Our leadership team – comprised of licensed professionals, community leaders, and devoted alumni – is a passionately talented network of professionals committed to uplifting our families out of poverty and into brighter futures.
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President & Chief Executive Officer

Drew Furedi, Ed.D

Drew has more than 20 years of experience working in and managing school systems and non-profits. Drew was named President and Chief Executive Officer at Para Los Niños in fall 2016. Prior to joining the PLN Executive Team in 2015, Drew spent six years in leadership roles with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Before this, Drew led the Loyola Marymount University Family of Schools, a network of public schools supported by Loyola Marymount University serving approximately 4,500 students. Earlier in his career, Drew was a Partner with The New Teacher Project where he directed efforts to attract teachers to urban and rural school districts. He began his career as a teacher in Baltimore Public Schools with Teach for America and has focused on equity and access to education for all youth throughout his career. Drew holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UCSB, a Master’s degree in Public Administration from USC and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice from Loyola Marymount University. He is a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow (Cohort XVI) and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network and the All Children Thrive – CA Equity Advisory Group. Drew lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their son.

Chief Financial Officer

Camille Gonzalez

Camille is a senior accounting and financial management executive with more than 20 years of experience in finance and operations management within small and multi-billion dollar organizations, non-profit and for-profit business entities. Her experience includes serving as Chief Financial Officer at KCET, and Controller at KCAL-TV. A Maryland native, Camille has called L.A.’s San Fernando Valley home since 1993. Camille holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland.

Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer

Sarah Figueroa-Freeman, Ed.D.

Since 1999, Sarah has been working in and around the education field. Before joining PLN in 2017, Sarah served as the Chief Operating Officer at Camino Nuevo Charter School. Throughout her career, Sarah has held various leadership roles with organizations such as the California Charter Schools Association, National Labor Relations Board, American Federation of Teachers, California State Senate, Cal State LA, the University of San Francisco and LAUSD. She is an accomplished leader with a passion for serving urban communities to ensure they are provided access to high quality services and educational opportunities.  Sarah holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of San Francisco, a Master’s degree in Labor and Employment Relations from Rutgers University and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice from Loyola Marymount University.

Vice President of Human Resources

Deanette Brewer

Deanette joined PLN in December 2016 with over 30 years of Human Resources management experience, which includes social services nonprofit management. She likes to keep her hand on the HR pulse of the organizations she works with, so you can expect to see her around sites as much as possible. In addition to her many skills and talents, Deanette brings experience and expertise in creating effective systems for ongoing staff professional development. Before joining the PLN team, Deanette served as Vice President of Human Resources at SHIELDS for Families in Los Angeles, where she built a human resources department infrastructure to meet the needs of the staff and organization. Deanette attended Wiley College, Marshall, Texas, “Home of the Great Debaters,” where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. She is a member of PIHRA and SHRM Human Resources Associations, where she holds a Professional HR Certification from both organizations respectively, PHR and SHRM-CP. In 2013, she completed the Nonprofit Leadership Development Program through the Southern California Center for Nonprofit Management. In July, 2019, she completed the KIPP Leadership Design Fellowship. Deanette believes constant learning is paramount to maintaining a growth mindset. On a personal note, Deanette enjoys exercising. Her personal mantra is a quote from Marian Wright-Edelman: “Service is the rent we pay for being alive.”

Vice President of Student and Community Services

Sam Joo

Sam’s journey in community work started in 1991 after he attended UCLA, where he majored in History with an emphasis on Asian American Studies. As a substance abuse counselor with the Asian American Drug Abuse Program (AADAP), he directly witnessed the generational impact of the crack epidemic in South Los Angeles, especially for children and youth in the community. With the desire to address systemic challenges facing families, Sam transitioned to the Prevention Unit of AADAP and managed several community projects that focused on improving neighborhood conditions that impacted the quality of life for families.  The desire to continue his work supporting a multicultural community drove Sam to join Koreatown Youth and Community Center (KYCC), a multi-service community-based organization serving the diverse community of Koreatown. KYCC recognized that the demographics in Koreatown were changing and most families represented a diverse Latino/a community. As the Director of Children and Family Services, Sam worked with agency leadership to diversify the staffing and leadership structure to better address the evolving needs of the Koreatown community.  Prior to joining Para Los Niños, Sam served as Director of the Magnolia Community Initiative (MCI). MCI is a voluntary social innovations network of 70+ organizations in partnership with community residents to improve child and family well-being in MCI’s 500-block catchment area. The Initiative addressed a broad range of neighborhood and family conditions and equipped parents to understand and respond to their child’s health and developmental needs.  Sam has served on the board of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, working on local and state policy agendas. He currently works with a number of partnerships including the USC Sol Price Center for Social Innovation Steering Committee and the National Academy of Medicine Culture of Health Initiative.  Sam lives in Torrance with his wife and two children.

Vice President of Student Success

Katherine Nelson

Katherine recently joined the Para Los Niños family as Vice President of Student Success with thirty years of experience serving the TK-12 community in Los Angeles and San Diego.  Launching her career as a bilingual Kindergarten teacher with Teach for America in Watts, she has remained close to her original placement throughout her career.  As a successful principal, her work was showcased in two different case studies, Why Race and Culture Matter in Schools, by Dr. Tyrone Howard, in 2010 and 107th Street Elementary Joins the Partnership: A Case Study, Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, in 2017.  Working for the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, she served as a Senior Director of School Transformation, Chief Academic Officer, and the principal of 107th Street STEAM Magnet School.  Katherine fundamentally believes that we must provide an excellent education by supporting the whole child through the integration of wellness, academic rigor, curiosity and joy, in order to empower families and transform our communities. Furthermore, she believes that relationships are the foundation of our work and invests deeply in our teammates, scholars and the families we serve. In her free time, you can find Katherine playing at the beach with her granddaughter, Parker.

Vice President of External Affairs

Dan Nieman

Dan joined PLN as the Vice President of External Affairs in 2018. He is responsible for the strategic direction of the organization as it relates to development, communications, community partnerships, and government relations. Prior to this role, Dan was the Manager of Corporate Citizenship for the Western Region at Northrop Grumman, where he oversaw all corporate citizenship programming and employee engagement in the Western United States for one of the largest aerospace companies in the world, with a key focus on K-12 STEM education. 

Director of Community Transformation

Brenda Aguilera

Brenda Aguilera is the Director of Community Transformation for Para Los Niños, a Los Angeles based agency dedicated to promoting strong communities, powerful families, and excellent education so children and youth can thrive.  As Director, Brenda is responsible for the oversight and development of First 5LA’s Region 1 Best Start initiative. She manages and collaborates with a team of partners to support the capacity building, development, and promotion of systems change work through resident and agency engagement both regionally and locally. Regionally, Brenda oversees and supports the vision and framework of the regional work along with the development of strategies and supports that will elevate the local work on a regional level. Locally, Brenda and her team build the capacity of organizations to facilitate communication and collaborations among parents, residents, organizations, government agencies, faith-based organizations, businesses and others involved in First 5 LA’s outlined communities of Best Start East LA, Metro LA, South El Monte / El Monte and Southeast LA Community Partnerships. Brenda is also an instrumental thought partner in PLN’s the newly launched Innovations II Initiative, funded by LA County’s Department of Mental Health, in Supervisorial District 1.  Brenda has been involved with Best Start since 2011. Previous to joining Para Los Niños, she was served as co-manager of the Native Green Gardening Cooperative in Los Angeles with El Instituto de Educación Popular del Sur de California (IDEPSCA). She also has served as a consultant to the Asian Americans Advancing Justice (formerly Asian Pacific American Legal Center) and to the UCLA Labor Center, providing communications support. Brenda holds a BA in World Arts and Cultures with an emphasis in Cultural Studies and a minor in Work Place Studies and Latin American Studies from UCLA. She also studied contemporary Mexican and Latin American philosophy and sociology at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in Mexico City.

Director of Donor Relations

Celeste Anlauf

Celeste Anlauf comes to Para Los Niños with over a decade of fundraising experience. Previously, Celeste planned and launched St. Paul the Apostle’s $20 million capital campaign—the first comprehensive campaign in the School’s 75-year history. Celeste has extensive fundraising experience in education, having been Director of Development for Park Century School in Culver City and served as a development consultant for a variety of nonprofits, including California Special Olympics, The Arthritis Foundation and Heart of Los Angeles Youth.  A resident of Culver City, she is the President of the Board of the Culver City Cultural Affairs Foundation and serves on the Culver City Fiesta La Ballona Committee. She is a member of the Advisory Committee for the Antioch University Los Angeles Non-Profit in Management Program. Celeste is also a Board Member at Trash for Teaching, a division of The Two Bit Circus Foundation. A native of Chicago, Celeste holds a BA in Theatre Arts and English from Colorado Women’s College in Denver as well as a teaching credential in both disciplines. She holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management from Antioch University Los Angeles.

Stanley Anjan
Managing Director, Charter Schools

Stanely Anjan

Coming Soon!
Principal, Evelyn Thurman Gratts Primary Center

Cecy Carol Arias

Cecy Carol became interim principal at Para Los Niños Evelyn Thurman Gratts Primary Center in October 2022 after serving as a teacher for six years. Cecy has Teaching Credentials and holds a Master’s in Urban Education with an emphasis in Literacy from Loyola Marymount University and a B.A. in Psychology and Education Sciences from UC Irvine. Cecy was born and raised in Los Angeles. Her goal has always been to work in the place she calls home and give back to her community.


Claudio Arias

Claudio joined the PLN team in 2016 as the Accounting Manager and promoted to Controller. He has over 15 years of experience in Accounting and Finance, both in non-profit and for-profit entities. Before joining PLN Claudio worked for Homeboy Industries as the Accounting Manager. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from California State University, Long Beach.

Director of Clinical Development

Sharon Berg, Ph.D.

Sherry is a licensed clinical psychologist, with a specialty in infant mental health. Prior to joining Para Los Niños, Sherry served as an Associate Director at Hollygrove, the Los Angeles division of EMQ Families First, where she developed and oversaw the operations of both the clinical training and the community based mental health program for 0-5-year-olds. In her role at Para Los Niños, Sherry’s focus is on growing the clinical capacity of the mental health program to meet the needs of the children and families who attend early childhood programs. A great emphasis will be placed on a team approach in providing integrated services to the children within the ages of 0-5 years old. Sherry has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology in San Francisco and a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of San Francisco. She is a post-graduate fellow from the Napa Infant-Parent Mental Health Post-Graduate Certificate Program and is endorsed as an Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist by the California Center for Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health in Sacramento, California.

Director of Communications and Marketing

Christina Bragg

As Director, Communications and Marketing, Christina is responsible for telling the Para Los Niños’ story to external and internal audiences of the organization. Prior to this role, Christina was Associate Director of Communications and Special Events at Christopher House, in Chicago, IL, where she oversaw all external communications as it relates to fundraising and managed all donor events.  Christina has over ten years of fundraising and communication experience, starting in the Marketing Department at the Cincinnati Art Museum. There Christina was essential to the events team and developed a passion for connecting people with art and education. In Chicago, Christina honed the identity and branding of Christopher House’s family of schools. She was pivotal to developing Christopher House’s core messaging and strategizing the marketing to best increase funding and awareness as they completed the final phase of a five-year capital campaign.  Christina holds a B.A. from the University of Cincinnati, McMicken College, and School of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning. She enjoys hikes on the weekend with her husband and daughter.

Middle School Principal

Chris Coyle

Chris Coyle has worked as a Special Education administrator and Speech and Language Pathologist in Los Angeles for the past 10 years. Most recently he served with a non-public agency Total Education Solutions as the Director of Speech and Language therapy. His duties included the management of a behavioral, speech, occupational and physical therapy clinic in the Westlake area as well as supervising the provision of speech and language therapy for the Compton Unified School District.  Chris began his professional career in the Philadelphia Public School District as a bilingual Spanish kindergarten teacher. While teaching, Chris was invited to participate in a research project evaluating narrative language development in bilingual Spanish speaking children ages 4 – 7. The narrative study project lead him into the study of communication disorders focusing on school age children. Chris comes to us with an understanding of the unique needs presented by students, families and professionals served by Para Los Niños. His skill set will allow him to lead us through the implementation of programs focused on supporting students with special needs and their peers.  Chris holds a Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies and Government from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and a Master’s degree in Communication Disorders from Temple University in Philadelphia.

Director of Special Education

Isabel Cueva

Since 2020, Isabel Cueva has served as PLN’s Director of Special Education, overseeing special education services at PLN’s charter schools. Isabel joined Para Los Niños in 2009, initially as Administrative Assistant to the Principal of PLN’s Charter Elementary School. Through the years, Isabel’s leadership and expertise further developed over several roles at PLN, including Resource Specialist Program (RPS) Teacher, Special Education Assistant, and Special Education Manager.  Isabel has an Education Specialist Instruction Credential in Mild/Moderate Disabilities from CalState LA, holds a master’s degree in Special Education from CalState LA, and has a BA in Anthropology with a minor in Education and Chicano Studies from UCLA. Prior to joining PLN, as part of UCLA’s AmeriCorps program, Bruin Corps, Isabel tutored elementary school students, which sparked an interest in working with children in the education field.

Lorena Rodriguez
Director of Secondary Education

Lara Goldstone

Lara is thrilled to have joined Para Los Ninos as the Director of Secondary Education. Over the past three decades, Lara has worked to lift the level of excellence in schools so that students experience joy, connection, and personal investment in their learning. She taught middle school language arts, social studies, and ELD in Oakland and then New York City before moving to Los Angeles, where she taught in South Los Angeles before becoming a K-8 school leader. Lara has served in a variety of district-level coaching and leadership roles focused on ensuring equitable academic outcomes and closing opportunity gaps for all students. Lara is especially passionate about teacher development, support for multilingual learners, and powerful literacy instruction.

Lara earned her a BA in Literature from Yale University, her teaching credential from Cal State East Bay, and her Masters of Education in Administration and Social Policy from Harvard University.  She lives with her family and cat Mao in Jefferson Park and loves exploring new locales near and far. 

Managing Director, Extended Learning

Cecilia Hernandez

Cecilia joined Para Los Niños in November 2009 as a Site Supervisor in the After-School department. She later moved on to Program Manager of After School Programs and then became the Program Director of After-School Programs. Cecilia’s responsibilities include; overseeing daily operations of all charter after school and summer programs, developing and implementing strategies to ensure programs are addressing community needs and overall accreditation and quality effectiveness within programs. She also provides direct supervision to the after school program supervisors and is responsible for ensuring program compliance, licensing requirements and reporting procedures for both government and private contracts. In addition, she also manages and collaborates with partners and contractors across all schools and programs. Prior to joining Para Los Niños, Cecilia held various positions within LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program and LAUSD. Cecilia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development with a specialization in Youth Agency Administration from California State University, Los Angeles, a Master’s degree in Education from Pacific Oaks College and a Director’s permit issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing from the state of California. Cecilia has over 14 years of experience in the after school field. As a product of after school programs, Cecilia understands the importance of providing quality programs, how essential extended learning opportunities are and the benefits they bring to our children and youth.

Director of Compliance & Risk

Gabriela Herrera

Gabby joined PLN in 2011 working in the Finance and Human Resource Department. She now serves as the Director of Compliance and Risk where she has been instrumental in mitigating PLN’s risk by ensuring that policies and procedures are upheld. Gabby is responsible for managing and maintaining multiple insurance policies for the agency and adhering to contractual requirements. Besides having to develop strong relationships with brokers, carriers and auditors, she also works very closely with internal programs to certify compliance with all mandated trainings and regulations set in place by various entities. She has made it her goal to ensure safety all across the agency by training and equipping all the sites & schools with emergency preparedness materials and ensuring that our students, staff and families are safe. Prior to joining PLN, Gabby was the Elementary School Coordinator for a STEM program working with 13 elementary schools in Boyle Heights; there she maintained programing compliance. After attending California State University, Los Angeles Gabby also worked for LAUSD and other Non-Public agencies as Behaviorists where her passion for seeing children thrive and prosper continues today. Gabby is a foodie at heart and loves to discover new restaurants where she can spend her time with family, friends and scrumptious food.

Managing Director, External Affairs

Christina Mariscal Pasten

As the Director of Corporate and Foundation Partnerships, Christina Mariscal Pasten joined Para Los Niños in September 2020 with over 10 years of fundraising experience. Christina has worked in the government sector, non-profit organizations, and independent schools including, the City and County of Los Angeles, Loyola High School, Marlborough School, and the Autry Museum. Most recently, Christina increased annual giving by 53% over five years in her role as Director of Development for High Point Academy in Pasadena. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Christina spent more time at her home away from home: Olvera Street, where her parents still run the family business founded in 1930. Her family is one of the first with six generations participating in the family business and cultural events. Christina holds a B.A. in History and a B.A. in Spanish from Loyola Marymount University, as well as a master’s degree in Policy and Organizational Leadership from the Stanford University School of Education. She resides in Pasadena with her husband and two sons.

Roberto Pineda
Assistant Principal, Charter Middle School

Roberto Pineda

Roberto Pineda has been an educator at Para Los Ninos Charter Middle School for five years. He started as a 6th grade English Language Arts & Social Studies teacher before transitioning into the designated English Language Development (ELD) teacher. Roberto also served as the Charter Middle Schools Athletics Director for four years before transitioning into his current role as Assistant Principal. Roberto holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from Cal Poly Pomona and a Master’s degree in Urban Education with an emphasis on Spanish Language and Culture from Loyola Marymount University.

Managing Director, Operations and Procurement

Blanca Medrano

With over 10 years of operational experience, Blanca is responsible for developing and implementing PLN company policies and control procedures for all purchasing, contracting and procurement practices. Blanca joined PLN in 2007 as the Operations Manager and is currently training in the field of strategic negotiations. Before joining PLN she worked for Hoy, a Tribune newspaper publication. Blanca lives in East Los Angeles with her husband and three children.

Director of Youth Workforce Services

Jorge Orozco

Jorge Orozco joined Para Los Niños (PLN) in March 2005 as an Employer Specialist, later became the Program Coordinator, and in May 2008, was promoted to Director of Youth Workforce Services (YWS). In this position, Jorge’s responsibilities include supervision of YWS staff, workforce and education programs supporting youth ages 14-24 including paid internships, vocational training, college preparation and success and high school dropout recovery. Jorge completed coursework toward a degree in Public Administration from California State University, Northridge, a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from California State University, Los Angeles, and several leadership fellowship and certifications, including Leaders L.A. and Next Leaders Development Program. Most recently, he was invited to participate in USC’s Nonprofit Resilient Leaders and Capacity Building Program.

Elementary School Assistant Principal

Antonio Panoringan

Antonio Panoringan has been an educator at Para Los Niños Charter Elementary School for over ten years, first as a teacher before becoming the Assistant Principal. Prior to joining Para Los Niños, he completed three Masters programs in Education and Leadership and Administration from UCLA and UC Berkeley and taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Director of Information Technology

Geovanni Rivas

Geovanni Rivas, Para Los Niños’ Director of Information Technology (I.T.), began his career at Para Los Niños in 2000, and has since held several positions, within the I.T. capacity, including Network Administrator and Manager of I.T. He has been the project leader for most of our I.T. projects, such as WAN/LAN design and implementation, as well as previous data storage upgrades, and our datacenter design. He has a certificate with Microsoft MCSE, Cisco CCNA, and a Graduate Certification in Information Technology Management from University of California, Los Angeles.

Lorena Rodriguez
Managing Director, Early Education

Lorena Rodriguez

Lorena Rodriguez became Managing Director of Early Education in October 2022 after serving as  Principal of  the Para Los Niños Evelyn Thurman Gratts Primary Center since 2018.  Lorena has a Preliminary Administration Certificate, and holds a Master of Education degree from Concordia University and a B.A. in Child Development-Teaching Credential Program from CSU Los Angeles.  Prior to joining PLN, Lorena served in key roles at elementary schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, including providing instructional support for teachers to implement effective strategies for English Learners, foster-youth, and at-risk and low-income students.

Principal, Charter Elementary School

Norma Silva

Founding Charter Elementary School Principal Norma Silva returns to Para Los Niños after serving for eight years as principal of UCLA Lab School. Her profession’s journey has brought her full circle to both schools twice and Norma is excited about the many possibilities there are for this new chapter at Para Los Niños.  Norma began her teaching career at the Los Angeles Unified School District as a bilingual teacher and a Categorical Programs Advisor. After earning her M.Ed. in Administrative Studies at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education, she began her administrative years as Director of Student and Family Affairs at UCLA Lab School (formerly Corinne A. Seeds University Elementary School). She engaged in research about school culture with a committee of teachers working with Dr. Jaana Juvonen and collaborated to develop the Safe School system which promotes a positive school culture, builds character and social skills for students in the context of a democratic learning community. Norma led the school in contemporizing the inquiry approach and worked to align to the Common Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and the Social Studies/C3 Frameworks. During her tenure at UCLA Lab School, teachers worked to provide professional development in Cognitively Guided Instruction in Mathematics and developed an Inquiry and STEAM approach which is now being shared through partnerships in Los Angeles and beyond.  Over the past eight years, Norma worked with second language acquisition expert UCLA Professor, Dr. Alison Bailey, and Dr. Rashmita Mistry to develop a successful 90/10 dual immersion model in Spanish and English. Norma looks forward to using her gained knowledge and experience with the children we serve at Para Los Niños.

Director of Clinical Services

Judi Stadler

Prior to joining Para Los Niños, Judi worked at Hollygrove, the Los Angeles division of EMQ FamiliesFirst, as an Associate Director over the Outpatient and Therapeutic Behavioral Support Services (TBS). In this role, Judi helped the region develop a school-based program providing Mental Health services to seven LAUSD elementary schools. Often schools were the place where symptoms and behaviors were identified and played a large role in the referral process to mental health services. Her focus was developing strong collaboration between the therapists, parents, principals, and teachers and decreasing the stigma of mental health services. In addition, Judi helped the Outpatient program with their Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) transformation which incorporated Evidenced Based Practices into the program. As Director of School Age Services, Judi’s goal is to help integrate Mental Health Services into our charter schools by teaming with the principals, faculty, and families. By providing therapeutic supports in our schools, she truly believes we can achieve the mission of Para Los Ninos. // Originally from Philadelphia, Judi did her undergraduate work at Temple University and moved to Los Angeles to attend USC School of Social Work where she received her MSW.

Director of Family Services

Jimmy Urizar

Jimmy joined PLN in May of 2011 as the Clinical Program Manager of Family Preservation. His responsibility included managing the daily functions of the Metro North and Wateridge contracts and providing clinical supervision to the Family Preservation staff. Prior to working with PLN, Jimmy worked at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, where he provided clinical services in the CalWORKs program to individuals and families receiving financial assistance through DPSS. Clinical services were aimed at reducing symptoms in order to increase employment readiness. In addition to carrying a caseload, Jimmy was responsible for implementing Dialectical Behavioral Therapy interventions in order to increase clinical capacity as well as to increase client engagement. Jimmy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California, at Irvine and a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. Jimmy is licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist and is a member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT) as well as the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT).

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