Nicky Ramos-Beban Phd, Executive Director

Nicky has over 25 years of experience in middle school, high school and university education, is a founding principal of multiple charter schools, and has called the San Lorenzo Valley home for over twenty years.  Nicky is the co-author of Be the Change: Reinventing School for Student Success and is the recipient of the Labosky Award from Stanford University for Contributions to Teacher Education.  Nicky has served as an English teacher, middle school and high school principal, and has instructed in the Teacher Education Programs at San Jose State University and Stanford University since 1999. Nicky holds a research doctorate in Curriculum and Teacher Education from Stanford University, a master's degree in Education and a bachelor's degree in English from Stanford University, as well as a master’s degree in Urban Education and Leadership from San Jose State University.  

Carolyn dornsife PHD, Director of REsearch

Carolyn is an experienced researcher with over 25 years in the fields of education, sociology and psychology. She served as a Research Social Scientist at SRI International and was Project Director for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) funded Next Generation Learning Challenge (NGLC) Grant evaluation study.  Carolyn also worked as Senior Research and Evaluation Specialist for the Consortium on Reading Excellence (CORE) where she was responsible for planning, implementing, and managing large-scale research and evaluation projects at K-12 districts and schools across the U.S, and she co-directed the first large-scale, multi-state evaluation study of Tech Prep/School-to-Work systems at the National Center for Research in Vocational Education (NCRVE).  Carolyn holds a research doctorate in sociology from the University of Oregon, a master's in sociology from the University of Maryland and a bachelor's in Psychology from the University of Denver.  


Mary Kashmar, Director of Development

Mary comes to ILA with over 30 years of development experience with nonprofit organizations.  She led a successful multi-million dollar capital campaign in Southern California, resulting in a 25,000 square foot community health center.  She has special expertise in major donor development, and is a successful foundation and corporate fundraiser.  Mary presented her model of marketing, messaging and fundraising at the National CASA (Count Appointed Special Advocates) Conference in Washington, DC in May 2015.  Her experience is with organizations that work to support children, youth and families. 


Swati Bhargava, Director of community engagement

Swati comes to ILA with a background in community organizing, policy and education. She has worked in various public offices, including the Mayor’s Office of Oakland, under Libby Schaff, and the Mexican Ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan. She’s taught at an all-girls school in Sri Lanka, a prison in Spain and on two Native reservations in New Mexico. Swati’s research, speaking engagements and work in curriculum development have primarily focused on post-colonial discourse and critical consciousness. Swati holds a master’s degree in Education from the University of New Mexico and a bachelor’s in International Policy & Economics from the University of Wisconsin. 


estelle fein, SAn lorenzo valley community outreach

Estelle is a life-long educator and has over 20 years of experience in the San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District as a teacher and school leader.  Estelle was a co-author of the original charter petition for what is now SLVUSD Charter School and and is the co-founder of Charter 25 and the South Street Center. 


School Board

Eric schwartz

Eric is the founder and principal shareholder of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. an independent broker dealer and registered investment advisor with over 3000 affiliated advisors servicing more than 500,000 investing clients.  Eric is active in philanthropy through his two family charitable foundations that focus primarily on schools and educational organizations providing tools to help all youth lead more successful, meaningful and enjoyable lives.

Jonathan rudney

Jonathan is the founder and CEO of several global energy companies.  Jonathan is active in philanthropy and is an avid outdoor enthusiast. 

Jan Link

Jan is a retired administrator from San Francisco Unified School District.  During her 30+ years as a pubic schools educator, Jan has been a teacher, a data analyst and most recently headed the data division of SFUSD.

Mark Sherby

Mark is a computer security training consultant and professor of security information systems at De Anza College . He has taught over 5,000 computer networking students on national cable TV, and currently heads up the De Anza College Computer Security Program while teaching hands-on computer security classes. Mark is a graduate of Stanford University and has received numerous national awards for excellence in “teaching technology” from Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer, the American Association of Community Colleges, and Who's Who. Mark is among the highest nationally ranked professors on, and has been a speaker at numerous computer security conferences including the League for Innovation and CDSIA. He has worked as a computer consultant/trainer for numerous companies including Microsoft, Adobe, Seagate, Stanford University, Compucom, Net Manage, New Horizons and Lockheed-Martin. Mark is also a teacher, investor and consultant in Real Estate.

Mary Shartle

Mary, a long-time resident of Santa Cruz, has over 25 years of experience in high-tech marketing and communication, including 17 years at Apple and 7 years at Seagate Technology.  She served as the President of the Board of Directors at CASA of Santa Cruz County, and brings her project management fundraising, and team-building skills to ILA.


ralph wolfF

Ralph is the former President of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).  He was a founder of the Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C., the first law school expressly designed to prepare lawyers to serve in public interest or poverty law positions.  Ralph received his J.D. from George Washington University.