Learn about our Equitable Foundational Literacy Research

Bill Fitzgerald is the Director of Research and Development for AERDF. Prior to joining AERDF, Bill was a privacy researcher in the Digital Lab at Consumer Reports, where he worked on cross functional teams designing research frameworks and building tools to simplify and streamline privacy and security research and reporting.

Bill’s first job was a K12 teacher and technology director, where he taught students English, History, and Technology. Bill planned and supported 1:1 laptop initiatives in the late nineties and early aughts. Because of this work, Bill was able to observe and develop innovative uses of technology in his own classes with students who were not shy about providing direct feedback about what worked and what didn’t.

After teaching for 16 years, Bill founded an open source software development company that worked primarily with educational and non-profit organizations. His company supported organizations committed to building communities of learners, authoring and distributing openly licensed content, and respecting learner privacy.

When Bill is not online, he can often be found grilling delicious food, drinking good coffee, or riding his bicycle.

Asia Parks is the Ethics and Privacy counsel for AERDF. Asia has 8 years of legal experience. Asia has a diverse background but takes the most pride in her community efforts, as a lawyer in Georgia she’s supported various organizations. She served as the Chair of the Georgia Chapter of the National Lawyer’s Guild where she led the Legal Observer Program. She currently sits on the board of Sur Legal Collaborative a legal organization that supports immigrant workers in Georgia. In her free time, she loves on her pets, tends to her garden, loves to travel and takes various dance classes. She holds a B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Biodiversity from Hampton University and JD from John Marshall Law School of Atlanta.

Maria Mercado is AERDF’s People Experience Manager. She is a New Jersey native who has spent ten years as a Human Resources leader in the non-profit sector. Most recently, Maria was the Senior Human Resources Manager at Mindlance. Previously, she was the Human Resources Director at Alpine Country Club and a Human Resources Business Partner at Valley National Bank. Maria spent eight+ years at Everas Community Services as the Director of Human Resources, using her talent management expertise to build the Human Resources team and help the organization triple in size. Maria earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Princeton University, where she was a coxswain for the Men’s Rowing Team. Maria also holds certifications as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and as a Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). Maria volunteers as an Alumni Interviewer supporting the Princeton University Admissions Office in the selection process of prospective students. In her spare time, Maria enjoys spending time with family and friends, hiking, going to the beach, reading, cooking, and going on road trips. She resides in Morristown, New Jersey.

Nerica Bowie is the Manager of Finance for AERDF Shared Services.  In her current role, Bowie supports all financial-related functions for AERDF.

 She brings more than 12 years of accounting, tax, and financial management experience in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors. With 5 years of experience directing financial activities, she specializes in using business acumen to help organizations streamline financial policies and processes. She also has both high school and college teaching experience. Nerica holds a Bachelor of Business from Austin Peay State University, an MBA from Middle Tennessee State University and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Education degree in Organizational Leadership.

She enjoys shopping and traveling. Her core values encompass DEI, servant leadership, and authenticity.

Dr. Yasmene Mumby is the Director of Communications for AERDF and guides our narrative approach to dignity-centered storytelling rooted in power, agency, and purposeful action across all branding, communications, and marketing initiatives. 

Most recently, Yasmene served as Senior Advisor and Communications Lead with the International Rescue Committee where she led a strategic communications campaign for the data capture, analysis, dissemination, and action planning for a humanitarian sector groundbreaking global diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative. The communications, translated into 19 languages, spanned 40+ countries and motivated 75% of 17,000+ staff to participate and almost 25,000 written comments, voluntarily.

A former middle school teacher turned community organizer in her hometown, Baltimore, she’s led numerous organizing and advocacy victories with over 3,000 parent, teacher, and student leaders. Yasmene earned her Bachelor’s in International Studies and Master’s in Teaching from the Johns Hopkins University, along with a JD from University of Maryland School of Law and a Doctorate in Education Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Garron Hillaire is AERDF’s Director of Strategic Development, and he draws on a technical background and an equity perspective in K-12 education. He has over a decade of work in technology start-ups, and he has contributed to research on Universal Design for Learning for another decade. Most recently he led a project in Equitable Teaching Practices while a Post-doc at MIT in the Teaching Systems Lab – where he explored Digital Decolonization through supporting communities to lead research around issues of equity. He holds an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Technology Innovation and Education as well as Ph.D. in Educational Technology from the Open University as a part of the award winning Open World Learning program. In his work at AERDF, Garron has helped to establish a strategy for identification of new ideas and leaders for new programs referred to as the Community Garden of Inclusive Research & Development.