Education, Organizational Leadership, from Columbia University.
Millicent Chancellor, Vice President of Finance and Accounting
Millicent provides system-wide oversight of financial operations. She began her career in public accounting with PricewaterhouseCoopers where she worked for 12 years, including a technical tour of duty in the firm’s national office in New York. Subsequently, she held the positions of Director of Finance and Accounting at Brown & Root, Vice President of Finance and Administration and CFO at Landmark Graphics Corporation and Director of Investor Relations and Vice President of Finance Operations at Halliburton. Millicent is a member of both the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants (TSCPA), as well as the National Association of Black Accountants. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Florida A&M University and a Master’s in Business Administration from Duke University. Millicent is married to Steven Chancellor who is a dentist in Houston. They have one daughter, Kendall Chancellor, who attends Hampton University in Hampton, VA.
Richard Charlesworth, Vice President of Technology and Analytics
Member of the YES Prep Team Since 2015
Richard spent his early tech career at Compaq Computer Corp and then at several energy sector and consulting firms. In 2008, founder Chris Barbic recruited Richard to serve as YES Prep’s first technology leader. It was in this role that Richard was first exposed to the education reform mission, completely altering the course of his career and igniting Richard’s passion for creating opportunities for students, parents, and teachers. Richard later served as the Assistant Commissioner and Chief Information Officer of the Tennessee Department of Education, directly impacting teacher effectiveness and student achievement for Tennessee’s one million students and 80,000 educators. He returned to YES Prep in 2015 as the VP of Analytics and Technology, eager to impact students from Houston’s underserved communities. Richard is a proud US Coast Guard veteran and recipient of numerous medals, including the Humanitarian Service and Lifesaving Medals. He and his wife met at Texas Lutheran University and have two children. In addition to numerous industry certifications, Richard holds both a BA in Management Information Systems and a Masters of Business Administration.
Recy Benjamin Dunn, Vice President of Operations & Growth
Member of the YES Prep Team Since 2014
Recy is the Vice President of Operations & Growth for YES Prep Public Schools. In this role, he leads system-wide operations, district partnerships and growth strategy. Recy formerly served as the Senior Executive Director for Cities at New Leaders, a national nonprofit that develops transformational school leaders. He managed and supported all city executive directors across 8 program sites nationally. Recy filled numerous roles at school districts, including the New York City Department of Education where he was the Executive Director of the Charter Schools Office, leading a team responsible for coordinating a portfolio of 136 charter schools. Recy also served as Executive Director of Early Childhood at the NYCDOE, managing early childhood initiatives citywide with a focus on Universal Prekindergarten. Previously, he worked at Prince George's County Public Schools in Maryland and before that completed The Broad Residency in Urban Education while at the District of Columbia Public Schools. Prior to his education experience, Recy worked in the public and private sector in several organizations. Recy has an MBA and an MA in Education from Stanford, and undergraduate degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. Additionally, he completed his School District Leadership certification program at Bank Street College of Education.
Kari Feinberg, Head of Schools
Member of the YES Prep Team Since 2007
Kari Feinberg Thomas currently serves as the Head of Schools for YES Prep. In this role, Kari works closely with YES Prep’s two other Heads of Schools in order to manage and support all fifteen campuses as well as current and future school leaders. In addition, Kari works with a strong team to lead YES’s system-wide initiatives related to curriculum and assessment, instructional leadership and teacher evaluation. Kari joined YES Prep in the summer of 2007 as the Dean of Instruction at the YES Prep-Southwest campus. Since then, she has served as the Assistant School Director at YES Prep-Southwest, the Senior Director of Academics, and the Managing Director of Academics for YES Prep. Kari began her career in education teaching in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as a 2001 Teach For America Corps Member. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania, and Master’s degrees in School Administration and Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Outside of work, Kari is kept busy by her two daughters, Lucia and Evelyn, and fills her free time running, cooking, and enjoying all that Houston has to offer.
Nella García Urban, Vice President of Talent
Member of the YES Prep Team Since 2004
Nella García Urban, originally from the Rio Grande Valley, is the Vice President of Talent for YES Prep Public Schools. Nella joined YES Prep in August of 2004 as a founding teacher at the YES Prep North Central campus where she taught various subjects in the humanities for two years. She then became a founding teacher at YES Prep East End in 2006 and a founding Assistant School Director at YES Prep Lee, now YES Prep Gulfton, in 2007. Nella transitioned out of school leadership into the Director of Teacher Development role where she led the Teaching Excellence Program for four years. The program focuses on preparing new teachers for effective practice in their first year of teaching. Today, the program serves over 300 teachers in Houston and has a site in Dallas, serving Uplift Education schools. After leading the Teaching Excellence Program, Nella began to explore alignment within talent initiatives and programs at YES Prep. In her current role, she is responsible for strengthening our talent pipeline, building talent development programs and creating high levels of talent engagement across the organization. Nella graduated from Rice University in 2003 with degrees in English, Spanish and Political Science. She received a master’s degree from Sam Houston State University in Education Leadership. In 2013, Nella was named a Pahara NextGen Fellow with the Aspen Institute, a program geared towards leaders in education reform with a diverse perspective. Nella is married to Pierre Urban from the YES Prep East End campus and they have two children – Mikaela Jo and Pierre Juan.
Philip Wright, Head of Schools
Member of the YES Prep Team Since 2004
Philip started at YES Prep in 2004 as a Middle School Language Arts teacher at the Southeast campus. After two years teaching at YES Prep he moved into campus leadership as the Principal of the North Central campus. In this position he managed student culture and served on the campus leadership team. In 2009, Phil returned to the Southeast campus to serve as School Director. He directed a turnaround initiative at the first and largest YES Prep campus, which resulted in notably improved teacher satisfaction and the campus’s highest scores in standardized tests and AP exams. In 2012, he became Associate Head of Schools for YES Prep, during which he provided leadership coaching for school directors while leading the Southeast campus. He was also appointed to the Human Capital Board Committee to analyze talent data and initiatives with YES Prep Board members. Philip became Head of Schools in 2013, managing school directors at six YES Prep campuses. In addition to leading schools, Phil manages the Student Support and Special Education departments in the Home Office. Phil holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resource Management and a Minor in Finance from Miami University, Ohio. He also holds a Master of Education in Administration from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville.
Ann Ziker, Executive Vice President of Advancement and Strategy
Member of the YES Prep Team Since 2012
Ann began her career in education as a high school social studies teacher and curriculum specialist in the Fort Bend Independent School District. Following three years of secondary teaching, Ann began graduate studies at Rice University, where she specialized in modern American history and taught courses at the undergraduate level. After earning her doctorate in 2008, Ann joined McKinsey & Company as a consultant. At McKinsey, Ann served private and social sector clients on a variety of strategic and organizational issues. While at McKinsey, Ann developed a passion for applying the best problem-solving skills from the private sector to our most significant social challenges. In 2010, Ann returned to the education sector to serve as the founding Managing Director for Education Pioneers – Houston, where she led the successful launch of the Houston region. In 2012, Ann joined YES Prep as Vice President for Advancement. In this role, Ann led YES’s effort to build a robust network of community champions and investors. Ann presently serves as the organization’s Vice President of Advancement and Strategy. Ann holds a B.A. (magna cum laude) and a doctorate in History from Rice University. She and her husband, Ben, have two children.