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The Team



Chief Executive Officer

As a native and resident of Newark, NJ, Shennell McCloud is the founding Chief Executive Officer of Project Ready and has successfully channeled her experiences to become a social activist, empowering hundreds of New Jerseyans to take on leadership roles in their communities.

As the leader of Project Ready, Shennell has worked to close the opportunity gap and improve life outcomes for Newark’s children by empowering her community to demand excellence from local schools. Her work is centered on growing the base of local voters, mobilizing the voting base to turn out at local elections, and developing future leaders to improve the city’s schools and its future. In the last year, Shennell organized the 1,000 Newarkers Vote By Mail campaign to increase Newark’s turnout, and successfully advocated for the passage of bills to allow New Jerseyans to register to vote online and expand access to mail-in ballots.

Shennell is also the co-founder of the New Jersey Parent Summit – an event dedicated to bringing together change-makers from across New Jersey. Since its inception in 2016, the event has seen its 400+ total parent attendees grow into elected officials, leaders of nonprofit organizations, and powerful grassroots advocates. It has demonstrated that when change-agents come together to advocate for our children and communities, there is nothing that they cannot accomplish.

For seven years, Shennell supported and directed recruitment for the KIPP Schools in Newark. Shennell officially became Director of Recruitment in 2011, where she led and developed a team of seven recruiters. The team was responsible for the recruitment and selection of over 300+ employees. In July of 2014, Shennell became KIPP NJ’s Director of Advocacy.

In 2019, Shennell organized the 500 Princess Dolls for 500 Princesses giveaway. Bringing life to a vision she’d held since the birth of her daughter Avon in 2016, she managed to procure 500 dolls in three different shades of brown, and gave each one to a young girl in Newark. Recalling the fact that her own childhood lacked female role models who looked like her, Shennell wanted each black and brown girl to know she is a princess, and to have a doll that reflects her boundless beauty and innate power.

Shennell lives in Newark and is raising her three: Avon, Adonis, and Avel.


Chief Operations Officer

Karin Gerald joins the Project Ready team as the Chief Operations Officer, bringing over twenty years of experience leading strategic organizational initiatives and streamlining operations. Mrs. Gerald will utilize her extensive experience in organization startup while fulfilling her commitment to close the opportunity gap within our communities. As the COO, she is charged with defining and implementing the infrastructure and systems needed to grow the organization over the next five years.

Prior to joining Project Ready, Mrs. Gerald worked at Uncommon Schools North Star Academy for ten years. She initially joined the organization as the Network Director of Special Projects before assuming the role of Director of School Support. She developed the Newark school support team responsible for identifying and executing region-wide initiatives and systems, as well as implementing sustainable solutions as gaps were identified. During her last years with North Star Academy, she served as the Regional Senior Director overseeing the strategic plan for the region’s external affairs and managing relationships with school, regional, and community partners.

At Achievement First Hartford Elementary Academy, Mrs. Gerald served a similar role in managing the school’s non-instructional and operational obligations. As a Program Manager with Communities In Schools of Philadelphia, she spearheaded three programs across various schools within the Philadelphia school district. These programs focused on providing support and resources for students to stay in school, graduate from high school and attend college/postsecondary training. She also launched college readiness programs during her role as the GEAR UP Program Coordinator at Temple University, subcontracting and training eight colleges/universities to provide tutoring services and campus-based field experiences to 21 district schools.

Mrs. Gerald received a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education and Psychology, as well as a Master of Education in Educational Administration from Temple University.



Deputy Executive Director

Ron Augustin recently joined Project Ready as the Managing Director of Organizing. His new role allows him to serve as an advocate for education and social justice. He is responsible for developing and leading Project Ready’s Advocacy and community activation work in Newark, NJ. Prior to Project Ready, Ron Augustin led the Alumni and Community Partnerships team toward maximizing the impact of over 1,500 Teach For America alumni across the state of New Jersey. The team oversaw initiatives like rising school leadership, alumni teacher retention, and maximizing the impact of our alumni of color. Ron first joined Teach For America in 2011, serving as a director on the District and School Partnerships team in New York, in which he played an instrumental role in building strong relationships with both new and longstanding school partners.


In that time, Ron, along with the regional team, ensured over 1,200 corps members were hired in urban schools across NYC. He also led efforts to launch the first early childhood education cohort, which trained and placed over 20 early childhood teachers in the inaugural year. Prior to TFA, Ron worked as a recruitment director for New Leaders for New Schools, a national non-profit that recruits, trains, selects, and supports urban public school principals. He also served in various roles at the New York City Department of Education as part of Chancellor Joel Klein’s Children First reforms, including Associate Director of Community Affairs, Program Manager for the Community Education Councils, and Parent Support Office in central Brooklyn.

Ron serves as the Vice-Chair for Achieve Community Charter School in Newark, NJ, and on the advisory board of Greater Newark Shared Services Alliance. He also served as a past chapter president and youth mentor chair for the Brooklyn alumni chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Ron is a proud father of three children, Ava, Nina, and Noah.

Fun Fact: Ron is a certified open water scuba diver.

Dr. Brittany Kirkland

Chief Programs Officer

Dr. Brittany Kirkland, has a decade-long career in Education. She has worked full time at Achievement First, a charter school network, where she was involved in accelerating the cohesion and coordination of K-12 programming and overseeing professional development for 2000+ teachers. Dr. Kirkland’s most prized accomplishment was campaigning and winning a seat for a three-year term on the Board of Education for the Borough of Roselle Park in November 2020, where she has since served on numerous committees which include Chair of Board Operations and Chair of the Superintendent Search Committee, to promote the continued upward trajectory of Roselle Park and its diverse community of students and just recently, won her re-election this past November 2023. 


Through her involvement in various roles in education, Brittany started a consulting company, Dr. K’s Consulting, where she lends her expertise to non-profit organizations to assist with development and expansion. Her ultimate goal has always been to combine all her experiences, which brought her to Project Ready NJ, as the new Chief Program Officer. As a constant servant of public service, Dr. Kirkland also dedicates her time to Roselle Park’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee where she helped to bring the First Juneteenth Festival, serves as the newly voted in President of the Board of Trustees for King’s Daughter Day School located in Plainfield and is heavily involved in her beloved sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

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