Founding Team

ROBERTO GUTIéRREZ, CO-FOUNDER and executive director

Roberto Gutiérrez founded LEEP in 2015. A Brooklyn resident since 2005 and the son of Mexican immigrants, Roberto is a writer, filmmaker, communications leader, and former executive for leading national charter school networks. He is a graduate of St. Mary's University and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Notre Dame for advancing values of justice and peace in American broadcasting.


Gabrielle Mosquera (Board Chair) is a Brooklyn resident and Director of Institutional Giving at the education nonprofit PowerMyLearning. A veteran project manager and fundraiser, she spent four years providing charter school oversight and support at the New York City Department of Education. Gabrielle is a graduate of Boston University and grew up in a suburb of Newark, New Jersey as the child of Spanish immigrants.


Melissa Jarvis-Cedeno (Board Vice-Chair) is Director of Family and Community Engagement, and former founding principal, at Brooklyn Ascend Charter High School. A 20-year veteran teacher, principal, and charter school founder, she provides expertise in instructional leader and positive school culture-building. Melissa is a graduate of SUNY Albany and Columbia University Teachers College and grew up in Brooklyn as the child of Puerto Rican and Cuban-American parents.


Joaquin Matias (Board Treasurer) is a Sunset Park, Brooklyn resident, lawyer, and expert in urban development and environmental sustainability. A graduate of Harvard College, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and Northeastern University School of Law, Joaquin grew up in the Philippines as the child of primarily Spanish/Chinese ancestry. He emigrated to Canada and then to the U.S. in middle school.


Ashok Chandra (Board Secretary) is a New York City public school parent and attorney who works as Senior Partner and Director of Privacy at the advertising firm GroupM. A graduate of the University of Texas, Fordham School of Law, and the Stern School of Business at NYU, Ashok grew up in South Texas as the child of Spanish and Indian immigrants. 


Magdalena Varela-Hand, LMSW, is a CSD 15 public school parent and Forensic Social Worker at the Legal Aid Society, with nearly 20 years' experience counseling children and families in school-based and non-school settings. A graduate of the New York City College of Technology and Adelphi University, Magdalena grew up in Brooklyn with strong family roots in Puerto Rico.

MICHAEL REGNIER, deputy executive director

Michael Regnier leads all organizational operations. A Brooklyn resident since 2008, he has three children in District 20 public schools. Michael previously served as Director of Policy & Research for the New York City Charter School Center and Vice President of Organizational Learning & Impact at Turnaround for Children. He is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Chicago.


Nelson Broms is the former chair of the Equitable Life Insurance Holding Companies. Currently, he provides strategic leadership to for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Nelson was a co-founder and/or board member of Financial Security Assurance Holdings Ltd., the Ethics Resources Center in Washington, DC, Family Academy in New York City, and many others.


LEEP is grateful for our financial supporters, including:


The George W. Brackenridge Foundation

The Carnegie Corporation of New York

Choose to Succeed

The New Schools Venture Fund

Estate of Fidencio Gutierrez & Family

Lionel and Kathy Sosa


Join Us

Our prospective Brooklyn charter school is now seeking a FOUNDING PRINCIPAL/DIRECTOR(A) who is fluent in English and Spanish, experienced leading high-performing schools, and motivated to build an extraordinary culture for adults, students, and families.

Sound like you? Email to start a conversation.