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Staff

  • Meagan Alderton

    Program Quality Specialist

  • Julie Camerata

    Executive Director

  • Dr. Rebecca Foster

    Director of Secondary Transition

  • David Fridie

    Program Associate

  • Cotora Holland

    Secondary Transition Specialist

  • Amita Lathigra

    Program Quality Specialist

  • Monica Lesperance

    Deputy Director

  • Reuben Johnson Jr.

    Communications Associate

Meagan Alderton

Program Quality Specialist

Meagan’s work at the Co-op emphasizes practical and data driven approaches to improving outcomes for all students. As Director of Professional Development, Meagan co-designed INCLUDE DC – a graduate-level course for general education teachers working in inclusive classrooms, authored a Behavior and Discipline Toolkit, and assisted three new LEAs in designing and implementing special education programming. Meagan has over eight years of experience in the field of Special Education: she has served as a Special Education Director for a DC charter school and taught in both the public and nonpublic sectors. Meagan has provided both school level and city-wide staff development on various topics including courses such as Special Education for General Education Teachers and Effective Strategies for Teaching Vocabulary in the content areas, and served as adjunct instructor at the Catholic University of America.

Meagan received a Masters in Special Education from Towson University and a Bachelor of Arts, double major in Communication Studies and Women’s Studies, from York University.

Julie Camerata

Executive Director

Julie Camerata has served the DC charter community for nearly two decades. As the executive director of the Co-op, she facilitates programming and services that reach over 5,000 students with disabilities enrolled in 50+ DC charter schools. She has successfully written and administered large grants to grow the organization’s reach and internal capacity. In 2018, Julie was appointed by the Mayor as the Chair of DC’s State Advisory Panel for Special Education. Prior to joining the Co-op, she worked in the District’s non-public, public and charter schools as a special education teacher and administrator.

Julie has a Master’s degree in Transition Special Education from George Washington University and a Bachelors of Arts in Politics from Oberlin College.

Dr. Rebecca Foster

Director of Secondary Transition

Rebecca joined the Co-op in August of 2015. In her work, she actively supports DC charter schools in developing and delivering high-quality secondary transition services to students with disabilities between the ages of 14-21. Rebecca founded “DC3C Exploring Career, College and Community”, the Co-op’s first Secondary Transition Program. She has worked to develop innovative student programming such as DC3C Spring Break which addresses job-readiness skills, Next Steps, an event where teachers and students explore post-secondary vocational education programs in DC and created a virtual summer internship program. In addition to designing and managing student programming, Not only does Rebecca assist schools in increasing transition compliance through workshops, and coaching, but also Rebecca helps DC agencies (e.g. RSA) connect with charter schools’ students for post-high-school success. Outside of her primary job functions, Rebecca supports the Council for Exception Children, Division on Career Development and Transition, Early Career Writing, and Publishing Committee.

Before joining the Co-op, Rebecca taught for eight years in DC where she served in many capacities including a general education English teacher, a special education teacher, and case manager, and a self-contained resource room teacher. A highlight of her teaching time was spent creating a certificate of completion course of study for high school students with disabilities that were not able to earn a diploma. It was then that Rebecca found her love of transition!

Rebecca holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina in English and Sociology, a master’s in Teaching Secondary English from American University, and a Doctorate of Education in Special Education from George Washington University with research on culturally linguistically diverse families and students.

David Fridie

Program Associate

David Fridie is the Co-op’s Program Associate. In this role, David uses his varied skills to support all of the Co-op’s programs with particular emphasis on data and technology projects. With his commitment to customer-service, David plays a critical role in ensuring the Co-op’s public, member, and student-focused events run smoothly.

Before joining the Co-op, David served as a Program Analyst in the Office of Educational Technology within the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, David worked for the United States Department of Education from 2012 until 2018. While at the Department, David worked under (three) Secretaries of Education in various functions and roles. From October 2016 until May 2018, he worked as a Program Analyst the Office of Educational Technology within the Office of the Secretary serving as the Contracting Officer’s Representative for several federal contracts. Prior to joining the Office of the Secretary, David held the position of Agency Acquisition Workforce Coordinator within the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. David was responsible for making sure over 600 employees were compliant with mandated federal acquisition regulations. David also served as a Contract Specialist on several federal contracts, including the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) State Coordinator Program.

Since 2016, David has served on the Reader Committee of the U.S. Department of State Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. In the past few years, he has also served as an application reviewer for the U.S. Department of Education/Institute of Education Sciences’ Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program as well as a reviewer for the Prince George’s County Public Schools Social Studies Department.

David has also worked within the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation, working at the DC Therapeutic Recreation Summer over the course of two years as an Inclusion Aide as well as Camp Counselor/Director at the Chevy Chase Community Center. His love of kids, especially those with disabilities, is something very essential to his core being. As a stutterer himself, he is cognizant of the importance of affirming every child, especially our Black and Brown children with disabilities!

David is a proud 4th-generation native Washingtonian, who was educated in the District of Columbia Public Schools system (Shepherd Elementary) as well as Catholic Parochial schools (St. John’s College High School). He attended Howard University (as a 3rd generation Bison), majoring in History with a minor in Political Science. Mr.Fridie comes from a long line of educators. His 3rd great-grandfather helped found an HBCU in South Carolina. As the son of a school teacher, education has played a profound role in his life. He is committed to the uplift and preservation of his beloved community!

Cotora Holland

Secondary Transition Specialist

Cotora joined the Co-op in June of 2020. She provides support to the Director of Secondary Transition and is responsible for a wide range of workforce activities, to include, development and program delivery. Cotora is a part of the DC3C program, where she launched the inaugural Summer Internship Program 2020.

Before joining the Co-op, Cotora worked at a non-profit organization that provided vocational training to adults with disabilities. The last 12 years, she has worked with transition age youth at non-public schools and DC Public Schools. Cotora is very passionate about working with youth with disabilities to ensure they have success after high school.

Cotora holds a B.S. from Coppin State University in Management & Human Services

Amita Lathigra

Program Quality Specialist

Amita Lathigra’s career has spanned jewelry arts, commercial real estate, business development, and education. In her 10 years in education, she has devoted her energy to taking her life’s experiences and turning them into meaningful learning opportunities for children and adults. For the last 5 years, Amita’s primary focus has been developing strong special education programs that serve both staff and students well. She believes in collaborative practices and leads by modeling what she feels is best put forth into the world — self-awareness, diplomacy, and adaptability.
At the Special Education Cooperative, Amita has channeled that methodology into a learning series that taught special education leaders at newly authorized charter schools how to build programs with vision and forward thinking. She also regularly provides individual coaching to school leaders who seek her guidance in staff and program development, and managing overwhelming workloads. Amita sees herself primarily as a change agent — someone who can transform the city’s outcomes for students with disabilities by growing the leaders inside of our schools.

Monica Lesperance

Deputy Director

Monica joined the Co-op in 2009 to lead the organization’s work around school based Medicaid and transitioned into the role of Deputy Director in 2011 to develop and manage the Co-op’s programs and services. A problem-solver and advisor by nature, Monica enjoys working to develop programs that meet schools where they are and provide the necessary supports to move them forward. Monica is the curriculum author and lead instructor of the Early Childhood section of the Co-op’s highly regarded course in special education for general educators, INCLUDE DC. She has led countless workshops on special education and inclusive practices and has served as a practicum supervisor for new special education teachers at the Catholic University of America and George Mason University. Before joining the Co-op, Monica worked in DCPS and charter schools as both a teacher and program coordinator for 10 years.

Monica has a Master’s degree in Education and Human Development with a concentration in early childhood special education from George Washington University and a Bachelors of Arts from Tufts University with a major in Anthropology.

Reuben Johnson Jr.

Communications Associate

Reuben joined the Co-op in August of 2020. They coordinate content for social media, marketing campaigns and external communications, as well as provide design support to the team. Additionally, they work to increase brand awareness, engagement, growth and connection with our audience.

Before joining the Co-op, Reuben worked as an award winning evening news anchor at NewsWatch99 in Oxford, Mississippi and, most recently, as the communications lead for a non-profit that worked to uplift Black voices and relentlessly pursue Black liberation. No stranger to the DC Charter School community, they also worked in 8th grade ELA at Achievement Prep Academy.

Reuben holds a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Mississippi.

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