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 Leader, 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.
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.
Sinead Chilton, Marketing Consultant, has been involved with School on Wheels for over eight years. 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.
Donna Susskind began her affiliation with School on Wheels in 2012 as a volunteer tutor and Tutor Coordinator. In her current position, Donna serves as the Partnership Specialist as part of our AmeriCorps VISTA project. Her role is to build and foster stronger partnerships with schools as well as to develop relationships with other organizations, both at the national and community level. Most recently, Donna earned a teaching credential and Master’s Degree in Education after having spent many years working in radio.
Merina Mesa is serving her second year as an AmeriCorps VISTA as the Marketing & Development Specialist. She served her first year in San Diego working on marketing and fundraising projects. Merina graduated from the University of Houston, majoring in Advertising and minoring in Italian. Merina has experience volunteering with at-risk youth, including being a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Her hobbies include doing anything outdoors (especially at the beach), traveling to new places, learning new skills and doing anything art related.
Paula Buxbaum, Senior Regional Coordinator for the Downtown, Skid Row and East Los Angeles areas, has been a member of the School on Wheels team since 2006. Her prior experience includes working in the nonprofit field for over twenty years in volunteer management. Her role as Regional Coordinator combines three areas she is most passionate about: children and education, homelessness and volunteerism. Paula holds a BA Degree from Harvard University.
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.
Desiree Ting joined School on Wheels in April 2013 as a Regional Coordinator for the Pasadena, Hollywood, and Glendale areas. Before joining School on Wheels, she worked for Make-A-Wish Foundation as a Wish Coordinator in Orange County, coordinating wishes for children facing life-threatening medical conditions. Desiree received her BS degree in Child and Adolescent Development and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from California State University, Fullerton. Her passions and heart for the homeless began at an early age when she first began serving the homeless population in various capacities during her teenage years. She feels so blessed to be able to work for such an amazing organization to advocate for homeless children and help provide them with much needed educational services.
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.
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.
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.
Stefanie Aguilar, Regional Coordinator for Los Angeles, has been working with youth for the past ten years in various spectrums including creating recreational programs, coaching dance teams, assisting special needs students, community outreach and teaching visual art classes. She first came across School on Wheels in 2010 while doing volunteer community work with the high-school students she was teaching. She is overjoyed to now be working with such an incredible organization and the amazing students it serves. Stefanie received a Bachelor’s Degree in Art Education from Cal State Long Beach.
Steven Alvarez, Regional Coordinator, has been managing volunteer programs and working with homeless populations since 2008, starting at the Downtown Women’s Center. Previous to working in Skid Row, he found his passion in community engagement & grassroots organizing while pursuing his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Steven has worked with several non-profits and political campaigns since then and is excited to be returning home in the Inland Empire with School on Wheels.
Yadira Melgoza, Regional Coordinator, has been with School on Wheels since 2009. Yadira is responsible for all administrative functions at School on Wheels, as well as overseeing the Oxnard region. She worked for CA Mini-Corps, a state funded program that provides tutoring services to migrant children K-12, throughout her college years. Yadira received her Bachelor of Science degree from Cal State Channel Islands in 2009.
Yanira Rivas, Regional Coordinator for Santa Barbara, has been a part of the School on Wheels family since 2009. She oversaw the San Fernando Valley until September 2011 when she moved to Santa Barbara. Before joining School on Wheels, she was a Community Organizer in Los Angeles working to empower families to be part of the decision making process and improve their communities. Yanira holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from California State, Northridge, a Masters of Arts in Public Management of International Cooperation and NGO’s from the Universidad de Granada and is currently pursuing her doctorate at UC Santa Barbara.
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.