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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.

Brad Stam
Vice President, Chief Operating Officer
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Brad Stam, Vice President, Chief Operating Officer

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.

Tanya Heidelberg- Yopp
CEO, Linked Learning Detroit
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Tanya Heidelberg- Yopp, CEO, Linked Learning Detroit

Tanya Heildelberg-Yopp is CEO of Linked Learning Detroit with the responsibility to launch Linked Learning in Detroit and to build the organization and coalitions necessary for its success and growth. Prior to this role, Tanya was an executive with Compuware Corporation where she held key leadership positions including SVP of Global Sales Operations as well as SVP of Culture, Community and Diversity.


Tanya began her career as a corporate lawyer in New York City. She later moved into the entertainment industry at the entertainment firm Frankfurt, Garbus Klein and Selz after which she worked at MTV Networks in a number of roles, including Vice President of Business Affairs for MTV and as Vice President of Business, Strategy and Operations for Nichelodeon Movies where she helped launch the new movie division. She later returned to Detroit and became President of the Motown Center where she developed and managed projects and ventures related to the Motown Records legacy working for Berry Gordy.


A native Detroiter, Tanya graduated from Syracuse University where she received her B.S. of Telecommunications Management. She earned her JD from New York University of Law and completed the PMD program at Harvard Business School.


Tanya has been named to a number of influential lists, including Crain's New York Business "40 Under 40;" Ebony Magazine's "Women at the Top of the Entertainment Business;" and Black Enterprisse's "Top 50 Power Brokers in the Entertainment Industry." She has been inducted into the National Association of Minorities in Cable Hall of Fame. Tanya also recived the Chancellor's Citation from Syracuse university for Excellence in Business and recently received the Thurgood Marshall Award of Excellence and the Women of Excellence Award from the Michigan Chronicle.


Active in her community, she serves on the Board of Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, Cranbrook Academy of Art, and the Youth Development Commision.


Rob Atterbury
Director, Professional Development
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Rob Atterbury, Director, Professional Development
619. 933. 9857

Rob Atterbury is the Director for Professional Development, 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.

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.

Paula M. Hudis
Director, Institutional Development
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Paula M. Hudis, Director, Institutional Development

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

KentaroIwasaki joined ConnectEd in 2011 and serves as the Associate Director for Pathway and Curriculum Development.  A practitioner at heart, Kentarotaught 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, Kentaroworked 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
510. 849. 4945

Jennifer Lutzenberger Phillips brings significant experience as an educational leader, student advocate, coach, and literacy teacher to her new 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
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 most recently 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.

Roman J. Stearns
Director, Leadership Development
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Roman J. Stearns, Director, Leadership Development

Roman Stearns joined ConnectEd in 2006 as the Director for Policy Analysis and Development, and in 2008 transitioned to Director of Leadership Development. In the latter capacity, he has directed the California Linked Learning District Initiative, a demonstration project with nine medium and large school districts in California designed to establish proof points that Linked Learning is a viable strategy for transforming high schools and improving student outcomes. With the expansion of Linked Learning to over 50 school districts in CA, Roman serves as the primary liaison to the CA Department of Education to support the AB 790 statewide Linked Learning pilot. Throughout his career, Roman has worked at the school, district, county, state, and national levels toward high school reform. After spending 10 years at the school and district levels on school change issues, he directed a large two-county school-to-career partnership, promoting regional models and structures to support reform efforts. Roman then moved to the UC Office of the President to direct a statewide project intended to revamp “a–g” course certification by making it more transparent, providing extensive training about that process to high school educators, and recommending changes in UC policy and procedures to ensure that UC's admissions process supported ongoing high school reform efforts. In doing so, he promoted UC's approval of academically rigorous career-technical courses and sought opportunities to blend academic and career-technical course content to prepare students for both college and careers. Roman holds a Bachelor's degree from Cornell University, a Master's degree in Education from Stanford University, and Single Subject Teaching and Administrative Credentials from California State University.

Daphannie Stephens
Director, Technical Assistance and Coaching
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Daphannie Stephens, Director, Technical Assistance and Coaching

Daphannie Stephens recently joined ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career as 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.

Carl Taibl
Chief Financial Officer
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Carl Taibl, Chief Financial Officer

Carl Taibl, CPA, is the Chief Financial Officer for ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career, joining the organization in 2009. Carl started his career in 1980 working in public accounting, serving clients such as the Joyce Foundation while employed at KPMG . He continued in several increasingly challenging finance positions at Southern Pacific Railroad, Ernst & Young, Accenture, and most recently as CFO for Hanson Bridgett, a San Francisco-based law firm. Carl is active in various non-profit organizations, and is a local board member of Financial Executives International (FEI). He is a member of the AICPA and has published several articles. His motto dating back to when he was the first Eagle Scout of his troop, is to leave something in better condition than when he arrived. Carl earned his Bachelor's degree at Northern Illinois University and holds a Master's in Business Administration with honors from Northwestern's Kellogg School.

Dave Yanofsky
Director, Media and Youth Development
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Dave Yanofsky, Director, Media and Youth Development

Dave Yanofsky is Director of Media and Youth Development for ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. Before joining the staff at 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. Since that time, he has produced a number of innovative projects that focus on youth and storytelling, and that help educators integrate media into their classroom or afterschool workshop. Dave holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Hamilton College.

Associates and Assistants

Ted Aquino
Program Assistant, Communications
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Ted Aquino, Program Assistant, Communications

Ted Aquino is the Program Assistant 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 within the community 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.

Oriana Bolden
Program Associate, Media and Youth Development
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Oriana Bolden, Program Associate, Media and Youth Development
510. 849. 4945

Prior to joining ConnectEd Oriana worked as a media production facilitator for youth through after-school programing and through community organizations. Also, as an independent producer and small business owner her previous production work centered around and demonstrates her commitment to education, justice and technology. Oriana completed her BA in Humanities at New College of California, as well as a sequence of courses in Media Psychology and Education Technology.

Maggie Boyce
Senior Project Associate
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Maggie Boyce, Senior Project Associate

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).

While Maggie was a 3rd grade teacher, designing reading and math games for children, she joined her parents counseling company, Focusways, Inc.  With her psychologist parents, they counseled families as a family.  During that time, Maggie taught a course in Personal Decision Making for high schools students, and a course at a community college, called “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, Meeting Planning, and with a team of seven, managed up to 250 large meetings a year.  During that time she took Kaiser’s Project Management training, and obtained both 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, including meeting planners from around the world. 

During her years at Kaiser Permanente, she authored a website, chaired a national team to select software tools (registration) for national Kaiser meeting planners, and, with her team of seven, documented over a million dollars in savings a year in contract negotiations alone. 

After several years out of the work force, Maggie eased back to work as an executive assistant at two East Bay Non-Profits - Children's Hospital and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, having worked at great length with executives and as a manager at Kaiser.

Maggie now supports ConnectEd’s office infrastructure with executive assistance, office management and human resources management.

Ben Crosby
Senior Program Associate, Media and Youth Development
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Ben Crosby, Senior Program Associate, Media and Youth Development
510. 898. 4813

Ben Crosby joined ConnectEd in 2014 as a Senior Program Associate for Media and Youth Development.  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.   More recently, 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.

Theresa Esparrago-Lieu
Senior Program Associate
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Theresa Esparrago-Lieu, Senior Program Associate

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
Program Associate
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Nikki Gilman, Program Associate

Nikki Gilman joined ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career as Program Associate for Learning, Teaching and Professional Development in April of 2011. Previously, Nikki taught Costume Design at the African American Art and Culture Complex in San Francisco, as well as in San Diego for the S.D. Junior Theatre Company. Prior to moving to the Bay Area in 2010, she served as Executive Assistant to the President and Vice President of Stu Segall Productions, as well as Wardrobe Manager for the organization during filming. She has costumed several plays and videos, including one televised commercial, and has specialized expertise in the clothing of Iraq and Afghanistan. Her favorite costume job was working on a musical alongside Harvey Fierstein at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Nikki holds a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre with an emphasis in Costume Design from San Diego State University.

Tiye Hood
Program Assistant, Media and Youth Development
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Tiye Hood, Program Assistant, Media and Youth Development
510. 898. 4807

Tiye Rose-Hood is a graduate from Academy of Art University and comes from a creative family--with a graphic artist for a father and a dancer for a mother.  Her documentaries often focus on social issues and awareness, and she is adamant about the importance of different voices in the industry.  As an active member of The Society of Camera Operators, she hopes to continue perfecting the craft of camera assisting. She currently resides and works out of San Francisco, California, collaborating with various Bay Area filmmakers.

Aron Kidane
Senior Accountant
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Aron Kidane, Senior Accountant

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.

Karri Leshner
Project Associate
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Karri Leshner, Project Associate
Lola McCall
Program Assistant
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Lola McCall, Program Assistant

Lola McCall is a Program Assistant in the District Initiative team. Prior to joining ConnectEd in 2012, Lola worked for the Registrar’s office at Mills College, while simultaneously taking graduate courses in Educational Leadership, which sparked a deep passion for and firm belief in the necessity of education reform. Lola holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, with a double minor in Psychology and Child Development, from Mills College. 

Kyleigh Nevis
Program Associate, Media and Youth Development
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Kyleigh Nevis, Program Associate, Media and Youth Development

Kyleigh Nevis is a Program Associate 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.

Melody Rose
Senior Project Associate
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Melody Rose, Senior Project Associate

Melody Rose is a Senior Project Associate 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.

Anna Salomone
Senior Program Associate
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Anna Salomone, Senior Program Associate

Anna Salomone is a Senior Program Associate at ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. Prior to joining ConnectEd in 2008, Anna worked in special education classrooms as a behavioral therapist for children with moderate to severe autism. In this role, she created learning plans, adapted curriculum, and worked directly with families both at home and in the community to ensure the attainment of each students’ learning outcomes. In her current role, Anna manages grant administration for the Linked Learning District Initiative, oversees the logistical coordination of the Leadership Development Series, and manages the Linked Learning Pathway Quality Review Process, including OPTIC – ConnectEd Studios' Online Pathway Tool for Improvement and Certification. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Tom Skjervheim
Senior Program Associate
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Tom Skjervheim, Senior Program Associate

Tom Skjervheim has been a Senior Program Associate with ConnectEd since 2012, and despite being away from the classroom for over two years he still considers himself a teacher at heart. Tom began his career in education as a high school history teacher at a large comprehensive high school in Alhambra, CA. After returning to the San Francisco Bay Area, Tom joined an incredible team of talented educators at the newly established City Arts and Technology High School, an Envision School located in San Francisco. Over the five years he taught at City Arts and Tech, Tom experienced the transformative power of authentic teacher collaboration, as well as a school model designed to serve traditionally marginalized students. Through authentic student exhibitions, real-world internships, project-based learning, performance assessments, and student defense of portfolios, Tom experienced a student-centered school culture that simultaneously nurtured and pushed all student to post-secondary readiness. He wore many hats to help keep this school culture alive and thriving, including that of teacher coach, department lead, athletic director/coach, and lead teacher. These experiences were instrumental to his current role of supporting dedicated Linked Learning teachers, leaders, and schools. Most of Tom's efforts at ConnectEd revolve around pathway performance assessment, though all his work supports communities of practice that strive to do right by all students and are continuously learning for improvement. Tom holds a Bachelor's Degree from Pitzer College, and a Master's Degree in Education from the Claremont Graduate University.

Pallavi Somusetty
Program Associate, Media and Youth Development
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Pallavi Somusetty, Program Associate, Media and Youth Development

Pallavi Somusetty is a Program Associate for Media and Youth Development at ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career, focusing on media production and the development of ConnectEd Studios. Before joining the staff at ConnectEd in 2009, Pallavi worked as a video producer in the advertising sector in both New York City and San Francisco, and as an after-school English teacher. She began her career as a journalist for a community newspaper in Silicon Valley. In conjunction with her work at ConnectEd, Pallavi is heavily invested in empowering youth and other social justice allies by training them to use media production for social change. Pallavi holds a Bachelor's degree in Creative Writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Byron Titus
Intern, Media and Youth Development
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Byron Titus, Intern, Media and Youth Development

Byron Titus is a well versed animator and graphic designer. He has works with the Adobe creative Suite and Autodesk programs to create wonderful animations. He studied Animation and Visual effects at Ex'pression College for the Digital Arts. He currently works at ConnectEd in downtown Berkley as a Animation and Motion graphics intern. He is also a freelance production artist for Muvu Media producing 2D animations for apps and mobile games, and he is in love with fat cats.

Aujinel Verdon
Program Assistant
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Aujinel Verdon, Program Assistant
510. 647. 4310

Aujinel Verdon is a Program Assistant for the District Initiative 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 VillaseƱor
Project Assistant
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Jaime VillaseƱor, Project Assistant

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.