2018 Leadership Conference – Breakout Sessions & Featured Speakers


Diverse Pathways in Educational Leadership

Are you curious about what other direction your experience, competencies and passion for education can take you?  Hear from a diverse array of leaders who set out in one direction but embraced a different opportunity to make a positive impact in education.


Ruben Zepeda EdD ’05,  Superintendent, Keppel Union School District


Ann Chavez EdD ’08, Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer, Modern Teacher
Abram Jiminez EdD ’16,  Vice President of Education, Illuminate Education, Inc.
Norfina Joves MAT ’11,  Assistant Director, K-12 Services, State & District Partnerships, The College Board

Escorting Students Through Open Doors

Dr. Trudy T. Arriaga will share the journey of how one district transformed from unintentionally participating in practices that marginalized students and their communities to being committed and successful in making the education of all students a common priority. Trudy will demonstrate how to apply the tools of cultural proficiency to in schools and districts as we challenge ourselves to ensure that our actions reflect our values. Join this inspirational session as we engage in a common vision to escort students and their communities through open doors.


Trudy Arriaga EdD ’93, Chair, Educational Leadership and Distinguished Educator in Residence, California Lutheran University

Executive Presence: Interview Techniques to Help You Land the Job

This session is part of the DSAG Women’s Strand that addresses how women can increase their Executive Presence and master interview techniques that will help them land that next important job. While the specific focus is on women aspiring to the superintendency, attendees will also gain valuable interviewing insights for other senior level positions. Join the presenters to learn how to assess your Executive Presence and prepare for that upcoming interview.


Carmella Franco, Superintendent Search Consultant, Hazard Young Attea & Associates
Mary McNeilSuperintendent, Needles Unified School District
Maria OttProfessor of Clinical Education, USC Rossier School of Education

From College Prep to First Year College Experiences

What factors influence student persistence through the first year of college? The presentation will examine the experiences of majority first-generation, low-income students from a college preparatory high school as they transition through their first year of college. The session will explore their college-going behavior, quality of their experiences, and persistence.


Shafiqa AhmadiAssociate Professor of Clinical Education, USC Rossier School of Education
Darnell Cole, Associate Professor of Education, USC Rossier School of Education

Leadership Against School Violence

The purpose of this session is to engage education stakeholders in identifying protective measures against violence at K-12 schools, colleges and universities. These measures will include compliance with related federal and state laws; establishment of comprehensive school safety plans; training of school administrators, teachers and counselors; and development of research-based programs and practices. As expected outcomes, stakeholders will identify current threats impacting local K-12 schools, colleges and universities; identify major strengths; acknowledge vulnerabilities and options for consideration to address them; and discuss ways to improve collaborations to maximize school safety.


Gus Frias ’79, MPA ’83, EdD ’10, Education Sector Chief, InfraGard Los Angeles
Jeff Cugno, Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigations

Leadership Insights: Developing a Strong Organizational Culture

As a leader, building and promoting a strong culture within your organization is critical. A strong culture helps you attract and retain top talent while controlling how you would like your organization to be viewed by the constituents you serve. Learn more about strategies and best practices from our expert panel and gain valuable insights that can be used to build a strong organizational culture.


John Gyves MS ’67, EdD ’72,  Assistant to the President, Professional Golfers Career College


Hasmik Danielian EdD ’09,  Superintendent, Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District
Meg Palisoc ’96, MS ’98, EdD ’13, Co-Founder, Synergy Academies
Rameen Talesh EdD ’07,  
Assistant Vice Chancellor Student Life & Leadership/Dean of Students, University of California, Irvine

Pathways to Higher Education Leadership

Careers in higher education encompass wide range of functional areas. How do find your niche? What are the critical skills needed to succeed and advance? Hear from higher education leaders as they share their career journeys and valuable insights they learned along the way.


Tracy Poon Tambascia, Professor of Clinical Education, USC Rossier School of Education


Monique Allard ME ’02, EdD ’06,  Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs, Student Engagement, University of Southern California
Kaneesha Tarrant EdD ’06,  Vice President, Pathways & Staudent Affairs, Los Angeles Trade Technical College
Marcelo Vazquez EdD ’08,  Associate Vice President for Student Life & Dean of Students, California State University, Dominguez Hills

Pathways to School Site or District Leadership

Whether you’re teaching in the classroom or in a support role, how do you know if school site or district leadership is the right career path for you?  Our panel of school and district administrators will share how they successfully pursued their roles in school administration.


Betsy Hamilton EdD ’12,  Superintendent, Lawndale Elementary School District


Kevin Hryciw EdD ’17, Assistant Superintendent, Arcadia Unified School District
Sylvia Kaufman EdD ’05, Assistant Superintendent, Fullerton Joint Union High School District
Henry Romero EdD ’16, Principal, Ontario-Montclair School District

Pathways to Superintendent & CMO Leadership

Becoming a Superintendent or leading a Charter Management Organization requires extensive experience and demonstrated areas of success.  This panel includes veteran and new organizational leaders who will discuss their respective roles, and the career paths that prepared them for these demanding positions.


Rudy Castruita EdD ’82, Irving R. and Virginia Archer Melbo Chair in Education Administration, USC Rossier School of Education


Alex Cherniss EdD ’08, Superintendent, San Marino Unified School District
Melissa Moore EdD ’15, Superintendent, El Segundo Unified School District
Don Wilson EdD ’17, Superintendent, Vista Charter Public Schools

Pathways to Teaching in Higher Education

Are you interesting in teaching in a university setting? From tenure track teaching opportunities to clinical professorships and adjunct positions, there are several options available. Hear from current faculty members as they share their advice on getting hired, balancing the demands of teaching and tips for success.


John Roach EdD ’04, Adjunct Professor, USC Rossier School of Education


Kevin Baxter EdD ’04, Superintendent of Schools, Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Christine Levinson EdD ’12, Visiting Professor, Whittier College
Brandon Martinez EdD ’09, Director, Learning Development, Noodle Partners

The Principal Coaching Model: How to Plan, Design, and Implement a Successful Program

Join this in-depth discussion with a panel of experts to address promising practices and lessons learned with the implementation of accountability plans. The panel will discuss issues on the current policy climate affecting college readiness, student outcomes, and educational opportunities for all students, particularly underrepresented students’ access to post-secondary options. This session also explores policy implications and issues on community partnerships during the new administration.


Larry Hausner EdD ’13, Principal, Saddleback Valley Unified School District