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, Dean of Advancement

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.


Nakia Cook 
Dean of Operations

Nakia is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and currently residing in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Nakia attended CUNY Baruch College and brings over 14 years of experience in charter school operations. She serves the BELA community and strengthens the amazing BELA leadership team as the Dean of Operations. Nakia is motivated and inspired every day by her love for Bedford-Stuyvesant coupled with her belief in BELA’s capacity to build each young woman to be the best version of herself. In her spare time, Nakia is a professional vocalist. She was most recently cast in the MAAFA play that has run in Brooklyn for over 25 years and performed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met). 


Camile Gayle 
Dean of Student Life

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. 


Tyler Griffin
Dean of Upper School

Tyler Griffin is originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, a graduate of Wabash College and forever a teacher. He joined Teach For America where he taught high school English and creative writing in Atlanta Public Schools. After falling in love with teaching and pursuing a graduate degree at Johns Hopkins, he made the difficult decision to leave the classroom and serve as the English Language Arts Instructional Coach for Fulton County Schools. During this time, he also served as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness Facilitator for the Atlanta National Institute. He is now the Dean of the Upper School at BELA and a proud member of the Bedford Stuyvesant community.


Meredith Loop 
Dean of Student Support 

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 Lower School

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.