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Our Staff

Executive Staff

Gary Hoachlander
President
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Gary Hoachlander, President
ghoachlander@connectedcalifornia.org
510.665.8201

Gary Hoachlander is President of ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. Beginning his career in 1966 as a brakeman for the Western Maryland Railroad, he has devoted most of his professional life to helping young people learn by doing—connecting education to the opportunities, challenges, and many different rewards to be found through work. Widely known for his expertise in career and technical education and many other aspects of elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education, Gary has consulted extensively for the U.S. Department of Education, state departments of education, local school districts, foundations, and a variety of other clients. Gary earned his Bachelor’s degree at Princeton University and holds both a Master’s and Ph.D. degree from the Department of City and Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley.

Sheryl D. Jones
Chief Financial Officer
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Sheryl D. Jones, Chief Financial Officer
sjones@connectedcalifornia.org
510. 665. 8220

Sheryl D. Jones is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. She has over 25 years of progressive and diverse experience in finance, leadership, and management. Sheryl has extensive knowledge and competencies in financial and budget management, accounting, auditing, capital and strategic planning, contract and risk management, internal controls, governance, compliance, negotiations, regulatory and government reporting, analysis, and performance measurement. She has a wealth of experience working with complex and diversified funding streams particularly federal, state, and local government contracts and grants. In addition, Sheryl has a strong focus and proven track record in evaluating all aspects of a company’s internal control systems by identifying and addressing relevant key risks, the design of mitigating controls, documentation of principle procedures and performing pre-audit testing to evaluate compliance all in which greatly improves policies, procedures, processes and productivity.

 

Prior to joining ConnectEd, Sheryl worked the last 25 years at Children’s Home Society of California a statewide nonprofit social service agency with an operating budget that ranged from $60m to $110m. As the CFO, she provided strategic direction, expertise, evaluation and leadership on financial, compliance and legal matters. Sheryl proactively managed the fiscal functions in a manner that maintained the physical health, stability, soundness, integrity, stewardship and safeguard of the Agency’s financial resources and assets by ensuring its efficient and proper use. She established, implemented and maintained appropriate internal control systems and environments to guarantee resources were strategically leveraged and fiscally viable to support the Agency’s mission. She served as financial, technical and trusted adviser to the agency, board and other stakeholders.

 

Sheryl holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Brad Stam
Vice President, Chief Operating Officer
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Brad Stam, Vice President, Chief Operating Officer
bstam@connectedcalifornia.org
510.647.4315

As Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Brad Stam co-leads ConnectEd with President Gary Hoachlander, supports organizational development and business development, and aligns programmatic initiatives in support of ConnectEd’s systemic reform goals. Prior to coming to ConnectEd, Mr. Stam served as Chief Academic Officer for Oakland Unified School District, leading dramatic academic improvement at the elementary and middle grades, and initiating a systemic Linked Learning approach to high school reform. During Mr. Stam’s tenure, Oakland USD had the highest API growth of any large urban district in California, 118 points.

 

Prior to coming to Oakland, Mr. Stam served as Special Assistant to the Superintendent and Director of Teacher Affairs in San Francisco Unified, creating innovative and collaborative approaches to support teacher and principal effectiveness and organizational learning. Mr. Stam has taught middle school, was a middle school vice principal and elementary school principal in San Francisco, and started his career developing and teaching project and outcomes-based interdisciplinary curriculum at University Heights High School in the Bronx, New York. He brings expertise and practitioner experience in teaching and learning, assessment, urban school and district reform, and a lifelong passion for helping underprivileged youth improve their life options through quality education.

 

Mr. Stam earned his BA at Harvard University and his MA at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Directors

Rob Atterbury
Director, District and Regional Support
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Rob Atterbury, Director, District and Regional Support
ratterbury@connectedcalifornia.org
619. 933. 9857

Rob Atterbury is a Director for Regional Linked Learning Support for Southern California, for ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career, and also serves as a district coach for the California District Initiative for Linked Learning. Prior to joining ConnectEd in 2009, Rob spent 28 years with San Diego Unified School District as a teacher, Program Manager, Director of the School-to-Career program, and Director in the Office of Secondary School Innovation. He also spent a year and a half as the High School Transformation Associate Superintendent for Atlanta Public Schools. In these roles, Rob has been involved in transforming large comprehensive high schools into small, career-themed schools, career academies, and/or smaller learning communities.

 

Rob is passionate about improving instruction through real-world standards-based curriculum designed to engage students, providing every student with a work-based learning experience, and supporting districts and schools in this pursuit.

 

Rob is a graduate of San Diego State University with a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Studies and a Master's degree in Education Administration from United States International University. He holds various teaching credentials and a Clear Administrative Services Credential from San Diego State University.

Maggie Boyce
Associate Director, Human Resources and Administration
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Maggie Boyce, Associate Director, Human Resources and Administration
mboyce@connectedcalifornia.org
510.665.8260

Maggie came to ConnectEd with a background in Business, Counseling, and Education.  She graduated with a BS in Education from Ohio State University, and spent two years of post-graduate coursework in Counseling and Transactional Analysis (now known as Organizational Development).

 

At the same time Maggie was a 3rd grade teacher designing reading and math games for children, she joined her parents counseling company, Focusways, Inc., counseling families as a family.  In addition, Maggie joined her parents as an instructor at a nearby community college, teaching a course entitled “Transactional Analysis, Theory of Personality”.

 

Her business background is a result of the many years she worked at Kaiser Permanente.  Maggie managed million dollar budgets as National Manager, Corporate Meeting Services, and with a team of seven, managed up to 250 large meetings a year.  During that time she obtained Kaiser Permanente’s Project Management Training, Kaiser’s Middle Management Training, and obtained both U.S. certifications in meeting planning, CMP (Certified Meeting Planner) and CMM (Certified Meeting Manager).  She served as the VP of Education for the Northern CA Chapter of MPI (Meeting Planners International) and chaired an international committee on Meeting Strategy in Europe with meeting planners from around the world. 

 

With experience at two other non-profits in the East Bay, Children's Hospital and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Maggie gained further business background serving executives with oversight for administrative services.

 

Maggie presently supports ConnectEd’s organizational infrastructure as Associate Director, Human Resource and Administration.

Ben Crosby
Associate Director, Digital Learning and Media
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Ben Crosby, Associate Director, Digital Learning and Media
bcrosby@connectedcalifornia.org
510. 898. 4813

Ben Crosby is the Associate Director of Digital Learning and Media. Ben’s experience in education covers a broad spectrum: History Teacher, Career Technical Education Teacher, Pathway Lead Teacher, Linked Learning Internal Coach, and Internal Coach Coordinator.  Each of these roles helped Ben to better understand the potential that education has in shaping the lives of young people and the scale of the challenge involved with preparing all students to be college, career, and community ready upon high school graduation.  

 

After teaching history in Antioch Unified School District, Ben took a detour into the technology industry, working with a major financial institution to support their digital network infrastructure.  This work eventually led Ben back into the classroom as a CTE instructor, teaching networking curriculum in an innovative after-school program.  In his time in the classroom at El Cerrito High School Ben worked with a team of teachers and community members to build the ECHS Information Technology Academy.  Partnering with an array of industry partners, the Information Technology Academy fostered a college-going culture, an atmosphere of achievement and high expectation, and a supportive environment where students were encouraged to become systems thinkers.  As an Internal Coach in the West Contra Costa Unified School District, Ben worked with numerous pathways and pathway lead teachers to create and sustain collaborative communities of practice focused on delivering high-quality educational experiences to students through the Linked Learning approach.  

 

Ben worked to develop a system of Linked Learning Internal Coaches and the Pathway Lead Teacher Community of Practice in support of Linked Learning Pathways in WCCUSD.  Combining his technical, educational, and coaching background, Ben’s role with ConnectEd will be to support the development of the ConnectEd Studios platform and work towards building communities of practice around its utilization. 

 

Ben earned his Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of California, San Diego and his CTE Credential from California State University, Long Beach.

Robert Curtis
Director, District and Regional Support
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Robert Curtis, Director, District and Regional Support
rcurtis@connectedcalifornia.org
510.665.8208

Dr. Robert Curtis is a Director, Regional Support for ConnectEd. Robert is responsible for supporting districts and regions in Northern California, including California Career Pathways Trust consortia. Prior to this position, Robert served as Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Sonoma Valley Unified School District. Robert knows Linked Learning and ConnectEd well; he has served as ConnectEd's district and pathway coach for Porterville and West Contra Costa school districts since 2010, and helped ConnectEd begin the regional Linked Learning work in San Bernardino County.

 

Robert has a strong background as a leader in instruction and science education. He was director of the STEM Center at Alameda County Office of Education, and director of a National Science Foundation Math Science Partnership grant at California State University East Bay. In these roles, Robert led systemic initiatives to improve science and STEM education across dozens of Bay Area school districts. He began his career teaching high school science for 10 years.

 

Robert holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology from Gordon College, a Master's degree in Science Education from Tufts University and a Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from UC Santa Cruz. 

Pier Sun Ho
Associate Director, Learning, Teaching, and Pathway Development
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Pier Sun Ho, Associate Director, Learning, Teaching, and Pathway Development
psunho@connectedcalifornia.org
510.665.8214

Pier Sun Ho is Associate Director for Pathway and Curriculum Development at ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. Previously, she worked as an educator and educational researcher for more than a decade. Pier taught science and mathematics in Massachusetts for six years before returning to graduate school at the University of Michigan.

 

During her graduate studies, Pier wrote science curriculum, designed and delivered professional development, and conducted research in Detroit public schools as part of a systemic reform initiative supporting technology-rich, inquiry-oriented science instruction in urban school districts.

 

Pier holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Master's degree in Educational Administration and in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and is currently finishing her Ph.D. in Science Education with the University of Michigan.

Paula M. Hudis
Director, Institutional Development
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Paula M. Hudis, Director, Institutional Development
phudis@connectedcalifornia.org
510.665.8209

Paula (Penni) Hudis is Director of Institutional Development for ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. Prior to taking this position in early 2014, she spent almost eight years as ConnectEd’s Director of Pathway and Curriculum Development. Penni’s career has spanned a wide range of positions in education and industry, including university teaching, research, program evaluation, and practice— focused primarily on equity and program effectiveness in education and on disparities in employment outcomes.

 

Before joining ConnectEd when the organization was founded in 2006, Penni was Director of Evaluation for MPR Associates, Inc., where she managed a study of California career academy models that contributed to emergence of the Linked Learning approach. Penni has also served as Vice President and Corporate Manager of Human Resource Planning for Bank of America and Operations Manager for Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action at the Bechtel Corporation. She began her career in research and teaching at Indiana University, Bloomington and spent nine years as a part-time Visiting Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently an adjunct member of the doctoral faculty at San Diego State University. 

 

Penni earned a Bachelor's degree at New York University, and Master's and Ph.D. degrees in Sociology and Demography at the University of Michigan.

Kentaro Iwasaki
Associate Director, Learning, Teaching, and Pathway Development
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Kentaro Iwasaki, Associate Director, Learning, Teaching, and Pathway Development
kiwasaki@connectedcalifornia.org
510.647.4303

Kentaro Iwasaki serves as the Associate Director for Pathway and Curriculum Development. A practitioner at heart, Kentaro taught high school math for sixteen years in San Francisco. He had the privilege of collaborating closely with math educators from Stanford and San Francisco State University for over a decade to improve instruction through group work, open-ended math problem-solving, and project-based learning. 

 

While teaching, Kentaro worked on the curriculum and development team for the Agile Mind Program through the Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin. His passion for reaching urban high school students through innovative teaching practices led to his receiving the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching in 2011.

 

He holds a Bachelor's degree from Stanford University and a single-subject credential in mathematics and Japanese from San Francisco State University. He is a National Board Certified teacher in mathematics.

Jennifer Lutzenberger Phillips
Director, Learning, Teaching, and Pathway Development
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Jennifer Lutzenberger Phillips, Director, Learning, Teaching, and Pathway Development
jlphillips@connectedcalifornia.org
510. 665. 8271

Jennifer Lutzenberger Phillips brings significant experience as an educational leader, student advocate, coach, and literacy teacher to her position as Director, Learning, Teaching, and Pathway Development. Formerly, she was the vice president of Teaching and Learning at Envision Schools and a school improvement coach and a content coach in secondary English, with a focus on curriculum and assessment, at the Oakland Unified School District. She also taught high school English in the Baltimore City Public Schools and was an advisor for the Met in Providence, Rhode Island. 

 

Jenn began her teaching career at the university level, where she taught composition and literature. She taught and mentored in the Educational Opportunity summer bridge program at Binghamton University in New York and supported the writing center and writing across the curriculum program at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. 

 

Jenn was also a student activist, adult literacy tutor, and popular educator; she brings a commitment to equity and social justice to her work.

Tameka L. McGlawn
Director, Equity and Impact
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Tameka L. McGlawn, Director, Equity and Impact
tmcglawn@connectedcalifornia.org
510. 849. 4945

Dr. Tameka L. McGlawn is the Director of Equity and Impact, for ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. Considered a seasoned collaborator and evidence-based strategist, Dr. McGlawn served as the Senior Associate for Linked Learning at The Education Trust-West, where she led assessments of Linked Learning implementation, with a strong focus on the quality of curriculum and instruction delivered through Linked Learning pathways, as well as equitable systemic access and improved outcomes for students. Earlier in her career, she served as the Instructional Dean of Students at Construction Technology Academy at the Kearny High Educational Complex where she was instrumental in the development of their data-driven instructional Leadership team. She also served as an In-School Counselor at the School of International Business. Dr. McGlawn has provided servant leadership to urban learning communities for over twenty years.

 

Having served at every academic level (K-20), in a myriad of settings and professional roles, Dr. McGlawn offers a unique perspective on student-centered achievement, equity-based outcomes and effective institutional practices. Her actionable research interests where she has served and facilitated professional development include strategic reform implementation, systemic accountability, culturally responsive pedagogy and leadership, and building network alliances through innovative collective impact initiatives. Dr. McGlawn is a proud graduate of both the CSU San Diego’s Community Based Block Multicultural & Social Justice Master’s Program, and the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California where she earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership. She also has credentials in Administrative Services and Pupil Personnel. An effective consensus builder and action-oriented researcher, Dr. McGlawn brings an ideal synthesis of research savviness, practical application and a deep commitment to increased opportunity for all students.

Shierra Merto
Associate Director, Finance and Contracts
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Shierra Merto, Associate Director, Finance and Contracts
smerto@connectedcalifornia.org
510. 647. 4316

Shierra Merto is Associate Director of Finance and Contracts at ConnectEd. Prior to this position, Shierra was Manager for Contracts and Project Administration at RTI International and at MPR Associates, Inc. where she managed contracts in excess of $20M annually. She joined ConnectEd in 2015 and was part of the MPR team that launched ConnectEd in 2006. She has over 18 years of experience in planning, implementation, and managing contracts, proposals, and projects for profit and non-profit organizations. Shierra’s areas of expertise include federal, state, local government and commercial procurements and contracts; federal contracting vehicles and regulations such as the FAR, FTR and CFR; contract and subcontract development, assessment, negotiation, and administration; and project cost budgeting, tracking, forecasting, resource allocation, and scheduling. She is skilled at improving, developing, and standardizing contract and project management process and systems.

Melody Rose
Associate Director, Finance and Accounting
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Melody Rose, Associate Director, Finance and Accounting
mrose@connectedcalifornia.org
510.665.8262

Melody Rose is an Associate Director for both the Finance Department and Business Development team, and has worked with ConnectEd since its inception. She has over 30 years’ experience in accounting and was previously the Controller of a world-renowned landscape architecture firm. Melody currently leads cost proposal development, manages budgets, and oversees grant administration.

Tom Skjervheim
Associate Director, Learning, Teaching, and Pathway Development
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Tom Skjervheim, Associate Director, Learning, Teaching, and Pathway Development
tskjervheim@connectedcalifornia.org
510.665.8283

Tom Skjervheim is an Associate Director within the Learning, Teaching, and Pathway Development department and has been with ConnectEd since 2012. While Tom has served as a performance assessment consultant, small school leader, and teacher coach, he is most proud of the seven years he spent in the classroom as a teacher. Beginning his career in education as a high school history teacher at a large comprehensive high school in Alhambra, CA, Tom did the majority of his teaching with an incredible team of talented educators at City Arts and Technology High School, and Envision School, in San Francisco, CA.

 

With a highly collaborative staff committed to an equitable and rigorous education for all students, Tom helped his peers design the Envision Schools model – engage traditionally marginalized students through project-based learning, real-world internships, and authentic exhibitions of learning. With support from Stanford’s Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE), Envision Schools’ learning culminated in externally reliable performance assessments and defense of a college-ready portfolio of work. Believing deeply in the transformational power of a highly collaborative team of educators and in authentic and rigorous performance assessment, Tom now supports Linked Learning pathways, schools, and districts in their efforts to build similar cultures for student learning.

 

Tom holds a Bachelor's Degree from Pitzer College, and a Master's Degree in Education from the Claremont Graduate University.

Sande Smith
Director, Strategic Communications
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Sande Smith, Director, Strategic Communications
ssmith@connectedcalifornia.org
510.898.4804

Sande Smith is Director for Strategic Communications at ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. She is passionate about using her skills in strategic communications, creativity and aspirational storytelling to rally support for social justice and the common good.

 

Previously, Sande was Senior Director of Communications for the Women’s Foundation of California, where she has had overall responsibility for strategic communications, donor communications, public policy communications, media relations, and online communications. During her tenure, she raised the Foundation’s profile and exponentially increased the number of people who engage with the mission. Before that, Sande served as Communications Director for the Global Fund for Women, an international grant maker funding women’s rights organizations in 170 countries. She has also authored essays and books, including A Man with a Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr., and The Life and Philosophy of Malcolm X.

 

Sande holds a BA in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies from Brown University.

Jay Steele
Executive Director, Great Lakes College and Career
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Jay Steele, Executive Director, Great Lakes College and Career
steele@connectedcalifornia.org
904. 669. 4863

Dr. Jay Steele is Executive Director for the Great Lakes College and Career Pathway Initiative. Prior to this role, Jay was the former chief academic officer for the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, where he was responsible for the education of 86,000+ students in 150 schools. He worked with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and over 350 business partners to transform the twelve-zoned high schools into wall-to-wall academies branded The Academies of Nashville.  Nashville’s high school transformation received local, national, and international recognition as one of the premiere reform efforts in the United States for system change. During Jay’s tenure, the graduation rate rose to an all-time high, high school achievement scores rose in every tested area, ACT scores rose, and daily attendance rose to a high of 94%. More than 2,500 people -  including President Obama - have traveled to Nashville to witness the transformation.

 

Jay has 29 years of experience as a teacher, high school principal, and district administrator. Before relocating to Nashville, he was a music educator, high school principal, and director for career education in the St. Johns County School District in St. Augustine, Florida. Jay holds degrees from Western Kentucky University, the University of North Florida and a doctorate in education from Lipscomb University.

Daphannie Stephens
Director, Technical Assistance and Coaching
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Daphannie Stephens, Director, Technical Assistance and Coaching
dstephens@connectedcalifornia.org
510.665.8298

Daphannie Stephens is ConnectEd's Director of Coaching and Technical Assistance. Her work experience clearly demonstrates strong leadership skills, commitment to coaching and a belief in high-quality teaching and learning.

 

As Director of Leadership Connection for Justice in Education (LCJE) and Coordinator of Public Programs at UC Berkeley, Daphannie led the development and adoption of a strategic plan, supported coaches, taught classes and managed district partnerships. Daphannie was also the project manager on several major initiatives including the partnership between UC Berkeley and UCLA to launch a statewide online induction program for graduates of both schools’ Principal Leadership Institutes (PLI).  She served as Associate Director for School and District Services at Partners in School Innovation, where she led the school services team and managed partnerships with San Francisco and San Jose Unified School Districts.  Daphannie was a School Change Coach and Project Manager for the Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools (BayCES) now known as the National Equity Project (NEP). At BayCES, she managed the Small Schools Initiative incubator for the Oakland Unified School District, helping to develop 14 new schools and coach site administrators to improve academic achievement.

 

Daphannie holds an M.A. in Education and a B.A. in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley.

Dave Yanofsky
Director, Digital Learning and Media
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Dave Yanofsky, Director, Digital Learning and Media
dyanofsky@connectedcalifornia.org
510.647.4319

As Director of Digital Learning and Media, Dave is the architect and director of ConnectEd Studios, a dynamic digital platform designed to support the entire Linked Learning field. In addition, Dave oversees ConnectEd’s internal media production team, whose output includes the popular Day in the Life video channel. By showcasing young professionals and their journey to career success, the channel — which has had over 2 million views to date — provides aspiring young people with a vision of how they might gain access to careers that they might not have imagined.

 

Before joining ConnectEd, Dave was the Program Director for Uth TV, where he oversaw a staff of youth media makers and helped to produce Grind & Glory, a feature-length film that was shot and edited by a crew of teenagers. He began his career in radio, reporting for “Budapest Day & Night,” the first English language radio program to appear in Eastern Europe after the wall came down. After returning to the United States, Dave produced his first feature film, Poetic License. Aired nationally on PBS, the film captures the emergence of spoken word poetry as a powerful form of self-expression for teenage youth.  

 

Dave holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Hamilton College. He lives in the Bay Area with his wife, two children, and crazy dog.

Associates and Assistants

Ted Aquino
Project Associate, Communications
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Ted Aquino, Project Associate, Communications
taquino@connectedcalifornia.org
510.665.8257

Ted Aquino is the Project Associate for ConnectEd’s Communications department. Ted started his non-profit career as an AmeriCorps Community Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator for Rebuilding Together San Francisco. He is dedicated to making an impact in communities and the organizations he is a part of.

 

Ted graduated from California State University, Chico with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with a concentration in Operations Management.

Michelle Berrios
Project Associate, Events Planner
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Michelle Berrios, Project Associate, Events Planner
mberrios@ConnectEdCalifornia.org
510.665.8213

Michelle Berrios began her career in the hospitality industry working with major hotels in the San Francisco Bay Area. After a couple of years as Director of Catering, she decided to transfer her skills to Event and Meeting Planning.

 

She currently has over 10 years' experience as an Event and Meeting Planner working with major corporations, associations and organizations.  She has worked with PMI, Kaiser Permanente and AAA in the San Francisco Bay Area. She earned her certification as a Meeting Professional (CMP) in 2007. While at Kaiser Permanente she worked with key stakeholders to research, present and train for a new online registration product to be used company wide.

 

Her continuing education focus has been hotel and vendor contracts and budgets. With colleagues at AAA and the expertise of the legal department, she led the creation of standard contract clauses to provide contracts in the best interest of the organization. Event planning allows Michelle to use both her creative and analytical skills.

Theresa Esparrago-Lieu
Senior Program Associate
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Theresa Esparrago-Lieu, Senior Program Associate
tesparrago@connectedcalifornia.org
510.665.8278

Theresa Esparrago Lieu is a Senior Program Associate at ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. Prior to joining the ConnectEd staff in 2009, Theresa worked as Marketing and Communications Manager at the California Charter Schools Association. Prior to that, she worked in numerous positions (including Executive Director and Director of SES Operations) at The Princeton Review in the Supplemental Education Services department. In this role, Theresa reviewed and selected curricular materials, developed organizational systems for collecting, analyzing, and reporting data, and on-boarded and trained over 100 staff members. Prior to the Princeton Review, Theresa worked as an educational consultant for the non-profit organization, Sumisibol, Inc. In this role, Theresa developed curriculum and taught a history/social studies focused out-of-school time program.

 

Theresa’s past work and research interests have focused on studying the various social, cultural, and structural barriers for students of color to access higher education. 

 

Theresa holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master’s degree in Sociology of Education, with an emphasis on Education Policy, from New York University.

Nikki Gilman
Project Associate, Finance
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Nikki Gilman, Project Associate, Finance
ngilman@connectedcalifornia.org
510.647.4311

Nikki Gilman is a Contracts and Grants Associate for ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. Prior to accepting this position in 2014, Nikki spent two years on the Learning, Teaching and Pathway Development team perfecting algebra curriculum and coordinating teacher professional development.

 

Before coming to ConnectEd in 2010, Nikki taught Costume Design to students ages 8-10 at the San Diego Junior Theatre Company, as well as at the African American Art and Culture Complex in San Francisco. She has costumed several plays and videos, including one televised commercial, and has specialized expertise in the clothing of Iraq and Afghanistan. She aspires to found a Linked Learning Theatre Arts high school in the Bay Area that is dedicated to producing professional and well-rounded students who are poised to take on the world, regardless of their career paths.

 

Nikki holds a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre with an emphasis in Costume Design from San Diego State University.

David Grimes
Program Assistant
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David Grimes, Program Assistant
dgrimes@connectedcalifornia.org
510. 849. 4945

David Grimes II is a Program Assistant, and brings with him a wide variety of educational non-profit experiences.  In his time as an educator, David was fortunate to have teaching experiences ranging from running afterschool programs in Oakland, to teaching English full-time in South Korea.

 

Before joining the ConnectEd team, David was working for the Web of Life Field (WOLF) School as an Administrator/Office Manager/Social Media Marketer. His time as both a teacher, and working behind-the-scenes, has given him a real passion for education.

 

David holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Navjot Kaur
Project Assistant, Finance
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Navjot Kaur, Project Assistant, Finance
nkaur@connectedcalifornia.org
510-898-4810

Navjot Kaur is a Project Assistant for the Finance department at ConnectEdThe California Center for College and Career. She is flourished with unique skills in finance, accounting and information technology management.

 

Previously, Navjot Kaur managed personnel in various departments at Macys. She has also managed multiple projects at high-scale restaurants. Navjot is also immersed in the community by volunteering  at the Pittsburg Sikh temple every Sunday.

 

Navjot finished her Bachelors of Science in Finance and Information Technology Management from California State University, East Bay

Aron Kidane
Senior Accountant
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Aron Kidane, Senior Accountant
akidane@connectedcalifornia.org
510.665.8268

Aron Kidane joined ConnectEd in March 2011 as Senior Accountant. Aron has more than ten years of accounting experience in non-profits and private. He previously worked at Lifehouse, Inc.; Hesperian Foundation; and Actify, Inc.

 

Aron received his BA in Accounting from University of Asmara, in Eritrea, his Masters in Financial Management from University of Pretoria, in South Africa; and has passed the CPA exam.

Kyleigh Nevis
Program Associate, Digital Learning and Media
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Kyleigh Nevis, Program Associate, Digital Learning and Media
knevis@connectedcalifornia.org
510.849.4945

Kyleigh Nevis is a Program Associate for the Digital Learning and Media team at ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. In her current role, Kyleigh is responsible for supporting the media production and development of ConnectEd Studios and the transformation of the ECCCO (Exploring College, Career, and Community Options) curriculum.

 

Prior to joining ConnectEd, Kyleigh worked as a video editor and producer for nonprofit, academic, and corporate clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, and as an after-school graphic design instructor at BUMP (Bay Unity Music Project). Kyleigh’s passion lies in inspiring social change through media, education, and technology.

 

Kyleigh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from University of Washington and a Master’s degree in International Relations from University of Bath, England.

Nicole Solis-Sison
Intern, Digital Learning and Media
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Nicole Solis-Sison, Intern, Digital Learning and Media
nsolis-sison@connectedcalifornia.org
510. 849. 4945

Nicole Solis-Sison is a talented filmmaker, operating cameras and edit stations with ease. She is currently in her Junior year at the University of California, Berkeley, studying Art Practice.  Nicole spends some of her time outside of ConnectEd as co-chair for the student committee at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA SC).

 

Nicole started a safe space music and arts venue in Southern California called Bridgetown DIY, where we hold shows, arts and craft events and community forums. Bridgetown also has a free lending library and clothes for people to enjoy. I hope to make art and education more accessible to people who need it the most. She also works at a fashion start-up called Twice. She's never experienced deja vu, but spends her time trying to master it. She's never experienced deja vu, but spends her time trying to master it.

Aujinel Verdon
Program Assistant
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Aujinel Verdon, Program Assistant
averdon@connectedcalifornia.org
510. 647. 4310

Aujinel Verdon is a Program Assistant for the Coaching and Technical Assistance team. Throughout college, she worked as an Administrative Assistant for the USF Office of Graduate Admission. As a former College Track student, she later volunteered for them in college and grew to love inspiring and helping others achieve their aspirations. During her summer immersion to Zambia through USF, she worked with various non-profit organizations that focused on HIV/AIDS prevention, youth homelessness, and access to education.

 

She was also a part of the Erasmus Living & Learning Community, which allowed her to broaden her awareness of the contradicting lifestyles between youth trafficking and education. While in Thailand and Cambodia, she was able to apply her knowledge through assisting NGO's with community building projects.

 

Aujinel holds a BA in Psychology from the University of San Francisco.

Jaime Villaseñor
Project Assistant
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Jaime Villaseñor, Project Assistant
jvillasenor@ConnectEdCalifornia.org
510.898.4808

Jaime Villasenor is a Project Assistant at ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. He is responsible for supporting the operations team as an assistant office manager, as well as handling conference coordination.

 

Prior to joining ConnectEd in 2013, Jaime worked at San Francisco State University in the New Student Programs office as an administrative assistant, where he also attended to earn his BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Information Systems.