Who We Are

Gloria Lee has been a leader in Oakland public education for the past 15 years. She most recently served as President and Chief Operating Officer at NewSchools Venture Fund (headquartered in Oakland). During that time, she established the Oakland Fund and also helped create NewSchools’ Seed Fund to invest in early stage education technology. Previously, she launched Teaching Channel, a not-for-profit professional development resource for teachers (also located in Oakland) and founded Yu Ming Charter School, California’s first Mandarin Immersion charter school. She was co-founder of the high performing charter management organization Aspire Public Schools, serving as Chief Operating Officer over the organization’s first 8 years (as it grew from 1 to 17 schools) and then as Bay Area Superintendent (including 7 schools in Oakland). Under her leadership, Aspire’s Bay Area schools grew 66 points on the state’s Academic Performance Index (4.5x the state targets for growth) over 3 years, received parent satisfaction ratings of 90%, and increased enrollment by nearly 40% to over 2700 students.

Gloria has been a consultant for McKinsey & Company, and managed a not-for-profit school leadership training program affiliated with UCLA. She received an MBA and Masters in Education at Stanford University, and her Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics at Cornell University.Gloria teaches a class on education entrepreneurship at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and serves as on the Board of Directors for Great Oakland Public Schools Leadership Center and the National Equity Project. She loves biking to work around Lake Merritt and cooking with the delicious food from Grand Lake Farmers Market, and is inspired by the creativity and spirit of Oaklanders.

Anne Soto is a proud founding Educate78 staff member. Anne previously worked as an Associate Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund, where she lead the creation of investment strategy, conducted due diligence on potential grantees, and provided technical assistance for the organization’s portfolio ventures, as well as managing a number of strategic projects. While at NewSchools, Anne assisted in the formation of the Oakland Fund early investment strategy and launch plan. Prior to joining NewSchools, Anne worked as a member of the teacher recruitment and support team for Aspire Public Schools.

Anne started her career as a Teach For America Corps Member in Eastern North Carolina. She has worked on several Teach For America teacher preparation institute teams, leading work to train and support beginning teachers. Anne serves on the Advisory Board for New Leaders Bay Area and the Kelley School of Business Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation Alumni Board. Anne received her BA from University of Minnesota and her MBA from Indiana University.

Carolyn Gramstorff has been an innovative educator and school leader in the Bay Area for the past 20 years. She most recently served as the Executive Director of the North Oakland Community Charter School (NOCCS). Under her leadership, NOCCS doubled it enrollment through a successful expansion to a K-8 model, increased its Academic Performance Index increased by 64 points, and developed an education program that is recognized on both a local and national level for its innovative practices.  Previously Carolyn worked as a school leader in two Oakland public schools.

She began her career as a teacher in San Francisco and served in the very first cohort of the AmeriCorps members through Partners in School Innovation.  Carolyn holds two Masters Degrees, one from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the University of California’s Principal Leadership Institute.  She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Syracuse University.  Her interests include photography, biking, and collaborating on elaborate design and construction projects with her daughter.

An East Bay native, Carrie grew up and attended public schools in Oakland and Alameda.  Reminded of her childhood experience of being a first-generation socioeconomically disadvantaged student seeking quality education in Oakland, she decided to shift career focus from chemical engineering to addressing a more personal issue: educational inequalities.  As an analyst for Educate78, she has the opportunity to go back and serve her local community, leveraging her analyses skill set to offer data-driven insight.

As a recipient of the QuestBridge National Match scholarship, Carrie attended Stanford University, where she received her BS in Chemical Engineering.  Prior to returning back to the East Bay, she previously interned and worked at Clean Energy Conversions Lab at Stanford University, DuPont Industrial Biosciences (previously Genencor), and Stanford Center for Stress and Health.  Her interests include volunteering with a local tutoring center for ESL students and aboard the USS Hornet as a STEM instructor, melding her interests in education and science.

Rachel Garcia James grew up in Los Angeles, CA attending public schools in various districts. Experiencing the inequities first hand are part of what fuels her desire to create great schools for all students. Rachel spent most of her career in the non-profit sector in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Most recently, Rachel spent two years at NewSchools Venture Fund supporting the office of the COO and managing other operations related projects. Previously, Rachel spent 10 years organizing high school and middle school youth around educational equity and justice issues in South Los Angeles with the Community Coalition. She also spent two years at the University of San Francisco as an Operations Manager for the Division of Student Life and the Executive Assistant to the Dean of Student Life. She earned a BA at Loyola Marymount University.

Sara Solar joined Educate78 after moving back to Oakland from Memphis, TN, where she was the Portfolio Director for the Memphis Priority Schools Talent Strategy, a collaborative, city-wide effort to retain, develop, and recruit exceptional teachers and school leaders to transform Memphis’ lowest-performing schools. Working closely with local philanthropic partners, operators of priority schools, and key talent partners, Solar led the design and implementation of initiatives to make Memphis a great place for teachers and school leaders to live and work.

Solar launched her career teaching in Oakland at Markham and Maxwell Park elementary schools. After earning her MA in education leadership at Stanford, Solar joined Bridgespan and advised leading education organizations on their core strategies to amplify their impact on students, teachers, and communities in California, Kentucky, Tennessee, and DC, among others. After moving to Tennessee, Solar was dean of instruction at Cameron College Prep, a turnaround middle school in Nashville run by LEAD Public Schools.

Solar will work with schools, networks, and partners across Oakland to make the city a magnet for educator talent.

Our Vision

Every child in Oakland’s 78 square miles, regardless of income, race, neighborhood, or background, will have access to a world class public education

Our Mission

Through strategic giving and leadership, we support the creation of high quality schools and the policies that enable them, strengthen practices to attract and retain educators, and amplify the voices of families and community on public education issues.

Our Core Values

  • Connected: Working collaboratively, engaging and empowering others, and finding common ground in a diverse and treasured community
  • Authentic: Being consistent, transparent, true to our beliefs, and humble in our work
  • Purposeful: Acting with intention and urgency towards our long-range goals
  • Equity-centered: Challenging ourselves and others to ensure our work contributes to transformational outcomes across race and class
  • Solution-oriented: Persistently exploring the possible with creativity and nimbleness to get things done in a complex ecosystem

Our Board

Amy Omand

Amy Omand is the Director of Finance at NewSchools Venture Fund, and has been working in accounting and finance roles in both nonprofit and for profit companies for over 15 years. Amy is responsible for managing the annual forecasting and budget cycles, maintaining sound internal controls, and reporting on the overall financial performance of NewSchools, both internally and externally. Prior to joining NewSchools, Amy was the Director of Finance & Operations at Tipping Point Community, as well as the Controller at Oakland-based Revolution Foods. At both organizations she helped define fiscal policies and procedures in growing organizations. She started her career as an auditor at PwC and then worked in various finance and accounting roles at Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream/ Nestlé. Amy received her BS in Accounting from Georgetown University, and MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. She is a Certified Public Accountant as well as a Certified Non Profit Accountant. She is actively involved in Oakland education, as her daughters attend Montclair Elementary School where Amy volunteers on the Parent Teacher Association.

Brian Stanley is Executive Director of Oakland Public Education Fund, where he leads the development and investment of community resources in Oakland public schools. Previously, at the San Francisco Education Fund, Brian refined and strengthened program strategy, used data to deepen impact, and led the implementation of two strategic plans. In his last role as Director of Programs he led an array of programmatic work with students (Peer Resources) and teachers (Teacher Professional Development), and rallied the community (Post-Secondary Success and San Francisco School Volunteers) to support public education in San Francisco.

Brian has also worked at California Tomorrow as Senior Associate for Public Education, Advocacy, and Alliance Building for the Community College Access and Equity Initiative. In this position, Brian oversaw policy development and legislative advocacy focused on developing and strengthening access and equity for vulnerable student populations in California Community Colleges. He also spent seven years as the Director of Black Student Programs providing academic advising, advocacy, and support for Black, Latino, Asian Pacific American, first-generation, and low-income students at Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga. Brian graduated from Oakland High School, received his B.A. at Saint Mary’s College of California, and earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Mills College. He currently lives in West Oakland with his wife, two sons, and their chocolate lab named Wags.

Dennis Chaconas’ experience in education spans over 45 years from classroom teacher to school superintendent. Currently Board Member, Senior Faculty Member, and School Improvement Coordinator for On The Move & Reach Institute for School Leadership, Dennis is responsible for initiating, developing and supporting small, innovative schools throughout the Bay Area. Dennis specializes in helping to ensure academic excellence and expanded opportunities for youth who are traditionally underserved through leadership coaching, and designing and implementing whole school improvement initiatives.

Previously, Dennis served as Superintendent of the Alameda Unified School District, engaging the District in systemic reform in order to dramatically raise 
student achievement. 
Dennis then moved on to served as Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District and was responsible for supervising and evaluating instruction at 96 schools for over 53,000 students. In 2004, Dennis was elected to the Alameda County School Board and worked with the County Superintendent of Schools to provide leadership, service, and support to districts and students of Alameda County. Dennis has also been a Professor Emeritus at Mills College, an Adjunct Professor at Harvard University, and holds a Masters in Educational Leadership, California Administrative Services Credential and California Life Secondary Teaching Credential.

Julayne Virgil is the CEO of Girls Inc. of Alameda County where she leads the investment in thousands of girls in grades K-12 in the East Bay as they navigate gender, economic, social and racial barriers to realize their full potential and to become the strong, smart and bold leaders of tomorrow. Prior to this role, Julayne was with Education Pioneers for seven years where in her last role as Vice President of Leadership Development she developed, redesigned and scaled programs across more than 20 locations around the country. Previously, she launched and led the organization’s Chicago office.

Julayne has also cultivated resources for community and school-based health centers with Access Community Health Network, and managed campaigns focused on advancing critical social change initiatives in education, health, and public safety for national non-profit and federal agency clients of The Advertising Council in New York City. She also designed and facilitated several cohorts of a life skills course for girls at The Prospect Park YMCA in Brooklyn and collaborated on a women’s health capacity-building project in Bamako, Mali. Julayne received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and holds a master’s degree in public administration from the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California where she currently serves on the Alumni Association Board of Directors.  She is an Oakland native who lives in Oakland with her husband and their two daughters.

Beginning January 2017, Dr. Renato Almanzor will be the Executive Director of East Oakland Building Healthy Communities. Renato’s experience emerges from over 25 years developing leaders committed to equitable communities, multicultural organizations, and social justice. He has been invited to teach at many universities (e.g., Humboldt State University, California State University East Bay, University of San Francisco, Alliant International University and Argosy University), courses ranging from organization theory and organizational behavior to working with diverse populations and designing multicultural organizations; in addition to chairing dissertations and research projects.

In addition, Renato has held executive roles at UC Berkeley and Oakland Unified School District. As a leadership expert, he has delivered keynote addresses, workshops and seminars on issues related to leadership for equity, cultural diversity, organization development, and social change. His professional practice ranges from executive coaching and strategic planning to change management consulting and team development. For his efforts, he was awarded the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Fellowship in 2015 and recognized for Transformative Leadership by the California School Age Consortium in 2016.

Dr. Almanzor received his Ph.D. and M.A. in organizational psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology, his M.S. in counseling from San Diego State University, and his B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Davis. He completed certification as a Life Purpose Coach through Transformation Services, Inc.; a year-long program Practices in Transformative Action at the East Bay Meditation Center where he also served as an apprentice the following year; and certification for Zumba Instruction.

From 2008 – 2016, Renato ran all of the programming for LeaderSpring, including their two-year fellowship program for nonprofit executive directors and their LeaderSpring Consulting Group that supports community leaders working with low-income communities and communities of color (www.leaderspring.org). In this capacity, he strengthened the leadership and management competencies of leaders, developed communities of leaders, and supported the transformation of the systems in which they work.