Nicia Fullwood
Co-founder, Head of School

A Texas native, Nicia Fullwood has lived in Brooklyn, New York for more than 20 years – so one might say by now she is a true New Yorker. After receiving her undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Southern Methodist University, she was selected to join Cohort 8 of the New York City Teaching Fellows as a mathematics teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School in East New York. Her commitment to improving educational outcomes for her students led her to Harvard Graduate School of Education where she received a Master of Education in Educational Policy and Management. After graduation, she returned to New York City, where she was the founding Program Director for the Children’s Aid Society Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program at the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women (UAI). During her tenure at the Urban Assembly (UA), Nicia also served as Assistant Principal at two UA schools – UAI and the Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice. Nicia is a BELA co-founder.


Shannon Riley 
Co-founder, Chief of Staff

Shannon is a native New Yorker, having grown up on Long Island. Since receiving her Master of Social Work from Columbia University, she has called NYC home for the past 16 years. She was a founding social worker with a pregnancy prevention program with the Children’s Aid Society at the Urban Assembly Institute for Young Women before embarking on her BELA journey. Shannon is one of BELA’s co-founders and serves as the Dean of Advancement. She works closely with prospective families and students as they make the transition from middle to high school and begin the relationship-building process, which is fundamental to the BELA experience. She also serves as the liaison to BELA’s donors and school partners, and oversees the College Success Department. She credits her all-girls high school experience for her continued commitment and passion for girls’ education. Shannon is a BELA co-founder.


Ryan Bissoon
Chief Operating Officer

Born in the beautiful twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago. His family migrated to the US where for the last 25 years, they lived in culturally familiar parts of Flatbush and East New York, Brooklyn. Here he errand his “New York stripes” by embracing some of the core values necessary to thrive, not just in New York, but anywhere. The three which resonate with him most are authenticity, integrity, and sticktoitiveness. After navigating NYC’s public school system, Ryan realized there was a significant disparity between available resources in his local schools, when compared to what he saw on family sitcoms he grew up watching in the caribbean. This limited him and some of his peers from achieving what was portrayed in front of them daily. Mediocrity, and conformity. Being a beneficiary of successful mentorship, Ryan pursued his degree in Business Administration and minored in Technology Management from West Governs University. He also holds an Associate Degree in Theology from Bethesda Institute of Biblical Leadership and Education. He volunteers at his local church, where he provides mentorship to young men and women of color, providing them and their families with access to resources and information, relevant to their individual needs and situations. To date, Ryan has been in the field of education and non-profit organizational management for over 12 years. He served as a Dean of Students 6 years and then transitioned to Operations Management at Brooklyn Ascend Middle School in Brownsville, Brooklyn, NY. Ryan was also the Facilities Manager and Technology Consultant for Bethesda Healing Center in Brownsville, Brooklyn, NY. 


Camile Gayle 
Chief of Student Affairs

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Camile has spent her career within the education and nonprofit arena in NYC and South Florida. Since receiving her Master of Social Work from New York University, she has worked in a variety of settings, including  schools, nonprofits and community agencies, and has led a private practice. As a licensed clinical social worker with over 15 years of experience working with women and girls, her career history has included being a former teacher and certified doula. For the duration of her career, she has been passionate about and worked towards the empowerment of girls and women at all stages of life. She contributes to the dynamic BELA leadership team as the Dean of Student Life, overseeing the counseling and behavioral needs that may arise. BELA allows her to combine her love for Brooklyn, counseling and therapy, empowering young women, education and enhancing leadership skills. She is currently a proud resident of Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. 


Meredith Loop 
Dean of Curriculum and Instruction, Humanities

Meredith Loop was born and raised in a small town in upstate New York. Fulfilling a lifelong dream to become a teacher, she attended and graduated from SUNY Geneseo with a B.A. in English and Secondary Education. Soon afterward, she moved to Brooklyn to begin her journey as an English teacher and pursue a Master of Arts in Literacy. Meredith joined the BELA team in 2016 as a founding teacher. After a decade of experience working with students in New York City classrooms, Meredith transitioned into the role of Dean of the Lower School at BELA, working closely with teachers to advance professional development. Next school year she will support the BELA community in her newest role, Dean of Student Support.


LaShona Chapman 
Dean of Curriculum and Instruction, Math + Science

LaShona Chapman is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. From an early age, her goal was to become an advocate for the younger generation and work with youth in urban communities. She attended Virginia State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a minor in statistics and a master’s degree in mathematics secondary education. With 11 years of teaching experience in an urban setting, LaShona served as a secondary math teacher educating students from grades 6-12 and creating innovative, culturally relevant and equitable learning experiences for hundreds of students across New York City and Virginia. She also served as the Math Department Chair for a year at AMS 3 in Brooklyn and for two  years at BELA, where she worked closely with teachers to create lessons that accommodate all students’ needs, conducting data analysis with student work and implementing best research-based instructional strategies. LaShona’s desire to uplift and empower educators to grow in their professional journeys led her to earn an M.S.Ed in Educational Leadership (SBL/SDL) at CUNY Brooklyn College. She is super excited to join the administration team this upcoming year as the Dean of the Lower School.


Join a Movement to Empower Young Women

Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy (BELA) Public Charter High School believes that our greatest instructional strategy is our staff. Effective educators, who are continually learning and supporting our young women, with an expectation of excellence, are key to each student’s success. BELA’s founding team members seek inspiration and challenge from their work; seek to understand themselves and their colleagues to better achieve a shared goal; show the urgency and gratitude that accompanies doing something you love; embrace the possibility of failure and believe failures are necessary for learning.

BELA is an intentional learning community focused on learning, collaboration and results. We know the best educators are themselves lifelong learners. We support our faculty with robust professional learning experiences.