BRINGING LEADERS TOGETHER AROUND ONE GOAL:

To improve outcomes for all K-12 students.

Previous Events

Meet some of our distinguished presenters

Russlynn Ali

Executive Director
Ed Trust West

Russlynn Ali is the Executive Director of the Education Trust West, a west coast presence of the national policy organization the Education Trust.  Prior to joining EdTrust, Russlynn served as the President’s Liaison for the Children’s Defense Fund’s nationwide Leave No Child Behind campaign.  She also served as the Assistant Director of Policy & Research for the Broad Foundation in Los Angeles where she concurrently served as the Chief of Staff to the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education President.  Before that Russlynn was Deputy Co-Director of the Advancement Project and Of Counsel to the civil rights law firm English, Munger & Rice.  Russlynn also practiced securities fraud litigation with Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton.  Before starting her law career, Russlynn was a teacher.

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Rae Belisle

President and CEO
Edvoice

Prior to joining EdVoice, Belisle served as the General Counsel for the Sacramento County Office of Education. Previously she served as Executive Director of the California State Board of Education; Associate General Counsel and Government Relations Team Leader for the Los Angeles Unified School District; Chief Counsel to California’s State Board of Education, and Senior Consultant to the California State Assembly Committee on Higher Education. Prior to joining state service with the Legislative Counsel Bureau, Belisle practiced for several years with a local law firm specializing in business litigation.

As the Chief Counsel to the State Board of Education, Belisle successfully defended the constitutionality of charter schools and the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program (STAR) test. Most recently, she was involved in the settlement of the Williams litigation.  Belisle has served as California’s representative to the national rulemaking panel that developed the federal regulations for assessment and accountability provisions of NCLB.

In addition to her role at EdVoice, Belisle currently serves as the Chair of the Advisory Commission on Charter Schools.

Belisle graduated with distinction from McGeorge School of Law and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of California, Davis.

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Stephen Blake

Executive Director
Governor’s Advisory Committee on Education Excellence

Stephen Blake has been involved in public education in California for nearly 20 years. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Education Excellence.  The Committee was charged with making recommendations to the governor for the improvement of K-12 education in relation to effective and adequate financing; providing excellent teachers to every student and administrators for all schools and districts; and effective governance structures.

Prior to joining the governor’s committee, Mr. Blake served as Chief Consultant to the Legislature’s Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education, where he led the work of a bipartisan group of legislators and implemented a unique process that brought 300 Californians and a wide array of research into the legislative environment, infusing theoretical and practical expertise into policy-making. Ultimately, this collaborative effort produced a first-in-the-nation Master Plan for Education for all levels of education, from preschool through university.  Mr. Blake also served on the board of the Office of the Education Master Plan, a private entity to support implementation of the Master Plan for Education at the local level throughout the state.

Mr. Blake previously spent six years at the California State University system, where he focused on teacher preparation, University/K-12 partnerships, bonds and capital outlay reform; and he provided leadership in gaining innovative authority needed to support the efficient development of new campuses at Monterey Bay, Stockton, and Channel Islands.  In winter 1993-94, Mr. Blake was a member of the leadership team for the California Education Summit conducted by Assembly Speaker Willie L. Brown, Jr.  Mr. Blake began his career in education-related government with the California Department of Education, advocating on behalf of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the State Board of Education, and the Department regarding school restructuring, assessment, and low performing schools, among other issues.

Mr. Blake earned his baccalaureate degree from Princeton University, in Moral, Political and Social Philosophy.

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Margaret Gaston

President & Executive Director
Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning

Margaret Gaston is currently serving as Executive Director and President of the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning, a public policy organization focused on strengthening the teacher workforce statewide.  In 1995, Ms. Gaston established the Center by developing a private and public constituency base of support for ensuring every student has a fully prepared and effective teacher.  Under her leadership, the Center has helped to inform the press, the public and policymakers about complex issues confronting California’s public schools, especially the need for a strong teacher development system capable of preparing and placing highly effective teachers where they are needed most. The Center’s data-driven recommendations for strengthening teaching frequently have been the basis of legislative action.

Prior to establishing the Center, Ms. Gaston was a special consultant to philanthropic organizations, advising foundation program officers, presidents and board members on grant making to public education and education support entities.  She has worked as a consultant and administrator for the California Department of Education, overseeing the School Improvement Program, School Program Quality Review, Community Education, and other school reform efforts before starting her own consulting firm.

In 2006 Ms. Gaston was appointed to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger with unanimous approval from the Senate.  She sits on the Commission’s Executive Committee and serves as Chair for the Legislative Committee. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing serves as the state standards board for educator preparation for the public schools and is responsible for the licensing and credentialing of professional educators in the state.

At the local level, Ms. Gaston has been an elementary classroom teacher, categorical programs coordinator, and a high school vice principal.  She received San Diego State University’s Distinguished Alumni Award for 2007 from the College of Education for her work in education policy directed toward improving teaching in high need schools serving English language learners and economically disadvantaged students of color.

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Kati Haycock

President
Education Trust

Kati Haycock is one of the nation’s leading child advocates in the field of education. She currently serves as President of the Education Trust. Established in 1992, the Trust does what no other Washington‑based education organization seeks to do: speaks up for what’s right for young people, especially those who are poor or members of minority groups. The Trust also provides hands‑on assistance to educators who want to work together to improve student achievement, pre‑kindergarten through college.

Prior to coming to the Education Trust, Haycock served as Executive Vice President of the Children’s Defense Fund, the nation’s largest child advocacy organization. A native Californian, Haycock founded and served as President of The Achievement Council, a statewide organization that provides assistance to teachers and principals in predominately minority schools in improving student achievement. Before that, she served as Director of the Outreach and Student Affirmative Action programs for the nine‑campus University of California system.

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Scott Hill

Vice President
Education Policy, SI&A

Scott Hill is known at both state and national levels for his experience in establishing and implementing standards-based reforms in K-12 schools. He has worked with SI&A since 2004, with the exception of 2007-08, when he served in a public role as California’s Undersecretary for the Office of Education. Prior to SI&A, Mr. Hill was a partner at Camelot Consulting LLC, providing strategic planning, business-to-government, and advocacy services.

In other service as the Chief Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, he directed daily operations of the California Department of Education, including school districts and school finance. He directed the statewide revision and implementation of School Accountability Report Cards (SARCs) called for in California Senate Bill No.1400. Also the former Executive Director of the California Academic Standards Commission and Curriculum Commission, Mr. Hill worked as Communications Director for the George Lucas Educational Foundation and as a Senior Policy Analyst for the California School Boards Association.

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Jorge Lopez

Director
Oakland Charter Academy

Jorge Lopez was born and raised in Richmond, CA. He attended Sacramento State University where he received his Bachelors and Masters Degree from the Department of Education. He has worked as a teacher, Dean and Principal in his eleven years of service in Education

During the past 5 years he has worked as Director of Oakland Charter Academy in East Oakland, CA where he implemented the program that led to over 250 point jump in the API in the past four years. Most recently, Oakland Charter Academy was one of only 17 charter schools nationally named a National Blue Ribbon School. Oakland Charter Academy also has an extension high school currently in its second year of operation which boasts an API of 933.

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Leigh Manasevit

Attorney at Law
Brustein & Manasevit

As one of the two founding partners of Brustein & Manasevit, Mr. Leigh M. Manasevit established a law practice that addresses federal‑level legal issues involving public, private, elementary, secondary, and postsecondary educational institutions. He has appeared extensively before all tribunals of the U.S. Department of Education and regularly pursues federal court review of unfavorable agency decisions.

Mr. Manasevit has practiced in the field of education law since 1974, beginning as a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. During his government service, Mr. Manasevit regularly appeared in Federal Court representing the United States in civil rights cases involving educational institutions across the nation. On the elementary and secondary level, he has advised and trained schools, districts, states, and private providers throughout the nation on implementation of No Child Left Behind. He also regularly advises recipients of Title I on implementation issues. Mr. Manasevit coauthored a comprehensive manual on NCLB and its predecessor, the Improving America’s Schools Act; graduated with honors from the University of Connecticut School of Law; and received his undergraduate degree from Columbia University in New York City.

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Ted Mitchell

President/Chief Executive Officer
New Schools Venture Fund, California State Board of Education

Ted Mitchell assumed the role of CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund in the fall of 2005, after having served on the NewSchools Board of Directors for seven years. Prior to joining NewSchools, Mitchell served as the 12th President of Occidental College in Los Angeles. Mitchell’s tenure at Occidental was marked by a dramatic improvement in both the College’s national reputation and its engagement in the community, as well as by unprecedented financial growth.

A former Deputy to the President at Stanford University and Vice Chancellor at University of California, Los Angeles, Mitchell is a national leader in the effort to provide high-quality education for all students and has long been active in California and Los Angeles educational reform initiatives. He currently chairs the Governor’s Committee on Educational Excellence, charged with making recommendations to improve California’s system of K–12 finance and governance, and is President of the California State Board of Education. He also serves on the boards of a variety of nonprofit education organizations.

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Dr. Anthony Muhammad

Founder
New Frontier 21

Anthony Muhammad is one of the most sought after edu­ca­tional consultants in North America. As a practitioner of nearly twenty years, Dr. Muhammad has served as a middle school teacher, assistant principal, middle school principal, and high school principal. His tenure as a practitioner has earned him several awards as both a teacher and a principal.

Dr. Muhammad’s most notable accomplishment came as Principal at Levey Middle School in Southfield, Michigan, a National School of Excellence, where student proficiency on state assessments was more than doubled in five years. Dr. Muhammad and the staff at Levey used the Professional Learning Communities at Work (PLC) model of school improvement, and they have been recognized in several videos and articles as a model, high‑performing PLC. As a researcher, he has published articles in several publications in both the United States and Canada. Dr. Muhammad is a contributing author to the book The Collaborative Administrator: Working Together as a Professional Learning Community, published in 2008. He also authored Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division, published in 2009.

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Jack O’Connell

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction

As chief of California’s public school system and leader of the California Department of Education, Superintendent O’Connell has focused on closing the achievement gap and preparing students for a rapidly changing global economy by holding high standards for all students. He is a strong supporter and facilitator of partnerships between schools, businesses, communities, and philanthropies in order to engage students with challenging, real‑world education experiences.

O’Connell has worked to fortify California’s world‑class academic standards, strengthen California’s school accountability and assessment systems and bolster state funding for public school classrooms. As a former high school teacher and author of the legislation creating the California High School Exit Exam, he has led a comprehensive effort to increase rigor and improve student achievement in California high schools. He also has been a leader among state school chiefs nationwide in an effort to increase flexibility and fairness in the federal No Child Left Behind school accountability system.

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Mary Perry

Deputy Director
EdSource

Mary Perry has served as the Deputy Director of EdSource since 1993. As the senior publications writer, she is the managing editor of all EdSource publications and often acts as a lead author as well. She also oversees work on the agency’s websites. She served as a member of the governing board of the Campbell Union School District from 1990-99, including two years as board president, and also chaired a local bond election campaign. She holds a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Oregon and a M.A. in Liberal Arts from Stanford University.

For 28 years EdSource has provided impartial, clearly written information to educators, policy makers, the media, and the general public about California’s important public education policy issues. As an independent not-for-profit organization, our mission is to clarify complex education issues and to promote thoughtful decisions about public school improvement. EdSource does not advocate or lobby, and over two decades we have developed a solid reputation as a credible and respected source of K–12 education information. We offer this information to the education community and the public through a wide range of print publications, an annual forum, and a comprehensive website.

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David Plank

Executive Director
PACE (Policy Analysis for California Education)

David N. Plank began work as Executive Director of PACE on January 1, 2007. David came to PACE from Michigan State University, where he founded and directed the Education Policy Center. He had previously been on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Texas at Dallas, teaching courses and conducting research in the areas of educational finance and policy. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1983.

In addition to his work in the US, David has extensive international experience. He has served as a consultant to international organizations including the World Bank, the UNDP, the OECD, USAID, and the Ford Foundation, and also to governments in Africa and Latin America.

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Scott P. Plotkin

Executive Director
California School Boards Association

Scott P. Plotkin joined the California School Boards Association as Executive Director in October 2001, bringing to the position more than 20 years experience with national, state, and local educational issues affecting both K-12 schools and higher education. Plotkin provides executive leadership for the association, which represents and serves the elected and appointed members of the governing boards of the 1028 school districts and county offices of education in California. He served as the association’s president in 1992.

Before becoming Executive Director of CSBA, Plotkin, served five years as chief consultant and staff director for the Senate Committee on Education, providing policy and fiscal advice, analysis, and guidance on education matters to members of the state Senate. In order to serve in this capacity during several legislative sessions since 1997, Plotkin was on leave as Director of the Office of Governmental Affairs of the 23-campus California State University system, a Sacramento-based position that gave him substantial insight and experience into the workings of the California Legislature and state’s executive departments.

An elected member of the Board of Trustees of the Rio Linda Union Elementary School District in Sacramento County from 1981 to 2001, Plotkin served as president of the Sacramento County School Boards Association from 1985-1988. He has been a guest lecturer on state and local government and the legislative process at several CSU campuses and has been a frequent speaker and panelist at CSBA and National School Boards Association conferences. Plotkin represented California school boards on the Board of Directors of WestEd, formerly the Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development. Plotkin also represented the National School Boards Association on the Board of Examiners for the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, where he was also appointed to their Appeals Board.

Plotkin has also served his local community as a member of the Private Industry Council, the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency and the North Highlands and Rio Linda/Elverta Chambers of Commerce. He has also served as a member of the Jewish Federation of Sacramento, Common Cause of California, the CORO Foundation and KVIE Public Television, Channel 6 in Sacramento.

Plotkin has received numerous national, state and local awards and commendations over the course of his career in public service and education. He lives in Sacramento with his wife and their three sons.

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Phil Quon

Superintendent
Cupertino Union School District

Phil Quon is currently the superintendent of the Cupertino Union School District. Before joining Cupertino, he served as the superintendent of the Union School District, located in San Jose, for 12 years. He graduated from UCLA with a degree in mathematics and taught high school mathematics for eight years at University High School in the Irvine Unified School District. In addition, Mr. Quon has held central office administrative positions in large urban districts (Montebello Unified School District and Santa Ana Unified School District), where his work focused on secondary curriculum development and the professional development of teachers.

Mr. Quon also acts as a strong advocate for public education through his participation with several professional education associations, including the Association of California School Administrators and the American Association of School Administrators. His efforts were recognized in 2006 when he was honored as the Region 8, Superintendent of the Year for the Association of California School Administrators.  He is a member of the statewide ACSA Superintendency Council.

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Representative Ramon Romero, Jr.

Texas House Member
District 90

The Romero family is originally from the state of Zacatecas in Mexico. Representative Romero’s father, Ramon Romero, Sr., came to this country as a migrant farm worker in the mid 1960’s. In 1969, with wife Maria de Refugio and their two children, Alejandra and Juan, they moved to the Northside of Fort Worth. They finally settled on Avenue D in the Polytechnic area of Fort Worth in 1973 where Ramon Romero Jr. was born, along with Jose and Cathy. Today the family home is still on Avenue D and all of the children remain in Tarrant County.

At a very young age, Representative Romero was always looking for odd jobs to make his own spending money, given that there wasn’t much to go around in a family of 10. Later he would wash cars on East Rosedale, and worked his first real job at Ashburn’s Ice Cream Parlor. In high school, he discovered his talents in telemarketing while working for health and life insurance agents setting appointments.

Representative Romero, not much different than his parents, started his family at a young age having twins, Lindsay and Lauren, then Giovanni, all before graduating high school. While he did attend Tarrant County College, he had mouths to feed and decided to enter the workforce. He then left college, attained his irrigation license and started his first business. A year later he started his pool business, A-Fast Tile & Coping. By age 25, A-Fast had over 60 employees, many who were from his neighborhood and today, Representative Romero still owns A-Fast Tile & Coping and also owns Stone Mason Supply, along with the Ramon Romero Corporation.

In the mid 90’s Representative Romero helped form the first neighborhood association in his mother’s neighborhood, just blocks from his own home. He worked with the Fort Worth Independent School District and City of Fort Worth Housing Department staff to ensure neighbors would be properly compensated for their homes when the district built baseball fields at Poly High School. This involvement is what sparked his passion for public service.

It was this ability to work with city officials and his community that earned a city appointment by then Councilman, Ralph McCloud. He later became Chair of the Planning Commission under Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks. Representative Romero was also a member of the Zoning Commission, the Air Quality Task Force Committee, the Golf Advisory Committee and various master plan committees for his area parks. He won the 2014 Democratic Primary for District 90 in Fort Worth against an 18-year incumbent, becoming the first Hispanic State Representative in Tarrant County history.

Representative Romero is a well-respected father, businessman, and community leader who believes that success is measured not by how much you have received, but by how much you have given.

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Patricia Rucker

Legislative Advocate
CTA

Patricia Rucker, a former classroom teacher, is a legislative advocate for the California Teachers Association. Her primary policy areas include teacher credentialing and professional development, career technical education, language acquisition.  Ms. Rucker’s additional responsibilities include monitoring federal legislation such as No Child Left Behind.

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Jim Shelton

Assistant Secretary
US Department of Education

Jim Shelton is Assistant Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement. The Office makes strategic investments in innovative educational practices through two dozen discretionary grant programs and coordinates the public school choice and supplemental educational services provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as amended by No Child Left Behind. The Office of Innovation and Improvement also created the Innovations in Education guides which detail how school systems around the country have put the No Child Left Behind Act to work.

Prior to serving at the U.S. Department of Education, Shelton served as the program director of the Education Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He also was a partner for the NewSchools Venture Fund, an entrepreneurial philanthropy based in San Francisco.

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Mark Sontag

Curriculum Coordinator for Math Science
GATE and Data Integration Irvine USD

Mark Sontag, currently serving as Curriculum Coordinator for Math Science, GATE and Data Integration at Irvine Unified School District. Mark has 20 years of classroom teaching experience in grades 4-8 supporting the learning experiences of students in the areas of math, science, language arts, social science, physical  education and electives.  Mark has spent 8 years as Curriculum Coordinator for Math, Science, GATE.APAAS, and Data Integration.

Sontag received his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science from UC Irvine and holds a Masters in Education from Azusa Pacific University.

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Senator Tom Torlakson

California’s 7th Senate District

Senator Tom Torlakson represents California’s 7th Senate District, which includes most of Contra Costa County. Tom chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, and he is a member of the Education Committee and the Transportation and Housing Committee. He is also the Chair of the Senate Select Committee Schools and Community.

Senator Torlakson’s successful legislative record focuses on policies to improve public education, reduce traffic congestion, and enhance health, wellness, and public safety.

In 1998, he negotiated the historic Proposition 1A, which provided a ground-breaking $9 billion investment of state-funding to build and improve California schools. Today, that investment has grown to over $30 billion.

Senator Torlakson worked with Governor Schwarzenegger and authored the landmark Senate Bill 638 in 2006, which designed the implementation of $550 million in state funding made available for after school programs through Proposition 49. Other recent legislation highlights included bills that provide $2.9 billion in additional funding to the state’s lowest performing schools, provide additional protections for property owners facing eminent domain proceedings, and ensure amusement ride safety.

An avid runner, bicyclist, and triathlete, Tom is the Chair and Founder of the California Task Force on Youth and Workplace Wellness, a group seeking to raise the profile of health and fitness in the public schools and in the workplace.

He previously was Chair of the Senate’s Majority Caucus, and Chair of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee and Senate Local Government Committee.

Tom’s career in public service began as a science teacher in 1972. He was elected to the Antioch City Council in 1978, and then served on the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors for 16 years. Tom was elected to the California’s 11th Assembly District in 1996 and 1998. Tom was elected to the State Senate in 2000 and was reelected without opposition in 2004.

Tom was born in San Francisco in 1949. He served in the Merchant Marine during the Vietnam War. He earned a B.A. in History in 1971, a Life Secondary Teaching Credential, and an M.A. in Education in 1977 from U.C. Berkeley. Tom is currently on faculty at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, CA. Tom has two adult daughters, Tiffany Margulici and Tamara Torlakson.

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Jean Treiman

Executive Director California Subject Matter Projects
UC Office of the President

Currently, Jean Treiman is Executive Director of the California Subject Matter Project that provides quality standards aligned, content focused professional development for K-12 school teachers though an interagency network of 100+ university sites across the state.  The project is administered by the University of California Office of the President, Oakland. Prior work includes Program Consultant, Professional Development Division California Department of Education working on the scale up of statewide Induction programs and NCLB Teacher Quality compliance, faculty member at UC Riverside and California Lutheran University teacher pre-service education focused on Math and Science Education for Elementary Teachers and support for Induction programs.  Rosemary Schraer Chancellors Award as Research Fellow, University of California, Riverside, doctoral research, Teacher/School Administrator, Elementary and Middle school in Los Angeles and Ventura, California and Watertown, Minnesota.  Past President of California Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (CACTE) state affiliate of American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE).

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Uri Treisman

Executive Director
Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin

Uri Treisman is professor of mathematics and of public affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. He is the founder and Executive Director of the University’s Charles A. Dana Center, which supports K–12 teachers and leaders working to implement high academic standards for all students.

Professor Treisman has received numerous honors and awards for his efforts to strengthen American education and he is actively engaged in advising and designing programs that strengthen the teaching and learning of mathematics and science from elementary to graduate school. A founding board member of the National Center for Public Policy in Higher Education. And, among involvement with many other groups he currently serves on the advisory board of a new partnership of Achieve, the National Governors Association, and the Council of Chief State School Officers focused on ensuring that states are benchmarking their education policies and practices against best practices globally.

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Bob Wells

Executive Director
ACSA

When Bob Wells became executive director of the Association of California School Administrators in 1998, he brought with him permission to dream large.

Wells is committed to leadership that builds its own future… to a vision of an association that will ensure student success and advocates for California schools to be the best in the nation.

He has used his expertise in school finance, education law and campaign management to propel ACSA toward the huge goal of becoming the most influential, respected student-focused and service-oriented education association in existence.

Wells has strengthened ACSA’s role as a leader on issues related to leadership coaching and teaching and learning. He has sharpened ACSA’s ability to influence public policy and enhanced the role of ACSA’s job-specific committees and councils. His commitment to valuing diversity has influenced the ranks of ACSA to become more representative of the students they serve. He continues to fight to maintain the integrity of Proposition 98 and to ensure excellence in funding for California public education.

In addition, he has championed technological advances to better serve the communications needs of an ACSA membership that has grown considerably under his watch.

Wells has been honored for his leadership by such entities as the American Association of Society Executives, California Council for Adult Education, California Latino Superintendents and Administrators and the PTA.

In his more than 25 years with ACSA, Bob Wells has promoted an enduring commitment to support administrators at all levels in their efforts to preserve and improve the quality of life through public education.

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Representative James White

Texas House Member
District 19

State Representative James White is a native Texan born in Houston, TX. He attended Houston ISD public schools before graduating with honors from Prairie View A&M University in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. In addition, he completed his doctorate in political science at the University of Houston.

The United States Congress commissioned Rep. White as an officer of Infantry in the U.S. Army. His service included an assignment with the Berlin Brigade from 1987-90 during the demise of the Soviet Union.

After leaving the Army with an Honorable Discharge in 1992, Rep. White began a career as a public school educator in the Houston area. He continued his teaching career in Fort Bend, Livingston, and Woodville independent school districts. He taught United States history, Texas history, and geography at the secondary level. Rep. White also taught U.S. Government and Economics at the collegiate and high school level. Rep. White coached high school football, basketball, and soccer and officiated youth sports.

Rep. White was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2010. Throughout his tenure in the Legislature, Rep. White has been a strong advocate for the residents of District 19 and is committed to ensuring the people of Hardin, Jasper, Newton, Polk, and Tyler counties are well represented in the State Legislature. He believes in the fundamental values of strong families, constitutional government, and economic prosperity. He has been recognized for practicing these core values through various awards including: Empower Texans “Taxpayer Champion”; Texas Association of Business “Champions for Free Enterprise”; Texas Eagle Forum “Most Conservative Rating”; American Conservative Union “Award for Conservative Excellence”; Conservative Roundtable of Texas “Lone Star Conservative Leader”; National Federation of Independent Business in Texas “100% Rating”; “Perfect Pro-Life Voting Record” – Texas Right to Life. The Texas Justice of the Peace and Constable Association recognized Rep. White as their 2015 Legislator of the Year. Additionally, Texas Appleseed honored Rep. White in 2015 for authoring landmark legislation that decriminalized truancy for juveniles in Texas.

Currently, Rep. White serves as Vice Chair of the House Committee on Corrections and sits on the Juvenile Justice and Family Issues, Emerging Issues in Texas Law Enforcement, Mental Health, and Transportation Planning committees. He has previously served on the County Affairs, Agriculture and Livestock, and Human Trafficking committees.

In 2011, he passed House Bill (HB) 1503 allowing for the appointment of qualified peace officers to a polling station. Then in 2013, Rep. White passed HB 1129 creating a pilot program that allowed active duty military voters abroad the ability to cast their ballots in an efficient manner. The program was expanded statewide in 2015. This past session, his legislative office worked on legislation reforming our correctional institutions. He sponsored Senate Bill (SB) 183 which imposed a criminal penalty on those who were charged of improper sexual conduct with juveniles in custody. Through SB 1024, Rep. White authorized the Windham School District to provide credit leading to a high school diploma or certificate to TDCJ offender-students who complete curriculum requirements. In addition, Rep. White joint-sponsored body camera legislation that aids in reducing the number of false claims made against law enforcement officers (SB 158) and enhancing transparency during investigatory stops.

Rep. White also passed legislation affecting Texas youth in 2015. SB 409 limited access to and protected the confidential records of youth in the juvenile justice information system. Furthermore, HB 2398 enhanced student school attendance and academic achievement. The legislation decriminalized truancy offenses but maintained the criminal offense for adults that contribute to truancy.

In his personal life, Rep. White maintains a small cattle ranch in Tyler County, a county he is proud to call home, and he worships at Hillister Baptist Church in Hillister, TX. He is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and the Texas Farm Bureau.

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Richard Whitmore

Superintendent
Los Gatos Unified School District

Richard Whitmore has played a leadership role in California’s finest educational organizations for the past fifteen years.  He is currently the Superintendent of the Los Gatos Union School District, leading five schools serving kindergarten through eighth grade.  He also served as the interim Superintendent for the Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD) for the majority of the calendar year 2007.  While in Davis, he helped develop a successful parcel tax proposal for the district, completed and began implementation of the findings from a community-wide Achievement Gap Task Force, sought to strengthen the district’s English Learner programs, and secured the approval of a contested $4.5 million facilities grant from the State Allocation Board.

Whitmore came to DJUSD from WestEd, an education research, development and service agency which serves as the U.S. Department of Education’s Western Regional Education Laboratory and as California’s Comprehensive Assistance Center, assisting the State’s schools and districts in meeting goals for school improvement.  Mr. Whitmore also served as Chief Deputy Superintendent at the California Department of Education under State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin.  In that capacity, he was the chief operating officer of the agency responsible for California’s public education system.  During his tenure there, he oversaw fiscal and academic accountability for school districts throughout California.

He became a recognized voice on school finance and school improvement policy in California, and has provided advice and counsel to a variety of constituents over the past decade.  He led the state department’s efforts to develop accountability systems, which evolved into the Public Schools Accountability Act, still guiding statewide academic expectations.  He also led a strategic planning effort that resulted in the creation of the Superintendent’s “Challenge Standards,” which became the foundation for California’s new standards-based curriculum adopted later by the Standards Commission.

Whitmore’s professional experience also includes four years at Stanford University, where he staffed the President’s strategic plan and managed the University’s real estate and faculty housing programs; and two years at University High School in San Francisco, a leading independent school.

Superintendent Whitmore is a long-time leader in his local school community in Lafayette, serving on the governing board of the Acalanes Union High School District.  He previously served as the two-time President of the Lafayette Arts & Science Foundation, and on the strategic planning team with a focus on student achievement for the Lafayette School District.   He is also an active classroom volunteer and contributor to local youth sports.

Whitmore is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University and holds a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard University.  He is a native of eastern Maine and was one of the state’s two Presidential Scholars in his senior year of high school.  He is married with three children and resides in Lafayette.

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Jeff Williams, CPA

Chief Executive Officer
School Innovations & Achievement

Mr. Williams founded School Innovations & Achievement in February 2003. He has brought it to its current level of expertise and industry leadership by instituting rigorous management, fiscal and accounting standards, by taking an aggressive approach to legislation on behalf of the company’s clients, and by assembling a team of the most respected professionals from the education sector, business world and legislative arena. A longtime business accountant who specialized in rapidly growing small businesses, he worked with the prestigious firms of Ernst & Young, and Schultze, Wallace & O’Neil. Mr. Williams holds a master’s degree in finance from California State University San Diego, where he also served on the faculty, as well as a master’s degree in taxation from Golden Gate University. His undergraduate degree is from Santa Clara University, and he earned his CPA certification in 1987. In addition to supporting a number of philanthropic causes, he currently serves on the board and executive committee of the Sacramento Theatre Company, chairing its finance committee, and is also active with the American Diabetes Association, focusing his fundraising efforts on juvenile diabetes and Tour for the Cure.

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