Tom Armelino is deeply passionate when it comes to serving the needs of children and honoring the unique and diverse backgrounds, points of view, values, and inclusive sense of community that is necessary to prepare them for success. He understands firsthand how education can be the difference-maker for children, providing opportunity, and in many ways changing the trajectory of young people, society, and the world. Growing up in poverty and the sixth of nine children from a hard-working family where achieving a high school diploma was the exception and not the norm, Tom was the first to change this trajectory and graduate from college.
Passionate to give back to children the love, determination, and importance of working hard and believing in oneself that he learned from some incredible teachers and coaches, he dedicated his life to serving the needs of children and became a teacher. After eight years in the classroom and consistently being asked to serve in various teacher leadership roles as a mentor, coach, teacher-in-charge, model demonstration classroom teacher, and at-risk youth leader, he achieved a higher education degree. Tom went on to serve as a school site administrator, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, district superintendent in multiple school districts, and adjunct professor. In 2006, Tom was elected and served three unopposed four-year terms as the Shasta County Superintendent of Schools.
Currently, in his 3rd year as Executive Director of the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, Tom works with a small team of accomplished and experienced educators, researchers, and facilitators to focus on systemic changes that ensure all students in California receive the quality education they deserve. Tom is spearheading major strategic shifts for the organization, focusing on providing local education agencies (LEAs) with research and development, professional development, and technical assistance. These initiatives will help to expand California’s System of Support to strengthen local control and continuous improvement through an equity-focused approach.
Tom understands the importance of working collaboratively with all stakeholders within the school system through his experiences as a school, district and county office leader, trained in Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management (TQM) principles. His schools, teachers, and staff were multiple recipients of the California Distinguished School and Title I High Achieving School awards during his tenure. Tom has also served in various state-level leadership positions as a member of California Governor Jerry Brown’s “Kitchen Cabinet,” Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) State President (2015-16), and chair of the state-appointed Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) committee. During his superintendency, Tom served as a Region II chair and state board member for the California County Superintendent Educational Services Association (CCSEA). Before joining CCEE, Tom served as Executive Director of the National Association of School Superintendents.
Recognized for his collaborative style of leadership, Tom has received numerous awards, including the CCSESA Champions Award, Shasta County Excellence in Public Health Award, Shasta County Community Builder Award, Shasta County Asset Champion, California Teachers Association (CTA) Local Chapter Administrator of the Year Award, Robert Woods Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Community Coalition Leader Award, ACSA Shasta Charter Award for Central Office Administrator of the Year, ACSA Shasta Charter Superintendent of the Year Award, ACSA Region 1 Central Office Administrator of the Year Award, and ACSA Region 1 Superintendent of the Year Award.
Executive Assistant to Tom Armelino
Phone: (916) 619-7488
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Deputy Executive Director
Sujie Shin serves as the Deputy Executive Director for the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE). In this role, Shin works closely with Executive Director Tom Armelino, oversees agency operations, spearheads specific statewide initiatives, and helps to lead Direct Technical Assistance efforts. She oversees research and evaluation initiatives within the agency, centered around the implementation of systemic practices within districts and schools aimed at equitable access, opportunity, and outcomes for students.
Prior to joining the CCEE, Shin served as the Co-Director of Research for the Standards, Assessment, and Accountability Services program at WestEd, where she managed the National Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation. In this role, she provided technical assistance and research support to states and districts in the implementation and evaluation of their new standards, assessments, and accountability systems, focusing on the alignment of standards to assessments and instructional practice.
Shin also previously worked as the Deputy Chief of Assessment and Accountability for the District of Columbia Public Schools, where she oversaw the development and administration of assessments and accountability metrics for the district. She has held educational assessment and research positions in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York. Her career in education began as a teacher at Norwood Elementary School in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Deputy Executive Director, Systems Improvement and Innovation
Karla Estrada, Ed.D.
Dr. Karla Estrada serves as the Deputy Executive Director of Systems Improvement and Innovation for the CCEE. In this role, Dr. Estrada oversees and manages the Direct Technical Assistance (DTA) support for districts and schools struggling with chronic instructional system challenges. In addition, she works with the California Department of Education, State Board of Education, and Special Education Local Plan and Accountability (SELPA) Leads within the CA System of Support, which serves as a connector, capacity builder, and facilitator to quality resources and learning opportunities for LEAs across the state with the aim of improving outcomes for students with disabilities.
Dr. Estrada has spent over 20 years as an educational leader committed to successfully addressing educational opportunities for all students. Before her time with CCEE, Dr. Estrada served as the Deputy Superintendent for the offices in the Academic and Student Support for Equity Team (ASSET) within Boston Public Schools.
Throughout her educational career, Estrada has led efforts and collaborated with others to transform systems driven on compliance to those engaged in attaining successful instructional outcomes for all students. Her background as a teacher and administrator in the Los Angeles Unified School District has been critical in building meaningful partnerships with schools, local and central offices.
Dr. Estrada obtained her doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice from Loyola Marymount University by examining English language development among over 22,000 English learners with specific learning disabilities in an urban school district.
Director, Systems Improvement and Innovation
Matthew Roberts, Ed.D
Dr. Matthew Roberts serves as the Director of Systems Improvement and Innovation for the CCEE. In this role, Dr. Roberts implements the Direct Technical Assistance (DTA) support for districts and schools struggling with chronic instructional system challenges. In addition, he works with the California Department of Education on various initiatives, and the Special Education Local Plan and Accountability (SELPA) Leads within the CA System of Support, which serves as a connector, capacity builder, and facilitator to quality resources and learning opportunities for LEAs across the state with the aim of improving outcomes for students with disabilities.
Dr. Roberts has served over 20 years as an educational leader committed to providing students with a continuum of rigorous and meaningful programs and services, and has a track record of success in moving students forward. He has the unique experience of serving in both the K12 and the community college systems in California. Dr. Roberts’ most recent role in the California Community College Chancellor’s Office was to lead the implementation of over $400 million in workforce development and career technical education funding to help build and support pathways leading from secondary to postsecondary and career.
Prior to his postsecondary experience, Roberts served and collaborated as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and superintendent of schools at the K12 level. He is passionate about ensuring all students succeed, and has utilized data driven practices to achieve the California Distinguished Schools award twice for increased student academic achievement.
Dr. Roberts obtained his doctorate in Education Foundations and Leadership from University of the Pacific, and has studied at the Center for Innovation for Urban Education in Boston, MA.
Director, Systems Improvement and Innovation
David M. Toston
David Toston is originally from Compton, CA, and credits his mother and K-12 educators for showing him the importance of education and preparing him for a life of public service. A graduate in English and Education at Pacific Union College, Toston received his Master’s of Education in School Psychology at Azusa Pacific University and completed the Educational Leadership program at Western Washington University.
Currently, as the Director of Systems Improvement and Innovation at the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, Toston leads in the development of direct technical assistance guidance and resources that LEAs can utilize to improve instructional quality and advance achievement for all students, especially our most vulnerable students. He also works in partnership with the California Department of Education (CDE) and State Board of Education (SBE) in leveraging the assistance of leads identified across the state of California to support LEAs in improving outcomes for students (e.g., SELPA Leads, Literacy Leads, etc.).
Before his current position, Toston was an Associate Superintendent with the El Dorado County Office of Education. In this role, he provided leadership and oversight of the professional learning systems, programmatic and fiscal oversight framework for the El Dorado SELPAs and Statewide Initiatives. During this time, he was also an adjunct Professor with Loyola Marymount University, where he taught graduate courses in the Department of Urban Education. Additionally, Toston has served in a variety of regional leadership roles in California and Washington.
Toston’s extensive experience in the California educational system includes leadership and participation in numerous professional organizations and state committees. In 2017 he was appointed by the California Assembly to the Advisory Commission on Special Education. In 2020 he was elected as the Chair of California on Special Education (ACSE), becoming the first African American to hold this role. He has previously served as the Vice-Chair for ACSE and the Chair for the Coalition for Adequate Funding in Special Education.
David believes his professional achievements reflect his family, employers, mentors, and teammates’ exemplary support and inspiration.
Assistant Director, System of Support
Roni Jones, Ed.D
Roni Jones serves as the Assistant Director for the System of Support for the CCEE. In this role, Jones works closely with other statewide agency partners to provide planning and facilitation management and implementation for California’s innovative State System of Support.
Jones brings an extensive understanding of the educational systems and a wide range of experiences at many levels including K-12 districts, institutions of higher education, and state educational agencies. Her strengths include engaging and interactive meeting facilitation, leadership coaching and strategic planning.
She has worked as an Organizational Development Specialist at WestEd, assisting clients in addressing planning and implementation challenges. Specifically, Jones provided technical assistance and capacity building to state agencies and school districts in implementing programs associated with Local Control Funding Formula. For example, she worked with districts to develop Local Control Accountability Plans using stakeholder engagement, data analysis, meeting facilitation, and implementation strategies.
Jones worked as a network liaison for National Geographic Education and supported the K-12 geography education Alliance Network to implement professional development programs, operations, and strategic planning. She provided technical assistance and support to alliance coordinators in grant writing and the evaluation process.
Jones served as adjunct faculty at California State University, Sacramento, and taught courses in pedagogy, educational foundations, and educational technology. She supervised student teachers in the multiple subject credential program and was responsible for overseeing the placement of student teachers in local classrooms.
For five years, Jones served as a professional development coordinator for the Placer County Office of Education. She provided history professional development to K-12 teachers in 20 school districts and coordinated all grant activities including organizing summer institutes, facilitating follow up lesson planning, and coordinating professional development activities between teachers, university faculty, and historians. Her other responsibilities included coordinating the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) program.
In 1990, Jones earned her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from California State University, Chico, and completed her multiple subject teaching credential in 1991. She earned her master’s degree in Education in 1999 from California State University, Sacramento, and completed her administrative credential in 2005.
Jones started her career as a classroom teacher and, for ten years, taught intermediate grades before working in professional development full time.
Assistant Director, Business Operations and Strategic Engagement
Michelle Magyar, Ph.D.
Dr. Michelle Magyar is the Assistant Director of Business Operations and Strategic Engagement for the CCEE. In this role, she leads the implementation and management of fiscal and operational processes, as well as the development and coordination of strategic communication and engagement activities to support the agency.
Prior to joining the CCEE, Dr. Magyar served as the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Project Manager for the State Board of Education (SBE). She also served as an Administrator and Consultant with the California Department of Education (CDE).
Dr. Magyar previously worked as an Assistant Professor at the California State University, Long Beach. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley; Master of Science degree from Purdue University; and Doctorate of Philosophy degree from Michigan State University. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Assistant Director, Professional Learning and Leadership Development
James McKenna, Ed.D.
James McKenna serves as the Assistant Director of Professional learning and Leadership Development for the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE). Under the direction of Deputy Director Sujie Shin, Dr. McKenna will lead the planning, management, and dissemination of professional learning research, resource development, and service delivery for the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence. He will be working with CCEE staff, statewide agencies, partner organizations, and other stakeholders to ensure that the development and delivery of professional learning resources are responsive to the needs of local educational agencies across the state, are aligned with the CCEE’s theory of action, have a focus on equitable outcomes for students, especially those who have been historically underserved, and are anchored in the principles of continuous improvement.
Prior to joining the CCEE, Dr. McKenna served as the Coordinator of Inclusive Design at the Los Angeles County Office of Education. In this role, James provided professional learning and technical assistance to educators across Los Angeles County and partnered with several other county offices and state programs to promote more inclusive, student-centered learning environments. His career began as a para educator in his hometown of Revere, Massachusetts, moving on to become a social science teacher, special education teacher, assistant principal, and site administrator.
James is a nationally recognized expert in Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and co-founder of the California UDL Coalition. He has spearheaded the application of UDL to professional learning and performance improvement. James earned a doctorate degree in Education Leadership and Education Psychology from the University of Southern California and is certified as a Master Instructional Designer by the Association for Talent Development (ATD).
Senior Manager, Instructional Systems and Innovation
Rocio Gonzalez-Frausto is the Senior Manager of Instructional Systems and Innovation for the CCEE. In this role, Gonzalez helps support and coordinate the Direct Technical Assistance (DTA) that LEAs receive from the CCEE.
Before joining the CCEE team, Gonzalez was a Regional Superintendent providing academic and systemic support to Title I schools in the Bay Area.
In addition, Gonzalez served as a principal of middle and elementary charter schools where she led efforts to implement continuous growth and development cycles for educators and students alike. Gonzalez also supported and helped develop the systemic processes and procedures to support the academic and social-emotional development of students.
Throughout her career in education, Gonzalez has led teams and collaborated with others to create educational opportunities for all students, by supporting and developing school administrators and teachers.
Gonzalez began her educational career as an upper elementary and middle school teacher serving students in Richmond, CA.
She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of California, Los Angeles with a minor in Education Studies and a Master of Arts in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University along with her teaching credentials.
Senior Manager, Community Engagement
Steven Sterling Mitchell
Steven Sterling Mitchell is the Senior Manager of Community Engagement for the CCEE. In this role, he co-leads the Community Engagement Initiative (CEI) within the CA System of Support. The CEI is focused on building the capacity of communities, school districts, and county offices of education (COEs) statewide to engage each other more meaningfully in the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) development process.
With over 20 years servings in various roles in public education settings in the United States and abroad, Mitchell is dedicated to continuing the work across various educational organizations both locally and in a global context to foster equity and access for all.
His work continues to focus on developing and maximizing an organization’s ability to engage all stakeholders in support of school communities using Participatory Action Research, Expanded Learning Time and Full-Service Community Schools frameworks.
A native of Oakland, California, and a multilingual world traveler, Mitchell has had the opportunity to present at various conferences around the globe related to community engagement, community psychology and school improvement.
Before his time with CCEE, Mitchell served as the Coordinator of Operations and Strategic Partnerships at the James P. Timilty Middle School within Boston Public Schools.
Mitchell completed his Bachelor of Arts in World Language and Culture at California State University, Monterey Bay and a Master of Education in Educational Administration at University of Massachusetts, Boston.
He currently holds a School Administrator license and previously held a State of California Designated Subjects Adult Education Teaching Credential in Parent Education.
Senior Manager, Instructional Systems and Innovation
Jennie Wright, Ed.D.
Dr. Jennie Wright is the Senior Manager of Instructional Systems and Innovation for the CCEE. In this role, Dr. Wright helps support and coordinate the Direct Technical Assistance (DTA) that LEA’s receive from the CCEE.
Prior to joining the CCEE team, Dr. Wright was a capacity building coach with InnovateEd providing support and facilitation to LEA’s across California implementing Fullan & Quinn’s coherence framework, as well as continuous improvement processes and practices for district leaders, site leaders, site leadership team and Professional Learning Communities within and across schools and districts.
Additionally, Dr. Wright served as a principal of middle and elementary urban schools where she led efforts to implement continuous improvement and data driven best practices. Dr. Wright also led efforts implementing social emotional learning best practices and PBIS to support whole child development and school climate and culture building for improved student outcomes.
Dr. Wright has developed teams and built leadership capacity of educators in all roles in the system to engage in continuous improvement practices and collaborative cycles of inquiry to address academic and social emotional needs of students.
She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education from Indiana University at Bloomington, her Master of Arts in Educational Administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and her Doctorate in Education from Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology.
Sehrish’s life-passion for ensuring high quality education for all led her to join CCEE as a Program Specialist in the Fall of 2020. Her role at CCEE includes research and report writing and assisting with project management within various agency-wide initiatives.
Prior to joining the CCEE team, Sehrish served as a Student Service Professional at California State University, East Bay supporting students with meeting graduation requirements and the development of the degree audit report. More recently, she served as a Project Specialist for the Quality Matters program at Contra Costa County Office of Education providing operational and administrative support.
Sehrish holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Cal State East Bay. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids, hiking, and taking long walks in the park.
Kashani Daniels serves as a Program Specialist for the CCEE.
California native, Kashani Daniels, has dedicated her career to service to families and children for nearly 20 years. Her career includes a unique combination of vocation in schools, in government agencies, and social service organizations. In her former role at the Sacramento Children’s Home, her focus was to provide education, advocacy and supports to reduce the number of childhood deaths in Sacramento County. Now, she is looking forward to continuing her work in equity through her new role as a Program Specialist with the CCEE. Kashani brings with her experience in civic advocacy, project management, partnership development and a passion for the advancement of children and families.
Dorcas Kong serves as a Program Specialist for the CCEE. In this role, she provides project management support across the agency, assists with research and data collection, and supports with the development of communication materials.
Prior to joining the CCEE, Kong was a graduate student in the M.S.Ed. Education Policy program at the University of Pennsylvania. Kong worked collaboratively in a research team to examine how the inclusion of children with Autism in the general education classroom relates to student behavioral and academic outcomes. Partnering with Bristol Township School District in Pennsylvania, her research team engaged in original empirical research and completed a written policy report to inform the district’s Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) corrective action plan.
Kong earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies – Political Science from the University of California, San Diego, with a minor in Education Studies, and a Master of Science degree in Education Policy from the University of Pennsylvania.
Franchesca Sonoyama is a Program Specialist for the CCEE. In this role, she provides programmatic support including general research, report writing, and assists with project management within the Direct Technical Assistance (DTA) team. Franchesca supports the coordination of the Systemic Instructional Review (SIR) under the Senior Manager of Instructional Systems and Innovation alongside partner LEAs.
Prior to joining the CCEE team, Franchesca served as program manager with a non-profit performing arts organization to provide equitable, enriching, and culturally relevant arts education to majority Title-1 schools in Sacramento and abroad. She worked closely with principals, teachers, school staff, families, and students to provide theatre arts education programs and arts integrated curriculum for teachers using the arts as a teaching and assessment tool in the classroom.
Throughout her educational career, Franchesca has been an advocate for equitable education and interactive learning. Her desire to serve the needs of all students and to support improvements in education state-wide has led her to CCEE.
She received her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Communication and Dramatic Art from the University of California, Davis and a Master in Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Integrated Teaching through the Arts from Lesley University.
Emma Oh serves as a Fiscal Analyst for the CCEE. In this role, Oh helps to manage the agency’s fiscal operations including budgeting, bookkeeping, contracting and invoicing.
Prior to joining the CCEE, Oh was a Financial Analyst at San Mateo-Foster City School District. Oh worked collaboratively between the Facilities Department and the Business Department where her work was primarily focused on financial analysis related to multi-year facilities construction projects funded by Measure L and Measure X Bonds, including Middle School New Gyms and Classrooms Projects, New Elementary School in Foster City Project, District-wide Safety Fencing Projects, District-wide Lunch Shade Structure Projects, District-wide Playground Projects, and Prop 39 California Clean Energy Lighting Projects. Her responsibilities included preparing and verifying financial transaction records and reports, tracking California Department of Industrial Relations Registration (DIR), reviewing contracts, purchase orders, payments, and reconciliation.
Oh is a mother and a recent transplant from the Bay Area. When not at work, she likes to explore the new neighborhood with her family.
Executive Assistant to Karla Estrada
Tamara Conger serves as the Executive Assistant to CCEE’s Deputy Executive Director of Systems Improvement and Innovation, Karla Estrada, Ed.D. In this role, she coordinates Dr. Estrada’s daily schedule and provides administrative support to the Direct Technical Assistance team.
She comes to CCEE with over 18 years of experience in education that has included both private and public school settings. Conger most recently served three years as the Assistant to the Superintendent and Governing School Board of San Marino Unified School District. Prior to that, she served students in Spokane, Washington in positions supporting the YouthBuild and AmeriCorps programs, as well as in an alternative high school. In these positions, she found a deep appreciation for nontraditional systems providing pathways to success for students who otherwise struggled. It was a joy to see so many students overcome challenges and barriers and gain pride as they graduated with their diplomas or GED and job skills. She credits the updates she still occasionally receives from students as one of the highlights and rewards of her career.
Executive Assistant to Tom Armelino
Leighann Nguyen serves as the Executive Assistant to CCEE’s Executive Director Tom Armelino. In this role, she manages and coordinates the Executive Director’s daily schedule. She also provides administrative support to CCEE’s executive leadership, the CCEE Advisory Council, and operational support to CCEE staff.
Prior to joining CCEE, Nguyen spent eight years at Aerojet Rocketdyne, a leading aerospace company with locations throughout the United States. She provided administrative support to two missile defense programs before becoming an Executive Assistant to three engineering directors.
During her time with Aerojet Rocketdyne she was awarded several Mission Success awards for her role in document retention, program management support, proposal support, and the coordination, compilation, and proof editing of final presentations used in the SM-3 BLKIIA Concept Design Review (CDR) and SM-3 BLKIIA Product Design Review (PDR).
Nguyen is a mother, California native, and joined the CCEE to help strengthen the System of Support for every student.
Administrative Assistant II
Nicole LoBese serves as the Administrative Assistant II to CCEE’s Director of Systems Improvement and Innovation, Matthew Roberts, Ed.D. In this role, she coordinates various schedules and provides administrative support to the Direct Technical Assistance team.
LoBese comes to the CCEE with 12 years of experience in education directly supporting students, families, and educators. Prior to joining the CCEE, she was with the Sacramento County Office of Education as a Program Analyst in the Curriculum and Instruction Department. Throughout her career in education, LoBese has worked in various positions alongside teachers and administrators in some of Sacramento’s most vulnerable communities and schools.
LoBese holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Protection Administration and Technology from the California State University of Los Angeles and is a nationally certified Emergency Medical Technician. In her spare time, she works as a volunteer Firefighter, tries to get outdoors as much as possible, and enjoys spending time with family.
Her passion in continuing to support the work of providing a quality and equitable education for every student helped lead her to joining CCEE.