Ryan Padrez, Medical Director
Ryan is a pediatrician and Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University's Division of General Pediatrics. While at The Primary School he continues to care for patients and teach pediatric residents and medical students at Gardner Packard Children's Health Center. Prior to medical school, Ryan spent years engaged in health policy work at Avalere in Washington DC and then helped launch the Center for Medical Technology Policy. He focuses on projects that integrate systems of care and promote models that ensure high quality care is accessible to all children.
Ryan graduated from Stanford University with a BA in Human Biology and earned his MD at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He completed his pediatric residency at UCSF and participated in UCSF's Pediatric Leadership for the Underserved (PLUS) program. He went on to complete a chief resident year at The San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center before joining the pediatric faculty at UCSF.
Jordyn Irwin, Health & Integrated Supports Assistant
Jordyn was raised in Hermosa Beach in Los Angeles and has lived in the Bay Area for the last five years. Her passion is getting to know people from all walks of life and listening to people share their stories. Through her experiences working with people living in homelessness on Skid Row in LA, children with special needs, and medically underserved patients in the Emergency Department, she has come to be committed to a lifetime of using human connection as a force to achieve health equity. Jordyn came to know and care for the East Palo Alto/Belle Haven community while working at Ravenswood Family Health Center in the Behavioral Health and Staff Development departments, and is grateful and excited to continue to collaborate with the Health Center and contribute to the community at The Primary School. Jordyn recently graduated with a BA in Human Biology from Stanford University.
Valentina Helo-Villegas, Senior Manager of Coaching
Valentina combines mental health, community empowerment, and education to guide families towards a path of transformation and resiliency. She has extensive experience developing and executing support programs for populations that have been victims of severe trauma. Previously, she was a Bi-Lingual Lead Therapist at CHAC where she led a team of trainees in providing mental health and psycho-educational services to Elementary School students and their families. Prior to that, she was a Clinician at Momentum for Mental Health, and a Clinical Case Manager at Edgewood Center for Children and Families.
Valentina earned a degree in Psychology from Los Andes University in Colombia, her native country, and an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. She is fluent in Spanish, French and English.
Shawneece Stevenson, Family Success Coach
Shawneece has joined The Primary School as the Manager of Parent Program. Shawneece began her work in Early Childhood Education as a Parent Educator in Parents as Teachers Program in Cincinnati, Ohio. This work inspired her to pursue a Masters in Social Work Administration from the University of Cincinnati. Shawneece has had variety of organizational and family service experience working with young children, their families, and communities in which they live. Most recently, she managed a local Regional Center’s California Early Start Program serving infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities and their families. Shawneece has a strong value of supporting families through the development of their child. Most importantly, she is a wife and parent of three children with a variety of health and educational needs. She is a proud parent of the Ravenswood and Sequoia Unified School Districts.
Cristina Matthews, Manager of Parent Wellness Coaching
With a passion for empowering individuals to discover their inner strengths and access advancement through cultivating agency and self-efficacy, Cristina has worked with youth and families for the past 7 years in a variety of community and school based settings in the Bay Area. Before joining The Primary School, Cristina worked as an MFT trainee through Youth & Family Services of Fremont counseling at risk families and youth on probation.
Cristina firmly believes that every human being holds innate potential to rise above their circumstances and succeed beyond expectation in life with the presence of a supportive community that fosters kindness, empathy, and equal opportunity.
Cristina Earned her BA in Psychology from Sonoma State University and later went on to attend Santa Clara University where she graduated with an MA in Counseling Psychology and an emphasis in Correctional Psychology.
Stephanie Diaz, Parent Wellness Coach
Stephanie is a Belle Haven native and attended high school in East Palo Alto. During and after college, Stephanie volunteered in Oakland preschools and interned at law firms that provided pro bono services. She has always been driven to serve and find her own meaning of social justice.
She is now excited to serve the community she grew up in. With a background in crisis counseling and intervention, Stephanie feels privileged to have the opportunity to witness people in her community pursue growth and happiness in an educational setting.
Stephanie received her Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Women and Gender Studies with a minor in Spanish at Saint Mary’s College of California. She is currently pursuing her Executive Master’s in Public Administration at Golden Gate University.
Marla Romero, Parent Wellness Coach
Marla Romero is a bay area native who has learned to love the diversity and uniqueness of her home town, Redwood City.
Growing up in a single parent home and with an amazing grandmother taught her the importance of love, compassion, unconditional support and knowledge. Marla’s curiosity in exploring human behavior, emotions, communication and coping strategies inspired her pursuit of education. After completing her undergraduate studies in Psychology at The William Jessup University, she had the privilege to volunteer with a humanitarian group that traveled to Africa and Cambodia offering medical support. After her return she became a part of the SES Team (Support Enhanced Services) with The Bill Wilson Center in San Jose which focused with at risk youth on probation and their families. Marla provided rehabilitation services in collaboration with Probation officers, other mental health providers and family support. Marla has a strong belief in supporting children, youth and parents. She believes that if we can all learn to find confidence in our strengths we can be empowered to use them to make a difference and impact our future in a positive and joyful manner.
Jessica Torrez, Parent Wellness Coach
Jessica Torrez was born and raised in Redwood City and for the past 13 years has lived in East Palo Alto and now Belle Haven. She grew up in a single parent home with her older brother. Her mother, was an immigrant from Mexico, full of life and joy, who showed them the true meaning of an American Dream. From her, Jessica learned the meaning of dedication for work, passion for her culture and community, the importance of family and the eagerness for growth.
She has three beautiful daughters who have all attended Belle Haven school where her husband and her have had the great opportunity to volunteer and lead other parent volunteers. Six years ago, She had the wonderful opportunity to work in Education. She worked for the Ravenswood City School District, Special Education Department, where she had the experience of serving her community. Her and her family also volunteered and joined a group at church where their mission was to unify at risk families. It was during these years of working in education, volunteering for Belle Haven and in her church group that she found her passion for helping others discover their inner strengths and power to overcome any circumstance.
Yadira DiSiena, Parent Wellness Coach
Yadira DiSiena was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and raised in Los Angeles. She is the oldest of three sisters and the first in her family to graduate college.
Yadira graduated with a Bachelors in Sociology from California State University Northridge. After graduating, her true journey began. Yadira moved from Los Angeles to Menlo Park with her husband and 5 pets. Seeking the opportunity to work with her community, Yadira connected to the local Head Start program. Yadira was an Early Head Start Home Base Specialist in East Palo Alto, Belle Haven and Redwood City. She became familiarized with the local community agencies and partnered with them to support the families she served.
Yadira enjoyed serving the community she worked in so much that she eventually became a member of the Belle Haven community.
Joyce Latu-Fahamokioa, Parent Wellness Coach
Joyce is an East Palo Alto native and a first-generation college graduate. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Dominican University of California where she worked in Admissions as a student ambassador. While working as an ambassador at Dominican University, she realized her passion for providing access to higher education for underrepresented students and their families.
She brings ten years of experience working with families in East Palo Alto and the surrounding communities. She began her work providing student and parent support and education around college access through her work at Foundation for a College Education. She continued to deepen her commitment to students and families at Building Futures Now where she worked with 4th grade through high school families.
Joyce believes that equipped with the proper tools everyone can have access to higher education regardless of their socioeconomic background.
Veronica Sierra, Parent Wellness Coach
Born in Guanajuato, Mexico, Veronica came to the US in 1992 and grew up in Sonoma County. Here she saw the need for resources for the Latino community and advocates for those less fortunate. Coming from a strong background where family and core values play a major role, Veronica and a friend started an afterschool program at a local family shelter as their high school senior project. This is where her passion for working with others less fortunate started.
Throughout the years Veronica has worked with multiple nonprofits in San Jose, from working with homeless youth and families to gain employment, continue their post-secondary education, become self-sufficient, and connect to community based resources, to helping the youth overcome the barriers that kept them from staying on track to graduate.
While working with low-income and at-risk youth for the past 13 years Veronica has seen the need of consistency and intervention at an early age. Veronica saw the opportunity to make a real change by coming on board to The Primary School as a Parent Wellness Coach and hopes to be part of change needed for children to excel in their education and grow up to be healthy individuals, while strengthening their family relationships.
Mike Kerr, Principal
A proud native of New Jersey, Mike Kerr received his B.A. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland. Upon graduating in 1999, Mike joined Teach for America and taught kindergarten through third grade at Public School 192 in Harlem where he also served as the grade level chair. After earning his M.A. in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from the Bank Street College of Education, Mike then earned his M.S.Ed. in School Leadership from Harvard University. Next, Mike served for five years as the founding principal of the Achievement First Crown Heights Elementary School (AFCHES) in Brooklyn, NY. During his last year there, 99 percent of third- and fourth-grade students scored proficient on the state reading exam and 100 percent scored proficient on the state math exam with 72 percent scoring advanced. After transitioning AFCHES to his successor, Mike moved to Los Angeles and served as the founding principal of KIPP Empower Academy. In 2013, the school's first year of standardized testing, KIPP Empower Academy became the highest performing public school in Los Angeles and ranked tenth out of over 5,000 elementary schools in the state. After training KIPP's school and regional leaders for the past three years, Mike joins The Primary School as principal.
Kyndal Hargow, Assistant Principal & Early Childhood Lead
Kyndal has spent the majority of her eight years in education in the early childhood setting. Her years teaching preschool and pre-K in underserved communities, taught her how imperative it is to provide quality education and experiences even before Kindergarten. Early Childhood Education, quickly became her passion. Most recently, working as a Pre-K Literacy coach in Oakland, Kyndal continued to follow her passion while coaching and training Head Start and Transitional Kindergarten teachers around early literacy. Kyndal feels most successful when the teachers and students she works with demonstrate that they feel both respected and capable. One of her favorite things to hear students say is, "I did it!" She strongly believes in the importance of creating joyous and intentional classrooms. Kyndal is inspired by the innovation The Primary School brings to early childhood education and its mission to include and empower families while addressing the needs of the whole child. She looks forward to the opportunity to work with a team motivated and focused on the model’s mission and is humbled at the potential to effect change on a deeper level. Kyndal has a B.A. in Communication from the University of Southern California and a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Loyola Marymount University.
Clare McGuire, Manager of Special Education and Integrated Supports
Clare has worked in education for the past six years, most recently as a Teach for America corps member working with kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade students who receive special education services at Francis D. Pastorius Mastery Charter School in North Philadelphia. Prior to that, Clare worked for three years as an Operations Specialist in the Office of Human Capital supporting the Chief of Staff at DC Public School’s Central Office. She is excited to join The Primary School because of its mission to create schools and programming that addresses the diverse needs of the whole child. She brings joy, enthusiasm and love with her to the classroom every day.
Clare received her BA in Psychology from the University of Delaware, her MA in Organizational Development from George Washington University and her Teaching Credential in General and Special Education from the University of Pennsylvania.
William Vosa Cavu-Litman, K4 Senior Lead Teacher
William better known by his middle name, Vosa, was raised in Redwood City, and is an educator specializing in Early Childhood with an added passion for working with high school and university populations. In his eight years of teaching and leading, Vosa has enjoyed working with students in achieving their potential and creating a safe and trusting atmosphere. Vosa strives to build a life-long love for learning and to build a team of committed educators determined to create a sense of leadership and a strong community. Vosa started working in education as an undergrad at San Jose State University and formally started teaching in Los Angeles as a corps member in Teach for America. Vosa joins us from Korea where he taught and lived for six years. During his summers, Vosa helped to develop young leaders into culturally aware and globally responsible citizens throughout Spain, Chile, Peru, and Ireland and has traveled extensively throughout Asia and many parts of Europe. Vosa believes working with The Primary School will be an adventure of lessons and looks forward to working with a population of families is representative of how he grew up.
Jen Merz, K5 Senior Lead Teacher
Jen worked as a teacher in East San Jose for the last seven years. She is passionate about early literacy and developing a love for reading and learning. Jen believes in supporting all students by working closely with families to meet the diverse needs of each child.
Jen received her BA in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. She discovered her love for teaching working as an Assistant Teacher at the UCLA Lab School. Jen is proficient in Spanish.
Karla Cienfuegos, K5 Senior Lead Teacher
With twelve years experience in urban education, Karla delivers her curriculum through the lenses of academic rigor, culturally responsive teaching, and mindfulness. Whether it’s meditating, discussing community activism, or creating dynamic and interactive units of study, her passionate students love to be in nature, think critically, and communicate with empathy across cultural and demographic boundaries.
Karla grew up in Los Angeles and is the first person in her family to graduate from college. She holds dual bachelor degrees in Chicano studies and film studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She went on to obtain a master’s degree in elementary education at Loyola Marymount University through the Partners in Los Angeles Catholic Education Corps program. In the fall 2016 Karla was a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow and took an expedition to the Galapagos Islands.
After having had a significant transformation of shedding over 65 pounds, Karla became a health and fitness coach who loves to encourage and support people to transform their health. She also serves as a founding board member to the non-profit SugarWatch.org where local Los Angeles school communities will be able to achieve dynamic health and wellness. Karla is committed to researching issues facing public education, one of which is the relationship between health, technology, and environment to educational access for students. Through traveling, networking, and creating content she strives to share access to information that will empower her community and beyond.
Jessica Pablo, K3 Junior Lead Teacher
Jessica was born in Panama City, Panama, but raised in the Bay Area for most of her life. She loves the diversity that is found in our region, and also realizes the importance being an agent of change for equity. She has been teaching in early childhood education for twelve years in a variety of roles from teacher's aide to behavioral therapist to classroom teacher. Jessica has a B.A. in Child and Adolescent Development from San Francisco State University, and a M.S. in Educational Leadership from California State University, East Bay. She loves connecting with children, families, and the community. She is a lifelong learner who aspires to create a love of learning in everyone that she meets. Jessica enjoys marveling in children's curiousity and helping them to reach beyond expectations.
Tajmah Martin, K3 Junior Lead Teacher
Tajmah joins The Primary School from Hope Technology School, a fully inclusive private school for both typically developing and special needs students, where she has been since the fall of 2007. There, Tajmah worked as a para-educator in the HTS elementary program from 2007-2013 before becoming a fully qualified preschool teacher. Tajmah has volunteered for a non-profit soccer program for children with special needs and has worked one-on one with children with special needs in both school and home settings. She has also had experience working in the public school system through volunteer work and community service.
Olivia Thomas, K4 Junior Lead Teacher
Liv is a born and raised Jersey girl who has been living in the Bay Area for the past 7 years. She first came to the West Coast to attend Stanford University. There, she studied Human Biology with a concentration in Child Development and Mental Health. After reading the shocking Hart and Risley study on the language gap that begins before students enter school, Liv was drawn into the world of Early Childhood Education. After graduation, she went on to join Teach for America and is still currently teaching ECE in Richmond, CA. Liv joined The Primary School because it is deeply aligned to her personal vision for what it will take to support children in reaching their full potential. She is ecstatic and eager to be joining a team that shares the urgency, passion, and love that she has for working to support children and their families.
Karen Melendez-Alvarenga, K4 Senior Associate Teacher
Karen Melendez-Alvarenga is a passionate early childhood educator. She has over 12 years’ experience working in preschool and school environments with children ranging for 1-5. She is creative and enthusiastic and attentive to children’s individual needs. Karen grew up in East Palo Alto and is fluent in Spanish. Most recently, Karen was part of the founding preschool team at St. Elizabeth and has spent summers working with Iridescent, leading children to explore engineering design. Karen strongly believes that a quality early childhood education can have enormous impact on the lives of children. For this reason, Karen is excited to partner with families and the larger community to support children and their growth.
Cynthia Toscano, K5 Senior Associate Teacher
Cynthia was born and raised in East San Jose. Over the past nine years she has worked with students of all ages. She has worked in both rural and urban communities to help recruit and advise high school students towards accomplishing their dreams of higher education. After earning her Associate’s degree, Cynthia was the site director for several after school programs for children in low income neighborhoods. Prior to joining The Primary School, Cynthia spent five years working with elementary aged children, providing specialized instruction to those with higher behavioral and educational needs. Her passion has always been to not only serve her students but families and communities as well. Being a mom of two little girls also inspires her to show all her students the love, care, and devotion that she would give her own daughters. It is her honor to bring to her experience and passion to families of The Primary School. Cynthia was a founding Assistant Teacher at The Primary School and joins the 2017-18 team as a Senior Associate Teacher.
Marisela Alvarez Salazar, K3 Junior Associate Teacher
Marisela Alvarez was born in Mexico but grew up in East Palo Alto, attended middle school and high school in her community. Marisela is the first generation to attend College and obtain her BA in Child Development with a concentrationon Youth and Families Development.
After graduating from College she worked as a program coordinator for Youth Adelante, a tutoring program for middle school students. Unfortunately the program ended due to funds. Marisela then started as a substitute teacher for preschool students and felt in love with the age group. Marisela then joined the Peninsula Family Service team to work as a preschool teacher. There she had the opportunity to work with children whose families were in transitional homes. She had the opportunity to work with children with disabilities, challenging behaviors and children who experience trauma. As a preschool teacher, Marisela wants to make a positive impact in children and their families and to continue to encourage families to support their children in different aspects such as academically, emotionally and socially.
Daisy Medina, K4 Junior Associate Teacher
Daisy was born and raised in Redwood City and married her high school sweetheart. They have 2 energetic boys and a beautiful girl. Daisy chose to join The Primary School because she believes in supporting not just the child but the whole family.
Akriti Jain, K4 Junior Associate Teacher
Prior to joining The Primary School, Akriti was a Fellow with Teach for India, the sister organization of Teach for America. There, Akriti saw what good healthcare and nutrition could do for a student, and the direct relationship between academic growth and child health. As a teacher, Akriti conducted community visits and helped foster growth of both parents and students. Akriti started with The Primary School in its founding year as a substitute teacher and joins the 2017-18 team as a Junior Associate Teacher.
Alyssa Castaneda, K5 Junior Associate Teacher
Alyssa was born and raised in Southern California completing her bachelors in Anthropology and Sociology at Whittier College in 2013. After she graduated she moved to Las Vegas to work for Communities in Schools where she provided social services and academic support to her students and families. In 2015 she moved to the Bay Area to attend San Francisco State University for a Masters in Equity and Social Justice in Education. While completing her masters she was an associate teacher in Menlo Park for Pre-K and Kindergarten classes. She is proud to be a part of The Primary School for her ninth year of teaching and grateful to the welcoming community.
Viridiana Luna, K3 Assistant Teacher
Viridiana is a mother, wife and teacher willing to learn and grow with her community. She was born in Mexico City but raised in the ever so growing and diverse city of East Palo Alto. She attended the University of California, Davis, where she became inspired to embrace her culture, society and community. It is now her mission to inspire her community through teaching, giving future generations an equal opportunity in all aspects of their lives. In her spare time she enjoys painting, dancing, traveling and photography, but most of all spending time with family.
Brenda Quezada, K3 Assistant Teacher
Brenda was born and raised in East Palo Alto in a single parent household. Being from East Palo Alto has pushed Brenda to want to give back to the community she grew up in. Brenda initially pursued an associate degree in Criminal Justice as a means to start a career as a probation officer for juveniles. It was through her work as a mentor through one of the local Boys and Girls Club after school programs, that Brenda realized that she wanted to support children as a teacher. Since then she has become the mother of two boys and transferred to a local State University where she will be completing her Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education.Brenda is proud to be part of The Primary School team and contribute to its formation in her community through all her identities which include her experience as daughter, student, mother, wife and now teacher.
Martha Paramo, K3 Assistant Teacher
Martha is a Nicaragua native raised for most of her life in Belle Haven. From a young age, Martha enjoyed working with children and taking care of her younger family members. Martha joins The Primary School from the CCLC at Stanford West where she has spent the last four years working with infants and toddlers, first as a floater teacher and later as a lead teacher. Martha enjoys watching children grow and learn, and is thrilled to bring her passion for teaching and giving back to the community that she grew up in.
Rachel McGarvery, K5 Assistant Teacher
Rachel started her teaching career as an AmeriCorps Spanish literacy tutor in Austin, Texas. She became a substitute teacher in the primary and elementary schools that she attended as a child in New Jersey. Rachel's volunteer and work experience include teaching English to students of various ages and backgrounds. She graduated from Arcadia University with a BA in International Studies. While attending college, she had the opportunity to live in Chile and learn Spanish. Rachel is grateful to be a part of The Primary School where, along with families and all team members, she can support the growth of all children.
Elizabeth Garcia, School Operations Associate
Liz is a recent college graduate from the University of California of Riverside. She received her BA in Sociology. Throughout her college years she worked for Riverside’s Child Development center as a teacher assistant, and served as an AmeriCorps Tutor for 7th graders mentoring them in Math and Language Arts. During her summers she served as a summer camp counselor and director for the city of Los Altos Recreation Department. Liz also volunteered for two years as an assistant coach with RYAA soccer here in East Palo Alto. Liz is excited to be part of The Primary School and help build a great learning community.
Priscilla Chan, CEO
Priscilla is a pediatrician and an education entrepreneur. In particular, she is interested in integrating her work in health and education through designing and implementing interventions addressing adverse childhood experiences. Prior to entering medical school, she ran an afterschool program in Boston and taught 4th and 5th grade science at the Harker School.
Priscilla earned her BA in Biology with Spanish Citation at Harvard University and her MD at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She also completed her pediatrics training in the UCSF/PLUS Pediatrics Residency. Priscilla is also the co-founder of the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative.
Meredith Liu, President and COO
Meredith is a deep believer in the power of education to eliminate racial inequity. Prior to co-founding The Primary School, she was the chief financial officer at Match Education, a charter management organization and teacher training program, and served as a dean and then board member at Codman Academy, a Boston high school co-located with a health center. She has worked with and for a variety of non-profits, state education agencies, and school districts to build stronger education systems. She began her career at Bain & Company.
Meredith earned a BA in Economics from Dartmouth College and an MBA at the Harvard Business School. She is also a proud graduate of the D.C. Public Schools.
Lindsey Luebchow, Chief of Staff
Lindsey is dedicated to making the education system more equitable so that it can meet the needs of underserved children. She has worked in education policy, government, and school operator roles at the federal and local levels. Most recently, she was an attorney and school advisor for Success Academy Charter Schools, a high-performing charter management organization in New York City. Prior to that, she worked at the U.S. Department of Education on civil rights monitoring and policy development for federal education programs. Lindsey earned a BA in Public Policy Studies from Duke University and a JD from Yale Law School.
Nora Razon, Family and Community Engagement Manager
Nora is originally from Mexico and grew up in East Palo Alto. Over the course of her career, Nora has worked closely with youth and families in a variety of different roles, including at the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center, the Legal Aid Society, and College Track. Most recently, she was a program coordinator at the Renaissance Entrepreneur Center in East Palo Alto, responsible for developing and leading financial literacy programs for families.
Awara Mendy Adeagbo, Interim Program Director
Awara is passionate about social justice and providing equal opportunities for underserved communities. She strongly believes that addressing the health needs of a child and supporting a child’s parents is just as important as addressing their educational needs. Awara earned a BA in Government with a Spanish language citation from Harvard University. She also earned her MBA and a Certificate in Public Management and Social Impact from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She has worked in a number of industries including healthcare and technology, and she began her career as a management consultant at The Boston Consulting Group. As an undergraduate, Awara tutored students in an afterschool Spanish language immersion program and is very excited to be back in a joyful student environment.
Jessica Cho, Director of Operations and Strategy
Jess is passionate about disrupting inequitable practices and building just, inclusive systems and conditions that ensure all students have the opportunity to achieve their dreams. She manages The Primary School's EPA program operations with a particular focus on our school and parent program. Jess joins The Primary School from Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) where she served as the Strategic Initiatives Manager in the Office of English Language Learner and Multilingual Achievement. There she directed a number of strategic initiatives intended to accelerate outcomes for ELLs including developing and implementing a 3-year strategic plan and leading a multi-year transformation initiative to launch more dual language and newcomer programs in district schools. Prior to OUSD, Jess worked at Education Pioneers developing, managing and evaluating its national fellowship program.
Jess graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A in Political Science and Mass Communications. Go Bears!
Judy Li, Director of Growth and Partnership
Judy is a child health advocate with 15 years of experience in health system leadership and child development. At The Primary School, Judy leads its growth and partnership efforts. She also directs Joint Venture Health at the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley, a multi-sector initiative to build child development systems in Community Health Centers. Previously, Judy was the Region Vice President for Health System Innovation and Community Benefit at Sutter West Bay. She also led St. Luke’s Hospital, a 100-year old San Francisco medical institution, and help secure its long-term future as a part of Sutter Health CPMC.
Judy graduated from New York University with a BA in Politics and earned a MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. She also earned a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) from the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley.
Damali Robertson, Director of Talent
Damali is a mission driven nonprofit leader. She is passionate about advancing education outcomes for our children and influencing positive social change. Prior to TPS, Damali led fundraising initiatives at the Center for Youth Wellness, the Level Playing Field Institute, and Stanford University’s Haas Center for Public Service. She earned a MA in Communications for Social and Behavior Change from the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus and a BA in Political Science and Literature from Africa and the Diaspora from Pitzer College (the best of the Claremont Colleges).
McHale Newport-Berra, Director of Innovation and Learning
McHale joined The Primary School in 2017. With an interdisciplinary background in both education and health, she has content and technical expertise related to child development, child mental health, health promotion strategies, and school health, as well as deep practical knowledge of schools. McHale has worked in schools in multiple capacities, including as an elementary school teacher, a community health organizer, and a researcher. She has presented her work at national conferences on topics such as the evaluation of school and community-based obesity prevention initiatives; implementation of school wellness policies; and the relationship between school organizational climate and students’ socio-emotional development. McHale holds a Ph.D. in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Michigan. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English from Duke University.
Nishi Mehta, Integrated Programs Associate
Nishi has a deep interest in integrating education and healthcare to positively impact the trajectories of children in underserved communities. Most recently, Nishi was a management consultant helping clients solve key strategic challenges. Prior to that, she served as a 7th grade literature teaching fellow and college access coach for Breakthrough Collaborative. She also trained college students to teach health education in Boston public high schools through the organization Peer Health Exchange.
Nishi has a B.S. in Psychology and English from Tufts University. She was a visiting student in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford.
Eric Gordon, Data Associate
Eric is motivated by the desire to create a more equitable education system for all. He began his career as a mathematics teacher at Cristo Rey Boston High School before taking on a role as a data analyst in San Francisco. Now, he is excited to combine his passions for data and education in order to have a greater impact for students of all economic backgrounds.
Eric graduated from Boston College with BAs in both Mathematics and Secondary Education. He is also a proud graduate of the Urban Catholic Teaching Corps of Boston College, where he earned a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction.