Ricardo Mireles

Academia Avance | Los Angeles, California

Ricardo Mireles is the Executive Director and Founder of Academia Avance, the independent college preparatory charter public school in the Northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Highland Park serving over 400 students in grades 6-12. The Avance college attainment outcomes for its graduates top 80% enrolling in college, the majority at four year institutions, with a 70% persistence rate. A key component of this success is the Avance Life Prep program which includes extensive workplace education experience in a professional setting internship aligned to each student's career goals. Also, almost half of the students participate in at least one of the five interscholastic athletic teams, which have netted over a dozen league titles in the last three years. Ricardo is a graduate of Columbia College, studied at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and taught at the UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research and at the Don Bosco Technical Institute.

IRis Maria chavez

Equity Action Partners | Portland, Oregon

Iris Maria Chávez is an education advocate and public affairs consultant, currently working with national and Oregon-focused organizations to advance equity by supporting the creation of sound, just policies that better communities in Oregon and across the nation. Iris Maria came to the Pacific Northwest from Washington, D.C., where she worked for over a decade in education policy and advocacy for civil rights and advocacy organizations such as the Education Trust and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Iris Maria’s volunteer work also focuses on community engagement and equity, she currently serves on the Partnership for Safety & Justice Board of Directors and the City Club of Portland Board of Governors.

Richard Lee

Academy of the City Charter School | Woodside, New York

Richard Lee is the Founding Principal of Academy of the City Charter School in Woodside, NY, a school that is as diverse as the Borough of Queens. Previously, Richard was the Division Coordinator for seven years for grades 1–4 at The Bank Street School for Children. Richard has organized, led and presented in various workshop including NYSAIS, DOE and NAIS. Most of these have been about Children of Color affinity groups and Social Studies curriculum. Richard is Asian-American and feels strongly about the presence of administrators who reflect the community that they serve.

Dianne jacobson

Skyview School, Inc. | Prescott, Arizona

Dianne has been the Operations Manager at Skyview School in Prescott, Arizona since 2006. Previously she has served on charter ​governing ​boards and worked hundreds of hours supporting charter education as a parent and volunteer. Although she always understood the academic and social benefits charters provided children, at Skyview she became aware of a deeper truth—charter schools have the ability to nurture and even heal a child's desire to learn. This "whole child" approach to education can be explored within the autonomy of charter school design, most effectively when curricula and methods are developed by educators and parents, and not politicians and legislators. Dianne holds a Bachelor's in English Literature and hopes to figure out what her Master's is going to be soon.


Florida Association of Independent Public Schools | Miami, Florida

Christopher Norwood is the Founder of the Florida Association of Independent Public Schools and the Governance Institute for School Accountability (GISA). Christopher is the former Executive Director of Lawyers for Children (Florida), and is certified by the Florida Commissioner for Education to provide Governance Training to Charter Schools. He is sought out by many to represent charter schools with application appeals, terminations and non-renewals before Florida’s Administrative Law Judges and School Board Administrative Hearings. Christopher chairs the City of Miami Education Advisory Board and serves on the Audit and Budget Committee of Miami-Dade Public Schools.

Heather Vuncannon

Uwharrie Charter Academy | Asheboro, North Carolina

Heather Vuncannon is the founder of Uwharrie Charter Academy located in rural Asheboro, North Carolina. With STE3AM (Entrepreneurship, Environment, and Engineering) and Project-based learning at its core, the school continues to drive innovation in the region by disrupting the current rhetoric in traditional education with its “out-of-the-box” teaching and learning strategies. Heather earned her master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and later her school administration degree from High Point University. She has lead Uwharrie Charter from the first day it opened in 2013.


Bok Academy | Lake Wales, Florida

David Lockett is a STEM teacher at Bok Academy in Lake Wales, FL as well as an NSTA Aerospace Advisory Board Member. At Bok Academy, he is responsible for implementing a project-based curriculum for all students as they rotate through the STEM Lab. David has a distinguished and diverse background in the fields of Astronomy, Biotechnology, and Engineering, and is an advocate and practitioner of S.T.E.M. accessibility for all students. David has participated in a variety of NSF projects throughout North and South America, including the Astronomy in Chile’s Ambassadors Educator Program and Innovators Developing Accessible Tools for Astronomy.

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