The Teacher Leadership Board serves as thought partners and education advisors for the organization and as ambassadors in advancing our mission.

Teacher Leadership Board Members 2020-2021

The Teacher Leadership Board (TLB) is currently comprised of 12 Generation Citizen program teachers representing each of GC’s regional program sites. The TLB elevates the vital voices of teachers in the growing movement to expand access to high-quality Action Civics across the country. GC’s value of Grassroots Change articulates the belief that those closest to the issue are best poised to create its solutions, and the TLB will help the organization honor that value and enhance its work.

Deirdre Doughty | Colorado River Collegiate Academy
Bastrop, Texas 2019-2021

Deirdre Doughty began guiding her students in Generation Citizen in 2018 as a teacher at the Colorado River Collegiate Academy (CRCA), a public early-college high school in rural Bastrop, Texas. There she teaches Social Studies and she also teaches US History at Austin Community College, Elgin.

Deirdre believes that Generation Citizen’s Action Civics program is especially beneficial for  traditionally under-represented students such as hers. She has been thrilled to see them learn that they have powerful voices that really can create change in their local communities. Past projects include advocating for better public school funding at the state level, pushing for a District-wide SEL program in BISD, advocating for more accessible after-school transportation, advocating for the Bastrop City Council to pass a stronger hands-free driving law and working to reduce youth substance abuse. 

Deirdre holds a B.A. in Psychology and History, an M.A. in History and a Ph.D. in History, all from the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to advocating for her students in Bastrop, she is also a commissioner on the City of Austin LGBTQ Quality of Life Advisory Board where she advocates at the city level for all LGBTQIA youth. She is honored to have earned the 2019 Generation Citizen Central Texas Teacher ChangeMaker award and to have been named the 2019 Bastrop Independent School District Teacher of the Year and the 2020 Texas Region XIII Teacher of the Year.

Deirdre lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, 3 children, a dog and a cat and enjoys reading, cooking and traveling in her spare time.


Shamaine A. Francis | New Visions Charter High School
Rockaway, New York 2019-2021

Shamaine is a Social Worker and educator in NYC who has partnered with Generation Citizen since 2018. Shamaine believes that civics education is an important component of a comprehensive and empowering education. As a member of the Teacher Leadership Board, Shamaine is eager to connect students across the country to each other. This is in an effort to foster a curiosity about and a deeper understanding of regional issues. She is also committed to promoting the social and emotional benefits of a dynamic civics education. 

A native of New York City, Shamaine currently resides and works on the Rockaway peninsula a burgeoning community that is directly impacted by environmental issues reflected in the rising tides and eroding beaches. She is the Lead Counselor of the New Visions Charter High School for the Humanities IV and advisor for the school’s Student Government Association. 

Outside of the classroom, Shamaine enjoys yoga and meditation and shares life with her husband James and their two daughters Stella and Tessa. 

Matthew Gray | The High School at Austin Achieve 
Austin, Texas 2019-2021

Matt Gray is a high school Ethnic Studies teacher in Austin, Texas who has utilized Generation Citizen in his classrooms since 2018. He has always prided himself on building empathy within his scholars by helping them analyze their life experiences, but Generation Citizen has allowed him to offer his scholars something even more: building activism in scholars by analyzing their life experiences. 

Son of a naval chief, Matt spent most of his life relocating coast to coast, from Florida, Virginia, Georgia, and California. He draws on those life experiences with diverse people in diverse environments to enrich his Ethnic Studies class. And while Matt is passionate about cultivating a diverse world view in his scholars, having been the victor over a false accusation and subsequent false imprisonment during his senior year of high school, he is also passionate about promoting civic literacy and civic action in his scholars. 

Matt is an alumnus of The Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University where he spent time working with civic advocacy groups like the Dream Defenders. During his freshman year, he had the opportunity to intern for civil rights leaders Patricia Stephens Due and John Due. Matt enjoys traveling, cooking, hiking, and spending time with his rambunctious pup, Eli!  

Kenady Maynard | Alcott Middle School
Norman, Oklahoma 2019-2021

Kenady began using the Generation Citizen curriculum in her 8th grade U.S History class at Alcott Middle School in 2018. She has cultivated her passion for a civically informed youth and spreading the ideals of action civics throughout Oklahoma. Kenady has seen Oklahoma’s civics failures at first hand and believes that empowering young people to find their voice and discuss tough issues is the only way to make essential changes in the state of Oklahoma. 

As being a crucial piece within her school, she also teaches Oklahoma History and Yearbook. Kenady is passionate about seeing civics taught in the classroom. Kenady’s classes have succeeded tremendously at Civics Day, winning the “Action” and “Diversity” awards for their projects. One of her students also won the coveted “Changemaker of the Year” Award. Through professional and personal commitments, she strives to always celebrate human agency by celebrating human diversity and creativity.

Kenady holds a B.A. in Secondary Social Studies Education from Mid America Christian University from where she played collegiate soccer. As a born and raised Oklahoman, Kenady enjoys Thunder basketball, being a dog mom, and DIY projects.

Michael Neagle | Lowell High School
Lowell, Massachusetts 2019-2021

Michael believes students are the “now” generation, not the next generation, and he is passionate about civics education. He is committed to providing authentic and meaningful learning opportunities for all and he has served as a middle school teacher for 12 years in charter and public school settings in Lawrence and Lowell, MA.

Michael launched Generation Citizen in his middle school in 2016 after being inspired by the GC partnership with Lowell High School. Over the past three years, he has helped implement GC in all nine middle schools in his district, providing action civics opportunities to more than 1,000 students. Michael’s middle school students have focused on a number of issues including increasing the state budget to provide suicide awareness and prevention training in schools, securing funding to begin an extra-curricular world language program, and drafting legislation to restrict the sale of flavored vape products. His students have been recognized with the 2018 Classroom Changemaker Award and the 2017 Action Award. In 2020, Michael transitioned to Lowell High School as a World History teacher and is looking forward to the focus issues his GC classes select.

Michael was selected as the 2019 Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year and as a Finalist for National History Teacher of the Year. He has also been recognized with the 2018 Salvucci Civics Award from the MA Council for the Social Studies, 2017 Teacher Changemaker from Generation Citizen, and as the  2014 Lowell – Pyne Arts School Teacher of the Year. Michael was also selected as the 2019 Massachusetts Civic Engagement Champion by the NASBE for his work in promoting civics education and active citizenship. He also brings eight years of service in the Marine Corps to his classroom. 

Michael enjoys reading, traveling, riding bikes with his children, and spending time with his wife, also a Lowell Public Schools teacher.

Melanie Simas | Central Falls High School 
Central Falls, Rhode Island 2019-2021

Melanie Simas is a Social Studies teacher at Central Falls High School in Central Falls, RI.  She is a teacher of Self-Contained Special Education History and Mainstream Civics. In 2017, Melanie was first introduced to Generation Citizen and her first group of students worked on decreasing waste in the community by limiting plastic bags.  Their work led them to receive the Grassroots Change award at the Rhode Island Civics Day. Melanie enjoys talking to students about what they are still doing to create change in the community. Subsequent classes have done great work in their community.

Melanie is extremely passionate about Social Studies education and believes that it is important for all students to have access to a Social Studies curriculum to become informed citizens.  Rhode Island and her school community do not give as much emphasis on the subject of Social Studies, so Melanie is actively advocating for Civics and Government education for her students in Central Falls and Rhode Island.  With a Bachelor of Arts in History from Assumption College and a Masters of Education in Special Education from Rhode Island College, Melanie continues to advocate for all students on the importance of active citizenship and advocacy in the community.

In her spare time, Melanie enjoys traveling, going to the beach, reading, and baking. She is an avid New England Sports fan. She resides in Warwick, Rhode Island and loves Rhode Island!

Robin van der Vegt | Berkeley High School
Berkeley, California 2019-2021

Robin is a high school teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area teaching classes including Internation Baccalaureate History, Economics, Government, and African American Studies. She brought GC into her classroom in 2018 when she questioned the deeper meaning of teaching students about a government that seemed more and more disconnected from the people it is meant to serve. She observed that the opinions and fears expressed by her students did not seem to match the political conversations of the day.

Robin and her colleagues piloted a local Civics Day at their own school site during which students showcased their advocacy projects. Students have taken on diverse, hyper-local issues including addressing homelessness, tackling the racial achievement gap within her school district, to providing better access to feminine hygiene products.

In 2019, Robin joined the TLB to support the organization in meeting the varied needs of teachers across the country as they take on the challenge of preparing the next exciting generation of young leaders across our country. 

Robin loves cooking, taking walks, teaching, and daydreaming.

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