Our Leadership Team

Nikki Barnes

Executive Director



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Nikki joined the KIPP MA Team and Family in 2013 as a 6th grade humanities teacher at KIPP Academy Boston Middle School. Nikki has spent her professional career teaching in and advocating for public schools.  She has over 20 years of classroom experience in elementary, middle and high school.

After serving as the Dean of Students at KIPP Academy Boston in 2014, she became the School Leader in 2015.  Under her leadership, KIPP Academy Boston experienced some of the highest student growth in the state of Massachusetts, including three grade levels performing among the top ten schools in the KIPP Network with the highest reading growth on the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment

Nikki’s accomplishments as a teacher include being the first Black classroom teacher to earn National Board Certification in the state of Virginia.  She was also one of two teachers chosen to represent the state of Virginia at the National Teacher Forum in 2000 held in Washington, DC. She also has nearly 10 years of experience working in educational non-profit organizations focusing on teacher quality issues and minority community outreach including overseeing a multi-million dollar partnership with The Tom Joyner Foundation to increase the number of fully licensed teachers of color in high minority, high poverty districts.

Nikki is a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic University (1991) and Virginia Commonwealth University (2003) where her graduate research around Teacher Leadership led to the creation of the VCU Center for Teacher Leadership.

Nikki is the proud mother of her two children: Adrianna and Jordan, both of whom are teachers at KIPP Boston. 

Lovette Curry, Esq.

Chief Operating Officer



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Lovette joined the KIPP MA team in 2017 as the Regional Director of Human Resources. KIPP MA Human Resources department serves nearly 500 active employees and hundreds of former and future members of our team and family.

Lovette’s professional experience includes serving as the COO of a boutique firm specializing in education policy and reform at the state legislative level. She also served as the Executive Director for an adult community education department where she was responsible for strategic planning, budgeting and development, brand management, and marketing.

Before becoming Executive Director, she served as the Manager of Strategic Partnerships for the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, at the time, one of the largest education reform efforts in the nation, started and championed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villariagosa. In this role she developed education policy, developed operations and hiring procedures to support the newly formed district, and brought additional resources to inner city schools through partnerships with local businesses and community Leaders.

Lovette has a B.B.A. from Howard University in Washington, DC, her Juris Doctorate from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law in Los Angeles, CA, as well as her Master’s in Education Leadership from the Broad Residency Program.  She is a licensed member of the California State Bar.

Lovette remains active in her community by serving with various nonprofit as well as serving as a dedicated member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Lovette is married to Graham Curry with two children, Alexander Edward and Samuel Graham.

Caleb Dolan

Outgoing Executive Director



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Since 2011, Caleb has served as Executive Director for the KIPP Massachusetts region. KIPP MA has grown from operating one middle school in Lynn serving nearly 370 kids and families in grades 5-8 to a network of two districts in Lynn and Boston currently serving over 1,880 kids and families in grades K-12.

Caleb began his teaching career in 1996 as a Teach for America corps member in rural North Carolina. In 2000, he joined KIPP and co-founded the third KIPP school in the country on a peanut field in Gaston, NC with 80 5th graders. He taught and led KIPP Gaston College Preparatory (GCP) for eight years and oversaw the addition of a high school to the KIPP Gaston network in 2005. This expansion enabled KIPP Gaston to serve over 700 KIPPsters in grades 5-12. Under Caleb’s leadership, 100% of students in GCP’s first three graduating classes were accepted to college.

In 2009, Caleb moved back to New England to serve dual roles as Chief Academic Officer for KIPP Academy Lynn Middle School and Director of Principal Development for the KIPP Foundation. As KIPP Lynn’s Chief Academic Officer, Caleb was in charge of coaching teachers and incoming leaders, while his role as Director of Principal Development allowed him to mentor and coach new KIPP principals across the country. He also led the team that created the KIPP Framework for Excellent Teaching that serves as the professional development model utilized across all KIPP regions today.

In 2014, Caleb was named one of Boston’s 40-under-40 Business leaders by Boston Business Journal. He graduated from Colby College and lives in Boston with his wife, Joanna, and daughters, Tallulah and Mavis.

Rachel Heuisler

Managing Director of Talent



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Rachel joined KIPP MA in 2017 as the Managing Director of Talent and Operations. In this role, she oversees staff recruitment and selection, human resources, performance management, Teaching Fellows program, operations, compliance, and technology.  

Rachel’s career in education began in 2001 teaching pre-kindergarten and coaching varsity basketball in Belgium. She moved to New York and taught fifth and seventh grade at Public School 7 in East Harlem. In 2006, Rachel became the founding sixth grade writing teacher at KIPP Infinity Middle School, one of the highest performing charter schools in the country. In 2010, she transitioned to the KIPP NYC Talent Team, helping the region expand from four schools with 200 employees to eleven schools and over 800 staff members. As KIPP NYC’s Senior Director of Leadership Development, she launched an internal principal preparation program.

Rachel graduated Magna Cum Laude from Duke University with a B.A. in African American Studies and holds an M.A. in Elementary Education from Hunter College. Outside of work, Rachel can be found making forts and muffins with her children, Shane and Brooke.

Steve Pizzimenti

Chief Financial Officer



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Steve rejoined the KIPP MA team in 2018 as Chief Financial Officer after initially spending three years with KIPP MA from 2012 to 2015.  Steve’s career in education began in 2005 when he served as an AmeriCorps tutor at the MATCH Charter High School in Boston.  In 2010, after spending three years at Boston University working in the Budget, Planning, and Institutional Research Office, Steve joined Teach For America as a Massachusetts corps member, teaching Algebra 2 and Precalculus at Phoenix Charter Academy in Chelsea. Steve then joined KIPP Massachusetts in 2012, where he spent time at the KIPP Academy Lynn Middle School as both a School Operations Director and an 8th grade math teacher.  Prior to returning to KIPP in 2018, Steve spent three years at Boston Collegiate Charter School as Director of Operations and then Director of Strategic Projects.

Steve graduated from Boston College with a B.S. in management and concentrations in finance, information systems, and computer science. Steve also earned two Master’s degrees from Boston University, an M.B.A. with a concentration in public and nonprofit management and a Master’s of Education in curriculum and teaching for high school mathematics.

Steve lives in Jamaica Plain with his wife Cristin and their two children, Zachary and Jocelyn.

Mekka Smith

Chief of Staff



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Mekka joined KIPP Massachusetts in 2016. She is originally from Atlanta, GA, and started teaching in 2007 through Teach For America (TFA), where she worked with first and second grade students in Miami, Florida for five years. Mekka has been actively involved in new teacher development through working at teacher summer institutes across the country in Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, Tulsa, and Boston. In 2012, she joined the Teach For America-Massachusetts regional team and spent the next few years coaching teachers in elementary, middle, and high schools as well as supporting TFA alumni to find high impact, school-based roles in local district and charter schools.

Mekka has consistently worked to further strategic approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in education. She has led diversity sessions for education professionals at KIPP and at TFA and created a diversity and equity professional development scope and sequence for beginning teachers. She currently serves as the chair of The Collective-Massachusetts, a programming board that supports TFA alumni of color in the Commonwealth. She is a graduate of Amherst College and has a Master’s degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Outside of work, Mekka can be found catching up on podcasts and solving logic puzzles.