Our Board

Headshot image of Daniela Grigioni

Daniela Grigioni, Chair

Executive Director at After-School All-Stars DC

Daniela Grigioni began working in education as a second career in 1998. A physician by training, she came to the United States from Italy in 1990 with young family. The more she became involved in her three children’s education, the more she realized the importance of contributing to this field. Daniela worked over 20 years for DCPS, and two years at Briya, called Education Strengthens Families Public Charter School at that time. After 8 years at DCPS central office, managing partnerships in the afterschool and summer school space, she transitioned to her current job as Executive Director of After-School All-Stars DC, serving seven Title I schools with free afterschool programming. Daniela was born in Rome, Italy. She holds a medical degree and came to the United States with her family in 1990, living in DC since with her family.

Doris Garay

Doris Garay, Vice Chair

Family Engagement Facilitator/Social Worker

Doris Garay is a Family Engagement Facilitator Social Worker III for the Department of Family Services in Fairfax, Virginia. Doris holds a degree in Multicultural Adult Education from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Science in Infant and Family Education/Early Childhood from Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia. She has over 20 years of experience working in education and social services in the metropolitan DC area. Doris is a former Briya staff member.

Headshot of Flor Buruca

Flor Buruca, Secretary

Briya student

Flor Buruca is a Briya student in both the Two-Generation Program and the Child Development Associate (CDA) Program. She is from El Salvador and came to the United States in 2005. Flor started taking classes at Briya in 2012, and since has progressed from the Basic 1 English class to the Advanced 1 English class. Flor’s husband, Cristian, is also a Briya student. She has two children who attend a public DC elementary school, where she has been an active parent and member of the PTO. She has also served as a member of Briya’s student council and as a Briya outreach ambassador, and participates in education advocacy with the DC parent organization PAVE. Flor plans to continue studying at Briya and hopes to work as an early childhood educator after earning her CDA credential. She has served as a Briya board member since 2018.

Nishit (Nick) Sheth

Nishit (Nick) Sheth, Treasurer

Business Manager at Subsystem Technologies, supporting Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Nishit Sheth currently holds a Business Manager position with Subsystem Technologies, a Virginia-based firm that provides engineering and management services to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Nishit supports the Surveillance Services group within FAA’s Air Traffic Systems Directorate to help implement the next generation of national airspace capabilities, including future airborne collision avoidance system (ACAS-X) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B, a precise satellite-based surveillance system). Originally from India, Nishit moved to the US in 2006. Nishit received a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from University of Maryland. As the son of an active social worker, Nishit followed his mother’s footsteps by serving as a Briya Finance Committee member before becoming a Full Board member in 2016.

Marco

Marc Griego

Director, Executive Management, Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), US Agency for International Development

Marc is the Director of Executive Management for the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In this role he manages a $65 million operating expense budget and advises the Bureau’s leadership on all workforce and organizational matters. He has over 20 years of private sector and federal government experience, including the last 10 years with USAID. Prior to moving to Washington, DC, Marc served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bolivia. He holds a B.A. degree from Emory University and a M.P.P. from the University of Michigan.  Marc is originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Whytni Kernodle

Whytni Kernodle

President of Obra S. Kernodle III, Esq., P.C.

Whytni Kernodle graduated magna cum laude from Temple University and earned her law degree from University of Pennsylvania Law School. A member of both the California and the District of Columbia Bar Association, she works as an attorney and uses her Spanish language skills to serve clients. She is President of Obra S. Kernodle III, Esq., P.C., a Philadelphia lobbying firm. Whytni is a longtime member of the executive board of the PTA of Francis Scott Key Elementary School, an English-Spanish immersion school in Arlington. She takes part in annual month-long cultural and language immersion study in Mexico and Costa Rica. Whytni joined the Board member in 2014, and sits on the Development Committee.

Yizel Romero Octaviano

Yizel Romero Octaviano

Briya Student

Yizel Romero Octaviano is a student in Briya’s Advanced II class. She was born in Mexico, and came to the United States in 2000. While pregnant with her first child, Yizel began a program at The Family Place; the teachers there encouraged her to enroll in the classes at Briya after her baby was born because it offered more advanced English classes. But when Yizel’s son was born he was very sick, spending many months in the hospital. The hospital provided Spanish translators for Yizel, but she wanted to be able to speak to the doctors and advocate for her son on her own. She enrolled in Briya, where she has now been a student for six years. She works at Angelico’s Pizza, participates in her children’s school events, and speaks to teachers and therapists in English just as she dreamed she would. She is currently on track to earn her high school diploma, and her long-term goal is to enter into the Medical Assistant Program. Yizel became a Board member in 2013, and sits on the Academic Committee.

Headshot of Alejandra Sandoval

Alejandra Sandoval

Briya student

Alejandra Sandoval is a Briya student in the Advanced 1 English class. She is from Mexico and came to the United States in 2003 without speaking English or knowing anyone except her husband. Alejandra first began studying at Briya in 2011. She has three children, the youngest of whom is currently part of Briya’s toddler class. At Bancroft Elementary School, where her older children attend, Alejandra is a member of the parent-teacher organization and Local School Advisory Team, attends weekly parent coffee events, and has led fundraising initiatives. She also participates in education advocacy with the DC parent organization PAVE. Alejandra plans to continue improving her English and hopes to attend college in the future. She has served as a Briya board member since 2018.

Todd Shears

Todd Shears

Founder and Owner, BlueSail Advisors LLC

Todd Shears is the founder and owner of BlueSail Advisors LLC, a financial planning and investment advisory in Washington, DC. Todd moved to DC in 1982 after completing his bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. He spent the early part of his career working for non-profit associations before transitioning to financial services. Todd has been a board member since April 2016 and sits on the Finance Committee. Interestingly, his first job in Washington was with the National Schools Boards Association.

Deborah Spitz

Deborah Spitz

Program Specialist, Office of Early Learning at the U.S. Department of Education

Deborah Spitz is a program specialist in the Office of Early Learning at the U.S. Department of Education, where she is the team leader for the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge program. She has managed other federal early learning and literacy programs including Even Start Family Literacy. Previously, she was the Deputy Director of the D.C. Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, where she managed research projects relating to education. She has worked as a policy analyst and grant manager for DCPS and DC PCSB. She received a law degree from Stanford in 1996 and is completing a master’s degree in education psychology at George Mason University.

Julia Toro

Julia Toro

Owner of Julia M Toro Law Firm, PLLC

Julia Toro is the founder and owner of Julia M. Toro Law Firm, PLCC, an immigration law firm based in D.C. She speaks fluent Spanish and serves primarily Hispanic clients. She received her law degree from DePaul University in Chicago, and earned her Masters of Laws (LL.M.) in International Human Rights from American University. Julia is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and in 1999 she was chosen as a Fellow for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights at the Organization of American States. This fellowship helped to bring human rights cases against the governments of some Central American countries. Julia is half Colombian and half Spanish, and has lived in D.C. since 1998. She frequently visits the adult education classes at Briya to speak on immigration issues, and she offers free immigration consultation services to Briya students. Julia has been a Board member since 2013 and sits on the Development Committee.