Leadership Team



Marcia Aaron Chief Executive Officer  Email Bio
Marcella Barrière Director of Real Estate Email Bio
Kim Dammann Managing Director of Special Education Email Bio
Jelena Dobic Chief Advancement Officer Email Bio
Sarah Hughes Chief of Staff Email Bio
Angella Martinez Chief Academic Officer Email Bio
Amber Young Medina Managing Director of Academics Email Bio
Matthew Peskay Chief of Innovation & Technology Email Bio
Kyle Salyer Chief of Finance & Operations Email Bio
Belen Sanchez Director of KIPP Through College Email Bio
Nicole Scott Chief of Employee Solutions & Legal Affairs Email Bio


Mara Bond Founding School Leader KIPP Iluminar Academy Email Bio
Aisha Bonner Interim School Leader KIPP Academy of Opportunity Email  
Yesenia Castro School Leader KIPP Raíces Academy Email Bio
Cassie Cope Founding School Leader KIPP Ignite Academy Email Bio
Eréndira Flores Founding School Leader KIPP Vida Preparatory Academy Email Bio
Hadley Huberman School Leader KIPP Comienza Community Prep: Lower School Email Bio
Heidi Kunkel School Leader KIPP Philosophers Academy Email Bio
Alice Lai Founding School Leader KIPP Academy of Innovation Email Bio
Carlos Lanuza School Leader KIPP LA Prep Email Bio
Rachelle Minix Founding School Leader KIPP Sol Academy Email Bio
Tiffany Moore Founding School Leader KIPP Scholar Academy Email Bio
Neela Parasnis School Leader KIPP Empower Academy Email Bio
Adriana Rodriguez Founding School Leader KIPP Promesa Prep Email Bio
D'Anza Smith-Rodriguez  School Leader KIPP Comienza Community Prep: Upper School Email Bio

About Our Team

Marcia Aaron was the founding Board Chair of KIPP LA and the Board Chair of KIPP Academy of Opportunity, prior to becoming the Founding Executive Director of KIPP LA. She was named Chief Executive Officer in 2016. Previously, she worked as a Senior Analyst at Pacific Growth Equities, and as a Managing Director at Deutsche Bank and Montgomery Securities. She is currently a member of the University of Oregon College of Education Advancement Council and a board member of Ednovate, Inc., a Los Angeles Charter Management Organization. She also serves as the Charter Management Organizational representative on the California Charter Schools Association Member Council and on the Los Angeles Advisory Council. Ms. Aaron is a Pahara-Aspen Institute Fellow. She was named the University of Oregon’s Outstanding Young Alumni in 2003.  Ms. Aaron previously served as a member of the University of Oregon Alumni Center Campaign Committee and on the board of All Stars Helping Kids’ as well as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon Foundation and the University of Oregon Journalism Advancement Council. She holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Oregon.

Marcella Barrière currently serves as the Director of Real Estate for KIPP LA Schools.  Prior to joining KIPP LA, Ms. Barrière was with Boston-based HYM Investment Group, which specializes in complex mixed-use urban development projects. Ms. Barrière served as the Development Manager for the firm's 45-acre Cambridge development site, NorthPoint.  NorthPoint is the largest land parcel remaining to be developed in Cambridge and encompasses 20 distinct parcels with 5.2 million square feet of development rights.  Before joining HYM, Ms. Barrière was an Asset Manager at Paradigm Properties with financial and operational responsibility for multiple fund and third-party assets for the firm totaling +2 million square feet.  Ms. Barrière also served as Project Manager for Northland Investment Corporation and oversaw the firm's $165MM mixed-use development project surrounding the Hartford Civic Center, as well as the firm's $40MM multi-family project in Danvers, MA.  Marcella served as one of three private sector representatives on the 40-member Massachusetts State Advisory Council for Integrated Facilities Management, as well as the State Advisory Council for Accelerated Energy Efficiency Implementation Program.  Ms. Barrière is a LEED AP and holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a M.S. in Real Estate Development from MIT.

Mara Bond is the founding school leader of KIPP Iluminar Academy. Prior to founding a school, Mara was Dean at KIPP Raíces Academy in East Los Angeles. She was introduced to KIPP as a founding member of the KIPP Raíces kindergarten team in 2008, and is deeply invested in the KIPP movement. She then became a founding second grade teacher in 2010, helping KIPP Raíces Academy achieve an API of 963, because that second grade class was the first class to take the CST. Prior to working at KIPP Raíces, Mara worked at Wilshire Private School and was named teacher of the year in 2008. Mara received her B.A. in Spanish from Bard College in 2005 and her teaching credential from the University of Saint Thomas as a Teach For America Corps member in 2005.

Yesenia Castro joined the KIPP Raíces Academy team and family in July of 2009 as a first-grade founding teacher. During her time at Raíces, she has served her students and families as a first-grade teacher, Spanish teacher, dean, and assistant principal prior to stepping into the role of principal in 2016.Prior to joining KIPP Raíces Academy, Yesenia taught a first-grade bilingual classroom with Teach for America in the Bronx, NYC for two years. Yesenia received her B.A. in International Relations from Stanford University and her M.S. in Teaching from Pace University. As an administrator at KIPP Raíces Academy, Yesenia has worked alongside a talented team and family that has made Raíces one of the top-performing elementary schools in the state of California. Raíces was honored as a California Distinguished School in 2014 and became a National Blue Ribbon School in 2015.

Cassie Cope was an Assistant School Leader at KIPP Comienza Community Prep in Los Angeles and a former Leadership Team participant with the KIPP School Leadership Programs. As Assistant School Leader, she was responsible for teaching and learning, student culture and investment, and parent involvement. Cassie transitioned into leadership from her previous role as the founding 2nd grade level chair, where she coached and developed 5 teachers. Cassie set rigorous benchmark goals for her team and invested students and families to achieve the following results on the California State Test in 2012-13: 100% Proficient (with 71% Advanced) in Math and 96% Proficient (with 71% Advanced) in English Language Arts. Prior to joining the KIPP team & family, Cassie was a founding teacher at two ICEF Elementary Schools in Los Angeles. Cassie has also spent two consecutive summers as the Director of Transportation and Special Events at Teach For America’s Los Angeles Institute, as well as a third summer as the Early Childhood Education School Director. Cassie dual majored in Political Theory and Social Relations at Michigan State University and received a M.A. in Urban Education at Loyola Marymount University. Outside of school, Cassie enjoys traveling, visiting friends and families in the Midwest, and immersing herself in a good book. Cassie is thrilled about the opportunity to open an elementary school in Los Angeles and continue to play a role in the mission of bringing a high-quality education to all children.

Kim Dammann currently serves as Managing Director of Special Education for KIPP LA Schools. She joined KIPP LA in 2011 and she has overseen the growth of the region’s special education programs and services.  Prior to KIPP, Kim was a Resource Specialist Program Coordinator for Total Education Solutions, where she managed the special education compliance and services for over 30 charter schools in the Los Angeles region. Kim began her teaching career at Five Acres, a school and residential treatment facility for abused and neglected children. In her ten years teaching at Five Acres, she taught kindergarten, second, sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Her last six years were spent in the role of Lead Teacher, overseeing the school’s Junior High Program.

Jelena Dobic joined the KIPP LA team from The Broad Center, where she served as Operations Manager for two years. Prior to her tenure at Broad, Jelena worked as Program Manager and Grants Specialist at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center where she was largely responsible for managing the grants administration process for the 5-year competing renewal Cancer Center Support Grant yielding $35MM. Jelena first joined KIPP LA as Corporate & Foundation Relations Manager and was responsible for stewarding the grantsmaking process as well as managing external relationships with prospective and renewing foundations and corporations. Today, Jelena serves as Chief Advancement Officer and oversees the management of all fundraising, marketing, and public relations in an effort to build a base of support that will enable KIPP LA to achieve its financial and programmatic goals.

Eréndira Flores is a first generation immigrant and college graduate. Born in Mexico, Eréndira immigrated at the age of three with her family. After graduating with a B.A in Latin American Studies and Spanish from Colby College in Maine, she moved to Los Angeles as a Teach for America corps member. She is passionate about working in education to ensure that all students in Los Angeles have access to an excellent education. In 2011, Eréndira received her M.A in Education Administration and Administrative Credential from Loyola Marymount University. Prior to coming to KIPP, Eréndira taught kindergarten through third grade and was a founding teacher at a dual-immersion bilingual school where she taught a multi-age classroom with a constructivist curriculum. Eréndira set rigorous benchmark goals and invested students and families to achieve the following data on the California State Test in 2010-11: 100% Proficient (with 90% Advanced) in Math and 96% Proficient (with 67% Advanced) in English Language Arts. Prior to founding KIPP Vida Prep, she was the lower school dean at KIPP Comienza Community Prep in Los Angeles. Eréndira is thrilled about the opportunity to found an elementary school in Los Angeles and continue to play a role in the mission of bringing a high-quality education to all children.

Hadley Huberman is the School Leader at KIPP Comienza Community Prep lower school. Prior to becoming School Leader, she was the Assistant School Leader at KIPP Comienza Community Prep Lower School for two years. Upon joining KIPP in 2012, Hadley taught kindergarten for a year. She subsequently moved to third grade to found the grade level and become the Grade Level Lead for the founding team.  As an Assistant School Leader, Hadley was responsible for managing, coaching, and developing the third and fourth grade teams. Hadley began her career teaching kindergarten in a charter school in Boyle Heights for two years during her Teach For America Commitment. She received her M.A. in Administration and Policy in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University and her B.A. in English Literature from The University of Washington. 


Sarah Hughes joined the KIPP LA team in January 2013 as Chief of Staff. Prior to joining KIPP LA, Sarah was Vice President of Program Management at Yahoo! where she spent ten years focused on Yahoo’s search advertising business. Most recently, Sarah led the transition of the search advertising technology from Yahoo to Microsoft for each of Yahoo’s 55 international markets. Prior to Yahoo, Sarah served as Chief of Staff for the Chief Operating Officer at Overture Services, the pioneer in pay-for-performance search. During her tenure, the company tripled in size, tripled its revenues to just over $1 billion, and ultimately was acquired by Yahoo in 2003. Previously, Sarah worked as a consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers. She also has a background in college admissions and worked as Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Admissions at Colgate University. She serves on the governance committee of her daughter’s public elementary school in Santa Monica. Sarah earned her Bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and her MBA from Yale School of Management.

Heidi Kunkel is currently the successor school leader at KIPP Philosophers Academy (KPA) in South Los Angeles. Previously, she served as a first grade teacher and then as Dean of Instruction at KIPP Empower Academy (KEA). While at KEA, she acted as test coordinator, helping to lead the school to a 991 API score, making it the number one elementary school in LAUSD. Before joining the KIPP team, she spent four years teaching elementary students with special needs in NYC public schools. During that time, she developed an interest in the challenges facing students with different learning abilities, especially in the area of literacy. Heidi received her B.S. in Anthropology from Loyola University Chicago and her M.S. in Education from Brooklyn College, while part of the NYC Teaching Fellows. In her free time, she enjoys running and exploring Los Angeles!

Alice Lai is the Founding School Leader of KIPP Academy of Innovation. Prior to becoming a School Leader, Alice was the Interim Assistant Principal at KIPP Los Angeles College Preparatory School in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles. Since joining the KIPP team and family in August 2011, she served as an Instructional Specialist, Teacher Leader, and 5th grade Math teacher. Alice began her career working with English Language Learners in the Los Angeles Unified School District. During this time she was a master teacher and science lead teacher. In her fourth year of teaching, Alice earned her National Board Certification as a Middle Childhood Generalist. She spent the next two years teaching at the Gabriella Charter School and serving as the Upper Elementary Math and Science Teacher Leader. Alice received her B.S. in History and Education from the University of California, Berkeley and a Masters in Education from the Teacher Education Program and Principal Leadership Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. Outside of school, Alice enjoys traveling with her husband, knitting, and spending time with her new baby girl Ava. Alice is deeply motivated by the hardworking families and students in Los Angeles. She is thrilled to be opening up a middle school that will continue to prove the possible on a daily basis in East Los Angeles.

Carlos Lanuza currently serves as School Leader of KIPP Los Angeles College Preparatory School (KIPP LA Prep). Prior to becoming School Leader, Carlos served as both a teacher and director of high school placement at KIPP LA Prep. Carlos began his career at the Compton Unified School District teaching at the middle school level at Davis Middle before joining the KIPP LA Team and Family. Carlos has a BA in History/Chicano Studies from CSU Dominguez Hills and a Masters of Administration in Education and tier I administrative credential.

Angella Martinez is the Chief Academic Officer for KIPP LA Schools. Prior to joining the School Support Center, Angella served as the Principal at KIPP Los Angeles College Preparatory School in Boyle Heights. In her first year as Principal, the school increased 101 Academic Performance Index points, making it the seventh highest performing middle school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Prior to becoming principal and upon completing her undergraduate studies at UCLA, Angella joined Teach for America corps where she taught at Ralph J. Bunche Elementary for six years. While teaching, she helped the school become the first California Distinguished School in the Compton Unified School District. To broaden her impact in transforming public education, Angella left the classroom to work for the KIPP Foundation as the Recruitment Manager where she sought new KIPP school leader candidates for the highly competitive Fisher and Miles Family Fellowships. While recruiting, Angella found her passion in educational leadership and became a KIPP school leader successor in 2008.

Amber Young Medina is the Managing Director of Schools with KIPP LA Schools. For six years, she was the Founding Principal of California’s first KIPP elementary school, KIPP Raíces Academy, founded in 2008 in East Los Angeles.  KIPP Raíces Academy is a National Blue Ribbon Exemplary High Performing School and when receiving the California Distinguished School award was the only school in the state to do so with the additional distinction of Exemplary Arts Education Program and Exemplary Physical Activity and Nutrition Program. Prior, Amber was a teacher and the Interim Principal at Ralph J. Bunche Elementary School, her original Teach For America placement and Compton Unified’s first California Distinguished School. Amber holds a Master of Arts in Elementary Education and a Master of Arts in School Administration from Loyola Marymount University. She received her Bachelor of Arts in History and Sociology from Amherst College.

Rachelle Minix is the founding Principal of KIPP Sol Academy. Previously, Rachelle was a high school special education teacher at both the Los Angeles Unified School District and Green Dot, and Assistant Director of The Kelter Center, a nonpublic agency. Rachelle began her teaching career with Teach For America in Los Angeles where, among many things, she is proud to have coached several undefeated girl’s soccer teams. Rachelle earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania, her master’s degree at California State University Dominguez Hills, and her doctorate at the University of Southern California.

Tiffany Moore is the Founding School Leader of KIPP Scholar Academy. Before opening KSA, Tiffany was an English Language Learner Intervention Specialist and coach at KIPP LA College Preparatory School in Boyle Heights, California. Prior to joining the KIPP team and family, Tiffany spent four years at Johnnie Cochran Middle School teaching English as a second language, serving as the ESL Department Chair, coaching an award-winning step team, and organizing dozens of school and community events. Tiffany was also a 2006 Los Angeles Teach For America corps member and has worked at three consecutive Summer Institutes, as a Corps Member Advisor once and a School Director twice.She received a Bachelors of Arts in Liberal Studies with a Minor in History from Azusa Pacific University and her Masters degree from Loyola Marymount University in Secondary Education.

Neela Parasnis is the School Leader at KIPP Empower Academy. For the past two years, she worked at the KIPP Foundation supporting the KIPP School Leadership Programs. Most recently, she was responsible for designing and running the Teacher Leader cohort of 150 teachers from across the KIPP network. In 2010, Neela was the Founding Dean at KIPP Empower Academy in Los Angeles, California for two years. As Dean, her responsibilities included running the after-school program, observing and coaching teachers, attending to disciplinary issues, and teaching an intensive math group for struggling students. Prior to joining KIPP, she spent seven years teaching kindergarten on both sides of the country. Neela was a founding kindergarten teacher at a charter school in South LA, the lead kindergarten teacher in an all-boys charter school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, NY, and a Teach For America corps member in Los Angeles where she taught for three years in the Lynwood Unified School District. Neela received an M.A. in Educational Administration through a CSUN-TFA partnership, an M.A. in Elementary Education from Loyola Marymount University, and a B.A. in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley (GO BEARS!).

Matthew Peskay  is a nationally-renowned leader in the fields of instructional and operational technology in education.  Matthew holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy and Education from Columbia University Teachers College and has over 15 years of experience in multiple technology and education roles in both the private and not-for-profit sectors. Matthew is focused on innovations in teaching and learning through the considered implementation of technology to deliver a rich, personalized learning experience for all students, and reduce the administrative burdens on teachers to allow them more time to form deeper, meaningful connections with their students.

Tanya Piyaratanaphipat is the School Leader at KIPP Academy of Opportunity (KAO) in South Los Angeles. Previously, she served as a founding teacher and Assistant School Leader at KIPP Comienza Community Prep (KCCP). Prior to joining the KIPP team and family, she spent two years teaching at Clarence E. Dickison Elementary School in Compton, California. Tanya received her B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego and a M.A. in Urban Education at Loyola Marymount University. 

Adriana Rodriguez  is currently a Fisher Fellow with the KIPP Foundation at KIPP LA.  Prior to this, Adriana was part of the administrative team at KRA as an Instructional Support Coordinator and Dean for two years.  During these years, the teams she supported contributed to KRA achieving an Academic Performance Index score of 969, which put KRA as a top performing school in LAUSD and California.  As a teacher, Adriana taught Kindergarten and was a founding teacher for 1st and 3rd grade.  Her students achieved great success during these years, with 100% of her Kindergarten students outperforming the national average in both ELA and Math.  Before joining the KIPP Raíces Team and Family, Adriana taught 1st grade for two years at Main Street Elementary School in South Central Los Angeles through Teach for America. Adriana took part of KSLP programming as a Teacher Leader in 2011-2012 and had the privilege of being a Miles Family Fellow in 2012-2013. Adriana received her B.A. in History with a minor in Political Science from UCLA, a M.A. in Elementary Education from Loyola Marymount University, and an Administrative Credential with a Charter School Certificate from LMU. 

Kyle Salyer currently serves as Chief of Finance & Operations with KIPP LA Schools and is a member of the 2013 Broad Residency cohort.  Prior to joining KIPP LA, Kyle was Executive Vice President with MicroCredit Enterprises (MCE), a social venture that leverages private guarantees to provide debt financing to microfinance institutions worldwide. Kyle played an instrumental role in helping to launch and lead the development of MCE’s loan portfolio with microfinance institutions. Kyle has also served as Investment Manager with First Light Ventures, where he managed their initial seed-stage investments in India and the US, as well as the creation of Village Capital. Kyle gained his initial experience in the microfinance sector when he worked as Regional Manager with AMEXTRA in Mexico, developing and managing the Chiapas branch of their microfinance initiative. Kyle also currently serves as a pro bono Board Member and Treasurer with Lifewater International and Jacaranda Health. Kyle holds a MBA from the University of California, Davis and a BA from UCLA in International Economics and International Development Studies.

Prior to joining KIPP LA, Belen Sanchez spent seven years at the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF). She began as the Alumni Relations Officer and progressed to serve as Director of Scholar & Alumni Attainment. In her time at HSF, Belen designed, planned and implemented four new initiatives, which doubled the number of programs HSF offered. These initiatives included first-year transition program, community college initiative, student leadership conference and online mentor program. Belen earned her bachelor’s degree from UCSD and Masters of Education from USC. Her career has been focused on student access and support, specifically for students from communities traditionally served by KIPP schools.

Nicole Scott currently serves as Chief of Employee Solutions & Legal Affairs at KIPP LA Schools. Nicole joined the KIPP LA team in the fall of 2011 as the Director of Human Capital. Prior to joining KIPP, Nicole was General Counsel and SVP of Talent and Development with the Inner City Education Foundation. Additionally, she developed the human resources department and lead the hiring of over 500 employees for the organization within 5 years. Before embarking upon a career in education reform, Nicole practiced law at the Cochran Firm with the late, Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Her areas of practice ranged from employment, civil rights, entertainment, education and juvenile law. She also taught at the high school level in Oakland Unified School district while attending law school. Nicole graduated magna cum laude from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA and received her Juris Doctor from UC Berkeley School of Law - Boalt Hall. She is a member of the California Bar Association.

D’Anza Smith-Rodriguez is the founding School Leader of KIPP Fuerza Academy. Most recently, she was an Assistant School Leader at KIPP Los Angeles College Preparatory Academy where she managed and coached the English Language Arts department and serves as the CELDT Coordinator. In addition to her leadership role at KIPP LA Prep, she has also served as Interim School Leader at two KIPP schools in Los Angeles. D’Anza received her Bachelors of Arts degree in English from UCLA, as well as her Masters in Education from UCLA’s Principal Leadership Institute.