Catherine Meek, Executive Director, has been involved with School on Wheels for over twelve years as a Volunteer Tutor, Regional Coordinator, and Chief Operating Officer. She believes that education is a right of every child and an economic imperative for our society, especially for homeless students if they are to break the cycle of extreme poverty and know that their lives can improve through education. Before joining School on Wheels, Catherine was President of Meek and Associates and practiced in the organization and strategic compensation consulting field for over 30 years. Catherine received her MA degree from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.
Matt Raab, Program Director, is a former elementary school teacher who has worked for School on Wheels in many different capacities for the past seven years. He has over ten years of experience working with homeless and at- risk children. As Program Director, he develops and oversees the infrastructure of the program and supports team members in doing outreach to families, partner organizations and donors in the community. Matt holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary education from Penn State University.
Janet Lang, Regional Director, joined School on Wheels in 2005 as a Regional Coordinator. In her current position, Janet manages the activities of all School on Wheels Coordinators. Prior to School on Wheels, Janet worked at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Her background also includes an additional five years experience working with various non-profit organizations and more than seven years experience working with children. Janet graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s Degree in History.
Jennifer Urick, Operations Director, first joined School on Wheels in 2012 as a volunteer tutor and volunteer tutor coordinator. As Operations Director, Jennifer is responsible for organizational budgeting and financial reporting, human resources and administration as well as IT systems and infrastructure projects. Her background includes more than 20 years of corporate management experience including 16 years in the education/training industry. Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan.
Natasha Bayus, Education and Training Coordinator, started with School on Wheels in 2007 as the Regional Coordinator for the Pasadena, Glendale and Hollywood areas. In her current position, Natasha develops and implements training and education programs and workshops for volunteers and students. She utilizes skills from her Master’s and Credential in School Counseling to provide increased access to educational resources, dedicated college and career activities, and supplemental workshops for both tutors and students. Natasha also serves as the director of our AmeriCorps VISTA project.
Sinead Chilton, Marketing Director, has been involved with School on Wheels since 2004. She is responsible for marketing, media relations, web design, and fundraising events. As a volunteer tutor in Ventura County Sinead has tutored ten children and is passionate about students succeeding in school despite their circumstances. Sinead received her Bachelor of Science degree from Liverpool University.
Kyle McDonough, Applications and Social Media Coordinator, joined School on Wheels in 2012. Kyle is responsible for administration and applications processing, as well as volunteer reference checks. He also manages and updates all social media efforts including Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels. Kyle received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Loyola University, Chicago and believes strongly in the mission of School on Wheels and the program’s ability to change lives through education.
Charles Evans is the Team Leader for South Los Angeles and oversees our Skid Row and South Los Angeles Learning Centers. Growing up in South Los Angeles he understands the many obstacles that students face. He spent five years working for FAME Renaissance as a Transportation Specialist and Environmental Outreach Specialist, under Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray. Charles is a member at Bryant AME in Los Angeles where he works with young males under the ministry, “Sons of Success.” Charles holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Whittier College.
Ryan Locante, Operations Coordinator, joined School on Wheels in 2009 and finds it more rewarding than anything he’s ever done before. As Operations Coordinator, Ryan is responsible for all operations functions, including applications processing, technology, scheduling and general administration. Ryan holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Elodia Lopez de Velarde, Downtown Learning Center Aide, is known as “Miss Ellie” to our students. She has been an integral part of our Skid Row Learning Center since it opened in 2000. She provides the students there with a safe and inviting environment and ensures their nutritional needs are taken care of on a daily basis.
Linda Huddle, Recruiter – Special Populations, joined School on Wheels in 2008. For ten years prior she worked at the Ventura County Office of Education in the Homeless Education Project and Foster Youth Services program as a Special Projects Analyst. During that time No Child Left Behind became law and the unit established a Liaison Council to support the school districts as they began to serve homeless and foster students in alignment with the new federal legislation.
Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator, joined School On Wheels in 2014 and serves as part of our VISTA Project. Since graduating from the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business, Ian has served as an AmeriCorps Member at City Year Los Angeles, a Branch Manager at Revolution Prep, a Director at Achievement Matters, and most recently as a Foster & Probation Youth Education Specialist at Compton High School. Overall, Ian believes that education is the #1 driving force for economic growth and social sustainability, and he is thrilled to be developing digital and blended learning opportunities for homeless students at School On Wheels.
Amy Ezhaya, Curriculum and Outcomes Specialist, joined School on Wheels in 2014 as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. Amy graduated from the University of Florida, majoring in International Relations and becoming certified to teach English as a Second Language. Amy is passionate about working with diverse student groups. She has taught a variety of students in numerous countries, including children with Autism and at-risk youths in India. Amy is currently working on her Masters in Education and is eager to contribute her skills to School on Wheels by expanding the digital and blended learning programs and measuring and reporting the program’s outcomes.
Denice Gonzalez-Kim, Partnership Specialist, joined School on Wheels in 2014 and serves as part of our AmeriCorps VISTA Project. Since graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles Denice has taught English to children in rural South Korea, directed the Saturday Business Academy teaching underserved high school students the importance of financial literacy, and worked in the aerospace industry in the areas of international business development and sales. Denice believes that education and financial literacy are the leading factors for the improvement and empowerment of our underserved communities in Los Angeles. She is excited to join the School on Wheels efforts and to utilize her business development and non-profit experience to improve the lives of homeless children.
Ben McGarry, Marketing and Development Specialist, joined School on Wheels in August 2014 as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. He graduated from James Madison University with a degree in Marketing. Before coming to School on Wheels, Ben served a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA with an affordable housing and home ownership organization in his home state of Virginia. He is passionate about helping others and improving communities, and is excited to use his marketing knowledge to help a great cause at School on Wheels.
Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor, began her teaching career as a community college mentor for non-traditional students such as single mothers, first-generation college students and disabled persons. She also worked as a Special Education teacher for the past five years. As a teacher, she led six high-school classes in a service learning project to collect funds and supplies for School on Wheels. While visiting the center, Allison was inspired by the cause and by the work from the volunteers and staff. She graduated from UCLA with a degree in English Literature and Composition and is attending National University to obtain a Master’s Degree in Education.
Blue Mc Donnell, Regional Coordinator for the Westside of LA, grew up in Ireland and began her career at School on Wheels in 2003 as a volunteer tutor. From her first day as a tutor she realized the importance of School on Wheels’ mission and how valuable the organization was to the children and community it served. She believes that the best way one can learn is to teach someone else. We help to educate homeless children but what these children teach us is truly amazing. Blue has had an interesting and varied background including truck driving, embalming, acting and hypnotherapy.
Kenisha Edwards became the South Los Angeles Regional Coordinator in March, 2012. Before joining School on Wheels, she was a teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District and a School Site Reviewer for the Los Angeles County Office of Education where she ensured the sufficiency of textbooks for students; making sure that every student received their necessary textbooks was one of the most rewarding aspects of her job. Kenisha has also worked with the homeless population for over two years conducting outreach in skid row and other underserved communities. She received her BA degree from Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator for the Hollywood, Glendale, and areas, recently finished her AmeriCorps VIP term with Trinity Youth Services, where she worked to serve children in foster care and group home populations. During her term Lancella fell in love with volunteer management and working with volunteers. Prior to serving with AmeriCorps, Lancella spent years as a Substitute Teacher for the Fontana Unified School District. She holds her Bachelors of Arts degree in Liberal Studies with a minor in Psychology from the University of Redlands. After many years of teaching children in the classroom, Lancella is thrilled to continue working for children as a Regional Coordinator at School on Wheels!
Lilian Pahn, Orange County Regional Coordinator, joined School on Wheels in October of 2011. Before joining School on Wheels, she was the Placement Coordinator at Cal State Fullerton, where she coordinated community engagement opportunities for students and faculty. Empowering students to enact real and positive change in their community was one of the most rewarding aspects of her job. She also spent a number of years in Washington DC working for the Brazilian Embassy in DC and Habitat for Humanity International. Lilian received her BA degree from the University of California, Irvine.
Lisette Gaeta, Regional Coordinator for the San Fernando Valley, joined School on Wheels in 2012. Lisette has been involved in the nonprofit world managing volunteers and working with special needs children since 2007 and finds it very rewarding. She recently graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Social Work.
Loreena Garcia, Regional Coordinator for East San Gabriel Valley and Western San Bernardino County, joined School on Wheels in March 2014. Loreena has worked in the non-profit field for over ten years, having worked for Special Olympics Southern California, Fair Housing Foundation, Opportunity House Homeless Shelter, and Child S.H.A.R.E. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in History and Liberal Arts from the University of Dallas and is currently finishing up a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. Loreena has worked with the homeless and at-risk populations for many years, and is an active volunteer and advocate for foster children and individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Louis Mena is the Regional Coordinator for the Long Beach/South Bay area. Louis has been a tutor, volunteer coordinator and team member for over three years. He is a qualified teacher and worked for many years in the corporate world before switching to follow his passion — working with students at School on Wheels. Louis holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University and received his Teaching Certificate from National University, Costa Mesa, CA.
Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator, joined School on Wheels as an intern in 2012 and was hired as a full-time coordinator in July 2013. Marisol works with students and volunteers in the East Los Angeles, El Monte, Glendora and Covina areas. She received a Bachelors of Science degree in Rehabilitation Services from California State University, Los Angeles. Marisol has always been a community advocate and believes strongly in changing the world one child at a time.
Terrie Soto, Regional Coordinator for Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, has over five years of experience working with families experiencing homelessness due to domestic violence. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Health Education from San Francisco State University, where her passion for social justice blossomed. After living in San Francisco for eight years, Terrie is excited to be serving her home-town of Ventura County and strongly believes in the School On Wheels mission and the power of changing people’s lives through education.
How to contact School on Wheels staff via e-mail:
First Initial and Lastname @schoolonwheels.org
For example, Joe Smith would be email@example.com.