School Leadership Team


Meet the tireless educators whose dedication and vision have brought The SEED School of Miami to life. Click on their names to contact them via email.


Kara Locke, Ed.d., Head of School

Kara Locke, Ed. D. served as the Principal of The SEED School of Washington D.C. from 2007 - 2014 and began her role as the Head of School of SEED Miami in early 2014. She is a native of Washington, D.C. who received her bachelor’s degree in English Literature with a concentration in Secondary Education from Rhodes College. She completed her graduate work at Johns Hopkins University where she earned a master’s degree in School Administration and Supervision. In 2006 she was selected by New Leaders for New Schools to serve as a Resident Principal and engage in a yearlong learning and leadership fellowship program. She completed her coursework to earn her Ed.D in Educational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Locke has taught at both the elementary and high school levels in Washington, D.C. area private and public charter schools. She has been recognized for her teaching by the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. and for her leadership by New Leaders for New Schools.

Giovanna Maldonado, Director of Operations

Giovanna Maldonado is an accomplished Human Resources professional with proven skills in the educational non-profit arena.  Giovanna has used her background as an educator and HR professional to successfully lead all HR functions for 15 years. Currently, Giovanna is the Director of Operations for The SEED School of Miami, South Florida's first public, boarding school, where she has been an instrumental leader streamlining start-up efforts of the HR Department.  She has been responsible for driving best-in-class initiatives in talent management, employee relations and strategic planning. Giovanna has consistently delivered results by aligning human capital strategy with mission priorities of the organization.  Giovanna earned her MBA from Nova Southeastern University and bachelor's degree in Psychology & Education from the University of Miami.  


Eric L. Lewis, Director of Admissions & Enrollment Management

Eric L. Lewis served as Program Director for I Have a Dream - Overtown, Inc. successfully transitioning a cohort of 67 students within Miami-Dade County Public Schools beginning in 1st grade until their freshman year of college from 2004 - 2016.  He began his role as Admissions Coordinator with SEED Miami in August of 2016.  Born and raised in Miami, Fl., he earned his Bachelor’s of Science degree in Exceptional Education K-12 from Florida International University.  In April of 2017 he was promoted to Director of Admissions and Student Enrollment; and then selected as School Support Team member of the year in May of 2017.  Eric L. Lewis has devoted over 20 years of his professional career to the advancement of students in South Florida through teaching, mentoring, coaching and counselling.

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Tiffany Graver-Smith, Director of Development: Annual Giving

Tiffany Graver-Smith is a founding member of The SEED School of Miami, overseeing various aspects of our Development efforts throughout these opening years. In this capacity, she manages the SEED Miami Board of Directors, social media channels, and fundraising efforts. Tiffany has expanded our partnerships in the community and beyond to provide unique experiences for our students and families such as: AileyCamp, Buffalo Cove Outdoor Education Center in North Carolina, the Miami Heat, Everglades Foundation, and more. She takes great pride in maintaining a close relationship with our supporters, ensuring a deep connection to our mission and students. Prior to her position at SEED Miami, she worked in the School Readiness Lab at The University of Miami, serving as a Team Leader assessing collaborative research in a successful school transition within various domains of early childhood education. Tiffany holds bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Miami.


Galia Pennekamp, Director of Development: capital campaign

Galia Pennekamp, a Miami native, educator and experienced fundraiser, has spent her career educating and bringing resources to Miami-Dade County's under-served youth. Galia spent ten years teaching at the University of Miami's Mailman Center and at MDCPS . She transitioned into Development and has worked with Informed Families and Breakthrough Miami before joining The SEED School of Miami. 

She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Guilford College and a Master of Science in Special Education from the University of Miami. Galia also supports numerous community organizations, including the Junior League of Miami,  Miami Children's Hospital, Adrienne Arsht Center, Miami Project, Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, and St. Hugh Catholic Church. 

Latrice thomas, Director of High School Student Affairs

Ms. Latrice Thomas is a Founding member of the SEED School of Miami and currently serves as the Overnight and Morning Program Manager for the school. From the moment she read the mission and vision of The SEED School of Miami, she knew that this was the place for her to continue and eventually end her career as a professional social worker.

The only time she lived outside of Miami was to obtain her bachelor's degree from The Florida State University in Tallahassee. She earned her bachelor's degree in Psychology (with a minor in Child Development and African American Studies in 2006); and later went back home to attend Florida International University, where she obtained her Master's Degree in Social Work (in 2010). Ms. Thomas loves to dance and have fun, but she has high expectations and standards for her students and pushes them to reach their highest potential!  She has been in the human services field for twenty years now, and her passion involves working tirelessly to improve and uplift the lives of children and their families throughout South Florida.

Derik Washington, Director of Student Support Services

Derik Washington is a proud boarding school graduate who later served his alma mater in various capacities for nearly a decade; most recently as Dean of the Elementary Residential Program.  Mr. Washington moved to Miami to attend graduate school.  During his graduate studies he served as a Fraternity Graduate Advisor and volunteered for Empowered Youth USA, serving the organization as a mentor, youth facilitator, and program coordinator.  Upon graduation, Mr. Washington served as a Full Case Manager at the Family Resource Center of South Florida, Inc.  Mr. Washington’s love for the arts navigated his postsecondary academic path.  He holds a bachelor's degree in Film and Television from Drexel University, and a master’s degree in Music from the University of Miami.  

Jesika Laster, Director of Middle School AcademiC affairs


Theresa Thomas, Director of High School AcademiC affairs

Theresa Thomas started her work in education in New York City as a City Year Corps member where she focused on attendance, behavior, and academic initiatives to enrich the experience of middle school students in East Harlem. She then transitioned to Miami to teach reading and English at the middle school and high school levels before joining Miami-Dade County Public School’s Division of Academic Support. Working for the district, she was a Curriculum Support Specialist where she managed and supported the needs of leaders and teachers at five under-performing schools, helping to increase reading proficiency rates and teacher quality. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Miami and is currently completing a second master’s degree in Educational Leadership at St. Thomas University.

Nadia Solage, Overnight & Morning Program Manager

Nadia Solage graduated from Barry University with a Master’s degree in Social Work and a minor in Early Childhood Education. Ms. Solage's previous experience in the Miami-Dade County Public School district include: elementary school advisor, benefit advisor, and yoga instructor. Ms. Solage’s SEED career started in 2015 included: Student Life Counselor for Xavier University House, Overnight and Morning Advisor for Brown University House & Johns Hopkins University, and Lead Overnight and Morning Advisor.

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Martine Marcelin, Founding College Counselor

Martine Marcelin is dedicated to helping the next generation of young leaders get into and graduate from the top colleges of their choice. She joined SEED Miami in July 2019 as the Founding College Counselor. Ms. Marcelin comes to SEED from Branches, Inc. where she served as the Program Manager of Climb to College & Careers launching a college readiness and mentor program for 3 sites serving 150 students. Prior to this role, she was the Program Manager for Grow & Climb where she led daily education, character, recreation, and tutoring activities with a focus on academic, social and emotional development of youth.

In her role as Founding College Counselor, she cultivates strong relationships with students and families and guides them through the college access and success process which includes college exposure, search, fit, application, admissions and the graduation process. She is a recipient of the 2016 Bank of America Neighborhood Builder Rising Leader Award. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from Florida Southern College and her Masters of Arts in Public Administration from Florida International University.

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