Executive Director & School Administration Dr. Sara Asmussen, Founding Executive Director HeadshotNew Dawn's Executive Director and founder, 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.
E-mail: sasmussen@ndchsbrooklyn.org

The school’s highly skilled and experienced leadership team includes the following members:




Donna Lobato, Principal

Holding a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from Dowling College, Ms. Lobato 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.


Mariah Smith, Dean of Students


As a graduate of Long Island University with a Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Counseling, and having dedicated her career to numerous community based organizations and non-profit organizations, Ms. Smith has extensive professional experience working with New York City youth. From 2014-2018, she held the role of Family Support Counselor/Home Visit Coordinator at New Dawn Charter High School in Brooklyn, where she was able to lead and facilitate mentoring groups, conduct and organize Advisory and Women's Empowerment groups. Experienced as an academic tutor and youth services coordinator, Ms. Smith jumped at the opportunity to fill the role of Dean of Students where she is able to work one-on-one with students and staff in helping to shape the culture of the school as we grow and expand. 

E-mail: msmith@ndchsbrooklyn.org

Steve Ramkissoon, Director of Finance & Human Resources 

In 2019, Mr. Steve Ramkissoon, joined New Dawn Charter Schools as the Director of Finance and Human Resources. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Baruch College in Business Administration and Policy Analysis. He comes to our organization with over 15 years of progressive experience overseeing Human Resources, Operations and Finance functions in a myriad of industries. Most recently, he served as the Director of Human Resources and Administrative Operations at Transit Wireless, LLC., where he was a key member of the Executive team growing the organization from 5 to 115 employees.  In this capacity, he was able to manage all recruitment, succession planning, and strategic initiatives including policies, protocols, and training programs. Previous to this role he performed as Controller and Human Resources Lead. 

Mr. Ramkissoon obtained a Certified Professional certification through the Society of Human Resources Management, a Certification of Professional Human Resources Management from Pace University, an Accelerating Change Readiness and Agility certification from the University of California - Berkley, and a certification in Leading Strategic Growth from Columbia University. 

In his role at New Dawn Charter Schools, he has had the opportunity to delve into the day-to-day fiscal operations of our network of schools, liaise with our accounting groups, he has lead the charge for increasing benefit plans and opportunities for employees such as implementing a new FSA program in 2020. As a member of the Human Resources committee, Mr. Ramkissoon is able to collaborate with staff and faculty members in order to foster and implement ideas within the school community.  

E-mail: sramkissoon@ndchsbrooklyn.org

Jose A. Obregon, Director of Operations


September 2017 saw Jose Obregon become a member of New Dawn Charter Schools as Director of Operations. An alumni of Aviation High School in New York City, after graduating, Jose joined the Army National Guard. Earning a Bachelor of Science degree in History and Political Science from Excelsior College in Albany, New York. Upon 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 retired from active military service in 2006. Additionally, Mr. Obregon earned a Master of Science degree in Security Management from John Jay College of  Criminal Justice, City University of New York. 

He joined the public charter school system in New York City upon retiring from military service. In the last 14 years, Jose has been instrumental in organizing and opening several charter schools in the Bronx and Brooklyn, New York. In his first charter school assignment, Jose was the New Charter School’s Business Manager and the founding Principal’s Senior Administrator. This role expanded, and he was set in the role of Facilities Manager where he was responsible for all facilities and security oversight of seven affiliated schools. Mr. Obregon later performed in an operations/facilities manager capacity in another charter school network also located in the Bronx, New York. Similarly to his last role, he is responsible for various functions within our network of schools including the oversight of daily operational tasks and manages 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 Schools. In his tenure at New Dawn Charter Schools, Mr. Obregon has successfully managed a temporary move from our founding location for one year, was instrumental in opening and executing all operational procedures for New Dawn Charter High School II in Jamaica, Queens, and leads our Security, Maintenance, and Office staff. He is also a member of the New Dawn Charter Schools Safety Committee. 

E-mail: jobregon@ndchsbrooklyn.org

Dr. Lisa DiGaudio, Director of Curriculum and Instruction

  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 obtained 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 of New Dawn Charter School - Brooklyn.

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. Dr. DiGaudio feels it is important to model for her staff, and 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.

E-mail: ldigaudio@ndchsqueens.org


Rivka Miller, Marketing & Public Advocacy

    Details coming soon!

E-mail: rmiller@ndschbrooklyn.org

Kevin Benoit, College & Career Readiness Manager 

Details coming soon!

E-mail: kbenoit@ndchsbrooklyn.org

Fara Badrieva, Lead Teacher - Art/Spanish


Details coming soon!

E-mail: fbadrieva@ndchsbrooklyn.org

Charles McNulty, Special Education Coordinator

Details coming soon!

E-mail: cmcnulty@ndchsbrooklyn.org

Nazli Askin, Data Specialist


Details coming soon! 

E-mail: naskin@ndchsbrooklyn.org

New Dawn Charter High School II - Administration

New Dawn Charter High School II, located in Jamaica, Queens, opened its doors in September 2019. Our staff here are dedicated to students who have fewer than 17 credits, and who are 16-21 years of age. Students in this location are prepared for the programmatic requirements in the New Dawn Charter Schools progressive educational model, in addition to obtaining credits in core classes, regents preparation, after-school clubs, and will encompass a strong College and Career Readiness component for all students as we grow. More information can be found at: www.ndchsqueens.org.

Zach Flory, Principal


Details coming soon!

E-mail: zflory@ndchsqueens.org


Phil Pressoir, Dean of Students


Details coming soon!

E-mail: ppressoir@ndchsqueens.org

Sanman Thapa, Guidance

Details coming soon!

E-mail: sthapa@ndchsqueens.org

Erica Fabiano, Special Education Coordinator 

Details coming soon!

E-mail: efabiano@ndchsqueens.org