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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lead Guided Pathways Regional Coordinator, Foundation for California Community Colleges
Timothy Morehouse works with the Foundation for California Community Colleges as a Lead Guided Pathways Regional Coordinator. As an alumnus of the California Community College system (American River College), Tim is proud to be serving the institution that provided him so much. Uniquely, Tim has worked in TK-12 education, post-secondary education (UC/CSU and CCC) and economic workforce development giving him a breadth of knowledge of the education to career continuum. He is a passionate advocate for student-centered, equity-focused improvements of systems and outcomes to see communities in California thrive. If you want to strike up a conversation with Tim, you can ask him about remodeling his house, soccer, or his most recent Lego build.
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.
Director of Learning and Unlearning, Division of Inclusive Excellence, Sacramento State University
Robert Reyes is the Director of Learning and Unlearning within the Division of Inclusive Excellence at Sacramento State. In this consultative role, he leads the development, delivery, and support for diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging (DEIJB) and antiracism professional development. As a member of the Office for Cultural Transformation, he also facilitates institutional change management, strategic planning, and the implementation of the Antiracism and Inclusive Campus Action Plan for campus departments, units, and colleges. Rob advises, supports, and assists the design and evaluation of anti-oppression, antiracism, and restorative justice actions, programs, and initiatives offered to students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Through tracking and measuring the impact of those AICP objectives, Rob and the Division of Inclusive Excellence team work to ensure the campus meets the recommendations and objectives outlined within their Antiracism and Inclusive Campus Plan. Rob is currently in the dissertation phase of a doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University in Southern California. He plans to complete his degree by May, 2023.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Policy Analyst, California Budget and Policy Center
Erik Saucedo is a policy analyst at the California Budget and Policy Center where he conducts policy research and analyses with the goal of improving education systems so that all students have the resources and opportunities to thrive. Erik focuses on issues related to equitable funding of K-12 and higher education systems and develops recommendations for state policy. His educational experience in California influenced his decision to become a teacher and work with students from similar backgrounds. Erik spent four years in the classroom teaching high school Spanish in Sacramento. Prior to joining the California Budget and Policy Center, Erik was a program coordinator with Riverways Education Partnerships, a tutoring program for K-12 students in Seattle, Washington. Erik received a master’s degree in education from the University of Washington. He also holds an associate’s degree from Hartnell Community College and a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from the University of California, Davis.
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.