ELP Alumni in the Media
“2017 CNN Hero” ~ produced by CNN
Dr. Michelle Christie, Founder of No Limits (Cohort 18)
“Leaders to Learn From 2017: A Sneak Peak”
~ produced by Education Week
Dr. César Morales, Superintendent of Oxnard Unified School District (Cohort 11)
“From Skid Row to high school graduation, Los Angeles supports homeless students’ academic success”
~ produced by PBS NewsHour/ PBS SoCal with David Nazar
Dr. Debra Duardo was the Executive Director of Student Health and Human Services, LAUSD, at the time this news spot was made. She is now the Superintendent of LA County Schools. (Cohort 18)
About ELP Alumni: Improving Practice – In their Own Words
Dr. Celia Garcia Alvarado
Executive Director, Western Region, Education Partners
In my role, I am responsible for overseeing our work in California and Washington with a focus on Los Angeles and the Bay Area. I am also an adjunct faculty member for Loyola Marymount University’s Graduate School of Education.
I graduated from Stanford University with a double major in Political Science and Chicana/o Studies with honors and I hold a Master’s degree in Education from Harvard University. I began my career as an educator in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and taught for seven years while holding several school-based leadership roles. Prior to joining Education Pioneers, I was the Managing Director of the Teacher Leadership Development (TLD) team at Teach For America – Los Angeles, and in this role I was responsible for leading and coaching a team who supported close to 300 corps members who collectively taught approximately 22,000 students in greater Los Angeles.
My dissertation in the Educational Leadership Program at UCLA allowed me to create a program with teachers, parents, and administrators at an elementary school site designed to promote high school graduation for Latina/o students. The research experience that I gained has proven to be very valuable in my current role and I am able to rely upon it on a day-to-day basis. I also appreciated being pushed and supported in building my conceptual understanding of the type of leadership needed in our education sector.
Dr. Joyce Burstein
Professor, California State University, Northridge
I am a Professor in social studies and arts education at California State University, Northridge. Having been a K-8 educator for more than 26 years, I assist teacher education students in learning the connections between theory and practice by using pedagogical methods that work in real classrooms. In 2012, I won the university’s Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award for my work with students in undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs.
My research interests are in social studies, arts, and multicultural education. My recent co-authored book, Reclaiming Social Studies for the Elementary Classroom: Integrating Culture through the Arts, was published in 2011 with Kendall-Hunt Publishing. I am currently working on a book with Theresa Montano on Chicana activists, which includes some of my dissertation work from the ELP Program. I credit ELP with providing a solid foundation for my leadership skills and research methodology in my current jobs.
Dr. Fred Navarro
Superintendent, Newport-Mesa Unified School District
I have been an educator for over 30 years and have held nearly every position within a school district. I have established myself as an instructional leader who has a history of implementing a rigorous and demanding curriculum for all students. My reforms have ensured that all high school students take UC/CSU college prep courses and I have consistently raised the number of students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses. I have established numerous successful Career Technical Education programs, significantly decreasing the achievement gap between traditionally high performing and low performing subgroups, and I am an ardent advocate for expanding the arts in schools.
Dr. Jina Kim-Qvale
School Support Program Manager, CORE Districts
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). I continued at UCLA to receive my Master’s degree in Education, and then Pepperdine University for my Master’s in Administration. In 2012, I received my Ed.D. through the UCLA Educational Leadership Program.
I began working in the field of education 18 years ago, serving as a teacher in both public and private settings – teacher specialist, assistant principal, then as a principal. In 2010, I opened an elementary pilot school in Los Angeles Unified School District, Ambassador School of Global Education, located on the historic RFK Community Schools complex and continue today as its principal. As a hub of innovation, the school is thriving at the center of the Pico Union and Korea Town communities. In 2012, as a part of the Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, I was featured by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles, as an “Educator Breaking the Mold.”
Additionally, from 2011-13, I served as the president of one of LAUSD’s professional organizations, Alliance of Asian and Pacific Administrators, which focuses on supporting aspiring administrators as well as providing college scholarships for students.
Currently, I am continuing my work in educational reform by working for CORE Districts as their School Support Program Manager.
I reside happily in Los Angeles with my husband, son, daughter, and a dog.
Dr. Lynette Merriman
Associate Vice Provost for Campus Crisis Support & Intervention, Office of Campus Wellness and Crisis Intervention, University of Southern California
In my role with Student Affairs at the University of Southern California, I oversee the department of Student Support and Advocacy’s troubleshooting and student crisis support and response efforts, along with Asian Pacific American Student Services, the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs, the Center for Women and Men, Disability Services and Programs, El Centro Chicano, the LGBT Resource Center, and Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards. My work is all about helping students navigate the university, connecting them with needed resources and supporting them through challenging times.
I am also an Assistant Professor of Clinical Education in the USC Rossier School of Education where I teach students in the Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs Master’s degree program and serve on dissertation committees. It is wonderful to share my profession and my experiences with young people eager to enter this field that I am so passionate about.
My dissertation on college parent involvement and managing parent concerns elevated me to a national platform with opportunities to publish and present. I am pleased that my work has been used to inform practice.
ELP provided me with outstanding tools that I use in my administrative and teaching roles. More importantly, through ELP I have a tremendous network of friends and colleagues from throughout the educational spectrum whom I regularly consult and seek advice. I know I am a better administrator and a better leader because of ELP.
Dr. Eugenia Mora-Flores
Professor of Clinical Education, University of Southern California
I am a Professor of Clinical Education in the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California (USC). I teach courses on first and second language acquisition, Latino culture, and courses in literacy development for elementary and secondary students. I also lead the reading certificate and Bilingual authorization programs.
My research interests include studies on effective practices in developing the language and literacy skills of English Learners in grades K-12. I have written 9 books for teachers and educators working with English Learners; including, Balanced Literacy for English Learners (K-12), Writing Instruction for English Learners: a focus on genre, Connecting Content and Language for English Learners, and Science for Today’s English Learners; Developing Academic Language through Inquiry-based Instruction.
I also work as a consultant for a variety of elementary, middle and high schools in the areas of English Language Development (ELD), Academic Language Development, and writing instruction for English Learners.
As a doctoral chair, I work with graduate students in conducting research on a range of topics and educational contexts that lead to continued improvement in the field of education.
Dr. Jack Plotkin
Principal, El Segundo Middle School
UCLA’s Educational Leadership Program has had a profound impact on my career direction and provided me with a spark needed to truly transform teaching and learning. In my role as Principal of El Segundo Middle School, I’ve focused on leading our staff through an inquiry-based educational model that empowers middle grades students to make positive changes in the world. It has been a slow process, not without its challenges, but ultimately, our students’ work has exceeded all of our expectations.
I refer often to my learning in the ELP to guide our decision-making. Not only did the program inspire me to believe in the transformative power of effective leadership, but it also helped me become a critical consumer of research, which we rely on frequently to justify our instructional efforts. While my dissertation, focusing on the college transitions of high school students with mild to moderate disabilities, is not immediately relevant to middle school, I’ve been able to take my learning to help create better articulation and transition between elementary, middle and high school transitions within my district.
Dr. Linda D. Rose
President, Santa Ana College
I currently serve as President of Santa Ana College one of two colleges that comprise the Rancho Santiago Community College District, located in Santa Ana, California. From August 2014 through mid-July 2016, I served as president of Los Angeles Southwest College, one of nine community colleges that comprise the Los Angeles Community College District. I began my career in higher education, specifically community colleges, in 1994 as a full-time faculty member in the English department at Cerritos College, in Norwalk, California; subsequently, in 1995, I began my service as Dean of the Liberal Arts Division. Then from August 2011 through July 2014, I served as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Santa Ana College.
When I began my work in the ELP, I wanted an experience that would help me improve my research skills and gain knowledge about leadership that I could apply in my current and future leadership roles in higher education. I was not disappointed, as my experience helped me strengthen my leadership and research skills and prepared me for my current role. In my current leadership role as President, I work with an executive team where I oversee the effective operation of the entire campus.
My dissertation focused on identifying factors that might contribute to the success of students who enrolled in accelerated developmental English classes compared to students who enrolled in traditional length developmental English classes. Findings from my dissertation indicated that there was no significant difference in completion and success rates between the two groups. I continue to present and discuss the findings from my research to help faculty and administrators understand how the use of an accelerated format can increase student completion of developmental English classes so they can make the successful transition to college level coursework in less time.
Dr. Bob Simpson
President, Cypress College
One of my first acts upon being offered the position of President at Cypress College was to express to the leaders of the Educational Leadership Program at UCLA my appreciation for all that I experienced as a member of Cohort 7. That is where I gained the knowledge and understanding that enabled me to take advantage of the opportunities that have come my way.
At Cypress College, our students come first. Our instructional and support programs reflect our commitment to their successes. It is a privilege to be able to lead such an outstanding team of dedicated and caring professionals who strive each day to help students achieve their goals. The process of self-examination, continual reflection and continuous improvement I learned during my time at UCLA. The process of examining what we do, why we do it, and how we can do it better, characterizes the approach we take to serving our students.
During my tenure as President, I have continued the tradition of ever-stronger connections to the local community in recognition of the strong support they provide us. We are committed to giving back as an expression of our appreciation for the support we receive. Those community connections include mutually supportive relationships with our K-12 partners as well as with the local business community.
I remain an ardent advocate for a fully funded and fully accessible system of public education, with community colleges as a critical link, as the best road map into our future. The selection of Cypress College to offer a baccalaureate degree serves as recognition of our commitment to excellence but also as validation of the positive impact our community colleges can have. It is because of my experiences with the Educational Leadership Program at UCLA that I am able to continue as an engaged leader of one of the finest community colleges in the state.