Bernice Butler, Executive Director
Bernice (dot) Butler (at) dc (dot) gov
Bernice D. Butler is the Executive Director of the DC State Board of Education. She was appointed by the State Board in November 2022 and serves as the agency lead for the elected State Board. She is responsible for leading efforts to further policy and research under the State Board’s direction and manages the day-to-day operations of the agency and support staff.
Butler has had an extensive career in the public sector, with over 14 years of experience in local government and education advocacy. She most recently served as the Director of Network and Organizational Effectiveness at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, responsible for coordinating its state policy network, the State Priorities Partnership. Prior to that role, Butler was the Partnerships Manager at the Institute for Educational Leadership, where she coordinated the strategy to advance and support the growth and implementation of Community Schools across the country. She served as chief relationship manager for 78 community school initiatives addressing implementation and expansion questions and connecting local communities to national partners and resources.
Earlier in her career, Bernice served as a senior associate at the Data Quality Campaign, where she analyzed emerging state education policies and practices, convened national thought leaders, and worked with partner organizations to aid District leaders in using evidence to improve student outcomes. She also served as the program director of the Memphis Talent Dividend and Graduate Memphis, two action initiatives of Leadership Memphis.
Butler began her local government career in 2008 as a Capital City Fellow in Washington, DC where she completed rotations with the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, Department of Housing and Community Development, Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. In 2012 Butler was selected as a White House Strong Cities, Strong Communities Fellow, where she worked as an advisor to the Mayor of Memphis, TN, A.C. Wharton, evaluating government operations and helping build a performance management system.
As a Georgia native, Butler earned her undergraduate degree in psychology with a minor in political science at Georgia State University. She earned her graduate degree in public administration, with a concentration in local government management from the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs. Bernice has served on the Georgia Supreme Court Committee on Justice for Children and Georgia’s Children and Youth Coordinating Council. She is a DC Education Policy Fellowship Program graduate and former Director of the DC Chapter of New Leaders Council. Butler is actively involved as a member of the Junior League of Washington and the National Forum for Black Public Administrators. She is a Ward 7 resident of Marshall Heights in the District, where she resides with her husband and daughter.
Rhoma Battle, Budget & Operations Officer
Rhoma (dot) Battle (at) dc (dot) gov
Rhoma Battle is the Budget and Operations Officer for the State Board of Education (SBOE). He comes to the SBOE with 18 years of District government experience. Before coming to work for the District, Rhoma was a community activist and student intern. While completing his master’s degree in public policy at American University School of Public Affairs, Rhoma worked as an intern for the Anacostia Coordinating Council, the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization, and he served two years as President of the Penn Branch Citizens Civic Association in Southeast Washington, DC.
In District government, Rhoma took on the role of disbursements analyst for the DC Tuition Assistance Grant Program. Popularly known as DC TAG, Rhoma made tuition payments to colleges and universities throughout the United States, on behalf of students. He then became an OCFO Budget Analyst for the DC State Education Office (now the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, OSSE), and was later hired by OSSE as a Fiscal Programs Analyst for Nutrition Services (now Health and Wellness). While at OSSE, Rhoma was responsible for budgeting, financial reports, procurements, and administrative services for Health and Wellness.
As Budget and Operations Officer, Rhoma provides substantive budget, procurement, and operational support to the SBOE board members and staff, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Office of the Student Advocate.
Milayo Olufemi, Public Information Officer
Milayo (dot) Olufemi (at) dc (dot) gov
Milayo Olufemi is the Public Information Officer at the DC State Board of Education. Before joining the government, she was a multimedia journalist at WGN-TV in her hometown of Chicago, and later, at CNN’s Situation Room in DC. She began her federal government career as a Content Manager at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. She coordinated emergency communications to recruit and deploy individuals to serve at ground zero while raising global disease prevention awareness. As Deputy Press Secretary for the General Services Administration in Washington, DC, she managed press relations—gaining local and international news coverage for the agency’s programs and initiatives.
Milayo holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from DePaul University and a master’s degree in international relations at Harvard University. Outside of work, Milayo enjoys traveling and mentoring at-risk youth in Nigeria.
Jen Briones, Deputy Director of Policy and Research
Jen leads the DC State Board of Education (SBOE)’s Policy and Research Team as the Deputy Director of Policy and Research.
Prior to joining SBOE, Jen spent 10 years in the nonprofit sector developing extensive expertise in project management, research, and policy analysis. She most recently served as State Partnerships Manager at Credential Engine, where she helped state and regional leaders in 30 states and regions advance their credential transparency goals through the provision of project management, strategic planning, and technical assistance. She has also served as a Policy and Advocacy Associate at Data Quality Campaign (DQC). Jen is deeply passionate about ensuring educators have a voice in the policymaking process, largely due to her experience at Hope Street Group, where she connected teacher leaders with policymakers through national and state-level teacher fellowship programs.
Jen holds a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Maryland in political science and writing and a master’s degree in public policy from The George Washington University, where she co-founded the Women’s Leadership Fellows program. She is the proud daughter of immigrants. Outside of work, you can find her at a concert (the Renaissance World Tour in 2023) or cheering on her beloved Philly sports teams.
Dr. Darren Fleischer, Senior Policy Analyst
Darren (dot) Fleischer (at) dc (dot) gov
Darren serves as the Senior Policy Analyst at the State Board. Before moving to Washington DC in 2015, Darren spent ten years teaching middle and high school students in Japan, Ghana, as well as Florida, his home state. In DC, Darren served as a Legislative Fellow for Florida Congressman Alcee L. Hastings and interned with both the US Department of Education (USED) and the National Education Association (NEA). Darren’s passion is to leverage his teaching and education policy experiences to help ensure DC school staff are equipped with the resources and training needed to provide world-class education experiences to every child in their care.
Darren holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in science education from Florida State University, and earned his doctorate of education (Ed.D.) in education policy at George Washington University. His dissertation focused on Education Support Professionals (e.g., bus drivers, food service workers, custodians, etc.) and how important they are to school climate, student engagement, and their experiences acting as caring adults and mentors to our community’s students. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, cooking, traveling, rock climbing, and going on family adventures around DC.
Kathleen Coughlin, Education Standards Specialist
Kathleen (dot) Coughlin (at) dc (dot) gov
Kathleen Coughlin serves as the Education Standards Specialist for the DC State Board of Education (SBOE). She manages the State Board's efforts to analyze, update, and engage the community about DC's statewide educational standards. Prior to joining the State Board in November 2022, Coughlin taught multilingual English learners in DC and France. She has also worked on linguistics and cognitive science research around the ways people learn grammar in a new language, access to interpretation services in schools, and the preservation of minoritized languages.
Kathleen is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio but now calls Ward 6 home. She holds a B.A. in Linguistics and an M.A. in Educational Transformation from Georgetown University. She also expects to complete a graduate certificate in Data Analytics & Policy from Johns Hopkins University in December 2023. In her free time, Kathleen enjoys trivia, knitting, co-hosting a local book club, teaching tricks to her cat, Mara, and learning something new every day.
- Employee salary information is available on the DCHR website.