Leadership Team

Karen Hunter Quartz

Director, UCLA Center for Community Schooling
Faculty, UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies

Karen Hunter Quartz led the design team to create the RFK UCLA Community School. Her research, teaching, and service support new school development, teacher autonomy and retention, and educational reform. Karen oversees a portfolio of research-practice partnerships at the UCLA Community Schools designed to advance democracy, inquiry, and change.

Jody Z. Priselac

Associate Dean of Community Programs, UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies

Jody Z. Priselac oversees community programs and school partnerships within the School of Education and Information Studies. She has over 30 years of experience as a mathematics educator, serving in many roles, including high school teacher, professional development leader, teacher educator, and researcher.  Jody was a founding partner in creating the UCLA Community Schools and currently co-chairs the School Governing Council.

Leyda W. Garcia

Associate Director for Professional Learning, UCLA Center for Community Schooling

Dr. Leyda W. Garcia is the Associate Director for Professional Learning at the UCLA Center for Community Schooling. She is an educator and scholar whose work spans over two decades. As the former principal of the UCLA Community School, she supported a team of educators in redefining public education and operationalizing practices that authentically elevate and center student and community voices. In her current role she is part of the State’s Transformational Assistance Center (STAC) for emerging community schools across California. She assists grantees and hopes to shine a light on the contributions of those on the ground–students, families, educators, and community partners who make community schooling transformational.

Marisa Saunders

Associate Director for Research, UCLA Center for Community Schooling

Marisa Saunders’ research aims to support and connect the work of the UCLA Community Schools to the broader community schools movement. In particular, her research explores the influence of teacher leadership on school improvement efforts, and student outcomes. Marisa facilitates the work of the UCLA Consortium of Community Schools and serves on the research committees of the UCLA Community Schools.

Christine Shen

Director, UCLA Community Schools Initiative, UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies

Christine Shen has 20+ years leading large-scale school transformations in Los Angeles. Dr. Shen was part of the founding member of the first start-up public charter middle school in Los Angeles, served as a senior advisor for LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s to secure and manage 15 urban schools, and collaborated with LAPD and other city departments to ensure safe school passages for over 100 schools in Los Angeles Unified School District.

Rebekah M. Kang

School Leadership Fellow

As one of the founding teachers of the RFK UCLA Community School, Rebekah M. Kang helped start and develop signature learning programs such as the Seminar Program and Integration Program for students with disabilities. She is also a National Board Certified Teacher, a UCLA Writing Project Fellow, and Teacher-Powered Schools Ambassador.

Graduate Student Researchers

Ariana Guillermo Dimagiba

Higher Education &  Organizational Change

Ariana Dimagiba is a doctoral student in the Higher Education and Organizational Change Division at UCLA’s School of Education & Information Studies. Ariana’s research interests largely revolve around college access for underrepresented populations in colleges.  She holds a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA and an M.A. in Higher Education and Organizational Change from UCLA GSE&IS. Prior to returning to UCLA, Ariana was a college advisor for first generation college students and their families in Chula Vista, California.

Natalie Fensterstock

Social Welfare

Natalie Fensterstock is a Ph.D. student in Social Welfare in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. She holds a M.A. in Social Sciences and Comparative Education from the UCLA School of Education & Information Studies and a B.A. in English with minors in Secondary Education and Sociology from Wake Forest. Her research focuses on reducing the barriers to learning for our most vulnerable youth populations and on interventions for promoting holistic youth well-being. She is currently working on projects related to ongoing school readiness, teacher leadership and whole child education within the community schooling context, secondary trauma within schools, and developing policy solutions for addressing harm experienced by school staff and faculty during the COVID era. Prior to her time at UCLA, Natalie spent five years teaching middle and high school English and coaching new teachers in the Bay Area in California.

Andrés Fernández-Vergara

Social Research Methodology

Andrés E. Fernández-Vergara is a doctoral student in the Social Research Methodology Division at UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies. His work has focused on evaluating educational policies and programs in Chile and Latin America. He has researched and published about the relationships between literacy policies, bibliodiversity, and economic concentration in the publishing industry in Latin America. Prior to starting his Ph.D. studies, he taught Causal Inference and Data Analysis at Universidad de Chile. He is co-founder and consultant at the research-oriented Chilean non-profit NGO ‘Fundación Co-Crecer’.

Lauren Kinnard

Human Development & Psychology

Lauren is a doctoral student in Human Development and Psychology (HDP). Her research interests center around the racial socialization of White children, particularly in academic contexts. Prior to joining HDP, Lauren taught elementary and middle school students for almost a decade in Atlanta, Georgia and Washington, D.C. She received her M.S. in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education from Georgia State University, and B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Christine Liboon

Social Research Methodology

Christine Liboon is a doctoral student in Social Research Methodology at UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies. Her research interests are focused broadly on program evaluation in education related to newcomer, immigrant, refugee, and migrant populations. Christine is focused on studying the integration of the Immigration Family Legal Clinic at RFK. At UCLA, she is a Co-Chair for the Graduate Student Association in Education (GSAE). She has a B.A in Ethnic Studies from UCR and M.A. in Social Research Methodology from UCLA.

Nadia Sabat Bass

Social Research Methodology

Nadia Sabat Bass is a doctoral student in the Social Research Methodology Division at the UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies. Her interests relate to validity and fairness in educational and psychological measurement as well as the processes and policies of evaluation, particularly around equitable evaluation. She holds a M.A. in Global Policy Studies and a B.A. in Philosophy. Prior to starting her doctorate program at UCLA, Nadia worked for three years as an evaluator at a non-profit organization in charge of Charter Schools, Head Start Programs and Community Centers, among other programs, in Houston, Texas.

Jeffrey Yo

Human Development & Psychology

Jeffrey Yo is a doctoral student in the Human Development and Psychology division at UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies. His research focuses on teacher-child interactions, particularly how teachers’ racial-ethnic identity influences the academic and social development of their students. He holds his B.A. in Sociology from the University of Chicago and holds a M.A. in Human Development and Psychology from UCLA SE&IS. Prior to attending UCLA, Jeffrey worked as middle school science teacher in Chicago and Northwest Indiana, a college consultant, and as a preschool/after school teaching assistant.