National Staff

Member Experience Team


Christopher Whited, BS, CAE

Chief Experience Officer


As the Chief Experience Officer for KDP, Christopher oversees the Member Experience Team. He has been working with nonprofit organizations and associations for more than 25 years in various capacities from marketing, fundraising, and event planning to membership, resource development, and program operations. His career began in graphic design because of the encouragement from his high school art teacher. Her belief in him sparked his college education and a successful career in publishing prior to transitioning to helping organizations. During his downtime, Christopher enjoys restoring antique toys and spending time with his wife and kids.


Amber Ellington, BA, BS

Manager of Member Retention


Amber Ellington is one of the Member Experience Managers for Teacher Candidates. She primarily works with the West, Online, and Community College chapters of KDP but is enthusiastic about any opportunity to work with our members and counselors across the country. She has been at KDP since October 2019 and has loved working with all of KDP’s chapters, volunteers, and members. Amber studied Psychology and Sociology at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana, until it closed during her junior year. She transferred successfully to Marian University in Indianapolis, and graduated on time in Spring 2018. She has had plenty of amazing teachers and professors throughout her life, but the teacher that made the longest-lasting impression is one that she never even had, but from whom she learned a lot: Ms. Cindy, who was Amber’s co-teacher during her time as an early childhood educator. She notes that while she may never have had the opportunity to learn from Ms. Cindy as a student, she did learn a lot from her just working alongside Ms. Cindy. She led by example and taught Amber lessons on how to be a better educator and human in general. She credits amazing educators like Ms. Cindy for being the reason she does her job at KDP day in and day out.


Kara Harlan, BA

Manager of Member Experience


Kara joined the KDP team in 2023 as the Member Experience Manager for Teacher Candidates in the Southeast.  She spent most of her youth in Richmond, Indiana, with five years in Whitter, California and several months in Japan when her family accompanied Earlham College students there.  Kara attended DePauw University where she majored in Spanish and Sociology.  Most of her work-life has been in tourism at Visitors Bureaus, but she often thought she’d like to get involved in education because of her dad.  Her dad never stopped learning – he taught Philosophy and Japanese studies and then went on to work in higher education administration.  She lives just west of Indianapolis with her husband of 27 years with their two dogs, Indy (a yorkie-poo) and Elf (a border collie/whippet mix).  They have two children, a son in the Electrician apprenticeship and a daughter who is studying Communication Design.  She enjoys traveling, watching movies and hanging out with her family (which includes the dogs) and friends.  Kara is excited to be a small part of helping future teachers develop their skills to help children learn and grow.


Thomas Ulmet, B.A.J.

Manager of Member Experience


Thomas is the Member Experience Manager – Teacher Candidates for the Midwest, and has been with KDP for more than 9 years. He is the longest-tenured member of the Member Experience Team, having attended five KDP Convos (only missing one for the birth of one of his children). Thomas is also the coordinator for KDP’s popular Teacher Toolbox Series of webinars. Thomas has spent more than 17 years of his career working in professional education organizations. He coordinated the National Teacher of the Year program for the world’s largest retail company and also led the effort to create one of the earliest online national teacher mentoring programs. These experiences, working with some of the highest-achieving educators in the country, continue to inspire his work supporting future educators at KDP.


Michelle Melani, BA

Director of Knowledge Integration


As the Director of Knowledge Integration, Michelle leads KDP’s work to prepare members with creative expression and knowledge to ensure they thrive as educators. Michelle has been with KDP since 2018 and formerly served as the Director of Publications and the Managing Editor of the New Teacher Advocate. As an English major with a Creative Writing minor, Michelle has worked in some area of publishing, writing, or editing for 3 decades. She took several years off to homeschool her two children before transitioning them into the public school system and uses her understanding as a home educator and as the parent of school children to inform her work in supporting teachers. Michelle's favorite teacher is Dr. Connelly, who taught her much more than freshman composition and Irish literature. He opened her eyes to the larger world beyond Indiana, encouraged her curiosity, mocked her attempts at trying to sound too smart in her writing, and was generally a stellar human being. Michelle loves traveling, reading, photography, kayaking, and biking. She lives in Irvington with her two teenage children.


Amanda Smith

Executive Assistant Membership Experience Team


Amanda is from Spring, Texas, a suburb of Houston, where she attended Parkview Baptist High School. She moved to Lafayette, Indiana, on September 20th, 2001, and then to Indianapolis, Indiana, with her husband and four children in March of 2010. She attended Ivy Tech Community College, where she met her most influential teacher, Dianne Stair. Dianne encouraged Amanda to move beyond just obtaining a Technical Certificate and pursue her associate degree, which she did. Amanda knew that she wanted to work in a position that would foster support for people who, in turn, foster others to learn because Dianne made such a huge impact on Amanda’s life. Amanda loves spending time with her children, traveling, and reading books.

Advancement & Partnerships Team


Samantha Tarlton Procento, BA

Chief Advancement & Partnerships Officer


Sam is the Chief Advancement & Partnerships Officer, in which she enjoys working with organizations and donors to help further KDP’s goals. She studied sociology at Hanover College in southern Indiana. After graduating, she became a teaching assistant at a nursery school, where she loved being around babies and young children. Sam started at KDP in 2017. She spends her spare time with her husband and dog. Baking and cooking are some of Sam’s favorite activities and she watches many YouTube videos to learn new recipes and techniques. Her favorite educator, Dr. Ryle, always challenged her to think outside of her perspective to meet people where they are.

Communications & Marketing Team


Chuck Jarrell, BFA

Art Director


Chuck is KDP’s Art Director. He comes from a teaching family that includes his mother, who taught government and set an extremely high bar. Her example led him to teach drawing in the Gifted and Talented Program at John Herron School of Art before entering agency work as an illustrator and designer. Chuck joined KDP in 2003 and has enjoyed the diversity and challenges of the work he has been asked to do. Chuck enjoys illustration, photography, working out, hiking, video games, and movies.


Raevyn Harris, BA

Director of Digital Marketing


As the National Director of Digital Marketing, Raevyn oversees KDP's digital communications. She takes pride in her work at KDP and aims to advance its mission of empowering teachers to thrive. During her free time, Raevyn loves to travel and aspires to live in countries for extended periods to learn about other cultures. Married for nine years, Raevyn shares her life with her husband and son. Spending time with her family is her favorite thing to do. In her life, several teachers have made a huge impact: Mr. Yelton, her high school AP Biology teacher who made learning enjoyable; the professor at Ball State who challenged her; and Mrs. Proctor, the woman whose support meant the world to her.


Natalie Pemberton, MA

Director of Communications


Natalie joined KDP in 2023 as the Executive Assistant to Advancement & Partnerships. In 2024, Natalie transitioned to the Marketing Team as the National Communications Manager. Natalie grew up in Lapel, IN, and attended college at Ball State University, where she obtained both her bachelor's and master's degrees in English Studies. While her professional background is in marketing, she's always had a deep appreciation for educators instilled in her by her mother, who was a teacher for 38 years. Natalie met her most influential teacher, Cathy Day, during her undergraduate studies in an immersive learning course that focused on equipping English and other humanities majors with both the skills and the confidence to thrive in a job market that tends to discourage these degrees. She credits Cathy with inculcating in her the belief that she could do anything with her education, and that it is never too late to change course to follow your passion. In her spare time, Natalie loves to read, explore local farmers markets, and spend time with her husband and five dogs.

Administration Team


Kathy Jarrell, BS

Administrative Services Manager


Kathy hails from Lafayette, Indiana, and is a die-hard Purdue Boilermaker. She graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Speech Language Pathology and Special Education. Kathy’s mother was a teacher for over 25 years and, as the Building and Office Manager at KDP, she feels honored to provide building, office, and payroll support along with the occasional band aid to those at KDP who seek to support and advance educators like her mother. Kathy is married to Chuck Jarrell, the KDP Art Director. Together they have four grown children, two grandchildren, and a very lazy beagle/bulldog named Susie. In her spare time, Kathy likes to read, serve at Wheeler Mission, and collect recipes she knows she’ll never make. Kathy has been blessed with many excellent teachers but Dr. Richard Miles, Mr. Thomas Dick, and Mr. Alvin Jones, her high school band directors, were the most influential. Not only did they encourage her love of music, they also taught commitment, self-confidence, muli-tasking, and the value of teamwork.


Danielle Johnson

Accounts Payable Coordinator 


Danielle has been in the accounting department at KDP for over 13 years, working in many different roles and positions. She has been with her husband for almost 15 years, and together they have two young sons and live in a farming community outside of Indianapolis, Indiana. She enjoys spending her downtime with her family, baking desserts, going to concerts, and reading books. She had many influential teachers growing up, but her biggest influence was her 10th-grade English teacher, Mrs. Scolaro. She instilled the love of reading that she still has to this day, and she taught her that with a little love and grace, you can do anything.


Jayne Geslak, BA

Director of Data Integrity


Jayne has worked at KDP for 12 years. She maintains the KDP member database as well as miscellaneous IT duties. Jayne has twins and enjoys cheering for them athletically and academically. Jayne is also a dog mom. She enjoys traveling to warm weather locations with her girlfriends. Jayne’s most influential teacher was her 8th grade English teacher, who instilled her love for English grammar.

Executive Team


Tonja Eagan, MPA, CFRE, CAE, CMFC

Chief Executive Officer


Tonja joined KDP in June 2020 as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to collaboratively lead KDP with the Board of Directors, members, and staff into a new era of teaching excellence. For over 25 years Tonja has successfully led national, statewide, and local-based nonprofit organizations in education, youth, and human services. She was one of the first 100 people in America to earn a master’s degree with a concentration in nonprofit management in the 90’s. Other credentials include being a CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive), CAE (Certified Association Executive) and CMFC (Certified Master Financial Coach) . She has received multiple leadership honors. including being named as a Forty Under 40 leader by the Indianapolis Business Journal and a Robert Skip Walsh Memorial Award by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America as an outstanding mentor and role model for staff. Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), has recognized Tonja with the Distinguished Liberal Arts Alumni Service Award, the Glen W. Irwin Experience Excellence Award for service beyond the call of duty, the Maynard K. Hine Medal as the highest IU alumni honor, and the Spirit of Philanthropy Award. Upon receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1990, Tonja founded the IUPUI Student Mentor Program, which became the nationally renowned Bepko Learning Center. Annually, the “Tonja Eagan Mentor Service Award” is granted to an outstanding faculty mentor. As a philanthropist, Tonja established an IUPUI Mentor Impact Endowment Fund with the IU Foundation to support student peer mentoring. As a former adjunct faculty member, Tonja taught undergraduate courses at IUPUI, Ivy Tech Community College, and Ball State University. In volunteer roles, Tonja serves as a member of the FBI Citizens Alumni Academy, Impact 100 Women’s Philanthropy, Finance Committee of her HOA, and mentor to several youth, men, and women. Her favorite things to do are pontoon boating, playing with her dogs and cats, listening to live music, and being with her husband, Frank.

Member Experience Manager Regions


  • WEST Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, National and International Online Colleges & Universities. Contact
  • MIDWEST Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wisconsin. Contact
  • SOUTHEAST Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana,Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia. Contact
  • NORTHEAST Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, DC. Contact