Magaly Lavadenz, Ph.D., Executive Director

Magaly Lavadenz is currently a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Loyola Marymount University. She is also the Founding Director of LMU's Center for Equity English Learners (CEEL).

Dr. Lavadenz has held leadership positions in numerous education related associations. She is a past president of the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE), founding president of the California Association of Bilingual Teacher Educators (CABTE) and is currently President for the California Council on Teacher Education.

Born in Cuba, she is a former bilingual classroom teacher and ESL Teacher Specialist at the K-12 levels. Her research interests include the education of Latino and bilingual teachers, the experiences of the Central American immigrant community, public policy affecting language use and education, and biliteracy development.

Dr. Lavadenz completed her B.S. in Elementary Education from Oakland University in Michigan, an M.A. in Educational Psychology and Counseling from California State University, Northridge and a Ph.D. in Education, specializing in Language, Literacy and Learning from the University of Southern California.

Elvira G. Armas, Ed.D., Director of Programs and Partnerships

Elvira G. Armas joined the staff at LMU in 2006 as the Associate Director of the Center for Equity for English Learners (CEEL). Concurrently, Dr. Armas works with the Los Angeles County of Education (LACOE), Multilingual Academic Support Unit as an English Learner Consultant providing professional development for school teams, school districts, and educational leaders.

In her career as an educator Dr. Armas has served as a bilingual classroom teacher, mentor, trainer, district advisor, staff developer and curriculum materials developer. She has also taught reading, writing and second language learning methods as well as language foundation courses for schools of education at the university level. She was a key trainer and program coordinator for the Language Minority Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Project at the University of Southern California, working closely with new and experienced teachers.

Dr. Armas earned an Ed.D. from the University of Southern California in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Language Literacy, and Learning. She also received her Master's and Bachelor's degrees at U.S.C. and holds a California Bilingual Teaching Credential and an Administrative Services Credential.

Armando T. Zúñiga, Assistant Director

Armando T. Zúñiga is Assistant Director for the Loyola Marymount University’s Center for Equity for English Learners (CEEL) and Project ROYAL. He joined LMU|CEEL in Fall 2017.

Prior to working for the center, he was an English Language Arts/English Language Development (ELA/ELD) Specialist in the Curriculum and Instruction Department at the Ventura County Office of Education (VCOE). In this position, he was responsible for designing, presenting, and supporting curriculum, research-based pedagogical practices, and professional development opportunities for in-practice teachers of English Learners.  

Additionally, he was an adjunct professor in the Department of Learning and Teaching within the Graduate School of Education at California Lutheran University (CLU). He has taught graduate-level courses in second-language acquisition, cultural diversity in schools, positive behavior supports, professional collaborative consultation, counseling, and coordination of services.

He continues to participate on several state-level collaborative workgroups to inform practice and policy for English Learner systems, programs, and instruction.  

Mr. Zúñiga earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from San Diego State University (SDSU) and a Master of Education degree from CLU. At present, he is a doctoral candidate in the Organizational Change and Leadership program within the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California (USC). His dissertation research is a qualitative study of the influences that knowledge, motivation, and organizational systems have on the goal attainment of instructional coaches for teachers of English Language Learners (ELLs).              

Gisela O'Brien, Ph.D., Biliteracy & EL Education Specialist

Gisela O'Brien joined the staff at CEEL|LMU in 2003 to oversee the Journalism for English Learners Program implemented at several school districts both in Central and Southern California. She also supports the Center's efforts in research, curriculum and professional development focusing on the instruction of English Learners.

As an educator, she has worked as a bilingual teacher, staff developer and curriculum/materials designer and curriculum specialist in the areas of literacy, ELD and SDAIE. Dr. O'Brien has served as a project advisor and coordinator for several research grants as well as advisor/reviewer at the state and national level including the Framework for English Language Development Standards.

She has co-authored and published several articles in educational journals and books on bilingual education and models for staff development.

Dr. O'Brien earned a B.S. in Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles and an M.S. degree in Educational Leadership from California State University, Los Angeles. She received her Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis on Language, Literacy and Learning from the University of Southern California.