Who we are

Excellent Schools PA was founded on the belief that every student, regardless of their race or socioeconomic status, has the right to a high-quality education, that equips them with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful adults.

We are motivated by the urgency of knowing that every day we do not advocate for change in our schools is another day lost for a student trapped in a failing school. We believe that a high-quality education can be delivered to students in many forms and that excellent schools exist in all sectors.

We believe in the power of exceptional educators to change the lives of their students, and the unparalleled impact an engaged parent can have on improving educational outcomes for their children and community.

Meet our team

Stephen DeMaura

Executive Director

Fueled by a deep belief in the limitless potential and unique value of every child, Steve joined Excellent Schools PA to represent the interests of students in our public education system which often prioritizes the best interests of adults over children. Steve brings a proven track record of issue advocacy to PA’s education reform movement. His previous work experience includes Executive Director of Carly for America, President of Americans for Job Security, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Republican Party and, most recently, a Partner at New Troy Strategies.

Steve received his bachelor’s degree from American University, a masters in Public Management from Johns Hopkins University, and earned his MBA from Plymouth State University. Steve resides in Bucks County with his wife, two children and their two family pets.

David Hardy

Senior Advisor

Dave is an established leader in Philadelphia’s education community and one of the few people who both “talks-the-talk” and “walks-the-walk” in their dedication to students. Dave is the former CEO and Co-Founder of Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia charter school, which opened it’s doors in 2007. Boys’ Latin was PA’s first and only single-gender charter school and has a student body that is 98 percent African-American and 74 percent economically disadvantaged. In its first four graduating classes, Boys’ Latin sent 85 percent of its graduates to postsecondary institutions, 80 percent of which were 4-year colleges.

In addition to Boys’ Latin, Dave is a founding board member of the Philadelphia School Partnership and a former board member of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. He currently serves on the boards of the Center for Education Reform and the North Carolina Outward Bound School.

Dave lives in Philadelphia with his wife of 30 years, Zina Oliver-Hardy, and has two adult sons.

Jessica Hickernell

Director of Public Affairs & Policy

Jessica received a crash-course into the complexity of PA’s education landscape when she accepted a position at the PA Department of Education right out of college. Working in the Press Office of the Department afforded Jessica an opportunity to see how every aspect of a student’s educational experience, from preschool to postsecondary, is literally a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity but our public education system is striping that opportunity from many students trapped in failing schools.

Prior to joining Excellent Schools PA, Jessica was the Public Affairs Manager at PennCAN, a statewide nonprofit advocating for high-quality schools.

Jessica earned her bachelor’s degree from Quinnipiac University and during that time she worked at the University’s highly respected polling institute. She resides in Adams County with her husband, Jordan.

Michael Imburgia

Director of Research, Data & Analytics

Mike began his career in education working to eliminate barriers for children with Autism and later transitioned to teaching high school-aged children diagnosed with Severe Emotional Disturbances. After more than five years working directly with students, Mike joined the School District of Philadelphia’s administrative team to assist with the evaluating the success of programs aimed at helping students succeed. Prior to Excellent Schools PA, Mike worked in the charter sector providing schools with data analysis to inform and shape student-specific supports and curriculums.

Mike received his bachelor’s degree from Warren Wilson College and earned his Master of Education and Human Development from George Washington University. Outside of work, Mike’s two daughters keep him and his wife busy juggling their dance and school schedules. In his rare free time, Mike enjoys competing in Tough Mudders and playing soccer.

Board of Directors

Chris Bravacos

President & CEO, Bravo Group

Annabelle Canning

Partner, Capitol Tax Partners

Tom Caramanico

President, McCormick Taylor, Inc.

Mark Gleason

ex officio
Executive Director, Philadelphia School Partnership

Evie McNiff

Founder, Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia

Sharif El-Mekki

Principal, Mastery Charter School - Shoemaker

Janine Yass

Co-Founder, Boys’ Latin Charter School

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