Leadership Team - Mastery Charter School

Leadership Team

Central Office Network Support Team


Scott Gordon is the founder and CEO of Mastery Schools. Scott served as Mastery Lenfest Campus’ first principal in 2001 and transitioned into the CEO role as Mastery expanded to multiple campuses. Prior to starting Mastery, Scott founded Home Care Associates, which won the Governor’s Achievement Award for its welfare-to-work training program. Scott has a MBA from Yale University.


Jeff Pestrak is the Executive Schools Officer. Jeff began his career in education as a teacher in the Peace Corps-Zimbabwe. He has taught secondary science in the School District of Philadelphia and served as a teacher coach and science curriculum writer for the District and was an adjunct instructor at Temple University. Jeff joined Mastery in March of 2005 and served as the founding principal of the Thomas Campus – our first turnaround school – prior to becoming Chief Academic Officer and then Chief of Schools. In this role, he has primary responsibility for principal supervision and school outcomes.


Ashley Baldwin is a Regional Schools Officer and manages elementary and high schools across Philadelphia and Camden. Previously, she served as the Deputy Chief Academic Officer of STEM. In this role she contributed to organizational strategic planning and drove Mastery’s vision and approach for STEM instructional quality, through teacher and leader coaching, professional development, unit resource creation, and curriculum adoption and implementation. Prior to this, Ashley served as the network’s Director of K-12 Math and as an Assistant Principal of Instruction at the Mastery Mann Campus. Her work in both roles yielded significant gains in student achievement; Mann saw double digit gains in Math and Science PSSA scores and the network’s Math MAP Growth data also saw double digit gains. Before joining the Mastery Schools network in 2014, Ashley served as a Middle School Dean of Students in Philadelphia, and taught Middle School Math in Newark, NJ. Ashley holds a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of Michigan.

Letisha Laws, is a Regional Schools Officer and manages elementary schools in Philadelphia. Previously, she served as a principal at Grover Cleveland Mastery Charter for  five years and is committed to providing a joyful place of learning for the students that Mastery serves. Under her leadership, Cleveland saw three straight years of improvement in the school district’s School Progress Report and focuses on providing a world-class experience to the students and families in their community. Letisha, a Neubauer Fellow, has been an educator for over 15 years, serving as an elementary, middle school, high school, and special education teacher, teacher coach, testing coordinator, and assistant principal before her work as principal. Letisha grew up in Philadelphia and attended Philadelphia High School for Girls, is a graduate of Temple University, and earned her master’s degree in Education from Eastern University.

Brian McLaughlin is a Regional Schools Officer that currently manages nine elementary schools across Philadelphia and Camden.  Brian began his career at Mastery in 2007.  Brian has been a principal manager for the last six years, supporting with Mastery’s rapid expansion across the region including opening several of Mastery’s most recent turnaround schools.  Prior to that he was the founding principal of Smedley Elementary in the Frankford section of Philadelphia—one of Mastery’s first elementary schools, and he has served as an assistant principal and teacher in the network.  Brian moved to Philadelphia as a Teach For America corps member, is a graduate of Georgetown University and the proud father of three daughters.

Naeemah Seward is a Regional Schools Officer and has been serving the students of Philadelphia for the past 18 years. She began her career as a Science and Engineering Teacher in the School District of Philadelphia and has served as a Math Teacher, Assistant Principal of STEM, and most recently as the Principal of our Hardy Williams High School. She started her career teaching computer science in 2004 and later taught high school math. After teaching at Mastery’s Shoemaker campus for three years, Ms. Seward moved on to become an assistant principal of instruction at Hardy Williams High for three years, focusing on Math and Science. Ms. Seward is a native of Philadelphia. She earned her Bachelor of Science at Temple University where she dual-majored in mathematics and computer science and minored in French. She completed her teaching certificate at Drexel University and also earned her master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Scranton.

Jessica Varevice is Mastery’s Chief Academic Officer.  In this role, Jessica leads the central academic team and manages curriculum, instruction, assessment, professional development and coaching for the network.  Prior to joining Mastery, Jessica worked for TNTP (The New Teacher Project) for ten years as a consultant focused on teacher quality, leadership development, Common Core implementation, human capital strategy and school turnaround.   Jessica started her career in education as a classroom teacher in Philadelphia at John B. Stetson Middle School.  She holds a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in urban education and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Elizabeth Farruggia is the Deputy Chief of Specialized Services and is directly responsible for improving the academic and behavioral performance of students with disabilities and 504 plans, English Learners, and students at risk. She manages and coordinates all specialized services and large scaled support initiatives in accordance with all state and federal laws. Elizabeth has 13 years of experience as a general education and special education middle school and high school teacher.  Additionally, she has over 10 years of experience as an Assistant Principal of Specialized Services, a Director of Specialized Services, and the Deputy Chief of Specialized Services.


Saliyah Cruz, Ed.D is the Chief Equity Officer. She has a deep understanding of what equity can and should mean in schools, the power of equity to transform the educational experience and outcomes for our youth, and how equity can support a healthier and more effective organization.   Saliyah has a history of leading large initiatives in schools and districts around school climate and academics, as well as various experiences with educational leadership and development of educators.  Saliyah began her career as a high school English teacher in the Chester Upland School District, where she helped design a dual enrollment program for students interested in the technology fields.  She went on the become a secondary principal, and in her twelve years in the principalship (in Philadelphia and Delaware) she has led a range of secondary schools including, comprehensive and CTE high schools in the School District of Philadelphia and a middle in the Christina School District in Delaware.  She has also served as a regional superintendent for high schools in Baltimore City Schools. Saliyah joined Mastery in 2017 as the Deputy Chief of Student Development and has worked to set the vision and direction for the student experience at Mastery, which encompasses school climate and culture, cultural competency, disciplinary policies, attendance policies, and other related areas.

External Affairs

Yvette A. Núñez is the Chief External Affairs Officer (CEA) and manages Advocacy, Communications, and Development for Mastery Schools.


Yonca Agatan is Mastery’s Chief Financial Officer. Yonca started her career in public accounting and spent over 15 years with Deloitte in both the audit and consulting functions.  She subsequently worked at CMF Associates and served as an interim CFO for small to mid-size companies.  Yonca joined Mastery Charter Schools in September of 2011. In this role, she manages the finance and compliance functions.


Peter Lee is Mastery’s Chief of Technology and a seasoned technology leader with over 20 years of experience applying technology holistically to solve large-scale problems. Peter has a broad background in data analytics and statistical analysis including the development of predictive models and simulations based on educational, healthcare and transaction data. He and his team design and support all data systems within Mastery, manage the implementation plan for technology rich classrooms, evaluate and support online and software-based solutions for instruction, and serve as an internal evaluation arm to measure effectiveness of programs.

Matt Troha is the Chief Operating Officer.  Prior to this role, Matt served as a Regional Schools Officer working with secondary schools in Philadelphia and Camden. Matt began his career in education as a middle school math teacher in the School District of Philadelphia and later became his school’s athletic director. Matt joined Mastery Charter Schools in June of 2007 as a founding assistant principal of instruction at our Pickett Campus. He then served as principal of Thomas High before moving to executive principal of Simon Gratz. In his current role, he has primary responsibility for operations of our 24 schools in Philadelphia and Camden.


To contact members of our team, please click below or call 215-866-9000 ext. 15001.