Staff

Van Schoales Chief Executive Officer

Van Schoales is the Chief Executive Officer of A+ Denver. Most recently, he served as the Executive Director of Education Reform Now (ERN), a national education policy and advocacy non-profit organization closely affiliated with Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). Prior to leading ERN, Mr. Schoales was the Education Program Officer at the Piton Foundation where he oversaw a $3 million portfolio of investments related to state policy, district reform and new school development. During his tenure, Piton was an early investor in Teach for America-Colorado, Denver's New Schools Office, Stand For Children, and many of the highest performing charter school networks in Denver. Mr. Schoales co-founded Hot Lunch, an ongoing speaker series that continues to bring thought leaders to Colorado for an audience with influential policy-makers. He was instrumental in founding EdNews Colorado, A+ Denver, DFER-Colorado and Get Smart Schools. An effective policy advocate, Mr. Schoales has played a key role in school board elections and in the passage of legislation related to school autonomy, teacher evaluations and new data collection of high school graduation rates. Mr. Schoales has served as the interim President of the Colorado Children's Campaign, and the Vice President of Education at the Colorado Small Schools Initiative, where he oversaw an $8 million Gates investment to turn around low performing schools and invest in new schools, including the (then conceptual) Denver School of Science and Technology. Prior to his work in Denver, Mr. Schoales founded the Bay Area Coalition of Equitable Schools, a coalition that now includes hundreds of schools and more than two dozen affiliate centers. Mr. Schoales started his career teaching high school science, leading to his tenure as a school principal and the founding school leader of one of Denver's highest performing charter schools (The Odyssey School) before his entry into advocacy work.

Much of Mr. Schoales's work has centered around research and analysis, and public outreach. He has authored and edited a variety of papers on school choice, school accountability, student achievement, school design, state policy and other education reform topics. He is regularly quoted in education news stories and can be found in The Denver Post, NBC, National Public Radio, EdNewsColorado, Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, Education Week, Univision and Fox News. Mr. Schoales earned a B.S. from the University of California - Santa Cruz, M. S. from Brown University, M.A. from San Francisco State University, and an M.A. from Stanford University.

Sari Levy Senior Advisor

Sari Levy joins A+ Denver as a Senior Advisor. She also works closely with Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) and has consulted with Education Reform Now, Colorado Legacy Foundation, Charter School Growth Fund and the Travis Manion Foundation. Previously, she was the Associate Director of Get Smart Schools (GSS). Before joining GSS, Sari worked for the Piton Foundation and the Colorado Children's Campaign, and as Deputy Press Secretary for the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. 

She earned her M.B.A. in 2007 from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Trinity University. In her spare time, Sari loves to ski, paint, read and think up unique ways to (humanely) capture the mice living in her garage.

Elizabeth Platz Director of Operations

Elizabeth is the Director of Operations at A+ Denver and will be focused on bringing structure and systems to the organization. She is familiar with the Denver education reform landscape and has become passionate about working to improve education opportunities and student achievement through reform.

She previously worked as a Project Manager with Get Smart Schools through the AmeriCorps VISTA program where her main focus was coordinating a coalition effort to unify the enrollment system in DPS. She also worked closely with various advocacy and collaborative initiatives that GSS pursued such as the District-Charter compact.

Elizabeth graduated from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in Political Science and International Studies.  She is currently attending UC-Denver, School of Public Affairs in the Masters of Public Administration program and expects to graduate in December 2013.  Liz previously worked for the State of Wisconsin and for the University of Wisconsin. In her free time she enjoys camping, hiking, biking and walks with her dog.

Aimee Martinez Assistant Director of Development

As the Assistant Director of Development, Aimee manages grants and contributes to research. She graduated from Seattle University with a degree in Business Economics and a minor in Finance.

While in school, she worked at several non-profit organizations, including Washington C.A.S.H, a microloan and financial education organization, where she helped with grant research and analyzing metrics. She also worked as a New Student Mentor, helping freshmen business students navigate their first year of college.

Throughout her work, she has become aware of education’s role in economic development and the importance of quality education on a global scale. She is excited to be a part of the A+ Denver team and to help raise awareness about education reform in her hometown.  When she is not working, she enjoys going to local concerts, reading, and doing art projects.

Johannes Dreisbach Program Associate

Johannes serves as an AmeriCorps VISTA for A+ Denver.  As the Program Associate he will manage data and the organization’s website, help with grant writing, and contribute to research efforts.  He graduated from the University of Michigan in April 2012 with degrees in Political Science and Creative Writing.

After graduating, he interned with two environmental nonprofits, working in communications with American Rivers in Washington, D.C. and in grassroots organizing with Food & Water Watch in Detroit.  These internships provided him with valuable work experience and helped him hone his writing, editing, and research abilities.

Johannes is excited to be working with A+ Denver.  In his free time, he likes to listen to music, swim, play and watch basketball, and hike.