Yuritzy Anaya 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.
Brielle Balsamo is the Senior Instructional Associate at the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Prior to joining our team she spent the last seven years working in New York City. Brielle first became interested in urban education and education policy initiatives when she began at Peace Games, a non-profit organization that focused on developing children’s social and emotional skills. After leaving Peace Games, Brielle joined Teach for America where she spent two years working as an elementary special education teacher in the South Bronx. Ms. Balsamo spent her third year teaching 3rd grade at Metropolitan Lighthouse Charter School. She graduated from Fordham University with a BA in Sociology and from Hunter College of Education with a MS in Elementary Special Education.
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 16 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.
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. Ms. Castellanos is a media professional with over 15 years of experience in Public Relations and marketing. Her experience includes developing public relations and marketing strategies, communications, brand marketing, Hispanic PR and marketing, digital media, advertising, and rebranding/launches. Her career spans several industries including entertainment, cable, online, and non-profits. Ms. Castellanos is a graduate of California State University, Fullerton.
Pooja Chopra serves as the Manager of School Transformation at the Partnership. Prior to joining the organization she worked at the New York City Department of Education leading strategic policy planning and operation implementation projects within the Office of Assessment. She started her career through Teach for America, teaching high school special education math and science in Philadelphia. She graduated from Georgetown University with a B.S. in Foreign Service and holds an M.Ed. from Chestnut Hill College.
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.
Ameer Kim El-Mallawany is Director of Family & Community Engagement at the Partnership. As such, Ameer is responsible for leading the Partnership’s family and community engagement strategy, working to engage families and facilitate partnerships that lead to the collective empowerment of our students, families, and communities. 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.
Amy Frey joined the Partnership as Manager of Family and Community Engagement after working with the YMCA for eight years in Health and Wellness, Community Engagement, Family Development, Community Program Development and Team Building. Ms. Frey studied abroad in South America to learn Spanish and enjoy utilizing her skill sets to impact all populations with an emphasis in Latin Based Communities. She is extremely passionate about building healthy communities that are a direct reflection of sustainable partnerships that result in resources for happy and healthy youth and parents. Through her work with the YMCA she has been able to change the lives of over 400 youth that were clinically overweight or obese through Obesity Prevention and Parent Education classes. Ms. Frey is a proud graduate of San Diego State University with a degree in Kinesiology and is currently pursuing her Masters in Business Administration with an Emphasis in Leadership.
Maribel Galan serves as Senior Director of School Transformation at the Partnership. Ms. Galan began her career in Los Angeles Unified School District 18 years ago as a middle school teacher and grade level chair in English Language Arts, Social Studies, Literacy and English Language Development. She joined East Whittier School District where she was asked to take on leadership roles in developing ELD programs. Next, Aspire Public Schools recruited Ms. Galan to found an elementary school in the city of Huntington Park. Due to her success, she was soon asked to open a middle school in the same area. Under her leadership, the school made a 79-point API increase in just the second year of operation. Most recently, she has served in Anaheim City School District as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, responsible for all district-wide professional development and planning.
Jeffrey Garrett joined the Partnership in 2014 as the Director of Leadership Development 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.
Vanessa Garza joined the Partnership in 2013. As the Director of Teacher Development 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 in 2010. 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.
Ian Guidera serves as the Chief Schools Officer for the Partnership, supporting school leaders and schools in transforming outcomes for students. Mr. 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, Mr. 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.
Jumar C. Osby Habtemariam began his path in the US Armed Forces, where he led a team of elite Army soldiers on intel missions via a mobile command center. After serving, he studied economics and chemistry and received his Bachelors in Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. After completing his studies, he began working at Apple, Inc. as a Certified Technician, where he advanced quickly to the status of Apple Genius. His affinity for technology and problem solving led to several major IT consulting projects across Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City, including the design of a public Wi-Fi network in Downtown L.A., and Chicago’s Passport Carriers Project. Mr. Osby Habtemariam creative pursuits include film-making and music, the former resulting in an award-winning documentary called "The Experience” which follows the lives of 5 individuals from Buffalo, NY, and their journey to Ghana, West Africa. Mr. Osby Habtemariam is currently working on his Masters of Science in IT Project Management and Cyber Security policy from the University of Maryland.
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.
Lacy Kuester serves as Talent Associate 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.
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 Senior Manager of Parent College 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 Senior 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 serves as Chief Academic Officer for the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, responsible for defining, communicating, and implementing the vision for our instructional programs. The focus areas of her new role will be developing teacher leaders, guiding the creation and evolution of assessments and curriculum tools, and managing other instructional supports for our 16 schools.
Ms. Nelson has over 22 years of experience as an educator in Los Angeles. She started her career as a Teach For America corps member, teaching bilingual Kindergarten students at 96th Street Elementary School for several years before transitioning to Martin Luther King Elementary where she taught 2nd and 3rd grade and was recruited by the school's principal to take on a number of leadership roles. She was eventually promoted to an instructional coordinator role and spent several years aligning standards to curriculum and developing tools that were shared across LAUSD. Later, Ms. Nelson served as an assistant principal at La Salle Avenue Elementary School where she collaborated with her teachers to drive curriculum alignment with state standards. In 2006, she became the principal at the Watts Learning Center. During her tenure, the school's API score increased to 860, the school was honored as California Charter School of the Year, and it was distinguished with Title 1 Academic Achievement awards in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Since joining the Partnership as a senior director of school transformation in 2011, Ms. Nelson has led the work with our six elementary schools where among other things, she managed the shift from a program-driven model of instruction to a balanced literacy program that integrates the Common Core.
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.
Stephany Rodas serves as the Parent College Associate for Parent College. Prior to joining the staff full-time, Ms. Rodas served as a part-time member of the Parent College Outreach Team, where she further developed her skillset and passion in working with families in under-served and under-resourced communities. Ms. Rodas is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Media Studies. During her time as an undergraduate, she served as the Communications Coordinator for the RAZA Recruitment and Retention Center which aimed to recruit and retain Chicano/Latino students on and off-campus in an effort to increase the number of people of color in higher education. She connects this vision very closely with her work in the Parent College program. She believes that in providing families the tools and knowledge necessary to navigate successfully through the education system, we will see a positive change where more students of color will be able to access higher education. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her husky and reading a good book.
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.
Ada Snethen-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. Snethen-Stevens has also been instrumental in the expansion, vision and support of the 50 LAUSD Pilot Schools. Prior to her role with ISIC, Ms. Snethen-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
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.
Cristina Torres is a Teacher Development Coordinator at the Partnership, supporting and coaching teacher leaders across our network of schools. Ms. Torres joins the Partnership with over fifteen years of combined experience as an elementary classroom teacher, coordinator, and instructional coach. As an educator in Los Angeles, she piloted LAUSD’s Teaching and Learning Frameworks as both a Pioneer Teacher and a Peer Observer. She is dedicated and passionate about supporting teachers in their continued efforts to build their instructional capacity to improve student achievement. Ms. Torres graduated from UC Riverside with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in English Literature. She earned her teaching credential, Masters in Educational Leadership, and administrative credential from Cal State Dominguez Hills.
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.
Samantha Yu joins the Partnership for LA Schools as the Associate of Finance and Business Affairs. 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.