Our Team

DC Action’s team is highly respected for their research, data, policy-advocacy, coalition-building and campaigns expertise.

With decades of experience in their specific areas, our experts work closely with policymakers and influential leaders to evaluate, craft, promote, and implement scalable change for kids.



Ruqiyyah Anbar-Shaheen

Director of Early Childhood Policy and Programs

Ruqiyyah's work combines her experience with direct service, coalition building, and policy research and analysis. In her role, she conducts research, advocacy, and coalition-building to promote policies that make DC a place where all children have equitable opportunities to thrive.

After completing her undergraduate education at the University of Texas at Arlington in 2011, Ruqiyyah served as an AmeriCorps member to support low-income, first-generation high school students in preparing for and applying to college. Her AmeriCorps service reinforced her understanding of the structural barriers that women, children and families face in achieving their full potential.

This experience inspired her to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs, with coursework and research focused on health, gender and family policy. Her educational background coupled with her recent experience working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on disease prevention policy and her service in community has given her work the benefit of a lens built on a combination of direct service and policy analysis. She is excited to apply that lens to work serving DC children.

Ty Jones Cox

Policy Consultant, Family Economic Security

Ty works with the DC Action for Children team on the Family Economic Security policy agenda, particularly around strengthening the safety net for children and youth in the District. As a Policy Consultant, she works with national and state policy leaders to identify opportunities to test new strategies to reduce enrollment barriers and obstacles for low-income families. Ty is an experienced and mission-driven legal and policy professional with over 15 years of experience working to end poverty and inequality.

She began her career as a legal aid attorney in Virginia and held policy positions at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Benefits Data Trust, and AARP Foundation. In each role, Ty worked with state and federal officials as well as state advocates to strengthen and improve safety net programs. She has a demonstrated history of building and cultivating relationships with diverse leaders, organizations, and businesses.

Ty holds a law degree from Howard University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and is excited to bring her expertise to the DC Action Team.

Craig "CJ" Edelin, Jr.

Banneker High School Advocacy Intern

Craig Edelin is the high school Advocacy Intern for the 2019-20 school year. He is a junior at Benjamin Banneker High School in the International Baccalaureate program. Craig assists the team in tracking the latest research, articles and public dialogue related to DC Action's priorities and sharing them with advocates, the DC Council, their staff and Council committees.

"I would like to intern at DC Action for Children because I have a goal of making a difference in my own community. I would like to aid in making a change, in order to be surrounded by people that feel the same way I do. After I was informed of the opportunity at DC Action for Children I jumped at the chance to volunteer. I wanted to understand...how to invoke change within the D.C community, especially for youth." After graduating in 2021 Craig hopes to find a career that will allow him to travel and to help people.

Matthew Hanson

Chief of Staff

As Chief of Staff, Mat works alongside the Executive Director to help grow the organization and build power among its constituents. He provides leadership and management of staff, execution of the organization's strategic plan, and ensures racial justice and equity is fully integrated into the work at every level. 

Mat has spent more than a decade working to promote economic, racial and social justice. He joins DC Action for Children after serving as the DC Director for the Working Families Party, a national organization that unites activists, community and labor organizations to advance systemic change. During his time there, he used electoral, political and legislative strategies that concentrated on increasing economic security for low-income families and bringing greater fairness and equity to our elections. He helped oversee large and small teams, developed and set organizational strategy as well as organized and built winning coalitions that united advocates, business owners, faith leaders, policy experts, unions and other allies. These efforts have resulted in policy changes that have successfully raised statewide minimum wages for more than half a million workers in Maryland and Washington, DC, passed and implemented one of the most progressive public financing of elections programs in the country, and helped secure funding for early childhood education and health programs. 

He has worked at the local, national and international level. A graduate from the City University of New York, he is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, a proud father, and Ward 7 resident.

Nisa Hussain

Program Associate

Nisa brings her maternal and child health background, skills in program coordination and workforce development to her role as Program Associate to support the priorities of the Early Childhood team.

While completing her undergraduate degree in Community Health at the University of Maryland, College Park, Nisa discovered a passion for women’s health, sexual health, and health promotion. Before coming to DC Action, she managed a workforce and leadership development portfolio at the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs. Through her experience in that role, she recognized the demand for change around health disparities, racial inequities, and cultural competence within public health and the policies that impact maternal and child health populations. 

Outside of work, she loves to spend her time going to concerts around the city, supporting reproductive rights campaigns, and enjoying a good book.

Ronald Jarrett

Under 3 DC Coalition Director

As Coalition Director, Ronald works with Under 3 DC's leadership and members to educate and inform DC residents and policymakers on how we can increase public investment in the City's infants and toddlers. He helps to set strategic direction with a lens toward racial and gender equity and leads a team responsible for organizing and coalition building, creative communications and digital media efforts, and strategic legislative tactics through active committees and working groups.

Ronald Jarrett was recently Director of Public Policy & Advocacy at United Way of Greater Portland in Maine. During that time, he was instrumental in successfully advocating for expanded access to farmers’ markets for W.I.C. recipients. Ronald’s professional experiences have been at the intersection of policy development and grassroots community organizing with a strong emphasis on advocating progressive policies that support under-served communities. While Public Policy Director of the Mayor’s Office of the City of Hartford, Connecticut, he shepherded the creation of the Hartford City I.D. program. Ronald has held advocacy and/or leadership roles at the New York State Senate Democratic Conference, Maine People’s Alliance, and the Service Employees International Union. Ronald has a Juris Doctor from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law/Yeshiva University and a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College. He lives in Silver Spring, MD with his daughter.

Rachel Metz

Research and Data Manager

As Research and Data Manager, Rachel works to collect, analyze, and share data that can help advocates understand and address issues facing DC's kids and youth, particularly kids and youth of color. She produces the DC KIDS COUNT suite of publications and online data center, DC Action’s interactive data tools, as well as translating the national KIDS COUNT press releases, annual reports, and other publications into the DC context.

As an undergraduate, Rachel performed demographic and policy research at the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network for its State of the States report. After completing her undergraduate degree at the College of William and Mary, she worked with Illinois Action for Children to research barriers to accessing and delivering quality early childhood care and education and to help providers and programs connect with resources for improvement. This experience inspired her to bolster her research skills by pursuing a Master’s degree at Ben Gurion University, after which she spent time in the classroom as a substitute teacher at a Navajo Nation school.

Since then she has continued to build her data and policy skills. She led and supervised rigorous quality assurance checks of paper and online student, teacher, school, and district reports in the Assessment Division at American Institutes for Research. And most recently, at The Education Trust she researched, analyzed, and interpreted key teacher and other education data, with a focus on understanding patterns of access to strong, well-supported teachers for low-income students and students of color.

Rachel is excited to bring her experience with data, research, and policy to help raise awareness and advocate to dismantle structural barriers that stand in the way of all young people reaching their full potential.

Kimberly Perry

Executive Director

A former teacher turned lobbyist, Kimberly has spent her career dedicated to building powerful organizations to amplify citizen's voices. Her work has driven critical policy change to improve the lives of nearly 30 million children and families across the globe. As DC Action for Children's executive director, she has set a vision to achieve race equity in child policy; and is ramping up the organization's resources, human capital, and networks to break down structural barriers that stand in the way of all kids reaching their full potential.

Kimberly brings more than 20 years of experience as an advocate for children and families and has a proven record of success in nonprofit management, policy advocacy, and civic engagement. She is most well known as Founding Director of DC Hunger Solutions, Vice President of the Clinton Foundation’s Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Executive Director of DC Vote, as well as other advisory roles in political campaigns, public policy advocacy and philanthropy.

Kimberly serves on the Board of Directors of the Congressional Hunger Center, the DC Community Housing Trust, and is Chair of Highest Ground.

When she’s not working you can find her at home perfecting recipes, watching and producing documentaries, salsa dancing, or on a hiking trail. 

You can also find Kimberly on Linkedin and Twitter.

Kellie Somerville

Executive Assistant

Kellie Somerville is the Executive Assistant providing critical operations, Board coordination, and right-hand administrative support to the Executive Director. After more than a decade of work experience, and earning degrees in Child Development and Business Administration, her experiences have allowed her to expand in a variety of executive roles which led to support duties of all types at a C-suite level, as well as growth within many non-profit organizations. As an accomplished EA, Kellie is very accustomed to wearing many hats, and prefers this type of multi-dimensional role over others. Kellie is a wife, a mother and an active member of her local school's PTA. She and her husband lead in the development and growth of their local community children by offering no cost tutoring every Saturday morning for those striving for success. After recently having her baby, she is thrilled to take on this new EA role where she will be able to utilize her skills and assist with leading the growth of such an impactful organization for the sake of our community and children. 


Hanh Truong

Communications Intern

Hanh Truong is the Communications Intern. She is a senior at UC Irvine majoring in Literary Journalism with a minor in Humanities and Law. For the past year she's been tutoring elementary students and helping them to build confidence in themselves and their academic ability. 

In her second year, she was an editorial intern at the Los Angeles Magazine. This past summer, alongside her internship as a music journalist for Cloud Jam Studios, Hanh worked at the Orange County Register where she focused on general assignment news and published articles about Orange County's local Asian-American community, health news and more. 


Speaking Engagements

To arrange a briefing on DC KIDS COUNT, please contact Rachel Metz at rmetz@dckids.org