Management Staff of the Student Support Center

Carolyn L. Gardner, M.Ed – Executive Director

Ms. Gardner joined the Student Support Center staff in April 2006, bringing with her over 20 years of executive management experience in not-for-profits. In the course of her career she has overseen a wide array of community-based services including health care, housing, youth development and youth prevention programs, as well as counseling and crisis intervention services. Having provided a broad spectrum of services to children and youth, she joined SSC’s team with a strong belief that students’ basic needs must first be met if we hope to ensure their academic success and a recognition that SSC’s work to assist schools in identifying and addressing these needs is vital to our efforts to improve our educational systems.

Ms. Gardner’s non-profit management experience in fiscal oversight, Board development, and quality programming assists her in providing strong leadership for the Student Support Center. Her skills in system-building and program development not only ensure the effectiveness of SSC’s service delivery, they have also been instrumental in assisting partner schools to address their organizational and leadership concerns. In her tenure at SSC, Carolyn has worked with several charters in addressing a number of their ‘big picture’ issues such as Board effectiveness, evaluation and oversight of executive-level staff, and conducting organization-wide assessments.

Before moving to the DC Metropolitan area to serve as Executive Director of the Washington Free Clinic in 2001, Ms. Gardner served as the Executive Director of the YWCA of Lycoming County in Williamsport PA, and as the CEO of a free-standing women’s health clinic in Boston MA. She holds a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology from Lesley College in Cambridge MA and a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Reginald Burke, M.Ed. – Safe Schools Director

Mr. Burke received his Master’s Degree in Education from Howard University and has served as an educational administrator for more than 22 years. In this capacity, he developed effective academic programs, monitored students’ educational progress, and trained and motivated teachers and support staff in both private and public schools in the District of Columbia. Prior to joining SSC, he served for twelve years as an assistant principal and then principal in the District of Columbia Public Schools.

Mr. Burke possesses a wealth of experience facilitating staff development workshops and creating professional learning communities within schools. He has worked with various community agencies to develop and maintain partnerships to provide student support services including mentoring, job shadowing, and internships. In 2006, Mr. Burke received the national MetLife Ambassadors in Education Award for bridging the gap between schools and communities and developing outside resources to support students.

As SSC’s Safe Schools Director, has become a certified trainer for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, and currently serves on the DC Bullying Prevention Task Force. In addition, Mr. Burke is a School-wide Information System (SWIS) facilitator, and a Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) Trainer. He has utilized his training and experience to provide program management and support to local charter schools participating in the Safe Schools Healthy Student Initiative. This includes supervising program staff, providing oversight of training and monitoring of evidence-based programs, communicating with school and community leaders in order to foster citywide relationships and interagency linkages, facilitating program and community meetings, and consulting with school leadership to provide an effective and supportive educational environment.

Carla Galone, LICSW – Behavioral Health Services Coordinator

Ms. Galone holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Social Work from the State University of New York at Buffalo where she served as a Functional Family Therapist after receiving her degree. Prior to her employment at SSC, Ms. Galone served as a School Social Worker for four years at St. Coletta Special Education Public Charter School in DC where she supported teachers and families in crisis situations and conducted individual and group counseling for students with intellectual disabilities and autism.

Since joining SSC’s team, Ms. Galone has become a certified facilitator for the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and a certified trainer for the evidence-based QPR – Question, Persuade, Refer Suicide Prevention program. She is currently participating in training with DMH to become a certified Disaster Mental Health Responder. In her role at SSC, Ms. Galone provides clinical supervision to school-based case managers and MSW interns, and conducts trainings for charter schools on topics such as mandatory reporting requirements, triage assessment and intervention strategies for mental health and behavioral concerns, and schools’ responsibilities under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. In addition she works with the DC Behavioral Health Association and the DC Department of Mental Health on building systems that support children’s mental health in schools.

Christopher Lalik – Director of Interagency Relations

Mr. Lalik received a BS degree in Social Sciences from Johns Hopkins in 2005 and joined SSC in 2006. As the charter school coordinator for the DC Emergency Safety Alliance, he has helped to implement school emergency response plans and train School Emergency Response Teams in 48 charter schools. In 2008, Mr. Lalik became a certified specialist in the evidence-based Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design model and since that time has performed crime prevention audits in 17 schools. Currently, Mr. Lalik serves as the charter school Project Manager for the New Heights initiative as well as the School Safety Specialist for the Safe Schools Healthy Students Initiative. In addition to continuing his emergency planning and safety audit work, he assists charter schools to gain access to Metropolitan Police School Resource Officers and other community supports.

Carol Vest – Business Operations Manager

Mrs. Vest joined the Student Support Center in October 2004. She is a native Washingtonian who attended the University of D.C. initially majoring in social work, but completing her studies as an accounting major. She brought to SSC a wide base of experience which included not only working as an accountant and department manager for the federal government, but also operating her own bookkeeping service for a number of years. In addition to overseeing the day-to-day administrative, fiscal and HR responsibilities, she is responsible for assuring that the Center remains compliant and current with the various city and federal statues and requirements.