Dr. Michelle Howard-Brahaney serves as the Director for Student Excellence (DSE), Department of Defense Education Activity-Europe (DoDEA-Europe). As the Director for DoDEA schools in Europe, Dr. Howard-Brahaney oversees the operations of 64 schools located on U.S. military installations throughout eight countries in Europe. DoDEA-Europe schools are headquartered in Sembach, Germany and are structured into three districts which educate more than 26,000 students and employ more than 4,100 people.
Prior to her selection as Director, DoDEA-Europe, Dr. Howard-Brahaney served as the superintendent for DoDEA’s Europe South District. The Europe South District consists of 16 elementary, middle and high schools spread across Italy, Spain, Turkey, and Bahrain.
Hailing from Ottawa Lake, Michigan, Dr. Howard-Brahaney started her career as a middle school teacher for students with emotional and learning impairments. In 1999, she became a school administrator for the Monroe County Intermediate School District.
In 2009, Dr. Howard-Brahaney was named the Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Early Childhood Services, leading a department of nearly 500 staff. In this role she served as liaison between the Michigan Department of Education and the local school districts of Monroe County. During this time, she was also appointed to several state-wide committees including the Early Literacy Task Force, School-Justice Partnership Coalition, and State Complaint and Resolution Procedures. Dr. Howard-Brahaney and her team implemented a number of successful county-wide initiatives, including a multi-tiered systems of support; “Project Graduation” to focus on school engagement and attendance; beginning educator induction programs; principal leadership trainings; and crisis response efforts. She also led many grant-funded activities and served as the primary author of the Early Head Start and Head Start grants.
Dr. Howard-Brahaney holds a Bachelor’s Degree in elementary and special education, a Master’s Degree in special education and an Educational Specialist Degree in Administration from Wayne State University. In 2016, she received her Doctorate of Philosophy in Theory and Social Foundations of Education from the University of Toledo, Ohio.
While working towards her degrees, Dr. Howard-Brahaney served as an adjunct professor at the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University, Ohio, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in the College of Education.
Dr. Howard-Brahaney and her husband, Paul, currently reside in Rodenbach, Germany. They have three children, Michalea, Mason, and Chase. Michalea and Mason still reside in Michigan, while Chase is a midshipman studying at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Dr. Howard-Brahaney’s family history is steeped in military service. She is honored to serve military connected students and their families.
Dr. Charles “Chas” Kelker currently serves as the Europe Region Chief of Staff for the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). Prior to his current position, Dr. Kelker served as the Chief of Education Policy and Operations at DoDEA Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, from May 2017 to November 2019.
DoDEA is responsible for planning, directing, coordinating, and managing prekindergarten through 12th grade educational programs on behalf of the Department of Defense (DoD). DoDEA is globally positioned, operating 166 accredited schools in 8 districts located in 11 foreign countries, 7 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico. DoDEA employs approximately 15,000 employees who serve more than 71,100 children of active duty military and DoD civilian families.
Previously, Dr. Kelker served as the DoDEA Pacific Chief of Staff, located at Torii Station in Okinawa, Japan, from November 2008 to May 2017. During his tenure with DoDEA Pacific, he was involved in the opening and closing of DoDEA schools in support of military transformation actions taking place across the Pacific-region. This included staffing, student meal programs, transportation, public affairs and procuring furniture and equipment to support schools.
Prior to joining DoDEA, Kelker was the Deputy Director, Manpower, Personnel and Support (J1), Headquarters United States Forces Japan at Yokota Air Base. He retired from the United States Air Force in February 2006 with 32 years of distinguished service in uniform and continued his federal service as a DoD civilian.
A native of El Paso, Texas, Dr. Kelker grew up in an Army family and spent his formative years living in various locations around the world. Dr. Kelker graduated in 1973 from a DoDEA school in Berlin, Germany. He went on to enlist in the USAF in August 1974 and has since earned a bachelor’s degree in occupational education from Wayland Baptist University, a master’s in human resources development from Webster University and a doctorate in education from Northcentral University.
Dr. Kelker is married to Regina Kelker who retired from the USAF during her final assignment as Director of Public Affairs at the Air Intelligence Agency in San Antonio, Texas. They have two sons and a daughter.
Mr. Young is no stranger to DoDEA Europe nor the CIL. Prior to coming to Europe, he served multiple roles in the Pacific East District, to include Staff Development Coach, Acting Principal and Special Education Assistant Principal, where he used his prior experience with Common Core to support College and Career Literacy and Mathematics implementation. Jorma arrived to DoDEA Europe in October 2017 as the CIL’s first Professional Practice and Improvement Specialist (PPIS) and became Acting CIL Chief in May 2018. He worked quickly to build relationships with district and school leaders and to embed a culture of analyze and adjust to support authentic action planning at the school, district, and region levels, leading numerous learning networks focused on improving student achievement.
Prior to joining DoDEA, Mr. Young served in a variety of roles within the Hillsborough County, Florida School District, beginning his career in 1999 as a drop-out prevention teacher and starting the district’s first AVID program in 2003. In 2007, Mr. Young was named Supervisor of Academic Programs for Hillsborough County where he coached leaders in educational reform and provided professional learning for over 5000 administrators, counselors, and teachers on eliminating the achievement gap and college and career readiness.
In an effort to eliminate achievement and opportunity gaps for students, Jorma fostered partnerships with community organizations, such as Boys and Girls Club and 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay, and with institutions of higher learning, such as the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa to provide summer enrichment programs for students and Advanced Placement training for teachers. He forged relationships with not-for-profit educational organizations, to include AVID and the College Board, to provide high quality professional learning for leaders and teachers. As a district administrator, Mr. Young expanded the AVID program to all 73 secondary schools and 20 elementary schools within 2 years.
Mr. Young spent five years with the College Board, focused on the State of Florida’s Partnerships for Minority and Under-Represented Students. He established strategic partnerships with Superintendents to increase student performance and college and career readiness. He worked collaboratively with these leaders to create systemic academic and support structures to eliminate the achievement and opportunity gaps. As Director, he coached, consulted and mentored Superintendents, District Staff and Principals in making data informed decisions, curriculum and instructional changes to align with College and Career Ready Standards, and ensuring equity and access for all students. He helped districts and schools to establish an Advanced Placement pipeline that increased enrollment by 50-100% and eliminated the achievement and opportunity gap at the same time.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of South Florida (USF). Mr. Young is passionate about data analysis and use of data to improve student achievement. This passion led him to earn a second Master’s degree in Management Information Systems from Nova Southeastern University.
Jorma’s family lives in the Kaiserslautern Military Community. He and wife, Wendy, are proud parents of two teenaged daughters. Their eldest, Abigail, recently graduated from Ramstein High School, and attends college in the United States. Their youngest daughter, Madalyn, is a freshmen at Ramstein High School.
Mr. Thomas M. Brady
HQ DoDEA Director
Dr. Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, Ed.D
HQ Chief Academic Officer
Mr. Robert M. Brady
HQ Chief Operating Officer
Mr. Jay Burcham
HQ Chief of Staff