Dawn is a founding administrative member of the SCVi team. She is passionate about creating educational options for families that are innovative, engaging, and supportive. Her mission is to provide equal opportunity by creating relevant, high-quality educational experiences for all students.
Dawn grew up in Sandpoint, Idaho, a small, artsy town in the Pacific Northwest. She completed her undergraduate degree at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. Armed with a strong desire to teach and wanting to experience more diversity, she packed up her belongings, set out to change the world and moved to Southern California! She currently resides in Lancaster, California, with her scientific husband and three talented daughters. She has learned a lot through her experience as a mother and also through riding the many bumps along the road of education. Dawn believes in living a positive life that uplifts others. She loves a good challenge and is a cancer survivor. She is also experienced in the challenges of charter school start-up, setting culture, development, governance, and sustainability, and she has led the schools to achieve their strong record of growth and achievement.
Amber Golden Raskin is a veteran charter school founder and operator as well as an accomplished television producer with expertise in school governance and business management. In addition to serving as the Executive Director of iLEAD Schools Development and sitting on the schools’ governing boards, she sits on local community boards and aspires to make her local and global community all that it can be. She has advocated in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C., for community, safety and educational issues. A graduate of California State University at Long Beach, she has traveled the world, often with kids in tow, and has worked hard to bring an international perspective to her family. Amber decided to create a charter school so that access to innovative educational instruction would be accessible to a wider range of students. SCVi, the first independent site-based charter school in the Santa Clarita Valley was opened in 2008, leading to the creation of more schools.
Before education, Amber worked in the television industry as a producer responsible for creating hundreds of hours of network television. She was responsible for multimillion-dollar budgets, hiring staff, and the start-up of new companies, including work in payables, receivables, and a host of other and management activities.
While in television, she managed several different staffs of 100, and in her current position, she oversees 200+ employees, developing new programs, procedures and processes to support the innovative schools in the iLEAD Schools network. Amber is a systems thinker with a deep understanding of the creative process and believes that the systems, budget and processes in any organization should conform to the people and human behavior that use them, rather than the other way around. An entrepreneur and innovator at heart, Amber is increasingly being asked to speak at various events regarding making a difference and educational reform.
Retired from the Torrence School District in 2008, Sidney has worked as a leadership coach for several school districts, including iLEAD Charter Schools. He has been a presenter at the ACSA Principal Center (UCLA) and ACSA Principal and Curriculum as well as being presenter at Instruction Academies throughout the state with a focus on ethical leadership and equity/diversity issues. Sidney served as a Medical Corpsman in the US army during the Vietnam War from 1968-1970 and earned a Bronze Star for valor under fire. He is married and the proud father of three children and four grandchildren.
As her family grew, Shannon led various church committees and served as president of her local Mom’s Club. She also volunteered as leader for all three of her children’s Scout troops, where she held various service unit leadership positions.
Shannon began at iLEAD’s founding school as a volunteer, which soon led to a full-time position working on the yard. One day, she was asked to help with a phone project, and she’s been hooked on technology ever since! Shannon dedicated any extra time she had, while still working on the yard, toward technology projects, learning all that she could. Soon, she was working as SCVi’s first full-time IT coordinator. Today, Shannon is the Director of iLEAD Schools’ IT Department and has built her team to include three IT Coordinators across two campuses.
Shannon loves being part of the iLEAD Leadership Team and is thrilled to work for iLEAD Schools as the IT Director.
Elaine’s focus is to implement and oversee iLEAD’s design elements that are grounded in the philosophy of addressing the needs of the whole child. She has a background in construction management and takes great pleasure in developing relationships with city, county and state officials as well as contractors and developers while iLEAD Schools continuously restructure the ideal of what a school looks like, changing the perception and reality for educational facilities. Elaine has worked as a behavior therapist for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and has volunteered for over 10 years working with youth ranging from ages 4 to 18. Elaine enjoys connecting with learners and creating spaces that adapt to their needs and that provide a warm, comfortable, fun and safe environment for their educational journey.
Elaine enjoys spending time with her nieces and nephews, reading, creative writing, playing video games and traveling both locally and internationally. She has traveled all over the United States, visiting over 20 states and Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Belize and India. Many domestic and international trips were with youth groups and learners. Elaine particularly enjoys road trips and finding the less-traveled roads to explore and discover the variant beauty of the western United States landscape. Ultimately, visiting new places and experiencing different cultures have helped her to develop a passion for people and the spaces that they inhabit as she looks for the perfect synchronicity between design and functionality.
Jesse’s educational background includes an MA in Linguistics, an Educational Administration credential and a BCLAD credential. His teaching experiences range from kindergarten through high school, to teaching and developing courses in Loyola Marymount University graduate program. Jesse also taught in the University of California, Irvine International Students Program, as well as Language Structure & Usage classes to teachers earning their professional clear credentials at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Jesse is currently a board member for Charter Schools Development Center, the nation’s oldest charter support organization, which has assisted with the drafting of charter laws in over 25 states across the county and has played a prominent role in the decision making of school reform policy at both the state and national levels. When Jesse’s not working, he’s training for triathlons, watching his 16-year-old daughter play volleyball and attending his 17-year-old daughter’s ballet performances.
After graduating from high school in 1973 and then attending the University of Oregon, Rod held a number of jobs including following his Dad’s footsteps as a pastor. That role took him from Oregon to California where he would soon connect with a young general contracting company called Intertex. That relationship started in 1987 and in a short amount of time Rod became the VP of Field Operations. He was with Intertex for 22 years before separating in 2009 to start his own construction management and consulting business, RA Consulting.
During the time at Intertex, Rod was responsible for $236,000,000.00 in construction. The projects included schools, office buildings, medical facilities, retail centers, industrial buildings, churches and government facilities. Since 2009, Rod has built a clientele including a number of churches, non-profit organizations and businesses. Some of the projects include:
Debbie has dedicated her career to serving K-12 public education in the charter, traditional and non-profit sectors. In her non-profit role she led an education support organization through significant growth and strategically repositioned it to play a critical role in redesigning public education in Delaware. She introduced national deeper learning school designs to both district and charter schools and launched a model-neutral Education Management Organization. She has experience with new school start up and operation in both charter and traditional district schools. Debbie created a project based learning partnership with the Buck Institute for Education and University of Delaware, impacting classroom practice in schools not choosing to adopt a full school redesign. Debbie worked with the NYC Leadership Academy to create a localized replication of their highly successful Aspiring Principal Program; this program became the first alternative route to principal certification in the state.
As a teacher, her work in special education helped to move students with disabilities out of isolated special schools and into inclusive settings in their home schools. As an urban school principal Debbie’s team significantly raised the academic performance of students at-risk for failure and narrowed the achievement gap among disaggregate student groups. As a district administrator, her experiences broadened to include extensive work in curriculum and instruction, professional development, gifted/special education and secondary school reform. Debbie is adept at cultivating effective partnerships and fostering collaborative teamwork in order to create environments where students can thrive, academically, socially and emotionally.
Debbie serves on the board of the Holistic Health Center of Delaware and on the advisory committee for the Education Committee of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League and NYC Leadership Academy’s i3 grant. Debbie has an Ed.D from the University of Delaware. She and her husband live in the greater Philadelphia area.
April looks forward to increasing the safety of iLEAD Schools by leading the initiative to engage school communities in active shooter training and general campus safety management. As a certified A.L.I.C.E. trainer, she will work with schools and local law enforcement to proactively prepare and embrace the safety needs of 21st century schools.
April’s favorite downtime activities include beach and desert camping, motorcycle riding and spending time with her husband and two college age daughters. In addition, as a former CSUN National Softball Champion, she shares her skills as a softball pitching coach, working with high school softball players to increase their pitching prowess.
April is thrilled to be a part of the iLEAD team and looks forward to using her skills to trouble shoot, problem solve, strengthen and proactively aid in taking iLEAD Schools to the next level.
For the past 16 years, Schechtman has hosted one of the nation’s premiere interview shows, originating from radio station 1440 KVONAM in Napa, California. He has interviewed over 7,000 authors, journalists, scientists, educators, politicians and public intellectuals. The show continues on KVON and at JeffSchechtman.com and TalkCocktail.com. It can also be heard on Stitcher, Podbean, CRN Digital and The Big Think. In addition, for ten years he served as General Manager of both radio station KVON1440 and 99.3 The VINE in the Napa Valley. Both stations cover the North San Francisco Bay Areas of Napa, Sonoma, Solano and Marin.
Prior to moving to the Napa Valley and rekindling the youthful passions of radio, journalism and public affairs, Schechtman was involved in all phases of the independent motion picture business, including production, development, distribution and marketing. He served as Senior Vice President of Production for New World Pictures, Executive Vice President of Production for New Line Cinema and founded the international production and sales company PFG Entertainment.
As a producer for over 20 years, he produced pictures for Warner Bros., Columbia, United Artists, Golden Harvest, and AvcoEmbassy. Schechtman has been active in state and national politics and in local community affairs. He served as President of Napa Public Access Television from 1999 through 2003. He served on the board of Napa’s first charter school, River School, from 2003 through 2006 and from 2012 to present. He was Board President from 2004 through 2006. He also served on Napa’s affordable housing task force from 2003 to 2004. He is a graduate of Yale University, with a BA in Political Science.
Benson’s career path into development started early in high school while he worked for his brother-in-law’s construction company, building apartments in the Portland area. Benson continued to work for other contractors and developers including a developer in Salem, Oregon, Paul Wulf, and a promenade home builder in Portland, Duncan Development. It was while working for Duncan Development that Benson made the decision to focus his career path in real estate sales and development.
Benson worked as a commercial broker for Prudential Commercial in Oregon representing many tenants and developers, including two Rite Aid developers. Benson became one of the top producing brokers for Prudential Commercial. After moving to Los Angeles, Benson was sought after and hired by Glenwood Development in Glendale, California, as VP of Development. In his six years with Glenwood, he developed 14 projects with responsibilities covering due diligence, planning, entitlement, oversight of architect and engineering design, preconstruction management, project leasing, budgets, scheduling and overall project and construction management. In 2004, Benson went on to form BPS Development Group, Inc., & InSite Realty Group.
In 2008, Benson was introduced to the charter school movement. Having a strong belief in the movement, Benson went on to form InSite Charter School Services as a way to help charter schools with their real estate needs. InSite CSS believes in keeping charter schools focused on what they know best, teaching our children, allowing InSite CSS to focus and assist with their real estate needs.
Benson currently resides in Austin, Texas, and is married to his wife of 15 years, Heidi. They have three beautiful children, Amelia (12), Cole (9) and Olivia (8). Benson’s hobbies include golfing, snowboarding and public speaking.
Eric Harnett is the founder of Fieldstone Publishing, a marketing strategy firm. He has a marketing career spanning nearly 20 years, specializing in brand recognition, brand strengthening, product launches and new business development. Eric now works with small businesses to examine their strengths and weaknesses and works to rebuild them into community leaders and industry frontrunners.
Eric’s work has included multiple product launches, research, budgeting, ROI analysis, packaged goods, branding, industry trending, strategy planning, and dynamic schedule/timeline adjustment management. Eric has spent 3 years working with social media strategies for small companies. For fun, Eric has served three elected terms in community service for LA County, and he loves photography. Currently, Eric is rebranding and building a wine services company that grows wineries and breweries. A strong proponent for education, Eric is currently serving on the Board of Directors for an organization pursuing options with several charter schools in California and other states. Reading and understanding trends, analyzing problems and coming up with creative solutions are his strong points.
Michelle has worked and lived all over the world. She enjoys learning about other cultures and meeting new people. Michelle is adventurous and loves to travel. She is an avid reader and enjoys scuba diving. Michelle is also an inventor and holds U.S. patent number 9220277.
Michelle is married to David Gerdes, USAF, Retired and they live in Maryland. In addition to four grown children, she has one adorable grandchild. Michelle is a cancer survivor and gives back by helping others navigate that difficult path.
Patrick Beausoleil is the Vice President of Business Development for HighMark School Development, a turnkey facility developer for school operators. He earned a BS in Psychology and BA in English from Grand Valley State University in Michigan and an MA in English from Indiana State University.
Early in his career, Patrick taught English and Business Writing at Indiana State and Normandale Community College in Minnesota. He later taught English at Jobu University in central Japan and was a corporate trainer overseas for numerous Japanese firms in the manufacturing, high-tech, and pharmaceutical sectors. After returning to the US, he embraced a career in business, eventually working for the largest builder of charter schools in the nation, expanding its national reach and client base.
Now, with many years in the charter school sector, Patrick works with charter founders, leaders, and management companies on growth strategies by demystifying site selection, financing, demographics, and facility development. He frequently presents at state charter school conferences on facility development issues.
Andy has been married for 31 years and has two grown children and two granddaughters. He is a fifth-generation Californian.
In his spare time, Andy works with iLEAD Schools as a member of the school board.
Rusty created and founded The Actors Hall of Fame; a 501 c-3 non-profit foundation that is dedicated to restoring dramatic arts education in schools. The Actors Hall of Fame honors lifetime achievement in film, television and theatre serving as a conduit to generate new revenues and resources for students, teachers and organizations.
He led the team that revitalized Marvel Comics and the franchise of classic characters developed by Stan Lee. He guided and was responsible for the theatrical marketing of more than 200 motion pictures for all the major studios and 15 Network and Syndicated TV series. As a personal manager he represented; Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft, Dom DeLuise, Larry Gelbart and even Sha Na Na.
As a senior studio executive, he was responsible for innovative feature film and television distribution and marketing communications campaigns covering over 300 productions, including Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe winners. He has worked for and with talented teams at: 20th Century Fox, Berkshire Hathaway, LucasFilm, Marvel, Google, Panasonic, Comcast, Time-Warner, Microsoft, Melvin Simon, McDonalds, Walt Disney, MGM, SONY Pictures, NBC, ABC, and Universal Studios.
His work integrating technology with entertainment marketing communications includes deployment of one of the first HD-VOD channels on Comcast. He also led the team that integrated online content with Google, and a national retail and content partnership with Panasonic.
Rusty is an active member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a former member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Since 2015, Dan has worked alongside iLEAD’s executive leadership and staff to build all systems for Innovation Studios, our passion-driven program for high school and middle school learners, and Empower Generations, our program for pregnant teens, new parents, and adolescents in need. Dan’s input was pivotal in creating these programs from the ground up and in clearly defining iLEAD’s competencies to ensure the programs’ ongoing sustainability and accountability. He also hosted key members of the iLEAD team on campus in Estes Park, Colorado, to learn about improvement science, define goals and develop measurable outcomes for the projects.
As the Founding Director of Public Allies in Colorado, where he held the same position Michelle Obama held while working for the organization in Chicago, Dan prepared a new generation of innovative educators. He was selected as one of twenty young visionaries of 1996 by Who Cares magazine, was named one of 40 Under 40 by the Boulder County Business Report in 2010, received the Colorado Governor’s Commission on Community Service “Still Getting Things Done” award that same year, and is a past recipient of the inaugural Coalition of Essential Schools “Commitment to Equity” award. He serves as a faculty member with Public Allies, Inc.’s Leadership Practice in collaboration with Northwestern University’s Asset Based Community Development Institute, is on the faculty of the National Truancy Intervention & Prevention Center through the National Center for School Engagement, and works as a leader with Opportunity Nation.
Dan is a contributor to the Huffington Post whose writings have been published in NAIS’ Independent School magazine blog, NASSP’s Leadership magazine, Snapshots: The Specialist Schools Trust Journal of Innovation in Education, Horace: Innovation in Education and Edutopia. He has authored several book chapters including “A Schoolwide Model for Student Voice in Curriculum Development and Teacher Preparation” and “Engaging Youth in Schools: Empirically-Based Models to Guide Future Innovations.”
Dan is a Critical Friends Group Coach through the School Reform Initiative and also serves as a grant reviewer for the Department of Education and the Corporation for National & Community Service. In 2014, he was a mentor for the first high school Start Up Weekend in Little Rock, Ark. Dan has served as the co-chair of the Philanthropy & Social Committee on the board of Boulder’s 2140 and volunteers for eTown, the Boulder, Colo., stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Boulder B-Cycle, and Outdoor Mindset. He has dreams of one day winning the New Yorker’s cartoon caption contest.