Our Leadership

Board of Directors

Francie Alexander Board Chair

Francie Alexander is the Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer for the Intervention Solutions Group at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH). She manages the evidence-based portfolio of research projects, with a specialized focus on translating research results into recommendations for product development. Francie provides thought leadership to the group on topics ranging from early learning to support for struggling adolescent learners. She has been a frequent guest on NBC’s TODAY Show and has written columns for The New York Post. Francie has authored almost 60 children’s books including Dots! Dots! Dots! At the Museum and Curious George Sight Word Readers. Prior to joining Child360’s Board of Directors, she served on the nonprofit’s Corporate Council. Francie’s work as an educator started as a first grade teacher in LAUSD.

Chris Nixon Vice Chair

Chris brings nearly 25 years of experience in the global financial service industry to the Child360 board. She joined SunAmerica in 1993 and became part of AIG when it purchased SunAmerica in 1999. She currently serves as AIG’s general counsel for its global Consumer Insurance segment, serving on the executive leadership team and several governance committees. Chris is a member of the California State Bar, often using her law experience for pro bono service. She brings with her a depth of experience in corporate governance and related activities.

Kathleen Malaske-Samu Secretary

Kathleen Malaske-Samu recently retired from the County of Los Angeles where she addressed child care and development issues for 22 years, including serving as the Director of the Office of Child Care from 2001 to 2015. Prior to her work with Los Angeles County, Malaske-Samu was the Executive Director of a child care resource and referral agency serving the eastern San Gabriel Valley. Her child development classroom experience was earned in Minnesota and California, working with preschool and school age children. She holds a B.A. in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota, an M.A. in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College, and an M.A. in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles. Malaske-Samu was appointed to the Child360 Board of Directors by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl in 2015.

Rachelle S. Pastor Arizmendi

Rachelle Arizmendi currently serves as Mayor of City of Sierra Madre. In 2014, she was the first woman of color elected to the City of Sierra Madre City Council.

Rachelle is the Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of PACE (Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment), a non-profit that meets the challenges of employment, education, housing, the environment, and business development in the Pacific Asian and other diverse communities. Prior to this role, she was the Early Education Director for fourteen years, growing the program from serving 600 children to over 2,300 children.

Rachelle serves in leadership positions on several Boards including the National Coalition of Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD), CA League of Cities Women’s Caucus, the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, the Foothill Workforce Development Policy Board, and was appointed by the CA Governor to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture.

She has two undergraduate degrees from San Diego State University and a graduate degree from Eastern Illinois University.

Tilmann Gruber

Tilmann Gruber is the Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Operations at Fox Corporation. Tilmann is a 15-year entertainment industry veteran, having excelled at strategic sales planning and finance. Prior to Fox, he was with Sony Pictures Television as Vice President of Worldwide Content Strategy and Acquisitions; and Warner Brothers Home Entertainment and New Line Cinema in various corporate and divisional capacities, both having international and domestic focuses throughout his tenures.

Richard Martinez

Richard Martinez is Superintendent of the Pomona Unified School District (PUSD). Martinez is dedicated to closing the achievement gap and preparing youth for a 21st-century global economy by promoting high standards for all students. His professional career began as a crisis intervention counselor in Bell Gardens, where he served in the police department, providing crisis response and counseling services in the areas of child abuse, domestic violence, and gangs. His career in education began in the Montebello Unified School District as a Child Welfare and Attendance Counselor. In PUSD, he has distinguished himself as a team builder and effective collaborator. He serves on many local, county, and state boards and committees in areas that have included school leadership, finance, urban education, legislative policy, safety, guidance, and child welfare. Martinez is proud to share that he is a product of Head Start and the Los Angeles Unified School District. He earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from California State University, Los Angeles, and obtained his counseling and administrative credentials from the University of La Verne.

Karen Schoenbaum

Karen Schoenbaum is the Executive Vice President and CFO at California United Bank. Karen began her career at the Big 4 accounting services firm EY, after leaving to hold senior positions at several prominent financial institutions. She has been a member of California United Bank’s Senior Leadership Team since 2009—managing investor relations and overseeing public financial reporting, the investment department, and the Treasury function, as well as maintaining the SOX/COSO internal control framework for the organization and ensuring strong corporate governance. A proud USC alumna, she loves USC football, and serves as a director with USC’s Leventhal Board of Advisors.

Ani Shabazian

Ani holds a dual appointment at LMU, where she serves as an Associate Professor in the LMU School of Education and as the Director of the Children’s Center. Ani’s research interests focus on developing best practices in caring for children in group settings. Before LMU, Ani had served as the Executive Director of the UCLA Infant Development Program, the Academic Administrator of the UCLA Applied Developmental Psychology Program, and the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Family School. Beyond her academic appointments, Ani travels extensively to assist limited-resource countries in developing programs that elevate the quality of care for children without guardianship residing in institutional settings.

Dorian Traube

Dorian Traube, Ph.D., has a career rooted in supporting the most vulnerable populations. Traube, an Associate Professor and Senior Associate Dean, Faculty Affairs, at the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, previously worked as a clinical social worker at New York Presbyterian Hospital and as a research analyst at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. Her research at USC spans children, youth and families—with an emphasis on the utilization of technology to assist parent coaching and family support. Other sub-fields and areas of research include early childhood development, parenting, children’s mental health, community-based participatory research, and child welfare.

With her staunch work on behalf of high-risk children and contributions to the field, Traube brings great depth to Child360’s Board of Directors. Traube’s career has reinforced to her just how critical the first five years of life are for a child’s future success—with education playing an essential role.

Traube received her B.A. from Berkeley, and her M.S.S.W. and Ph.D. from Columbia University.

José Villa

José is the founder of Sensis, a cross-cultural marketing agency driving behavioral change. Under José’s direction, Sensis has grown into an award-winning advertising and marketing agency listed on Inc. 5000’s ranking of America’s fastest-growing private companies eight years running. Before Sensis, he was the founder of TuRumbo.com. José is also a regular contributor for industry publications like MediaPost, AdAge and Mashable.

Liem Vu

Liem Vu is the Managing Vice President, U.S. Markets for Pariveda Solutions. Liem brings over 25 years of expertise in the technology consulting industry to Child360’s Board of Directors. In his current leadership position, he develops strategies and plans for market expansion across all offices in the U.S. Prior to this role, Liem held executive leadership positions at Neudesic, Hitachi Consulting and BearingPoint—while remaining active in the Southern California philanthropy community.

Dr. Ashley Wiley Johnson

Dr. Ashley Wiley Johnson is the Vice President of Los Angeles Speech & Language Therapy Center, a family-owned business that has helped people with autism and other special needs across the lifespan for nearly five decades. She has a deep-rooted passion to mitigate and build awareness of disparity of services for black and Hispanic students in special education. In her current role, she has created innovative pathways to service delivery for people with autism, forged partnerships between public school systems and private practice setting, and has brought traditional speech therapy methods into the classroom setting.

As a bilingual speech pathologist, Ashley is a sought-after national trainer, lecturer and presenter addressing a range of topics around service delivery innovation, effective social skills treatment models, and arts advocacy for children with autism and their families.

Ashley is a proud graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She obtained her Masters of Arts from San Josè State University in Communication Sciences and Disorders and her Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate School in Educational Studies with an emphasis on Urban Education and Special Education. Ashley also teaches graduate students as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Behavioral Health at Chapman University.


Notice of Intention to Adopt a Conflict of Interest Code

Executive Leadership

Dr. Dawn A. Kurtz Interim Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Dawn A. Kurtz is a developmental psychologist and passionate child advocate with more than two decades of experience leading teams who design, implement, evaluate, advocate and seek funding for programs that contribute to the goal of building a robust, equitable, sustainable early care and education (ECE) system. Currently, Dawn serves as Child360’s Interim CEO, where she leads the organization’s efforts to improve and sustain quality ECE, develop a diverse and well prepared early education workforce, and work strategically with partners to create policy and funding opportunities that support an equitable early education system. Prior to this role, she served as Chief Research Officer, leading research innovation as well as the organization’s fund development strategies to improve outcomes for early learning professionals, young children and their families. Since joining Child360, Dawn has played a key role in the development and implementation of multiple Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) projects at the local and state level.

Prior to joining Child360, Dawn spent several years managing First 5 LA’s Early Childhood Education portfolio where she played an integral role in the conceptualization, planning, development, and oversight of various phases of funding initiatives designed to improve the well-being of children and their families in Los Angeles County.

Dawn has served as adjunct faculty at California State University Los Angeles and Whittier College. She has also presented and published work on the developmental consequences of child abuse and neglect. For several years, Dawn was a project director for a longitudinal study of the impact of neglect on adolescent development in the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California. She currently serves as a board trustee for Pacific Oaks College and Children’s School.

Dawn resides in Southern California with her husband and three children.

Kim Robinson VP of Human Resources & Administration

As VP of Human Resources & Administration, Kim Robinson oversees the strategic direction of Human Resources, including labor policy and recommendation, performance management, compensation and benefits, hiring, training, organizational development, and employee relations.

Robinson joined Child360 in 2011, bringing more than 25 years of relevant human resources experience from the legal industry, where she worked in the capacities of human resources director and administrator. She is a member of the local chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators, where she sits on the Board of Directors and serves as section chair for the Human Resources division. Robinson often provides human resources expertise for other human resources professionals, and is often sought out for HR consulting. She has written several articles on various human resources matters.

Robinson has a B.A. in Business Management and an M.J. in Labor & Employment Law from Tulane School of Law.

Schellee Rocher VP of Provider Operations

Bringing more than 25 years of experience in the field of early childhood education, as the VP of Provider Operations, Schellee Rocher manages the operations and direct support given to providers in the Child360 network, which includes the coaching teams that support the providers. She plays a key role in the strategic planning and external collaborations for Child360, as well as the countywide rollout of the county’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). During her tenure at Child360, she also led the implementation of the California Child Signature Program for Los Angeles County.

Schellee has a longstanding career in early education, beginning as a Head Start teacher in Atlanta, GA. She became a director of two centers in New York, one of which began with 30 children and now serves over 300+ children across four locations in Harlem, NY. She was an early childhood education coach for New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services Agency for Child Development. She also managed the Early Childhood Education Special Projects Unit at Crystal Stairs, Inc., a Los Angeles-based resource and referral agency.

Rocher has a B.S. in Child Development from Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA, and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.

Ed Sudario VP of External Relations

Ed brings over 30 years of early learning experience to the field. As the VP of External Relations, Ed oversees the external pillars that drive Child360’s mission and vision: managing key customer relationships and strategic opportunities for Child360’s coaching, training, and assessment services; directing the marketing and communications team to establish successful support, channel, and partner programs; and overseeing Child360’s legislative policies and objectives for government and local community relations. Prior to joining Child360, he was a Regional Manager at Lakeshore Learning Materials.

Ed has a B.A. in Computer Information Systems from California State University, Dominguez Hills.


Angel Walters VP of Assessment & Professional Development

As the VP of Assessment & Professional Development, Angel Walters strategically leads the Child360 quality improvement team who deliver assessments, trainings, and technical assistance to early learning providers in support of QRIS implementation efforts; she also oversees the development and innovation of professional development services provided by Child360 to the early learning field. Walters brings more than a decade of experience with Child360, previously having served as the Director of Compliance and Quality Ratings, and having been responsible for the development of compliance and quality assessment infrastructures. Prior to this role, she served as a staff certification analyst and helped early childhood professionals navigate the child development matrix process.

With years of nonprofit management and social services experience, she identifies her previous role managing a homeless and transitional shelter for women and children as the catalyst and foundation for the work she does now. In addition, her experience working as a specialist in the Early Childhood Unit at Crystal Stairs, Inc., has been instrumental to her commitment to the field.

Walters is an alumna of the University of California, Los Angeles.


Elyse Ares Director of Program Development

Elyse joined Child360 in November of 2019, starting as a Program Development Specialist. Elyse’s people-first leadership style continues to catapult Child360 into an innovative space with ECE stakeholders and position Child360 as a driver in quality.

Prior to joining the Child360 family, Elyse served as the Director of the Friendship Foundation, which provides programs and resources to children, teens and adults with disabilities. Elyse is extremely active in her native Long Beach Community; in September of 2020, Elyse was appointed as a Long Beach Commissioner to Mayor Robert Garcia, to serve in an advisory capacity on matters pertaining to vulnerable populations with disabilities.

Elysa has a Master’s in Education from Whittier College and is a proud California State University Dominguez Hills alumni.

Toi Bridges Director of E-Learning

As a Director of E-Learning , Toi provides oversight across all training and professional development initiatives while leading the design, implementation, and maintenance of the Child360 Learning, our online learning platform. She also manages teams of learning consultants, learning coordinators, instructional designers, and other support staff to ensure the development of high-quality online content for the workforce including internal stakeholders. Developing strategic partnerships have been at the forefront of her career here at Child360, since joining in 2018.

Toi has over 20 years of experience in learning and talent development, including instructional design, program leadership, and operations management. Prior to joining Child360, she led professionals across the biopharmaceutical and corporate retail industries. Combined with vast work experience and her education from Xavier University and Loyola Marymount University, she has developed a passion for quality education for all including children and families.

Naaman Córdova-Muenzberg Director of Development

As Director of Development, Naaman provides centralized oversight and unified direction for Child360’s partnerships with institutional funders, designs and implements fund-development strategies that have a positive collective impact on the community, and builds fundraising capacity across the organization. Since joining Child360 in November 2017, Naaman has served as a development associate and Grant Partnerships Specialist and has facilitated high-impact relationships between Child360, Philanthropy, and our community partners through strategic planning, relationship-building, and grant-writing.

Naaman has a B.A. in Visual Art from Gonzaga University and over 15 years of experience in nonprofit administration, fundraising, and community organizing. Before coming to Child360, Naaman served as Executive Director of SAFE of Columbia County—an Oregon nonprofit that provides comprehensive support and advocacy for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Throughout his career, Naaman has witnessed first-hand the dramatic benefits of early investment in the lives of children and families who face adversity. He is also the third generation in his family to work in early childhood, following after his grandmother who was a Head Start teacher and his mother who was an early intervention home visitor.

Natalia Edwards Director of Sub360

As the Director of Sub360, Natalia Edwards works with a team of diligent specialists and substitutes to support the staffing challenges in early childhood programs. She has been an early childhood education advocate for over a decade starting her career in 2009 teaching arts to grades K-12 in the form of musical theatre and arts education. During her seven years at Child360, she was an integral member in the early efforts of strategic planning for the Quality Services department’s processes and procedures. In 2018, she transitioned her support to Community Engagement as the Program Manager for Best Start Palmdale and helped to bring awareness, advocacy, and capacity building opportunities to the Antelope Valley region for residents, stakeholders, community-based organizations, and families with children under five years of age.

Kristin Feltz Director of Marketing and Communications

As Director of Marketing and Communications, Kristin Feltz provides direction and leadership related to the communication of Child360’s mission, goals and achievements to the external community and internal teams. Feltz works closely with the Executive Leadership team to guide all marketing strategies, including branding, collateral and editorial development, media strategies, advertising, social media, and business services.

Kristin has over 15 years of corporate marketing experience within the entertainment and education industries. Prior to joining Child360, she worked with leading education organizations including Kaplan and Knowledge Universe, which ignited her passion for advancing the education of young children.

Feltz has a B.A. in Marketing and Public Relations from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Heather Harris Director of Provider Operations

As Director of Provider Operations, Heather Harris leads and manages the programs and high-quality services provided by Child360, to build the capacity of the early care and education programs with which we work. Heather leads the coaching teams and oversees Child360’s involvement with, and implementation of, the countywide Quality Rating and Improvement System, Quality Start Los Angeles (QSLA). She is a staunch external voice for Child360 and the early learning field, driving the conversation at local, statewide, and national meetings, as well as relevant conferences that are centered around innovation in early learning, coaching practices, leadership development, and other research-based outcomes regarding best practices related to early learning program quality and the K-12 developmental pipeline.

Prior to joining the Child360 family, she was an Early Childhood Education Director at Lynwood Unified School District, where she spearheaded the district’s expansion to providing universal preschool across 12 locations. This effort not only grew enrollment at the preschool sites – serving 800 children annually – but also yielded a 93% high school graduation rate and a 95% rate of bachelor’s degree completion for early education staff.

She received a Doctor of Education degree in Educational Leadership: Teacher Education in Multicultural Societies from the University of Southern California.

Elsa Jacobsen Director of Public Policy

Elsa Jacobsen oversees Child360’s public policy efforts, developing and executing strategies to advance policies that support high-quality early learning. Through candidate forums, legislative briefings, public comment, budget advocacy, and a host of other measures, she and the Public Affairs team seek to develop new early learning champions and to elevate the ECE field.

Prior to joining Child360, Elsa served as a law clerk at Young, Minney & Corr, LLP, a leading charter school law firm. She also served fellowships with the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), the California Department of Education, and the office of the late Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA). Elsa has a B.A. in History and an M.A. in Education Policy Analysis and Evaluation from Stanford University, and a J.D. from BYU Law School.

Eli Pessar Director of Workforce Strategy

As Director of Workforce Strategy, Eli develops initiatives that recruit, train, and place the prospective and incumbent ECE workforce into early learning programs. This work includes analyzing barriers to entry, identifying partnerships, and formulating creative solutions to  promote a diverse and skilled workforce.

Eli began his career in Early Childhood Education as a Master Teacher at a Head Start center in Southwest Chicago, where he was awarded the Sue Lehman Teacher of the Year award. In this role, Pessar facilitated the development of a strategic plan, with a specialized focus on family engagement, which yielded increased enrollment and the creation of an adjacent infant-toddler center.

Eli completed his master’s degree at Harvard University, where he developed a research-based curriculum for pregnant and parenting teens and a classroom management system centered on moral development for children ages 3-8. In his spare time, Eli enjoys writing children’s books.

Rosa M. Valdés, Ph.D. Director of Research and Evaluation

As Director of Research and Evaluation, Rosa Valdés oversees a team of researchers who conduct studies and evaluations focused on Child360’s programs, and the overall benefits and outcomes of high quality early learning. These projects have a general focus on child outcomes, the early care and education workforce, Child360’s coaching model, family engagement, child development, and curriculum-related topics. She and her team also prepare data reports to meet grant requirements and for internal departments’ progress monitoring.

Valdés joined Child360 in 2012. She brings more than 25 years of interdisciplinary research experience, having previously worked at LAUSD as a researcher and manager in the Program Evaluation and Research Branch, and at UCLA’s National Center for Research, Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing as a researcher.

Valdés earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.