Our Team


Laura Tavares

Executive Director

Laura’s 20-year career in education has been inspired by a belief in the civic mission of schools. After teaching middle and high school in New York City and Boston, Laura held a variety of leadership positions at the global non-profit Facing History and Ourselves, where she developed innovative classroom resources, designed transformative learning experiences for educators, and led strategic partnerships. She writes about history, current events and education for publications including the New York TimesEducational LeadershipGreater Good Magazine, and Social Education.

A first-generation college student, Laura graduated from Wellesley College and later received graduate degrees in literature and history from Oxford University, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar. 

Anna Leonhard

Director of Programs

Anna began her journey as an educator in 2010, serving English language learners in elementary and middle school. She worked with students in Boston and Denver, teaching ELA and English Language Development. Anna believes in leveraging interest-based learning to nurture the creativity of all students. After several years in Colorado, Anna relocated to Atlanta where she served at a charter school as Curriculum Director in Social Studies and Language Arts. Anna holds an MA in Teaching Literacy and ESOL from Georgia State University and a bachelor’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language from Moody Bible Institute. Anna is passionate about supporting educators as they delve deeper into their practice, cultivating classrooms of life-long learners.

Juan Fernandez

Senior Advisor

Juan oversees WPS, collaborating closely with a small team of senior advisors. Juan has 20+ years of experience working for progressive non-profit organizations and global financial institutions.  Within K12 education, Juan has worked in grassroots organizing, philanthropy, school leadership, and professional development.

Juan holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Harvard College.

Deb Levitzky

Senior Advisor

Deb leads the design and execution of transformative inductive adult learning. Deb served for eight years as the Chief Program Officer and Founding Director of the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education (NAATE). Deb was an architect of the Effective Practice Incentive Community (EPIC), a professional learning platform launched by New Leaders and served in the NYC Department of Education as an Associate Director in the Office of New Schools.

Deb holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management, an MSA in education administration from Trinity College, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Barnard College.

Deb Levitzky

WPS · 196 Herrick Rd. · Newton, MA · 02459 · info@wpsinstitute.org