Our Staff and Senior Leadership

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Kellie Hinkle, Interim Director

Kellie Hinkle began her career with City Year in 2004 as an AmeriCorps member in Philadelphia. For more than seven years, Hinkle served in a variety of roles at City Year Philadelphia, including working as the first-ever evaluation director at a City Year site. She has also served as a member of the local evaluation team for Diplomas Now since 2008. In 2012, Hinkle joined the national Diplomas Now team full-time to support school recruitment efforts for the Investing in Innovation (i3) randomized control trial. Since then, she has partnered with the national leadership teams to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of Diplomas Now. As interim director, Hinkle acts as an important bridge between Diplomas Now strategy and implementation. She collaborates closely with local and national Diplomas Now partner staff to support the effective implementation of the model and ensure strategic engagement of district, school and funding partners.

Kathy Nelson, Talent Development Deputy Director

Kathy Nelson began working with Diplomas Now partners in 2009 to launch the pilot sites in Philadelphia. She began her work at the Center for Social Organization of Schools (CSOS) at Johns Hopkins University in 2000 as manager for the Talent Development Middle School program. Prior to her work at CSOS, Nelson worked with several other education nonprofits in the Washington, D.C., area, including Close Up Foundation and the Council for Basic Education, and with a school leadership program at the University of California, Los Angeles. She also has taught secondary social studies in Bureau of Indian Affairs high schools in the Navajo Nation, Switzerland and Spain. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University in Utah.



Bob Balfanz, Co-Founder of Diplomas Now 

Dr. Robert Balfanz is a senior research scientist at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, where he is also co-director of Talent Development Secondary, co-director of the Everyone Graduates Center, co-operator of Baltimore Talent Development High School, an Innovation High School operated in partnership with the Baltimore City Public Schools. He is a leader and a co-founder of Diplomas Now, the proven strategy for turning around some of America’s toughest schools and winner of a prestigious federal grant.

Dr. Balfanz has published widely on secondary school reform, high school dropouts, early warning systems and instructional interventions in high-poverty schools. He is also a frequent speaker on dropout prevention and early warning indicators as a strategy to help students most at risk of failing. Dr. Balfanz is the first recipient of the Alliance For Excellent Education’s Everyone a Graduate Award.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD in education from the University of Chicago.

Jim Balfanz, President of City Year 

Jim Balfanz has served as the president of City Year since May 2010.  In this role, he steers City Year’s continued evolution as a performance-driven organization that is committed to increasing the high school graduation pipeline by driving high-impact student outcomes and promoting the leadership development of its corps members. Balfanz has led City Year’s strategic shift towards addressing the high school dropout crisis and the development of the organization’s In School and On Track initiative – City Year’s national scale and impact plan.

Prior to his role as president, Balfanz served as City Year’s chief operating officer for five years, leading the organization through a sustained period of growth that enabled City Year to scale to 20 locations throughout the United States and increase its revenue growth by 70 percent. Balfanz also led the development of City Year’s brand strategy, resulting in a 50 percent increase in national awareness.

Balfanz began his work with City Year in 1993 as a corps member serving at a Head Start program in Charlestown, Massachusetts. After his corps year, Balfanz joined the City Year staff to help scale the program, assuming various roles in City Year’s National Headquarters, including deputy director of national affairs, and  director of new site development, through which he played a pivotal role in founding City Year Seattle, Detroit, and Greater Philadelphia. In 1997, Balfanz was named the founding executive director of City Year Greater Philadelphia and served as the executive director for eight years, growing City Year Greater Philadelphia to the largest City Year site.

Balfanz is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed a two-year executive management program at the Wharton School of Business.

Dale Erquiaga, CEO of Communities in Schools

Dale Erquiaga is the president and CEO of Communities In Schools, the nation’s largest and most effective dropout prevention organization. Dale most recently served as the chief strategy officer for Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and previously served as the state’s superintendent of public instruction and as a senior advisor to Governor Sandoval.

Dale has a long career in public service and marketing communications. He worked for the Clark County School District as executive director of government affairs, public policy & strategic planning. He also served as director of the Nevada State Department of Museums and was chief deputy secretary of state. His private sector experience includes managing a successful consulting practice and working as a vice president and managing director with an advertising firm in both Nevada and Arizona.

The grandson of Spanish Basque immigrants to America, Dale has been active on the board of several civic, humanitarian and arts organizations including the University of Nevada’s Center for Basque Studies and Nevada Humanities.Dale holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Nevada, Reno and a master’s degree in leadership from Grand Canyon University. He is the proud father of two grown children, Brendan and Morgan.

Charles Hiteshew, CEO of Talent Development Secondary

Charles Hiteshew joined Talent Development Secondary as CEO in 2010. With extensive experience in school reform and student support services, Hiteshew will champion the Talent Development component within the Diplomas Now collaboration with City Year and Communities In Schools, ensuring that this effort and others leverage additional public and private sector support for best practice in our country’s most challenged secondary schools.

Previously, Hiteshew served as the chief operating officer and special assistant to the president and CEO on Mission Advancement at America’s Promise Alliance. During that time, his primary responsibility was the design and execution of the Grad Nation Drop-out Prevention Campaign, in which the Alliance mobilized large cross–sector summits and integrated action plans in all 50 states and in the nation’s 50 largest cities.

Hiteshew has spent his entire career working directly on behalf of underserved youth. Before joining the Alliance, Hiteshew worked at DC Education Compact (DCEC), where he served as deputy director after having merged his previous organization, the Public Education Partnership Fund (PEP Fund), with DCEC.  At DCEC, he managed the investment portfolio, pooled money for those investments and oversaw internal operations. Prior to that, he served as the founding executive director of the PEP Fund, which was chartered to support the ongoing transformation of the DC Public Schools through a series of annual investments.

Hiteshew came to the Public Education Partnership Fund from Venture Philanthropy Partners where he supported the investment planning process. Prior to that, Hiteshew ran one of the largest BBBS programs in the country in Fort Worth, Texas, managing more than 1,500 mentor/mentee matches annually, with a staff of 24, and a budget of $1.5 million.  Previously he worked in the Washington region at Communities In Schools (CIS), a premier national dropout prevention organization where he was responsible for quality and standards design and implementation, while providing management training and technical assistance to CIS programs around the country.

Hiteshew started his career as a street counselor and a school-based prevention coordinator for a street youth organization based in Boston. He spent a year in Africa as both a headmaster in a rural secondary school in Kenya, and a World Wildlife Fund project coordinator in Uganda. Upon his return, he coordinated school-to-career services for several years at a high school within the Boston Public Schools.  He then went on to obtain a master’s degree in management of human services from the Heller School at Brandeis University. Upon graduation, he became the technical assistance director at the United Way in Boston. He then directed a series of career academies within the Boston Public Schools.

Hiteshew received his bachelor of arts degree with honors from Amherst College and is married to Suzan Murray, the chief veterinarian at the National Zoo. He and Suzan have three young children and live in the Washington, DC, area.