S. Lee Funk, Ed.D.
With over thirty years as an educator in California, Dr. Lee Funk brings wide ranging experiences to his role as Executive Director of the Attendance Institute, a nonprofit think tank sponsored in part by SI&A.. Besides ten years as a superintendent, he has worked as an assistant superintendent, staff developer, principal, and teacher. He is the author of the recently published, The Promise of Special Education: A Guidebook for Parents and Policy Makers and co-author of Pathway to Parent Engagement: The Administrator’s Guidebook.
Throughout his career Dr. Funk has earned respect for his dedication to students with disabilities, adjudicated youth, and students with chronic attendance and/or behavioral issues. He has chaired steering committees along with governing councils for agencies providing regional services in special education and participated actively in two county-wide School Attendance and Review Boards. Dr. Funk has presented widely throughout the nation on issues related to instruction, alternative schools, and special programs. While serving as superintendent he was named “Administrator of the Year” by the Butte County Association of California School Administrators and as a “Star Administrator” by Future Farmers of America. Dr. Funk is an active member of numerous professional organizations including Council for Exceptional Children and ASCD. He earned a doctorate in Organization and Leadership from the University of San Francisco where he was cited as “Doctoral Student of the Year” for a study that combined scholarship with practical solutions for reducing student attrition from high school.
Director of Strategic Relations
As Director of Strategic Relations, Gemma manages the relationships that the Attendance Institute has with key educational associations. Her background includes being a recipient of the prestigious “Who’s Who Among American College Students,” during which time she also interned for California State Senator Albert Rodda and Assemblyman Floyd Mori. In addition to 20 years experience in partner relations at SI&A, Gemma also spent 20 years in retail customer service management. She was certified by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Academy as a School Business Manager and by the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO) Associate Member Academy. Gemma is a valuable strategic partner and active member of CASBO, CSBA and CASCWA and in 2015 she received the Friend of CASCWA Award at the State Conference. She earned her B.S. in Business Administration and Human Resources Management at CSU, Sacramento, followed by an M.S. in International Business from St. Mary’s College, Moraga, California.
Director of Public Relations
Rick Carder, who has had 33 years of education experience with certificated, classified, managerial and executive personnel, is responsible for public relations at the Attendance Institute. Prior to joining the Attendance Institute, Mr. Carder led SI&A’s categorical planning program division, leveraging his background in school and program management, budgetary oversight, instructional assessment and leadership. Mr. Carder is a past president of CAASFEP (California Association of Administrators of State and Federal Education Programs), the current president of NAFEPA (National Association of Federal Education Program Administrators), and is also a respected speaker on state and federal categorical compliance issues. Mr. Carder was also the Director for Categorical Programs for Grant JUHSD and worked in many additional positions throughout his long tenure in public education. He holds a Masters of Education from the University of La Verne and a B.A. in Physical Education and Communication Studies from California State University, Sacramento.
Director of Research
Yaeko Rodrigues is the Director of Research at the Attendance Institute. As director of research, Mrs. Rodrigues leads a team of data analysts through large and diverse pools of K-12 education behavior-related data. Her efforts are focused on longitudinal studies which require normalizing collected data, development of relevant analysis and ultimately drawing insights from the data. With a strong background in K-12 education, software development and analysis, Mrs. Rodrigues brings her expertise in product management, compliance and test lab asset management to the Attendance Institute. Prior to joining the Attendance Institute, Mrs. Rodrigues held positions at Neohapsis, Inc. as lab assistant and at Ernst & Young, LLP, as education coordinator. Mrs. Rodrigues holds a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese from the University of Montana.