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Superintendent of Schools
Larissa Adam is Superintendent of Schools at Education for Change. Larissa’s motivation to be an educator comes from a deep desire to ensure that every child experiences safe, rigorous, and joyful learning every single day, so that they graduate from high school with the knowledge, skills, mindset, and agency necessary to thrive as adults and be powerful community members who exercise their voice. As the daughter of two parents who did not have the opportunity to go to college, and as the granddaughter of a woman whose schooling ended at the third grade so that she could support her family, she is deeply committed to making sure that every one of our children graduates college-ready, and to building a future in which socioeconomic status is no longer a predictor of academic opportunity or achievement.
Her career in education started when she joined Teach for America in 1993, and taught 4th-6th grades at her original placement school for eight years. Drawn into Oakland’s district-wide New Small Autonomous Schools reform movement through a partnership with a classroom parent, she co-founded ASCEND, a K-8 school recognized for its arts-integrated expeditionary learning model and effective community engagement practices. She eventually led ASCEND as Principal for 10 years, facilitating significant increases in student achievement and leading our staff and families to successfully petition for charter status to join Education for Change Public Schools. She then served as Chief Talent Officer at EFC for five years, prior to becoming Superintendent of Schools. Larissa holds a B.A. in Spanish and International Relations from UC Davis, and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from UC Berkeley. She lives with her wife and two daughters in the Fruitvale District of Oakland, and is the proud parent of an EFC student.
Brandee Stewart was born in Oakland and raised in Richmond, California. Growing up in Richmond in the 90s is what brought her to this work. At the time the narrative about Richmond was always related to drugs and violence. It was the city people avoided. But she lived there and experienced daily the beauty and brilliance of the people in her community and the students she went to school with. Brandee got into this work because she saw education as a way to change the narrative and transform Richmond. As she got older and was exposed to more, she realized that Richmond was not unique. That there were urban cities and districts across America who struggled to recognize and harness the beauty and brilliance of its people. So she does this work because she thinks that education is the key to transforming livesBrandee began as a teacher in New Orleans with Teach for America, and also taught middle school in Los Angeles. After teaching she joined New Leaders For New Schools, which placed her as a principal in the Oakland Unified School District. As a leader in OUSD, she designed and opened a small middle school where she was the principal for five years. Then she became an elementary school principal in Oakland for six years. Brandee joined EFC as the Deputy Chief of Leadership development; in this role she supervised EFC school principals. Now she is the Assistant Superintendent of Schools. In this role she supervises four school sites, multi-tiered student support services, and the talent recruitment team.
Brandee truly believes that education, access, and opportunity for our students will allow them to be leaders in their communities and in our country. She is excited about continuing to collaborate with our school teams and families to provide a high quality education for all of our students. Click here to email Brandee Stewart.
Chief of Schools
Growing up, I had the opportunity to attend excellent public schools in a well-resourced community outside of Chicago, and I learned easily in the way schools taught. The school quickly became my safe haven from other influences and environments around me that were not always positive, and it was a place I could both grow and excel. At the same time, I was aware that was not the case for all children and young people, and the education and opportunities I had access to were not equitable across communities. After college, I had the opportunity through a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award to work at a college preparatory high school in northeastern German just 12 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Then I joined Teach for America (TFA) in 2002 and headed to Los Angeles with a growing interest in understanding and addressing the problem of education equity in our country.
Over the last twenty years, I have worked with children, families, and schools, primarily in the communities of South, West, and Northeast Los Angeles. I taught middle school English Language Arts, ESL, and Social Studies in the Los Angeles Unified School District for six years. I spent several years as an instructional coach for secondary literacy, English Language Arts, and Title III programs in the same district. In 2011, I transitioned to school leadership through a unique opportunity to co-design and launch a new neighborhood feeder high school for my original TFA placement site in South Los Angeles. I continued in school leadership as principal, and later executive director, for two schools at Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, the largest, high-performing charter school network in Los Angeles serving over 12,000 students.
My hope for EFC is that we ensure our students have access to an excellent public neighborhood school that serves its community and all its students, regardless of their background or circumstances, and fosters an environment of personal wellness, inclusion, joy for learning, and academic success. I hope to serve EFC schools as Chief of Schools in a way that supports their ongoing growth, daily needs, and intrinsic inspiration to thrive.
Chief Business Officer
Mr. Chari joined EFC as its first ever Director of Innovation and Technology in 2013. Previously, Mr. Chari had been on the front-line helping to lead high-profile initiatives for the Chicago Public Schools for 6 years. Mr. Chari has numerous experiences leading change management processes and developing the capacity of leaders to adopt new strategies, including leading a blended learning pilot program and developing the processes that guided over 500 schools through the major effort of redesigning their school day around student needs. Prior to working at Chicago Public Schools, Mr. Chari was a peer educator in India and a research associate for an organization that did economic analyses. He comes to EFC with a strong background in public policy, analytics, and project management.
Director of Site Operations
Growing up, Tavita Robles and her family moved from Guatemala to the US when she was just 8 years old. As an immigrant kid learning English in a new country, Tavita knew the struggles first-hand. This fueled her desire to offer the kind of support her own family didn't have access to when they settled in the Peninsula.
Tavita kicked off her journey back in 2004 as an Assistant Attendance Clerk at Stonehurst Elementary with Oakland Unified. At that point, Tavita was piecing her life together after going through a tough personal time. It was during this phase that she discovered her true passion: supporting families in the Oakland community. Working closely with families and their kids' attendance, Tavita realized the impact she could make. She was soon promoted to Attendance Clerk, and a year later to Administrative Assistant.
In 2007, Tavita joined Education for Change (EFC) when Achieve Academy was just getting started as an upper elementary school. Since then, she has worn a lot of hats at EFC, gaining valuable experience and growing as a professional.
During her three-years as Site Operations Manager at Achieve Academy, Tavita saw the magic of teamwork and inspiring leaders who believed in her. They pushed her to become a true leader, and she can't thank them enough for that. Now, as a Director of Site Operations, Tavita is incredibly proud of the progress they've made across all sites. Our operations teams have come a long way.
Tavita is excited to continue to support all operations teams and their development, and take them to another level so our instructional staff can focus on student achievement and families.
Chief Talent & Strategy Officer
Ernest brings over 25+ years of experience in education that is driven by a love of learning, community, and social justice. Ernest has had the opportunity to work in K-12 schools in the United States and Internationally including New York City, the Bay Area, the CA Central Valley, United Kingdom, Dominican Republic, and Hartford, Connecticut. Ernest’s roles have included senior leadership roles as Chief of Schools with Caliber Public Schools and Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction with the Carol Morgan School. Ernest consulted with ARK schools and Future Leaders which are now leading organizations in education reform and equity work in the UK. As a K-5 principal, Ernest founded River Oaks an Aspire Public School and was a turnaround principal for Achievement First. As a High School principal, Ernest led Leadership Public Schools - Hayward and the Carol Morgan High School. Ernest began his educational career in the Bronx, NY as a teacher at CJHS 145, a large traditional district middle school, and then later at the Lab School, a small school district initiative. In these roles, he has been able to build teams and work collaboratively to achieve dramatic results and innovative programming centered on tearing down historical inequities. He is a proud graduate of Cal State East Bay where he studied Sociology, while later earning a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from CUNY- City College. Ernest is former Teach for America corp member and a founding fellow with New Leaders. He enjoys travelling, dancing, and all things food while repping “The Town” and “South City”. Le encanta tomar cualquier oportunidad para hablar Español aun cuando es difícil y se equivoca. Ernest lives in Oakland with his wife and two daughters.