Dr. Cristina de Jesus
President and Chief Executive Officer, Green Dot Public Schools California
Cristina is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Green Dot Public Schools California, a non-profit network of public charter schools. She has helped build the foundation of Green Dot’s success with a role in nearly every initiative and undertaking to boost student achievement across the network having originally joined Green Dot as the founding principal at Ánimo Inglewood Charter High School in 2002. As CEO, she oversees all of our middle and high schools across Los Angeles. She plays an integral role in the collaboration with Green Dot’s Teachers’ and Classified Employees Unions and she is part of the core team working on Green Dot’s national expansion work.
Before being named President and CEO, she was Green Dot’s Vice President of Curriculum and Instruction for two years before serving as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Academic Officer. Prior to joining Green Dot, Cristina was an English and History teacher for seven years in the Santa Monica/Malibu School District and earned National Board Certification in Early Adolescent/English Language Arts. Cristina has earned a Masters of Education, a Masters of Education Administration, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from UCLA.
Chief Academic Officer
Annette Gonzalez serves as the Chief Academic Officer. She was previously the Vice President of Education for Green Dot Public Schools CA. She oversees the Vice President of Schools and Vice President of Curriculum and Programs supporting all of Green Dot’s California schools. She directly leads the development of curriculum and assessments, coaching services for teachers, and the organization-wide vision of a highly effective teacher in every classroom. Previously, she served as a Cluster Director, prior to which she was the principal of Ánimo Inglewood Charter High School, where she was also an Assistant Principal and the founding ninth grade English teacher. Annette began her career as an English language arts and History teacher at Lincoln Middle School in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. In addition to teaching sixth grade, Annette was Nationally Board Certified in 2001 in Early Adolescent English Language Arts.
Annette earned her undergraduate degrees in English and History from the University of California, Riverside, and her Masters degree in Administrative Education from Cal State Northridge University.
Chief Business Officer
Michael Lopez serves as the Chief Business Officer. Prior to his current role, he served as the Vice President of Operations and Finance, Director of Finance and as an Operations and Finance Manager. Michael joined Green Dot Public Schools in 2011. Prior to joining Green Dot, Michael worked in the Treasury department at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority where he worked on a team that modernized the agency’s fare system from paper passes to contactless smart card technology.
Michael earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Southern California and his Masters of Public Administration from California State University Long Beach.
Chief Programs Officer
Leilani currently serves as the Chief Programs Officer for Green Dot Public Schools California. Prior to that she served in the roles of Vice President of Curriculum and Programs and Area Superintendent. Leilani began her career with Green Dot as a founding teacher of one of our highest performing high schools, Animo Inglewood. She served the Inglewood community for 11 years, as a teacher, assistant principal and principal before taking on the role of Area Superintendent in 2013.
Leilani earned her Masters of Education from Loyola Marymount University in 2005 and her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2002.
Dr. Gordon Gibbings
Vice President of Schools
As the Vice President of Schools, Dr. Gordon Gibbings leads the Green Dot Public Schools (GDPS) team of Area Superintendents who are responsible for the systems of support and development for our school leaders including their hiring, onboarding, coaching, and training. Gordon and his team of Area Superintendents are responsible for ensuring all schools meet the GDPS’s rigorous academic and cultural outcome expectations. As the Vice President of Schools Gordon leads our turn-around work at Locke College Prep Academy and Animo College Prep Academy. Prior to his six years as an Area Superintendent with GDPS, Gordon served as the Principal of Ánimo South Los Angeles Charter High School (ASLA). During his time as the principal of ASLA, the school was awarded by U.S. News and World Report with a prestigious Silver Medal three times for being a high-performing, college-preparatory high school. As principal he also served as a Green Dot Mentor Principal for new school principals. Before joining GDPS, Gordon served as an assistant principal for David Starr Jordan High School in Long Beach, California. Gordon began his teaching career as a fourth and fifth grade teacher at Florence Bixby Elementary School in Long Beach, California. During his first two years of teaching he was a member of Teach For America.
Gordon earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, his Masters from the University of California at Berkeley, and his Doctorate from the University of Southern California.
Vice President of People
In her role as Vice President of People, Samantha oversees the human capital team and has taken on the role of building and managing Green Dot California’s Human Resources team. Samantha joined Green Dot in 2005 where she served as a Spanish teacher at Ánimo Venice Charter High School, and served that community for 10 years as a teacher, assistant principal and principal before taking on the role of Director of Human Capital in 2015. Samantha began teaching in the city of Lawndale at Environmental Charter High School.
Samantha earned her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in Spanish Literature and Public Policy and her Masters from Loyola Marymount University.
Vice President of Education
As Vice President of Education, Damon ensures academic rigor for all students on our campuses and supports admin and the area superintendent team with student discipline, WASC and personnel issues. Damon has been a part of Green Dot Public Schools since 2009. He began his service with Green Dot as an Administrator in Residence. In 2010 he served as founding principal of Ánimo Jefferson Charter Middle School. In 2013 he served as the principal of the 9th Grade Academy at Alain LeRoy Locke College Preparatory Academy. Prior to working in Green Dot, Damon was an assistant principal at Ball Junior High School in Anaheim, CA. He was a teacher at schools in Anaheim, Long Beach, Cali Colombia, and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia prior to his career as an administrator.
Damon holds a BA in English and Government from New Mexico State University and MA in Education from National University. He grew up in Las Cruces, New Mexico and lives in Long Beach with his wife Steffie and son Jake.
Xochitl Avellán serves as Area Superintendent at Green Dot Public Schools California. She is responsible for the oversight and support of a portfolio of schools at Green Dot as well as oversight of Green Dot’s state-accredited Administrator-in-Residence Program as well as state-accredited Clear Administrative Services Credential Program. Previously she was Principal at Ánimo Ralph Bunche Charter High School from 2007 – 2014, prior to which she was the founding Assistant Principal at a sister Green Dot School. She is the recipient of the 2014 Principal of the Year, Green Dot Dotty award. In 1997, Xochitl began her career as a math teacher at Berendo Middle School in the Los Angeles Unified School District; she then became an English teacher and served in the role of Literacy Coach at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights. As a teacher, Xochitl was Nationally Board Certified in 2003 in English Language Arts/ Adolescence and Young Adulthood.
Xochitl earned her undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Masters degree in Educational Leadership and Policy at California State University Northridge.
Dr. Alyce Prentice
Dr. Alyce Prentice serves as an Area Superintendent for five middle and high schools. She leads Green Dot’s Learning Acceleration programs and is deeply committed to Green Dot’s mission to close opportunity gaps for students and families. Alyce was previously the principal of Animo Leadership Charter High School, Green Dot’s founding school. Animo Leadership became a Gold Ribbon School under her leadership. Alyce joined Green Dot in 2007 as a teacher and began her administrative career as an Administrator in Residence at Green Dot in 2010. Alyce began teaching in South Los Angeles and, during her first two years of teaching, she was a Teach for America corps member.
Alyce earned her undergraduate degree in English at the University of Oregon Clark Honors College, her Masters from the UCLA Principal Leadership Institute and her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Loyola Marymount University.
Taiala Carvalho Regnier
Taiala joined the Green Dot family in 2006 as a math teacher at Ánimo South Los Angeles Charter High School and transitioned to serve the community as an administrator for the last seven years, where she is deeply committed to serving all students while they prepare for college, leadership and life.
Taiala earned her undergraduate degree in Mathematics from the University of Minnesota, her Masters of Science degree in Applied and Computational Mathematics from the California Institute of Technology, and her Masters of Arts in Secondary Education from Loyola Marymount University.
Dr. Chaleese Norman
Dr. Chaleese Norman has helped guide the work of other educators as a special education consultant for district and charter schools, a professional development and professional dialogue facilitator on serving marginalized students across districts, a school principal, and a coordinator of special education programming under LAUSD and other charters. In addition, she has helped shape the path of many new teachers and budding leaders. She served as the founding principal Ánimo Compton Charter School, a 6-12 span school, and recently transitioned to an area superintendent position for Green Dot Public Schools California where she is responsible for the oversight and support of a portfolio of schools. Under her leadership, Ánimo Compton was recently selected as a recipient of a quarter-million-dollar innovation grant to focus on student empowerment and leadership.
Chaleese completed her undergraduate degree at Howard University; earned her Master’s degrees from Loyola Marymount and California State University, Northridge; and obtained her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from California State University, Long Beach.
General Counsel, Registered In-House Counsel
Neal Brandenburg serves as General Counsel (Registered In-House Counsel) to Green Dot Public Schools California. Neal works closely with Green Dot’s leadership team, providing counsel on a wide range of topics, including charter school governance, labor relations, human resources, student discipline, special education, privacy, contracts, and board governance. Prior to joining Green Dot, Neal held the position of Associate Counsel at the New York City Department of Education, where he focused on charter school issues. Neal’s responsibilities included providing legal counsel to the Charter School Office, the authorizer of approximately 40 charter schools, and providing legal advice regarding openings, closings and co-locations of both district and charter schools. Before working for New York City, Neal worked as a litigator in private practice. Neal began his career as a middle school science teacher at the Cathedral School in New York City.
Neal earned his juris doctorate from Fordham University School of Law and his bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan University.
Dr. Susana Campo
Senior Director of Special Education & Psychological Services
Dr. Susana Campo serves as the Senior Director of Special Education and Psychological Services for Green Dot Public Schools California. Susana is responsible for supporting the development, implementation, and monitoring of special education support systems and compliance across our network of nineteen schools. Susana leads a team of Special Education Program Administrators, Special Education Program Specialists, School Psychologists and Transition Support Specialists who are responsible for ensuring all schools are provided with coaching and supports to lead special education programs with high quality of service delivery for students with disabilities. Susana began her teaching career as a high school special education teacher at Los Angeles High School in 2003 and was a founding member of the teaching staff at Animo Pat Brown Charter High in 2006. As a member of the Green Dot Educational Team since 2008, she has helped build the foundation of Green Dot’s successful Special Education program, known for bringing a robust system of supports to students with disabilities in the most high needs areas of Los Angeles.
Susana earned her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, her Masters from Loyola Marymount University, and her Doctorate of Education with a concentration in K-12 Leadership from the University of Southern California.
Chief of Staff
Annabelle serves as the Chief of Staff for Green Dot Public Schools California. She was previously the Director of Policy and Public Affairs for Green Dot Public Schools where she led Green Dot’s national, state and local policy advocacy efforts and maintained relationships with key stakeholders including elected officials, authorizing districts, and advocacy groups. Prior to joining Green Dot, Annabelle worked for the New York City Department of Education where she created long-term strategic plans for Queens and the Bronx, including the placement of charter schools in high-need areas, the roll-out of Universal Pre-Kindergarten, and other high-impact policy projects.
Annabelle received her Masters of Public Administration from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service and Masters of Education Leadership from the Broad Residency. She earned her undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Janneth Johnson Smith
Senior Director of Counseling and College Persistence
As the Senior Director of Counseling and College Persistence, Janneth Johnson Smith leads Green Dot Public Schools California’s School Counseling, Clinical Services’ Social Work, McKinney-Vento, Foster Youth, and College Persistence programs. Janneth and her team focus on “To and Through” strategies to ensure students have equitable resources to address barriers to apply, enroll, attend, and persist in college. These strategies focus on high-quality college advising, mental health wellness, and supports for college persistence. Previously, Janneth began her career in education as an elementary and middle school teacher. She served as a school counselor at Animo Inglewood Charter High School and later became the Director of Counseling for all schools.
Janneth earned her undergraduate degree in Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her Master’s degree in Education and Counseling from Cal State Dominguez Hills University.
Senior Director of Literacy and ELD Programs
Leona Matthews currently serves as Senior Director of Literacy and ELD programs managing and supporting English Learner Development programs, school wide Literacy programs, and English Language Arts programs across Green Dot California schools. She coordinates the work of the Literacy Curriculum Specialists on the Literacy team to support professional development, curriculum development, and coaching for ELA teachers. Leona also leads our English Language Development department, working with our EL Program Coordinators to celebrate and serve the needs of Emergent Bilinguals, provide professional development to school leaders and teachers, manage and monitor EL related compliance, and develop and refine ELD programs. Before joining Green Dot in 2010, Leona was a High School English teacher and a Professional Development Instructional Coach in Centinela Valley Unified School District and a founding teacher at Da Vinci Charter Schools. While teaching, she earned National Board Certification in English Language Arts/ Adolescence and Young Adulthood, worked as a content coach for Mt St Mary’s College Education program, and was an instructor in the UCLA Teacher Education Program.
Leona earned her Masters of Education from UCLA and Bachelor of Arts in English and Comparative Literary Studies from Occidental College.
Senior Director of African American Student Achievement and Equity
Kris currently serves as the Senior Director of African American Student Achievement and Equity for Green Dot Public Schools California. Prior to that she served in the roles of Director of History Programs and Director of New Teacher Development. Kris’ career in Green Dot began as the founding assistant principal at Oscar De La Hoya Animo Charter High School. She later served as principal of Oscar De La Hoya Charter High School and interim principal at Animo James B. Taylor Middle School. Prior to her career in Green Dot, Kris was a high school history teacher in both the Compton and Inglewood Unified School Districts.
Kris earned her Masters of Education from Pepperdine University in 2000 and her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1991.