Ben Austin, Executive Director
Ben, a proud parent of two young daughters, has served as the Executive Director of the Parent Revolution since April 2008. He has dedicated much of his career to fighting for a California where every child can get a great public education. Prior to joining the Parents Union and launching the Parent Revolution campaign, he directed the successful campaign to transform Locke High School from the worst high school in Los Angeles into a college preparatory model of reform. Ben has also served as a Deputy Mayor under Mayor Richard Riordan from 2000-2001, where he helped craft the mayor’s education reform policy; as well as Senior Advisor to Rob Reiner and First 5 California from 2002-2006, where he helped create LAUP (Los Angeles Universal Preschool), a $600 million preschool program rooted in high standards, accountability and parental choice that serves 10,000 low-income children every year. Ben has also worked on numerous Democratic presidential campaigns, served in the Clinton White House in a variety of roles, and was an early supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Ben is a former member of the California State Board of Education. He is a native of Venice, California, and is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Georgetown Law School. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Tracy, and their two daughters, Fiona and Eloise.
Gabe Rose, California Director
Gabe has been with Parent Revolution since April 2009, and has helped guide the organization through its rapid growth over the past two and a half years. His passion for transforming public education comes from his belief in social justice as well as his personal experience attending a failing elementary school while growing up in New Haven, Connecticut. His history of progressive activism includes founding a statewide student advocacy organization for same-sex marriage equality and serving as president of the Bruin Democrats organization during his time at UCLA, where he also served as student body president for the school’s 25,000 undergraduates his senior year. Before joining Parent Revolution, was he was selected for and completed the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs program in Los Angeles, a national experiential leadership-training program, during which he worked with organizations ranging from a Democratic State Senate campaign to Local 416 of the Reinforcing Ironworkers Union. He grew up in both New Haven and the Bay Area in California, but has lived in Los Angeles for the past seven years.
Alison Laslett, Chief Operating Officer
Alison Laslett serves as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Parent Revolution. For twenty years, she has worked in leadership positions, unifying organizations into efficient, effective working teams. Alison was the COO for Communities for Teaching Excellence, an education reform project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and the Gates Foundation. She has also been the contracts negotiator and manager for Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services, one of the largest private agencies in Los Angeles serving over 6,000 emotionally disturbed children. She honed her operations expertise as a business consultant, working with companies from Florida to Maine to Mexico. She is dedicated to social justice and believes access to education is an equal right. She holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College.
Jody Edwards, CFO
Jody Edwards was raised in North Carolina. Her mother Marie Buoniconti is a Registered Nurse. Her dad Joseph is a retired Master Sergeant. She is a graduate of University of North Carolina where she received her B.S. degree in Business Administration. Jody is proud to be our Director of Finance & Operations. She has over 20 years of experience in accounting and management within a vast array of industries. Among the companies she has worked with, those whose purpose has been to benefit children have been her love. She has a great passion for children, is active in her community, and has a strong commitment to instilling community and family values. She is dedicated to helping bring all children the opportunity for success they deserve. Jody is a soccer coach, and has been a board member for both American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) and the Vocal Music Association (VMA). Jody also heads up VMA’s arts program fund raising at John Muir Middle School in Burbank, CA where she lives. Jody is married to Robert Heap – combined they have seven children.
Alexandra Bissonnette, Special Projects Manager
Alexandra has always had a passion for social justice and a desire to work towards improving society in one way or another. She received her BA from the University of Southern California in international relations, and during that time, volunteered as a tutor in local schools. Working in South Los Angeles schools opened her eyes to the challenges that students in this nation’s education system face. Alexandra then joined Teach For America in 2009 and spent three inspiring years in the classroom. During that time she received her MA in Urban Education, focusing on policy and administration. Alexandra joined Parent Revolution in 2012 to continue working to reform the education system. Her time working with students, teachers, advocates and reformers has given her a deep seated belief in the power of collaboration to bring about transformational change for students and schools.
Taneen Jafarkhani, General Counsel
Taneen received her B.A. from UCLA and her J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). Prior to Parent Revolution, Taneen was an associate at Bingham McCutchen in San Francisco. Taneen has also served the San Francisco Public Defender, the East Bay Community Law Center, the Santa Monica Self-Help Legal Access Center, has represented asylum seekers through the California Asylum Representation Clinic, and has externed for the Honorable David O. Carter (U.S. District Court: Central District).
Anne Lee, Director of Development
Anne Anderson Lee serves as Director of Development for Parent Revolution. Anne develops and implements Parent Revolution's fundraising strategies and manages Parent Revolution's grants. Prior to joining Parent Revolution, Ms. Lee served as Senior Legal Counsel for the California Charter Schools Association for over five years. In that capacity, Ms. Lee advised on CCSA’s legal advocacy initiatives and served as a general legal counsel to CCSA. Ms. Lee also practiced law at Foley & Lardner in San Diego, where she advised charter schools, school districts and charter school management organizations on a variety of issues facing the education reform movement. Ms. Lee earned her Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, in Government and International Studies from the University of Notre Dame, and her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the University of San Diego School of Law. Ms. Lee lives happily in Pasadena with her husband and two young daughters.
Larry Irvin, Development Manager
Prior to joining Parent Revolution in August 2011, Larry was Development Manager for the Center for Governmental Studies managing foundation relations and donor research. Before that he was a Development Officer with the Parents Television Council, focusing on annual major donor campaigns. Larry has unique experience that complements our diverse team. He began a public affairs career as an aide to former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley. He then served as a Coro Foundation Fellow and then worked as a public affairs consultant. Larry is a former legislative advocate, has worked on numerous campaigns and managed citizen engagement programs for numerous private and public sector clients. Larry’s also taught at L.A.’s Henry Clay Middle School and his family has devoted years of service building pathways to higher education for promising young students. He is former president of the El Pueblo Historical Monument Commission, served on the Los Angeles Urban League and Tree People boards, and co-chaired the Los Angeles 100 Black Men Political Action Committee. Larry received his B.A. in Political Science from Yale University, did graduate studies in Public Policy at Claremont Graduate School, has two sons—Avery and Randall –and one daughter, Chase.
Alvaro Pereyra, IT/Data Manager
Alvaro was born and raised in North Hollywood, CA. He attended many of our California public schools so has first hand knowledge of the great need for public education reform. He attended West Valley Occupational Center at age 16 where he discovered his trade and defined his interest in Computer Engineering. While Studying Computer Engineering at the local Community College he decided to take his knowledge to the test and started his professional career helping children who had been abused. His dedication to helping the community, believe in children to build a better future, interest in politics, and knowledge in the computer industry, brought him to Parent Revolution. Alvaro is a self-taught, young, enthusiastic, social, computer guru.
John Yi, Regional Advocacy Director
Before John came on board of Parent Revolution he lived in Moscow, Russia as a Fellow for the Alfa Fellowship Program. There he interned as a Russian bank and at a law firm. Before that he lived in Washington, DC where he worked for the national Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA). At the TSA he focused on issues regarding disability health and education policies, advocating for parents and children suffering from the debilitating neurobiological disorder. John has worked both on and outside of Capital Hill and is passionate about all things public policy and the process of making policy. As a Korean-American and coming from a family of immigrants, John is committed to pushing for equal and universal access to quality education through is work at Parent Revolution.
John received his Masters degree at Georgetown University and his Bachelor degree at the University of Michigan. He is a brother of Pi Alpha Phi.
April Popescu, Regional Advocacy Director
April is currently a Regional Political Director at Parent Revolution. Her primary role is to pass education reform legislation nation-wide. She focuses on: New York, Virginia, South Carolina, Missouri, Idaho and Colorado. Prior to joining Parent Revolution, April worked at a Los Angeles based Political Consulting/ Public Affairs firm where she focused on local government, and community/media outreach associated with key local issues. For the past two years April has served on the Board of The New Leaders Council, Los Angeles Chapter as well as the Los Angeles County Young Democrats (LACYD). Prior to moving to Los Angeles, April worked with the California Political Director for Organizing for America (OFA). Through the Fall of 2008, April assisted the California State Director and Los Angeles Field Director on the Obama for America Presidential Campaign. April holds a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science with a Specialization in American Politics from the University of California Berkeley.
Mehul Patel, Regional Campaigns Director
Mehul is currently a Regional Campaigns Director for Parent Revolution. Prior to joining Parent Revolution, Mehul was an Organizer and Communications Specialist for SEIU ULTCW in Los Angeles. Primarily organizing low-income nursing home workers from Chatsworth to Chula Vista, at SEIU ULTCW Mehul focused on leadership development, contract negotiations for union members, and empowering low-income workers through education of their rights and protections. Mehul also believes in the power of digital art and media as a tool to inspire, organize and mobilize for social change. A native of Grayson, Georgia, Mehul attended the University of Georgia, where he fell in love with Athens, GA and began his service in local and national Democratic politics by working on the Obama Campaign and congressional, legislative and statewide races in 2006, 2008 and 2010. As the son of immigrant parents, the values of diversity, tolerance and justice were deeply instilled in Mehul’s upbringing, resulting in the choice of his current work at Parent Revolution. When not busy fightin' the good fight, Mehul enjoys reading, cooking and finding peace at the BAPS Temple in Chino Hills, CA.
Mary Moran, Regional Campaigns Director
As a product of public schools and a former public school teacher, Mary is passionate about education reform and is excited to be working with parents to improve our schools. She has a long history of advocating for social justice and opportunities for children of color in marginalized and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods worldwide. Born in Los Angeles, Mary moved to the Bay Area, where she earned her B.A. from San Jose State University, double-majoring in African American studies and Sociology. She later earned her Master’s in Education and teaching credential from Mills College. The International National Voluntary Service Training program selected Mary to be a Scholar Activist with where she worked on education and public policy issues on both the Navajo Nation and in Jamaica. Her international service continued in Tanzania where as a Research Assistant she examined the link between wellness and economic development. Returning to the U.S., Mary worked with Catholic Charities to help open small autonomous schools and demand higher quality education opportunities for children on the East Side of San Jose. She was also appointed to the Strategic Planning team and helped commission Catholic Charities' 5- year sustainability plan. Most recently, she dedicated herself to youth in East Palo Alto, CA teaching them to identify issues in their community and be agents of change.
Shirley Ford, National Director of African American Affairs and Community Engagement Officer
Shirley is an original member or our first small staff and has the distinction of being one of the Los Angeles Parents Union’s founders along with former staff member Mary Najera and current Parent Revolution board member Karen Robinson. Shirley is a dedicated, outspoken leader on behalf of education reform and parent’s rights, and her leadership on these important issues is recognized throughout California and nationwide. Shirley is a preeminent organizer, who played a central role in our campaign that lead to the successful passage of LAUSD’s Public School Choice Resolution. Her tireless efforts were also instrumental in the narrow passage of California’s Parent Trigger law – the first in the nation. Shirley serves in a variety of roles for Parent Revolution, including Senior Organizer and Director of African-American Affairs. Her passion for parent’s rights and quality public education comes from her own experience raising her boys. Two of her sons, Robert and Hamid, were given the opportunity to attend Green Dot public schools and are now both are enrolled in college, the first in their family to do so. Shirley has seen firsthand that great public schools are possible and that all children can learn, and is passionate about empowering parents to obtain great schools for their children, especially children in under-served and historically marginalized communities. Shirley is not only the mother of three wonderful sons, but also a proud grandmother of two.
Alfonso Flores, Organizing Director
Alfonso was born in Los Angeles and raised by newly arrived immigrants from Mexico. He is now a proud father of four and has been happily married to his high school sweetheart Lourdes for fifteen wonderful years. Many in his family have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of children attending public schools. Alfonso has four sisters who teach in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Alfonso is a proud veteran who served six years in the U.S. Army, and rose to be a Special Forces soldier wearing the distinctive Green Beret. After his great service to our nation, Alfonso attended college at California State University, Los Angeles where he received a B.A. in child development. Immediately after graduation, he began a career in public education that was marked with a distinction similar to that he achieved in the army. As a teacher at Normandie Avenue Elementary School, Alfonso obtained the dual honors of being named both Local District 7 Teacher the Year and LAUSD Teacher of the Year in 2008. In the same year, he was also among the finalists for the Los Angeles County Office of Education Teacher of the Year award. After distinguishing himself in the classroom, Alfonso become principal at Global Education Academy, a local charter school. Both the Los Angeles Times and La Opinion newspapers ranked Global Academy among the top 10 best schools in California. Alfonso describes the Parent Revolution family as "the only true education reform effort" in our entire country that genuinely and passionately seeks and promotes a "kids first agenda."
Maribel Gonzalez, Lead Organizer
Maribel joined the Parent Revolution team because of her passion for education and the unequaled opportunity to help parents navigate and implement California’s groundbreaking Parent Trigger law. Her commitment to transforming failing schools is rooted in the academic inequities and abysmal conditions she witnessed while attending Locke High School in Watts. The experience sparked her unyielding dedication to individual and community empowerment. Maribel has served as a college advisor for the UCLA Early Academic Outreach Program; a Teach for America Corps Member and a bilingual teacher in Bronx, New York. Most recently, she has been a fierce critic of our broken mental health system and an advocate for children and adults with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health Advocacy Services. Maribel obtained her bachelors from UCLA, a Master’s in Education from Pace University, and her Juris Doctorate at the UCLA School of Law. In law school, she was a clinical intern at the Learning Rights Law Center and participated in the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. She enjoys cooking, hiking, and dressing her miniature pinscher Penny in pink furry sweaters.
Rafael Serano, Lead Organizer
Rafael was a fortunate beneficiary of California's once nationally envied public school system, and credits his academic achievement to his many excellent public school teachers, along with consistent parental encouragement and support. HIs passion for social justice began at a young age while growing up in California's central coast, where he witnessed inequalities and injustice toward the immigrant Latino families, including his own, who toiled in the fields at great risk to their health in order to provide for their children.
As an undergraduate, Rafael studied Sociology at UC Berkeley, and later went on to pursue a Master's degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with a concentration in law and ethics. While at Bloomberg, Rafael closely studied the impact of campaign financing on legislation and public policy. He subsequently earned a law degree from UC Davis' King Hall, School of Law, where he had the great opportunity to study civil rights with emeritus faculty who worked directly with Dr. King.
Prior to Parent Revolution, Rafael performed labor advocacy on behalf of many categories of workers, including undocumented farm and ranch laborers, State employees (from custodians to administrative law judges), and private sector nurses in California and the Texas borderlands. Given his interest in civil rights and social justice, Rafael was eager to apply his academic and professional training and experience in the field of education reform, where entire underserved communities could dramatically benefit from radically reformed public schools using Parent Trigger law.
Jessica Nolan Daugherty, Lead Organizer
Jessica believes that the recipe for sustained social change must include a combination of passionate grassroots social movements and the rigor of data-driven policy analysis. Jessica started her career as a Community Organizer in Ghana and Guatemala working to ensure the rights of refugees and female laborers. She then worked as an Organizer in San Diego where her work focused on immigration reform and empowerment of at-risk youth. After getting her Master of Public Policy from UCLA, Jessica worked in various capacities in Los Angeles County to improve the Juvenile Justice system and reentry process. As a Dukakis Fellow, she interned in the office of Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas where she completed an assessment of the City of Los Angeles’ ongoing gang prevention and intervention efforts. Additionally, she worked for the County to design a comprehensive blueprint for reentry policies and practices for youth and young adult offenders returning from correctional facilities. She is very excited to bring her energy and experiences to Parent Revolution and to learn from the amazing staff along the way!
Maria Alvarado, Organizer
Maria has been with Parent Revolution since March 2011. She is a long-standing parent activist and is currently Chairperson of Lynwood Save Our Schools (LSOS). Television news reports of the Parent Trigger campaign in nearby Compton, CA inspired Maria to start coming out and volunteering to help the parents of McKinley Elementary, and months later, she wound up joining the Parent Revolution organizing team to dedicate herself full-time to organizing parents throughout LA County to improve their schools. Maria wants all low performing schools to be transformed so that every student receives a high quality education. She has been an active parent since being frustrated with Lynwood school district administrators who were unresponsive to needs of parents and children. She became an active member of the district’s Special Education, Budget, Boundary, Discipline and Safety and other committees. A result of this involvement, Maria was elected President of LSOS, serving from 2006 to 2008. Under her leadership, LSOS successfully held a Special Education Fair, which included over 20 community organizations and over 200 people in attendance. As an advocate for parents and students, Maria has organized and empowered parents to become more involved in the education of their children. She is committed to helping parents develop their own leadership abilities and capacity. She has also assisted parents resolved numerous problems by serving as either a mediator or a representative.
Aida Rodriguez, Lead Organizer
Aida Rodriguez joined Parent Revolution in 2012. Aida has demonstrated a strong commitment to empowering underserved communities through advocacy and education. Aida earned a Political Science degree from UC Berkeley and later obtained her law degree from the University of California Hastings College of the Law. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Aida lived for two years in Guatemala and has traveled extensively throughout Latin America and Africa. While in college Aida spent a summer in Peru doing research on the country's underrepresented and minority communities. During law school she interned at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and at the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office. After law school she worked at the State Bar of California and volunteered at the ACLU's Prisoner's Rights Project. In addition to her work for Parent Revolution, Aida serves as a Board Member on her neighborhood residents' association and at an East Los Angeles community center dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for low-income families by providing essential education, social, and health and wellness services.
Jesus Sanchez, Lead Organizer
Jesus was born in East Los Angeles and spent most of his childhood in Baldwin Park, CA. He was raised by two hard working parents from Zacatecas, Mexico and is the youngest of three brothers. Jesus credits his success as an adult to his family and the community service programs in which he participated in as a youth. It was this experience that led him to earn his B.A. at CSU Dominguez Hills and his M.S. at the University of La Verne. Jesus has worked in the non-profit field for the last six years and has spent time as a Quality Assurance Trainer and Area Supervisor for after-school and college access programs which served students and families. In his role as an Area Supervisor for the GEAR UP program at three LA County High School he helped develop parent centers at each school which focused on parent education and empowerment. In these unique roles Jesus witnessed firsthand the broken educational system at many public schools and developed a passion for education and parent empowerment.
Ángel García, Campaigns Coordinator
Raised in several cities throughout the Los Angeles area, Ángel has worked for many years in the field of education. Indebted to his family and to programs such as Upward Bound and PUENTE for his own academic success, Ángel learned at a young age that education is the shared responsibility of an entire community. As an academic tutor for TRIO programs, as an instructor at Long Beach City College and Cal State Long Beach, and as a coordinator and supervisor of afterschool programs in El Monte, Whittier, and Rosemead, Ángel has worked directly with students from the 3rd grade to graduate school and has always approached teaching as a political process to educate, empower, and engage community.
Krystleblue Santos, Organizer
Krystleblue Santos was born and raised in Los Angeles, California; she is the first-born daughter of immigrant parents. Her family’s indigenous roots originate from the Yaqui or Yoeme tribe, which originally lived in the Rio Yaqui region and coastal areas of Sonora and Sinaloa, Mexico. Krystleblue attended public schools all her life, from Lynwood Unified Schools to the University of California at Berkeley. She was the first in her family to go to a four year University. Krystleblue went to Berkeley in the summer of ’04 and graduated in ’09, with a B.A in Ethnic Studies and a minor in Political Economy. She has been working as an academic tutor/mentor since she was 15 years old. Her most memorable experience working as an educator is having 80% of the students she tutored in the AVID program at Lynwood High continue their education at institutions of higher learning. One of her goals is to help shape the future of Los Angeles via a shift in perception and local accountability. This change includes highlighting the area’s positive examples; specifically, changing misunderstood public opinion of its educational institutions. In 10 years Ms. Santos sees herself being part of an educational, cultural and socioeconomic shift in Los Angeles. Krystleblue’s ultimate goal is to empower those in her own family to pursue their dreams and aspirations through education.
Zulma Muñoz, Organizer
As a daughter of immigrants and product of public schools, Zulma is wholeheartedly devoted to empower parents to push for universal access to quality education for all kids. Zulma was born and raised in Oakland, Ca. She attended Berkeley schools beginning from K - college and became alert to the educational inequalities she experienced alongside her brothers, classmates, and neighbors.
Zulma received a B.A. from University of California, Berkeley. At a very young age, Zulma discovered her passion for advocacy through the shared and inhumane struggles that persist in her community. Zulma chaired Team-Up for Youth's Youth Advisory Committee where she realized the publication of her article entitled, My Coach Changed My Life, in the San Francisco chronicle in 2009. She was a co-founder of the RISE Youth Immigration Research Team where she worked alongside Berkeley High students to produce a documentary that reveals the stories of children affected by unjust immigration laws. Zulma joined Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) Legal Team to provide information about potential immigration remedies to undocumented youth nationwide. In December 2012, Zulma found a way to turn passion into action through her work at Parent Revolution. Today, Zulma promotes that culture into the daily lives of parents and in April 2013, Zulma moved to Los Angeles to work alongisde the amazing staff.
Leili Davari, Organizer
Leili Davari was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. She completed a BA in Political Science and Foreign Languages (Spanish) at New Mexico State University then continued her studies at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse to participate in a summer intensive fellowship program to study Farsi. Later that same year, Leili attended the University of Texas, Austin to begin her MA in Middle Eastern Studies. She completed her MA in 2008 then decided to travel to Israel and begin her volunteer work in social justice. In Israel, she volunteered to mentor and teach English to both Arab and Jewish at-risk children. After four months of living in Israel, Leili moved to Los Angeles where she continued her pursuit of social justice as a Jeremiah Fellow with Bend the Arc Organization followed by the Community Organizing Fellowship (COR). As a COR Fellow, she worked to organize immigrants and domestic workers for comprehension immigration reform and for the CA Bill of Rights for Domestic Workers at the Coalition for Humane Immigrants Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). This year, Leili has been accepted as a Global Jewish Fellow for the American Jewish World Service Organization.