Magaly Lavadenz, Ph.D.

Leavey Presidential Endowed Chair in Ethics and Moral Leadership and founding Executive Director

Magaly Lavadenz, Ph.D., is the Leavey Endowed Professor of Moral and Ethical Leadership and founding Executive Director of the Center for Equity for English Learners in the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University. Her research addresses the intersections and impact of policies and practices for culturally and linguistically diverse students, their teachers, and school leaders. 

She has held various leadership positions as President of Californians Together, California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE), the California Association for Bilingual Teacher Education, and the California Council on Teacher Education. Her work is published in numerous articles, chapters, and books, including Questioning our Practices: Bilingual Teacher-Researchers and Transformative Inquiry and Latino Civil Rights in Education: La Lucha Sigue, co-edited with Anaida Colón Muñiz. Dr. Lavadenz completed a Ph.D. in Education, specializing in Language, Literacy, and Learning from the University of Southern California. Her K-12 teaching career includes serving as a bilingual paraprofessional, elementary bilingual educator, and K-12 English as a Second Language Teacher Specialist.

Elvira G. Armas, Ed.D.

Director of the Center for Equity for English Learners

Dr. Elvira G. Armas is the Director of the Center for Equity for English Learners (CEEL) and Affiliated Faculty in the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University, where she leads and supports CEEL’s P-21 local and national collaborative engagement initiatives. Throughout her career, she has served as a bilingual classroom teacher, mentor, district advisor, staff developer, grant writer, and curriculum materials developer. She has prepared and partnered with pre-service, intern, and in-service educators in the areas of leadership, curriculum, integrated standards-based instruction, assessment, and family/community engagement in culturally and linguistically diverse settings.

Dr. Armas is the co-author of several articles, policy briefs, and book chapters based on her research related to teacher preparation, teaching and learning in bilingual settings, parent/community engagement, and assessment. She has also co-developed and served as project consultant for the K-12 curriculum “Supporting Refugee and Immigrant Students”, published by Californians Together. Dr. Armas holds a Teaching Credential, with Bilingual Authorization in Spanish as well as an administrative credential. She earned an Ed.D. from the University of Southern California with an emphasis in Language, Literacy, and Learning.

Linda Kaminski, Ed.D.

Director of Research and Policy

Linda Kaminski is the Director of Research and Policy for the Center for Equity for English Learners (CEEL). She teaches in the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University and co-authors CEEL publications.

Dr. Kaminski began her career in education as a bilingual teacher and served as an elementary principal, coordinator, assistant superintendent and superintendent. In 2017 Dr. Kaminski was selected by the Los Angeles County Office of Education as its inaugural Superintendent of the Year. In 2019-20, Dr. Kaminski served as president of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA). Dr. Kaminski earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in Administration, Policy and Social Planning at Harvard University. Her research interests are in bilingual education and leadership.

Malane Morales-Van Hecke

Assistant Director

Malane is an Assistant Director for the Center for Equity for English Learners (CEEL) at Loyola Marymount University where she primarily focuses on supporting our National Professional Development Grants. Additionally, she engages with CEEL partners in providing technical support, professional learning, and other services related to systems-level leadership for programs and policy for English Learners.

Malane has worked as an educator and administrator at the district, school, and county levels and brings many years of experience working in state and federal program administration and compliance, academic intervention, specialized programs, and district and state assessments. Her work at the county level included serving as the Regional County Office of Education English Learner Specialist to provide statewide EL resources and tools for Local Education Agencies, in a partnership between the California Department of Education and the California County Superintendents’.

Malane earned a Master’s degree in Education from California State University, Northridge, and her Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from Mount St. Mary’s College.

Verónica Torres McLane

Assistant Director for Professional Learning

Verónica Torres McLane is Assistant Director for Professional Learning for the Center for Equity for English Learners (CEEL) at Loyola Marymount University where she supports the management of CEEL projects in the areas of Professional learning and leadership, teacher development, biliteracy curriculum design and implementation, and policy initiatives. 

Over the past 24 years, she has served as a bilingual classroom teacher, mentor, instructional coach of mathematics, and instructor. For 10 years, she was part of Dual Language Immersion programs, serving as a Spanish teacher, Lead Teacher, and Instructional Leader. She collaborated with the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Dual Language and Bilingual Programs Office in the development of the Tesoros/Treasures Instructional guide, and the Biliteracy Instructional Guide for Benchmark Adelante/Advance. She also served as a trainer and presenter for the Dual Language Institute and Introduction to the Dual Language Program.

Verónica earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Spanish Literature and Culture from Occidental College. She holds a Teaching Credential, with Bilingual Authorization in Spanish from California State University Dominguez Hills. Throughout her career, she has been actively engaged in collaborating with colleagues, administrators and parents to advocate for multilingual learners in bilingual programs. 

Gisela O'Brien, Ph.D.

Biliteracy & EL Education Specialist

Gisela O'Brien supports the Center's efforts in research, curriculum, and professional development focusing on the education of English Learners. She provides technical assistance to implement effective bilingual and dual immersion programs in districts across the state.

A life-long educator, she has worked as a bilingual teacher, staff developer, curriculum/materials designer, and curriculum specialist in the areas of literacy, ELD, and SDAIE. Dr. O'Brien has served as an advisor at the state and national level in the areas of Language Arts and Second Language instruction and has published articles and book chapters on bilingual education and models for staff development. Dr. O'Brien received her Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis on Language, Literacy, and Learning from the University of Southern California and her M.S. degree in Educational Leadership from California State University, Los Angeles. An Affiliated Faculty member in the Department of Educational Leadership at LMU, she teaches courses in reading, writing, and second language learning methods across the School of Education.

Lauren Haught, M.A.

Research Associate

Lauren Haught is a Research Associate for the Center for Equity for English Learners (CEEL) at Loyola Marymount University where she primarily supports the efforts of the Research and Evaluation Branch. Currently, her role is to collaborate and support the research and evaluation services for various grants and projects.  

Lauren initially supported the Center for Equity for English Learners as a Graduate Research Assistant. In that role, she provided research initiatives and operational services to support various projects and program coordination.  

Lauren received her Master's degree in English with an emphasis in Rhetoric and Composition from Loyola Marymount University, and her Bachelor’s degree in English from Northern Arizona University.  Originally from Washington State, Lauren grew up in Phoenix, Arizona.

Mirabelle Ah-Reum Johnson, MSW-LSC

Program Coordinator

Mirabelle Ah-Reum Johnson is the Program Coordinator for the Center for Equity for English Learners (CEEL) at Loyola Marymount University where she supports the Operations Branch of the Center. Her role is to oversee professional development, eventing and programming, program assessment/data analysis, budgeting, grants and contracts, and other operations. 

Prior to joining the CEEL team, Mirabelle has worked as a Program Coordinator, Program Manager, and Housing Counselor at a non-profit called Faith and Community Empowerment (FACE). Here, she served the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and other Low-to-Moderate Income (LMI) BIPOC individuals and families get access to various resources. She helped to facilitate leadership development and capacity building programs for faith and non-profit institutions to curate numerous community development initiatives. She oversaw FACE’s youth development partnerships with LA County WDACS and the Office of Supervisor Hilda Solis which worked to provide AAPI youth with access to paid job training and internships. She also helped to secure grant funding at the corporate, county, and state levels through sponsorships, donor recruitment, and grants - including the statewide Stop the Hate Grant from the California Department of Community Services (CDSS).

Mirabelle is a tri-ethnic Korean Lebanese American and third culture migrant from the United Arab Emirates. She received her Master’s in Social Work with a concentration in Leadership and Social Change (MSW-LSC) and a minor in Asian American Studies from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

Erin Brown

Senior Administrative Coordinator

Erin Brown is the Senior Administrative Coordinator at the Center for Equity for English Learners (CEEL) at Loyola Marymount University where she works within the Operations Branch. In her current capacity, Erin supports office management and contributes to the center's dynamic programming.

Before joining the CEEL team, Erin studied at the University of San Francisco, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies with a minor in Media Studies. During her time at her alma mater, she served as a Student Assistant in the Dean of Students Office, where she played an instrumental role in supporting the USF Food Pantry Program and fulfilling various office responsibilities. Additionally, Erin gained valuable experience as an Intern at The San Francisco Times, where she crafted engaging weekly articles about small businesses in San Francisco, managed their social media platforms, and conducted interviews with nonprofit organizations for publication. 

Erin is proud to call Southern California her home, as she was born and raised in Inglewood.