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David Domenici

Executive Director

David serves as our Executive Director, providing direction and vision for our work. David works with juvenile justice and education leadership, helping public agencies prioritize education and build systems and cultures that ensure students held in confinement are afforded the education they need and are entitled to.

As our Executive Director, David helped us found the Travis Hill School, the two-campus school that BreakFree operates inside of the juvenile detention center and adult jail in New Orleans, LA. The Travis Hill School has been acknowledged for its academic performance by the Louisiana State Department of Education as a Comeback Campus in 2022, and as one of the highest ranked alternative schools in the state in 2019.  In 2023, students from Travis Hill won the New Orleans Aspen Challenge based on a video calling for mental health and wellness counseling for parents of incarcerated teens. In 2018, Travis Hill was featured in the Marshall Project and on This American Life, in The Hardest Lesson on Tier C.  

Prior to forming BreakFree, he co-founded and served as the Executive Director of The Maya Angelou Schools, a network of alternative schools in Washington, DC. He served as the founding principal of the Maya Angelou Academy, the school located inside DC’s long-term, secure juvenile facility, from 2007 to 2011. 

The Maya Angelou Academy’s success has been widely recognized. The changes at the school were termed “remarkable” by a national expert and court-appointed monitor. The Middle States Commission’s accreditation team called the Maya Angelou Academy “one of the best schools we have ever seen.” The school has been featured in local and national publications, including the Washington Post Magazine and Education Week. David left the Academy in the fall of 2011 to start BreakFree Education.

David is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Stanford Law School. David writes frequently about education and juvenile justice reform, and has published opinion pieces and articles in The Washington Post, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, and The Imprint: Youth and Family News.  He is the co-author, along with James Forman, Jr., of two longer articles about school reform. The first, “What It Takes to Transform a School Inside a Juvenile Facility: The Story of the Maya Angelou Academy,” highlights lessons learned during the start-up and first year of the Maya Angelou Academy. The second, “A Circle of Trust,” chronicles the first year of the Maya Angelou Public Charter School.  

David lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, Cheryl Mills, their nephew, and their three dogs. His twins recently left for college. He’s an avid reader, a wannabe basketball player, and an out-of-step breakdancer.

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