Noah Beaufford joined SchoolTalk in 2017 during his junior year at Eastern Senior High School. In the summer of 2017, Noah completed a D.C. Public Schools Competitive Employment Opportunities Program internship with SchoolTalk. After he graduated from Eastern Senior High School in 2018, he worked for Literacy Lab for two years where he tutored three- and four-year-old children in literacy.
Noah began as a program assistant for the Arts to Advocacy team in 2020, where he supports the design and facilitation of arts-based programming for D.C. youth. He facilitates a variety of school-based workshops for youth, supports youth one-to-one to complete electronic portfolios, and provides them with accommodations they need to participate.
Noah is proudest of his work interviewing and documenting the experiences of former Forest Haven residents. The project includes the voices of individuals who lived at Forest Haven and what it meant to live there. It also highlights their journeys to live lives a part of and included in the community today. Forest Haven was an institution created for people with intellectual disabilities. It was where people from the District of Columbia were sent from the 1920s to 1970 to live lives apart and separate from the community. Noah believes that it is extremely important to provide former residents of Forest Haven with a safe space and trusting environment where they can share their stories from their own perspectives. He feels honored that he can provide them with a platform to elevate their experiences to the world.
Noah has been trained in trauma informed communication. He graduated from Eastern Senior High School in 2018.
Jessica Gonzalez joined SchoolTalk in 2022. She is the director of SchoolTalk's InclusiveDC initiative, which supports youth with disabilities and their peers in D.C. schools and the community organizations and systems that serve them. InclusiveDC programs are focused on College and Career Readiness and Arts to Advocacy and designed to elevate youth voice and promote inclusion.
Since 2012, Jessica has worked in Washington, D.C. and New York City to serve students with disabilities and students identified as English language learners to gain academic skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond. As a bilingual leader, Jessica is passionate about language acquisition and the value it offers. In 2019, Jessica joined The Sojourner Truth Montessori Public Charter School as one of the founding design team members. Jessica became the founding special education coordinator and served the community for three years. Jessica has been a special education and Spanish language teacher for D.C. Public Schools and a middle school liaison at Flamboyan Foundation. She is also experienced in implementing restorative justice practices in schools.
Jessica also serves as a travel ambassador, exposing students to studying abroad and gaining global competency skills that enrich the lives of students beyond the traditional classroom and preparing students to become global citizens. Jessica earned an M.S. in School Leadership and Administration from Trinity Washington University and a B.S. in Special Education with a minor in Romance Languages from Dowling College.
Chelsea Kovacs joined SchoolTalk in 2015. As program manager for SchoolTalk’s College and Career Readiness work, she directs the JumpStart program, facilitates the D.C. Secondary Transition Community of Practice, leads the D.C. Interagency Secondary Transition State Team, provides professional development and technical assistance for transition service providers.
With over 15 years of experience in special education and transition services, her work focuses on increasing the D.C.’s capacity to provide meaningful and evidence-based services to youth through transition planning, pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS), case management, job development, job coaching, employer and stakeholder engagement, interagency collaboration, and the development and implementation of transition-related instruction.
Chelsea’s is passionate about helping youth with disabilities overcome barriers to postsecondary success and becoming self-determined individuals.
Chelsea earned her Master of Education degree in Secondary Special Education and Transition Services from The George Washington University in 2015 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary and Special Education, with a concentration on middle school mathematics and science, from Rider University in 2010. She is currently a doctoral candidate of Special Education and Disability Studies at The George Washington University, concentrating on Pre-ETS data collection, secondary transition, and interagency collaboration.
Shana Townes joined SchoolTalk in 2022 as a RestorativeDC senior project manager. Shana creates logistical systems and peer-learning environments to support staff and program management. She develops community partnerships focusing on bringing high-quality restorative justice practices to school communities. Shana works closely with RestorativeDC’s program director to implement RestorativeDC projects.
Shana was raised in the Washington metropolitan area and has served students in Virginia and D.C. Shana’s passion is providing youth with tools to succeed in life and giving young people a platform to navigate conflict and support their emotional growth.
Prior to joining SchoolTalk, Shana was a program director at Kid Power, Inc., where she managed all afterschool and summer programming, AmeriCorps members, family engagement, community partnerships, and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Previously, Shana was a program coordinator for Housing Opportunities Unlimited, where she implemented year-round programming for adults and children, conducted community outreach, and assisted in case management and resident skill-building opportunities. Shana began her journey in out-of-school time programming when she led afterschool and summer programming with the Alexandria (Virginia) Recreation Department, focused on academics, social-emotional learning, and drama.
Shana attended George Mason University, where her studies included child psychology, elementary math and science, bullying and emotional behavior, and creative programming. She has had extensive training through D.C.’s Learn24 and 21st Century Community Learning Centers, focused on a variety of topics, including parent input, community building, staff engagement, and supporting our youth in social-emotional learning.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed Shana as a commissioner to the D.C. Community Schools Advisory Committee, which advises the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent on community schools in the District. She also serves on the Out-of-School Time Committee with DCAction.