Family and Community Engagement Team
Stephanie Abrams joined the Partnership for LA Schools as Senior Media Consultant in May 2014. She has 18 years of experience in broadcast journalism, most of which were spent as a reporter and anchor at CBS in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Following her work in television Abrams spearheaded the first social media team management and outreach for a major school district. As Social Media Director for the LAUSD, the second largest school district in the country, she was responsible for communicating through social media to 65,000 employees and nearly one million students and their families from early education through adult education. Now, as the CEO of Abrams Management LLC she offers public relations, media outreach, and consulting services to various corporations nationally.
Yuritzy joined the Partnership in October 2013 and previously worked as a Lead Organizer with Parent Revolution working with parents across Los Angeles and Pasadena. Most recently, she worked with parents at Twenty-fourth Street Elementary in LAUSD, resulting in parents organizing to improve their low performing school and choosing a groundbreaking plan, the first-ever district and charter school partnership, to operate their children’s school. Ms. Anaya obtained her BA in Political Science and Latin American Studies at UC Berkeley. As a college student, she worked at the Early Academic Outreach Program where she helped plan and implement academic programs to prepare inner city high school students in the Bay Area to pursue higher education. Currently, Ms. Anaya is pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration, with an emphasis in Non-Profit Management from Cal State University at Northridge.
Claire Brown recently completed a Master of Public Policy degree at USC, where she focused on education policy issues. Over the past two years, she co-directed USC’s ReadersPlus tutoring program for the University Park neighborhood elementary schools and was part of the 2010 Education Pioneers fellowship program. Additionally, Ms. Brown served as a member of a USC practicum team that researched a variety of talent management strategies for LAUSD. She began her career as a third grade teacher with Teach For America in Phoenix after having completed her undergraduate education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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. Fatima 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.
Luz Maria Castellanos joined the Partnership for LA Schools as the Communications Manager in May 2011. She has over a decade of experience working in public relations and marketing. She kicked off her career as a publicist in New York City managing campaigns for international performers and later headed up publicity for the launch of Si TV in Los Angeles. She helped re-launch NBC Universal's highly successful Latino network mun2 and between 2008-2011 Ms. Castellanos was President and Founder of LMC Media Consulting, a dynamic agency dedicated to developing and executing successful public relations and marketing campaigns in the U.S. with a focus on the growing bilingual Latino market. Ms. Castellanos is a graduate of California State University, Fullerton.
Carl Christopher joined the Partnership in August 2011 and is currently the Sr. Director of Operations and Impact. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing the strategic delivery of high quality operational support and data management to the Partnership schools. Prior to joining the Partnership, Mr. Christopher was an Executive Director at Kaplan Inc., where he was responsible for managing school operations as part of Kaplan's Higher Education division. Earlier in his career, Mr. Christopher was also an Associate Director at the Stanford University School of Education, where he supported education reform efforts in school redesign, small school start-ups and performance assessment. Mr. Christopher holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a BA in Economics from UC San Diego. He enjoys golf, running and travel in his spare time, and loves spending time with his wife Cristina, son Casey and daughter Courtney.
Yue Deng joined the Partnership as the Executive Associate to the Chief Executive Officer late 2013. Prior to the Partnership, Ms. Deng interned with Mayor Villaraigosa’s office and contributed to the planning of the Mayor’s Latin America trade mission. She also worked with the economic policy staff in the Office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] as an intern in Washington, D.C. A recent graduate from UCLA, Ms. Deng holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science.
Adam Fletcher will serve as Manager of Strategy and Special Projects at the Partnership. In this role, he will be responsible for overseeing strategic planning to improve the Partnership's interaction with LA Unified and other key external partners and to drive system-wide policy change. 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.
Sergio Flores comes to us with a variety of leadership experiences over the past nineteen years. Since 2010, he has served as assistant superintendent in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District where he led the human resources division and also worked directly with principals on their instructional programs. Prior to his time in Santa Maria, Mr. Flores served as principal at Fontana High School (Fontana Unified), William Workman High School and Sparks Middle School (Hacienda-La Puente Unified), and started his career as a bilingual teacher in the Pomona Unified District. While serving as principal, Mr. Flores built a track record of transforming schools by creating a strong student centered culture and increasing student achievement, particularly through growing students’ access to college-ready curriculum, increasing teacher leadership and collaboration, implementing strong talent management systems, and consistently using data to drive instructional decisions. He holds a BA in Spanish Linguistics and an MS in Education Administration from California State University, Fullerton and an Ed.D. in Leadership in Urban Schools from the University of Southern California.
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.
Jessica Gamboa joined the Partnership in October of 2013 as the Executive Associate to the Chief Academic Office. Prior to joining the Partnership, she was an Education Pioneers Graduate School Fellow placed in the Los Angeles Unified School District working on a project to define and measure college and career readiness within the district. She recently graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with an Ed.M. in Education Policy and Management. Prior to her graduate studies, Ms. Gamboa was a Prep for Prep Post-Placement Counselor for middle school students in New York City. She also served as the College Guidance Coordinator for rising seniors in the Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America Scholars Program. She attended Princeton University with an A.B. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and a certificate in Latino Studies.
Vanessa Garza joined the Partnership as the Teacher Development Coordinator in 2013. In this role, she supports and coaches teachers in the Partnership Pioneer program. Ms. Garza began her teaching career as an elementary teacher with Teach For America in East Harlem and returned to Los Angeles, her hometown, to teach sixth grade at Stevenson Middle School. Ms. Garza has also scaled up a STEM non-profit and served as the program manager for a National Science Foundation grant. As a proven leader, she has served as a middle school and high school Assistant Principal, where she focused on instructional leadership across Los Angeles' charter networks. Ms. Garza cultivated opportunities to support the development of the College-Ready Teaching Framework rubric while at Partnerships to Uplift Communities, and then she fully implemented The College Ready Promise grant at Green Dot Public Schools. She graduated from Tulane University, earned her Masters of Education from the UCLA Graduate School of Education, and earned her administrative credential as a member of the inaugural class of the Charter School Leadership Academy at Loyola Marymount University.
Tatiana Gonzalez joined the Partnership team after being an intern and became part of the Instructional division a year ago. She previously held a three-year teaching assistant position at Grant Elementary School in Hollywood. She possesses an Associate’s degree from Pasadena City College and a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Learning from Cal State University-Los Angeles.
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.
Robin Kirk serves as Coordinator of School Transformation where she provides direct services to our secondary schools and helps lead our transition to common core. Ms. Kirk has worked with the Orange County Public Schools for the past six years – last year as a district level instructional support and intervention specialist and five years as an algebra and math intervention specialist. Prior to that, Ms. Kirk worked as a math teacher for five years in Orlando, Florida. Ms. Kirk has a passion for mathematics and has produced excellent results with her students and become an expert in assessments, data analysis, and standards-based teaching and learning. Prior to entering education, Ms. Kirk served for six years as a design engineer in Orlando. Ms. Kirk attended Florida A&M where she received her BS in mechanical engineering, Cal State Fullerton for her master’s in education, and is currently working on her doctorate at Cal State Fullerton.
Mark Kleger-Heine joined Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office in 2007 to help launch the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools and is now the organization’s Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Kleger-Heine joined the Partnership after four years at McKinsey & Company, the global management consulting firm. At McKinsey, Mr. Kleger-Heine counseled senior executives in nonprofit, government and advocacy organizations on major strategic issues they were facing. He also advised senior management at large biotech and medical device companies.
Prior to McKinsey, Mr. Kleger-Heine was the Deputy Director for Project GRAD Los Angeles in the northeast San Fernando Valley. He also has worked in several community-based nonprofit organizations working in partnership with public schools, and he began his career teaching math to 4th, 6th, 8th and 9th graders in Brooklyn, New York. Mark graduated summa cum laude from Yale University with a degree in Psychology. He is a graduate of the Broad Residency, received an MBA from Columbia Business School and an MPA from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University with a concentration in Domestic Policy.
A former teacher, Silvia Lopez is now the Partnership's Manager of Family and Community Engagement. Prior to her joining the Partnership, she worked at Sunrise Elementary School, coordinating the school's family engagement work for two years. Under her guidance, Sunrise was awarded the most creative and most improved school, she was awarded FACE Teacher of the Year during the 2011 FACE Awards as well. Ms. Lopez has 15+ years of teaching experience in Mexico and the United States, with 9 of those years at Sunrise as a Special Education Teacher. Ms. Lopez possesses Bachelor's Degree in General and Special Education, and a Master's Degree in Play-Family Therapy. She is currently pursuing her Master's Degree in Administration at Concordia University, Irvine.
Anana Lozano joined the Partnership in October 2012 as an Instructional Coach. Ms. Lozano spends the majority of her time in the field working directly with teachers in all our elementary schools to support the implementation of our key strategic initiatives. Ms. Lozano has experience in varying grade levels in both district and charter schools and comes to the Partnership with a strong background in literacy and math. Ms. Lozano attended USC, where she received her Master of Arts in Teaching.
Karen Lucero is the Parent College Manager at the Partnership. In this role Ms. Lucero works with parents and families to inform them about their rights, roles and responsibilities at their child's school. Ms. Lucero has devoted her career to providing quality education for parents and students. Prior to joining the Partnership she worked as an elementary teacher at Ritter elementary, also a Partnership school, where one of her key strategies was to foster a strong working relationship with parents to impact the academic success of students. She continued her work with parents outside the classroom as part of Ritter's Family Action Team where she worked closely with parents to identify and implement a plan to create a welcoming environment at the school. As a result, she won the FACE "Teacher of the Year" award in 2010. When she initially joined the Partnership in 2011, Ms. Lucero worked for two years as Coordinator of Family and Community Engagement.
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 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.
Zoe Melczer joined The Partnership in May 2011. Prior to the Partnership, she worked in the development department of the Zimmer Children’s Museum. She is interested in enhancing educational and social opportunities for youth, having volunteered at Free Arts for Abused Children and The Chase Foundation. She received her Bachelor’s degree from New York University in Metropolitan Studies, and her Master of Public Administration from University of Southern California, with a focus in nonprofit management.
Arturo Nagar is the Manager 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.
Katherine Nelson joined our team as Senior Director of School Transformation. Ms. Nelson will work directly with several of our elementary schools and lead our network efforts around effective teaching, including the teacher development/evaluation pilot.
Ms. Nelson comes to us with twenty years of professional experience, where for the past five years she served as the director of the Watts Learning Center Charter School. Under Ms. Nelson's leadership, Watts Learning Center maintained an API of over 800 for the past five years, was named the California Charter School of the Year in 2007 and received a Title 1 Academic Achievement Award in 2007-09.
Ms. Nelson started her career in LAUSD as a teacher at 96th Street School and also worked as an instructional coordinator at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary (both schools were part of the “10 Schools Program”) and as an assistant principal at both LaSalle Avenue and Wilmington Park Elementary Schools. Ms. Nelson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the areas of data analysis, alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessments, teacher development and collaboration, and parent engagement – all critical areas for successful school transformation.
Marishka Nunez joined the Partnership in July 2012 as our new Director of Teacher Development. Ms. Nunez has a strong and varied background that has focused on teacher development from both the policy and practice perspective. Most recently she served as an instructional assistant principal at a Partnership to Uplift Communities (PUC) middle school where she focused primarily on teacher development and implementation of a multi-measure evaluation process. Prior to her time at PUC, Ms. Nunez served as a School Director for Teach for America and as a teacher, intervention and literacy specialist for two high performing schools within the Aspire Public Schools network. Ms. Nunez began her teaching career at 49th Street Elementary where she served as a first and second grade teacher for four years. Additionally, Ms. Nunez served as an accreditation research intern with the Boston Plan for Excellence where she did extensive work with the Boston Teacher Residency, one of the premier urban teacher residency programs in the country. Ms. Nunez also served as an Education Pioneer with the New York City Center for Charter School Excellence and spent one year as the program coordinator for the Accelerated School and Wallis Annenberg High School in Los Angeles. Ms. Nunez attended Scripps College for her undergraduate program, UCLA Graduate School of Education for her teaching and administrative programs, and Harvard University Graduate School of Education for her degree in education policy and management.
Colleen Oliver is the Partnership's Chief Academic Officer (CAO) overseeing the organization's Instructional team. Prior to joining the Partnership, Ms. Oliver served as the Senior Program officer with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the Education Division (US Program). As a member of the effective teaching team, Ms. Oliver worked with the newly formed Intensive Partnership Sites (IPS) – a deep partnership that the foundation formed in 2009 with four sites (Memphis, Pittsburgh, Hillsborough County, a group of Charter Management Organizations in Los Angeles) to support effective teaching reforms. Ms. Oliver lead the IPS work in Memphis and also managed the foundation’s education grants in Chicago.
Prior to joining the foundation, Ms. Oliver served as a regional director for instructional leadership and support with the KIPP Foundation. The majority of Ms. Oliver's career has been spent in public education. She served as the Middle School/K-8 Education Director with Seattle Public Schools and was a middle school principal, high school assistant principal, and teacher within the Shoreline School District which is located just north of Seattle.
Saskia Pallais is the Director of Family & Community Engagement for the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. She leads the Partnership’s family and community engagement strategy, empowering thousands of parents to understand their roles, rights and responsibilities. Before joining the Partnership, Mrs. Pallais was the Director of Development with Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools in Washington DC. There, she helped the school expand from a single high school serving 250 students in temporary facilities to three permanent campuses serving 1,300 students. In 2007, Mrs. Pallais left DC to work for Hillary Clinton in her bid to become the first female President. She worked as the State Scheduling Director in Nevada, California, Texas and Indiana. Prior to her work at the Chavez Schools, Mrs. Pallais worked with a private foundation on a program called Women Waging Peace Network, where she conducted research, training, and consultations for women leaders nationally and internationally. Mrs. Pallais holds a master in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School and a BA in theology and women’s studies from the University of Florida. Born in Nicaragua and raised in Miami, Mrs. Pallais brings a bi-cultural experience to her work.
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.
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.
Stephanie Schmier has been working with under-performing schools as an instructional coach for the past 10 years. She began her career as a classroom teacher and technology coordinator in LAUSD. Most recently, Dr. Schmier completed her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University, during which time she worked as a literacy advisor in small high schools in the Bronx and taught university level teacher education courses. Prior to her doctoral work, Dr. Schmier coordinated and implemented technology professional development for K-12 teachers at the UCLA IMMEX project. She is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Rossier School of Education at USC. Dr. Schmier’s recent publications include Multimodal Pedagogies: Playing, Teaching, and Learning with Adolescents’ Digital Literacies and Multiliteracies in Action: Integrating Technology into the Balanced-Literacy Classroom.
Fred Simmons serves as a Teacher Development Coach at the Partnership. In this role Mr. Simmons supports and coaches teachers at four schools and assists our broader instructional team to make connections between the Teaching and Learning Framework and Common Core Standards with an emphasis on ELA at the secondary level. Mr. Simmons initially began his professional career in research, however after becoming involved with the California Alliance for Minority Participation at UCI, which helps traditionally underrepresented students matriculate and excel at the university level, his focus turned to education. He began his teaching career at John C. Fremont High School in South Los Angeles teaching Biology and eight years later he began teaching at the Partnership’s Mendez Learning Center. In addition to his duties teaching Biology to 9th graders at Mendez, he served as the part time Title I coordinator, sat on the Site Council, Curriculum Committee, and served as the Science Department Chair. Mr. Simmons earned his B.S. and M.S. in Biology from UC Irvine, and completed his teaching credential and Administrative Services Tier I Credential at California State University Dominguez Hills.
Patrick Sinclair joined the Partnership team in late 2009. For more than two decades, he has handled major public affairs, public relations and financial communications assignments for clients ranging from the governments of the Netherlands and Hong Kong, to corporations such as Aetna, Marsh, Inc., Jardine Matheson, Pacific Dunlop and Racal Electronics.
Mr. Sinclair worked for Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan as Executive Director of Progress LA, a city-wide campaign to reform the land use process. He has also served as head of investor and financial communications for Ketchum, and as a vice president at Gavin Anderson & Company. In addition to a Masters in Public Administration from the Kennedy School, Mr. Sinclair holds a BA degree from New York University. A native of Missouri, Mr. Sinclair has three children and currently lives in Playa Del Rey, CA.
Chase Stafford is the 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.
As the Chief Executive Officer of the Partnership for LA Schools, Joan Sullivan oversees all aspects of the organization to ensure students receive a quality education. Prior to her post as CEO, Ms. Sullivan served as the Deputy Mayor of Education for Los Angeles. In that role, she oversaw Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s education policy agenda, working closely with the superintendent and board president to transform the nation’s second largest school district. She also oversaw the Partnership to accelerate student achievement at scale within the district’s lowest performing schools.
Ms. Sullivan previously spent over 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, helping during this time to create and support a network of small public schools. Before entering the classroom Ms. 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. Ms. Sullivan is a graduate of the Broad Fellowship for Education Leadership, 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.
Erica Valencia recently completed her Master of Public Policy degree from USC’s Sol Price school of Public Policy, where she focused on social and urban development. During her time at USC, she conducted research on Public School Choice with the Rossier School of Education. Prior to joining the Partnership, she was the Workplace and Immigrant Rights Program Coordinator for a local non-profit in Orange County and worked to provide pathways to citizenship for immigrant families. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, San Diego with a major in International Studies and a minor in International Migration Studies. In her spare time, Erica enjoys spending time with her family and her dog, Charlie.
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.
Steve Wilhite is the Partnership’s Director of Educational Technology, a role that is the culmination of his nearly two decades of experience in the education technology domain. Mr. Wilhite began his career in education teaching communications at the high school, college and university levels, recognizing from the start the key role technology could play as a learning enabler. In his teaching and in his work with other educators, he experimented with and promoted the effective use of technology to enhance learner engagement, collaboration, research, critical and analytical thinking, assessment, and more. From 2000 until his joining the Partnership in 2013, Mr. Wilhite worked for various technology startups and large corporations in roles mainly focused on the development and implementation of blended learning programs. One of these roles sparked a deep appreciation for and knowledge of systems thinking, an affinity he applies in his work with the Partnership. Mr. Wilhite received his BA and MA in English from Cal State Long Beach, and a Graduate Certificate in Instructional Systems Technology from Indiana University, Bloomington. His three children inspire him every day with their insights and experiences as highly successful students in public schools.