Fellows 2022-23

California EPFP comes from a variety of organizations and bring different perspectives to our discussion of educational leadership and policy. This page reflects the names and positions of each Fellow at the beginning of their fellowship year. 

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Fellows 2022-23

Gisela Ariza

Gisela Ariza

Associate Director of School Improvement, LA Promise Fund

Gisela Ariza is the Associate Director of School Improvement at LA Promise Fund where she oversees the implementation of high-quality data collection and analysis practices for the Network for School Improvement (NSI) Initiative. She is also responsible for leading, training and supporting South LA high schools that work to increase the number of African-American and Latinx freshman students who are college-ready and on-track. Prior to joining the LA Promise Fund, she worked at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Leadership Conference Education Fund in Washington D.C. where she supported state partners in the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Prior to this role, Gisela worked at the College Board where she supported the organization’s efforts around college access for underserved students. Gisela received her master’s degree in Education and School Counseling from the University of Southern California and completed her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from California State University Northridge.

Nancy Bailey

Nancy Bailey

Program Specialist, Career and College Readiness, William S. Hart Union High School District

Nancy is a credentialed school counselor with a deep commitment to providing academic guidance and support to students and families. In her current role as a Program Specialist, she works to provide college and career programs to support 22,000 students across 13 school sites in the district. She has been instrumental in funding these programs by writing and administering three major grants which include California Technical Incentive Grant (CTEIG), Strong Workforce Grant (SWP), and the Perkins Grant. These grants have an annual combined award of $4.5 million. In addition to these responsibilities, Nancy facilitates 13 industry advisory meetings to connect teachers, parents, higher education partners, and business leaders to provide program improvement guidance for each industry pathway. Nancy holds a B.A. in History from Mount Holyoke College, a master’s degree in School Counseling from the University of La Verne, and a master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy.

Jake Brymner

Jake Brymner

Deputy Director for Policy and Public Affairs, California Student Aid Commission

Jake Brymner serves as Deputy Director for Policy and Public Affairs at the California Student Aid Commission, the nation’s largest state financial aid agency. In his role at the Commission, Jake leads efforts to develop policies to meet student needs and bring the message of financial aid to a wide audience. Prior to joining the Commission, Jake was the State and Federal Policy Director for the Campaign for College Opportunity, a nonprofit policy research and advocacy organization that promotes college access and student success. Jake has also previously held roles in the office of Congressman Eric Swalwell, the Goldman School of Public Policy, and several political campaigns. In addition to his work at the Commission, Jake serves in leadership roles with several nonprofit organizations, including the New Leaders Council of Sacramento, the East Bay Leadership Council, and the Alliance for Education Solutions. Jake received his bachelor’s degrees in History and Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley.

Marla Conteh

Marla Conteh

Elementary School Principal, Modesto City Schools

Marla Conteh is an elementary school principal in Modesto City Schools. Marla started her career in education as a paraprofessional. Prior to becoming a principal, Marla was a vice principal, instructional coach, and an elementary school teacher. She taught a variety of grade levels at the K-6 level, in dual language programs, sheltered English instruction and exit bilingual education. She supported teaching and learning at all levels, kindergarten through twelfth grade, as an instructional coach. She earned her Master of Arts in Linguistics at San Diego State University where her research focused on the social and instructional impacts of code switching in elementary school bilinguals.

Reagen Dozier

Reagen Dozier

Title V Director for the Office of Instruction, Porterville College

Reagen Dozier is currently the Title V Director for the Office of Instruction at Porterville College. She oversees all academic support services on-campus, such as library, tutoring, supplemental instruction, technology navigators, peer academic mentors, and writing and math mentors. Reagen facilitates faculty professional development opportunities, builds partnerships with outside community organizations, oversees over $2.5 million in various federal and state grants, and serves as the ESL off-site coordinator for Porterville College’s expansion into rural communities in their service area. Prior to joining Porterville College, Reagen worked in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships at Bakersfield College and California State University, Bakersfield. Through pure happenstance, Reagen has worked for all three public college/university systems in California (CCC, CSU, and UC). She is a champion for adult, non-traditional learners, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. She received her bachelor’s degree in History from the University of California, Berkeley, and her master’s degree in Counseling with a concentration in Student Affairs from California State University, Bakersfield.

Sam Finn

Sam Finn

Senior Policy Consultant, Oakland Unified School District

Sam Finn is a senior policy consultant at Oakland Unified School District. In this role, Sam leads Oakland Unified’s National Newcomer Initiative, an effort to advance the field of immigrant student education through collaboration with universities, nonprofits, districts, state education agencies, and the U.S. Department of Education. In past roles, Sam has provided technical assistance and strategic planning for the California Department of Social Services’ CalNEW program, and supported the development of statewide dual enrollment strategy with the California Community College Chancellor’s Office. As a teacher, Sam worked at schools in Washington D.C., Berkeley, and Oakland. Sam holds a master’s degree in Public Policy from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College.

Jerell Hill

Jerell Hill

Dean of the School of Human Development and Education, Pacific Oaks College

Jerell Hill is Dean of the School of Human Development and Education at Pacific Oaks College. He is a dynamic scholar-practitioner who is a voice for educational justice and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). His primary research includes educator diversity, identity, leadership, and academic achievement. Additional areas of research include the unique challenges of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), student motivation, special education, and urban schools. He has over 20 years of service as an educator. He is proud to have taught within many diverse populations and in various urban educational contexts. He also serves as a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator at global and national conferences. He has lectured in Peru and published several peer-reviewed articles and a book chapter. Besides his academic articles, he has developed curriculums and certificate programs and has led an academic mission, study abroad for international students.

Joel Knudson

Joel Knudson

Principal Researcher, American Institutes for Research

Joel Knudson is a principal researcher at the American Institutes for Research, where he has contributed to educational research and evaluation projects since joining the organization in 2003. In this role, Joel chairs the California Collaborative on District Reform, a learning community of district leaders, policymakers, researchers, advocates, support providers, and funders that examines the district role in improving instruction and student learning for all students, with a particular focus on equity and access. He also leads and contributes to studies of school improvement efforts within the state and across the country. Joel holds a master’s degree in Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies (POLS) from the Stanford Graduate School of Education, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Stanford University.

Viviana Martin

Viviana Martin

Policy Analyst, California Policy team, UnidosUS

Viviana Martin (she/her/hers) serves as a Policy Analyst for the California Policy team at UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza). In this role, Viviana works to advance UnidosUS California policy priorities across issue areas ranging from Education, Health, and the Economy. Viviana advocates for K-12 education, higher education and affordable housing legislative and regulatory solutions that address the needs of Latinos in California. Prior to joining UnidosUS, Viviana completed the competitive Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs, a nine month, full-time, graduate-level experimental leadership training program that prepares diverse and commissioned leaders for effective and ethical leadership. Before participating in the Coro Fellowship she interned with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund in Washington, DC, where she had the opportunity to work on education and immigration federal policy issues. Viviana attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Political Economy with a focus on Inequities in Public Policy.

Shannon O'Brien

Shannon O'Brien

Program Manager of Research & Evaluation, Alameda County Office of Education

Shannon O’Brien is Program Manager of Research & Evaluation at the Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE). Her work at ACOE focuses on supporting districts in developing their Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs), monitoring and communicating new education policies and statutes, and helping districts analyze data and practices through the Differentiated Assistance (DA) process. Prior to joining ACOE, Shannon worked in the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of Family and Community Engagement.

Monique Barrett

Monique Barrett

Education Specialist, James Madison High School

Monique Barrett has spent the last 18 years teaching preschool through 12th grade as an Education Specialist with the San Diego Unified School District. As an Education Specialist at James Madison High School, Monique oversees individualized education plans, is a co-teacher of integrated math courses and runs the after school tutoring program. She also serves as a co-chair of the Madison Equity Team. Monique has completed the RISE Urban Principal Preparation (RISE UPP) Program and serves as an elected member of the San Diego Education Association’s Teachers Union. Monique holds a master’s degree from Azusa Pacific University in Special Education, a K-8 multiple subject credential, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in Speech Communications.

Allison Beer

Allison Beer

Research Data Specialist, California CCCO

Allison Beer is a Research Data Specialist at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. In this role, Ms. Beer leads the agency’s research on financial aid and basic needs and supports data-informed strategies for program implementation and continuous improvement efforts. Prior to joining the Chancellor’s Office, she worked in the K-12 and higher education sectors for both nonprofit and governmental organizations, including the Association of Community College Trustees, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, and the U.S. Department of Education. Ms. Beer earned her Master of Public Policy at Georgetown University.

Stephanie Ceminsky

Stephanie Ceminsky

Early Learning Programs Director, San Diego Unified School District

After graduating from the University of Saint Catherine in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Dr. Stephanie Ceminsky held teaching positions as an elementary and special education teacher and administrator within the Pre K-12 settings. Dr. Ceminsky earned her master’s degree in Educational Leadership at Saint Mary’s College of California. During her tenure as a principal, her schools earned recognition by becoming a California Distinguished School, honors for WASC Accreditation, and became a California School to Watch. As a distinguished graduate from the University of La Verne, Dr. Ceminsky completed her doctorate (Ed.D.) in Organizational Leadership. Dr. Ceminsky continues to publish research and build leadership capacity with doctoral candidates, and shares guidance on inquiry, organizational change, and policy development. She has led initiatives for the passing of Universal Transitional Kindergarten at the state level. Currently, Dr. Ceminsky serves as the Early Learning Programs Director within the San Diego Unified School District.

 

Jerome T. Countee Jr.

Jerome T. Countee Jr.

Vice Chancellor of Educational Services and Institutional Effectiveness, State Center Community College District

Dr. Jerome T. Countee Jr. is the Vice Chancellor of Educational Services and Institutional Effectiveness for the State Center Community College District. Dr. Countee has more than 20 years of experience as a leader in rural, urban, and suburban institutions of higher education with large diverse student populations. His experience includes economic and workforce development, integrated planning, legislative advocacy, online learning, international education, accreditation, institutional research, budgeting, and external funding. Before becoming Vice Chancellor, Dr. Countee worked as Associate Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development at American River College. Dr. Countee also served as the Director of Continuing Education and Business Partnerships at Prince George’s Community College.  Prior to that, Dr. Countee also directed professional education programs at the University of Maryland Global Campus (formerly University College), and later at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Dr. Countee earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UMBC, a master’s degree in Public Administration from Western Kentucky University, and an Ed.D. from Morgan State University.

Karen Engel

Karen Engel

Dean of Planning, Research, Innovation and Effectiveness, Cañada College

Dr. Karen Engel currently serves as the Dean of Planning, Research, Innovation and Effectiveness at Cañada College. Dean Engel leads all college-wide strategic planning and continuous improvement processes, including the implementation of Guided Pathways, AB 705, strategic enrollment management, equity, and antiracism. Dr. Engel has also served as the Dean of Research and Planning at the College of Alameda and as the Director of Economic and Workforce Development for the Peralta Community College District. While at the Peralta District Office, Dr. Engel provided vision and leadership for the development and coordination of the District’s career pathway programs, raising over $35 million in state, federal and private workforce development resources for the four Peralta Colleges. Prior to her community college experience, Dr. Engel spent more than 20 years working internationally and domestically assisting regions, states, and countries to develop and implement economic development strategies and initiatives. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and economics from Brown University and a Ph.D. in international relations and economics from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Joshua Hagen

Joshua Hagen

Policy Director, Campaign for College Opportunity

Joshua Hagen serves as the Policy Director for the Campaign for College Opportunity, where he works to shape and advance policy to increase college access, ensure student success, and improve college affordability for Californians. In this capacity, he has led initiatives to improve transfer and expand equitable access to financial aid. In addition to supporting the Campaign’s current policy agendas, Josh has a keen interest in policy implementation, leading efforts to ensure that previous policy initiatives are implemented with fidelity and supporting students in reaching their college goals. Josh holds a master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from New York University and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Communication from State University of New York, College at Geneseo.  

 

Roshni Kasad

Roshni Kasad

Vice President of Programs, AI4ALL

Roshni is a trained scientist and educator who has over a decade of experience building equitable STEM education initiatives at the K-12 and higher ed levels. In her current role as Vice President of Programs at AI4ALL, Roshni oversees strategy and execution of AI4ALL’s entire program pathway, which aims to spark interest and increase persistence in AI-related careers for high school and undergraduate students who have been historically excluded from the field of artificial intelligence. Previously, Roshni was AI4ALL’s Senior Director of College Pathways where she led AI4ALL’s entry into the higher ed space. With experience building local, national, and international education collaborations, Roshni believes strongly in the value of partnerships to create sustainable and scalable change. In prior roles at organizations like AnitaB.org and Techbridge, Roshni has developed programs and partnerships to engage 15,000+ students within the US and abroad. Roshni has a B.A. in Biology from the University of Delaware and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley where her thesis was characterizing molecular mechanisms involved in egg and sperm development.

 

Gabriela Llamas,

Gabriela Llamas,

Principal, Hazel Goes Cook Elementary

Gabriela Llamas has twenty-five years of experience as an educator and  currently serves as Principal of a K-6 Elementary in Chula Vista. Gabriela has served as teacher, instructional coach, and consultant and in each of these roles she has focused her attention on transforming school systems into equitable learning environments with levels of quality learning for both students and adults. In the last thirteen years her work has focused on turnaround efforts in Title One schools which have earned two of her schools the California Distinguished School Awards as well as Title One awards. She is charter president for the local Association of California School Administrators Association (ACSA). She serves on the ACSA Equity Committee and is deeply committed to being the reason that BIPOC children and adults feel seen, heard, and supported. She earned her master’s degree in Educational Leadership from San Diego State and graduated with honors from the University of California, Berkeley.

Jackie Nevarez,

Jackie Nevarez,

College and Career Coordinator, Sacramento City Unified School District

Jackie Nevarez is a College and Career Coordinator for the Sacramento City Unified School District. Initially, she used her degrees in Psychology and Counseling to work for non-profit mental health organizations. After over a decade of intensive counseling, she recognized that a better way to create change was to be an active agent in the reconstruction of systems that educate and impact the future of California. Jackie utilizes her “boots on the ground” experiences from the fifth (Elk Grove Unified School District) and eleventh (Sacramento County Unified School Districts) largest school districts in the state of California to numerous county/state level organizations such as CaliforniaColleges.edu and the Nor Cal College Promise Coalition. Jackie was honored to be appointed to the California’s Cradle-to-Career System’s Community Engagement Advisory Board. Across all access points, she remains steadfast to support the facilitation of sustainable mindsets, initiatives, and data continuity to advance the positive future for California’s youth.

julie vue

julie vue

Program Officer of Racial Equity & Inclusion, Central Valley Community Foundation

Driven by an eagerness to see a more just and equitable world, julie spent the last ten years in the world of youth development and K-12 school transformation in Southern California. julie recently made the transition into philanthropy and is Program Officer of Racial Equity & Inclusion at the Central Valley Community Foundation for a 10-year collective impact initiative. They oversee the embedment, implementation, and measurement and evaluation of racial equity and transformative community engagement for key initiatives that will create a racially inclusive economy for all in the Central and San Joaquin Valley. Beyond professional experiences, julie is a community organizer at heart and has extensive experience with community-based participatory action research. They hold a Master of Arts in Education, with an emphasis on Social and Cultural Analysis from CSU Long Beach and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and minors in Gender & Sexuality Studies and Civic & Community Engagement from UC Irvine.