The Education Trust-West works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-k through college.



Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this


The Education TrustWest
1814 Franklin St, Suite 220
Oakland, CA, 94612

Tel: (510) 465-6444
Fax: (510) 465-0859

  • For general inquiries about The Education Trust — West, contact Margie Henke at ext. 342.
  • For information on job opportunities or internships, visit our career opportunities page.
  • For media inquiries, contact Valerie Cuevas at ext. 328.
  • For information about research and policy analysis, including data inquiries contact Leni Wolf at ext. 310.
  • For government affairs, please contact Brian Rivas at (916) 761-9060.
  • For information about our practice work with schools and districts, contact Jeannette LaFors at ext. 320.


Executive Director

Ryan J. SmithRyan J. Smith
Executive Director, The Education Trust — West
Email or Call: (510) 465-6444 x 342 

Prior to joining The Education Trust—West, Ryan was the Director of Education Programs and Policy for the United Way of Greater Los Angeles where he was responsible for the education program and policy efforts for the organization. He also coordinated Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS), a Los Angeles-based coalition of civil rights, education and community advocacy groups dedicated to closing the opportunity and achievement gaps for students-of-color and students living in poverty. Prior to his role at the United Way, Ryan worked for former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. In his role as Senior Director of Family and Community Engagement, Ryan led a team that improved parent involvement over 40% and built systems within schools to help support authentic family, school and community partnerships. Ryan founded the Parent College which so far has educated over 5,000 parents across Los Angeles on the "parent three r's" - their rights, roles and responsibilities. Prior to joining the Partnership, Ryan was the Director of the Los Angeles Parents Union and managed Public Affairs for Green Dot Public Schools. He has also worked as a youth organizer for Youth United for Community Action’s (YUCA) educational equity campaigns and worked as a volunteer teacher in Mexico City and Cuernavaca, Mexico. Ryan currently serves as a Annie E. Casey Foundation Children and Family Fellow. He graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA. He is currently a doctoral candidate in Education at UCLA. Ryan has authored more than a dozen editorials and opinion pieces published in the Los Angeles Times and other publications.and was named by Education Week as one of the “Ten Education Leaders to Watch” nationally. He also received the Families in Schools’ “Parent Engagement Leader of the Year Award”.

Margaret (Margie) HenkeMargaret (Margie) Henke
Executive Assistant to the Executive Director, The Education Trust — West
Email or Call: (510) 465-6444 x 342

Margie has an extensive background in administrative operations and executive support and has worked in both the public and non-profit sectors. Before joining ETW, Margie worked at a law firm in San Francisco. Prior to that, she was the Assistant to the Chief Financial Officer, General Counsel, and Director of Communications at CommUnityCare, a non-profit organization that provides healthcare services to the underserved. Her background also includes several years supporting executives and senior staff at the corporate offices at Safeway Inc. and Jack In The Box. She also served in the United States Army and Reserve for several years. Margie holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Columbia College in Columbia, MO.


External Relations

Valerie Cuevas
Director of External Relations, The Education Trust — West
Email or Call: (510) 465-6444 x 328 

Valerie came to The Ed Trust—West with a deep background in government affairs, non-profit management, and education administration at the national, state and local levels. With an expertise in education equity, state legislative policy and K-12 governance, she is a former director with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO)-- where she worked with hundreds of elected officials across the country. In addition to her work nationally, Valerie has a wide-range of experience at both the state and local levels in California. She previously served as an aide to the chair of the California Assembly Committee on Higher Education, and as chief of staff to a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. As an education practitioner, Valerie also held student affairs positions at various 2- and 4-year colleges and universities. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and a master's degree from California State University, Long Beach.

Patrice Guillory
External Relations Associate, The Education Trust — West
Email or Call: (510) 465-6444

Patrice comes to ETW with a broad range of experiences serving as a liaison to community-based organizations and elected officials. Prior to ETW, she served as a research assistant to the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink (PNI) where she led the Institute’s work in developing model policies that would advance “cradle-to-college-to-career”place-based practices at the local and state levels. She also worked in partnership with community-based organizations across California to support legislation that would create the nation’s first statewide Promise Neighborhoods program. Her previous assignments with the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and the Feminist Majority Foundation, as well as her campaign efforts successfully seating the City of Antioch’s first African-American female councilmember round out a plethora of relevant experience. Patrice is a graduate of Spelman College and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Northwestern University.


Equity Initiatives

Jeannette LaFors
Director of Equity Initiatives, The Education Trust — West
Email or Call: (510) 465-6444 x320

Jeannette has nearly twenty years of experience in the education sector. She obtained a B.A. from Stanford University in American Studies and went on to get her M.A. in Education, also from Stanford. She taught high school for six years in Belmont, CA and held multiple leadership positions during this time. She then returned to Stanford to get her Ph.D. in Education Administration & Policy Analysis. While at Stanford she conducted extensive research in teaching quality policies and instructional leadership. Over the course of her career she served as a program coordinator for Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), mentored student teachers, reviewed national history standards, led various school and district professional development efforts, and advised numerous student groups. In 2004 she became Vice-President of Instruction for Envision Schools where she oversaw curriculum and instruction, knowledge management, school accountability, teacher and leader professional development, and program evaluation and research. Her most recent position was Senior Director of Professional Services at Teachscape, Inc. a privately held instructional improvement company.

Amber Banks
Practice Associate, The Education Trust — West
Email or Call: 510-465-6444 x314

Amber has worked as a teacher, researcher, and advocate in the education sector for the past fifteen years and is a dedicated champion of education equity. She started her career in education as a special education teacher in Los Angeles, and has taught students from a variety of backgrounds in all grades and subjects. Amber has designed and implemented innovative inclusion programs, project-based curricula, and teacher professional development. In addition, she directed a parent leadership and training initiative in South Seattle and worked as a research assistant focused on diversity and school/community partnerships at the University of Washington. Most recently, Amber completed an Education Pioneers Yearlong Fellowship at the Pahara Institute and is currently a member of the Education Pioneers Bay Area Alumni Board. She holds a B.S. in Journalism from Boston University and is completing a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Washington.

Wm. Christopher Lee
Practice Associate, The Education Trust — West
Email or Call: 510-465-6444 x341 

Chris possesses an extensive and diverse set of experiences in education practice and research with an emphasis on equity. Prior to joining The Education Trust- West he taught economics and history in metro Atlanta public schools for several years. He is completing a Ph.D. in Education Policy & Planning at The University of Texas at Austin where his research addresses school choice initiatives, higher education productivity, and the school-to-prison pipeline. Chris worked in several capacities at UT Austin including roles as a STEM education program coordinator, teaching assistant, and an evaluation associate. He has also received fellowships from the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) Barbara L. Jackson Scholars Program, The UT Austin Graduate School, and The Skillpoint Alliance, a non-profit education and workforce development organization. Originally from Atlanta, Chris earned his Bachelor’s in Social Science Education at Kennesaw State University and a Master’s in Educational Administration and Policy at The University of Georgia.

Linda Murray
Senior Advisor, The Education Trust — West & Former Superintendent, San Jose Unified School District
Email or call: (510) 465-6444 x316

Dr. Linda Murray is currently serving as Superintendent-in-Residence for the Education Trust-West (ETW) and is responsible for helping lead the practice work of the organization in California. The work is centered around high school reform to ensure that all California graduates are college and work ready. Prior to joining ETW, Linda served as Superintendent of Schools for the San Jose Unified School District for eleven years from 1993–2004. In 1998, under her leadership, the district raised its graduation requirements to meet the UC/CSU entrance requirements, and since then the district has demonstrated major successes, particularly for poor students and students of color. In addition, in 2002, the district adopted, as part of its mission, creating a college going culture in all schools K-12. Not only are San Jose students academically prepared, students and families are involved in programs and activities throughout elementary, middle and high schools that are designed to help them prepare for a college future.


Research and Policy Analysis

Carrie Hahnel
Director of Research and Policy Analysis, The Education Trust — West
Email or Call: (510) 465-6444 x312

Prior to joining ETW, Carrie worked for the KIPP Foundation, most recently as Director of Research and Evaluation. Over the course of her five years at KIPP she was instrumental in promoting the use of data for strategic decision-making in KIPP’s 82 schools, launching a large-scale longitudinal study with Mathematica Policy Research, developing key school performance metrics, and managing all internal research and assessment efforts. She previously worked in research and evaluation for Citizen Schools, a national afterschool provider headquartered in Boston, MA, and in program coordination and policy analysis for Americans for the Arts, an arts advocacy organization in Washington, DC. She also participated in AmeriCorps VISTA, supporting afterschool, tutoring, and arts education programs in schools in Riverside, CA. Carrie holds a B.A. from Carleton College and an Ed.M. from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Orville Jackson
Senior Research Analyst, The Education Trust — West
Email or Call: (510) 465-6444 x339

Orville Jackson is an education researcher with more than 10 years of experience using research and analytical tools to develop actionable insights. He has worked on research, evaluation, and assessment projects for schools and education reform organizations. As Knowledge Manager for a Charter School Management organization he evaluated the overall effectiveness of academic intervention programs and built systems to track the post-enrollment progress and outcomes of alumni. He has also managed strategic planning and consulting projects to inform the education strategy for global foundations and nonprofit organizations. Orville earned his BA from UC Berkeley, his Ph.D. from Harvard University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University.

Natalie Wheatfall
Policy Analyst, The Education Trust — West
Email or Call: (510) 465-6444 x323

Natalie comes to Education Trust-West from a legal background.  As a practicing attorney, Natalie has experience in various areas of civil rights, including LGBT equal rights, fair housing, and immigration.  In law school she worked as a student attorney her school's civil rights clinic, representing clients with claims of employment discrimination, housing discrimination, and education discrimination.  Prior to her current position, Natalie served as an intern and an Education Pioneers Graduate Fellow with Ed Trust—West.  Natalie's interest in social justice began as an undergraduate in her work as a tutor and mentor to students in underserved neighborhoods in San Diego.  Natalie earned her B.A. in Ethnic Studies from UC San Diego, and her J.D. from Howard University, School of Law.  

Leni Wolf
Data & Policy Analyst, The Education Trust — West
Email or Call: (510) 465-6444 x310

Leni’s work in education policy began as a bilingual Teach For America corps member in Phoenix, after which she taught at a high-performing charter school in Minneapolis. During her time at the University of Wisconsin’s La Follette School of Public Affairs, she worked as an Education Specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and as a Research Affiliate at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research’s Value-Added Research Center. Most recently, Leni and her colleagues produced a report for the DPI titled “Student Mobility Patterns and Achievement in Wisconsin” that described mobility-related trends in Wisconsin and suggested that mobility is a negative factor in students’ achievement on standardized assessments. Other research she has conducted has focused on charter school accountability, pay-for-performance systems, summer learning loss, and farm-to-school programs. A Minnesota native, Leni received her B.A. in Government and Hispanic Studies from Connecticut College.


Policy and Government Relations

Brian Rivas
Director of Policy and Government Relations, The Education Trust — West
Email or Call: (916) 761-9060

Brian has been working to improve educational opportunity for disadvantaged students in California for nearly twenty years. His career in education policy began in the University of California’s Office of State Governmental Relations in Sacramento where he advocated on a range of issues, including admissions, academic preparation, transfer, and faculty hiring. In 2008, he joined the California School Boards Association as a legislative advocate and led the Association’s work on teacher evaluation and dismissal, in addition to other assignments including charter schools, collective bargaining, and school facilities. Brian graduated from the University of California, Berkeley where he received a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public policy.


Planning, Grants and Administration

Tracy Solomon
Director of Planning, Grants and Administration, The Education Trust — West
Email or Call: (510) 465-6444 x322

Tracy has been an independent education consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area for such clients as the Oakland Unified School District and the Marin Education Fund. For nine years, Tracy was general manager and vice president of special projects for a graphic arts publisher. She previously worked in operations, marketing, and strategic planning for a fast-growing specialty retailer. Tracy holds an MBA from the University of California–Berkeley and a bachelor’s from Wesleyan University.

Alexandra Quintela
Operations Coordinator, The Education Trust — West
Email or Call: (510) 465-6444 x300

Alexandra first started working toward educational change as a City Year corps member, and she served two years in Boston. Her first year was spent as a tutor and mentor to English language learners in an elementary school. In her second year she planned and led volunteer service events at many schools and community centers throughout the city. She has also held internships at the Boston Jewish Film Festival and Ripples of Hope nonprofits. A Central California native, Alexandra earned her B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and German Language and Literature from Wellesley College.