OUR TEAM

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 graduate school. 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.

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 serves on the RFK UCLA Community School’s Research and Accountability Committee.

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.

Ung-Sang Lee

Postdoctoral Scholar, UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies

Ung-Sang Lee facilitates institutional design partnerships and studies how such partnerships can be leveraged to produce equity in school communities. For his dissertation study, he partnered with students and educators at RFK UCLA Community School to support student agency in the collaborative design and implementation of locally meaningful school technology practices. In his current role at Mann UCLA Community School, he studies and supports the ground-up building of school-based data and learning infrastructures that respond to community schooling models. He also is a core researcher and facilitator for an NSF-funded project that seeks to co-design an elementary computer science curriculum along with teachers and a computer science education nonprofit. Prior to his time at UCLA, Ung-Sang was an elementary school teacher in Detroit, MI.

Carla Estes

School Leadership Fellow
Carla Estes is an Assistant Principal at Horace Mann UCLA Community School, entrusted with managing the partnership between Horace Mann and UCLA. As an educator, her ultimate goal is for all students to achieve success through equity.

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

Janet Cerda

Human Development & Psychology
Janet Cerda is a PhD candidate in the Human Development and Psychology Division of UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Her research investigates the psychosocial and multilingual language development of immigrant children and youth over time. She collaborates with teachers and school leaders at the RFK UCLA Community School to support the expansion of their dual language program to the secondary grades. She is a recipient of the National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship.

Heather Clark

Urban Schooling
Heather Clark is a PhD student in the Urban Schooling division. Her research at the Mann UCLA Community School centers on co-designing community-based science focused on climate change learning. Prior to attending UCLA, she taught high school chemistry and received her B.A. from Wellesley College and M.S. from Yale University. Heather’s work hopes to explore how teacher learning in research-practice partnerships can support youth in reimagining a climate future for Los Angeles that is more just and sustainable.

Clémence Darriet

Social Sciences & Comparative Education
Clémence Darriet is a PhD student in Social Sciences and Comparative Education interested in secondary bilingual education and works at RFK UCLA Community School with the secondary school dual-language program. She earned her BA and MA in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and previously worked as a language teacher in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Ariana Guillermo Dimagiba

Higher Education &  Organizational Change
Ariana Dimagiba is a doctoral student in the Higher Education and Organizational Change Division at UCLA’s Graduate 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.

 

Becky French

Human Development & Psychology
Becky French is a Ph.D. candidate in the Joint Doctoral Program with California State University, Los Angeles, and the Human Development and Psychology division of UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Her research focuses on how teachers are prepared to work with students who have diverse learning needs. Prior to coming to UCLA, she was a Special Education teacher and coordinator. Her work at Mann UCLA Community School focuses on supporting teachers to work with students with disabilities.

Symone Gyles

Urban Schooling
Symone Gyles is a PhD candidate in the Urban Schooling division in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Prior to coming to UCLA, Symone earned her B.S. in Marine and Environmental Science at Hampton University, and went on to teach 7th grade science in Hampton, VA. Currently, her research at Mann UCLA Community School is focused on how community-based environmental justice practices can be used in science classrooms to elicit student funds of knowledge, and create greater meaningfulness and relevance education.

Sidronio Jacobo

Higher Education & Organizational Change
Sidronio Jacobo is a doctoral student in the Higher Education and Organizational Change program at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. His research at RFK UCLA Community School focuses on understanding alumni’s pathways and other college-outcomes. Sidronio holds a B.A. in Social Welfare and Latin American Studies from UC Berkeley and an M.A. in Higher Education and Organization Change from UCLA GSE&IS.

Christine Liboon

Social Research Methodology
Christine Liboon is a doctoral student in Social Research Methodology at UCLA’s Graduate 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.

Olivia Obeso

Urban Schooling
Olivia Obeso is a Ph.D. student in Urban Schooling at UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies. She earned her B.A. in Linguistics and Spanish and M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and worked as a language teacher prior to attending UCLA. Her research focuses on the ways that educators and students navigate language policies in schools. Through this work, she aims to support school communities in creating more equitable spaces for linguistically marginalized students.

Evelyn Wang

Social Research Methodology
Evelyn Wang is a doctoral candidate in the Social Research Methodology division of UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, with a focus on Evaluation. Prior to her doctoral studies, she was the Senior Research Associate at Children’s Institute, Inc., where she coordinated internal program evaluation and university-partnered research studies. Evelyn’s work at Mann UCLA Community School centers on assisting the school with designing, implementing, and evaluating integrated student supports that promote non-academic outcomes.

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