At City of Promise, we are committed to

a family-centered approach of educational support.


First, we honor parents as the experts and most important educators of their children. We respect them as the key decision-makers for their children’s success. Second, our presence in the neighborhood builds trust and accountability that make all the difference in student achievement.  On a typical day, we build skills, support goal setting, and collaborate with partners to host after-school activities. We also help parents find employment or health services, and we spend plenty of time in the garden, our Pathway Center, or around town, introducing our community to unique experiences. 

Meet The Team


MARY COLEMAN, Executive Director

Contact: * 434.228.5153


I want to create opportunities and access for children and parents so that no one has their dreams deferred.


Mary was named Executive Director in December 2019  after serving two years as development director for City of Promise. Mary began her career in fundraising as Director of Donor Relations at Woodberry Forest School where her family lived for 23 years. Later, she served as Advancement Director at The Covenant School here in Charlottesville where she directed fundraising, special events, marketing, alumni and parent relations.


Mary and her husband Joe met while both were students at Princeton University. They have been married for 38 years, and they have seven children and six grandchildren.


CAMERON MOORE, Program Director

Contact: * 434-282-3082


I want to create a legacy, so that others

can create theirs.


Cameron Moore was raised in the City of Martinsville, Virginia, and he is an alumnus of the University of Lynchburg. His previous experience includes working in the justice system, educational settings, and in counseling and mentoring youth. Most recently he supervised homeless services and a re-entry program in his hometown.  


Cameron believes the simple proverb, "Where there is an investment, there will be growth." He wants to have the same impact on youth that so many committed professionals had in his life. In his free time, Cameron enjoys photography and rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles! 

Sarah Shedd.jpg

SARAH SHEDD, Early Learning Director

Contact: * 434-235-1781

"I want to empower, inspire, and educate children and families so that all children in our community achieve success at school, and families fulfill their hopes and dreams."

Sara Shedd has lived in Charlottesville for over 20 years and has enjoyed working with children and families throughout her career.  Most recently, Sarah worked as a Family Coordinator with Albemarle County’s Bright Stars Preschool Program for 14 years.  She emphasizes building relationships with families to help them achieve their goals. 


Sarah earned a B.A. in Psychology and M.Ed. in Counselor Education at the University of Virginia.  She and her husband have two children and a houseful of pets. 


JERMAINE DIAS, High School Pathway Coach

Contact: jdias@cityofpromise.org434-421-5635


I know what it is like to overcome being labeled "troublemaker," only to change my behavior and be labeled as the invisible "C" student.  I want students to know that they matter, and that there is someone advocating for them. 


Jermaine Dias has more than a decade of experience working with youth in public education.  A native of Hackensack, New Jersey, Jermaine is a 2007 graduate of the University of Virginia and an alumnus of the Cavalier football team. He has spent the majority of his career serving as both a mental health specialist and high school football coach throughout the Charlottesville-Albemarle area.  Jermaine and his wife Tamara have been married since 2017, and they love to cheer on their National Champion ‘Hoos! 

DAWN LAWSON, Family Empowerment Coach

Contact: * 434-989-2593 


I want to encourage, motivate, and help others recognize their strengths so they can reach their personal goals. In return, they can take their skills to empower and uplift others. 


A native of Charlottesville, Dawn Lawson attended Virginia Wesleyan College where she was scholarship chairman for Phi Sigma Sigma. Her community service has included participation in Make a Difference Day and fundraisers for the National Kidney Foundation at VWC, as well as volunteering with Love Inc. and Covenant Church.  Dawn received her master’s degree in Human Service/Marriage and Family Counseling from Liberty University. Her work experience includes case management, substance abuse counseling, working with at-risk children in a school setting, and community-based services that included teaching her clients skills to achieve their goals, and working with families in the foster care system. Dawn would love to become a foster parent. She loves sports and animals.

RAYLAJA WALLER, Pathway Coach for 5th-8th Grade

Contact: * 434-282-3572


I want to show youth that "community faces change spaces." I want them to know they can change the spaces that they enter. 

Raylaja Waller (Ms.Ray) is a 2020 graduate of Virginia State University where she studied Criminal Justice and Political Science. As a former Charlottesville High School graduate, AVID Student, and Charlottesville City of Promise alumna, Ms.Raylaja is equipped with the knowledge and skills to assist our students in a transformative experience within City of Promise. 


Previously, Raylaja has been a short- and long-term substitute, Instructional Assistant, and one-on-one Behavior Assistant throughout Charlottesville City Schools, as well as a camp leader with Charlottesville Parks and Recreation. 

ASHLEY FREEMAN, Program Assistant

Contact: afreeman@cityofpromise.org434-295-9525


I want to show my children that despite my past, I can do any thing, and they can do anything too.


Ashley Freeman is a Charlottesville native and resident in the City of Promise footprint. Ashley attended Charlottesville High School and has earned CNA and Med. Tech and CDL licenses. Ashley has worked as a home health aide, driven for Charlottesville Area Transit, and worked in hospitality for Aramark at UVA.   Ashley has been a participant of City of Promise since 2016 and she is a graduate of Promise Baby Academy. Her current role includes providing support for all program activities, especially events and classes for moms of young children. Ashley has four beautiful daughters whom she loves.   


NANGMAI LAHTAW, Immigrant Support Assistant

Contact: 434-466-9930


Mai provides support for Burmese immigrants enrolled in our Dreambuilders program. A native of Burma, her first visit to Charlottesville in December of 1999 marked an extraordinary memory. Mai was captivated by the city  adorned with hills shadowed by the Blue Ridge, and the Rivanna River running through the city.  Ever since arriving in Charlottesville when her husband was called to ministry in 2009, Mai has been involved in the activities of International Rescue Committee, and language assistance program of University of Virginia. She earned a Master of Science degree from Cairn University and she completed studies in Early Childhood Education in the state of Maryland.
The longer Mai lives in Charlottesville with her husband and two children, it is absolutely clear to her that the city  possesses not only its natural scenic views, but also thrives to shed light to many dreamers. 

TIFFANEY MORRIS, Administrative Specialist

Contact: tmorris@cityofpromise.org434-295-9525


To be attentive to my duties so that others are at ease while working and waiting for their lives to change and improve.

Tiffaney Morris brings to City of Promise more than 20 years of experience in accounting, bookkeeping, and business operations. She has served large and small-scale companies as assistant controller, office manager, and human resources coordinator.  Her role at City of Promise includes bookkeeping, human resources, database management, gift entry and afternoon program support.  A native of Louisa County, Tiffaney is a music director for several churches in the area, and she has a daughter of whom she is very proud.