Meet the Staff
Dr. David Lemmel, Director
David Lemmel is the Director of the Urban Scholars Program. His areas of expertise include alternative education policy, urban education reform, small high school development and replication, and teacher training. In addition to administrative experience, David brings with him experience in research and college- and graduate-level teaching. His publications and presentations reflect his interest in minority student achievement and in elevating youth perspectives in discussions of school reform. David earned his B.A. in American Studies at Bard College in New York and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles and did post-doctoral work at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), where he also served as faculty lecturer and research fellow on Race, Culture, and Education. In his most recent professional position, David's responsibilities included research analysis, evaluation, consultation, and conference facilitation for The BERC Group, LLC. Prior to this, David served as National Director, then Director of Data and Evaluation, for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Alternative High School Initiative. There, he cultivated a culture of data-driven decision making, created tools to effectively use data to enhance student and school achievement, and developed a set of best practices for implementing small, alternative high schools.
Jessica Stephens, Assistant Director
Jessica Stephens is the Assistant Director of the Urban Scholars Program. She comes to the Boston area after relocating from Pennsylvania. Prior to relocating to Massachusetts, Jessica served as a vice principal in a small urban charter school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Before stepping into administration, she was the middle school social studies and language arts teacher. Jessica moved to Boston to begin her doctoral studies in Leadership in Urban Schools here at UMass Boston. She also holds a B.S in Elementary Education and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership.
Arnold Chamanlal, High School Coordinator
Arnold Chamanlal is the only member of the Urban Scholars staff who is both a graduate of the Urban Scholars Program and The University of Massachusetts at Boston. He currently holds an undergraduate degree in English and History, a Master’s degree in Education, a Certificate of Dispute Resolution, and is expected to complete is doctoral degree in the Leadership in Urban Schools Program by 2015. For the past eighteen years, Arnold has been an advocate for peace and justice, substance abuse prevention, and educational improvement/attainment in low socio-economic and urban communities throughout Boston. His efforts have enabled him to travel to over sixteen states around the country and tour South Africa, all in the name of education and social improvement.
Akunna Rosser, Recruiter & College Advisor
Akunna Rosser joined the Urban Scholars Staff in March 2010. Akunna is a graduate of Clark University (Worcester, MA) with a BA in English. After graduating, Akunna returned to his hometown, Queens, New York, to teach 6th grade English and Reading at Allen Christian School (Jamaica, NY). Three years later, he would return to Worcester, MA to work with Clark University & Y.O.U. Inc.'s Upward Bound Program and coach basketball at Quinsigamond Community College. Akunna enjoys spending time with his family, reading, artwork, sports, and working with youth.
Stephanie Hicks-Williams, Office Manager
Stephanie Hicks-Williams is a native of Boston, Massachusetts. She joined the Urban Scholars team of staff in July of 2007. Her desire to improve the quality of life in her environment resulted in over 15 years of community service as a political operative and her eventual enrollment in the College of Public and Community Service (CPCS) here at UMASS Boston. A recent graduate of CPCS, Stephanie majored in Legal Education with a concentration in Non-Profit Management. Stephanie serves as the Office Manger for Urban Scholars. She is a wife and mother of 2 and enjoys spending her free time with her family.