The VentureSchool leadership team is committed to unlocking doors for high school students. Helping students to open those doors by making their own choices is both a privilege and a passion for our staff. We fundamentally believe that high school students have more power, promise, and potential than many give them credit for. VentureSchool is the vehicle that will give young people the space, time, and support to create positive change in their community. Get to know the members of our team below:
FOUNDING HEAD OF SCHOOL
Marvin English is the Founding Head of School at VentureSchool Detroit. Prior to his role at VentureSchool, Marvin was the Founding School Principal at EAGLE College Prep Fox Park Charter School in St. Louis, Missouri and a founding leader of Brilla College Prep Charter School in the South Bronx of New York City. Marvin also served as the Founding Director of Curriculum and Instruction for a nonprofit organization that worked in conjunction with Detroit Public Schools. In association with his school leadership roles, Marvin was selected to participate in the highly distinguished Ryan Fellowship school principal training and was also a participant in the Building Excellent Schools LENS Program. His experience as an educator began at a Catholic school in the Chicago suburbs and went on to include instructional roles at Achievement First Charter School in Brooklyn, New York and at Lloyd Bond Charter School on the far Southside of Chicago. Marvin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Michigan and Master’s in Education from DePaul University. Additionally, Marvin received leadership training through the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Drew Schantz is Founder and Executive Director of VentureSchool, and a firm believer in the power of crazy ideas. He is passionate about giving young people the opportunity to develop their passions and unleash their full potential through entrepreneurship. Drew has extensive expertise in public relations and digital communications, community engagement, coalition-building, and youth development through work with several nonprofit organizations in the Washington, D.C. area, including Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and DC Public Schools. As a Michigan native, Drew is excited to bring VentureSchool to Detroit and empower the next generation of leaders and innovators to shape the future of the Motor City. When he's not thinking about what's next for VentureSchool, you can find Drew in the kitchen whipping up his latest culinary creation, taking a walk to admire Detroit's architectural wonders, or watching an old school thriller film. Drew holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan and is currently a master's candidate in the Education Entrepreneurship program at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.
Nicole Felice Lopez
Nicole Felice Lopez is a founding member of the VentureSchool team and serves as Director of Academic Innovation. She believes that the future of education lies in personalized, flexible learning environments that reflect the needs and desires of the communities they serve. Nicole’s experience working with homeless and transient youth at The Huckleberry House Youth Shelter of Columbus as well as with parents and caregivers moving from welfare to work at the YWCA Child Care Partnerships of Pittsburgh has deeply ingrained her conviction that we must first ask what communities want and then build together for a new future.
Nicole is proud to have served communities across California as a public school ELA and Theatre Arts teacher. Most recently, Nicole served as a Site Manager for Duquesne University’s Career Literacy for African American Youth program and Senior Implementation Manager for the Kaplan K12 Learning Services partnership with Pittsburgh Public Schools.
As a Pittsburgh native, Nicole grew up witnessing the power of the rebirth of the Steel City she will always call home. She is honored to now have the opportunity to bring her experience to the Motor City as it evolves and determines its own path to a new future. Nicole currently lives with her husband and three children. When she isn’t mapping out new paths for student learning, she is chasing three busy boys and trying to carve out moments for road trips. Nicole holds a B.A. in theatre arts from The Ohio State University and an M.S.Ed. in Education Entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.
COLLABORATORS & SUPPORTERS
Alyssa Gill, Curriculum Designer
Alyssa Gill serves as a Curriculum Designer for VentureSchool, specifically focused on supporting the leadership team in developing, piloting, and evaluating VentureLab programming. She is passionate about work that allows her to play a role in bolstering emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems and supporting entrepreneurs who are diverse in their identities and life experiences. Alyssa is currently a Senior Programs Associate with Venture for America (VFA), an entrepreneurship fellowship for recent college graduates. Prior to joining the VFA team, Alyssa was a Business Development Associate with gener8tor, a top 16, national accelerator that invests in high-growth startups. Before moving to Detroit, Alyssa lived and worked in Providence, Rhode Island as a VFA Fellow. Alyssa worked as the Manager, School Partnerships with the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education (NAATE), where she forged and nurtured relationships with educators and stakeholders across the education sector in Cincinnati, Memphis, Philadelphia, and other cities across the country.
Board of Directors
Brandon Brice, Chair
Regarded for his energetic, innovative, and conservative solutions driven leadership in politics and urban policy, Brandon Brice is a fighter for the inner-city. Brandon attributes his commitment to public service to his parents who instilled in him the importance of a quality education, hard work, dedication and service to others. Brandon has stayed true to these virtues by earning a Bachelor's in Business Administration in Business Management from Howard University, a Masters of Science in Global Affairs from Rutgers University and is completing his Master's in Business Administration from the University of Detroit-Mercy. Brandon began his career as a summer fellow with the United Nations in New York City and as an Associate with National Urban League’s Economic Opportunity Institute, fighting for financial literacy throughout the New York. Due to his determination and concern for fiscal responsibility, Brandon served as a former Republican Judicial Delegate and local State Committee member, while working on several political campaigns. In less than two years Brandon was selected to serve as the former Director of Education and African American Affairs for New Jersey Governor Chris J. Christie and later served as an Gubernatorial appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in the office of Real Estate and Financial Services. Brandon also served as a Director of Strategic Partnerships for Veterans Empowerment Organization of Georgia, a veterans advocacy group in Atlanta.
Steven Elam began his professional teaching career as a substitute teacher at a middle school in Southwest Detroit and has since held a variety of teaching and administrative positions at schools in St. Louis, Washington, D.C. and Detroit. He earned his teaching certification from Saginaw Valley State University, a Master of Secondary Educational Administration from Missouri Baptist University, and Master of Education in Public School Building Leadership from the Teachers College at Columbia University. Steven is also a Certified Restorative Practices trainer with the International Institute of Restorative Practices. He and his wife, Carmen, are full-fledged card-carrying members of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church. Steven currently works as an educational consultant where he provides his expertise in strategic planning for academic success, cultural competency building for the classroom and school, and restorative practices training for schools and community healing.
Antoine Glenn, Secretary
As a native Detroiter, Antoine Glenn has always been motivated by influencing the young minds of his community. Antoine earned his B.A. in business administration with a concentration in Management from Siena Heights University. He holds certifications in Network Systems Support (National Institute of Technology), Certified Contingent Worker Services (Strategic Staffing Analysts), and is certified as a Six Sigma Black Belt (Lawrence Technological University). Antoine is also an active volunteer for the Michigan Special Olympics and the Miracle Baseball League. He also serves as a mentor with the BINGO Mentorship Program created by former Detroit mayor David Bing. Antoine is excited to bring his leadership skills, compassion for young people, and his knowledge of the demands of the IT market, to the future minds of Detroit.
Jenell was born and raised on the west side of Detroit, her mother's emphasis on the importance of education propelled Jenell from tough neighborhoods to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Jenell earned a BA and an MSW from Michigan, as well as a teacher certification through Teach for America from Oakland University. She has executed several retention programs at the University of Michigan, taught and served as a social worker in schools across Detroit, before helping to create the SAY Detroit Play Center in partnership with Mitch Albom as its first Director of Academics. Jenell continues to be a teacher, mentor, and friend to many of her former students and their siblings, who now take advantage of the programs and opportunities she has developed at SAY Detroit to help prepare them for college and life. She is also the proud mother of three-year-old twins, Adrian and Christian.
Dr. Cheryl Mason, Vice Chair
Dr. Cheryl L. Mason is a nationally-distinguished school principal and administrator, licensed professional counselor, and an award-winning educator receiving testimonials from the United States Congress, State of Michigan Senate, Mayor of Detroit, the Detroit City Council, and the Wayne County Commissioners Offices. She is a five-time recipient of the Detroit Public Schools C.E.O/Superintendents’ Excellence Awards and has received numerous community leadership awards. In her most recent position, Dr. Mason served as the Founding Principal of the Michigan Independent Preparatory Academy (M.I.P.) located at the Blanche Kelso Bruce High School Academy housed in the Samaritan Center. The MIP program specialized in a college preparatory residential program for male students aging out of the foster care system into adulthood. The goal of MIP was based on the idea that providing a stable and safe environment for residents with caring and knowledgeable adults creates the best pathways for educational success. During the course of her career, Dr. Mason has been successful in sending over 6,000 students to postsecondary institutions. Her students and clients have been awarded over $150 million in documented grants and scholarship offers, and 22 of her students have been awarded the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship. Dr. Mason earned her doctorate, educational specialist, masters and bachelor degrees from Wayne State University. She also has a graduate certificate degree from Eastern Michigan University.
Elizabeth Mays is president and CEO of MCS Multimedia, a progressive graphic design and printing firm located in Southfield, Michigan. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Film, Video and Media Studies, with a minor in Chemical and Paper Engineering: Graphic and Printing Science from Western Michigan University (School of Communications). Elizabeth has been recognized as a 2013 Woman of Excellence by the Michigan Chronicle, honored by the Women’s Informal Network as one of “The Most Influential African American Women in Metropolitan Detroit,” and received the Leadership Excellence Award from the Detroit Recovery Project & Rolling Out Magazine. Mays is also a spring 2017 alumni of the Goldman Sachs 10k Small Business Program, where she is credited with starting MCS Multimedia’s new magazine, Entrepreneur & Executive. Always ready to give back, she is active in the community as an event and business sponsor throughout Metro Detroit. Elizabeth is an active and supportive member of the Ferndale and Southfield Chamber of Commerce, member of the National Association of Women Business Owners, executive board member for Girls Destined for Greater Mentoring Group (for young girls ages 12-17), board leader and artist director for Livernois SOUP, and a dedicated member and trustee at Second Baptist Church of Detroit. Elizabeth was born, raised and still resides in Detroit.
John C. Mozena
John is a marketing and communications consultant and public policy advocate who works with organizations that advance free markets and individual liberty. Before opening his consultancy, Mozena was the vice president for marketing and communications at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, where he directed outreach that communicated the Mackinac Center’s solutions to state and local policy questions to key audiences, improving the quality of life for all Michigan residents. Before focusing on public policy, Mozena spent almost two decades developing and executing strategic marketing communications campaigns for public, private, governmental and nonprofit organizations of all sizes. His clients ranged from some of the world’s largest corporations to small nonprofits and entrepreneurial startups; from beloved consumer-facing brands to national industry trade associations. He began his professional career as a print reporter and editor covering Michigan’s health care industry and was a credentialed member of the Michigan House and Senate press corps. Mozena also serves as a disaster volunteer for the American Red Cross, where he responds to house fires and other small-scale disasters in Metro Detroit to assist people with access to food, clothing, shelter and other immediate needs in the wake of a disaster.
Megan Stano works in the field of Healthcare as a Senior System Analyst in Software Quality Assurance. She works in collaboration with numerous business areas, and vendors to derive, configure, and implement business requirements from idea to inception. Megan believes in the importance of business education and sees her skills in the field as setting her apart from other Information Technology workers. As such, her interests align with the mission of VentureSchool. Megan carries the designation of Professional, Academy for Healthcare Management (PAHM®) through America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) as well as being a Member of American College of Healthcare Executives, and a Member in the National Management Association (NMA) Chapter 145. Megan holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and a MS in Administration from Central Michigan University.
As an emerging leader in workforce development, Mallorie Stiger is the Co-founding Partner and Chief Business Development Officer of Empowerment Advocacy Group (EAG), LLC; a social enterprise that services children and adults with disabilities. She has also served as the Public Relations & Social Media Manager for Special Olympics Michigan (SOMI). Mallorie is an advocate for individuals living with disabilities. Her seven years of experience working with this population has enriched her passion and creativity. In 2016, Mallorie created the Navigator; a school based enrichment program that addresses the endemic social constraints of at-risk youth. The program focuses on the development of soft skills, workplace etiquette and exposure to various career options. Most recently, the Navigator program has endeavored to expose students to STEMs careers. Ms. Stiger is a member of Detroit Young Professionals (DYP) and the Marketing Advisory Committee for Frederick Douglass Academy for Young Men. She is a graduate of Central Michigan University where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations, minoring in Entrepreneurship.