American Civics Center

Senior Staff

Chris Walsh, Executive Director

Chris is dedicated to maintaining high standards for civic education programs and making a sponsoring teacher’s trip planning as easy as possible. A native of Pennsylvania, Chris is a twenty-three year veteran of Washington, DC based civic education programs. Prior to founding the Center, he served as Director of Operations at the Close Up Foundation® . Before beginning his career in civic education in 1994, Chris was active in the software and hospitality industries for more than a decade. He is a graduate of Penn State University.

Darren Minarik, PhD. Director of Curriculum & Professional Development

Darren is committed to providing high quality professional development in citizenship education, classroom management techniques, and evidence-based teaching strategies for American Civics Center instructors and teacher program participants. He has worked in social studies, alternative, and special education since 1992 as a trainer, classroom teacher, and teacher educator, including over two decades with Washington, DC based experiential civic education programs. Darren holds Strategic Instruction Model (SIM) Professional Developer certification through the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning and provides professional development opportunities to educators around the country. Darren’s research interests address citizenship education, self-determination for youth with disabilities, instructional strategies, inclusive practices, and the pedagogical intersections between social studies and special education. His most recent publication through the National Council for the Social Studies, Social Studies and Exceptional Learners, brings together the latest research in social studies and special education to support classroom teachers from elementary through high school.

Gustavo Rodriguez, Director of Customer Relations

Gustavo specializes in guiding schools through program planning. He is a nineteen year veteran of civic education programs in Washington, DC. Most recently, Gustavo served as an outreach representative in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico. Prior to his work in those communities, he was a Customer Relations Supervisor. Born in Latin America, Gustavo has been in the United States since 1986 and became an American citizen in 1998. His language skills and personal experience make him uniquely qualified to reach out to communities with large numbers of new Americans.

Sharron Garrett-Haskins, Director of Support Services

Sharron is a twenty-six year veteran of civic education programs in Washington, DC. She has wide knowledge of the national capital area, Williamsburg, Charlottesville, Philadelphia and Gettysburg having been raised in Virginia. A master of details, Sharron has scheduled thousands of program participants for theater performances, meals, transport, historical site visits and hotel stays in cities throughout the United States.

Edwin Natal, Director of Educator Outreach

Edwin is a veteran classroom educator and a lifelong proponent of civic education. He spent several years in the Washington, DC area before returning to his native Puerto Rico to teach.