Giving PEP: Mayor Adams names six new members of Panel for Educational Policy

Mayor Eric Adams unveiling expansion of early childhood education program for students with disabilities. Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022.
Photo courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Eric Adams appointed on Thursday six new educational policy members to the Panel for Educational Policy: Phoebe-Sade Arnold, Lilly Chan, Khari Edwards, Anita Garcia, Anthony Giordano, and Michelle Joseph.

As part of the mayor’s administration responsible for New York City’s public schools, they will be collaborating with New Yorkers on decisions impacting the city’s schools and students. Mayor-appointed members will serve terms as long as Adams mayoralty.

Four additional members were elected by Community Education Council presidents: Naveed Hasan, Jessamyn Lee, Thomas Sheppard, and Ephraim Zakry.

The panel — which now has 23 voting members is responsible for approving standards, policies, and objectives directly related to educational achievement and instruction, as well as the chancellor’s regulations — also considers significant changes in school utilization, budgetary items, and department contracts, according to City Hall.

“Parental and community engagement is an essential component of our shared vision for education in New York City, and that is why we’re excited to begin what we know will be an effective and fruitful partnership with the Panel for Educational Policy members announced today,” Adams said. “If we do not educate, we incarcerate, and so this panel will be vital in helping to ensure our young people have every tool at their disposal to succeed in life.”

The six members will join active members Tazin Azad, Aaron Bogad, Geneal Chacon, Marjorie Dienstag, Gregory Faulkner, Sheree Gibson, Angela Green, Maria Kenley, Alan Ong, Kaliris Salas-Ramirez, Maisha Sapp, Gladys Ward, and Lara Lai.  

 “These appointments will bring to the panel a diverse set of experiences from parents, community advocates, and lifelong educators who will provide invaluable perspective as we continue to reimagine our schools,” said New York City Department of Education Chancellor David C. Banks. 

Last June, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed the state’s mayoral control bill into law, increasing the total number of PEP voting members from 15 to 23 — including 13 members appointed by the mayor, five members appointed by the borough presidents, and four members elected by CEC presidents.

Below are the new mayor-elected PEP members:

Phoebe-Sade Arnold is currently the director of community affairs at Columbia University. Arnold previously worked at the Abyssinian Baptist Church and as an instructor at the College of New Rochelle. Arnold received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from SUNY Old Westbury and her Master of Public Administration from Baruch College.

Lilly Chan is the parent of two English Language Learner scholars in New York City public schools. Chan currently serves as a brand manager for Revlon. Previously, Chan served on her district’s Community Education Council. She is a graduate of Baruch College.

Khari Edwards is currently the head of corporate relations at Ayr Wellness. Edwards previously worked at Brookdale University Hospital and served in former Governor David Paterson’s office. Edwards attended Midwood High School in Brooklyn and Thomas Edison University. Edwards is the parent of three scholars. 

Anita Garcia is a retired Principal of PS 329 on Coney Island. Garcia started her career as an English teacher at IS 293 in 1971 and became an assistant principal in 1989. Garcia is a graduate from Long Island University and Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Anthony Giordano currently serves as a managing partner and founder of Legacy Partners USA, a business development and marketing firm with an extensive history in the financial industry. Giordano is a graduate of Brooklyn College. 

Michelle Joseph is the parent of a New York City public school student. She previously worked as a per session assistant principal at D79 and as the former senior manager at Innovation Zone. Joseph holds a Master of Education from Touro University and a Bachelor of Arts from SUNY Cortland.

Below are the CEC-elected members:

Naveed Hasan is a parent of a New York City public school students. His family immigrated to New York City in the early 1980s and he attended various public schools in District 21 in Brooklyn. Hasan earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Macroeconomics and a Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Vision from Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. He has served on his PA/PTA executive board, school leadership team, community education council, and the digital learning advisory committee.

Jessamyn Lee is a parent of two New York City public school students. From 2000 to 2008, she served as an English as a new language teacher in Districts 3 and 4, exclusively in Title 1 Dual Language and bilingual school communities. She has also served on her PA/PTA executive board, school leadership, and district leadership teams.

Thomas Sheppard is a proud father to six children, three of whom attend public schools in the Bronx. He is a product of New York City public schools himself, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, a longtime parent leader, and an education advocate.

Ephraim Zakry is a multiethnic immigrant, son of a single mother, and learned English as a fourth language. He is also a parent of two students attending New York City public schools. He graduated from Forest Hills High School in Queens, obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Math and Computer Science from Columbia University, and holds a graduate degree in Quantitative Finance from New York University. Zakry has served as co-chair of both the Citywide Council on High Schools President’s Council and Capital Plan Committee, member of his PA/PTA executive board, school leadership, and district leadership team.