Dr. Tyrone Howard, Faculty Director

Tyrone C. Howard is the Faculty Director of the Center for the Transformation of Schools (CTS) at UCLA and a professor in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies’ at UCLA. Dr. Howard is also the inaugural director of the new UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families, which is a campus wide consortium examining academic, mental health, and social emotional experiences and challenges for the California’s most vulnerable youth populations. He is the founder and director of the UCLA Black Male Institute.  Professor Howard’s research examines equity, culture, race, teaching and learning.

Twitter: @TyroneCHoward

Lucrecia Santibañez, Co-Faculty Director

Lucrecia Santibañez is an associate professor at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Her research focuses on how to improve teacher policy and school-level resource allocation to increase learning among vulnerable populations. Dr. Santibañez has conducted research in Mexico, Colombia, Laos, Mozambique, and the United States, and her work been published in both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking journals, including Economics of Education ReviewTeachers College Record, International Journal of Behavioral Development, and the International Journal of Educational Development. Before coming to GSEIS, she was an associate professor at the Claremont Graduate School, an education economist at the RAND Corporation, and professor of public policy at CIDE in Mexico City. She received a Ph.D. in education from Stanford University.


Dr. Joseph Bishop, Executive Director

Dr. Bishop directs the Center for the Transformation of Schools (CTS) in the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies at UCLA. He has held a number of state and national educational leadership positions with the Learning Policy Institute, the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign with the Schott Foundation for Public Education, Opportunity Action, the Coalition for Teaching Quality, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. He was formerly a governor-appointed member of the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) and served on the Board of Directors for the Center for Teaching Quality. Dr. Bishop has been featured in a number of digital and print media sources, including National Public Radio, the Washington Post, Ed Source and Education Week.

His scholarship explores the relationship between education policy and its impact on educational equity, racial justice and social justice efforts on topics including community schools, early childhood education, teacher shortages and teacher professional learning, school finance, school climate and school discipline reform.

Dr. Bishop earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership, Policy and Organizations from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Twitter: @joepbishop

Dr. Jacqueline Rodio, Director of Business Administration

Jacqueline Rodio is the Director of Business Administration for the Center for the Transformation of Schools at the School of Education and Information Studies. In her role, Jacqueline overseas all aspects of administrative management and operations for the center.

Prior to her current role, Jacqueline served as an Associate Director of Program Services at UC Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business. She was responsible for overseeing all aspects of program management and day-to-day operations related to the Master of Professional Accountancy and Master of Finance programs. Early in her career, she served as Patient Billing and Customer Service Manager for a $5.8 billion national clinical lab. She assisted senior management in strategic planning, development, and leadership as well as day-to-day operations of the company’s San Diego office.

Jacqueline holds a Doctor of Education from University of Southern California, a Master of Science degree in Global Leadership from University of San Diego School of Business Administration, a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management from California State University, San Marcos, and a certificate in Project Management from University of San Diego.


Dr. Angela James, Research Director

Dr. James is a seasoned scholar, sociologist, consultant, and ardent community organizer/activist who has devoted her professional life studying poverty and inequality and her personal life to working to eradicate it. She most recently was the Deputy Director at the Los Angeles Community Action Network, a local civil rights organization. She was a faculty member in African American Studies at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and is returning home to UCLA after previously serving in a leadership role at Graduate Division at UCLA.


Dr. Kai Mathews, Project Director

Dr. Mathews is the CA Educator Diversity Project Director at the Center for the Transformation of Schools at UCLA. She is an educator, researcher, and creative strategist who is passionate about innovative reforms and practices in K-12 education. She has over 10 years of practical work and research experience with students, teachers, and administrators in various school districts around the country. Most notably she has worked as a Coordinator for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), was a researcher for the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education, and worked as an 8th grade Humanities teacher at High Tech High in San Diego. Her areas of expertise and passion include educational equity, culturally responsive teaching and learning, Project Based Learning (PBL), Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Blended Learning (BL) and design thinking. Dr. Mathews has a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies with a specialization in K-12 education from the University of San Diego, an M.A. in Communication from Ellis University, and a B.A. in English with a minor in Creative Writing from Spelman College.


Dr. Stanley L. Johnson, Jr., Project Director

Dr. Stanley L. Johnson, Jr. is the National Science Foundation (NSF) Project Director and an educational consultant, researcher, and practitioner with an extensive background in K-12 leadership, teacher education, and language and literacy development. Johnson previously served as consultant for the Los Angeles County Office of Education (in School Improvement, District Capacity Building, and Curriculum and Instructional Services) and a Managing Director of Teacher Leadership Development for Teach for America where he supported and built capacity with Program Improvement schools and districts in the areas of effective language arts instruction and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) through professional development, coaching, and providing technical assistance to educational leaders and classroom teachers. Johnson was the Founding Principal of the 100 Black Men of the Bay Area Community School in Oakland, CA and he began his career in education through Teach for America, where he taught all levels of English/Language Arts and Advanced Placement English at Centennial High School in Compton, CA. Johnson was awarded a promotion to Program Coordinator, a district office administrative position in curriculum and instruction, after successfully serving as Centennial’s Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Self-Study Chairperson and getting the school’s accreditation reinstated.

With respect to academic research, Johnson critically examines effective secondary English teachers who implement culturally relevant and sustaining pedagogical and instructional practices in their classrooms to close literacy gaps and address the academic, social, and emotional needs of their students. Johnson is particularly interested in how Advanced Placement English teachers facilitate high levels of engagement for their high achieving boys of color (and especially African American males) by ensuring that they have access and exposure to language and literacies of power.

Johnson received his Ph.D. in Urban Schooling from the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies at UCLA, his Master of Arts in Secondary Education along with clear teaching and administrative credentials from Loyola Marymount University, and his Bachelor of Arts in American Literature and Culture with college honors from UCLA. Johnson is the recipient of numerous academic distinctions and community service awards. Johnson was recently appointed to the Los Angeles County Board of Education by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (representing Supervisor Holly Mitchell’s Second District). He received the Randall C. Bacon Alumni Achievement Award from the Western Province of Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. In 2010, he received the National Science Foundation sponsored Colloquy on Minority Males in Science Technology Engineering Mathematics summer fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, and UCLA presented him with the Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award for his outstanding teaching of undergraduate students and significant contributions to the educational community.


Dr. Brian Huff, CA MTSS Research Director

Brian Huff is the CA MTSS Research Director at the Center for the Transformation of Schools with a mixed methods focus. Brian has over 10 years of experience conducting research in the areas of sociology, public health, and education. Brian’s research is interested in using quantitative and qualitative methods of inquiry to understand educational and health disparities through a systems lens. Brian has extensive experience with program evaluation, randomized controlled trials, ethnography, and quantitative research design. 


Geneva Sum, Communications Director

Geneva has a background in graphic design and photography and is a former Creative Director. She has worked with large corporations, small businesses and nonprofit organizations across a wide range of industries to provide branding, marketing & communications support. She manages the Center’s branding, communications strategy, public relations, and digital channels. Geneva is passionate about empowering marginalized young people to use education and creativity to transform their lives and communities. She mentors and leads creative workshops for trauma survivors having worked in teen and adult transitional homes in Los Angeles, a girls education program in Bangladesh, Syrian refugee youth in Beirut, and sex trafficking survivors in Mexico City. Geneva holds a BFA in Graphic Design from Northeastern University in Boston, MA and a Photography certificate from the Los Angeles Center of Photography.

Chris Tran, Project Coordinator

Christopher Tran is the Program Coordinator for the Center for the Transformation of Schools at the School of Education and Information Studies and has over a decade of experience working in administrative management, marketing, public relations, community outreach, & higher education.  Christopher has a strong Non-Profit background and early in his career worked as Director of Public and Donor Relations at Pups for Peace and Marketing Associate for Visual Communications, both Non-Profit organizations based in Los Angeles. In addition, Christopher has previous higher education experience at UCLA,  having worked at UCLA Anderson School of Management as a Program Coordinator, Faculty Support Services Floater and most recently as an Admissions Specialist for UCLA Graduate Department of Diversity, Inclusion, and Admissions. Christopher considers himself a life-long Bruin, with a strong passion for history, social studies, student affairs, community engagement, and holds a bachelor’s degree in History from UCLA and is a lifelong member of UCLA History Department’s Phi Alpha Theta Historical Honor Society.

Aleida Arreaga, Financial Analyst

Aleida Arreaga is the Financial Analyst for the Center for the Transformation of Schools at the School of Education and Information Studies. She has over 5 years of experience with finance. Prior to joining CTS, Aleida worked full time as a Finance Officer for her dad’s Construction company since 2017 doing all the accounting and yearly budgets. Furthermore, during her undergrad, she worked part-time as a Marketing and Fundraiser scholar with the Riordan Program at UCLA Anderson School of Management. Aleida currently holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Latin American Studies from UCLA class of 2020.


Cathy Balfe, Research Analyst

Cathy is a Research Analyst at the Center for the Transformation of Schools (CTS) at UCLA. She is passionate about generating accessible and useful research that focuses on addressing systemic barriers to equity. Prior to joining CTS, Cathy worked at Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance for New Orleans, where she conducted quantitative and qualitative research seeking to understand how education policy changes impact historically marginalized students both in New Orleans and nationally. Her work has covered a variety of topics, including early childhood application patterns, schools’ responses to the COVID-19 school closures, and the equity implications of admissions policy changes in the New Orleans public school system. Cathy holds a BA in Economics from Tulane University.

Dr. Kirk D. Rogers Jr., Research Analyst

Dr. Kirk D. Rogers, Jr. (he/him/his) is a 2021 Ford Dissertation Fellow who earned his PhD in Education at UC Diego. His dissertation research centered math as a major gatekeeper for BIPOC students interested in pursuing STEM careers. Kirk taught middle school math and science in Atlanta, GA, for six years and continues to work with youth, teaching at a STEAM summer camp in the summer months. His future goal is to make the P—20 STEM pipeline more inclusive by pushing back against traditional notions of who can “do” STEM. Kirk’s lifelong career goal is to dismantle the STEM field such that the larger community begins to rethink STEM, ultimately creating more diverse, inclusive, and culturally relevant STEM spaces; spaces that value the strengths and unique talents of BIPOC students, women, and other historically marginalized groups. He is eager to continue collaborating on research connected to equity and social justice in STEM at the Center for the Transformation of Schools.


Dr. Mayra Cazares-Minero, Research Analyst

Dr. Mayra Cazares-Minero is a Research Analyst at the Center for the Transformation of Schools (CTS) at UCLA. She earned her MSW and PhD at UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare. Her dissertation focused on resilience among former foster youth participating in higher education, specifically those attending a UC or CSU campus. Mayra fostered an interest and passion for improving the well-being and quality of life among foster youth and other at-risk youth during her undergraduate education at UCR. Since then, she has conducted various research projects on emerging adulthood experiences among foster youth, including education, employment, parenting, juvenile justice system involvement, resilience, and self-concept. She also has past experience directly serving foster youth and other vulnerable youth in Alameda, Los Angeles, and Riverside Counties. Mayra is excited to continue developing and strengthening her research skills at UCLA with the hope to make a direct and positive impact on the lives of children, youth, and their families. 


Maria L. Espino, Research Analyst

Maria L. Espino is a Research Analyst for the Center for the Transformation of Schools (CTS). She is currently a doctoral candidate in the Higher Administration Program in the School of Education at Iowa State University. Her dissertation is exploring how Latin* first-generation, low-income early college high school graduates are transitioning to a Bachelors granting institutions. She obtained her Masters’s degree in Educational Policy and Leadership at Marquette University in her hometown of Milwaukee, WI. She completed her Bachelors degrees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a double major in Community and Nonprofit Leadership and Gender and Women studies. At the center, Maria is working on a project that centers on the experiences of Youth who have experienced/are experiencing the foster system and/or homelessness. As a researcher, Maria’s larger research scope explores and centers on the (in)equities in higher education, particularly focusing on the experiences of marginalized students. As a scholar and a student advocate, Maria believes that centering, humanizing, empowering, and supporting the communities in which we serve through practical and policy reform. 

Dr. Kenyon Lee Whitman, Postdoctoral Scholar

Kenyon Lee Whitman is a scholar-practitioner. He has over 10 years of experience working in higher education, much of that time supporting foster youth. Most recently he directed the Office of Foster Youth Support Services at UC Riverside for six years. He received his Ph.D. in Education, with an emphasis on Higher Education Administration and Policy at UC Riverside. Dr. Whitman’s research is interdisciplinary, he focuses on underrepresented students in higher education, specifically, the racialized college-going experiences of foster youth. Currently, Dr. Whitman is serving as a UC Chancellor’s Post-doctoral Fellow at UCLA in the department of Urban Schooling, working with Dr. Tyrone Howard in the Pritzker Center for Research on Strengthening Children and Families. As a former foster youth, he understands first-hand the challenges foster youth face as they work toward earning a college degree. Kenyon also holds a B.S. and M.A. from Fresno State.


Abbie Cohen, Doctoral Researcher

Abbie Cohen is a Ph.D. student in the Urban Schooling division at UCLA’s School of Education & Information Studies. Abbie’s research interests explore the complex and interwoven relationships between philanthropy, education nonprofits, and urban schools. She aims to interrogate the role of race, power, and access in the ever-changing relationship between these three disparate, but overlapping, institutions. 

Previously, Abbie has worked as a teacher in Medellín, Colombia, a non-profit administrator in Denver, Colorado, and as a community partnerships director at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Throughout her differing roles, and ranging geographic locations, Abbie works to build bridges between people, organizations, and communities. She received her master’s degree in Education Policy & Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Tufts University. 


Sam Blanchard, Doctoral Researcher

Sam Blanchard is a doctoral student in the Urban Schooling division at the School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. Sam’s research interests focus on external social, political, and economic conditions, such as trauma and poverty, and their impact on student experiences, in addition to how schooling practices cause trauma. Prior to attending UCLA, Sam was an elementary classroom teacher passionate about trauma-informed practices and identity-affirming curriculum, classrooms, and school environments.


Demontea Thompson, Doctoral Researcher

Demontea Thompson is a Ph.D. student at UCLA in the School of Education and Information Systems, Urban Schooling Division. His research explores how educational institutions can facilitate success for marginalized students, particularly those who have had interactions with the child welfare and justice system. He is a Compton-native and the Co-founder and Executive Director of Twinspire – a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that works for and with youth in need of life skill services. A slam poet and author of the inspirational autobiography, Raised From Scratch, Demontea received his master’s degree in education from the University of Southern California (USC) and his undergraduate degree in business management from California State University, Northridge (CSUN). He is a CSUN Alumni Association board member and child welfare advocate.


Tr’Vel Lyons, Doctoral Researcher

Dr. Tr’Vel Lyons is a recent graduate from the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies Urban Schooling division with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Education. Following his undergraduate graduation from UCLA in 2014, Tr’Vel earned his master’s degree in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His scholarship examines culturally relevant practices that enhance the college access and resources of Black males and women from grades 9-16. His current research seeks to investigate the impact of academic enrichment programs, mentoring, and advocacy on Black males pursuing higher education.


Travis Dumas, Research Analyst

Dr. Travis Dumas is a recent graduate from the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies Urban Schooling division with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Education. His research interest include race in education, systems of student support, and lesser-explored challenges experienced by Black students. His current research examines the experiences and understandings of high performing Black male students attending low performing high schools and their encounters with anti-blackness. As a graduate student researcher, Travis has worked on several research projects and initiatives of UCLA’s Black Male Institute (BMI). Now a part of the Center for the Transformation of Schools (CTS), Travis joins the “Beyond the Schoolhouse” research team.


Gene McAdoo, Doctoral Researcher

Gene McAdoo is a first-year doctoral student in Urban Schooling division at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. His research interests are positioned at the intersection of Black Studies and Education and are primarily concerned with exploring how Black students work to overcome educational obstacles related to antiblackness to thrive academically. The central goal of his research agenda is to develop an understanding of how antiblackness manifests in schools in order to develop solutions that will improve the holistic educational experiences and lifelong trajectories of Black students.

As a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, he wrote his senior thesis on Black students’ experiences of antiblackness in Los Angeles County public schools in addition to how Black students engaged in educational fugitivity to resist and challenge antiblackness in their schooling experiences. Professionally, he has worked for the UCLA VIP Scholars, serving as a mentor for Black students throughout Los Angeles County and working to provide them with academic and social support in such a way as to enhance their holistic wellbeing and competitive eligibility in the college admissions process.


Jaleel Howard, Doctoral Researcher

Jaleel R. Howard, MEd is a doctoral student at UCLA in the School of Education and Information Studies. Jaleel’s research interests center around urban contexts and social forces that affect the educational experiences and outcomes for chronically underserved students. A former English teacher, Jaleel has extensive knowledge of classroom supports and accommodations for instructional practice that enhance learning for underrepresented students.


Erika Yagi, Doctoral Researcher

Erika Yagi is a PhD student in Social Science & Comparative Education at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. Her research field focuses on Third Culture Kids’ (TCK) home-language retention in the context of learning barriers. TCKs are often defined as persons who grow up outside of their parents’ cultural environment(s) whose intention is to return to their passport nations. Erika identifies as a TCK herself, as she spent most of her formative school years in Egypt and Kenya. She also received her master’s degree in Education from UCLA. Prior to attending UCLA, Erika obtained her B.A. in Elementary Education and German, and worked as an elementary school teacher at an international school in Cameroon. She currently works as a co-principal at a community based, non-profit weekend Japanese language school in LA. She is passionate about teaching in both of her home languages; English and Japanese. 


Jennifer Berdan Lozano, Doctoral Researcher

Jennifer Berdan Lozano is a Ph.D. student in Higher Education and Organizational Change at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. Jennifer’s research interests focus on cultural and organizational change in institutions of higher education. Prior to joining CTS, Jennifer worked on program assessment and evaluation at UCLA’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching, and on survey research supporting students, faculty, and staff at the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. She has experience in mixed methods research and has taught research methods and design to education students and professionals. She received her master’s degree in Higher Education from the University of Redlands, and her bachelor’s degree in Economics from Sonoma State University.


Tatev Sarkissyan, Graduate Student Researcher

Tatev Sarkissyan is a graduate student research assistant at the Center for the Transformation of Schools. Tatev is a second-year graduate student in the joint doctoral program in Special Education between CSULA and UCLA. She received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from Cal State LA in Psychology. Currently, her research project is focused on examining the educational experiences of formerly incarcerated individuals who are involved in Project Rebound at Cal State LA. Tatev has conducted research examining the retention rates of special education teachers in California, effective pedagogical skills amongst faculty and students, and perspectives of victims of child abuse. She is also a part-time lecturer at Cal State LA in the department of Psychology.


Hui Huang, Graduate Student Researcher

Hui Huang is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Social Science and Comparative Education division at the School of Education & Information Studies at UCLA. Hui has a deep interest in exploring the link between individuals’ formal, nonformal, and informal learning experiences and their impacts on outcomes such as identity development, well-being, and types of skill formation. Her dissertation explores the transformative potential of informal workplace learning on the identity-making and agency development of early-career tech workers in China. Her current research project examines the STEM identity dissonance of underrepresented minority adolescents in out-of-school contexts. 

Chris Mauerman, Research Scholar

Chris Mauerman is an Undergraduate Research Scholar for the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools (CTS). He is a recent graduate from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a minor in Education Studies. Chris is interested in increasing diversity at each step of the educator pipeline, creating equitable opportunities for students traditionally underrepresented in higher education, and promoting culturally responsive pedagogy. Outside of CTS, Chris currently serves as the Executive Director of Project Literacy, UCLA’s largest student-run tutoring organization, and works as the Internal Programs Director for UCLA’s Community Service Commission.


Paulina Torres, Research Scholar

Paulina is a third-year undergraduate research scholar for the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools (CTS). Paulina is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs and Education with a minor in Chicano/a and Central American Studies. She is currently working on the Homeless Youth Project (HYP). She is also involved with MEChA de UCLA, Citizen’s Climate Lobby (CCL), a nonpartisan climate organization, and the Tulare Migrant Program. Paulina’s upbringing in the Central Valley influences her strong interest in providing resources and support to homeless students, undocumented students, and migrant communities.


Kahlila Williams, Research Scholar

Kahlila Williams is a freshman at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a student leader/organizer with Students Deserve and Black Lives Matter Youth Vanguard. After the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others Black Lives Matter sent out a nationwide call to #DefundThePolice. Shortly after, she joined Students Deserve and their call to defund the school police and reinvest in Black futures. She began to speak at school boards, help organize and speak out at actions, and be featured on panels for her work. She has been recognized in the LA Times, Lalist, People’s Magazine, as well as featured in a PSA with Levi’s. She continues to explore ways to organize within her community and fight for Black lives. 


Makenzie Pond, Communications Scholar

Makenzie Pond is a recent UCLA graduate with a bachelor’s degree in both Communication and Sociology and a communications scholar for the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools (CTS). Outside of CTS, Makenzie serves as the VP of Marketing of The Women’s Network UCLA, a chapter of the largest collegiate women’s networking organization, and is a marketing coordinator for the podcast, Redefining Ambition.


Taylor Silveira, Communications Scholar

Taylor Silveira is an undergraduate student at UCLA and communications scholar at the Center for the Transformation of Schools (CTS) at UCLA. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s of arts degree in English Language and Literature. Taylor is passionate about education technology and how it can improve outcomes through delivering high-quality pedagogy. She also has a strong interest in the research topics of upward mobility/upskilling, workforce development, and its correlation to improving accessibility, affordability, and accreditation options in education.


Dr. Pedro A. Noguera, Founder

Pedro A. Noguera is the founder of the Center for the Transformation of Schools (CTS) at UCLA and is currently the Dean of the USC Rossier School of Education. His scholarship and research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions and demographic trends in local, regional and global contexts.

Dr. Noguera serves on the board of numerous national and local organizations and appears as a regular commentator on educational issues on CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio and other national news outlets. Prior to joining the faculty at UCLA, he served as the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University and the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, the Judith K. Dimon Professor of Communities and Schools at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a professor at the University of California, Berkeley where he was also the Director of the Institute for the Study of Social Change. From 2009 – 2012 he served as a Trustee for the State University of New York (SUNY) as an appointee of the Governor. In 2014 he was elected to the National Academy of Education. Noguera recently received awards from the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences, the National Association of Secondary Principals, and the McSilver Institute at NYU for his research and advocacy efforts aimed at fighting poverty.

Dr. Pedro Noguera received his bachelors’ and master’s degree from Brown University and earned his doctorate in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley.

Twitter: @pedroanoguera