Our management team and board of directors oversee all of the organization's efforts, ensuring that UTRU continues to deliver on its core values and provide dedicated service to the partners.
Anissa Listak has nearly 20 years of experience in the private and non-profit sectors. Before founding Urban Teacher Residency United (UTRU) in 2007, Anissa worked at the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) as Director of Development & Community Relations, where she experienced success in raising several million dollars for their Residency program. Prior to joining AUSL, Anissa worked for Public Allies Chicago and City Year Seattle/King County, successfully directing fundraising and development efforts. She has experience in business and non-profit development, organizational capacity building, fundraising, strategic planning and board development. Anissa has a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the University of Dayton and a Master of Science in Public Service Management from DePaul University. As Founder and Executive Director, Anissa sets the vision for and directs the strategic operations of UTRU, as well as overseeing national fundraising efforts, policy and advocacy, and network development.
Tamara Azar joined Urban Teacher Residency United in 2010 as Policy Director and is responsible for developing UTRU's policy agenda, advocating for policies that support and facilitate the development of high quality urban teacher residency programs, and supporting UTRU network partner programs to achieve scale and sustainability within the changing landscape of state and federal education teacher policy. She is based in Washington, DC. Prior to joining UTRU, Tamara focused on state and federal education policy around educator quality, preparation, training, and evaluation for nearly 15 years. As a consultant for the US Department of Education she has had extensive experience in education policy and the educator lifecycle, especially the critical role of teachers and school leaders to change school climate and impact student achievement. Tamara's work on the teacher quality provisions of ESEA, HEA, and the Teacher Incentive Fund provides her with a unique K-16 perspective on the impact of well-trained and high-performing teachers. Tamara taught special education for two years in New Orleans with Teach for America. After teaching, she received a Master's of Education Policy from the University of Virginia and holds a bachelor's in English from Mary Washington College.
Jill Pitner has close to 20 years of experience in education. While at UTRU, Jill has participated in national conferences, seminars, and researched best practices in teacher preparation, collaborating with the UTRU team to develop the UTRU Teacher Effectiveness Platform. UTRU will use the platform to identify high-yield teacher preparation strategies to strengthen program development content and delivery, create highly effective new programs, and infuse innovation and increased rigor into our existing network programs. Before joining UTRU, Jill co-developed the first district based residency program in the country, the Denver Teacher Residency (DTR). As DTR Manager of Program and Curriculum, she collaborated with faculty from The University of Denver Morgridge College of Education (DU) to develop a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction for elementary and secondary math candidates with a focus on Linguistically Diverse Learners and Special Education. Ms. Pitner worked with multiple stakeholders to select host school sites, mentor teachers and adjunct professors, aligning program, curriculum and evaluation to meet the needs of Denver Public Schools' students. Jill has been a staff developer, mentor and teacher at DU and Denver Public Schools. She earned her bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from the University of Iowa and master's degree in Linguistically Diverse Education from the University of Colorado at Denver. As Director of Innovation, Jill identifies and analyzes innovative teacher preparation strategies to communicate alternative approaches to improve teacher effectiveness to our Network Partners.
Christine Brennan has worked in urban public education for the past seven years. Before joining UTRU, Christine served as an English Language Arts Instructional Coach in Chicago Public Schools. In this role, she supported high schools in the implementation of an inquiry-based curriculum. In addition to planning and facilitating citywide professional development, she provided school-based support to teachers in the form of observation feedback, model lessons and co-teaching. She also assisted teachers in the use of formative assessment data to drive instructional decision-making. Before becoming a coach, Christine took an alternative route to teacher certification by participating in the New York City Teaching Fellows program, where she spent two years teaching high school English in Brooklyn. Her background in teaching also includes time spent as a Humanities teacher at Salem Academy Charter School, a school focused on college preparation and service to the community. Christine earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Colby College and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Brooklyn College. As a member of the RRP team, Christine supports and consults emerging Residencies on how to design and execute on the key components of an effective UTR program. She also takes a lead role in developing and delivering curriculum for RRP institutes.
Shari Dickstein joined UTRU in 2010. As Program Manager, her main responsibilities include developing and sustaining UTRU's network assessment program, and serving as serving as lead consultant to many of UTRU's partner programs. Shari also collaborates with UTRU's innovation team to develop the organizational research agenda, participate in national conferences and seminars on teaching and teacher education, and drive the implementation of UTRU's newly created Teacher Effectiveness platform. In her close to 15 years of experience in education, Shari has worked as a social studies teacher in New York City, an adjunct faculty member in Teacher Education at New York University, and a Teacher Education Program Advisor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she is an advanced doctoral candidate in Education Policy and Instruction. Prior to joining UTRU, Shari served as a consultant for multiple organizations including the Sonoma County Office of Education, Boston Teacher Residency, Buck Institute for Education, and the Stuart Foundation, supporting various instructional, research, and grant evaluation initiatives. She holds a Masters in Teaching from New York University, a Master of Education from Harvard, and a Bachelor's in Government from Cornell University, and has authored several articles and book chapters on teaching and teacher education. Shari is based in San Francisco.
Jenna Caldwell joined the UTRU team at the start of 2013. She has over three years of experience in the non-profit sector including a year of teaching in AmeriCorps Project YES (Youth, Education, Service). During her year in AmeriCorps, Jenna taught music and afterschool courses at Polaris Charter Academy on Chicago's west side. Project YES also gave her the opportunity to plan community service projects and work with volunteers within the community. She also has two years experience as an operations manager and a background in event planning. Jenna earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Kansas. As the Operations Manager at UTRU, she manages the daily office operations and the logistical planning for UTRU events.
Director for Education Reform
George W. Bush Institute
Strategic Grant Partners
Urban Teacher Residency United
Program Officer, Urban Education
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Chief Impact Officer and Executive Director
City Year Chicago
Bain & Company