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.
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 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 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 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 (Penni) Hudis has served as Director of Pathway and Curriculum Development at ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career since the organization's inception in 2006. Her career has spanned a wide range of positions in education and industry, including teaching, research, program evaluation, and practice related to education, equity, and employment advancement. Prior to joining ConnectEd, she served as Director of Evaluation for MPR Associates, Inc., Vice President and 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 recently spent nine years as a part-time Visiting Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. 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.
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.
Arlene LaPlante serves as Director for the ConnectEd Network for ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career Network. With more than 30 years of experience in secondary education as a teacher, counselor, site and district administrator, and national consultant, Arlene has devoted her career to improving the education of high school students. Most recently this work has involved developing and implementing career-themed academies and small schools that integrate academic and career technical education in a small, personalized learning environment where students and their individual learning needs are known well by their teachers. She is a credentialed administrator, teacher, and counselor, who has consulted extensively for high schools, middle schools, colleges, universities, and local school districts. Arlene holds a Bachelor's degree in English from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and a Master's degree in Counseling from San Diego State University.
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.
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 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.
Elizabeth Stroud joined ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career as Director of Communications in November 2011. With more than ten years of strategic communications experience, Elizabeth has served corporate, non-profit and education organizations, and increased funding, revenues and awareness for those organizations. Most recently, Elizabeth held the position of Business Development and Client Strategies Director for the Oakland Schools Foundation (OSF). During her tenure, the organization assisted public schools in raising nearly $20M, with Elizabeth increasing the client portfolio and developing organizational systems to support exponential growth. Elizabeth utilizes her technical expertise in marketing, internal and external relations, fundraising and community outreach to enhance the student experience from K-12 through post-secondary levels. Her dedication to support student transitions from high school to college, and college to career, positively impacts the lives of young people in California and beyond. Elizabeth holds a B.S. in Business Administration with a focus in Organizational Communications and Public Relations from California State University, East Bay.
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 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.
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.
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.
Angelisa Candler is a Media and Youth Development Intern. Although she considers herself to be a filmmaker, much of her passion involves youth empowerment. She will be transferring to a four-year university in the next year to study Social and Behavioral Sciences with a focus on Media Studies.
Matt Ducot is the Program Assistant for ConnectEd’s Media and Youth Development department. In his current role at ConnectEd, Matt is responsible for creating videos and other rich media to support Linked Learning. Matt graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a Bachelor’s degree in Film and Digital Media, with a concentration in Documentary Production.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
Nichole Shelton is a Program Associate at ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. In her current role at ConnectEd, Nichole is responsible for managing the Linked Learning Coach Training Certification process and supporting the transformation of the ECCO (Exploring College, Career and Community Options) curriculum. Prior to joining ConnectEd, Nichole worked as an English teacher in Korea, Japan, India, and Kenya. Nichole double majored in Biology and Child and Family Development and has a certificate in translation studies in Spanish from San Diego State University.
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 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.
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 currently obtains a BA in Psychology from the University of San Francisco.