Kath Connolly, Communications Consultant

kath_biopicKath Connolly has spent her career listening, writing, synthesizing and bringing people together to make things happen in education, the arts and public life. As an independent consultant she has worked with organizations ranging from colleges, community non-profits, film festivals, research institutes and political campaigns. Kath served for 10 years as director of partnerships at The Learning Community, a K-8 school in Central Falls, RI. Kath was the senior associate director at Brown University’s Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service, a pioneer in reimagining public service in higher education. She has been an exhibition planner at a children’s museum, a public policy researcher, and ran a political greeting card company. She currently serves on boards for idealist.org, John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities, and the Office of Congressman David Cicilline.


Jill Davidson, Managing Director

IMG_7348Jill Davidson first became part of the CES staff in 1989 as a research assistant. Inspired by the extraordinary teaching and learning she witnessed in Essential schools, she became a high school humanities teacher and university learning center director. After several years working in the San Francisco Bay Area as a web producer/product manager, Jill rejoined CES as the editor of Horace, communications director, and managing director from 2001-2011. And after several years more years away from CES, during which she was the director of publications and communications at Engaging Schools, Jill returned to guide the Year of Demonstration activities. She is the point person for all questions and communication. You can contact her at jdavidson@essentialschools.org, 401-426-9638, and @cesnational.

Katrina Kennett, Technology Integration Lead

Kennett _ headshotKatrina Kennett is an educator interested in how to support learners as they ask questions and go about answering them, especially as they use various forms of technology. Formerly a high school English teacher, her current doctoral research studies how teachers plan for classroom instruction. She serves as Education Resource Consortium’s Consulting Practitioner in digital technology, instructional planning and performance assessment. Ms. Kennett is also the creator of EdCafes, and a co-founder of EdCampCU, both spaces designed to support participant inquiry and ownership.


Christen Makram, Logistics Co-Lead

ChristenChristen works at The Met High School in Providence in conjunction with Big Picture Learning. Christen is going into her 9th year at The Met and currently has 9th graders. Through her work as an advisor, she is experienced in student-centered learning that uses projects, supporting students’ social and emotional needs, collaborating with the community and families, and much more. In addition, Christen worked with CES in 2011 and 2012 to help organize Fall Forum and is very excited to be part of this amazing collaboration once again.

Michelle Portilla, Logistics Co-Lead

MichelleMichelle works at The Met High School in conjunction with Big Picture Learning.f For the past 8 years as an advisor, she has worked to personalize learning, create advisory culture, develop meaningful projects, excel in real world learning and internships, and meet students socio-emotional needs. In addition, she helped to pilot a program called College For America, where students can earn an Associate’s Degree from Southern New Hampshire University. Michelle was born and raised in New York City, attended Wheaton College as an undergraduate and then Brown University, where she earned an MAT in Secondary Education as an Urban Education Fellow.



We’re grateful for assistance from CES affiliates Great Schools Partnership and Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, which are supporting CES with financial, partnership, and logistical expertise.