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 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 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 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.
Nestor Barrero is an experienced labor and employment attorney with the national law firm of Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete in Century City. He advises large and medium sized employers on all aspects of labor and employment law including compliance with anti-harassment, discrimination, privacy and workplace laws, effective performance management, negotiation of executive agreements, planning for layoffs, mergers and acquisitions, and defending wrongful termination cases in mediation, arbitration or litigation. He was formerly corporate counsel for NBCUniversal Media LLC and Union Bank, and was associated with the law firm of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton in Los Angeles.
Barrero received his B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and his J.D. degree from UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. He is bilingual in Spanish, is a part-time adjunct professor of Business Law and Human Resources Management at Pasadena City College and Azusa Pacific University, and is a frequent speaker, trainer and lecturer.
Barrero is a member of the California State Bar Labor and Employment Law Section. He has also served on the Board of the Constitutional Rights Foundation, and is a member of the Hispanic National Bar Association and the Association of Corporate Counsel. Barrero has served as President of the California Employment Law Council. He is also active in professional and community organizations such as the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts and the UCLA Academic Advancement Program. Barrero, who is a resident of Monrovia, was elected to the Child360 Board of Directors to represent the Corporate and Development sectors in 2011.
Tilmann Gruber is the Vice President of Sales Planning at Sony Pictures Television. Tilmann is a 15-year entertainment industry veteran, having excelled at strategic sales planning and finance. Prior to Sony Pictures Television, he worked at Warner Brothers Home Entertainment and New Line Cinema in various corporate and divisional capacities, with both an international and domestic focus throughout his career.
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 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 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, 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 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 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.
William Sperling has been with the Child360 family for over 12 years. He currently serves as Chief Executive Officer for the organization.
Sperling is an experienced leader who is committed to driving the organization forward, bringing more than a decade of experience in managing various departments in the organization, including leadership of the Quality Assessment Department and the team that revised the LAUP QRIS rating system. Within his multifaceted role, Sperling strategically leads the organization, oversees network compliance for early learning providers, and manages multiple departments including Information Technology, Human Resources, and Marketing and Communications.
Prior to arriving at Child360 in 2006, Sperling worked as an attorney in private law firms and in the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons. His experience includes federal contracting, environmental regulation, corporate litigation, and criminal law.
Sperling earned his law degree from American University in Washington, D.C., and moved to Los Angeles in 1998. He currently resides in Westchester, CA, with his wife and two young sons.
Dawn A. Kurtz, Ph.D., has worked in the Child Development and Early Childhood Education (ECE) fields for more than 20 years. Currently, Dawn is the Chief Research Officer, leading research innovation to improve child outcomes. Prior to this role, she served as Child360’s Chief Program Officer, providing executive leadership for staff who support more than 500 early education programs across Los Angeles with a goal of improving and sustaining quality. 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, including the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant.
Prior to joining Child360, Dawn spent several years at First 5 LA, 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. During that time, she managed First 5 LA’s Early Childhood Education portfolio, which included LAUP as well as School Readiness, Family Literacy, and Workforce Development.
Earlier in her career, Dawn was a Project Director for a study of the impact of neglect on adolescent development in the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California. Dawn has presented and published work on the developmental consequences of child abuse and neglect. Dawn has also worked as adjunct faculty at Cal State University, Los Angeles and Whittier College, where she taught courses in Psychology and Child Development.
As the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Child360, Fernando Almodovar oversees the finance, accounting, and business services of the organization.
Fernando brings over 25 years of experience in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. As a financial professional, he is skilled in building and leading efficient teams, and thinking strategically to produce positive results.
Prior to joining Child360, Almodovar was the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer at Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), the nation’s largest Hispanic nonprofit organization. At HSF, Fernando had oversight responsibility for all finance and accounting activities, grants management, risk management, and human resources functions. He also worked closely with the President and CEO, the other members of HSF’s executive team, and the Finance Committee of the Board of Directors, to ensure that the organization was strategically positioned to fulfill the organization’s mission and goals to advance higher education opportunities for the Hispanic community.
Almodovar’s private sector experience includes leadership at a subsidiary of Home Depot, where he served as the Director of Finance and Controller. He also worked at Mattel, Inc., in the Internal Audit Department and in the Operations Finance Division. Through his bilingual ability, Almodovar’s work took him to Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Chile, and Argentina. He worked as a liaison between the Mexico manufacturing plants and corporate headquarters.
Fernando is a Certified Public Accountant in California; holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from California State University, Fullerton; and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Loyola Marymount University, with a concentration in Finance and with an International Certification. He also serves on the board of the South Central Family Health Center as Chairman of the Board.
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 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.
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.
As Director of External Organizational Development, Avis Boyd acts as the change champion and culture expert of Child360, marrying public affairs and business management to advance Child360’s organizational health and sustainability. She seeks mutually beneficial opportunities for Child360 to partner with public and private entities and collaboratively advance the interests and goals of each. Her background across the government, for-profit, and nonprofit sectors informs her approach to cultivate synergies that build processes, procedures, and/or programs to advance the Child360 mission to serve the whole child. Her past leadership roles in the office, community, and board room foster external initiatives that capitalize upon valuable internal relationships.
Boyd is an alumna of the University of Notre Dame.
Sonia Cleary brings over 20 years of experience in working with Head Start, Early Head Start, and State Preschool. As Director of Early Head Start for Child360, Cleary is responsible for overseeing and leading the fiscal, legal, and programmatic aspects of the program, and ensuring it’s strategically positioned for the future and poised to serve even more families.
Prior to joining Child360, she was a Family Services Manager at Training and Research Foundation in Los Angeles, overseeing family engagement, health services and ERSEA (Eligibility, Recruitment, Selection, Enrollment, & Attendance). Previously, Sonia was an Assistant Family Engagement Supervisor for the Garvey School District Head Start, in Rosemead, Calif. Sonia’s career in early learning began with Plaza De La Raza Child Development Services, where she spearheaded their mental health services.
Cleary has a B.A. in Sociology from California State University, Los Angeles, and a Master of Science in Human Services in Organizational & Management Leadership from Springfield College.
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.
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.
Alexandra Himmel brings over 20 years of professional experience within the early childhood education field. As Director of Program Development, Himmel leads the design and execution of programs aligned with Child360’s Strategic Plan, such as the California State Preschool Program QRIS Block Grant, Quality Start Los Angeles, the upcoming Infant/Toddler Block Grant, and the First 5 California IMPACT Grant. In addition, she oversees the Family Engagement team, which empowers programs with tools and strategies to engage families–including the Strengthening Families framework from the Center of the Study of Social Policy.
In 2006, Alexandra joined Child360 as a coach, working shoulder-to-shoulder with providers as they implemented quality improvements and prepared for their first quality rating. Prior to Child360, Himmel worked as a teacher, assistant director, and director at Bright Horizons Early Learning Centers in the greater Boston area.
Himmel has a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Vermont.
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.
As Director of Internal Organizational Development, Eli translates growth strategies into people strategies that leverage the organization’s current strengths and values while driving culture change for high performance and accountability. He builds internal capacity and company culture by crafting and spearheading initiatives that build relationships, optimize processes, and improve individual and team effectiveness across all Child360 departmental divisions.
Designing and improving innovative programs, through capacity building, has been a continued through-line in Eli’s career. He 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.
As Director of Human Resources & Administration, Kim Robinson is responsible for the overall 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 is pending completion of an M.J. in Labor & Employment Law from Tulane School of Law.
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.
As the Director of Community Engagement, Amy Williams is dedicated to building the capacity of parents, stakeholders, and community members, and mobilizing communities to advocate for quality services in their community. She manages Child360’s Best Start communities as well as Child360’s Parent Ambassador Program.
She has been with Child360 since 2012, previously serving as the Supervisor of Workforce and Professional Development. She also managed an Early Care and Education Consortium that included county entities as well as over 20 colleges and universities countywide.
Williams’ career has followed a strategic path of supporting and empowering local families; she has worked as a Health Educator for the School District of Philadelphia and for Los Angeles Unified School District, and has worked as a Division Manager for California Family Health Councils, where she managed Family Planning Programs. In 2008, she became a program officer for First 5 LA, and later assisted F5LA in managing a community investment initiative for 14 communities aimed at improving quality of life for children between ages 0 and 5.
Williams has a B.S. in Political Science/Public Administration from California State University, Los Angeles, and has an M.A. in Health Science/Community and Public Health Education.