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Breakthrough Birmingham Staff

Mariohn Michel | Executive Director

Mariohn joins Breakthrough Birmingham after working in the South Bronx at a K-12 school where she wore a number of different hats: She was a data analyst, testing/program coordinator, and social studies department chair.  Dissecting the story assessment data told was a stepping stone for her to find creative solutions to classroom differentiation, curriculum design and execution, and programming efficacy. Prior to that, she was a 2011 Teach for America corps member where she spent three years as a high school social studies teacher in rural Alabama, which fostered her love of the state and its’ unique culture. Mariohn graduated magna cum laude from Florida International University with a B.S. in Secondary Social Studies Education.

Liora Chessin | Program Director

Prior to joining the Breakthrough team, Liora Chessin worked in both public and private schools as well as the nonprofit sector. Liora started her career in education in rural North Carolina as a part of Teach For America. Liora taught 12th grade English and started the school’s first Advancement Placement English Literature course. Liora most recently taught middle school English and history in a Birmingham-area school where she organized a Professional Learning Community for the faculty and created the student-run Leadership Through Library program. Liora also worked as the school’s Director of Admissions and Communications building relationships with stakeholders and families. Liora has managed a state-wide college access program, worked in various marketing positions, and designed diverse curricula including middle school humanities and social justice education. Liora also recently finished her Masters in Education from Brandeis University in Massachusetts with a speciality in Teacher Leadership. Liora has a B.A. in English from the Ohio State University’s Honor College where she graduated summa cum laude. 

Danyell Butler | Dean of Instruction & Students

Danyell Butler comes to Breakthrough with more than 10 years of experience working with Birmingham City Schools (BCS) in addition to being a BCS graduate herself from Jackson-Olin High School. Danyell received her B.A. from Alabama A&M in Huntsville, her M. Ed in Secondary Education from Alabama State University in Montgomery, her M. Ed in Instructional Leadership from the University of West Alabama in Livingston, her Ed. S  Instructional Leadership from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and she is pursuing her Ed.D in Instructional Leadership from Samford University. She is currently the assistant principal at Huffman Academy. In addition to her time at Breakthrough, Danyell was an Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI) Reading Specialist with BCS, having previously been an AP and pre-AP English teacher at her alma mater and a curriculum writer for the city school system. With her wide experience in education, Danyell is well-poised to lead Breakthrough’s academic instruction with a focus on research-proven techniques as well as alignment with students’ school day experience. Danyell is invaluable at Breakthrough for her work in the school system and the insight she therefore brings to Breakthrough’s mission to impact the Birmingham community.

Breakthrough Collaborative

180 Grand Ave #1225, Oakland, CA 94612, USA