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The Board of Directors of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is comprised of some of the most respected and experienced names in the charter school world, including school leaders; national and state association executives; and representatives from foundations, management companies, and other supportive organizations. We strongly believe that in order to serve and advance this movement, the board must understand its complexities and reflect its great diversity.
CEO, Newark Charter School Fund
Mashea Ashton is the CEO and a Partner with the Newark Charter School Fund, having joined the organization in February 2009. Mashea previously served as the Executive Director for the New York Program and Senior Advisor for Charter School Policy for New Leaders for New Schools. There she worked with over 100 New Leaders impacting approximately 40,000 students and families in New York City and Newark. Mashea also served as the Executive Director for Charter Schools for the New York City Department of Education. As head of the Charter Schools Office, Mashea set the vision and policy direction of nearly 50 charter schools throughout the Big Apple and supported the city's unprecedented $130 million effort to open 200 new small schools, including 50 new charter schools. Mashea formerly served as the National Director of Recruitment and Selection and Midwest Director of Business Development for the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP). Mashea served several years as a special education teacher in Williamsburg, Virginia and Washington, D.C. She serves on the boards of the Black NAPCS for Educational Options, the National Association of Public Charters Schools and the William and Mary Alumni Association. Mashea has a M.Ed in Special Education with emphasis on learning disabilities and emotional disturbance and a B.A in Sociology and Elementary Education from the College of William and Mary.
Senior Program Officer, Empowering Effective Teachers, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Josh Edelman is the Senior Program Officer for Empowering Effective Teachers at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to this position Edelman was the Deputy Chief, Office of School Innovation within the D.C. Public Schools system. His past position was that of Executive Officer in the Chicago Public Schools’ Office of New Schools. Prior to this he worked for the SEED Foundation, where he served as the Academic Program Advisor. He also served as principal of the SEED Public Charter School, the country’s only public urban boarding school, which serves grades 7 – 12. Mr. Edelman received a bachelor's degree in American history from Harvard University. After college, he taught and administered at Milton Academy before earning a master's degree in education from Stanford University. For the next seven years, he taught social studies at Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton, California and directed RISE (Realizing Intellect through Self-Empowerment), a youth development program targeted at African-American youth. In 2002, Mr. Edelman completed the Prospective Principals Program at Stanford University, receiving an administrative credential and a master's degree in educational administration. He grew up in Washington, D.C., and joined SEED in July 2001. He has held both instructional and administrative positions in numerous schools during his career, and has served on the board of such institutions as the SEED Foundation and the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning.
CEO, Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley
Ron Gonzales is currently the CEO at the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley (HFSV) and has more than 35 years of professional experience spanning both the public and private sectors. Prior to his role at HFSV, he was Founder, Chairman and CEO of Presencia, LLC providing marketing and sales consulting services in the government, education, enterprise and SMB markets. Gonzales also worked as an executive with the Hewlett-Packard Company, in the areas of marketing, human resources, and corporate philanthropy. In the public sector, Gonzales served as the Mayor of San José (1999-2006), the Capital of Silicon Valley and the nation’s 10th largest city, on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors from 1989-1996, and as mayor of Sunnyvale, CA. He has served on numerous non-profit boards and is the Founder of The Role Model Program for which he received a National “Daily Points of Light Award.” His specialties are Foundation leadership, marketing and sales, public policy, education and student mentoring.
President, Kaplan Higher Education Campuses
John Lock is President of the Kaplan Higher Education Campuses. His past position was that of CEO at Project Lead the Way, an organization that prepares students to be innovative leaders in STEM industries. Lock also served as President and CEO of the Charter School Growth Fund (“the Fund”) where he managed all aspects of its startup and operations. He is a successful business advisor, operational manager, hands-on private equity investor and investment banker. Throughout his career, he has focused on helping people and organizations realize their potential. He has extensive experience managing early-stage companies and has served as CEO, CFO, COO and board member of companies that range from technology to insurance to financial management.
Managing Director, Chiefs for Change
Lydia is the Managing Director of Chiefs for Change at the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Before joining Chiefs for Change, Lydia served as the Senior Director of Policy at the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation where she focused on national policy, Governor Snyder’s education initiatives in Michigan, and investments improving management, human capital, quality, and transparency across District and charter public schools in Washington, DC. Prior to The Broad Foundation, she held the position of Vice President and Executive Director of the Institute for a Competitive Workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce where she worked with the business community on national and state policies and programs to improve early childhood, pre-k through post-secondary public education and workforce training. Lydia is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Michael Lomax
President and CEO, UNCF
Michael Lomax, Ph.D. is the president and chief executive officer of UNCF, the nation's largest and most successful minority higher education assistance organization. Dr. Lomax joined UNCF after serving in a series of high-level academic and political positions. His immediate past position was as president of Dillard University in New Orleans. In the years before Dillard, Dr. Lomax pursued simultaneous full-time careers as a university professor and public servant. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Atlanta's Morehouse College and, after receiving his M.A. degree from Columbia University and his Ph.D. in American and African American literature from Emory University, taught literature at Morehouse and Spelman Colleges and the University of Georgia. At the same time, he became a prominent figure in Atlanta government and politics. He began his public service as an assistant to Maynard Jackson, Atlanta's first African American mayor, and went on to serve as the first head of Atlanta's Bureau of Cultural Affairs. In 1978, he was elected to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners. Two years later, he became the Board's chairman, the first African American ever to hold that position and served in that position for twelve years.
Partner, NewSchools Venture Fund
Deborah McGriff, Ph.D. is a partner with the NewSchools Venture Fund in San Francisco, California. She focuses primarily on quality teaching, investment strategy, and assists with management of portfolio ventures. Previously, Ms. McGriff worked as the Executive Vice President and Chief Relationship Officer of Edison Schools. Deborah was the first public school superintendent to join Edison Schools in 1993. She held numerous positions at the company, including President of Edison Teachers College and Executive Vice President of Charter Schools. Prior to Edison, Deborah served as the first female general superintendent of the 200,000-student Detroit Public Schools where she successfully opened 25 schools of choice and expanded decentralization. Crain’s Detroit Business named her newsmaker of the year for 1992. Before that, she was the first female assistant superintendent in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the first female deputy superintendent in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. McGriff is a former President of the Education Industry Association and both a founder and national board member of the Black NAPCS for Educational Options. She received a B.A. degree from Norfolk State University, an M.A. degree from Queens College and Ph.D. from Fordham University.
Managing Director, Doris & Donald Fisher Fund
Christopher Nelson is the Managing Director of the Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, a San Francisco-based philanthropy created by Doris and Donald Fisher, founders of the Gap, Inc. The Fund seeks to leverage change in K-12 public education, especially in schools serving disadvantaged students, by making strategic investments in organizations whose products or services bolster student academic achievement, foster choice and competition in schooling, or otherwise expand the public’s ability to provide a high quality education to all students. Chris manages the Fund’s portfolio of philanthropic investments and directs the Fund’s policy initiatives and research and advocacy efforts in California and nationwide. Prior to joining the Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, Chris spent six years as a litigator at Keker & Van Nest in San Francisco where he specialized in complex business litigation, intellectual property matters, state and federal government investigations, and white collar criminal defense. Chris serves on the Board of Directors of the California Charter Schools Association, the membership and professional organization serving charter public schools in California. Chris received a B.A. from Duke University and a J.D. from Duke University School of Law.
COO, Andre Agassi Foundation for Education
Julie Pippenger is the Chief Operating Officer of the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education, she joined the Foundation in 1997. For two years, she also served as Chief Operating Officer for the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a Clark County independent public charter school. In these capacities, she was involved on a daily basis with myriad activities pertaining to both the Foundation and Agassi Prep, including overseeing design and construction of the school and subsequent expansions (a $40 million project), managing fiscal affairs, strategic planning, coordinating fund-raising efforts such as the annual Grand Slam For Children (which over the past 14 years has raised more than $70 million), and submitting grant applications to various funding sources. Prior to her current position, Julie served as a special events supervisor for the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino’s Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and worked on the Grand Slam for Children event, which eventually led her to join the Foundation in 1997. Julie received her BS in Travel and Tourism from Niagara University in New York, and has served on numerous boards in the Las Vegas area, such as, the Boys & Girls Club of Las Vegas for which the Foundation funded and built the Andre Agassi Boys & Girls Club that opened in 1998. Her contributions to the community have garnered several awards including the “Woman & Youth” award in 2000 as well as a “Hometown Heroes” award in 2006.
President, Indiana Public Charter Schools Association
As President of the Indiana Public Charter Schools Association, Russ Simnick leads the growth, development, branding, and advocacy activities of member school in the Indiana charter school movement. Since assuming the leadership role of the organization in October 2008, he has led the development of the IPCSA’s member benefits program and played the lead role in advocacy for Indiana’s public charter schools. Prior to joining the IPCSA, Simnick gained deep experience in political campaigns, legislative politics, public relations, and education. Beginning as a legislative intern in the Indiana Senate, Simnick served in a number of roles in that chamber. He then served as executive vice president of Coles Marketing Communications, one of the state’s top PR and advertising agencies. Pursuing a long-held belief that experienced professionals are needed in classrooms, Simnick obtained teaching licenses in English/Language Arts and Social Studies. He served as a teacher and administrator at Irvington Community High School (ICHS), a public charter school in Indianapolis. Leading the school from its first days of operation, he worked on most every facet of school design and operations, seeing enrollment triple after its first year, then double in the next. He earned his bachelor's degree in Political Science from Ball State University and master's degree in Education from Indiana Wesleyan University. He has received the "40 under 40" honor from the Indianapolis Business Journal and was named a Junior Achievement "Best and Brightest" finalist for excellence in media.
President and CEO, California Charter Schools Association
Jed Wallace serves as the President and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), a membership organization supporting the state's 982 charter schools serving more than 412,000 students. Jed began his career in public education as a teacher at Hooper Avenue Elementary School, a 2,000-student school in South-Central Los Angeles. Serving there for seven years, he established a successful school-within-the-school that became the basis for an effort to convert Hooper Avenue to charter status. He later worked in the Office of the Superintendent at San Diego City Schools where, among other duties, he was responsible for the oversight of the District's 22 charter schools. Before coming to CCSA, Jed served as the Chief Operating Officer of High Tech High, where he oversaw all operational and financial aspects of the organization. During his tenure, High Tech High grew from one school serving 400 students into eight schools serving more than 3,000 students. Jed received a Bachelor's degree in the Science of Foreign Service from Georgetown University, an MFA in playwriting from UCLA, and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
President, Academica Corporation
Fernando Zulueta is the President of Academica Corporation, one of the nation's most successful charter school service and support organizations. He is Chairman of the Florida Charter School Review Panel and founding Board Member of the Florida Consortium of Charter Schools. Mr. Zulueta has helped establish numerous high performing charter schools that have been recognized on local, state, and national levels for their achievements. For example, Somerset Academy was selected by DigitalCities.com as "the Best Elementary School" in Florida and identified by the Washington-based Education Trust among those schools in the nation that are challenging the myth that minority students cannot perform as well their non-minority peers. Mr. Zulueta graduated Summa Cum Laude and first in his class with a major in Public Accounting at the University of Miami School of Business and was the Reid Scholar at the University of Miami School of Law, where he served on Law Review and from which he graduated with Honors. He has received numerous awards for his work with charter schools including the "Cervantes Award" sponsored by Nova Southeastern University for his contributions toward excellence in the education of Hispanic students.
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