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Staff

Mary Jean RyanMary Jean Ryan, Executive Director
Mary Jean Ryan is the founding director of CCER. Previously, she served as the director of the City of Seattle’s Office of Policy and Management. Prior to that, she was Seattle’s economic development director, having established that office in 1992 for then Mayor Norman B. Rice. Mary Jean also served in the Clinton Administration in Washington, D.C., as the associate deputy administrator for economic development for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In 2009, Mary Jean was awarded the Wales Foundation Passionate Citizenship Honoree Award and was named by Seattle Magazine to its 2009 Most Influential People List. She has a long-standing interest in education and workforce development. She chaired the State Board of Education during its reconstitution phase and served on the Board and on the Quality Education Council. Mary Jean has a B.A. from Georgetown University and a M.P.A. from the University of Southern California. She is a member of the Georgetown University Athletic Hall of Fame. She has one daughter.

 

Photo of Kirsten "Avery" Avery Kirsten “Avery” Avery, College & Career Success Director
Kirsten Avery, or “Avery” as she is known, joined CCER in 2011 and leads the Road Map Project’s work to strengthen systems of support for students from high school through college completion. She has over 10 years of education experience from middle school to postsecondary education, including as a college admissions counselor, youth program coordinator and research associate with clients such as the U.S. Department of Education and Chicago Public Schools. Avery holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Washington’s Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. She believes students and families are critical partners in improving education, and is committed to building student-ready institutions. When she isn’t at work, Avery can often be found taking in live music at the Crocodile, playing soccer with her team the Painkillers or walking her 11-year old dog Cash.

 

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Carlina Brown-Banks, Family Engagement Manager
Carlina has been working to support parent engagement for more than 20 years. She first began by serving on the policy council of the largest Head Start Grant west of the Mississippi River in Denver. Carlina has since been recognized by the Obama administration as a Champion for Change by the White House through her work with the Rainier Beach High School PTSA. She continues to be deeply committed to building equity in education systems in her work at CCER and currently staffs the Community Network Steering Committee. Originally from Denver, Carlina is the mother of seven children, ranging from 8 to 29 years old, and has one grandson. Her favorite out-of-office activities are camping, spontaneous road trips, boating, reading, history (especially Black history) and is always hunting for sunshine.

 

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Shelby Cooley, Research Scientist
Shelby joined CCER in 2015 and conducts secondary data analysis for longitudinal studies, annual reporting and ad-hoc research projects. Her doctoral research training examined school climate, the emergence of racial bias, fairness, racial identity and contexts that enable youth to challenge negative group norms. Her prior professional work spanned community participatory research on social-emotional development in low-income communities in New York City and Washington, D.C., as well as consulting work on racial bias with Teaching for Tolerance and CNN. She has been conducting research with public schools since 2007. As a researcher examining bias and prejudice – ubiquitous experiences in the lives of many children – she is a proponent of bridging information and views data and collaborative research as a means of youth advocacy. Shelby is a southeast Seattle native and daughter to K-12 teachers in the Renton and Kent school districts. Her investment in the Road Map Project grows out of a longstanding commitment to supporting South King County children, teachers and families.

 

Julie Feng, Digital Communications Specialist
Julie is a member of the CCER communications team, working to engage with Road Map Project communities through multimedia platforms. As a digital storyteller, she is committed to advocating for equity through an intersectional lens. She has a diverse background in education, with experiences in Seattle Public School classrooms, University of Washington Libraries, and various Seattle-area nonprofits. Julie spent two years creating and managing Peace Corps Youth Development programs in Morocco, where she served on the Gender Advocacy Committee and the Multi-Media Committee. Through grassroots partnerships, she facilitated projects including a national creative writing competition, a social justice journalism course, and a girls’ empowerment program for Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn Initiative. Julie holds a degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Washington. She is originally from Taiwan, but grew up in South King County. She is an avid reader, poet, traveler, and adventurer.

 

 

Tom Elliott, Operations Coordinator

Tom joined the CCER team in 2017 as the Operations Coordinator. He works with CCER staff and Road Map Project partners to ensure each meeting and work group is scheduled and supported. Previously Tom worked in the office of Mayor Mike McGinn and managed political campaigns at the city and state level. A native of Illinois, Tom learned about the Road Map Project and the inequity in Washington’s public education system through his work in the political sphere, and he is thrilled to focus his energy on seeing the Road Map Project succeed. Outside of work Tom is an active Ultimate Frisbee player and a lapsed saxophonist. He enjoys chess and tennis, though he struggles at both.

 

 

 

 

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Stacey Giachino, Operations Manager
Stacey manages CCER’s operation systems and processes, office and IT facilities, events (large and small) and Mary Jean’s calendar. She has years of operations and production experience in a wide range of fields, including internet-based financial systems, University of Washington’s Lung Transplant Program and the Getty Center Scholars department. Stacey started her professional life as a film producer/screenwriter after graduating from University of California Los Angeles with a degree in English literature. She has learned from every role she has held – whether senior vice president of operations, bookkeeper or film producer. Her dedication to equity and education led her to CCER, where she delights in using her ability to “get things done” in support of the Road Map Project. When not working, Stacey loves to spend time with her daughter (who encourages her to get out into the beautiful Pacific Northwest to hike and kayak) and to knit.

 

 

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Jose M. Hernandez, PhD.
, Data Scientist
As a member of the Community Center for Education Result’s data team, Jose supports the Road Map Project’s missions and goals through application of data science methods. Jose was previously a Research Scientist with the Center on Reinventing Public Education, where he led projects focused on the assessment of common enrollment systems across different U.S. cities.  Before that, he was a postdoctoral fellow with Insight Data Science and has worked as an applied statistician for a variety of projects across multiple disciplines. Jose earned his PhD at the University of Washington, with a focus in statistics and measurement. His doctoral research focused on assessing causal inference methodology in the absence of randomization. Jose is passionate about using statistics and machine learning to inform education policymaking, particularly to improve outcomes for students in the Road Map Project region. He is also a part-time instructor at the University of Washington, where he teaches a course on quantitative research methods in education.

 

 

Diana Huynhdiana 1, Director of Communications Strategy
As part of the CCER team, Diana supports the Road Map Project through a variety of communications activities, including media engagement, advocacy campaigns and report production. She specializes in policy and research communications and previously served as deputy director of the Education Policy Center at American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C. Before that, she was a producer at NPR affiliate WNYC and held other newsroom positions including reporter and copy editor. Diana also spent time in the classroom first as an assistant teacher for Pennsylvania’s Migrant Education Program and then later with the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. She holds a bachelor’s in journalism from Temple University and a master’s in public and nonprofit policy and management from New York University.

 

 

 

 

Cinthia Illan-Vazquez, Project Associate

Cinthia joined CCER in 2017 as a Project Associate, supporting the Executive Director and a diverse set of CCER Projects. Her drive to bring the values of justice and equity to our education system began when she volunteered and later worked for Communities In Schools of Lakewood as their Site Coordinator. The experiences that were formed in those classrooms—witnessing the day-to-day education disparities among immigrant, low-income, and communities of color—fueled her passion for supporting systemic solutions. It’s the same passion that has led her to join CCER and support the Road Map Project’s mission to improve education outcomes for students in this region regardless of their zip code or race. Before joining CCER, her professional experiences included being a Legislative Assistant to State Representative Laurie Jinkins, where she conducted research and coordinated stakeholders for the advancement of key policy developments. Cinthia was also the Fellowship Coordinator for the Washington Bus, where she directed curriculum and training for 15 young people, focusing on civic engagement in the Seattle community. Additionally, she is a community organizer with the Washington Dream Coalition and has developed political campaigns for local, state, and national legislation. Cinthia has a political science degree with a pre-law track from Whitworth University. She is originally from Mexico, but grew up in Pierce County. When not at work, she enjoys hiking, reading, and volunteering with kiddos.

 

Alejandra PérezPhoto of Alejandra, College & Career Success Coordinator
Alejandra joined CCER in 2016, and leads DiscoverU activities and supports additional college and career-focused projects. Alejandra’s passion for educational equity comes from her advocacy with and for undocumented students and their families in Washington State and around the nation. Alejandra has an extensive background in organizing for social justice, running large-scale events and conferences and providing professional development to educators. Alejandra served as Co-Director for the Beyond HB 1079 Conference, is a member of the Dream Educational Empowerment Program (DEEP) National Advisory Council, and a community organizer with the Washington Dream Coalition.

Born and raised in Guatemala, Alejandra moved to the United States when she was twelve years old. She graduated from Cleveland High School in Seattle, and went on to earn her Bachelors of Arts from the University of Washington Bothell, where she double majored in Society, Ethics, & Human Behavior and American & Ethnic Studies and a double minor in Education & Society and Diversity Studies. Alejandra loves to learn about the intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality, etc., and how youth/student lead activism can transform society. During her free time, Alejandra enjoys watching shows, traveling, attending and organizing social justice protests with her friends, and laughing with her family.

 

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Lynda S. Petersen, Associate Director
Lynda joined CCER in 2010 just in time to help plan the Road Map Project kick-off conference in December 2010. Lynda has a lot of different responsibilities in supporting the operations of CCER and her colleagues. She has also staffed the Road Map Project’s Birth to 3rd Grade Work Group since the group’s beginning and plays a role in staffing the Aligned Funders group. Prior to joining CCER, Lynda worked in local government. From policy to practice, she is excited to contribute to work that positively impacts her neighborhood, city and region. On the weekends, she can be found rooting on her Seattle Sounders.

 

 

 

 

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Mridula Polina, Data Systems Lead
Mridula works on design and development of an education database, which is used for CCER’s reporting purposes. Her day-to-day work involves solving problems ranging from creating simple datasets to producing insightful analysis from diverse and complex data. She is a proud geek and likes creating effective reusable solutions to problems using code. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in computer sciences and is passionate about big data. In her previous roles, she worked on projects for Bank of America, Infosys as a software engineer, and she also took up a role as an instructor at EvidyaLoka. She believes in sharing knowledge, and her experience as a mathematics teacher to students from rural India strengthened her motive to improve education outcomes. Her work at CCER utilizes her technical and analytical skills and is in-line with her passion to improve education outcomes. While she’s not at her computer, she enjoys photography, hiking, traveling, biking and cooking her mom’s recipes.

 

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Natasha Rosenblatt, Director of Data Strategy
Natasha has more than 20 years of experience leading large-scale data and reporting initiatives that leverage multi-source, complex databases to address community needs.  Her previous work includes implementing a statewide health care database, and developing an annual report on the quality of health care services across Washington state.  Natasha holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Washington, and is a member of the Leadership Tomorrow class of 2016.  She believes that education is a powerful tool in improving social justice, and she is thrilled to join CCER and its community partners to use data to improve education outcomes for students in our region.  Natasha is currently the Fundraising Chair for the Greater Seattle Techbridge Advisory Council.  She is a long time resident of Southeast Seattle, and has a son who attends Chief Sealth International High School. Natasha is also an avid music lover, with her tastes ranging from Dolly Parton to Gabriel Teodros. In her spare time she attends live shows throughout the Seattle area.

 

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Nicole Yohalem, Director, Opportunity Youth Initiative
Nicole joined CCER in fall 2013 to focus on reconnecting 16- to 24-year-old “opportunity youth” to education and career pathways. Prior to joining the staff, Nicole worked in a variety of roles in the youth development and education fields at the local and national levels. From 2000 to 2013, Nicole worked at the Forum for Youth Investment, leading work on youth engagement, research-practice partnerships and improving youth program quality. Nicole also served as a youth development specialist at Michigan State University, worked in the adolescent division of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation and served as a consultant to the World Bank on education reform in the Latin American and Caribbean region. When not working toward the Road Map Project’s 2020 goal, she is enjoying time with her husband Andy, daughter Zoe and son Theo.

 

 

Cash 2Cash, Chief Canine Officer
This lovable, devoted 11-year-old canine is the office mascot. He can be seen following Avery around or begging for snacks around lunchtime. Cash’s skills include being a people-dog, jumping for joy when he gets to the office in the morning and has the ability to brighten everyone’s day.