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.
Chief of Staff
Dana started as YES Prep’s Chief of Staff in August of 2022. In this role, Dana creates structure and opportunity to align the Executive team and ensures YES Prep’s Board of Directors governs through accurate, relevant data and educational context. In addition to this work, Dana steers YES Prep’s New School Launch work and summer student, adult, and facilities programming. She most recently served as the Managing Director of Program and School Initiatives and joined YES Prep in July 2017 as the Director of Program Initiatives.
Prior to YES Prep, Dana served as a Region Manager of Professional Development at Catapult Learning; a District Coordinator of Professional Learning for Assessments at Fort Wayne Community Schools, a Founding Teacher and Asst. Principal at KIPP San Antonio; and a Grade 5 Reading Teacher in Edcouch-Elsa, TX during her 2 years as a Teach For America Corps Member.
Dana has a Master of Education in Education Policy and Leadership Studies from University of Texas San Antonio and a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies from Texas Tech University.
Dana is originally from Dallas but loves everything Houston has to offer and is a converted Astros fan. Outside of work you can find Dana with her husband, two kids, and pup-dog hanging out at parks and planning or going on their next National Park vacation.
Chief External Officer
Nella García Urban
Member of the YES Prep Team Since 2004
Nella, originally from the Rio Grande Valley, 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 and into the Director of Teacher Development role where she led the Teaching Excellence Program for four years. After leading the Teaching Excellence Program, Nella began to explore alignment within talent initiatives and programs at YES Prep as the Vice President of Talent. Most recently, Nella served as Chief Program Officer.
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 and they have two children – Mikaela Jo and Pierre Juan.
Chief Financial Officer
Member of the YES Prep Team Since 2018
Luis, originally from El Salvador and raised in Houston, provides system-wide oversight of financial operations. Luis began his career at Enron and remained in the energy and infrastructure business for the first 12 years of his career until transitioning from the private sector to the nonprofit industry five years ago. Luis became the Chief Financial Officer for Amigos, an international non-profit focused on experiential education, where he was in charge of finance, nationwide chapter and flight operations, and system-wide enrollment.
Luis has a Bachelor in Business Administration from the Business Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Business.
Chief Operations Officer
Member of the YES Prep Team Since 2015
Carmen is originally from right outside of Cleveland, Ohio and found her way to YES Prep in July 2015 as a Director of School Operations. She has served as the Managing Director of Talent Support, remaining focused on the organization’s traditional human resource functions while problem solving cross-functionally on a variety of projects that intersected with the Talent work stream. She most recently served of Chief of Staff.
Prior to YES, she served in Texas’s two largest ISDs leading aggressive human resources turnaround efforts. Her passion for the communities we serve has fueled important organizational change. Prior to that, she was a Recruitment Director for Teach For America in Chicago. Carmen graduated from Case Western Reserve University with degrees in English Literature and Communication Sciences, and received her graduate degree from University of Texas at Austin in Educational Leadership.
Besides being an avid sports fan, Carmen and her husband, Chris, are the parents to two kiddos – Rowan Axel and Cooper Phoenix.
Chief Schools Officer
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. Phil became Head of Schools in 2013, managing school directors and the student support and special education departments. Now, as Chief Schools Officer, Phil leads the management of our schools.
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.
Chief Talent Officer
Member of the YES Prep Team Since 2020
Tony is a certified Human Resources leader with nearly 20 years of experience in the public and private sectors. As Chief Talent Officer for YES Prep, he oversees all aspects of talent work, including certification, evaluation, talent development, talent acquisition, employee relations and engagement, compensation, and benefits. He most recently served as Managing Director of Regional Human Assets for IDEA Public Schools in Tarrant County – a role he took on after spending two years in the private sector as Director of Human Resources for Le Meridian Hotel, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts and Aimbridge Hospitality. Tony’s career in education began in 1996 in Harlandale Independent School District, where he was a School Social Worker. He subsequently coordinated parent involvement for Grand Prairie public schools prior to joining Dallas ISD, where he spent 11 years working on talent development and acquisition via his roles as a Professional Development Specialist, Recruiting Coordinator, Staffing Manager, Talent Leader, and ultimately as Executive Director of Talent Management. Tony grew up in the Rio Grande Valley and is a first-generation college graduate with a Bachelor of Social Work from The University of Texas at Austin. Tony and his wife, Esther, have four children—Diego, Xoxi, Alejandro and Natalia.
DEPUTY CHIEF of operations
Cesar Cedillos is originally from El Salvador and currently resides in Pearland, TX. He has over 20 years sales and operations experience. Most recently, Cesar led sales and operations for the Gulf Coast district at United Rentals.
Prior to his most recent role, he progressed through various branch leadership roles since joining the organization in 2010. Before joining United Rentals, Cesar held numerous leadership roles in operations and sales over his 12-year career with Performance Maintenance Services.
Cesar holds a Doctorate from the University of Dallas and received both his MBA and BBA from the University of Houston- Downtown.
DEPUTY CHIEF PROGRAM OFFICER - ELEMENTARY
Elizabeth Carlson-Young began her career in education as an elementary school teacher and has taught reading and English in both middle and high schools. She taught for five years in Colombia before joining HISD and building a successful newcomers’ program at Sam Houston Math, Science, and Technology Center. She continued her career at Hamilton Middle School as dean of students. Elizabeth joined YES Prep for the 2019-2020 school year to launch the first ever YES Prep elementary campuses in 2020-2021.
DEPUTY CHIEF PROGRAM OFFICER - SECONDARY
DEPUTY CHIEF SCHOOLS OFFICER
Ashleigh Fritz joined YES Prep as a founding staff member at YES Prep West Secondary in 2009, after serving two years in the Alief ISD as a Teacher For America corps member.
She has donned many roles during her eight-year tenure at YES Prep West Secondary including teacher, dean and principal. In 2017, Ashleigh transitioned to YES Prep Southside Secondary where she led the turnaround work, rebranding the campus vision, and launching the high school for the founding class. In 2019, she joined the Home Office team as a Secondary Head of Schools.
She holds a B.A. in Economics from Denison University.