Executive Director and School Administration

New Dawn's Executive Director and founder is Dr. Sara M. Asmussen

While New Dawn policy is set by its Board of Trustees, the Board delegates day-to-day decision making to the Executive Director and holds the Executive Director responsible for the administration of policy, the execution of Board decisions, the operation of New Dawn and for keeping the Board informed about the operation of the school and other functions. 

In turn, the Executive Director delegates responsibility to members of the Leadership Team as necessary to ensure the efficient operation of New Dawn.

The school’s highly skilled and experienced leadership team is composed of the following members listed below:

Dr. Lisa DiGaudio, Principal


A graduate of Adelphi University, class of 1997, she was a History major and graduate of the Honors College. Lisa's passion for history grew from her admiration of her high school social studies teacher, and from there she knew that she had to pursue teaching to share that same passion for learning. The road to becoming a successful teacher was long and full of many roadblocks. However, by 2005, Lisa found her stride and settled into the charter school arena at Merrick Academy Charter School in Queens Village. It was there that she honed her pedagogical skills and grew into an administrator. From 2005 to the present, Lisa has been busy earning her Masters in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, her Advanced Certificate in Education Leadership and finally in 2016, Lisa will have her PhD in Leadership, Policy and Change in Education. In 2011 Lisa joined Dr. Asmussen in opening New Dawn Charter High School as a founding board member. In 2012 she became the Founding Principal.

In addition to being passionate about teaching and learning, Lisa is also passionate about music. She has written and arranged music for small ensembles and has played professionally at various venues and musical productions. She regularly plays at New Dawn with Arts teacher Mr. Quintero. Lisa also feels it is very important to model for her staff. She can be seen regularly teaching a class throughout the school year and for professional development sessions with larger cohorts of teachers and administrators through the PICCS project. Lisa views education as a lifelong process, and is confident that the excellent staff she leads at New Dawn will provide engaging opportunities for our students, ones that they will hopefully recall and be influenced by in their own career decisions.

Michelle D. Millan, Office Manager & HR/Benefits Adminstrator

Michelle D. Millán has been the Office Manager & HR/Benefits at New Dawn Charter High School since April 2013.  Her responsibilities include, but are not limited to, purchasing, fiscal management, accounts payable, benefits management and HR related duties.

Ms. Millán graduated and received her High School Diploma from Abraham Lincoln High School.  Similar to the students of New Dawn Charter H.S., Ms. Millan was involved in the school’s Co-op Program which had alternating academic and work weeks.  This was Ms. Millan’s introduction to the workforce.

While working full time at Catholic Charities as a Secretary, Ms. Millan enrolled in Borough Manhattan Community College (BMCC) as a part-time student and received her Associate’s Degree in Business Administration.  After receiving her degree, she was promoted in Catholic Charities to Operations Coordinator, which gave her the incentive to enroll and graduate from Baruch College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a focus in Operations Management.

Ms. Millan has over 20 years of experience working in non-profit organizations such as Catholic Charities and The Children’s Aid Society and now New Dawn Charter High School.  She continues to progress in her passion in helping others behind the scenes and shows great enthusiasm in getting the job done.

Scott Mimnaugh, Assistant Principal


Scott begins his third year at New Dawn Charter High School an Assistant Principal specializing in discipline and student support. Prior to arriving to New York, Scott spent 14 years in South America working in the private, independent sector at American & International AP and IB schools (Paraguay and Chile). His roles abroad included teacher, department head, athletic director and assistant principal. During his time away he was the commissioner and co-founder of the South American Activities Conference that included the American Schools from Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay. Scott received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Wyoming in 1995 and his Master of Arts in Teaching from Willamette University in 1998.  

Amanda Morton, Instructional/Curriculum Specialist


Amanda Morton joined the New Dawn Charter High School staff in August 2017 as the Curriculum and Instruction Specialist. Amanda attended Iona College in New Rochelle, NY, where she played Division I volleyball. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Amanda earned a Master of Science in Education degree from The College of Saint Rose and later a Master of Arts in Education Leadership from New York University. 

She brings 20+ years of classroom and leadership experience ranging from kindergarten to high school. Amanda is a NY State Certified Educator and has received recognition as a Master Teacher. Amanda is a National Counsel Teaching Mathematics member and has experience as a Curriculum Developer and Coordinator, Math Coordinator, Teacher Leader, and Mentor Teacher. Amanda was also a Principal’s Cabinet Member, School Leadership Team Chairperson, Varsity and Junior Varsity girls' volleyball and soccer coach, and a middle school boys' basketball coach.

As the Curriculum and Instruction Specialist, Amanda works closely with the teachers regarding lesson plans, instruction, classroom management, and assessment. She meets with teachers regularly to review lesson plans, share observation feedback, and to coach teachers on best practices pertaining to instruction and maintaining a professional, productive, and positive classroom within the school community.  Amanda is also a student mentor, who actively counsels her mentees regarding their attendance, their academic performance, and any social-emotional challenges that they may face.

Jahdiya Semper, Director of School Partnerships and College Readiness at New Dawn Charter High School

   Jahdiya Semper is the Director of School Partnerships and College Readiness at New Dawn Charter High School. 

In  this capacity, she oversees our college and career readiness initiatives which are highlighted by our city-wide in house operated  internship program and our partnership with City University New York (CUNY) and specifically with the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). Additionally,  Jahdiya is also responsible for the school's strategy in other areas critical to our success such as scheduling, transcript  audits, community partnerships, external marketing, social media, and athletics. 

Prior to joining New Dawn, Jahdiya worked as Senior Financial Consultant for Charter School Business Management/FOREsight, in New York City where she managed managed client communication,  performed scheduling and project management for various clients, completed bank reconciliations, provided HR support including payroll processing,  performed organizational chart structuring and benefit analysis and recorded,  all grant and contract related expenses. Jahdiya also worked for  the Future Leaders Institute Charter School in  New York as Director of Operations & HR where she managed all non-academic, administrative operations including student recruitment and flow of day. During her time at  Future Leaders Institute Charter School, Jahdiya also was responsible for all HR functions including payroll, employee on-boarding and benefit enrollment, co-managed daily accounts payable and receivable functions, and assisted the Principal and Financial Consultants with creation and adherence of the annual budget.



Donna Lobato, Director of Special Education and Support Services

Donna Lobato holds a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from Dowling College. She will have her ED.S in Education Administration in 2018. Donna has been teaching special education for the past 20 years, ranging from Early Intervention services to high school students with a variety of populations. Her experience also ranges from classroom teacher to administrative roles both in public and private school settings, but always maintains a connection with students by teaching classes and collaborating with faculty. Donna enjoys the challenging of finding ways and strategies to support student success. When she is not working Donna enjoys time on the beach with a good book.



Jose A. Obregon, Director of Operations


Jose Obregon joined New Dawn Charter High School in September of 2017. He went to Aviation High School in NYC and later graduated from Excelsior College in Albany, New York earning a Bachelor of Science degree in history and political science. Jose also holds a Master of Science degree in Security Management from John Jay College of  Criminal Justice of the City University of New York. After graduating from high school, Jose joined the Army National Guard. Later, after graduating from college, Jose entered active duty and served for over 22 years in the U.S. Army. During his military career, Jose held various command and staff positions. Jose's last assignment was that of officer in charge of Forward Operating Base Summerall in Bayi, Iraq from 2004-2005. Jose finally retired from active military service in 2006.

After retiring from the military, Jose joined the public charter school system in New York City. In the last ten years, Jose helped organize and open several charter schools in the Bronx, NY. In his first charter school assignment, Jose was the new charter school’s business manager and the founding Principal’s senior administrator. Later, Jose became the facilities manager for the same charter school network and was responsible for facility and security oversight of seven affiliated but independent schools. Jose later performed in an operations/facilities manager role in another charter school network also located in the Bronx, New York, where he was responsible for various functions within the school including the oversight of daily operational tasks such as the school food program, student transportation, finance, facilities, and compliance reporting. During Jose’s last charter school assignment and in the absence of the Principal, Jose was the senior administrator in charge for six months before being selected for his current role at New Dawn Charter High School.