Board of Advisors
The Board of Advisors provides guidance and oversight to GENup Executive Team Members, drawing from their own professional experiences in both the education world and the advocacy world in helping provide strategic advice and direction.
Lisa Liddle passionately contributes her time and energy on a local, regional, and national basis for the sake of women's rights and social justice. As a Board Member and Director with March On, Women's March San Jose Leadership Team, Emerge 2019 Alum, and appointed member of both the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women and the CEDAW Task Force, she focuses her work to ratify the ERA, advance voting rights for all, pursue education equity, criminal justice reform, and protect the environment. She helps to build partnerships and fundraise for March On, Future Coalition, and GENup, growing our collective progressive political power to make systemic changes.
Her community volunteer involvement has been strong while raising two daughters: she dedicated over 10 years to leadership including Co-Chair & Chair Advisory roles with Common Ground Speaker Series, a 30-school parent-education consortium; countless hours spanning 2006-2017 with Children's Musical Theater; six years with National Charity League; Parent Board Co-President of the Los Gatos-Saratoga Observation Nursery School; and two years as board officer and producer of two musical compilations on CD for Children's Voices for Charity. She's also a very active mom with her daughters' indoor and beach travel volleyball teams.
Prior to starting her family, in mid-2000, she was VP of Business Development at a tech startup. Up until then, she spent 17 years in Silicon Valley negotiating strategic OEM and licensing partnerships and selling technology solutions to both consumer and corporate marketplaces. Lisa obtained her BA from Stanford University and graduated in the class of 84'.
Sophia Andary is a first-generation Lebanese-American activist, organizer, and analyst. Her experience living through the civil war in Lebanon during early childhood shaped her worldview and passion for bridging the divide among diverse perspectives. She is one of the founding members of Women’s March San Francisco and was unanimously voted to chair the organization following its inaugural launch and has remained co-chair since then. Through leading by example, she has helped build one of the strongest and most diverse Women’s March chapters in the country, building alliance with and earning respect from various San Francisco communities through local partnerships, programming, events and actions.
Sophia is a past board member of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club. She has received an Achievement Award from the San Francisco Women’s Political Committee, Certificate of Honor from the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco, the Community Public Service Award from Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, and a certificate of honor from Mayor London Breed in recognition of her (and Women’s March San Francisco) efforts to register women to vote and make San Francisco a more equitable place.
On October 7, 2019 Sophia was appointed by Mayor London Breed to the Commission on the Status of Women of the City and County of San Francisco.
Through her community work and career path, Sophia helps bring the voices of marginalized, queer, and women of color to the front. Her B.A. in International Business and French has served her in the corporate world, where she currently works as a senior analyst at Levi Strauss & Co. and co-chairs the Levi Women’s Employee Resource Group.
Jeff Camp is the founder and primary writer of Ed100, co-chairs the education work of Full Circle Fund, a non-profit organization of donors and volunteers. As the founder and chair of Ed100, Jeff oversees a statewide recognized policy organization that seeks to dilute down the technicality of education policy into understandable metrics.
Jeff has served on the California Governor’s Committee on Education Excellence, and serves on advisory boards for EdSource and Education Trust-West. As a member of the Committee, he helped develop recommendations to the Governor of California for comprehensive reform of K-12 public education. The committee's work was important in the development of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which extensively revised the way that dollars are allocated to California districts. This change has brought significant new resources to schools in the state's highest-need districts.
Prior to his work in education, Jeff worked for Microsoft in the US and Japan. He is also a parent, a songwriter and an astrocytoma survivor. He received his BA from Harvard University and graduated in the class of 89'.
Nina Senn, founder of calforkids.org, is a longtime champion of youth voice and equitable access to education. She attended public K-12 schools in southern California and moved to central and northern California to attend college and work. Nina is the daughter of California public school K-12 and UC educators and has been a California public school parent for 15 years. As a public school student leader, parent leader and school board member over the past forty years, Nina has firsthand experience watching California K-12 public schools decline from being in the top 10% of the states to the bottom 10% in per pupil funding.
Nina received her B.A. from U.C. Berkeley, her law degree from Santa Clara University and was recently a member of a Harvard’s Education Redesign Lab team with the Oakland Mayor’s Office. She has served in a variety of roles as a lawyer, mediator, restorative justice practitioner and advocate and an elected school board director in Oakland and as a non-profit dispute resolution Board President.
In her role as a School Board Director for the Oakland Unified School District (2015-2019), CSBA Delegate, Council of Great City Schools (CGCS) Board Member, Nina championed and collaborated with other policy makers and community leaders to increase funding for schools by passing policies and legislation on a local, state and national level: a $144 million parcel tax to pay for educator raises and middle school enrichment in Oakland; a multi-year, multi-million dollar fiscal relief trailer bill that benefited several financially distressed school districts across the State of California; and a CGCS national gun violence prevention resolution. She also worked with community leaders and student leaders to pass a number of school board policies and resolutions including Schools and Communities First, Full and Fair Funding, restorative justice, student privacy, human sex trafficking prevention, credit recovery and gun violence prevention.
Nina strongly believes that students’ leadership and involvement in determining their own future is vital for them as well as the state of California's future success.
Annie Campbell Washington
Troy Flint is the Director of Communications and Public Information Officer for the California School Board Association. Troy brings 17 years of experience in communications, public relations, public affairs and print journalism to our Advisory Board.
In his previous role, Flint served as the Oakland Unified School District’s director of communications. While at OUSD, he was honored with the “Central Office Service Excellence” award for performance as spokesperson and service to schools, students, and families in crisis management and community engagement scenarios.
Flint received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Yale University and started his career as a reporter for The Plain Dealer newspaper in Cleveland. He graduated from Yale University in the class of 97'.
Annie Campbell Washington is the Senior Assistant Dean of Academic Programs & Dean of Students at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. A graduate of the Goldman School of Public Policy, Annie was the Vice-Mayor of Oakland until 2018 and prior to that, served as a School Board Trustee on the Oakland Unified School District School Board.
During her 12 year career in the City of Oakland, Annie was Chief of Staff to former Mayor & Governor Jerry Brown, Chief of Staff to Mayor Jean Quan, Assistant to three City Administrators, Chief of Staff to the Fire Chief, and a Budget and Policy Analyst. She has also worked as Director of Operations and Special Projects at the Stuart Foundation in San Francisco and as Executive Director of the I Have a Dream Foundation in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.
Annie holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the Goldman School and a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Management/Graphic Communications Management from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In addition to an Advisory Board member for GENup, she currently serves on the Board of Directors of Oakland Grown, the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Alameda County Transportation Commission. She previously served on the Board of Directors of the East Bay Agency for Children, Children’s Fairyland, Safe Passages, and Girls, Inc.
Becky Flanagan is a veteran staffer for California Teachers Association and the Oakland Education Association and has been a union member most of her life.
The unified voice of educators in California’s public schools and colleges, CTA is a powerful and passionate advocate for students and public education. Their 310,000 members support and nurture all students in classrooms every day, preparing them to be the leaders of tomorrow. And, as the largest affiliate in the 3-million member National Education Association, their voice is heard in the halls of our Capitol in Washington, D.C.
The Oakland Education Association is made up of nearly 3,000 K-12 teachers, Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers, Speech Pathologists, Early Childhood Educators, Nurses, Adult Education Teachers, and Teacher Substitutes.
Sarah Swanbeck is the Executive Director for the Berkeley Institute for Young Americans, a research center at the Goldman School of Public policy (UC Berkeley) that seeks to make policy fair and sustainable across generations.
Sarah is a public policy analyst with expertise in California state and local governance and budget issues. She previously worked in Legislative Affairs for California Common Cause, a nonprofit that advocates for more open, honest, and accountable government.
She has over a decade of experience as a policy analyst working on both state and local issues in California. As an analyst for the Controller in San Francisco, she previously worked with a range of city departments to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their services. She also worked for the Public Policy Institute of California and the California Public Utilities Commission on state energy and water policy. She holds an MPP from the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and a BA in Economics from Wellesley College.
Ted Lempert is the President of Children Now, a research and policy organization based in Oakland that is focused on transforming children’s advocacy. Children Now coordinates The Children’s Movement of California. Mr. Lempert is also a Lecturer in the Political Science Department at UC Berkeley. Previously, he was the founding CEO of EdVoice.
Mr. Lempert was a California State Assemblymember representing Silicon Valley from 1996 to 2000 and 1988 to 1992. He served as chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee and co-chair of the Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education. He had more than 75 bills signed into law, including major policies in the areas of education, health care, children and families, tax policy and the
Mr. Lempert also served on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, where he was President of the Board in 1995 and was the founder of the County’s Youth Commission. Prior to holding public office,
Mr. Lempert was special counsel and an associate for the law firm of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter and
Hampton in San Francisco.
Mr. Lempert received the “Al Rodda Lifetime Service Award” from the California School Boards
Association; was named “Legislator of the Year” by numerous leading education groups, including the
National Association of Educational Service Agencies, the California Association of School
Administrators, California Community College Faculty and the UC and CSU Students Associations; and
was recognized five times with the “High- Tech Legislator of the Year” award from the American
Mr. Lempert graduated from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International
Affairs and earned his law degree from Stanford University. He and his wife Nicole have three daughters.
R. Tolteka Cuauhtin is a nationally recognized Ethnic Studies and social justice educational leader.
As a high school teacher, Tolteka helped open and served in leadership roles at Social Justice Humanitas Academy in Los Angeles Unified School District from 2011-2018.
He represents United Teachers Los Angeles on California Teachers Association State Council and NEA-National Education Association Board of Directors -- at large, and is a member of CTA/Stanford’s Instructional Leadership Corps, Ethnic Studies Now Coalition’s Coordinating Committee, LAUSD’s Ethnic Studies Teacher Leadership Team, GENup’s Board of Advisors, and education chair on Pukúu Native American Cultural Community Services’ Board of Directors.
Tolteka has co-chaired advisory committee level work with the California Department of Education, and co-chaired the education committee for the inaugural City of San Fernando Tataviam Indigenous People’s Day (IPD) Celebrations, stemming from the first IPD resolution in Southern California.
Tolteka was recognized by the California State Legislature for exemplary service in meeting the needs of students of color, and he has shared as a keynote speaker, presenter, or emcee/poet, from housing projects and international community events to ivory tower universities and continental Indigenous gatherings.
His work is noted and shared in multiple academic publications and media outlets, and his educational commentary present from the Los Angeles Times to the New York Times. Tolteka is also co-editor of the acclaimed and award-winning book Rethinking Ethnic Studies (published by Rethinking Schools, 2019), used in university and k-12 classrooms throughout the country.
Stewart Kwoh is the President Emeritus, founder, past president, and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA). He is currently the founder and Co-Executive Director of the Asian American Education Project with his wife, Pat. Kwoh is a nationally recognized leader and expert in race relations, Asian American studies, nonprofit organizations and philanthropies, civil rights, and legal services. He was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 1998, becoming the first Asian American attorney and human rights activist to receive this highly prestigious recognition, often referred to as the “genius grant.”
Kwoh earned his bachelor’s degree from University of California, Los Angeles and his J.D. from the UCLA School of Law. He teaches at the university’s Asian American Studies Department, and has been an instructor at UCLA School of Law. He is a past expert in residence at UC Berkeley School of Law, and has two honorary doctorates from Williams College and Suffolk School of Law.
In 1983, Kwoh co-founded Advancing Justice-LA, the nation’s largest Asian American legal and civil rights organization that serves more than 15,000 individuals and organizations every year. Advancing Justice-LA’s mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (NHPI) and to create a more equitable and harmonious society. Advancing Justice-LA has a diverse and multilingual staff, as well as a broad-based board of directors that includes law firm partners, corporate executives, and nonprofit community leaders. The organization provides direct services to individual clients; engages in policy advocacy, research and analysis; litigates impact lawsuits; and provides social change-based leadership training. The organization has successfully challenged garment sweatshops, English-only workplace policies, racially discriminatory employment practices and unfair immigration laws as well as advocated for stronger protections for low-wage workers, limited English speaking immigrants, and hate crime victims.
Under Kwoh’s leadership, Advancing Justice-LA has become a leading advocate for Asian American and NHPI communities while working to build bridges with African American, Latino, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Kwoh founded Advancing Justice-LA’s Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations (LDIR) program, which has trained more than 1,000 community leaders and activists in the past decade.
Kwoh has been called a “bridge-builder” and “visionary” in the Los Angeles Times:
“Those who know Kwoh and have worked with him most often use two words - visionary and bridge builder to describe him. Unlike many Asian American leaders, his approach is pan Asian. He has tried to balance his Asian Pacific interests with the broader interests of other minorities and the city as a whole,” according to a January 1996 Los Angeles Times article.
Kwoh has received numerous awards recognizing his efforts to build coalitions across communities of color, including recognition from: the L.A. City and County Human Relations Commissions, California Association of Human Relations Organizations, ACLU, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Coalition for Humane Immigrants Rights of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Urban League, the Martin Luther King Legacy Association and many other Asian American, civil rights, academic, and legal organizations.
Other award highlights include the Civic Medal of Honor from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce in 2010; the Loren Miller Legal Services Award by the California State Bar in 2007 and Top Alumni of the Year for Public and Community Service from UCLA Law School in 2001.
“The judicial branch for several years has placed improving access to justice at the top of our list of priorities,” said then-California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald M. George upon awarding Kwoh the Loren Miller award. “He has opened the doors to justice for thousands, making the justice system work for them and giving substance to the concept of justice for all.”
Kwoh has written extensively and has co-authored two publications: Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future and Untold Civil Rights Stories. Untold Civil Rights Stories has been described by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as: “a social milestone that recognizes the unsung contributions of Asian Americans to America’s Civil Rights Movement.”
In addition to his contributions in academia, Kwoh is active with foundations and other philanthropic organizations. He was one of the first Asian Americans to chair the board of a large U.S. foundation when he was Chair of the Board of Directors of The California Endowment, which is the largest health foundation in California. Kwoh has also been chair of the Methodist Urban Foundation, vice-chair of the California Wellness Foundation, and a trustee of the California Consumer Protection Foundation, the Tang Family Foundation and the Fannie Mae Foundation. He has also served on the Bank of America National Advisory Council.
Kwoh also participates in civic engagement on a broader level. He has served on several commissions and non-profit organization boards, including: President of the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission; Vice Chair of the El Pueblo Historical Monument Commission; Commissioner of the LA Charter Reform Commission; president of the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association; member of the Future of the Courts Commission; board member of the Asian American and Pacific Islander for Philanthropy and board member on the Committee of 100.
Stewart is married to Pat Lee and has two sons, Steven and Nathan.
Delaine Eastin is a professor by education. She was the first and only woman to date to be elected California State Superintendent of Public Instruction (1995–2003) under Governors Pete Wilson and Gray Davis. Eastin represented parts of Alameda County and Santa Clara County in the California State Assembly between 1986 and 1994.
Upon taking office, Eastin made class size reduction her top priority. Her advocacy persuaded the governor and the legislature to invest $2.3 billion in cutting class sizes. K-3 class sizes have been cut from 30 students to 20 students in 98% of all school districts (over 86,000 classrooms).
In response to declining student performance, State Superintendent Eastin led in the adoption of high statewide academic standards in math, science, English language arts, and social studies; subsequently standards in the arts were adopted. Eastin also implemented a new statewide test and established a new system to increase the accountability of every school and district in the state.
In the fall of 1995, Superintendent Eastin launched the "Challenge Initiative," a groundbreaking reform effort to raise standards and accountability. Fifty-six school districts, covering nearly 500,000 students, embraced the Challenge and agreed to set high standards for every subject area in all grade levels.
During her first term, Eastin cut administrative waste by streamlining and modernizing contracting procedures in the Department of Education and by standardizing accounting procedures. On her watch the California Department of Education, did its first ever Strategic Plan. Eastin was the architect of the first NetDay, held on March 9, 1996, where 20,000 volunteers joined Eastin, President Clinton, Vice President Gore, and much of the Clinton Cabinet in an electronic "barn raising". The event was such a success it was copied in 40 states and 40 countries. Later, Vice President Gore said his experience that day was what motivated him to suggest an e-rate tax to help schools across the nation to enter the digital era with proper wiring and technology.
Eastin called for a Garden In Every School in 1995. With the help of people like restaurateur Alice Waters, she was able to establish gardens in over 3,000 schools. She also enlisted California as the first state to join the Clinton Team Nutrition effort for improved nutrition in schools. She oversaw a series of curriculum guides on how to teach the academic content standards in the context of nutrition, gardening, and cooking.
Eastin visited schools in all 58 counties, keeping her commitment to visit a school a week on average. She visited more than 600 schools across California.
Eastin championed Universal Preschool and had a Preschool Task Force made up of educators, business leaders, civil rights advocates, and children's advocates. They called for Universal Preschool In California within 10 years. Subsequently, she was the Honorary Chair of the successful Proposition 10, written to support the health, welfare, and education of children from 0-5 through a tax on tobacco products.
After leaving office as State Superintendent, Eastin became the first executive director of the National Institute of Educational Leadership in Washington, D.C., from 2002 to 2005. Eastin returned to California to teach at Mills College from 2004 to 2008 as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Education, where Eastin taught courses in public policy, education administrative theory, education leadership, and politics.
In addition Eastin continues her board work on the UC Center Sacramento Advisory Board, the Chancellor's Women in STEM board at UC Davis, the Edible Schoolyard Advisory Board, the Center for Nutrition Education Advisory Board at UC Davis (chair), and the Yolo County Advisory Board for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).
Ernestine Fu is a technology investor based in San Francisco, California.
She has scaled emerging technology companies for over a decade in sectors ranging from robotics and artificial intelligence to defense technology. As a venture capitalist at the early-stage technology fund Alsop Louie Partners, she leads investments in frontier technology startups and supports companies from inception to late-stage scaling. As a global leader, she works with international organizations like Hyundai to lead technology development on novel transformer-class vehicles and DBS Bank to advise on innovation and venture debt financing. As an advisor, board director and executive chairman, she has guided companies on product development, partnerships, growth strategy and M&A.
Participating as active citizens in our democracy is a core belief that Ernestine advocates. After starting a nonprofit to serve the community through music and art, she co-authored “Civic Work, Civic Lessons” with former Stanford Law School Dean Thomas Ehrlich to encourage community engagement with informed moral and civic judgments. She also co-authored “Renewed Energy: Insights for Clean Energy’s Future” with Nobel Prize energy economist John Weyant to guide future government policy and investment strategies for a sustainable energy future. She has served as a board director for nonprofits such as Ad Council and Silicon Valley Leadership Group Foundation.
She completed her B.S., M.S., MBA, Ph.D. and postdoc at Stanford University. Her doctoral thesis focused on human operator and autonomous vehicle interactions with system bias and transitions of control. Her work has been published in top-ranked academic conferences hosted by ACM and IEEE. She is an inventor on numerous granted or in-process technology patents.
She is the proud wife of a U.S. Navy veteran, and they share a deep interest in philanthropy and civic engagement.
Dr. Hueling Lee has 20 years of professional experience in fostering transformative change in the education and private sectors.
As a former low-income English Language Learner who struggles with ADHD, she is passionate about supporting the education system to become more equitable. As the Executive Director of APT, she spearheaded the partnership with the California Department of Education for the past three years to develop and roll-out the State Seal of Civic Engagement as a lever to transform California's education agenda systemically to become more equitable and holistic.
Dr. Lee has led over 30 professional teams on projects to engage with leaders and organizations to address ambiguous or obstinate challenges, including developing a market expansion strategy that generates ~$20 billion in annual revenue. At Stanford University, she coached teams of upper-level business, law, and education graduate students on collaborative real-world consulting projects to support leading-edge change in the education sector. She oversaw district-wide implementation of Sacramento City Unified School District's Social Emotional Learning Initiative and its No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Waiver, opening the door for academics to integrate social emotional learning and for teachers to embrace Common Core implementation for the first time in the district.
Dr. Lee helped establish the Social Venture Fund (SvF), the first student-run impact investing fund in the nation and founded the Education Fund within SvF at the University of Michigan. At Chicago Public Schools, she led the development of four new online assessments to gauge learning progress for Special Education students and personally developed a customized, real-time classroom walk-through evaluation software tool for the district.
She has facilitated professional learning on equity and excellence, systems leadership, data use, family engagement, school turnaround, and teaching effectiveness and supported doctoral students on "leading through differences" at Harvard University.
Dr. Lee received her Doctorate in Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) and a John E. Stevens Trust Fellowship from Harvard University, her MBA and Masters in Education from University of Michigan, and an AB from Bowdoin College. She was also the recipient of the Institute of International Public Policy (IIPP) Fellowship from the United Negro College Fund, enabling her to study at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, Clark Atlanta University, SIT Granada (in Spain), Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the Beijing Foreign Studies University (in China).
She is a mom to two amazing daughters and counts her blessings every day to be married to a supportive husband man enough to assume the role of primary caretaker for the family.
Michael W. Kirst is Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University and is currently a Senior Fellow in Residence, Learning Policy Institute in Palo Alto, California.
In 2011, Kirst became the President of the California State Board Of Education for the second time. Professor Kirst was a member of the California State Board of Education (1975/1982) and its president from 1977 to 1981. Dr. Kirst is the longest serving President of California's State Board of Education, a length of 12 years.
Dr. Kirst received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Dartmouth College, his M.P.A. in government and economics from Harvard University, and his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard. Before joining the Stanford University faculty, Dr. Kirst held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty, and Director of Program Planning and Evaluation for the Bureau of Elementary and Secondary Education in the U.S. Office of Education (now the U.S. Department of Education). He was a Budget Examiner in the Federal office of Budget and Management, and Associate Director of the White House Fellows. He was a program analyst for the Title I ESEA Program at its inception in 1965.
Dr. Kirst is active in several professional organizations. He was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences. He has been a member of the National Academy of Education since 1979. He was Vice-President of the American Educational Research Association and a commissioner of the Education Commission of the States.
Kirst co-founded Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE). A prolific writer, Dr. Kirst has authored fourteen books, including The Political Dynamics of American Education (2005), an update of the most used textbook for the study of politics of education. As a policy generalist, Professor Kirst has published nearly 230 articles on school finance politics, curriculum politics, intergovernmental relations, as well as education reform policies.
One of his other more recent books, From High School to College (2004), concerns improving student preparation for success in postsecondary education. And his most recent book, written with Richar Scott, Higher Education and the Silicon Valley: Connected But Conflicted (2017) offers a data-rich study of the difficult partnerships between the colleges, universities, and businesses for California’s high-tech industry.
Dan Schnur is a Professor at the University of California – Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Public Policy, and the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications, where he teaches courses in politics, communications and leadership. Dan has also taught at the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics at Harvard University and George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management.
He is the founder of the USC/LA Times statewide political poll and currently hosts a weekly webinar for the LA World Affairs Council Town Hall called “Politics in the Time of Coronavirus.” (www.lawac.org)
Previously, Dan worked on four presidential and three gubernatorial campaigns as one of California’s leading political strategists. He served as the national Director of Communications for the 2000 presidential campaign of U.S. Senator John McCain and was the chief media spokesman for California Governor Pete Wilson.
In 2010, Dan was appointed Chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), where he implemented groundbreaking campaign finance disclosure requirements. Dan also was a founder and cochairman of the Voices of Reform project, the bipartisan statewide effort whose work laid the foundation for California’s landmark redistricting reform. After completing his FPPC term, Dan registered as a No Party Preference voter and launched Fixing California, an organization dedicated to campaign finance and political reform. In 2014, Dan ran for statewide office as a non-partisan candidate for California Secretary of State.
Dan has been an advisor to the William & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Broad Education Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the James Irvine Foundation, the Public Policy Institute of California and the Stuart Foundation on a variety of political reform, K-12 education and college and workforce preparedness efforts.
Dan is an active community volunteer as well, serving as a board member of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Junior State of America, the Pacific Council on International Policy, the Center for Asians United for Self Empowerment (CAUSE) and as a senior advisor to the Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) leadership training programs. He is the former Los Angeles director for the American Jewish Committee and serves as an advisor to the Los Angeles Jewish Federation. He is a member of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Senior Fellows program, where he mentors UCLA graduate students and advises them on their academic and professional goals.
Dan’s commentaries have appeared in several newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Sacramento Bee, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. In addition, he has been an analyst and political commentator for CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and National Public Radio.
Dan is a graduate of the American University in Washington, D.C. He and his wife Cecile Ablack, an international communications consultant and former Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles, live in LA.
Sasha Renee Perez
Dr. Christopher Nellum
Sasha Renée Pérez is the Senior Public Affairs Manager for the Campaign for College Opportunity, a non-profit broad-based research, policy, and advocacy organization focused on ensuring all Californians have an equal opportunity to attend and succeed in college. She leads the Campaign’s statewide coalitions of students, civil rights organizations, and higher education leaders to fights for policies that improve college access, success and affordability.
Sasha’s passion for community organizing began in college. She served as the Vice President of External Affairs and Advancement for Associated Students Inc. and represented Cal State Los Angeles on the Cal State Student Association (CSSA) board. During her time with CSSA, she led a statewide campaign that successfully secured $97 million dollars to increase college access and college affordability for California students. During the same time, she was elected to her local neighborhood council and became the youngest woman in Los Angeles history to serve in that role.
After graduating, Sasha served as the Youth Leadership Senior Program Coordinator for the Pat Brown Institute (PBI) for Public Affairs where she ran the Youth Enrichment Policy Project, a policy education program for Roosevelt High School students. During her time at PBI, she coordinated the 2016 U.S. Senate Debate, 2018 LAUSD School Board Debates and the Pat Brown Institute’s Annual Policy Conference.
Sasha is a Councilwoman at the City of Alhambra. After she was elected in November 2020, she was immediately sworn-in as Mayor, making her the youngest Latina Mayor to represent a medium sized city in California history and the first openly-Bi Mayor in U.S. history. She has been recognized as Active San Gabriel Valley’s Outstanding Elected Official of the Year and Los Angeles County Democratic Party’s Democrat of the Year. Sasha also serves as an executive board member to the California Democratic Party and a board member to Asian Youth Center, a 501(C)3 non-profit dedicated to empowering low-income, immigrant, and at-risk youth.
In her free time, Sasha enjoys hiking, traveling, and reading with her cats.
Dr. Christopher Nellum (he/him/his) is the Executive Director of The Education Trust–West, a nonprofit education equity organization focused on educational justice and closing achievement and opportunity gaps for students of color and students from lower-income communities from preschool through college. Nellum joined The Education Trust–West in October of 2017 and most recently served as the organization’s Deputy Director.
As the Deputy Director of Research and Policy, Nellum co-led the creation of a three-year strategic plan and deepened the organization’s expertise in early childhood education, K-12, and higher education. He has led successful advocacy efforts to ensure equity in the K-12 accountability system, create a statewide cradle-to-career data system, address food insecurity for college students, and ensure that every high school senior completes a financial aid application before they graduate. In addition, Nellum was the founding co-chair of the California Higher Education Equity Coalition. He has also pushed for local and statewide solutions in response to COVID-19 and the shift to distance learning, expanded the organization’s early childhood education profile, and spearheaded educator listening sessions and K-12 parent polls. Nellum regularly provides commentary for media outlets, including PBS NewsHour, EdSource, The Wall Street Journal, and NBC News.
The mission of The Education Trust–West is personal to Nellum. He describes his family as impressing upon him the need to question “commonly-held” truths about Black communities and people and to always push for racial justice and equity. His mother and grandparents grew up in the South and engaged in efforts to desegregate Louisiana State University in New Orleans. Nellum’s path from Head Start through K-12 education and college was not a straight line and mirrors many of the challenges students of color and students from lower-income communities face today. His home, California’s Imperial Valley, is rich with familial and cultural traditions, but for Nellum, it was also the site of extreme rural poverty. He credits a counselor at Brawley Union High School with helping him open the door to college as a first-generation student and Pell and Cal Grant recipient. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Nellum was at the National Center for Institutional Diversity, Young Invincibles, and the American Council on Education. He cut his teeth in education equity on college campuses working directly with students. Nellum completed his undergraduate degree at UC Santa Barbara, master’s degree at CSU Long Beach, and Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. He mentors young Black and Latinx students through his volunteer work with college access programs like Berkeley Community Scholars. Nellum serves on the Student Centered Funding Formula Oversight Committee as a gubernatorial appointee and the Cradle-to-Career Data System Policy and Analytics Advisory Group. He is also an adjunct professor of education and recently taught at the University of San Francisco, UC Davis, and the University of San Diego.
Nellum is serving in the biggest role of his lifetime as a father of a baby girl. He is married to Dr. Alexis Jackson, an Oakland native and marine conservation scientist and ocean policy advocate. You can follow Nellum on Twitter at @chrisnellum.
Justin Barra founded Bonovin in 2022 to help mission-driven organizations adapt their core values to new challenges. He is a Presidential Leadership Scholar, a program hosted by four presidential libraries to support leaders that are “focused on solving society’s toughest challenges and creating measurable change in their communities, our Nation, and the world.”
He most recently was a founding member and served as Vice President, Education at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, where he oversaw policy and advocacy, evidence based design, and inclusive design for the Initiative’s education team. Justin previously served as the Deputy Director of Startup:Education, the education foundation which was the predecessor to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, where he launched and led the foundation's first $120 million fund in the Bay Area.
Prior to joining Startup:Education, Justin served as the Chief Policy and External Affairs Officer for the New Jersey Department of Education. He previously worked at the New York City Department of Education, where he served as the Chief of Staff for the Deputy Chancellor of Portfolio Planning, and at the KIPP Foundation, where he built local and federal policy initiatives and oversaw the Foundation's marketing and communications team.
Justin holds a MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a BA from Georgetown University. Justin is a musician and songwriter whose music was featured on national television shows and commercials. He is a husband and father of two passionate and joyful children.
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