February 2024 Chapter Meeting

Kathryn Huntsman, Dayna C. Sanders, Betsy Cook, & Dr. Deborah Jolly

Education Grants 2.0 – Winning State and Federal Collaborations

Thursday, February 15th, 11:30 – 1:00 p.m.  


Our February Chapter Meeting is focused on exploring TEA, ED, and other grants in education, as well as forming collaborative workspaces. Please join us on February 15th.

We have a group of experienced grant professionals and administrators who will be presenting on this topic. Kathryn Huntsman, one of our Board members, will lead this all-star panel.

Kathryn brings over 20 years of experience in Federal Programs and Grants and has secured millions in educational and public sector grants.

You will hear from other partners with experience in large and small-scale projects. This panel presentation will help you understand the process of identifying funding, learning about the funding, evaluating your organizational readiness, and setting up strong implementation and evaluation processes. You will gain knowledge about collaboration and building partnerships.

Recent projects supported by panelists include TEA Teacher Leadership, TEA Teacher Incentive Allotment, emergent bilingual teacher professional development funding, multiple TEA funds, ED funds, and much more. If you have no experience with this funding, this is a great time to learn more!

OPTIONAL $16.00 lunch is available for in-person attendees. 


Panel Bios

Kathryn Huntsman, BakerRipley, Asst. Dir. Grant Dev. and Compliance

Kathryn Huntsman is the Asst. Director of Grant Development and Compliance at BakerRipley. She currently supports new, re-bid, and renewal funding for 25 Head Start/Early Head Start programs, 16 senior centers, 4 schools, 12 Workforce Offices, 5 Workforce Child Care teams across 5 regions, 1 Veterans Homeless Prevention and Rapid-Rehousing program, 3 Utilities Assistance programs, weatherization, STEM innovation centers, 4 community centers, 3 legal services sites, and 12 VITA Tax Assistance sites serving over 30,000 in Harris County. Kathryn’s work supports funding for 500,000 of the most vulnerable populations across the region.

With over 27 years of experience, she is the lead federal, state, early childhood, and education Grant Specialist on BakerRipley staff. Kathryn’s experience is vast including 7 years’ experience as a Museum Curator, 5 years teaching college and high school U.S. and World history, and 15 years as a Federal Programs and Grants Director.

Throughout her career, she is known for genuine passion, collaboration, authentic intellectual interests and expertise, contributions to the betterment of the community, literacy innovations, STEM innovations, early childhood expertise, and a passion for educators. She specializes in high quality leadership and leadership support utilizing research-based leadership development practices and principles.  You will know you are working with Kathryn when – the mountain of work becomes a fun journey of self-discovery and learning with outcomes well beyond what you imagined. She walks with you as you plot your course and makes sure you reach the goal on time and happy.

Dayna C. Sanders, Owner, Elite Mahogany Group LLC

Dayna C. Sanders, owner of Elite Mahogany Group has successfully led many aspects of curriculum, instruction, assessment, school management, charter management, coaching and professional development over the past 20+ years. Dayna’s education and school transformation experiences transcend many leadership roles in charter and public schools.  From leading the Teaching & Learning Department in a region of over 40,000 students as Deputy Chief of Academic & Leadership Programming at KIPP to managing and coaching a portfolio of schools as Deputy Head of Schools at KIPP Houston Public Schools, Dayna’s work in school management and curriculum curation gives her a unique ability to quickly assess an organization’s current reality and strategically plan and provide resources aligned to reaching end-of-year goals and targets alongside key shareholders.  Oftentimes, these resources align to grant funding, progress monitoring, reporting and compliance.  As the former Deputy Chief of Academics for KIPP Texas-Houston, Dayna has worked alongside regional academic leaders and regional superintendents to improve student results at existing schools while also coaching leaders in preparation for opening new schools. Her experiences transcend across a depth of high level school, regional and state leadership roles in North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Texas and Florida. As a former Director of Curriculum, Assistant Director of Curriculum & Instruction, School Leader, Literacy Facilitator and Classroom Teacher, Dayna has maintained a focus on improving student achievement and improving the instructional capacity of teachers and leaders over the past 20 years. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education at Winthrop University, Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Supervision at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte, Ed.S. Degree in Educational Leadership at South Carolina State University and a National Principal Supervisor’s Academy certificate through Relay Graduate School of Education. Dayna truly believes in life-long learning, transforming communities and building the capacity of leaders.

Betsy Cook, Senior Partner and Founder, Activated Partners

With over 25 years experience working with governmental and educational agencies, I excel in designing and implementing true system level change.  At the center of the work is the recognition of the important role of teachers in raising student achievement results and building and sustaining a positive and supportive school culture.  

Partnered with over 45 districts from across Texas, ranging in size from 40 to 10,000 teachers, to create unique local Teacher Incentive Allotment plans. The Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) elevates the education profession by providing districts with systems and funding to recruit promising new teachers, retain their best teachers, and incentivize teachers to work in high-needs schools and difficult to staff positions. Last year, the state awarded over $145 million in funding to increase teacher salaries.

Deborah Jolly, Wexford Institute, Deputy Director and Chief Development Officer


Dr. Deborah Jolly is the Deputy Director and as CDO of the Wexford Institute supporting the continued expansion of the Wexford client base, helping clients to expand their funding base. With over 35 years of experience, she is the lead researcher and evaluator on initiatives that involve organizational change, technology, all special populations, incentive pay and instructional design theory. She joined the Wexford Institute from Texas A&M University where she held numerous leadership and senior research positions that supported funding through the Office of Research across eight Big 12 universities. Prior to this, she was Vice President of a U.S. Department of Education National Regional Educational Laboratory.  Before moving to Texas, she was an Area Director for the St. Louis County Special School District, the largest incorporated special school district (23 districts) in the country, where she was a field-based area director charged with introducing large-scale change efforts throughout the district. She has been a special-needs teacher, administrator, foundation owner (Texas Capitol Schoolhouse), private preschool owner, has published extensively as a principal investigator and is a founding board member of numerous educational associations including the Texas Distance Learning Association. She has served on a host of state and national committees, research institutions, and departments of education as well as private industry. Throughout her career she has authored over 200 local, state, national and international publications and presentations and has conducted research and evaluation for local, state, regional and national agencies and programs.  She received her bachelor’s degree in educational psychology (special needs populations) from Southern Illinois University, her master’s from St. Louis University school psychology program and her doctorate in instructional design from Southern Illinois University.