OUR SCHOOL LEADERS
DR. MARINA CARRASCO-BURGE, Co-Director - Academics
Dr. Marina Carrasco-Burge received a Bachelors of Arts in History and English Literature as well as a Bachelor of Science in Childhood and Adolescent Development from California State University in Fullerton. After receiving her credential, she worked within the Special Education Program for East Whittier City School District in intensive special needs classrooms. While continuing her education, she returned to work at her alma mater, St. Bruno School in Whittier as the inaugural transitional kindergarten teacher and developed a diverse and academically rigorous program for her students. She also served as the curriculum coordinator for the school, a task that included the design and implementation of ongoing faculty professional development, the mentoring and coaching of all teachers, and the creation of the school wide curriculum plan. During this time, she also graduated with a Master of Art in English Literature from California State University in Fullerton where she has taught graduate level courses in Literature, History, and Education, and received her Administrative Credential. Marina went on to join the Onward Readers team, for the Department of Catholic Schools, as an Instructional Coach. Her responsibilities included coaching teachers and principals in effective teaching practices, team building, and growing the literacy skills of all students. Marina took over as the Director of Onward Readers shortly after, and continued to coach teachers and principals while also providing professional development for the Onward Readers team, writing curriculum, working with the Smet Foundation, collecting and analyzing data, and working closely with the Director of Academic Excellence to share her knowledge across other programs and initiatives. Marina received two Doctorates of Education, one with an emphasis in Preschool through 12th Grade Administration, the other in Curriculum Design. Marina is excited to share her passion and expertise with the community of Alma Fuerte Public School as its inaugural Director of Instruction.
Anne Lee, Co-Founder, Co-Director - Operations
Anne Lee, a Pasadena resident and mother of two daughters, has over a dozen years of experience advising charter schools on their start-up, authorization, operations, facilities, and governance matters. She also has extensive experience in fundraising in service to education nonprofits. Most recently, Anne was the Vice President of Development for After-School All-Stars and served as the Director of Development at Parent Revolution. In these roles, she secured new and renewal grants and donations of all sizes, managed all grant reporting and evaluation, supervised grants management staff, and served on the organizations’ leadership teams.
Prior to her fundraising work, Anne served for nearly six years as Senior Legal Counsel at the California Charter Schools Association (“CCSA”), developing CCSA’s legal advocacy strategies and supporting hundreds of charter schools in each phase of charter school authorization and operation. Anne has been a frequent statewide speaker regarding charter school facilities, governance, and other issues, and has authored several CCSA Knowledge Briefs and guidance for charter schools on many charter school operational and governance issues. Anne has also collaborated with multiple charter authorizers in developing their charter school policies and agreements with charter schools.
In addition, Anne serves on the Board of Trustees of Renaissance Arts Academy, a highly successful and innovative Los Angeles Unified School District (“LAUSD”) charter school. Anne also serves on the Board of her daughter's school in Pasadena, and has served on the founding board of a charter school in San Diego. Anne is proud to be her daughter’s Girl Scout leader, and she is active in her faith community. Anne has also served as President of the MOMS Club, Pasadena-North Chapter and a Girls on the Run Coaching staff member.
Kathy Dominguez, Board Member
Kathy Dominguez has dedicated the past fifteen years to education reform and increasing access to higher education for students in Los Angeles. Currently, Kathy is the Chief Operating Officer at Educational Facilities Group. Previously, Kathy served as Executive Director of CollegeSpring, where she was responsible for developing school partnerships, fundraising, managing staff and overseeing all aspects of Southern California programs operations. Prior to joining CollegeSpring, she worked at The Accelerated Schools, a network of charter schools. As Chief Operating Officer, she was responsible for overseeing all aspects of school operations, program development, compliance and fundraising. In addition, Kathy conceived and developed ground-breaking college counseling programs and partnerships that have led to a multi-year pipeline of students from various urban communities in Los Angeles entering and receiving their degrees from the most prestigious colleges and universities in the nation. Kathy holds a B.A. from UC Santa Cruz and completed Harvard University’s Admissions Counseling program.
Amy Dresser Held, Board Member
Amy Dresser Held has dedicated her career to public education. Amy is currently the Executive Director of Larchmont Charter Schools, leading the academics and operations at four school sites serving over 1,400 TK-12 students. Previously, Amy served as CWCLA’s Executive Director from July 2010 until July 2014. During that time, Amy was in charge of all aspects of launching and running three elementary schools. This included overseeing academics, outreach, human resources, finance, fundraising, facilities, legal and communications. Over those four years she grew the organization from one school of 100 students to three schools serving nearly 1,000 students. Under Amy’s leadership CWCLA schools scored academically among the top 10% of public schools in LA, had top parent and staff satisfaction rates and raised more than $2m. Prior to joining CWC, Amy served as Executive Director of Palisades Charter High School, a diverse, high performing charter high school of more than 2,700 students and 200 staff. In her capacity as Executive Director, Amy oversaw academics, finance (a $22 million annual budget), facilities, labor relations, legal, and communications. Prior to joining Pali High in 2006, Amy worked for several years at the Los Angeles Unified School District on the staff of then-School Board President Caprice Young, then as a Special Assistant to Senior Deputy Superintendent Maria Ott, and finally as Director of Policy and Communications with then-LAUSD School Board President Marlene Canter. Amy began her career as a Teach for America corps member, teaching a bilingual fifth grade class in Phoenix, followed by a position with Kaplan and completion of the Coro Public Affairs Leadership Training Post-Graduate Fellowship in Los Angeles. Amy received her B.S. in Humanities in International Affairs from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Amy is passionate about human growth and development and ensuring everyone in the schools she leads is growing and learning together. Amy is a language aficionado and a world traveler who has lived abroad in France and Mexico. As a mother of three young children and a veteran educator, Amy is deeply committed to ensuring schools nurture and develop in children not only exceptional academic achievement but a strong sense of self, grit, compassion, a deep appreciation of the rich diversity of our society and a commitment to be of service to the local community and the larger world in which we live.
Sean Markin, Co-Founder, Board Chair
Sean has vast career experience as a financial analyst, project manager, and customer insight marketer. He has assembled and led teams in entrepreneurial organizations, as small as two and as large as Fortune 500 companies including eBay and Skype, continue to adapt to the challenges of the market. Sean has also operated his own tutoring business, where he oversaw the development and implementation of individualized education programs for each student.
In his work in high performing industries, Sean has witnessed first-hand the skills and experiences that Alma Fuerte’s students will need to compete in a global market place. His vision is for a school that leverages technology and a unique project-based curriculum to enable students to master 21st century skills like innovation, execution, and leadership, and that provides next-generation experiences like entrepreneurship, technology product development, civic engagement, and scientific discovery.
Sean has also managed high performing teams in multiple industries and will bring that expertise to Alma Fuerte to create a school management organization that can rapidly scale and evolve as new challenges and opportunities present themselves.
hazim rabadi, board member
Hazim Rabadi is a uniquely qualified designer, architect and LEED Accredited Professional at TSK Architects, with more than 16 years of experience in the design and management of educational facilities in Southern California. Especially adept at overseeing complex projects, Hazim makes sure that all project goals, deadlines and budgetary parameters are strictly observed and that construction documents and specifications are accurate and concise, ensuring a smooth Bidding Phase with clear expectations for all contractors. His capable leadership takes a project from design concept through punch-list completion with a focused, efficient work effort that elicits the best from his fellow design team members.
myra salinas, board member
Myra Salinas is the Director of Special Education of Larchmont Charter School. Originally from the Philippines, Myra immigrated to Los Angeles when she was eleven. She is fluent in Tagalog and can converse in Spanish. Myra received her BA and MA in Education from the University of Southern California. As an educator, she served as Director of School and Program Compliance for Camino Nuevo Charter Academy from 2003 through 2007. From 2002-2003 she served as co-Principal for the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy - Harvard site. Before that Myra worked in LAUSD at the Foshay Learning Center as a middle school teacher, testing coordinator, and reading coordinator. She helped develop and implement a 6th Grade Reading Program at Foshay, which boosted 6th Grade Reading scores on the Stanford 9 Test.
Melanie Sauer, Board Member
Melanie Sauer is Chief Operating Officer of Pacific Oaks College. Previously, she was the finance leader for a top-tier public media organization, Southern California Public Media/KPCC, serving for more than a decade. In addition, Ms. Sauer provides consulting services for non-profit organizations advising on financial and strategic planning. Her current interests are developing new business models for and assuring the long-term sustainability in the social sector. She received her undergraduate degree in Accounting from Whitworth University, M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from Azusa Pacific University and an MBA in Finance & Strategy from the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. For a number of years, Ms. Sauer was a dedicated professional in higher education administration at such prestigious institutions as Claremont Graduate University, Scripps College, University of Southern California, and San Diego State University. For the past two years, she has served as a Finance and Accounting Instructor in the MBA program at SGU. This adds to her experience as instructor in leadership, educational psychology and organization development for various Southern California universities. Ms. Sauer is a respected business and community leader.