The Founding Team

Meet the Team

Dr. Jason Mellen

Director of Finance & Operations

Jason Mellen has experience in the charter school sector and worked as the Chief Operating Officer of Vertus Charter High School.  At Vertus he led the operations of the school that tripled in size, relocated to a new state of the art facility, and developed extensive systems and routines.  Mr. Mellen also served for five years on the Board of Trustees at Urban Choice Charter School, three years as Board Treasurer. On the Urban Choice board, he had a major role in steering the organization’s focus to student outcomes, strategically spending funds, and hiring a new CEO.  Jason also has helped lead a successful turnaround and sale of a family business, consulted with small business owners to expand their business, lead adult education programs, and innovation research projects. Mr. Mellen has a degree in Secondary English Education and a Master’s degree in International Education focusing on education finance and policy.  He is a current doctoral candidate in St. John Fisher’s Executive Leadership program.

Jackie Sylvain, LMSW

Wellness Specialist

Ms. Sylvain hails from Brooklyn NY with over 11 years of Social Work experience in child welfare, mental health, and education. She comes with a wide range of knowledge and understanding for the importance of girls and women empowerment for women of color. She is the creator and founder of Purpose Driven Women, (PDW) a women’s empowerment group that provides women a voice to share and collaborate their common experiences as they navigate everyday issues. She also understands the need for Social-Emotional Learning as it pertains to Restorative Pedagogy.

Her role as the founding Wellness Specialist at Girls Global Academy will support students and teachers by providing classroom and school-wide wellness-based behavioral management support strategies through the use of Restorative Justice, Responsive Classroom, and Social-Emotional Learning.

Ms. Sylvain earned her BS in Human Services at Empire State College with a major in Child Welfare. She also attained her MSW from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College.

Dr. Stacie LeSure

Engineering Teacher

Prior to joining GGA, Dr. LeSure served as a Senior Researcher and Program Director in the College of Engineering at Howard University. At Howard, she managed research projects focused on the academic perceptions and persistence of students who are traditionally under represented in STEM careers. She was also the director of a research abroad program for STEM students.

Dr. LeSure has served as a researcher at the American Association of University Women AAUW and the American Society for Engineering Education. She has over a decade of experience working as an engineer at major corporations and national laboratories across the United States.

Dr. LeSure is passionate about working on initiatives that strive for equity and inclusion in the engineering workforce. She is dedicated to ensuring college readiness for students from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in engineering and equipping these students with the tools they need to excel in the profession. She is the founder and Executive Director of Engineers for Equity (E4E)- a mission-driven organization focused on fostering equity and inclusion in engineering. Dr. LeSure is a self-care and wellness coach and is currently studying to become a meditation teacher.

Dr. LeSure earned a BS in Physics from Spelman College; A MS in Materials

Lydia Kang

English Teacher

Ms. Kang comes from Howard County Public Schools in Maryland, where she taught 9th and 11th grade English for four years. She attained her Master’s in Teaching from Notre Dame of Maryland University and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from UMBC. Outside the classroom, Ms. Kang has been an assistant coach for her previous school’s Girls Varsity Soccer program as well as a Student Council advisor. Having been an IB Diploma student herself, Ms. Kang has unwavering faith in the distinctive IB approach when it comes to raising the whole child. Her objective in teaching is to help students become confident articulators through speech and writing as they navigate through a competitive professional and academic world.

Nadia McCrimmon

Physical Education Teacher & Athletic Coordinator

Ms. Jefferies, a native of Garner, N.C., joins the Girls Global Academy founding staff after serving as the Head Softball Coach at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC. Prior to working at Shaw University, she taught high school physical education and health while serving as the head softball and volleyball coach.

Ms. Jefferies, a former collegiate athlete, started working in the school setting after graduating from North Carolina Central University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science concentrating in Physical Education K-12. Her objective in teaching is to curate a safe environment for girls to have a voice, be informed, and empower them to make mental, social, emotional, and physical decisions that will produce a healthy lifestyle. In her free time, you can find Ms. Jefferies on the tennis court or conducting softball lessons!

Danika Robison

Social Studies & World History Teacher

Ms. Robison, originally from South Burlington, Vermont, joins Girls Global Academy as the founding Social Studies/World History teacher. She recently served as the lead teacher for The Traveling School, an all-girls semester high school, where she taught history and global studies in 8 different countries throughout South America and Southern Africa. She earned her Master of Public Administration with a specialization in conflict resolution and social justice from Middlebury Institute of International Studies and graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in international affairs and government from Skidmore College. Ms. Robison’s goal as an educator is to support learners in gaining a deeper understanding of themselves, humanity and society today. In her free time, you can find her seeking trails for running, biking or skiing.

Shaday Edwards

Math Teacher

Shaday Edwards worked as a Math Teacher for the City of New York before joining Girls Global Academy. She has experience teaching 9th, 11th, and 12th grade in the areas of Algebra I, Algebra II, Statistics and Probability, and Financial Literacy. Ms. Edwards earned her B.S in Chemistry with a minor in Math from St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. During her undergraduate studies, she conducted research at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory on the fabrication of nano radiation sensors under the supervision of Engineering Physicists. Also, Ms. Edwards previously worked in the Finance Dept at NYU Medical Center before pursuing her Master of Art in Teaching at Relay Graduate School of Education. In her previous school, Ms. Edwards served as the Advisor for the Student Government and co-chair for the Student Life Committee. She is a dedicated Educator whose goal is to inspire young people to love and excel in mathematics so that they can have access to the STEM field

Ashley Olt

Business Teacher

Ashley Olt calls Washington, DC home, having moved to the District fourteen years ago for undergraduate studies at The George Washington University. After graduating from GWU with a major in American Studies and secondary focus in Business Administration, Ms. Olt began her career in education at KIPP DC: LEAP Academy. Ms. Olt earned her Master of Art in Teaching with a focus on curriculum design and instruction from American University in 2013, and has since worked in out of school time programming operations and school consulting. Ms. Olt’s goal as an educator and teacher of Wealth Management is to empower young women with the financial literacy skills needed for life, as well as to empower her students with the goal-setting and decision making skills that will serve as a foundation in their academic and professional careers.

Julie Shepperson

Admissions Coordination

Julie brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Admissions Coordinator position. Coming from Two Rivers PCS, where she served as the Registrar for 10 years, she was responsible for managing the enrollment process and records for over 900 students, coordinating community outreach and open house events, developing school and community partnerships, and supporting the opening of an additional campus in 2015 as it pertains to student enrollment.

Julie enjoys and has experience with the interview process, training new hires and coordinating events. Her organizational skills, attention to detail, and her ability to develop and maintain good and professional working relationships ensure successful outcomes for everyone involved.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Julie is also a licensed Minister. Serving in Ministry with her husband as Co-Pastor, Julie mentors women, speaks at retreats and seminars and writes articles instructing people on how to live disciplined and authentically true to who they are created to be as they journey through life. She is passionate about helping others learn how to apply positive actions and solutions to negative situations.

Julie is the business owner of JDawn LLC, a God Inspired Product business and the Founder of Julie Dawn Ministries. When she is not working or serving in ministry, Julie enjoys spending quality time with family and friends, roller skating, playing sports, reading and writing.

Judy Potter

Science Teacher

Girls Global Academy is the place I want to be and the community I want to be a part of. My name is Judy Potter. Massachusetts is my home state and where my family lives. I grew up in Massachusetts in a family of 13. Each and every family member is a part of me.

Once deciding upon helping others find their learning confidence, I have done so around the world. Being part of learning communities in Cyprus, Jordan, Ivory Coast, Indonesia, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Madagascar, Singapore as well as the US has taught me just how similar we all are!

The focus has always been on the learners I work with and how I can help them develop. I strongly believe that the learning environment should blend well with the home environment. Modelling the little things such as what to do when the struggle to express or develop understanding is just a bit too much, how to utilize tools to assist in maintaining focus, integrating concepts, and how to build executive functioning skills in order to reach goals are a few of the priorities in my work.

Students soon see and experience our environment as a true work room in which people are welcome to come join, ask questions, make suggestions and more. We work as a team in most if not all respects.

Lavada Del Conte

SPED Teacher

Prior to joining GGA, Ms. Del Conte worked for Fairfax County Public Schools in Annandale, VA ( 1997 – 2008) as a Special Education teacher. Ms. Del Conte comes with extensive experience working with children and adults with disabilities. From 1990- 1995 she was a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Fairfax County. She comes originally from Western New York where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Master’s Degree in Public Administration specializing in Geriatric Care at the State University of Brockport, NY. In May 2000, Ms. Del Conte received her Master’s Degree in Special Education form George Mason University where she graduated with honors.

Ms. Del Conte has extensive experience in co-teaching models, curriculum development, Educational Testing for Disabilities, Remediation Skills for History and Science and Advocacy for Special Needs Families. Her co-teaching/teacher’s model for Chemistry is utilized by all Fairfax County Science Teachers. In 2004 she was nominated to represent the State of Virginia in the Annenberg Project where she worked with the Standards of Learning Committee incorporating Geography Standards for inclusive teaching in US History.

In 2019 Ms. Del Conte received the Top Educator Award for her dedication, achievements and leadership in special education. In 2020 Ms. Del Conte was awarded the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in Special Education. Ms. Del Conte biography can be found in the Marquis Who’s Who Millennium Magazine which honors legacies of professionals around the World.

Ms. Del Conte’s goal is to work with students in developing their learning styles and encouraging them to never give up their dreams.

Cynthia Pope

Operations Associate

My name is Cynthia Pope, Operations Associate with Girls Global Academy. I am a native Washingtonian and a product of DCPS education. I have worked in Operations in DC Charter Schools for 10 years. I found my love of working in the school system when my children began school. I was an avid volunteer, making myself available whenever the school needed me. Through volunteering I rekindled my love for drawing, painting, and anything arts and crafts is my form of meditation. I also feel I was born to be a nurturer and enjoy helping others. I am currently hosting the Art Club at Girls Global allowing our students to find their love for the arts and giving space for them to find freedom of expression.

Jaymes Shorter

SPED Paraprofessional

Mr. Shorter was born in Durham, North Carolina but has lived in the Washington DC Metro area since the age of three. A Graduate of Parkdale High School in Riverdale Maryland. Later, he attended the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and graduated from Stratford University in Falls Church, Virginia majoring in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management. In 2010, Mr. Shorter was called into the field of Special Education in Prince George’s County Public Schools where he taught Girls Global Academy is the place I want to be and the community I want to be a part of. My name is Judy Potter. Massachusetts is my home state and where my family lives. I grew up in Massachusetts in a family of 13. Each and every family member is a part of me.

Once deciding upon helping others find their learning confidence, I have done so around the world. Being part of learning communities in Cyprus, Jordan, Ivory Coast, Indonesia, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Madagascar, Singapore as well as the US has taught me just how similar we all are!

The focus has always been on the learners I work with and how I can help them develop. I strongly believe that the learning environment should blend well with the home environment. Modelling the little things such as what to do when the struggle to express or develop understanding is just a bit too much, how to utilize tools to assist in maintaining focus, integrating concepts, and how to build executive functioning skills in order to reach goals are a few of the priorities in my work.

Students soon see and experience our environment as a true work room in which people are welcome to come join, ask questions, make suggestions and more. We work as a team in most if not all respects. for 6 years and later in Washington DC at various public charter schools. Mr. Shorter sees every opportunity to provide students with guidance, education and an opportunity to achieve. In his free time, Mr. Shorter goes fishing, enjoys time with family and friends, and is a musician in the local DC music scene.