I agree with Arne Duncan who said that "the difference between a life of promise and a life of peril hinges not on a student's potential, but on the quality of the local pubic school." Underperforming schools and poor quality education are solvable problems. GO is doing something to help solve these problems. And that is why I continue to support GO.
Somerville Consulting Firm works in partnership with nonprofits, foundations, and social impact businesses to improve their efficacy and impact. Andrea Somerville, Principal Consultant and Founder of SCF, is skilled in strategic thinking and planning and helps her clients create strategies that bridge the gap between vision and goals and develop action plans that bring those strategies to life.
Andrea provides a range of support, including helping organizations design and implement fundraising strategies and capital campaigns, refine organizational strategic direction, launch new program initiatives, and build high-functioning, effective boards.
Prior to launching her consulting practice, Andrea spent five years a Director of Development, designing fundraising strategy and overseeing implementation for three robust funding programs.
A trained attorney, Andrea spent six years litigating business and employment disputes, as well as providing advice and counseling to Fortune 500 corporations. After practicing law, Andrea spent two years traveling extensively throughout South America, volunteering and learned Spanish.
I GO because children deserve access to safe, supportive, and equitable schools to learn, grow, and cultivate their own unique talents and strengths.
Briel is a Bay Area native. Briel has a background and a degree in the performing arts. She shifted to the world of education in 2012, earning a master’s degree in education. She was an Early Childhood Educator for nine years in Oakland and Berkeley, where she served as a Mentor Teacher and found joy in working with other educators. In 2021, her desire to serve a larger and more diverse population compelled her to shift out of the classroom and led to her work as an EdTech Trainer in the field of Adult ESL Education. Now, she is so excited to bring her experience and passion to the GO WCC team!
"We are in this period of time where what predicts kids' experiences is zip code. Across zip codes there is great disparity. There needs to be a way to address those disparities. We need to change or transform the system in a way where more kids will succeed."
Brandon is the founding executive director of The Hidden Genius Project, an Oakland-based nonprofit that supports young African-American males in technology, leadership, and entrepreneurship. The Hidden Genius Project has served close to 1,000 kids.
Why public education?
I went to Oakland public schools from K-8, and then I had the opportunity to participate in the Better Chance Program. I attended a private high school for free. I felt I was prepared for the school thanks to my experience at Claremont, but what struck me was ‘Why was I able to afford this as opposed to someone else?’ Not everyone has the opportunity and support at school and home that I did.
I was born and raised here. As I was able to see more of the world in high school and college, I realized how diverse Oakland is and how important of a place it is politically and culturally. I know it has its challenges– school achievement, violence, and poverty– but it also has a certain level of swag, cultural intelligence, and a great deal of pride.
What are your vices?
I definitely try too much, in a good way. I try to do as much as possible in a given day and sit on various boards. I don’t have a problem saying no. I just want to do things and make things happen.
"I am hopeful that as more and more parents realize the great power they hold as leaders we will be able to organize ourselves and build a parent-student minded coalition that fights for the rights of our children. All children, regardless of socio-economic status, race, or background deserve a high-quality education."
Carmen has been a part of the Fresno Unified School District for the last 15 years as a mother to a 20-year-old, a 17-year-old, and a 5-year-old who just started his educational path. She is committed to advocacy work surrounding public education to ensure that all children receive equitable, high-quality instruction that will lead them on a path to success and provide them with the skills necessary to thrive in the labor force of the 21st century.
Most importantly, she believes the love of learning can be restored in the hearts of all Fresno’s children.
I GO because I believe that truly equitable educational outcomes will only be achieved when all stakeholders have a seat and a say at the table. First as student, then a teacher, and now a family member I have seen what is possible when inequitable systems are intentionally interrupted to empower students, their families, and champions-- and I've seen and experienced what happens when this is not the case. I'm in this work to support the movement of our system to the possible and to ensure that as many people as possible acquire the skills and resources to hold our leaders accountable.
Darcel joined our growing organization from Teach For America, where she spent three years working on the California Capital Valley team, most recently as the Interim Executive Director, and on the California team as Vice President, California Government Affairs. Prior to joining TFA, Darcel worked in the California State Senate departing as Legislative Director to Senator Carol Liu (SD, 25), then Chair of the Senate Education Committee. Darcel began her policy career as an intern in Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s Washington D.C. office. She also taught at Frick Middle School in Oakland and was Head Women’s Volleyball Coach at Mills College.
A Central Valley native, Darcel is inspired by our work in Fresno, Oakland, and West Contra Costa. She is excited to bring her classroom experience and public policy knowledge to our team, especially as we look to expand our reach and impact.
What is your favorite quote?
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. Do not complain; make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change then change the way you’ve been thinking; you may find a new solution. Never whine, whining lets a brute know that a victim is in the neighborhood. Be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity.” -Dr. Maya Angelou
Education is empowerment. As an adjunct instructor (1999-2005) I led social science classes in community colleges and universities. I witnessed the significant barriers to school completion that existed for low-income students in my classes. Often they had to decide whether to work to support themselves and their families, or to continue with their education. GO Public Schools is working to mobilize parents, families, community leaders and all of us to ensure that students have access to high-quality schools, and holistic resources for long-term academic success. I value GO's fierce, inclusive activism and focus on guaranteeing equity in education.
Diyana has served youth, families and diverse communities for 20+ years as a fund development professional, nonprofit leader and committed volunteer. Her prior roles include program development, grants management, leading professional fundraising training sessions, and adjunct instruction (Santa Barbara City College, Antioch University). Diyana’s first nonprofit role was leading a multi-stakeholder collaborative addressing teenage pregnancy prevention for United Boys & Girls Clubs. In that capacity and in other roles, Diyana built skills enlisting key partners to meet goals, including for seemingly intractable issues. She looks forward to engaging new allies and donors to advance GO Public Schools’ anti-racist mission and organizing.
The pandemic has underscored the need for many changes within the public school system. Families are an underserved and underutilized lever for creating that change, especially in the most marginalized communities where GO is committed to working.
Prior to GO, Eden was the Director of Research at A+ Colorado, a school-based Program Manager at a social service organization, and spent some time in the classroom. Eden also worked at an orphanage in Central America and loves to travel there (and anywhere else) and bring her camera. The rest of Eden’s time and energy is spent being the cool aunt™️ to her nieces and nephew.
Para que todos los niños tengan acceso a las mismas oportunidades puedan soñar sin limites.
Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, Erika is a current West Contra Costa parent and a WCCUSD and Metas Alumni. Raised in the San Pablo/Richmond area, she is now proud to be able to raise her two boys there. In her previous work with non-profit organizations, Erika worked with several schools in WCCUSD and the School Based Health Centers.
All children have the right to spaces of belonging that affirm their identities, foster a love for learning and inquiry, and equip them with the knowledge, skills, and mindsets to lead thriving lives.
Emmile is currently the Managing Director of Finance & Operations for the National Equity Project and has over 15 years of nonprofit management experience in the areas of strategy, growth, finance & accounting, data, technology and operations. Prior to joining the National Equity Project, Emmile supported nonprofit organizations as an independent consultant to revamp their theories of change, core values and strategic plans as well as analyze their data and operational processes, using a more intentional equity lens.
Before striking out on her own, Emmile was Vice President of Operations for Schoolzilla, a public-benefit corporation that creates data tools for school leaders, and worked at Aspire Public Schools for 7 years, serving as Chief of Staff and Vice President of Operations. Emmile earned her MBA from The George Washington University and her bachelor’s degree from Santa Clara University.
"Our communities' urgent need to address persistent opportunity gaps for our children of color and the evolving skills necessary for the 21st century economy demand that we commit ourselves to a fundamental transformation of public education. GO is about developing innovative leaders with the vision, care, skills and information to make the changes to our public schools that our kids deserve."
Jonathan is passionate about improving public schools in low-income communities. Since his first job after college teaching in Compton, CA, he has been a fundraiser, community organizer and political advocate. Jonathan began working with parents, educators, and community members in 2008 to develop GO’s Oakland network, and became Executive Director in 2012. Based on GO’s work in Oakland, Jonathan was one of three finalists for the Peter Jennings Award for Civic Leadership, presented annually to one of the 30,000 Teach For America alumni for work that has led to far-reaching systemic change. New Schools Venture Fund also named Jonathan Change Agent of the Year in 2013. In 2003, he co-founded what is now the Oakland Public Education Fund, a non-profit organization that has helped hard-pressed schools raise $20 million for special programs and extra teachers. He was also the Bay Area Director of Teach for America, Chief Program Officer at the Rogers Family Foundation, and Special Assistant to the State Administrator in the Oakland Unified School District as a Broad Resident. Jonathan received an MBA from the Haas School of Business in 2008, and was a Lecturer there on nonprofit leadership and management. He also helped found Revolution Foods. Jonathan is a fully credentialed California teacher and received a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University. Jonathan lives with his wife and two children in Oakland’s Dimond neighborhood.
"My hope is that other parents like myself raise their voices and concerns and receive the tools they need to unite together for quality schools and equity for all our children."
Juana Iris Mesa is a mother of 4 children. She is someone who is active in her own community and her passion is to help others around her and she also enjoys learning new knowledge so that she can share this back to her community.
Juana graduated from GO Fresno’s 2nd Family Leadership Program in May 2018 so that she could gain the tools she needed to advocate for quality education. Since then, she has joined the Family Leadership Action Group (FLAG), participated in one on one meetings with board members, has taken her advocacy to the state level in Sacramento about issues of financial aid and has actively spoken at board meetings on issues that matter to her.
During her free time, she enjoyed spending quality time around her family. One of her most favorite things to do together as a family is camping. Juana also enjoys learning and participating at events that her community provides.
As an adult who grew up poor but got lucky to go to some great public schools early on, I want others to have the same opportunity I had. As a former teacher, I want teachers to have sustainable jobs that they can stay in for many years. As a parent, I want all of our children to have access to education that helps them become thoughtful, kind, and productive community members.
Jose was born and raised in East Los Angeles and went to Loyola Marymount University where he studied Business Administration. He is the son of immigrant Mexican parents and the middle child of seven (five sisters!).
His finance experience includes budgeting, forecasting, accounting, financial planning/analysis, long-range plans and operations in the film entertainment industry. Over the past 10 years, has supported theatrical and in-home movie releases at Paramount Pictures, NBCUniversal, Focus Features, Fox and Disney.
In his free time, Jose likes to ride his bike, go camping, and watch TV. His favorite shows are The Big Bang Theory, Friends, Ancient Aliens, The League, It’s Always Sunny among others.
He is currently enrolled in a Master’s program at Pepperdine University studying Clinical Psychology.
I partner with GO because I believe that advocacy and organizing are critical to achieving an equitable, high quality education for all West Contra Costa students.
Kathleen is an El Cerrito parent and passionate education advocate who is both personally and professionally dedicated to improving outcomes in West Contra Costa County schools. She has worked for the Irene S. Scully Family Foundation since 2007, having served as the Foundation’s Program Officer and Director of Programs before taking on her current role as Executive Director.
Ensuring all kids have access to a quality public education goes a long way towards ensuring equal opportunity for all.
Louis is SVP of Legal & Head of Corporate Development at if(we). He oversees all legal matters, including intellectual property, corporate governance, securities compliance, litigation and government affairs. He also leads teams for finance and accounting, people operations and facilities, including employee recruitment and retention, and is responsible for driving corporate development and strategic transactions. Louis has significant experience with online media, privacy and technology law and has been closely involved with the evolution of the industry for the past 10 years. Prior to working with if(we), Louis served as General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer of Ennovate Media, a media technology company based in New York, where he was responsible for key client relations. He also served as Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs with The Deal, L.L.C., a financial news publishing company also based in New York. Louis began his legal career as a corporate associate with Dewey Ballantine LLP working on mergers and acquisitions and securities offerings. He is a graduate of Wesleyan University (B.A.) and Columbia Law School (J.D.), where he served as an Editor of the Columbia Law Review.
Education is the key to providing our students with the opportunities that they deserve. As a former Title I student and educator, I strongly believe that the voices and perspectives of students, families, and communities hold power and should be heard.
Mariko is entering her 7th year of working in education. Born and raised in Northern California, Mariko attended California public schools and eventually graduated from Portland State University where she played for their NCAA volleyball team. After graduating from college, Mariko joined Teach For America where she taught middle school science in Jacksonville, Florida. Prior to joining GO, Mariko served as the Manager of External Affairs for the Teach For America-California Capital Valley Team in Sacramento.
"I am committed to heeding the voices of our marginalized students and to use my privilege to leverage their experiences into meaningful change in our schools."
Nadia was previously an Equity Coach, taught African American literature, high school English, and AVID, and served as the English department chair. She is also a Teach Plus California alumna, publishing research and legislation on culturally affirming and antiracist school environments. She has led initiatives throughout Bay Area school districts promoting equitable practices for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students, spearheaded policy change for transgender and nonbinary students, and advised BSU and GSA student advocacy clubs. She earned her master’s in Education Studies from UC San Diego with an emphasis on equity and social justice.
Access to quality and equitable education is the backbone of thriving communities and American democracy.
Lindsey recently left a seventeen year teaching career, the past decade of which was spent as the developer, instructor, and coordinator of the Language Institute, a specialized program serving immigrant, refugee, and asylum seeking high school students in Modesto, California, which was nationally recognized as a model for supporting the needs of newcomer students. Lindsey is a social justice champion and ally to immigrant students and families at the local, state, and national level. An alumna of the Teach Plus California fellowship, Lindsey advocated the state legislature for tenure reform, as well as successfully inserting explicit protections for newcomer students in the education code.
Lindsey is currently an Education Leadership Coach for Teach Plus California and works as an independent consultant for schools, districts, and text book publishers aiming to build equitable pathways and meaningful access for diverse multilingual student profiles.
Lindsey earned a BA in Social Science from California State University Chico and a M.Ed. in literacy and digital learning from the University of San Diego. Check out Lindsey’s TED Talk on the super power of empathy.
Together, I believe we can create an inclusive space where all come to the table with honest stories and curious ears; to share worries, successes, and solutions; and to draw energy, urgency, and inspiration from a shared commitment to doing what’s best for our babies.
Natalie is a Richmond local and founding principal of Caliber Schools Beta Academy. She was raised in Richmond and now is proud to raise her children there. Over the past 10 years, she has been a school leader at parochial and public schools in West Contra Costa and Alameda counties serving students in grades Pre K-12. Most recently, Natalie was the principal of Glenview Elementary in Oakland where, under her leadership, the school experienced double-digit growth in both Math and ELA on the California Standards Test (CST). In 2011, Glenview achieved the most growth in the district for African American students in Math. In her final year in Oakland, Natalie received the Excellence in Educational Leadership Award with an unprecedented number of nominations.
All children deserve a sound educational foundation from which they can pursue their dreams.
I GO because every child in our community -- especially low-income students and students of color -- deserves justice and equal opportunity. We must work together until this is a reality for all of our students.
A West Contra Costa grandparent and community-based organization leader, Scottie has been an education advocate for over 35 years. She began working in Montgomery County, Maryland as a parent volunteer in the local schools and was elected the first Special Needs Chair for the Montgomery County Public School system. As Chair, she advocated for the educational rights of Exceptional Students, and the establishment of a parent center that provided resources and advocacy services to parents, teachers, and students. Scottie also co-founded The March 4 Education, a grassroots organization that advocates for equity in educational funding at the state and national levels. She has served many parents and students in Contra Costa County, Alameda County, and San Francisco. She provides personal advocacy and training sessions for parents/students, social service agencies and others on 504, IDEA, and regular education issues.
I GO because I believe it takes a village to raise a child. Parents matter; teachers matter; aunties and pseudo-aunties matter; communities and
politicians matter. How we all show up for kids has a profound impact on all children and all of our shared home.
Vivian sees herself as a bridge, global citizen, fierce learner of mercy, and product of Central Valley public schools – Merced, Atwater, Turlock.
Vivian’s career began in restorative justice work, accompanying people and communities through incarceration. Her experiences led her to law school and public defender work. She returned to the nonprofit sector through mission-driven global education and nonprofit consulting in Córdoba, Argentina. Living internationally taught her: how it feels to be an immigrant and the meaning of ¡lo siento!
As Senior Manager of Strategy, Talent, and Operations, her nonprofit, legal and intercultural experiences support GO’s impact on her home.