Navigators bring to their work deep roots in their communities and an insider’s perspective on schools.
A New Orleans native, Gary Briggs has attended private, Catholic, charter, and traditional public schools. He earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Political Science from Texas Christian University and served as a White House Intern in the Obama administration upon graduation. Afterwards, Gary joined Teach For America and returned to New Orleans to teach English Language Arts. He served as 5th and 6th grade Team Leader at Harriet Tubman Charter School for four years. In 2015, his experiences as a student and teacher in New Orleans’ schools were chronicled by The Times Picayune. Today, Gary serves as New Orleans’s Master Navigator and works to support families and students across the Greater New Orleans area.
Rameisha “Ramie” Johnson is a New Orleans native, proud mom, and veteran school counselor and enrollment advisor. As a Navigator and Manager of Navigator Operations, she supports a wide variety of parents across the Greater New Orleans area with school choice and enrollment process. Ramie holds a BA in Sociology and a M.Ed in School Counseling from the University of New Orleans. She’s worked previously with the Recovery School District and Algiers Charter School Association.
As an award-winning educator and founding teacher of Harriet Tubman Charter School, Karen Johnston leverages her years of experience in the classroom in her work advising families about their children’s educational needs. Karen holds a BA in Political Science and certification in Elementary Education from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Brittany McCormick graduated from Southern University at New Orleans with a major in General Studies and minor in history. In 2011, she completed TeachNOLA and spent six years teaching elementary and middle school grades in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. She is a Cox Grant recipient, who's received the highest English Language Arts test scores while at New Orleans College Prep. In 2017, she placed second for Teacher of the Year awarded by the Urban League of Louisiana in partnership with the Louisiana Federation for Children and Stand For Children Louisiana. Brittany is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and resides in New Orleans East with her husband and three children.
Ileana Ortiz was born and raised in Miami, FL and attended the University of West Florida in Pensacola, FL before moving to New Orleans. As a Navigator, she helps working families understand and navigate the educational system, with a particular focus on Latino parents who have limited English proficiency. Before joining EdNavigator, Ileana served as an AmeriCorps member at Project Homecoming. She managed over 300 volunteers at three sites and worked mostly on homes in New Orleans’ Upper Ninth Ward and Hollygrove areas. She also served as an AmeriCorps Fellow at the Orleans Public Defender's office, where she worked as a Client Advocate and Spanish Interpreter.
A lifelong Bostonian, Arlene Sanchez attended Boston Public Schools as a child and returned to them as a teacher in 2013. At UP Academy and Gardner Pilot Academy, she focused on using literature to instill confidence and empathy in her students and worked to increase representation of teachers of color in the school system. In 2015, her culturally responsive approach to teaching and her work with Asian American students earned her national attention in Teach For America’s One Day magazine. As a Navigator, she helps Boston families and students understand the school landscape and achieve their educational goals. Arlene is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and holds a BA in Sociology and Portuguese & Brazilian Studies from Smith College and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Boston University.
Jessica DaSilva-Fisher joined EdNavigator as our second Boston Navigator in January 2018. A lifelong Bostonian, she received her undergraduate degree in Social and Political Systems from Pine Manor College and Master's degree in Human Service Management from the University of Massachusetts. In addition to her degrees, Jessica received a certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Boston University and is fluent in Cape Verdean Creole. Jessica has held many titles within her career, most notable "Youth and Family Activist." She has dedicated her career to advocating for the needs of families in urban settings.
Prior to joining EdNavigator in 2016, Victoria Williams spent seven years as a licensed medical social worker and Head Start family service coordinator, helping New Orleans parents and families stay healthy, navigate medical systems, and access schools and community resources. Today, she relies on many of the same professional skills and her personal experience as a mom in her work as a Navigator, supporting employees of the city’s largest hotels as they strive to get an excellent education for themselves and their children. Victoria holds a Bachelor’s degree in social work from Miles College in Alabama and a Master’s of Social Work from Tulane University.
Ruben Johnson joined EdNavigator in August 2017. The New Orleans native graduated from Edna Karr High School and went on to complete his Bachelor's in Accounting from the University of Phoenix and a Master's in Educational Leadership from Xavier University of Louisiana. He has worked in special education support roles at Edgar P. Harney, ReNEW Accelerated High School, and KIPP New Orleans schools, and brings to EdNavigator a unique perspective on children with special needs. Outside of work, Ruben serves as the president of the Edna Karr Alumni Association and is active in various community projects throughout the city.