• Aixle Aman, Ed.D. '17 is the Senior Director for the newly formed Policy and Community Impact team at Leadership for Educational Equity. In this role, she works nationally with senior members in the fields of education policy, organizing, advocacy, and elected leadership. Aixle joins the team after serving as a member of the organization for over seven years.

    Formerly, she served as the Special Assistant to the Chief Academic Officer in the L.A. Unified School District. After teaching in the public and private sectors, she became inspired to tackle inequity issues through systems change at the local level. Aixle (pronounced ACE-EL) has worked in two L.A. Unified Board of Education offices, in various roles, including as Chief of Staff. Aixle holds a Bachelor’s degree from UC San Diego and Master’s degrees from Pace University in New York City and the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. She proudly received her Doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice at Loyola Marymount University. Her dissertation examined the impact that two L.A. Unified “community schools” had on students and schools through the presence of shared decision-making, holistic and integrated services, and intentional community partnerships. Aixle enjoys meditating, exercising, traveling, journaling, and sharing meals with loved ones.

  • Karisa Avalos, M.A. ’07, B.A ’04 is a product of and advocate for Catholic education. She is driven by her calling to support student learning and to accompany adults. Currently, Karisa is concluding her time as an Academic Excellence Specialist for the Department of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (ADLA) after four years of service. Her role has included supporting schools participating in the ADLA Onward Readers literary initiative. Additionally, she will be completing her second M.A. in educational leadership at the University of Notre Dame through the Mary Ann Remick Program, as well as beginning her new role as the principal of Saint Sebastian School in West Los Angeles. Karisa is looking forward to this new administrative experience with this tight-knit community that belongs to ADLA Dual Language Immersion Network.


    As a Los Angeles native, Karisa graduated from Immaculate Heart High School and went on to earn her B.A. in Liberal Studies (Elementary Education) with a minor in Spanish in 2004 at LMU. After attaining her multiple-subject teaching credential in 2005, Karisa participated in the PLACE Corps program at LMU and earned her first M.A. in Child and Adolescent Literacy in 2007. For 11 years, Karisa served as an ADLA Catholic school teacher at St. Turibius School, Mother of Sorrows School, and Saint Joseph school in primary, intermediate, and middle school grades. In addition, she collaborated with the Director of Academic Excellence for the ADLA Department of Catholic Schools to help design curriculum and provide professional development for the new ADLA Transitional Kindergarten standards. In 2012, Karisa began her journey within young adult ministry and Ignatian spirituality as a member of several retreat teams through Christus Ministries. Her educational and young adult ministry experiences led to her current role supporting Catholic educators within ADLA. In her free time, Karisa enjoys connecting with family and friends, learning about Ignatian spirituality, traveling, cooking breakfast, and listening to audiobooks.

  • Tanisha Barnett, Ed.D. '16 brings public, private and charter school knowledge. She has been an educator for 19 years, 15 of which have been spent at a public charter school. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in African American Studies from UCLA. She later pursued further studies in Education at Pepperdine University where she earned her Teaching Credential and Master’s Degree. She then went on to earn her Administrative Credential from Cal State University of Dominguez Hills and finally earned her Doctoral Degree from Loyola Marymount University.

    Tanisha is a strong advocate of a safe and orderly learning environment for faculty, staff and students. She aims to establish a fair, honest, and respectful school community. Tanisha works tirelessly to create positive home and school relationships while disciplining with integrity and supporting student success. Tanisha's priority is to keep the atmosphere positive and the lines of communication open among staff, students, and parents. 

  • Natasha Bayus '11 has been passionately involved in educational and non-profit endeavors for over 12 years.  She recently joined one of the world's leading medical educational companies, EM:RAP, as a project manager for several physician education programs, as well as supporting the company's global outreach initiatives to bring emergency medicine to developing countries.  Natasha previously served as the Director of Education with School on Wheels, a non-profit dedicated to enhancing educational opportunities for homeless students. She earned her master's degree in school counseling and Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) credential from LMU in 2010, and bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. Natasha continues to volunteer as a tutor with School on Wheels and in her daughter's elementary school. She also enjoys playing French horn in local community bands.

  • Maggie Bove-LaMonica, J.D., '13, M.A. '05 is an educator, innovator and bridge-builder. Committed to public service and engagement, she serves on the Hermosa Beach City School District as an elected board member, is a board member with the LMU School of Education Alumni Association and Harris School of Public Policy at Univ. of Chicago.  She has worked in all levels of the education spectrum as a classroom teacher, coach, and administrator. Maggie earned her Master's degree in Secondary Education and California teaching credential from LMU and her J.D. from Loyola Law School. She earned her bachelor's degree from Loyola New Orleans and her Master's degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. Maggie enjoys family dinners, travel, surfing, reading the Sunday paper, and pondering unsolvable policy questions.

  • Michael Cersosimo, Ed.D. '11 serves as the Assistant Director of the Center for Undergraduate Teacher Preparation within the School of Education at LMU. He has worked at LMU since 2010. He earned his B.F.A. in film production from Chapman University and his M.A. in guidance and counseling from LMU. In 2018, he earned his Ed.D. in educational leadership with a concentration in higher education administration from USC. Dr. Cersosimo’s research interests include first-generation students and mentoring. He is a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, Kappa Delta Pi, and NACADA. In his free time, he volunteers at Venice Arts mentoring low-income youth in filmmaking classes. In 2014, he was honored for his volunteer work in the organization as an artist mentor. He also enjoys running marathons and listening to The Beatles.

  • Maria I. Corral, M.S, ’16, ’19 Assistant to the Dean

  • Leticia Duenas '18 graduated from Loyola Marymount University (LMU) with a BA in Spanish and a BBA in Management in 2012 and received her MA in Higher Education Administration from LMU’s School of Education in 2018. She currently serves as the senior administrative coordinator for the Office of Board and Donor Relations within LMU’s division of University Advancement. In this role, her primary responsibilities consist of collaborating in the coordination of all events related to the Board of Trustees and the Board of Regents. She is a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, Kappa Delta Pi, the LMU Latino Ambassador Program, and serves as the Secretary of LMU’s Staff Senate. This fall she will begin her role as mentor to the Underwings Praxis service club at LMU. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

  • Michael Farber, Ed.D. ’16 began his educational career as a teenager working at his mother’s pre-school.  It was a natural fit.  He was able to keep the children engaged for hours playing, running, singing, dancing and having all sorts of fun.  The teachers loved him being there and offered him his first job as an educator.  Over the next nine years, while growing up in New York and under his mother’s guidance, he worked at her school as an aide in the after-school program, a teacher’s aide in a special needs program, school accountant, school photographer, assistant to physical and occupational therapists and a teacher of children with special needs.

    Michael went on to complete his Undergraduate Degree in Early Childhood Education, Psychology and Writing with a minor in Theater in Boulder, Colorado.  Over the next four years, he worked in a number of educational support roles serving all ages from early elementary to adults.

    He then moved to Los Angeles where he began his career as a secondary educator.  Over the past seventeen years, he has taught high school mathematics at various urban charter schools in Los Angeles, Lawndale and Chatsworth.  He served as an instructional coach for Reseda High School and Alliance College Ready Public Schools, and most recently a Director of Mathematics for Alliance College Ready Public Schools (6th-12th grade), and ICEF Public Schools (TK-12th grade) in Los Angeles.  Michael earned his M.A. in curriculum and instruction, secondary math credential and an Ed.D. from LMU in School Leadership with an emphasis on social justice.

    Michael currently serves as a committee member of the California Math Council working to support the transition to Common Core throughout Southern California and regularly facilitates Professional Development workshops at various math conferences, schools and teacher development programs.

  • JulieAnne Howe '18 is a 5th grade Associate Teacher at Yavneh Hebrew Academy in Hancock Park, Los Angeles. She received her M.A. in Elementary Education from LMU’s Graduate SOE and is beginning her second year of teaching during the 2019-2020 school year. Prior to receiving her Masters and Teaching Credential from LMU, JulieAnne spent three years working in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis, working with children with Autism at home and in school to help build independence, boost social skills, and strengthen academic foundations. JulieAnne enjoys traveling, hiking, running, and eating her way through Los Angeles in her spare time. 

  • Marcus Hughes, Ed.D. ’17 A native of South Los Angeles and a father of three, I am deeply invested in providing an excellent education for our students in the city of Los Angeles. In my current role at the Partnership of Los Angeles Schools, I serve as the Elementary Coordinator of School Transformation. In this role, I am responsible for coaching and mentoring educators in pedagogy, praxis, and professional leadership. I began my career in public education as a Teach For America corps member, where I taught six years as an elementary teacher in Atlanta, Georgia. I eventually left the classroom to serve as the Executive Director of the Longfellow Youth Academy that focused on mentorship and leadership development of young Black males. Before joining the Partnership of Los Angeles Schools, I mentored and coached teachers for Teach for America Los Angeles. I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Marketing from Morehouse College, a Masters in Theology from Regent University, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice from Loyola Marymount University. In my spare time, I mentor young men through my travel baseball organization, West Elite Baseball.

  • Kadar Lewis, Ed.D. '16, a first-generation college graduate, grew up in a low-income single-parent household where education was always prioritized by his mother. Kadar earned his B.A. in Philosophy from Harvard, and his M.A. in Educational Technology from California State University, Los Angeles. In 2016, he earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Loyola Marymount University, publishing a dissertation on the college to career transition.  Dr. Lewis currently serves as a Program Officer at the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, which improves the well-being of the residents of Los Angeles County through responsive grantmaking in human services, civic and cultural, education, and health. 

  • Corena "Cori" Marasco, Ed.D. ‘15 a Los Angeles native, and a product of public and Catholic education, is an expert Catholic school researcher, marketer, leader, and educator. She served the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as a Catholic school educator and administrator on all levels in a variety of roles including a high school teacher and coach, elementary school principal, president, and high school principal.

    Dr. Marasco is passionate about Catholic education, ensuring that the Catholic school environment is welcoming and available to all--and is a place where all feel they belong. She has published various works related to Catholic education, and has presented world-wide on the topic including presentations at University of Notre Dame, Boston College, and University of Calgary to name a few.

    Dr. Marasco played various sports throughout her life and was the first in her family to go to college, where she received a full academic and athletic scholarship to Rutgers University. She received her bachelor's degree in history, her master's in education with an emphasis in Biology from Western Governor’s University (WGU), her doctorate in educational leadership for social justice from LMU, and a MBA from WGU. She holds a clear teaching credential in science, and a certificate in Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Development (CLAD) Authorization.

  • Stephen McCray, Ed.D. '13 has been involved with K-16 education for over 30 years, and has served as a bilingual teacher, administrator in public schools, lecturer for the School of Education at California State University, and field consultant for School Support Services at the California Department of Education. He has worked as a national consultant, keynote speaker and trainer on student achievement, leading change, high impact instructional leadership, safe schools, parent involvement, and cultural relations in educational communities. With an unwavering commitment to educational innovation, equity of access, and social justice, Dr. McCray’s most recent areas of focus have been Innovative Schools that Work for Low-Income Students of Color, High Achieving Low Income Students, The Power of Dialogic Classrooms, Student and Parent Voices for Empowerment, Healing Race in Education, and Preparing Students of Color for 21st Century College and Career Success. Co-author and presenter of two videos on successful learning communities and safe schools, he received a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, a Master’s in Education from UCLA, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice from LMU. Formerly a Principal in the Lawndale School District, Executive Director of School and Community Relations, and winner of the CSBA Golden Bell Award for creating Family Friendly Schools, Dr. McCray is currently serving as the Director of Instructional Support Services for Para Los Niños, educational consultant, and a keynote speaker.

  • Mary McCullough, Ph.D., Ex-officio for Faculty

  • Laura McGowan-Robinson, Ed.D. '16 is a Chief Operating Officer for the California Charter Schools Association. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing the Association's operational functions, including data, operations, IT, conference and membership. Laura also leads strategic initiatives related to diversity, equity, access and inclusion. Previous to her role as COO, she served as the Senior Vice President of Regional Advocacy, supporting local and county advocacy across the state.

     McGowan-Robinson shaped her career around the goal of opening an outstanding urban school and providing equitable, quality education for all students. Prior to joining CCSA, Laura founded and served as Executive Director of Crown Preparatory Academy, a middle school located in South Los Angeles. In 2013, Crown Prep embarked upon an unprecedented partnership with LAUSD to co-operate 24th Street Elementary school as a result of the parent trigger. Through this partnership, 24th Street operates the K-4 and Crown Prep operating grades 5-8. This resulted in the third parent trigger in California and the first partnership between a single-site charter school and LAUSD.

    McGowan-Robinson holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a Master of Education degree in Instructional Leadership and English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

     Laura brings to the COO role at CCSA the same tenacity and commitment to advocating for policy reform at the local and state levels.


  • Fatima Nicdao, '09, '16, is the Assistant Principal - Dean of Studies at SMCHS. In this role, Fatima is the support, resource and coach for all teachers. She helps teachers grow in their profession through best practices. Fatima has ten years of high school teaching experience in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and has taught and lived abroad in Nicaragua and India. She received a BA in Psychology and Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville and my Masters in Secondary Education (2009) and Masters in Catholic School Administration (2016) at Loyola Marymount University (LMU). She received her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership for Social Justice from the LMU School of Education         

    Within education Fatima is a big believer in access, equity, personalized learning, project based and inquiry based learning and believes schools should be a place where students are excited to go to for learning about new concepts and about themselves. She believes in deeper learning, creating, making and supporting all learning styles.              

    Drawing on over ten years’ experience in the field of education, Fatima now focuses mainly on creating spaces to help other teacher leaders to recognize their own positionality as agents of positive change in students’ lives. In addition, she seeks to create meaningful and creative learning spaces for students to realize their talents, gifts and abilities to solve problems and change the world.

  • Martha Padilla '79 recently retired from the Lennox School District, after 30+ years in the District, as the Assistant Principal of Buford Elementary School, a K-5 school with an enrollment of 900 students. She earned her bachelor’s degree and California Multiple Subjects Credential from LMU, followed by her master’s degree in Elementary Education and Tier I and Tier II –Administrative Services Credentials. 

  • Danitza Pantoja, Psy.D. '02 currently is the Coordinator of Psychological Services for the Antelope Valley Union High School District. She previously was a Program Specialist and School Psychologist for AVUHSD. Danitza currently serves as Board President for El Centro De Amistad. She was appointed by California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to the Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health.  She also serves as Board Member on the Granada Hills North Neighborhood Council.  Danitza has served as a commissioner for the Parks, Wellness, and Community Service Commission and the Education Commission in the City of San Fernando. Danitza earned her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Master's degree in School Counseling from LMU. She also earned a Master's degree in School Psychology from Phillips Graduate Institute and a Doctorate in Psychology from Alliant International University. Danitza also holds a certificate in Assistive Technology from California State, Northridge. 

  • Melissa Papp, M.A. ’15 serves as a computer science instructor and free-lance web developer. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Colorado State University and served in the U.S. Coast Guard. In May of 2015, she earned her Master’s in Secondary Education and single-subject social science teaching credential at Loyola Marymount University.  She chose LMU School of Education because of its strong and sincere commitment to social justice. Melissa decided to continue to serve her country by teaching government, history, and sociology at Culver City High School and Alliance Collins High School in South Los Angeles.

    As a high school teacher for over five years, she facilitated an environment where students felt comfortable to advocate for themselves and their community. Her teaching style is focused on using technology through project-based learning. She has observed that when students are challenged to stretch their imagination and create tangible things, they gain confidence, and become life-long learners.

    Melissa has recently returned to school for computer information systems and web development. Her hope is to merge education reform and technology to create a more equitable learning environment for everyone. She aims to inspire her female, LGBTQ+, and students of color to get involved in the STEM fields and produce content that represents all voices. Her hobbies include spending time with her nieces, cooking, and traveling.

  • Ana Ponce, Ed.D. '13 serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy. Prior to Camino Nuevo, she was one of the founding teachers and administrators at The Accelerated School in South Los Angeles. A veteran of the charter schools movement in California, she serves on the board of the California Charter Schools Association. Ana earned her bachelor's degree from Middlebury College and master's degree in bilingual-bicultural education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She earned her Tier 1 administrative credential and second master's degree at UCLA through the Principal's Leadership Institute (PLI). She earned her doctorate at LMU. Her dissertation focused on understanding how Latino immigrant parents access college information, which she applied to improve outcomes for her students. Her research showed that with a better understanding of the aspirations, fears and challenges faced by Latino immigrant families, it is possible for a school to provide college knowledge in a form that is meaningful and honors the parents' existing funds of knowledge.

  • Christopher J. Rudd, M.A. '15 serves as the Senior Administrative Coordinator in the Department of Theological Studies, Graduate Program at Loyola Marymount University. 

    Christopher is originally from England and moved to San Diego in 2008. He studied International Hospitality Management for his undergraduate degree at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, England. He has been in education since 2009, when he became a professor and academic dean at a small private university specializing in hospitality and tourism in San Diego. 

    In 2015, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Master of Arts degree in Education and a California teaching credential. Previously to Loyola Marymount University, he taught at St. Luke’s Catholic school as their fourth grade teacher, where he passionately encouraged students to assume a very active responsibility for their own personal learning, individualization and the cultivation of a deep and profound love of learning, as prescribed by Maria Montessori and John Dewey's educational philosophies.  

    Christopher is a member of Alpha Sigma Nu Honor Society of Jesuit Universities, and Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. He cherishes spending time with his wife, daughter, and family. They enjoy attending Mass, volunteering for their parish and traveling together, especially to Europe and China to visit family. 

  • Daniel Rios - M.A.’16, B.A.’12 is an 11th & 12th grade English teacher at Crossroads School for the Arts & Sciences in Santa Monica, CA and serves as the English department chair. Prior to Crossroads, he taught at Villanova Preparatory School, an Augustinian high school in Ojai, CA, where he served in the various capacities of Faculty, Department Chair and Director of Academics. He holds a B.A. in English with a minor in Secondary Education and an M.A. in Educational Studies from LMU. Being a product of lifelong Catholic education, he values the mission and vision of Catholic education and the role it plays in the educational landscape of Los Angeles. At certain points in his career, he has tutored foster students in LAUSD, participated in WASC accreditation visits and helped schools transition towards becoming International Baccalaureate certified schools. In his free time, he enjoys travel, art museums, reading and attending concerts.

  • Liza Smith '10 is a highly motivated early education advocate and has been for over 13 years. Through Child360, she partners with teachers and administrators in Los Angeles County to provide direct coaching, professional development, and family engagement to support high-quality education for all.  Liza began her career as a Head Start preschool teacher in Los Angeles, and has served in the field as a lead teacher, supervisor, director, trainer, consultant, and advocate. She holds a master's degree in Early Childhood Education from Loyola Marymount University, a master's degree in School Administration K-12 from California State University, Northridge, and two bachelor's degrees from Pennsylvania State University in Spanish and Journalism. Liza also serves as a board member for Seeds of Joy Village, South Bay’s first Waldorf school in Redondo Beach, and as a deaconess at Iglesia Bautista Horeb in Torrance. 

  • Erin N Solari-Jones, BA '06, MA '15, has been the Junior High English Teacher at Visitation School since 2015. 
    Erin is a Westchester native. She attended St. Jerome's Catholic School followed by Notre Dame Academy. She graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, followed by a Master’s in Education from the same institution. 

    Prior to teaching, she was an editor in the Aerospace industry but never felt truly fulfilled in that field. She was given the opportunity to change career paths and became a teacher. Now, she never works a day in her life! She encourages her scholars to ask tough questions, delve deep into varying texts to make connections, and push themselves everyday to be the best they can be.

    In her free time she loves watching movies with her husband, David, loving on her dog, Darla, visiting the LMU campus and learning new ways to be the best teacher possible. 

  • Martinique Starnes, Ed.D. '15 is the Manager of Diversity, Outreach, and Community Development for the California Charter Schools Association. In her role, Dr. Starnes is responsible for creating and implementing strategies to improve the pipeline to school leadership for educators of color. With over 15 years in the field, Dr. Starnes understands the varied educational experiences of students of color including the educational inequities that continue to impact them. She is a champion for equity and inclusion and works tirelessly to ensure that diverse voices are included at all levels of the education space. Prior to her role at CCSA, she served for 10 years as the Dean of Counseling and Student Affairs at Verbum Dei High School, a Cristo Rey Network school located in the Watts community. She also serves as an adjunct professor of Communication Studies at Long Beach City College.   

  • Paul Vu, Ph.D., Ex-officio for the Religious

  • Michelle Young, Ph.D., Dean, School of Education