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Welcome Kersti Tyson & Michael Dabrieo

New Leadership in K-12 Programming and Evaluation to Strengthen Educational Impact in Northern New Mexico

LANL Foundation is pleased to welcome Kersti Tyson, PhD as Director of Evaluation & Learning and Michael Dabrieo as Education Enrichment Director.

Tyson’s primary focus will be utilizing research and evaluation to support the Foundation’s mission, vision, values and strategies across the spectrum of public education. She will help both internal and external stakeholders to develop evaluation methods that demonstrate program impact, reflect on results and drive ongoing program improvement. Her research will assess community needs in order to develop new education programs and refine existing ones offered by the LANL Foundation.

Tyson’s early career as a math teacher in Santa Fe and Taos sparked her interest in how children learn. That prompted her to pursue a master’s degree in intercultural communication through the University of New Mexico’s Communication & Journalism department.

“I was convinced that the role of culture has something to do with how children learn. It’s not just about learning math, but it’s also, how do we learn math in ways that are relevant to us, our histories,” Tyson said. “And intercultural communication is important because we live in a diverse, heterogeneous society. So how do we learn to talk and listen across cultures?”

After completing her master’s, Tyson spent four years working for the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) on Teacher Quality Policies, joining the first PED unit to focus on building quality teachers in New Mexico. The position provided useful experience for understanding how leadership and policy decisions impact teachers, students and communities, but her heart was really devoted to improving children’s opportunities to learn in NM, so she entered the Learning Sciences Program at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash., to earn her PhD. As a learning scientist, Kersti learns about learning in order to support the complex work teachers accomplish with children every day. 

Tyson returned to New Mexico, joining the faculty of the University of New Mexico’s College of Education, where she taught elementary mathematics methods and graduate courses in education for educators and researchers. She earned tenure and the rank of Associate Professor in 2018.

As a native New Mexican whose family goes back several generations, Tyson values the cultural diversity of the state and is looking forward to helping Northern New Mexico communities build on the strengths they already possess.

“I think the thing I’m most excited about is just being able to give back and build up education in Northern New Mexico,” Tyson said. “The thing that always propels me, is that all children are brilliant, intelligent and have so much to bring to the classroom. Our work is about making sure they have access to opportunities that see and honor that brilliance and help them to grow as human beings. I’m dedicated to improving children’s opportunities to show up and learn in ways that we know will help them thrive as mathematicians and scientists and readers and writers and community members.”

As Education Enrichment Director, Dabrieo will manage the operations and growth of K–12 programming at the LANL Foundation. He will also oversee the direction of the Inquiry Science Education Consortium (ISEC) program, which currently provides science kits to elementary schools throughout districts in Northern New Mexico, as well as various other programs that support educators, such as the Foundation’s National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) program, social emotional learning and STEM opportunities.

“I’m really excited to join the LANL Foundation, which has been doing so much work for New Mexico for such a long time, with such an honest focus on improving educational opportunities for students,” Dabrieo said.

After working as a journalist and community organizer, Dabrieo has been in education for a decade as a teacher and as a school founder and leader. Most recently, he worked with Santa Clara Pueblo to determine a community vision for education and open Kha’p’o Community School. Dabrieo believes that communities should have a voice in education programs and expected outcomes for children. He values interactive learning opportunities that focus on student critical thinking and problem solving.

Dabrieo is eager to explore whether some of the ideas he formulated as an educator are shared by others in the field and, if so, how the Foundation can support those ideas. He is also looking forward to strengthening social emotional learning opportunities in the community and investigating ways to reframe education and how children are taught so that education is an impactful experience for students in every grade.

“I think the Foundation right now is in such a great place, where there’s a lot of growth, there’s a lot of expansion, there’s a lot of thought going on into what does the state, what does Northern New Mexico need in order to improve educational opportunities for students. What’s our role in that?” Dabrieo said.

Dabrieo holds a master’s degree in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. His work there focused on language revitalization opportunities for Native communities in New Mexico. He also holds a master’s degree in Education Administration from the University of Houston. He received his BA in Journalism from the University of Maine.

Dabrieo was born in Maine, the youngest of six, and has 14 nieces and nephews. He enjoys hiking and snowshoeing with his two dogs in the beautiful mountains of New Mexico.

LANL Foundation President and CEO Jenny Parks recognizes the experience and vision that both Tyson and Dabrieo bring to the Foundation.

“This is a pivotal moment in education throughout New Mexico. LANL Foundation is committed to deepen our understanding of the needs of learners of all ages and educators in our northern communities. And we are positioned to respond by offering the best programming and leveraging partnerships that create positive change in education,” said Parks. “Kersti and Michael bring the kind of leadership and innovative thinking that will continue to carry this work forward.”