Without our dedicated board members, Community Educational Research Group wouldn’t be possible. Our board members are dedicated to improving not only our school sites and programs but to help those who are less fortunate and underserved to acquire a quality education as well. Get to know more about our team.
Asha Willis, MD, MPH
Dr. Willis is a Pediatric Gastroenterologist with an extensive interest in public health and patient advocacy. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, and received her medical degree from New York Medical College. She completed her Pediatric residency and Pediatric Gastroenterology/Academic General Pediatrics fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Dr. Willis collaborated with the New York City Department of Health and mental Hygiene on the Obesity in Children campaign and has previously worked as a consultant for the non-profit organization Harlem Children’s Zone, assisting with program design and implementation of the Healthy Harlem Medical Monitoring program. She has also received grant funding for projects focusing on childhood obesity prevention and community based participatory research. Dr. Willis is currently employed at Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center, where she has worked since 2014.
Experienced Vice President with a demonstrated history of working in the banking industry. Skilled in Commercial Lending, Banking, Credit Analysis, Credit Cards, and Sales Management. Strong professional with a Bachelor of Science (BS) focused in Business Administration and Management, General from Catholic University of Sto Dgo.
William Sherman is the Chairman of the CERG Board of Directors. Mr. Sherman is the managing partner of Dinsmore & Shohl LLP’s Washington, D.C. office. Dinsmore is a full-service law firm with more than 25 offices across the country.
Mr. Sherman has represented Early Child Learning Centers and helps them navigate the regulatory framework to ensure compliance. He also serves on the DC Early Learning Collaborative board of directors as its vice chair.
Mr. Sherman’s law practice involves the defense of mass tort class action suits with an emphasis on product liability defense. William is a member of the Product Liability Advisory Council (PLAC), which is an association of the foremost product liability defense counsel in the United States and abroad. Described as a “trial lawyer,” the firm utilizes his vast trial experience in a variety of cases where trial seems likely. As such, he has successfully litigated cases in areas of patent infringement, product liability, the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), securities, federal administrative proceedings, construction, automobile warranty, employment discrimination, and a variety of complex commercial litigation matters.
Dennis de Tray
After graduating from the University of Chicago with a Ph.D. in economics in 1971 and following a 12-year stint at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, Dr. de Tray joined the World Bank’s Research Department in 1983. He was appointed the Bank’s Research Administrator in 1987 and moved to the Bank’s Latin American operations complex in 1992. His last assignments at the Bank were as Country Director for Indonesia, 1994-1999, and then Central Asia, 2001-2006.
He is now a founding father of and Adviser to the President, and member of the Board of Trustees of Nazarbayev University, a new English language university in Astana, Kazakhstan. He is also a principal with the Results for Development Institute in Washington, D.C., and is the founder and proprietor of de Tray Consulting.
Since leaving the World Bank, his consulting work has included advising: the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan, the governments of Kazakhstan and East Timor, and the Aga Khan Development Network. Dr. de Tray, and his wife Mary, have lived in many parts of Asia: Pakistan (1977-1979), Indonesia (1994-1999), Vietnam (1990-2001), and Kazakhstan (2002-2017). He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of two Washington-based youth-oriented NGOs: the D.C. Youth Orchestra Program; and of the Community Education Research Group. Dr. de Tray grew up in Kenya, East Africa, from 1954 to1961.
Lauren Ziegler works at the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution where she advances research and policy guidance on education innovations. As a former Broad Resident in Urban Education, she led strategic initiatives for a network of public charter schools in Philadelphia and Camden. She began her career as a Presidential Management Fellow with the U.S. government, where she worked to advance foreign assistance programs in over 20 countries. Lauren holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University.
Nathan Warner is the Deputy Director of Operations for the American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia, the local affiliate of the ACLU which works to defend and preserve civil liberties for the residents of Washington, DC. In this role, he manages key organization operational functions including finance, human resources, technology, and staff development, as well as helping guide the overall organization budget and strategy.
Prior to joining the ACLU of DC, Nathan served as an educator for ten years, most recently serving as an assistant principal with DC Public Schools at an under-served elementary and middle school. During his five years as a school administrator, he led his school to triple achievement gains in literacy, improve student satisfaction by 20%, and receive recognition as the DCPS winner of the 2020 Equity Award, which honors school-wide commitment to recognizing bias, reducing disparities, and increasing opportunity for at-risk students and students of color. While teaching in Las Vegas, he learned fluent Spanish during the summer break in order to communicate effectively with the parents and community of the largely Latino/a student body.
Gary Lewis McPherson, II, AIF®, CLTC, CPFA
Gary McPherson II is the Sr. Managing Partner of McPherson Financial Partners, LLC (MFP). Gary has been in the financial services industry for over 18 years. Gary manages a comprehensive financial services firm in Bethesda, MD. Gary is an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®), Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor (CPFA) and Certified in Long Term Care.
Gary has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Psychology and a bachelor’s degree from Towson University in Business Management with a minor in Financial Planning. Gary joins the board after serving for over three years on the board of an independent school in Darnestown, MD. Gary partners with AFEA, a NC non-profit, to deliver financial education to the Bethesda, MD community. Also, since 2014, Gary has volunteered and provided financial literacy to African American student-athletes and individual with special needs. Gary and his wife, Amy, live with their two children, in Gaithersburg, MD.
He previously served as a medic in the Nevada Army National Guard and has volunteered with the Red Cross, teaching citizenship classes, and with other community organizations.