Nicky Ramos-Beban Phd, Executive Director and CO-Founder

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

Laurent Valosek, Founder and board president

Laurent has 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur, educator and researcher. He has co-founded and been the CEO of a wireless engineering consulting firm, a semiconductor intellectual property company, a wireless technology development and wide area network service provider. Laurent also co-founded a strategy and business development consulting firm.  Laurent has extensive experience in the areas of strategy, planning, recruiting, training, business development and general management.  He co-founded the Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education in 2007, for the purpose of providing evidence-based wellness programs to students, schools, school districts and other community organizations. Laurent earned his bachelor's degree in Physical Sciences at U.C. Berkeley.

Jonathan rudney

Jonathan is the founder and CEO of several global energy companies including RAAM Global Energy Company; Century Exploration Resources, and Concorde Energy.  Jonathan is active in philanthropy and is an avid meditator and outdoor enthusiast. 

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 disadvantaged kids lead more successful, meaningful and enjoyable lives.

Linda Kang Chong

Linda is a Vice President at Dodge & Cox. She is part of the structured products team and the Korea and Malaysia coverage analyst. Ms. Chong is a shareholder of the firm and a CFA charterholder. She received her B.A. degree (summa cum laude) from Harvard University and her J.D. degree from Harvard Law School. Prior to graduate school, she worked for McKinsey & Company as a management consultant. Prior to joining Dodge & Cox in 2005, she worked at Goldman Sachs as a Vice President in the fixed income division. Ms. Chong is a member of the American Bar Association and the New York Bar Association. She serves on the board of trustees of the Bay Area Discovery Museum and is a co-chair of the S.F. Harvard Schools Committee.


Frank Staggers, Jr md

Frank is the President of the Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association and Director of the Berkeley Addiction Treatment Services Center.  He is the former Medical Director of the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic.

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.