Director, Systems Improvement and Leadership Development
Chelsea Kang-Smith, Ed.D.
Dr. Chelsea Kang-Smith is the Director of Systems Improvement and Leadership Development for the CCEE.
Prior to joining the CCEE, Dr. Kang-Smith provided coaching and facilitation to the CCEE Pilot Partnership program as a Professional Expert. She was also a leadership coach to Los Angeles County Office of Education’s Clear Administrative Services Credential Induction Program.
Dr. Kang-Smith spent over 26 years in California’s public education system empowering and collaborating with school leaders, teachers, and parents to cultivate systems of improvement for student success.
She began her teaching at Chemawa Middle School in Riverside Unified School District, then continued into site administrative experiences. She served as an Assistant Principal and Principal at Dale Jr. High School, Magnolia High School, and Walker Jr. High School in the Anaheim Union High School District.
Her district level experiences include Assistant Superintendent/Area Superintendent position of San Diego Unified School District and Baldwin Park Unified School District as well as Superintendent of Temple City Unified School District.
Throughout her education career, Dr. Kang-Smith led improvements with her colleagues to receive California Distinguished School, Gold Ribbon, Model Continuation, and Title I Academic Achievement awards.
As superintendent, she galvanized her community to pass $128.8 million dollar facility bond for schools.
During her education career, Dr. Kang-Smith received PTA Honorary Service and Council PTA Honorary Service Awards for her dedication students in her school and district as well as the Hero Award from Walker Jr. High School students.
Dr. Kang-Smith earned her Doctorate of Education from the University of Southern California, Masters of Science in Education from the California State University, Fullerton, and Bachelor of Science in Biological Science and Teaching Credential Program from the University of California, Irvine.
Director, Systems Improvement and Innovation
Héctor Rico, Ed.D
Dr. Héctor Rico serves as Director of Systems Improvement and Innovation for the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE). He comes to the CCEE with 30 years experience as an educator; during which time, he’s focused on educational equity and innovation in order to meet the needs of the “whole child” and provide a world-class education. Dr. Rico most recently served as the Superintendent of the Alisal USD, where he targeted services and resources via a Multi-Tiered System of Supports framework that addresses academic, behavioral, and social-emotional domains. Student academic growth during his tenure was three-or-more times higher than the County or State averages for most student groups.
Dr. Rico began his career as an Elementary School Bilingual Teacher and, then, taught middle school before serving in a variety of administrative positions, including as an Elementary School Principal, a High School Administrator, and a District Director of English Learner and Categorical Programs. He has also served as a Graduate School Lecturer, as a Leadership Coach to school and district administrators, and as a State Director with the California Department of Education (CDE), overseeing statewide services for English learners and Migrant Students, among others, as well as the CDE’s compliance monitoring system.
Dr. Rico earned his doctorate from UC Berkeley’s Leadership for Educational Equity Program; his master’s in School Administration from Azusa Pacific University, and his B.A. in Latin American and Iberian Studies and teaching credential from UC Santa Barbara. Additionally, Dr. Rico is certified as a School Leadership Coach and as a Google Educator, Level 1.
When not at work or hanging out with his wife, also an educator, you can probably find him at the batting cages.
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.
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.
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 Administr
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.
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.
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.
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.
Siulan Morales serves as the Fiscal Analyst for the CCEE. In this role, Morales helps to manage the agency’s fiscal operations including budgeting, bookkeeping, contracting and invoicing.
Prior to joining the CCEE, Morales worked at the Kern County Superintendent of Schools as an Account Clerk III where her work was primarily focused within the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT). Her responsibilities included preparing and verifying financial transaction records and reports, reconciling account statements, and processing accounts receivable and payables.
Morales began her career in banking management after she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Before transitioning to educational finance, Morales spent 10 years in the field of overall banking operations.