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Our Staff

Executive Staff

Gary Hoachlander
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Gary Hoachlander, President

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
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).

Daphannie Stephens
Chief Program Officer
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Daphannie Stephens, Chief Program Officer

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.

Lucia Villasana
Chief Advancement Officer
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Lucia Villasana, Chief Advancement Officer

Lucia Ortega Villasana is Chief Advancement Officer of ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. In her professional career, she has served as the Director for the Center of Public Service (UC Riverside), National Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations (Hispanic Scholarship Fund), Executive Director of the Berkeley Center For Cosmological Physics (UC Berkeley), Vice President of Advancement for Nature Bridge and Chief Advancement Officer (Blue Oak School in Napa Valley).  Lucia has over 22 years of experience in the field of fundraising - developing and managing public and private sector partnerships, Fortune 100 corporate foundations, national and private community foundations. Through her work in governmental affairs, she earned the title of Principal Investigator within the UC system and received over $20M in competitive grant awards.  While at the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, she contributed to the historic National Ad Council’s campaign, Tus Palabras de Hoy, in collaboration with Univision. Lucia attended Riverside City College and UC Riverside, with a major in Business and Ethnic Studies.  Lucia has consulted with the UC statewide program, The Puente Project and has volunteered as a board or committee member with The Mexican Museum of San Francisco, The Chicana Latina Foundation, Puertas  Abiertas, and the County of Napa Valley Hispanic Network.  In her private time, she enjoys travel, Latina literature and novels, learning about Physics, learning French and spending time with her husband and family. She lives each day with a reminder that "Si Se Puede" and sees no barriers to what the future holds for underserved students who also believe in higher learning.


Ben Crosby
Associate Director, Digital Learning and Media
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Ben Crosby, Associate Director, Digital Learning and Media
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.

Dave Yanofsky
Director, Digital Learning and Media
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Dave Yanofsky, Director, Digital Learning and Media

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.

Jennifer Lutzenberger Phillips
Director, Learning, Teaching, and Pathway Development
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Jennifer Lutzenberger Phillips, Director, Learning, Teaching, and Pathway Development
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.

Julie Koenke
Director, District and Regional Support
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Julie Koenke, Director, District and Regional Support
510. 849. 4945

Julie Koenke serves as the Executive Director of the Great Lakes College and Career Pathway Partnership (GLCCPP), a collaboration between ConnectEd California, Education Systems Center, Jobs for the Future and funded by the Joyce Foundation. The GLCCPP supports the implementation of college and career pathways within four great lakes communities; Columbus, OH, Madison, WI, Rockford, Il, and the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago.  Prior to this role, Julie served as the Director of Secondary Programs and Pathways Partnerships for the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) in Wisconsin. She led MMSD’s efforts to implement personalized pathways with a Linked Learning approach across 16 middle and high schools. Julie has 20 years of experience developing public/private partnerships. She has developed numerous partnerships between public schools, non-profits, higher education institutions, businesses, foundations, and industry in order to bolster student achievement and success that increased participation in after school programs, increased high school graduation rates, college enrollment rates, access to and achievement in advanced and rigorous coursework for historically underserved youth.

Julie has over 20 years of experience as a youth worker, community educator, professional developer and district administrator working towards systems level change. She brings an expertise in developing effective collaborative teams, change management, and a passion for creating equitable schools and communities.

Kiera Chase
Associate Director, Learning, Teaching, and Pathway Development
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Kiera Chase, Associate Director, Learning, Teaching, and Pathway Development
510. 665. 8283

Kiera comes to ConnectEd from a 15-year career working in special education and instructional coaching. Kiera’s vision is to ensure access to high quality general education instruction for diverse learners. Kiera has worked as a teacher in residential programs, K-12 special education programs, focusing on 9-12 full inclusion. She became an instructional coach supporting other learning specialists. Kiera also developed an interest in designing Blended Learning programs that prioritized the integration of technology and coached teachers who were implementing. She began this work in Algebra 1 classrooms, growing the program to include math classroom 9-12 and assistive technology for student 9-12 in all disciplines.


Kiera has a Ph.D. in Special Education with a Designated Emphasis in New Media. Her research explores how the tools and technologies that are used in education influence learning, with an emphasis on discovery-based approaches. Using a design-based research approach she has designed alternative approaches to introducing learners to important aspects of algebraic cognition. Her dissertation focused on how technology-based learning activities can facilitate emergent algebraic understanding that is subjectively transparent and proposes a new pedagogical approach called Reverse Scaffolding.

Maggie Boyce
Associate Director, Human Resources and Administration
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Maggie Boyce, Associate Director, Human Resources and Administration

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.

Pier Sun Ho
Associate Director, Learning, Teaching, and Pathway Development
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Pier Sun Ho, Associate Director, Learning, Teaching, and Pathway Development

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.

Rob Atterbury
Director, District and Regional Support
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Rob Atterbury, Director, District and Regional Support
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.

Shierra Merto
Associate Director, Finance and Contracts
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Shierra Merto, Associate Director, Finance and Contracts
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.

Associates and Assistants

Joseph Hendry
Administrator, Information Technology Management/Operation
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Joseph Hendry, Administrator, Information Technology Management/Operation
510. 665. 8275

Joseph Hendry is a Project Assistant for ConnectEd California. He has previous experience teaching English in the Czech Republic, as well as working at a tech startup and managing a café in San Francisco.  Joseph graduated from New College of Florida in Sarasota, with a BA in Anthropology.

Michelle Berrios
Senior Project Associate, Events Planner
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Michelle Berrios, Senior Project Associate, Events Planner

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.

Navjot Kaur
Project Associate/Junior Accountant, Finance
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Navjot Kaur, Project Associate/Junior Accountant, Finance

Navjot Kaur is a Project Associate 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 Macy's. 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