Our Team
Staff

JOHN ERIKSEN
Managing Partner & Co-Founder
john@drexelfund.org

Prior to The Drexel Fund, John worked at the Leadership Roundtable with a focus on Catholic schools. At age 34, John became one of the youngest Catholic school superintendents in the country in Paterson, New Jersey where his work was featured in the Time magazine article “Looking for Solutions to the Catholic School Crisis.” John began his career in education as a high school teacher in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as part of the 4th cohort of teachers in the Alliance for Catholic Education. John earned a B.A. in economics, history and government from the University of Notre Dame, as well as an M.A.T. from the University of Portland and a M.P.P. from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. John is an Aspen-Pahara Institute Fellow.

ABIGAIL SCHUMWINGER
Partner & Investment Director
abby@drexelfund.org

Prior to joining The Drexel Fund, Abby spent seven years as a program officer for the Walton Family Foundation’s Systemic K-12 Education Reform Focus Area where she led the Foundation’s strategy to grow high performing private school networks serving low income students in publicly funded private school choice geographies nationally. Abby previously worked for a Milwaukee, WI non-profit implementing an initiative to start 50 new, small high schools in the city, as well as as a researcher for School Choice Wisconsin and the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington. She taught first grade for two years at Visitation Catholic School on Chicago’s south side as part of the Inner-City Teaching Corps. Abby received a B.A. from Northwestern University and an M.P.A. from the University of Washington – Seattle.

JANE BROWN
Associate & Director of Operations
jane@drexelfund.org

Jane brings 18 years of experience as a CFO of a network of K-12 Catholic Schools in the northeast. Jane began her career on Wall Street as an International Banker. Jane has an M.B.A. from NYU and was invited to participate in the Women’s Leadership Forum at the Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program. Jane spent six years lobbying in Washington for non-profit corporations and currently serves as Chairman of a non-profit hospital in the Northeast.

MATT BRUNELL
Senior Adviser
matt@drexelfund.org

Matt serves as Senior Adviser to the Drexel Founders Program. He is a management consultant who guides district, charter and Catholic school systems through the process of operationalizing their strategic visions, focusing on new school design and school leader recruitment, selection and development. Matt served as the Chief Operating Officer of Building Excellent Schools (BES) – a leading incubator of new charter schools in the country. Matt’s previous work as President of Nativity School of Worcester – a tuition-free, results-driven middle school serving inner-city youth – and as an education law attorney strengthened what he first learned as a middle school teacher in Teach For America: vision and intention are nothing without follow-through and execution. Matt holds a J.D. from Boston College Law School, a B.A. in English from Boston College and a Teaching Certificate in Secondary Education from Prescott College.

Board of Directors

ROB BIRDSELL

Rob is a Co-Founder of The Drexel Fund and is currently Executive Vice President of Amerigo Education – an international education company working with parochial high schools. Rob brings over twenty years of business and private school management experience to the Fund’s Board. Prior to helping start the Drexel Fund, Rob led the national expansion of both the Cristo Rey Network and the Accelerate Institute. Rob also worked as a management consultant and began his career as a high school English teacher. He is a graduate of the University Wisconsin at Madison and received his M.B.A. from the Lubar School at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Rob is also a Pahara Fellow at the Aspen Institute.

BJ CASSIN

BJ is Founder and Chairman of the Cassin Educational Initiative Foundation (CEIF), launched in 2000, to establish private, college preparatory middle and high schools in economically-challenged communities throughout the country. CEIF provided start-up funds for 16 Cristo Rey High Schools and 37 Nativity Miguel Middle Schools. BJ was a founder of the Cristo Rey Network, serving as its Chairman from 2003 to 2009. He was also a founder of the Nativity Miguel Network in 2006 and served as its Chairman until 2011. BJ sat on the Board of Trustees of Saint Mary’s College of California for eight years, serving as Chairman from 1995-1999.

THOMAS J. HEALEY

Tom is the Founder and Managing Partner of Healey Development LLC. Tom is a founder of Prisma Capital Partners, a founder of the FIA Timber Partners funds, a founder and partner of Anthos Capital, a private equity firm focused on small-capitalization private equity and a founder and partner of Broad Hollow Partners, a private equity boutique focused on the investment management sector. Tom is a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he taught a course in Financial Institutions and Markets. Tom received a B.A. from Georgetown University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Tom formerly served on the Board of Trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation and Georgetown University’s College Board of Advisors, and chaired both institutions’ Investment Committees. He is also involved with several other nonprofit institutions.

DARREN JACKSON

Darren was most recently the CEO of Advance Auto Parts from January 2008 to January 2016. He had been a member of the board of directors since 2004. Between 2001 and 2007, Darren served as Chief Financial Officer of Best Buy, a Fortune 100 company, having joined the organization in 2000. Prior to joining Best Buy, Darren began his retail career with Carson Pirie Scott in Milwaukee, holding various executive positions, including Chief Financial Officer. He then spent three years with Seattle-based Nordstrom Stores as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Darren is on the board of directors of the Advance Auto Parts Company and Fastenal Company. He recently completed his service on the board of Marquette University, for which he was chairman from 2009-2012.

MICHAEL MESSNER

Michael G. Messner is a Co-Founder of Seminole Capital Partners. Through their family’s Speedwell Foundation, he and his wife, Jenny, have been involved in various philanthropic efforts nationwide and for Charleston, SC, their hometown, focused on urban parks and education. The Messners have helped launch two charter schools: Carolina Voyager Charter School and Allegro Music Charter School. Voyager, an elementary school, uses technology-based learning to enhance the education experience. Allegro, a middle and high school, incorporates three hours of music education into each student’s school day. Mike received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1975 and a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1976. He attended graduate school at M.I.T. and received an M.S. in 1980. Mike is a member of the MIT Civil Engineering Visiting Committee and is on the Georgia Tech Foundation Board and Investment Committee.

DARLA ROMFO

Darla serves as President and Chief Operating Officer of the Children’s Scholarship Fund (CSF), a national nonprofit dedicated to providing partial scholarships for low-income children in grades K-8 to go to private school. Immediately prior to joining CSF, Darla practiced law in both the public and private sectors. She worked on Capitol Hill from 1993 to 1999, serving Senators John Breaux of Louisiana and Kent Conrad of North Dakota. Previously, she was an attorney in private practice specializing in tax law.  In addition to her service with The Drexel Fund, Darla is on the board of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management. Darla graduated from the University of North Dakota with degrees in political science and accounting. She is a CPA and received a law degree from George Washington University.

DR. DAN SCOGGIN

Dan is a Co-Founder of Great Hearts Academies, a network of K-12 public charter schools in Arizona and Texas focused on Classical education. Dan currently serves on the National Board and as the Chief Advancement Officer. In 2004, Dan authored the original Great Hearts business plan. As the headmaster of the first school and then as founding CEO, he secured the initial strategic funding partnerships with local and national philanthropy to launch the Arizona schools network. From 2004 to 2015, Dan directed the network’s growth from a fledgling start-up school of 200 students in Phoenix to 11,000 students at 22 academies. In 2012, Dan was invited by a local funding consortium to lead the first out-of-state expansion of Great Hearts to Texas. Great Hearts now serves 14,000 students at 28 academies across Phoenix, San Antonio, and North Texas. Dan holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from the Claremont Graduate University, attended the Stanford University Executive Education program, and was named a Piper Fellow and Pahara-Aspen Fellow.