National Office Staff
The Cristo Rey Network national office is comprised of 19 subject matter experts, based in Chicago, who create and deliver programming that fuels the quality and vitality of the movement.
- Elizabeth Goettl, President and CEO
- John P. Foley, S.J., Chair Emeritus and Chief Mission Officer
- Leading and Learning
- Corporate Work Study Program
- School Growth
- College Initiatives
- Mission Support and Operations
- Fundraising and Communications
Elizabeth Goettl was named President of Cristo Rey Network in 2017.
Ms. Goettl is a career educator with extensive academic and administrative leadership experience. From 2014-2017, she served as Chief Academic Officer of the LEARN Charter School Network in Chicago. She previously held two critical leadership positions within the Cristo Rey Network. She was the Network's founding Chief Academic Officer, from 2009-2014. In that position, Ms. Goettl elevated the academic rigor across the Network through the design and implementation of the organization's proprietary college-ready curriculum. Working in close collaboration with Cristo Rey school principals, she established the framework for and delivered targeted school support in the areas of curriculum and assessment, teacher effectiveness, and principal leadership to ensure every Cristo Rey student graduates from high school prepared for success in college. Prior to that, she served as President of San Miguel High School (the Cristo Rey school in Tucson) from 2006-2009.
Ms. Goettl earned her bachelor's degree in education from Northern Arizona University and her master's degree in education from the University of Arizona. She is a licensed school principal and superintendent. During her 25 years in the Catalina Foothills School District, Ms. Goettl led two schools to become USDE Blue Ribbon Schools and was named National Distinguished Principal for Arizona.
A Chicago native, Father Foley entered the Society of Jesus in 1954. He earned a BA in Latin from Xavier University in Cincinnati and holds an MA in Sociology and an M.Ed. from Loyola University in Chicago. From 1961 to 1995 he served the Jesuit missions in Peru, working primarily in education. He served as President of two of Peru's Jesuit K-12 schools.
He returned to Chicago in 1995 to collaborate in establishing Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. He was named President of the school in 1996 and served for eight years. During his tenure, he oversaw the effort to establish the school, hiring of all personnel, student recruitment, and the construction of 150,000 square feet of classroom and recreation space. Father Foley raised more than $26 million during this eight-year term and established the tradition and spirit of a school that has become a national model. In January of 2005, he assumed the presidency of the Cristo Rey Network of which he is presently Chair Emeritus.
For his efforts in pioneering a new model to prepare disadvantaged students for success in college and beyond, Fr. Foley has been profiled in national media outlets as well as the recipient of numerous awards. These include eight Honorary Doctorates, the National Catholic Education Association Seton Award, and the Presidential Citizens Medal from President George W. Bush.
Mary Kearney, Ed.D., Chief Academic Officer
Dr. Mary Kearney joined the Cristo Rey Network as Chief Academic Officer in July 2018. As Chief Academic Officer, she directly supports the leadership development of Network principals as well as the strengthening of classroom teaching and learning through regular school visits, ongoing curriculum development, and professional development activities for both teachers and school leaders.
Since 2011, Dr. Kearney has served as Associate Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago, where she is charged with the establishment of curriculum standards and instructional practices to promote academic achievement for 217 Archdiocesan schools serving more than 78,000 students. Prior to the Archdiocese, Dr. Kearney served as Dean of Academics for Loyola Academy, a private, co-educational Jesuit college preparatory high school in Illinois.
Dr. Kearney earned her Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction and her Master's in Administration and Supervision from Loyola University Chicago. She earned her bachelor's from Western Michigan University in English and History. In 2014, she received the Kellogg Executive Scholar certificate from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business.
Michael Heidkamp, Director of Leadership Development and Support
Michael Heidkamp rejoined the Cristo Rey Network in July 2016 after serving eight years in Chicago Public Schools both as an assistant principal and as a principal. As Director of Leadership Development and Instruction, Michael works to support the leadership development of Network principals and assistant principals as well as the strengthening of classroom teaching and learning through school visits and the design and implementation of professional development for Network administration and faculty.
Michael began his professional career as a history teacher and football/basketball coach at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL. After two years of teaching and coaching, Mike spent a year in Tacna, Peru working with Habitat for Humanity and teaching English. After returning to Chicago, Michael joined the founding staff of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, where he worked for six years. He continued his work with predominantly first generation, college-bound students as Academic Dean at Josephinum Academy where the school, during his tenure, dramatically increased the percentage of students gaining acceptance into four-year institutions. Michael has also worked as an adjunct professor teaching courses in Social and Cultural Studies in Education at DePaul University. Michael earned a B.A. in History and English from Williams College and he earned an M.A. in Social and Cultural Studies from DePaul University.
Dao Kambara, Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Dao Kambara serves as Director of Curriculum and Instruction, where she is responsible for the development, delivery, and continuous refinement of the Cristo Rey Network educational program.
Dao joined the Cristo Rey team in July 2017 as the Associate Director of Corporate Work Study, bringing nearly twenty years of experience in a range of business and educational leadership positions. She most recently served as the Director of Teaching and Learning at a Chicago-based charter network of elementary schools, LEARN Charter School Network. Prior to joining LEARN, she was a school leader of an elementary school in which she had also taught.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in Political Science and Urban Studies, Dao secured a fellowship to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago for a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning and Policy. She earned her teaching certification through Northwestern University’s NU-TEACH program.
Alejandro Leza, Director of Corporate Work Study
Alejandro Leza joined the Cristo Rey Network in May 2018. As Director of Corporate Work Study, Alejandro provides leadership, vision, and strategic direction for our national Corporate Work Study Program.
Most recently, Alejandro served as World Business Chicago's Program Director of the Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy initiative, providing supplier and workforce development strategy and implementation support to local universities and health systems. Prior to World Business Chicago, Alejandro served as a Market Manager for Schneider Transportation where he led market re-entry efforts in Mexico and managed brokerage services in the Southeast. Previously, he served as a commissioned officer in the United States Navy where he managed operations, maintenance, fleet readiness and compliance activities out of Mayport, Florida.
Alex completed his Master of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago with a concentration in economic development, anchor institutions and urban innovation policy.
James Wilson, Associate Director of Corporate Work Study
James Wilson joined the Cristo Rey Network in May 2018 as the Associate Director of Corporate Work Study (CWSP). In this role, James supports the national office’s work to advance and sustain the quality of the Corporate Work Study Program in all Cristo Rey schools, with a focus on CWSP curriculum development and the integration of students’ corporate and classroom experiences.
From 2004 to 2008, James served as the first CWSP Director for Cristo Rey New York High School, enabling students to earn their college-preparatory education working at some of the most prestigious institutions in that city, where they also found mentors and forged the networks fundamental to their future success.
Following his tenure with Cristo Rey New York, James served as the Director of Faculty Development for Fordham University, where he was charged with fostering and promoting the research and scholarship of faculty from all of Fordham's nine schools and nearly thirty academic disciplines. Most recently, James served as Lead Teacher, Educational Consultant and Administrator for Newport Academy, coordinating the academic and treatment priorities for young people in recovery.
James completed his Dual Juris Doctor and Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.
Brian D. Melton, Senior Vice President for External Relations and General Counsel
Brian Melton joined the Cristo Rey Network in July 2013 as the Director of School Growth. Brian's role has since expanded to include serving as General Counsel of the Network, and in June 2017 he was appointed to the position of Senior Vice President for External Relations. Brian is responsible for oversight of the Network's strategic plan for growth and is involved in major gifts fundraising. Brian also serves as Executive Director of the Cristo Rey Institute, a Public Juridic Person (PJP) of Pontifical Rite, officially Decreed under Canon Law by the Vatican on March 19, 2017. He brings more than thirty years of experience in the legal profession to the position.
Prior to Cristo Rey, Brian was a founding partner of Shackelford, Melton & McKinley, LLP. He served as President of the Dallas Bar Association and Chair of the Dallas Bar Foundation. He has extensive experience in non-profit management and serving as legal counsel to numerous organizations. Brian's background in education includes serving as Chair of the Education Task Force of the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce, Chair of the Dallas Bar Association's annual Community Symposium for Justice in Education, and Board Chair of St. Rita's School in Dallas.
Brian earned a B.A. in History from Spring Hill College, his J.D. Degree from S.M.U. Law School, and his Master's Degree in Spirituality from Loyola University Chicago.
Conor Heaton, Director of School Growth
Conor Heaton joined the Cristo Rey Network in July 2017 as the Director of School Growth. In this role, he is responsible for guiding growth strategy, and overseeing pending feasibility studies and schools in Launch Year.
Prior to Cristo Rey, Conor practiced as a trial attorney in Chicago, where he was active in the Chicago Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, and Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, and was recognized as a ”40 Under Forty” by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company as one of Illinois’s up-and-coming attorneys in 2015, and received the St. Robert Bellarmine Award in 2016 from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. A trial lawyer and longtime Chicagoland resident, Conor has been involved with Cristo Rey in myriad ways, including consulting work at Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep. Additionally, in 2014 Conor founded and organized the Howlett Cup, a mock trial tournament between Chicago’s premier Catholic high schools, including Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School.
Conor earned a B.A. in English from DePaul University, a Masters of Liberal Arts from St. John’s College (Annapolis), and his J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
Lizzie Torres, Associate Director of School Growth and Student Recruitment
Lizzie joined the Cristo Rey Network team in January 2019 to serve as the Associate Director of School Growth and Student Recruitment, where she supports growth strategy, feasibility studies, and recruitment for our schools.
Lizzie comes with almost twenty years of experience working in public high schools, primarily in New York City. She worked in a variety of capacities including teaching, instructional coaching, heading a department, and college counseling. More recently, she served as the Senior Manager of Teaching and Learning at the Chicago-based charter network of elementary schools, LEARN Charter School Network.
After earning her bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of California, Berkeley she taught Special Education in her home state of California before completed her Ed.M in Teaching and Curriculum at Harvard University.
Stephanie Arias, Director of College Initiatives
Stephanie Arias joined the Cristo Rey Network in April 2018. As Director of College Initiatives, Stephanie oversees all Network programs that work to improve the quality of our students’ college match, increase our students’ access to college, and support our graduates’ persistence through college completion.
Prior to joining the Network. Stephanie served as a Cristo Rey Network College Counseling Coach, providing support on college access and persistence to two Network first-year counseling teams.
Most recently, Stephanie served as the Manager of Talent & Special Projects for the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS). Prior to her time at INCS, Stephanie served as Alumni Affairs Program Counselor for Urban Prep Academies, an organization that operates a network of three all-boys public schools, including the country's first charter high school for boys. In this role, and in her previous role as a College Counselor at their Englewood campus, Stephanie offered financial and academic counseling and programming to over 1000 students and alumni.
Stephanie is Ecuadorian and a proud first-generation college graduate. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Psychology Services from Northwestern University and is a proud alum of the Surge Institute.
Marrissa Washington, Associate Director of College Initiatives
Marrissa Washington joined the Cristo Rey Network in July 2018 as the Associate Director of College Initiatives. In her current role, Marrissa supports Network programs that improve the quality of our students’ college match, increase students’ access to college, and support graduates’ persistence through college completion.
Prior to joining Cristo Rey, Marrissa worked with Umoja Student Development Corporation as a Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) specialist working with high school teams on building their capacity within the realm of SEL and creating a robust post-secondary culture. Marrissa attended Columbia School of Social Work to renew her sense of dignity and integrity for how systems and structures control the outcomes for youth. During the completion of her Masters, she worked for Federation for Employment and Guidance Services' Bronx Youth Center (FEGs BYC) and Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) and gained a better understanding of how to implement organizational change from the bottom up. Marrissa previously served as Director of College and Career Counseling at ACE Technical Charter High School, serving students and working closely with faculty to increase college enrollment for students in the Washington Park Neighborhood of Chicago.
Mark Bazin, Chief Technology Officer
Mark Bazin joined the Cristo Rey Network in 2015 as the organization's inaugural Chief Technology Officer. Mark leads development and implementation of major technology projects across the Network, and advises schools on their internal operations. He also develops technology partnerships at a national level, and leads national IT-strategy.
No stranger to Cristo Rey, Mark was the founding Director of Information Technology at Cristo Rey Jesuit in Houston. Mark earned his undergraduate degree in information systems management at St. Mary's University and his master's degree at Carnegie Mellon University. He previously served as the network and desktop systems manager at Strake Jesuit College Prep in Houston and as an information security and computer forensics analyst at Ernst & Young in Chicago.
Meagan Chuckran, Director of Strategy and Accountability
Meagan Chuckran joined the Cristo Rey Network in September 2014 as the Data and Assessment Manager. In her current role as Director of Strategy and Accountability, Meagan is responsible for the collection, analysis, and communication of Cristo Rey Network data as well as supporting schools in developing tools to use data more strategically to improve performance. Prior to joining the Network, she served as Strategy Manager for World Business Chicago, leading initiatives for regional economic growth which brought together public, private, and civic sector leadership around shared priorities such as efficient freight movement and local business investment. She also spent several years working with International Partners in Mission, a Cleveland-based nonprofit which supports projects serving children, women, and youth around the world. Meagan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of the Holy Cross and a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.
Kate Somerfield, Data Program Manager
Prior to joining the Network, Kate worked as Program Operations Manager for One Million Degrees, a non-profit that supports community college students throughout Chicagoland. In that role, she served as the database administrator and primary analyst for program metrics and outcomes reports for external stakeholders. Kate also previously served as a full-time Dominican Volunteer at ICA Cristo Rey in San Francisco. There, she supported a variety of projects including academic support, campus ministry, CWSP commutes, and technology.
Kate earned her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Criminology from Dominican University and her Master of Social Work with a concentration in school social work from University of Illinois at Chicago.
Melissa Kinzler, Director of Finance and Human Resources
Melissa joined the Cristo Rey Network in July 2013. As the Director of Finance and Human Resources, she manages the Network's finance and human resources functions. She is also responsible for various key organizational initiatives, providing project management and implementation support.
Prior to joining the Network, Melissa worked in beauty care brand marketing at Alberto Culver. In that role, she managed several new product launches, supported a major brand relaunch in 30 countries and led cross-functional teams in the management of daily operations for a large skin care business. Melissa had previously worked in strategy and operations consulting at Deloitte where she advised clients on supply chain cost reduction and post merger integration. Melissa is a member of the Leadership Advisory Council at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Pilsen and has completed volunteer consulting work for educational nonprofits. She obtained her BSBA from the Washington University Olin School of Business and her MBA from the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.
Kelly Daigle, Programs and Events Manager
Kelly Daigle joined the Cristo Rey Network in November 2018. As the Programs & Events Manager, Kelly is responsible for providing logistical and material support for Network-wide meetings and professional development convenings, as well as maintaining organizational standards to better serve and support Cristo Rey schools.
Prior to joining Cristo Rey, Kelly worked at ASCM (formerly APICS), the Association for Supply Chain Management. In this role, Kelly managed conferences, executive gatherings, and professional development meetings. Kelly also previously spent time in the Dominican Republic working in the office of Santiago Christian School.
Kelly is originally from Kansas City, where she first learned about the work of Cristo Rey through Cristo Rey Kansas City. She received her bachelor’s degree in Business/Economics and Spanish from Wheaton College. She also holds the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) certification.
Brenda Morris, Senior Director of AdvancementBrenda Morris joined the Cristo Rey Network in August 2009. As the Senior Director of Advancement, she manages the Network's development and marketing communications efforts.
Prior to joining the Network, Brenda was the Assistant Manager of Marketing and Communications for The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired. She oversaw the organization's online communications, community tours/presentations, as well as assisted with media relations and executing special events.
Brenda has previously served on the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) 60th Anniversary Committee and the PRSA Advocacy Committee. Today, she serves on the Board of Advisors Marketing Committee for the Archdiocese of Chicago's Catholic Charities and its Junior Board. Brenda graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a major in marketing communications, concentration in public relations.
Alyse Faour, Advancement Program Manager
Alyse Faour joined the Cristo Rey Network in October 2017 as the Advancement Associate. In her role, Alyse assists with the Network’s fundraising and marketing efforts.
Prior to joining the Network, Alyse worked at Academy Prep Center of Tampa as the Development Coordinator, a private middle school serving economically-disadvantaged students. As Development Coordinator, Alyse was responsible for social media management and assisted with donor cultivation and stewardship. Before Academy Prep, Alyse was teaching English in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Alyse earned a B.A. in Editing, Writing, and Media and Spanish from Florida State University.
Mikayla Lofton, Grants Program Manager
Mikayla Lofton joined the Cristo Rey national office staff in July as the Grants Program Manager. In this role, Mikayla is responsible for overseeing grant proposals for the national office and managing strategic pass-through grants to member schools.
Most recently, Mikayla worked as the Advancement Manger at Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School. Mikayla started with the school in August 2015 as a Jesuit Volunteer through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Following her year of service, she continued on with the school as a full-time staff member. Mikayla was an integral member of a three-person fundraising team responsible for exceeding a $25 million capital campaign goal in just 14 months, raising a total of $30.2 million for the renovation of a downtown office building into a permanent, fully-equipped campus for 525+ students. She spearheaded the New Markets Tax Credit application and delivered a net benefit of $5.1 million for the capital campaign and scholarship endowment fund.
Mikayla hails from St. Paul, Minnesota and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received the Young Nonprofit Professional Network and Georgia Center for Nonprofit's “30 Under 30 Award” in 2018.