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.

Dumar Paden, Director of School Partnerships & College Readiness


Dumar Paden currently serves as the Director of School Partnerships and College Readiness at New Dawn Charter High School. In  this capacity he oversees our college and career readiness initiatives which are highlighted by our city-wide in house operated  internship program and our partnership with CUNY College Now at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). In  addition, Dumar 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. He previously served as our founding school  counselor focusing in the area of college admissions and academic advisement.

 Prior to joining New Dawn, Dumar has worked in a variety of capacities within the educational and non-profit sectors specializing  in programming aimed to serve at-risk and traditionally underserved populations. He received a Bachelor of Science in  Business Administration from the University at Albany (SUNY), and a Master of Science in Leadership from Grand Canyon  University.

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.



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.  

Tameka Jackson, Assistant Principal


Tameka Jackson was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. She is the oldest of three brothers and one sister. In high school,  Tameka was an honor roll student who played basketball, volleyball and ran track. After high school, Tameka attended      Elizabethtown College in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and played Division III basketball.

She is a first generation college graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems. Continuing with her  education, she obtained her masters in Educational Technology Leadership from George Washington University. During this  time, she worked at an alternative high school in Washington, DC as an Instructor and Technology Coordinator. Once she  completed her masters, Tameka attended Morgan State University in pursuit of a Doctorate in Urban Educational Leadership.


While in her doctorate program, Tameka made a transition from Technology Director to Dean of Students at a special education school in Silver Spring, Maryland. After five years, Tameka decided to pursue a fellowship in New York with Education Pioneers in the summer of 2013. After completing this, Tameka joined the New Dawn Charter School Team and currently serves as an Assistant Principal of Student Affairs. She is a doctoral candidate and her expected date of graduation is August 2016.