Samantha Yu, Senior Associate of Academic Support
Lydia Abell serves as the Partnership’s Executive Associate. In 2016, she earned a Masters of Performance Studies from Texas A&M University. During her time at A&M, she worked as both a teaching and research assistant, and also served as a representative on various recruiting and hiring committees. She graduated from University of Southern Indiana in 2013 with bachelors in both Theatre Arts and English Literature.
Claire is proud to serve as the Director of Talent Management, a role in which she gets to live her belief that incredible people are the most important resource we bring to our students every day. As Director of Talent Management, she leads the recruitment and hiring of staff across our 19 schools and home office. Claire joined the Partnership in 2011 and spent three years supporting the growth of our teacher development and school leader development work before transitioning to Talent Management. She started her career as a third grade teacher in Phoenix, Arizona, and holds a Master’s of Public Policy from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor’s in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Rachel Bonkovsky serves as the Senior Director of School Transformation for Partnership high schools. Ms. Bonkovsky has over 16 years of experience in education, which began when she served as a secondary science teacher, and later principal in the Boston Public School system. She transitioned to Los Angeles in 2007 as Director of the Pilot School Initiative for LAUSD. In the fall of 2009, Ms. Bonkovsky joined the LAUSD’s Superintendent’s Office as Program and Policy Development Advisory. Next, she served as the Executive Director of the Division of Intensive Support and Intervention. Ms. Bonkovsky holds a BA in Biology and English from Amherst College, a master’s in education from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and a certificate of advanced graduate studies in educational administration from the University of Massachusetts in Boston.
Fatima Capinpin recently completed her Masters of Public Policy degree at USC. During her tenure at USC, she focused on education policy issues and worked as a research assistant for the Center on Educational Governance. She also has strong experience in non-profit education reform, having worked as a Development Associate for the Youth Policy Institute and as a Coordinator for both Alliance for a Better Community and Families In Schools. Mrs. Capinpin received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, San Diego with a major in Ethnic Studies.
L.J. Carusone is the Director of Development with the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Before joining the Partnership, he was living in central Mexico where he raised funds to establish an Internet company that serves rural communities. Mr. Carusone also worked independently as a consultant for many years fundraising for political campaigns and social justice organizations. He is committed to civil rights and has worked extensively on coalition building and grassroots organizing throughout California to push for gender parity and LGBT equality. A native of upstate New York, Mr. Carusone holds a BA in English from the University of Vermont.
Willa Clifton Posey obtained a BA in Sociology from California State University Dominguez Hills, an MEd from National University, and an MS in Educational Administration from Pepperdine University. With over 17 years in education, Ms. Clifton Posey started her teaching career, with the Inglewood Unified School District, followed by serving in several roles at the district level which included coaching teachers, administrators, and providing professional development around K-12 English Language Arts Instruction, curriculum, and support for English language learners. Two years ago, she returned to the classroom as a Partnership teacher, Common Core Lead, and Blended Learning Model teacher at Joyner Elementary School and today serves as Coordinator of School Transformation at the Partnership.
Lauro Cons serves as the Manager of Family and Community Engagement for middle schools at the Partnership. Mr. Cons was most recently a Thomas Murphy Research Fellow with The San Diego Foundation, where he worked to make green spaces more accessible to community members and to engage youth in efforts to protect natural assets and amenities. He began his career at the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center as a certified community mediator; assisting undocumented day laborers reclaim owed wages from employers. As a Peer Mediation Program Coordinator at the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Center for Civic Mediation, he facilitated workshops for students and parents on conflict resolution, mediation and positive communication. Committed to supporting students, Mr. Cons has also led a successful statewide policy campaign to aid former foster youth enrolled in higher education with housing support. He holds a B.A. in Chicana/o Studies with a Minor in Sociology from Loyola Marymount University and an M.A. in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego.
Beth Davis-Dillard is currently serving as the Director of Teacher Development at The Partnership. She began her career in 2003 as a New York City Teaching Fellow in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. She spent her career working in both district and charter schools in New York City as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and instructional consultant. She received her masters degree in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and attained her principal certification through the New Leaders for New Schools program. Most recently, she served as the founding principal of Success Academy Bed-Stuy 2, where she led the school to be among the highest performing elementary schools in New York State
Ameer Kim El-Mallawany is Director of School Transformation at the Partnership. As such, Ameer works directly with Partnership middle schools, providing coaching and support for school administrators and teacher leaders. Previously, Ameer worked as the Director of Family and Community Engagement also at the Partnership. Ameer comes to the Partnership after four and a half years as the founding principal of Columbus North International School, a globally-themed public high school in Columbus, Ohio. Originally from Cleveland, with parents who immigrated from Egypt and Korea, Ameer has also taught high school English in the South Bronx and in rural New Mexico. He is a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Yale University, where he earned an M.Ed. in School Leadership and a B.A. in Film Studies, respectively.
Adam Fletcher serves as Director of Operations and Impact at the Partnership. Mr. Fletcher is also a current Broad Resident. Prior to joining the Partnership, Mr. Fletcher was a Senior Associate at Irell & Manella, LLP, one of the nation's top law firms, where he was responsible for leading large trial teams representing many Fortune 500 corporations in matters with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. Mr. Fletcher also devoted himself to pro bono work, including participating on the board of an aspiring charter school and representing an organization working on behalf of charter schools, representing victims of mortgage fraud, and working to ensure that veterans receive appropriate health care and benefits. Mr. Fletcher holds a master's degree in Economics from UC Santa Barbara and a J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he graduated with honors.
Tanya Franklin re-joined the Partnership full-time in May 2014 as the new Director of School Culture and Restorative Communities. For the previous nine months, she was the inaugural UCLA School of Law Education Law Public Service Fellow at Mental Health Advocacy, Services, Inc. where she represented students in special education and school discipline matters and monitored the Partnership’s restorative justice programs. Prior to her fellowship, Ms. Franklin served as a Teacher Development Specialist with the Partnership first as an Education Pioneer in the summer of 2011 and then part-time during her final two years of law school. Ms. Franklin was a student and a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District and is dedicated to educational and racial equity. She holds her J.D. from UCLA School of Law, M.A. from Loyola Marymount University and B.A. from Columbia University. Ms. Franklin serves in leadership roles on Teach For America’s Alumni of Color Collective, the Education Pioneers Los Angeles Alumni Board, and the Del Rey Neighborhood Council.
Jeffrey Garrett serves as the Senior Director of Leadership Development at the Partnership, and has broad experience working in urban education for the last decade. Prior to coming aboard he served as Principal of the Bronx Academy of Letters, an unscreened public school serving grades 6-12 in the South Bronx that consistently produced some of New York City’s highest college readiness metrics among all public schools. Mr. Garrett previously served as an Achievement Coach at The Urban Assembly, a non-profit organization that supports a network of small public schools throughout New York City, where he provided instructional and school leadership coaching to principals and instructional leaders. Prior to that, he was a high school social studies teacher in East Harlem and the South Bronx. He began his career as a college admissions officer at his alma mater Dartmouth College, but departed to pursue his master's degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. A native of Saint Paul, Minnesota, Mr. Garrett attended public schools throughout his childhood and believes firmly in the importance of a quality, public education in a democratic society. Mr. Garrett is passionately committed to the good work of urban education, and believes in the words of the great Frederick Douglass, that without struggle, there is no progress.
Alice Gualpa joined the Partnership in January 2014 as the Manager of Data and Impact. Ms. Gualpa is passionate about public education and has spent her career focused on improving educational opportunities for students in California. Prior to joining the Partnership, Ms. Gualpa held positions as a Senior Analyst with the California Charter Schools Association and as an analyst with the Los Angeles Unified School District. Ms. Gualpa received her B.S. degree in Statistics from San Francisco State University and her M.A. in Education from Cal State LA. At home, Ms. Gualpa enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters, beating her family at board games, and reading fiction.
Dr. Ian Guidera serves as the Chief Academic Officer for the Partnership, supporting school leaders and schools in transforming outcomes for students. Dr. Guidera began his career teaching in Montgomery County Public Schools as an elementary school teacher and grade level leader. In 2003, he joined KIPP Academy of Opportunity (KAO) as a founding teacher, where he later earned KIPP's prestigious teacher of the year award. He soon became the Associate Director and later become the principal after attending the KIPP Leadership Program at UC-Berkeley in partnership with National-Louis University, earning a Master’s in Administration and Supervision. During his tenure at KIPP, Dr. Guidera also pursued his Doctorate in Education Leadership at UCLA, where he studied leadership efforts to transform school cultures. In 2010, he joined WestEd as a school transformation coach. He later co-directed WestEd's School Turnaround Center and also directed DistrictsMovingUP where he partnered with and coached district and state leaders across the nation.
Shauwea Hamilton serves as Chief External Relations Officer and brings over 15 years of external affairs and communications experience from a variety of sectors including public education, energy, and healthcare. Most recently, Ms. Hamilton served as the Executive Director for Strategic Partnerships and the Superintendent’s Office at Newark Public Schools (NPS), New Jersey’s largest school district. During that time, she oversaw several departments including: out-of-school-time, call center, communications, and external affairs, as well as the management of the Superintendent’s team.
Prior to joining NPS, Ms. Hamilton was the Manager of Community Affairs at Public Service Enterprise Group, an energy company, where she also served as the Program Officer for the Corporate Foundation in both Education and Community & Economic Development. She has also worked as a contract lobbyist and served as Chief of Staff & Executive Director of Marketing for a healthcare facility.
Ms. Hamilton received her BA in Psychology and Art History from Rutgers University and earned a graduate Certificate in Communications from LaSalle University, with a focus on Public Relations. She holds an MBA from Fordham University Graduate School of Business with concentrations in Marketing and Management.
Felix Jones comes to the Partnership from Fontana Unified School District with a track record of student academic achievement in mathematics. Mr. Jones served as a Special Education teacher in Fontana for nine years, three years at the middle school level and six years at the high school level, before transitioning to a district level position as a secondary math intervention specialist. In this role he worked collaboratively with seven middle schools, five high schools and two continuation schools to develop, implement, and support the district's math intervention programs.
Lacy Kuester serves as Senior Associate of Talent Management within the Partnership's Talent Management Team. With the belief that quality teachers are the most important ingredient to student success, Ms. Kuester helps connect excellent school leaders with the Partnership network. Ms. Kuester began her work in education as a middle school history teacher in Compton before returning to graduate school to study education policy. During that time, she interned with Parent Revolution, StudentsFirst, Mayor Villaraigosa’s Office of Education, and USC’s Center on Educational Governance. Ms. Kuester holds an MPP from USC and a BA from the College of William and Mary.
Erick Marquez serves as the Blended Learning Manager at the Partnership and helps bring the organization’s collective vision for blended learning in our network schools to life. He is joining the Partnership as a Broad Resident, a prestigious education management fellowship for those whose professional backgrounds have primarily been outside of education. In his previous role, Mr. Marquez worked for CSU-Dominguez Hills, where he was the Program Coordinator for a hybrid teacher credential program focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). He was responsible for managing the day-to-day operating of the program established to recruit, train and retain qualified teacher candidates in either Math or Science in high-risk, high-need public schools. Prior to this experience, he worked in business development for small businesses and in engineering at Northrop Grumman. Mr. Marquez holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and an MBA from UT-Austin.
Claudia Martinez has dedicated her career to improving the educational experiences of children and their families in challenged communities. She joined the Partnership in September 2013 and is currently the Senior Manager for Family and Community Engagement working with Partnership High Schools. Prior to joining the Partnership she worked as Regional Supervisor for Youth Services at the Youth Policy Institute (YPI) where she managed 21st Century Community Learning Centers' after-school programs that served over 1,500 children in challenged communities across LA County. Prior to YPI, Ms. Martinez worked with Families In Schools within their Special Initiatives and College Prep Programs. She was also a college advisor for several years providing one-on-one counseling, and college prep workshops. Ms. Martinez is an Education Pioneer Graduate Fellow – who worked both in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles on critical mission projects. She proudly serves on the board of two community-based organizations, Comision Femenil San Fernando Valley and MEND-Meet Each Need with Dignity. She received her Master’s in Public Administration with a focus in nonprofit management and her BA in Sociology with a minor in Chicano/a Studies from California State University, Northridge.
Joy Min serves as Coordinator of School Transformation at the Partnership, focusing on mathematics instruction in high schools. Mrs. Min has been a Partnership teacher since its inception at Roosevelt High School in 2008, where she served as the math department chair and taught all levels of math from Math Tutorial Lab to AP Calculus BC. As a Partnership teacher, she served as a Pioneer for two years and a Common Core Lead for two years. After ten years in the classroom, having experienced student growth through team teaching, blended learning, cooperative learning groups, and the flipped approach, Mrs. Min brings her wealth of experiences and talents to support our high school math teachers and raise student achievement across our schools. Mrs. Min received both her B.S. in Mathematics and Masters of Education at UCLA and is a National Board Certified Teacher.
Arturo Nagar is the Director of Finance and Business Affairs for the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Prior to joining the Partnership, Mr. Nagar served as Office Manager at The Solis Group, overseeing the administration and accounting departments of three businesses and one private foundation. He served as a key advisor to the Chairman of the Board of Directors, guiding the companies to their most profitable years in business during his tenure. In the early 2000's, Mr. Nagar worked as Campaign Manager for Pangaea Marketing, Inc. where he and his team lead the company in revenue generated from the moment he entered the company to the moment he left. Mr. Nagar holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one in Communications and one in Philosophy, from Fordham University in New York.
Nancy Peponis serves as the Development Manager at the Partnership. Prior to joining the Partnership, she worked at the National Immigration Law Center as the organization’s first director of development. In her previous role as executive director of Learning Rights Law Center, a Los Angeles nonprofit that promotes equitable access to education, she managed fund development and all other administrative functions. Additional nonprofit experience includes her work as the development officer for major gifts at Ballet Hispanico in New York City. Currently, she is a board member of the SPACE Arts Center in South Pasadena. Ms. Peponis received an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor of Music in Composition from the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University.
Myeisha Phillips joined The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools in late 2009. Prior to coming to the Partnership, Ms. Phillips worked for UCLA Center X as a Math Coach, Teacher Leader, Professional Development Provider, and Institute Director. Ms. Phillips continues to keep a very close relationship with UCLA Center X, primarily working with the UCLA Math Project and some work with UCLA Writing Project. Her most recent work with the UCLA Math Project includes serving as Co-Director of the Supporting Teachers to Increase Retention(STIR) Grant. Ms. Phillips' classroom experience includes seven years as a teacher at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy. During this time she taught both 6th and 8th grade math/science, served as Math Intervention Coordinator and teacher, Computer Lab Teacher, and served on various other Leadership committees. She completed both her Undergraduate and Graduate work at UCLA and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, a Minor in Education, and a Masters in Education with a focus on Urban Schools.
Dan Reis joined the Partnership in January 2015 as Development Associate. Prior to joining the Partnership, he worked for Impactivo Consulting in San Juan, Puerto Rico. There, he focused on securing federal funding for underserved health and education groups, and helped create or expand numerous projects, including the first college and professional preparation program for public high school students in Puerto Rico. He graduated with a BA in Sociology and Spanish from the University of Chicago, where he also helped manage a tutoring group for nearby students.
Karin Rinderknecht currently serves as Director of School Transformation at the Partnership. Mrs. Rinderknecht recently relocated back to Los Angeles from Washington, D.C. after serving three years as a Director of School Support for the Achievement Network, an innovative national reform organization that provides direct coaching and services to school leaders and instructional teams. Prior to that, Mrs. Rinderknecht taught high school English for seven years at three different schools - Green Dot Ralph Bunche Charter, Orthopaedic Hospital Magnet (both in L.A.), and Brandeis HS (in New York City). Mrs. Rinderknecht leads our secondary literacy common core work and also provides additional coaching and supports to some of our middle schools. Mrs. Rinderknecht attended Yale for her undergraduate degree and City College for her master’s in education.
Chase Stafford is the Senior Manager of Strategic Planning at the Partnership. Mr. Stafford recently returned from Ghana, where he was the Deputy Country Director of Innovations for Poverty Action, a research NGO that does impact evaluations to identify the best ideas for fighting global poverty. Prior to that he worked as an Operations Manager for McMaster-Carr, an industrial supplies distributor. Earlier in his career he worked as the speechwriter for the president of World Vision, a large humanitarian group. Mr. Stafford holds a masters in international affairs from UC San Diego and a B.A. in history from Stanford University.
Julie Stefan Lindsay is the Coordinator of School Transformation, Secondary Literacy at the Partnership. Previously, Mrs. Stefan Lindsey taught middle school and high school English Language Arts in a variety of school settings, moving into instructional coaching in 2012. She served as a Secondary Achievement Coach for Canyons School District in Utah and then as an ELA Coach and Coordinator of Educator Effectiveness with Alliance College-Ready Public Schools in Los Angeles. Mrs. Stefan Lindsey received her Master’s in Teaching from Willamette University (Salem, Oregon) and her Master’s in English from San Francisco State University. She is currently an Ed.D. candidate in the Educational Leadership Program at UCLA and enjoys reading, baking, fitness activities, and spending time with her husband and daughter.
Ada Stevens serves as the Partnership’s Senior Director of School Transformation. She comes to the Partnership after having worked over 30 years with LAUSD where she most recently held the position of Lead Instructional Director in LAUSD’s Intensive Support and Innovation Support Center (ISIC). In her role with ISIC, she oversaw the Strategic Planning for ISIC —setting systems direction, expectations and providing mentoring and coaching to the 18 Instructional Directors. Over the past five years, Ms. Stevens has also been instrumental in the expansion, vision and support of the 50 LAUSD Pilot Schools. Prior to her role with ISIC, Ms. Stevens was Principal of Virgil Middle School, where she helped drive a 73 API point increase and move the school out of “High Priority School” status. Before her role with Virgil Middle School, she was Principal of Garvanza Elementary, where she lead the school to a achieve API growth of 271 points, Title 1 Achieving 3 years in a row and California Distinguished School Status.
Joan Sullivan is the CEO of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a non-profit focused on turning around LA’s lowest performing public schools and on piloting innovations that can be scaled across the Los Angeles Unified School District. Launched in 2008, the Partnership serves 15,000 students across 17 campuses in Watts, Boyle Heights and South LA. Sullivan previously served as LA’s Deputy Mayor of Education, where she worked closely with the superintendent and school board to support the nation’s second largest school district. Sullivan arrived in Los Angeles after spending more than a decade in the South Bronx as the founding principal of a high-poverty, high-performing public secondary school and as a high school social studies teacher. Before entering the classroom Sullivan worked on Bill Bradley’s 2000 presidential campaign, documenting her experiences in a memoir entitled An American Voter, published in 2002. She began her career working for the Civilian Complaint Review Board, a New York City agency charged with investigating police misconduct. Sullivan holds a M.S. in School Leadership and graduated with a B.A. in American Studies from Yale College, where she earned All-American honors in lacrosse.
Francisco Villegas is the Director of School Transformation at the Partnership. Prior to joining the Partnership Mr. Villegas was with the Colton School District, Bloomington High School, for twelve years where he has served as a master math teacher (teaching everything from pre-algebra to AP calculus BC), department chair, and Saturday school coordinator. While at Bloomington, Mr. Villegas has consistently increased students’ math achievement, has provided ongoing PD, mentoring and support to all math teachers, and has led a district wide effort to align and enhance mathematics course offerings in order to position students for success. Additionally, over the past four years, Mr. Villegas has more than quadrupled the enrollment in his school’s AP Calculus program and has seen a 100% pass rate four years in a row. This achievement, in a high school with 90% students of color and 74% students eligible for free and reduced price meals, has earned him and his district honors from the College Board.
Margery Weller comes to the Partnership after having served in several capacities within the Los Angeles Unified School District, from Teacher’s Assistant, Teacher, Coordinator, to her most recent role of Assistant Principal, Elementary Instructional Specialist (APEIS). In preparation for her administrative position of APEIS, Ms. Weller was selected to work in LAUSD’s LEAD Academy program. During this time, she shadowed a high performing principal at Grape Street Elementary. During her twenty plus years of school site experience she’s worked in the Van Nuys, West Los Angeles, South Los Angeles and Watts communities. Ms. Weller has a Bachelor’s degree in History from California State University Dominguez Hills and a Master’s of Science in Educational Administration from National University.
Diana Wiley serves as the Manager of Family Engagement Programs. Prior to joining the Partnership, Ms. Wiley was a Program Manager at Families In Schools where she managed local and statewide family and community engagement initiatives focused on building capacity of parents, schools, and community agencies to improve public education. Ms. Wiley holds a BA in Political Science from California State University, Northridge and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. She is an alumna of the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs and the Education Pioneers Graduate School Fellowship. In her spare time, Ms. Wiley enjoys cooking, practicing yoga, hiking with two rescue dogs, and exploring arts and culture around the city with her husband.
Mikelle Willis serves as the Chief Strategy & Operating Officer for the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Ms. Willis brings an MBA from Pepperdine University and over 17 years of experience in K-12 education, including a strong balance of school-site and system-level leadership, to the Partnership. She began her career teaching at Jane Addams Elementary School in Long Beach before joining Teach for America, Los Angeles as Director of Operational Support. She subsequently spent five years as a middle school principal before becoming the Director of New Site Development at the KIPP Foundation, where she was responsible for selecting and managing the organization's expansion into new communities. She most recently served as the Senior Director, Principal Preparation Programs, where she oversaw the leadership development of all aspiring school leaders for KIPP nationally.
Marc Wilson serves as Manager of Strategy and Operations at Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Mr. Wilson is also a current Broad Resident. Previously, Mr. Wilson was a Senior Attorney at Paramount Pictures, where he worked on the international distribution of motion pictures on television and digital platforms. Prior to this experience, he was an environmental and land use attorney at Latham & Watkins, where he helped implement innovative real estate development projects in Los Angeles. Mr. Wilson has devoted himself to pro bono work and community-based volunteering throughout his career, and served on the pro bono committee at Paramount Pictures. Mr. Wilson received a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Northwestern University, and a J.D. from the Northwestern University School of Law, where he graduated with honors.
Samantha Yu serves as the Senior Associate of Academic Support. Ms. Yu is committed to using her skills to make meaningful contributions to social equity and education. She previously interned with EnrichLA, assisting with a pilot STEM program in the gardens of two LAUSD elementary schools. As an undergraduate, she served as Director of Finance for TEDxUCDavis and as VP for Business Affairs for the Associated Students of Pasadena City College. After receiving an Associate’s degree from Pasadena City College, Ms. Yu graduated from University of California, Davis with a B.S. in Environmental Science & Management and a minor in Community & Regional Development.
Julija Zubac is an educator who integrates her expertise in teaching, education policy, and organizing to advocate for equity. Prior to joining the Partnership as Manager of Restorative Communities, she was an Education Pioneers Fellow with LAUSD, where she served as a strategic planner in the Office of Government Relations, helping design a year-round LCAP community engagement strategy. Ms. Zubac was a high school Social Science teacher for six years, most recently at Locke College Preparatory Academy in South LA, where she also served as Grade Level Lead and was a member of the GreenDot Instructional Leadership Team and the Restorative Justice Exploratory Team. For four years, she has helped organize LA's premier youth-led conference, Eastside Stories at Roosevelt High School. Named one of “30 Under 30 Innovative Educators” in 2011 by Splashlife, Ms. Zubac is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (BA, Political Science) and Claremont Graduate University (MA, Education).