Lisa Lasky, Managing Director, National Equity Project
Lisa has worked in education for over 30 years as a teacher, leader, school, and systems coach, and has led several organizational/system change projects across the country. She is a founding director of the National Equity Project, based in Oakland, CA and has served in many roles including Associate Director, Director of the School Grants Program, and Deputy Director. She currently leads a team of NEP Associates and Directors who work with clients on the West Coast and in several states across the country. Current partnerships include school systems, Charter Management Organizations, Foundations, and Intermediaries who work in Early Learning, Community/Family Engagement and Leadership, and Equity-Centered initiatives.
Originally from New York, Lisa moved to the Bay Area to begin and grow the organization – now called the National Equity Project – as a local center of a national school reform movement (Coalition of Essential Schools). Lisa holds a B.A. in Sociology and English from the State University of New York, College at Cortland and an M.A. in Urban Education from UC Berkeley.
Shumsha Hanif-Cruz, Family Law Attorney
Shumsha Hanif-Cruz is a Family Law Attorney with her own practice, and has served as a Teaching Well board member for the last three years. She has been practicing law since 2004, and is an active member of the Alameda County Bar Association and volunteers in their legal clinics assisting low-income clients.
Shumsha has also been a board member of the Earl Warren Inn of Court since 2014, and is serving as President for 2019-20. She is also a member of the Women Lawyers of Alameda County. She believes deeply in the work done by The Teaching Well because she knows that being a teacher is the second hardest job there is aside from being a parent. Shumsha is a Bay Area native and resides with her husband and three children.
Avi Zellman, Teacher and Instructional Coach
Avi is a National Board Certified teacher who has spent his entire education career teaching and mentoring in Oakland. His teaching philosophy is grounded in the empowerment of his students and the development of skills beyond the academics in the classroom. As a math teacher at Madison Middle School (now Madison Park Academy), Avi developed a blended learning curriculum and worked with district leadership to create standards for technology learning across Oakland. Now as a teacher on special assignment at Bret Harte, Avi focuses on coaching and supporting the professional development of his colleagues. Avi’s relationship with the Teaching Well began as an early supporter of Kelly’s mindfulness practice and desire to create structured support for teachers and classroom communities. This relationship has been strengthened through ongoing thought-partnership and seeing the impact of The Teaching Well’s work on teaching communities across California. He is excited to be part of an incredible team supporting teachers and students!
Michelle Seijas, Executive Director, Surge Oakland
A passionate career educator, Michelle Seijas, Ed.D, has dedicated her career to advocating for students in a variety of settings, including as a bilingual and English-only teacher, elementary, high school and district level administrator, served in rural and urban communities and led schools in traditional and charter districts. She possesses a deep-rooted understanding of how schools and districts work from students to parents to staff to the district office to the superintendent to the board level. Her passions are rooted in a desire to build and work with teams for social justice and equity. That passion has now led her to the Surge Institute where she serves as the Executive Director of the Oakland office.
Michelle is passionate about serving youth and communities of color and carries that passion with her into elevating and empowering Oakland’s emerging education leaders. Michelle is excited to partner with the Teaching Well to support teacher wellness because as a teacher and administrator she saw first hand how teachers and staff could quickly burn out. We need to support the wellness of our school communities to retain teachers and administrators with a passion to cultivate long-term relationships with students and their families.
Tre Johnson, DEI Partner, Catalyst:Ed
Tre Johnson is a career educator that started as a classroom teacher in Houston, TX via Teach For America. He has done work in youth non-profit college access and development work between Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, PA, working at the Urban Alliance Foundation and Philadelphia Futures. In Philadelphia, Tre served in grant-writing and admissions roles for the Mariana Bracetti Academy and Freire Charter Schools and he also served on Teach For America’s (TFA) Greater Philadelphia regional staff as the managing director of alumni affairs and as executive director. He has since served as the senior manager of the District Advisory Board and Strategic Partnerships in the Camden City School District and the deputy director for JerseyCAN, focused on education policy advocacy, community engagement, and community leaders.
Before joining Catalyst Ed, Tre has also started a career as a writer for major media outlets on issues of race, culture and leadership. Outside of education, he serves as co-chair for the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project, focused on juvenile life sentencing issues and reentry. He graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Cassie Perham, Founding Co-Director, Oakland Literacy Coalition
Cassie is a founding co-director of the Oakland Literacy Coalition, a nonprofit organization that brings together a broad and collaborative movement of organizations committed to ensuring that every Oakland child learns and loves to read. In her role, Cassie manages the organization’s operations and fund development and is responsible for the strategic growth and development of the OLC as an anchor and amplifier for the city’s literacy efforts. Cassie previously managed the coalition as a project within the Rogers Family Foundation, where she served for six years leading the foundation’s early literacy grantmaking and initiatives. Cassie moved to Oakland in 2008 as an AmeriCorps VISTA, supporting service learning programs in elementary schools.
As an OUSD parent, Cassie is grateful for the teachers who show up in countless ways every day for kids across our community. Cassie is thrilled to be part of The Teaching Well team to work to lift up educators and school communities and support them in their invaluable, challenging, and transformative work.
Leilani Carbonell-Pedroni, Co-Founder, SIS Circle LLC
Leilani is the co-founder of SIS Circle, LLC, which provides events, personal development resources, and an online community for women. She started her career as a public school teacher in Los Angeles Unified School District as one of the early corps members of Teach For America and then joined TFA’s national staff at the Associate Institute Director. She then returned to teaching in Okinawa, Japan, and in Oakland, CA.
Leilani’s experience as an educator with a knack for technology landed her opportunities to present at regional, state, and national conferences and working at a small edtech start-up that was later acquired by publisher giant Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt. She held leadership positions at Promethean World (Head of Client Services), and Illuminate Education (Director of Customer Marketing and Customer Success Leader) where she was a key contributor to growing the company from $2 million in revenue to over $100 million. During her time at Illuminate Education, she led workshops at company retreats on work-life balance to support co-workers like herself who struggled with meeting the demands of their career and family/personal life. This inspired Leilani to create a space where women could support, motivate, and inspire one another. She currently oversees SIS Circle, with a community membership of 600 women.
Leilani graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Sociology and Asian American Studies, and San Francisco State University with an M.A. in Instructional Technology. Leilani lives with her husband Aaron and four young children in Oakland, CA.
Dr. Jordan Fairley, Doctor of Chiropractic, The Source
Dr. Jordan Fairley is a Doctor of Chiropractic, educator and social media program entrepreneur. He sees a wide range of athletic families at The Source Chiropractic in Oakland CA, Dr. Jordan developed his love for optimizing human performance as a collegiate and post collegiate distance runner as he in multiple NCAA Championships while competing for California State University, Chico.
After a heartbreaking hamstring injury in the NCAA championships and a near fatal car accident Jordan became disconnected from himself, his friends, loved ones, and his passions in life.
With the subtlety of an artful chiropractic adjustment in Chico CA, Jordan turned his heartache into a passion for training the art of the chiropractic adjustment. Dr. Jordan’s mission is to encourage and facilitate health guided decisions through artful chiropractic adjustments and health seminars to connect families to themselves, their communities, and their environment.
Dr. Jordan has aided in training over 4000 chiropractors and chiropractic students across the globe through their business Kairos Training Culture through in person seminars and online training programs. And serves the global health community through online programs geared towards increasing body awareness and health implementation strategies.