Co-Founder & Managing Partner Empire Charter Consultants
Jill is the co-founder and managing partner of Empire Charter Consultants (ECC). Jill provides direct services to charter schools and their boards. Her work includes technical assistance and support services for schools at every stage of their life cycle – from the founding stages to renewal and replication. She directs professional development opportunities focused on schools’ needs, provides proven guidance
navigating any situation, connects schools to movement professionals, and leads ECC’s strategic
planning as a certified strategic facilitator. Jill has extensive experience supporting charter schools,
authorizers, and associations on new school development, strategic planning, and general
Jill has been a respected leader of the national charter school community for nearly 21 years. She
previously served as the Managing Director of the Northeast Charter Schools Network (NECSN), where she oversaw the operations for the Network, the membership program, the new school
incubator program, provided technical services, and delivered in-school support for member
schools in New York and Connecticut. While with NECSN she helped create and launch Elevate Charter Schools, a national charter school services program that provided support to other state charter school associations in relation to school services. She has provided services for charter schools in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, South Carolina, Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Nevada.
She began working with charter schools in 1999 at the Charter Schools Institute of the State University of New York.
Co-Founder & Managing Partner Empire Charter Consultants
Andrea is a founder and partner of Empire Charter Consultants (ECC). Andrea provides technical assistance and support services for schools at every stage of their life cycle - from the initial founding stages to renewal and replication. She leads ECC’s technical writing projects and has helped schools in multiple states write new applications, renewal applications, and grants .
Andrea has nearly twenty years of experience in the charter school movement, and is considered an expert in New York State on charter school policy. She often shares regulatory, policy, and legislative updates and insights with clients. Prior to founding ECC, Andrea worked for eight years at the Northeast Charter Schools Network (NECSN), most recently serving as the New York State Director. Prior to that, she served as the Director of Policy. Andrea led research and developed policy positions, coordinated advocacy events throughout New York State, and supported government relations. She worked directly with member charter schools on technical and compliance issues, and supported schools as they managed critical conversations.
Prior to joining NECSN, Andrea was Research Associate at the Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability, a non-profit education policy think tank, and worked as a policy analyst at the U.S. Government Accountability Office. She served as a founding member and Board Secretary for a charter school in Albany. Andrea earned a Master of Arts in public policy from the University at Albany, and graduated from the University at Buffalo with a degree in anthropology.
Jessica Mokhiber is Communications Director for Empire Charter Consultants. She works closely with charter schools to help tell their stories on social media and in traditional media as well, highlighting their incredible successes and the stellar educations so many of them are providing to families and communities.
Jessica saw first-hand how charter schools have changed a generation of lives for the better during her four-plus years working as the Communications Director for the Northeast Charter Schools Network, where she worked prior to joining Empire Charter Consultants. After assuming that role in 2014, Jessica knew she’d be a life-long advocate for choice in public education. Her work included profiling schools across New York State who are denied access to facilities funding for their buildings, showcasing superstar schools in the movement, and uplifting the voices of educators, parents, and students who are fighting for equality in education. Jessica has helped educators and parents share their perspectives in a range of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, New York Daily News, Amsterdam News, Albany Times-Union, Buffalo News, and Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Prior to her work in the charter school movement, Jessica worked for the New York State Senate Majority Press Office. She also spent five years working as a reporter and a producer for a local Albany-based Time Warner Cable News affiliate. She attended Siena College where she double majored in English and Political Science, and earned her Master’s degree from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
Data and Analytics Research Consultant
Wendy Diamante is the data analytics and research consultant at Empire Charter Consultants. Wendy provides expert data analysis, insight, and research to ECC and its member schools through a firm she founded this year with her husband, The Diamante Group. Wendy is known for her meticulous attention to detail and her dogged research. Her data informs instruction for member schools, and highlights trends in education. Wendy has a deep knowledge of charter schools and education policy, as she has worked with charters for more than a decade, the entirety of her career. She has also worked with a number of prestigious organizations before joining ECC.
Prior to joining ECC, Wendy worked for several years for the Northeast Charter Schools Network as the Director of Data and Research where she provided direct data services to schools and managed the association’s data systems. She also worked as the Quality Assurance Coordinator for the Colorado Charter School Institute where she oversaw the legal and organizational compliance of 30 charter schools, and as a Policy Fellow for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) where she helped implement a charter school Performance Framework in the NJ Department of Education’s Office of Charter Schools. Her insight and analysis has informed schools and education support organizations in many states including New York, Connecticut, Colorado, and New Jersey.
Wendy earned her Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and Management from SUNY Albany and holds a Black Belt in Body Mind Systems where she trains in Kung Fu, Bagwa and Tai Chi.
Charter School Evaluator
Natasha M. Howard, PhD, is passionate about ensuring access to great schools for all families and understands that expanded choice is meaningless without effective, sustainable supports and accountability at all levels. It's with this mindset that she has partnered with ECC to serve as their member schools' Charter School Evaluator.
Dr. Howard supports program and process improvement strategies in schools and authorizing agencies across the U.S. Her areas of expertise include: senior leadership coaching, board governance, use of assessment data, and organizational capacity. She has reviewed more than 200 proposals for new district and charter schools in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Tennessee, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. She has also led teams of reviewers on over 150 school evaluations focused on strength of academic model, services for at-risk students, teacher and leader evaluation processes, and effective oversight. Dr. Howard has served as a leadership development coach for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers’ Leaders Program.
Prior to becoming an independent consultant, she served as the Managing Director of Program at the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, the largest university-based authorizer in the U.S. Responsible for both the programmatic and strategic work related to the ongoing evaluation of SUNY authorized charter schools, Dr. Howard led the development of Institute practices and protocols for school evaluations and high stakes renewal decision-making. Prior to this, she launched a capacity-building initiative for nonprofit organizations preparing to support new schools while serving as Senior Director for Partner Relations in the New York City Department of Education’s portfolio office where she also reviewed applications for new district and charter schools. Her research background includes studies of anti-bullying programs as well as teacher efficacy and expectation.
Having completed undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina, Dr. Howard remains a loyal Tar Heel. She earned her doctorate (Ph.D., Counseling Psychology) from the University of Georgia where she became a rabid Bulldog football fan before completing a fellowship in Clinical-Community Psychology at Yale University. She also holds a Master of Arts from Boston College.